Daily Reflection

From a Creighton Student's Perspective

December 19, 2010

Kevin Ryan

Freshman, Biology Major

The Fourth Sunday of Advent
Is 7:10-14
Ps 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Mt 1:18-24

Christmas is fast approaching, and it’s now only a week away.  All sorts of things are happening to get ready for the celebration.  Christmas lights and decorations are being put up, gifts are being bought, and most are in a joyous mood.  Some say it’s the happiest time of year, but why?  For the majority of people, it is probably because of the time they get to spend with their families as well as the gifts and food that come with this time of year.  Those reasons are only part of the happiness of Christmas for me.  As a Catholic, I see Christmas as the anniversary of Jesus’s birth; the beginning of what was to become God’s greatest gift to humanity: our salvation.     

The readings today have the common theme of giving, which fits right into the Christmas spirit.   They focus on those who gave as an offering to the Lord as well as those who didn’t.  In the first reading, Isaiah tries to convince Ahaz—the king of Judah—to give his trust to the Lord to protect Judah from being overrun by the Assyrians.  Ahaz refuses to do so resulting in the eventual overrun of Judah.  Isaiah then prophesizes to Ahaz of the coming Immanuel who will give everything He has to save Israel.  The Psalms of today first give praise to the Lord for being our Benevolent Creator.  Then they remind us of how much God has given to us and why He deserves our praise.  In the second reading, Paul reminds us what we have been given through the death and resurrection of Jesus, telling us to offer our obedience and faith in return.  Finally, in the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph has a dream in which an angel tells him not to be afraid to accept Mary as a wife.  Joseph takes Mary and the child in, giving her his protection and, most importantly, giving himself as a father to Jesus.

Each of these readings uses the idea of giving to lead us up to the greatest gift giver: Jesus Christ.  While He gave His life for us, He gave us more than just that.  By His death and resurrection, He gave us the gift of salvation.  He took on the burden of every sin ever committed, suffered under their weight, and bore them to death.  I can’t even imagine the burden of just my sins alone, let alone the sins of the entire world.  He gave this gift freely, expecting nothing in return.  However, it is possible to give back to God: we can offer our suffering to Him.  Every day, we can wake up and say, “God, I offer you all the frustrations, stresses, and sufferings of this day.  I lay them down at the foot of your cross.  Work through them to bring me closer to you.”  If God can offer His suffering for our sake, we can offer Him our own sufferings.  Even the small ones can be given back to Him so He can work through them to help us grow in faith and obedience.  If we think of Jesus every time we suffer, we are bound to grow in Him and suffering will seem so trivial compared to His love.  Giving often bears greater reward than receiving.


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