“Freely you have received, freely give.”
– Matthew 10:8
Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,
One of my favorite aspects of the Christmas season is how much focus is placed on giving. It seems that no matter where one walks or drives, if one is watching television or listening to the radio, or even in casual conversation with a loved one or neighbor, the emphasis is on giving (and buying, but that is another matter!). Every December our culture celebrates friends, families and loved ones through gift-giving. We benefit from this of course, not only because we are recipients of these gifts, but also because we have an opportunity to give!
As Christians, we believe that everything we have in our lives is a gift from God. God does not owe us anything, but gives entirely out of His love for us. God the Father sent His only begotten Son into the world as a gift. When the Jesus became a man, every teaching, every healing He did in His earthly ministry was a gift. The Crucifixion and Resurrection, the annihilation of death and promise of eternal life were all a gift. Indeed, everything the Lord has done for us, from the beginning of time and through all eternity has been and always will be a gift!
As such, as followers of Christ, we give because it brings the love of God to those around us. We represent God’s voluntary love for each and every human on planet earth whenever we love them and give in His name. We show those around us that we love them because Christ loved us. This Christmas season, let us remember that gift-giving is no mere product of American consumerism, nor an opportunity to acquire more things. It is an opportunity which we as Orthodox Christians have to express love for our neighbor, and in doing so, express our love for God.
May He Who lay in a manger for our salvation guide us to always give freely and openly from our hearts, without expecting anything in return.
With love in Christ,
Father Niko Bekris