Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise. (Luke 3.11)
It is a cliché but also a truth that Christmas is a time for giving. For months in advance, it seems retailers bombard us with messages to buy more and more, playing on our guilt by equating consuming with caring. On the other hand, though, Christmas does tend to bring out our most generous selves. Charitable donations and volunteering increase during this season, and many people genuinely seek out opportunities to give to loved ones and strangers alike.
In today's gospel reading, John the Baptist instructs his hearers on how to "bear good fruit" — in other words, how to translate faith into action. His advice seems simple and straightforward: share what you have with those who have not. How hard can this be?
John's words, however, actually propose a radical transformation in how we live our lives. Experts tell us that the world produces enough food to feed every person on the planet, yet vast numbers of people around the globe are hungry. When many of us consume far more than we need, others are deprived of the basic necessities.
Often we may feel that major ethical issues such as hunger, poverty and environmental degradation are so vast and widespread that there is very little that one person, one family or one community can do to make a difference. The temptation is, therefore, to throw up our hands in despair and do nothing.
A number of well-loved Christmas carols and stories describe a visitor to the Nativity, perhaps a shepherd, regretting that they have no gift worthy of presentation to the Christ child. Invariably it is the gift of themselves — their goodwill, their humility, their love — that constitutes the best gift. Each of us can start somewhere — perhaps with giving away that extra coat to someone who lives in a shelter, for instance. More importantly, we can examine our understanding of needs versus wants. How much is "enough" for us?
Along with the gifts we exchange this Christmas, perhaps we can offer God the gift of our willingness to explore ways to "live more simply so that others may simply live."
0 God the giver of all gifts, forgive us for the ways in which we take more than we need. Help us to bear good fruit by more generously sharing what we have with others, both locally and globally.
~ FROM: Word Made Flesh – Daily Reflections December 13,2015