The Season of Giving (And Receiving)
It’s hard to believe Advent is already upon us and Christmas is only a week away! I know we say it every year, but my goodness, this year has sure flown by! As I reflected on the topic I was going to write about in this post, I first thought about all that has happened in my life this year: the good, the bad, and the ups and downs. It took me a while, but I finally realized this time of the year is not about oneself, it’s about others, and giving.
First let’s discuss why we should give. We should give because we are taught to in the Bible, and it is a core component of Christianity! From the book of Deuteronomy, where Moses is providing the Israelites with the laws from the Lord he tells them, “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.” In the book of Hebrews, centuries later, we are directed, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Both verses prove the importance of giving and sharing what you have with others. Not only does giving help the less fortunate, it helps ourselves, because it is pleasing to God! Therefore, by giving we are covering the two most important commandments Jesus taught us: to love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself.
So what are the ways in which one can give? Well I’m sure the one that comes to most of our minds at first is donating money. I am a strong believer in donating to organizations that have either had a direct impact on my life, or ones who help others in ways that match my beliefs. For the organizations that have directly impacted my life, I regularly donate to my parish, my alma mater, my fraternity, and YCP. For organizations that impact others I have donated to the Salvation Army, United Way, Spirit Catholic Radio, EPS (Essential Pregnancy Services), and IPF (Institute for Priestly Formation). I encourage you all to think of the organizations that have had a special impact on you, and by donating to them they can continue to have a similar impact on others. I know not everyone has extra money to spend all the time, but even a few dollars go a long way in helping. When donating always check with your employer because many will match your donation, which is awesome!
Another great alternative to donating money is to donate your time. Time is one of the most precious gifts you can give, because it is finite. Just think about how special it really is: out of everything you could be doing with your time, you chose to spend it with or for them. There are so many opportunities during the Christmas season to volunteer your time, whether it be raising goods, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, or helping at your parish.
Lastly, another way to give to others is through prayer. Prayer is such a powerful way to give love and strength to others. Let’s face it, as much as we want to do all we can to help someone in need, the only one who can truly make it happen is God. I am in the Knights of Columbus, and every morning we receive an email of all the prayer requests people throughout Nebraska have submitted. I think it is such a special, yet simple act done, that by sending out these prayer requests each morning, you know thousands of prayer warriors will be praying together for a common need. I have submitted a couple requests myself on the behalf of others, and know how much they help and encourage those in need. If you don’t already take a few minutes out of your day to pray for others!
This is not only the season of giving, but it’s also the season of receiving. I’m not talking about receiving material gifts, although I’m sure we all can’t help but enjoy that. I’m talking about receiving the gifts from God. After all Advent is the period in anticipation and remembrance of the greatest gift ever given to us by God, the gift of Jesus. In Jesus, God came to Earth, took human form, saved us all from sin, and allowed us the opportunity to be in heaven with Him one day. God has also provided each one of us with gifts that make every individual unique. If we allow ourselves to fully receive these gifts we have been granted by God and use them for good, and the benefit of others, just imagine the impact we could make in our world!
Written by Schuyler Dougherty, YCP Omaha, Parish Ambassador