With Eyes of Faith
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By Deacon John De Gano

Tis the season for trees and carols, for Santa and reindeer and for Grinch and Whos, but before we wax overly poetic on the Bunny Rabbit with the drum who powers all our toys and electronic games, let us remember that none of them would exist without the greatest gift-giver of all.

God created the world as a gift to his creation.

He formed the planets, the stars and sun to give us something to gaze upon in wonderment.

He created the animals, the fish and the birds to share the planet with.

He created us male and female so that in our diversity we would be drawn together in community and in relationship.

God breathed the gift of life into us and placed us in his Garden to care for his creation.

God gave us the gift of his Son, born of Mary who said ‘yes’ to the Archangel, and to Joseph for protection while he was unable to protect himself from King Herod and his soldiers who slew the children of Ramallah hoping to eliminate any usurper who might one day claim the throne of King David.

God gifted us with his only begotten Son, Jesus, who reflecting the love of his Father, gifted us with his presence for 33 years and while in agony on the cross, forgave his torturers and showed mercy on us all – “They know not what they do.”

He gifted us with His Resurrection, promising eternal life to those who gifted themselves to God and in service to others.

At Pentecost he gifted us with his Holy Spirit so that we need not be alone after his return to his Father. The Holy Spirit would serve as our advocate against the deceiver, would give us the words to speak in our defense when we might be persecuted like Jesus was, and would remind us and teach us all things.

Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a perpetual sign of his presence with us here on earth and invited us to partake of his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity as a foretaste of what we will receive in heaven.

At the foot of the Cross, Jesus gave his mother, Mary, to the care of John, the youngest of the disciples, and through this gesture of love, Mary becomes our spiritual mother in faith.

Mary was present in the Upper Room both at the Last Supper and again when Jesus resurrected and appeared to the frightened disciples. “Do not be afraid,” Jesus told them.

And then he breathed on them. “My peace I leave you, my peace I give you.”

Mary witnessed the institution of the Church, with Peter as its head. The Church became our spiritual home and repository of the seven sacraments that we celebrate in recognition of Christ among us.

And having gifted the people with the Church, Jesus ascended into heaven, saying to his disciples, “Go out to all the nations. Preach, teach and baptize. And lo, I am with you always.”

Like the energizing rabbit, Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving. And Jesus requires no batteries which should make every parent delighted the other 364 days of the year!

All is Gift. We just have to be willing receivers in order to appreciate the love that this gift we call God contains.

Deacon John De Gano ministers at St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Riverside.