Regifting is a perennial joke, a computer meme, a humorous tradition of white elephant gift exchanges. The ugly sweater passed on to a cousin; the knickknack recycled next Christmas to an unsuspecting friend or colleague. Our world sometimes appears divided between passionate fruitcake lovers and those who circulate images of fruitcakes creatively repurposed.
Let us step aside from the good humor this third week of Advent to consider whether we might uncover spiritual wisdom hidden in this unlikely image, just as the original Gift of Christmas was hidden away in a lowly manger.
The readings for this Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, begin by advising us to rejoice in God and God’s good gifts. St. Paul, however, juxtaposes this call to rejoice with a call to make your kindness known to all. In the Gospel, John the Baptist challenges the crowds: if you have extra clothes or extra food, share them with those who do without. He calls on tax collectors and soldiers to be fair in their dealings with the people. The shared message of these readings reminds us that love for our neighbor is intimately bound up in our love for God.
If we look deeper into God’s revelation, we are reminded that what we have, what we are called to share with others, is in fact a gift from God in the first place. In the Parable of the Talents, the servant Jesus criticized is the one who buried his talent in a field for fear of losing it. The servants Jesus praised are the ones who took their master’s gift and risked giving it away in order that the gift might grow. Jesus challenges us in this parable to not hold on to what we receive from God but to regift it!
Perhaps this Advent, we might think a little less about the presents under the tree and a little more about the gifts we have received from God. Are there extra loaves and fish in your pantry, which might feed the hungry? Do you have mechanical skills and tools you might put at the service of a neighbor? Do you have a gift with words, with music, with the creative arts, which might bring joy to children or the elderly? Do you have time to volunteer at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen?
Whatever gift you have been given, consider wrapping it up in love and regifting it in order to prepare yourself to rejoice at the coming of the Savior.
Reflection by Ruth Cunnings, Candidate in the Society of the Sacred Heart*
Image by Michelle Finley, Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School, Marine City, Michigan
*Candidate is the first stage in the Society’s formation process. Learn more here