The gift inside

Imagine what that first Christmas was like. How much did God have to give up to come to earth as a Baby? God so loved us that He set aside His glory to be part of the human race. God did it all for you. Celebrate this wondrous gift, the gift that is Emmanuel and the gift that is you.

Why do we really celebrate Christmas? Why do you celebrate Christmas? It is often stated that it is better to give than to receive. But, in order to give you must have something to offer. That something is the gift inside of you. God came to live inside your heart. God is Christ in you. He is alive within you. Sometimes we forget that and realize we have to stop whatever we are doing and tune in to God’s living presence inside of us. You see, we never really have nothing; we always have something to give.

I often hear from young teen-agers (and, sometimes, adults) that if God is so good and so loving and lives inside of us, then why is there so much evil in the world? Why do my friends turn against me? Why am I bullied? To understand this we need to know Who and what God really is. “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him” (1 Jn 4:16). 

When you see that things are going well, you may feel more loved. And when things are a mess, you may feel less loved. Those are just feelings. God’s love is perfect and it never changes. When you’re in a bad situation and life just seems to be falling apart you may feel that you are unworthy of God’s love. You may walk away from God not fully realizing it, and then think that it is God abandoning you. God only wants to embrace you and surround you with His love. That is called unconditional love. Look for it inside of you. It is there!

I heard this story about a teen-ager who was bullied, and, through the love and care of her parents, discovered she could fix this. She only needed to look inside herself:

“I got bullied for years. I was called fat and ugly. I hated going to school. Then one day my mom and dad told me some sage advice. They told me to think about my most favorite birthday present I ever received. They told me to tell them about it in detail. I did what they asked, but didn’t know why they were asking. Then my dad asked me to describe how the package was wrapped; what color paper, was there a bow and ribbons, was the box big or small? I had to admit that I didn’t remember. My parents said, ‘Exactly! No one ever remembers the packaging; they remember that what was inside made them happy. The inside is the gift, not the packaging.’” 

Simply stated, what we look like is the packaging that no one will ever remember. What they will remember is your inside beauty, your kindness and compassion, the love and happiness you bring to them. 

“What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God” (Hans Urs von Baltasar). 

This Christmas, as you celebrate the wonder of the birth of Christ, remember to celebrate also your birth into eternal life. This awesome gift is the true purpose of God becoming Man, living among us and showing us the way. Enjoy this gift every day with a humble and thankful heart. Take time each day to explore God’s amazing love for you. It is this love that is the gift inside of you.

May God’s peace rule your heart this Christmas and all the days of your life.

God bless!

Anchor columnist Ozzie Pacheco is Faith Formation director at Santo Christo Parish, Fall River.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts