Sunday, December 23, 2007

O. Henry's Christmas Gift

It was only recently that I re-discovered O. Henry's moving short story, "Gifts of the Magi." For those who might not be familiar with it, it can be sumarized as follows: A young married couple, very much in love but penniless, seek to give a meaningful gift to each with their limited resources. Della who has beautiful hair, sells it for $20 to buy her husband, Jim, a chain on which to hang his prized pocket watch. Jim however, has sold his watch to buy Della a set of jeweled combs so she could brush her golden hair. On Christmas Day, when they exchange the gifts, they experience the true meaning of Christmas...selfless, sacrificial love.

O. Henry helps us put even more clarity into the Christmas story. We have become so familiar with the Incarnation, God becoming Man, that it almost seems trivial. Yet what sacrificial love the Father demonstrated. God so loved us that He gave us Himself. Really, how important are the gifts that we exchange with each other? Perhaps not too much thought was given to their purchase. It was so easy to put it on Visa. Compare our giving habits with those of Jim and Della. They gave all that they held precious. Like the story of the widow's "mite" in the Gospel.

As a Christmas mediation after you have received the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist, place yourself in the stable at Bethlehem on that first Christmas night, and bring Jesus the three gifts that will validate the reason He came. Not gold, frankincense nor myrrh but the three gifts of your body, mind and spirit. The totality of your very self... a sacrificial gift that is a great token of your love for Him. And then proclaim to all you know that God is with us...for a babe has been born in Bethelehem.

1 comment:

Laura said...

This would make a great should slip this one under the rectory door next Christmas season.