Thursday, December 22, 2005

The best Christmas gift

I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

At the close of World War II, a group of American GIs were stationed in London. They were walking the city streets on Christmas Day when they came to an old gray building; the sign out front said, "Queen Anne’s Orphanage." The soldiers were curious to see what sort of Christmas party might be going on inside, so they knocked on the door. An attendant told them that all of the children in the orphanage had lost their parents in the London bombings of the past few years. The soldiers went inside. There was no tree; there were no decorations or gifts. The GIs gave out whatever they had on them as gifts—a stick of gum, a coin, the stub of a pencil. One soldier saw a boy standing alone in a corner; he went to the lad and asked, "My little man, what do you want?" Turning his face up towards the soldier, the little boy answered, "Please, sir, I want to be loved."

Our world is like that orphanage—people everywhere are in desperate need of love. We who are Christians are like those American GIs standing face to face with people lost and alone with their despair. But we have something better to offer than scraps of food or a little money. When we became God’s children by faith in Jesus, our Lord began filling our pockets so that we could share with those who need love. Through our soothing voices and gentle hands Jesus offers His love to the world. Saint Paul tells us, He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:4). When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. Our ability to show compassionate love to others is a direct result of our relationship with Jesus; St. John writes: We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

There is no better gift that you can give to another person than God’s love. Food is appreciated, but in a few hours hunger returns. Money can be easily wasted on foolish things. Even the gift of your own love will end when you leave this life. Only God’s love extended through Jesus has staying power. Only God’s love can give courage and hope when things look their darkest. Only God’s love can erase the foolish mistakes of the past. Only God’s love can give lasting meaning to life in the midst of sorrow and loneliness. Only God’s love can lift us from our graves to eternity in heaven. Please join me in praying:

Lord Jesus, fill our pockets with the gift of Your love. Open our eyes to the people around us who are hungering for love. As we share our time and food and money with them, remind us that the most important gift we can share is the wonderful relationship that we have with You. Amen.

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