What Will You Give?

December 23, 2012 by  

Artwork by Sabine Kleftogiannis.

The Wise men laid gifts at the feet of the baby, Jesus. That those noble men would travel so far to honor a child born in a manger would seem to be, on the surface, an unparalleled act of selfless giving. After all, the baby was in impoverished circumstances. There was no reason to expect him to acknowledge their support, and he had nothing to give in return, not in the material sense.

In "honor" of the holiday season, if not in honor of the birth of Christ, the season has become a time of giving and buying. Many people give material gifts out of a sense of obligation. There is expectation of a gift, and the stress involved in fulfilling that social contract is disguised as something spiritual. The Wise men traveled an extremely far distance and gave spiritual acts. Both the travel and the gifts were sacrificial. Their blessings were the result of their intent. They were moved to please and honor God. Following their guiding star and eventually looking into the face of The Chosen One of God was the greatest gift they could receive. Nothing material could touch it.

They gave symbolic material gifts but left with something divine. Baby Jesus was giving, however. From the moment he was born he was giving. He was giving away his life to heal the breach between man and God. He was in a state of preparation for the ultimate gift, - a gift of suffering and shame that would one day lead to his becoming The Light of The World. Can you place a price on a gift so glorious it leads men out of darkness to light? We have fallen into a deep addiction of buying our way through the holidays ... the Holy Days ... but we are missing out on the true meaning of Christmas. Yes, it is about giving but not about purchases. It is okay to buy gifts, if you so choose, but if you want to learn the secret of Christ/mass, you must engage your heart, soul and spirit in the act of giving. There must be sacrifice on your part. You must feel the deeper purpose behind the act. Don't let your giving be an empty ritual. “Stuff” will be exchanged. but nothing of value will be received or given.

Zen teaches, "The giver should be grateful." We should give from our heart. We should want the recipient to have what we offer. We should offer it as coming from God through our forms. We are the instruments of giving. The recipient should receive. knowing that the gift comes from God to their hand from the hand of the giver. "To God be the glory." We feel the truth of this giving, Dana prajna paramita, in Sanskrit when we can bless strangers. Anyone can reach out to their own children or family but reach beyond the inner-walls and giving sprouts wings. You assume the role of angel. Wonder where the angels are? Look no further than yourself. Suppose you had no material gifts to give. How would you show your love? What would you give when you are empty-handed? Being empty-handed is a wonderful time to expand your faith. God is all the resource you need. Just know that. Jesus Christ was empty-handed when he turned water to wine. He was empty-handed when he fed the 5000 with just a few pieces of bread and a few fish. He was empty-handed when he gave sight to the blind. Jesus needed nothing material to give to the utmost. Christmas is supposed to be a spiritual time. It is a chance to expand our connection with The Divine. We can do that by recognizing how Jesus gave. He did it just like he did as a baby. He wholly rested in The Father, and the gifts kept coming ... and Jesus gave them away. What will you give?



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