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 | Father Charles Irvin

Presence, Not Presents, this Christmas

December 21, 2022 | Thou shalt not covet. Covet? What’s coveting? Covet isn’t a word we use anymore in our ordinary conversations, so what does it mean? Think of lust or lusting. We know what that means. And we know what being acquisitive means and what “commercial Christmas” is all about. It’s all about getting what we want.

At the same time Christmas is all about giving, giving not only material things, but giving our love and letting people know that we care and cherish them. After all, the word “present” means that we are personally present to the ones to whom we give our gifts. And since that is so, just how present are we to them, really and genuinely present to them?

Do we give them presents just to discharge a “duty” we feel we owe them? Do we feel we have to meet some sort of obligation we think we owe them? If so, the present isn’t a gift from our heart, it’s a discharge of a debt, a repayment of some sort. When you stop and think about it, we are coveting their respect.

That isn’t what Christmas is all about.

Love isn’t a contract; it’s a gift – a gift without any expectation of receiving anything back in return. Selfless giving is Godlike. Selfless giving seeks or covets nothing in return. It has no limits. The perfect example of self-giving is Jesus Christ.

God our Father gave us his presence in his gift to us, his only son, Jesus Christ. The very presence of God comes to us in our own humanity. His Son took on our humanity by becoming human, one just like us in all things but sin. In receiving him in his humanity, in holy Communion, Christ takes us back home to our Father in heaven. It is through him, with him and in him that our prodigal Father brings us back home.

Could you receive any greater gift? And what will you give to God? Only you have the answer to that question, so you might want to think about what you are going to give God this Christmas.

How about giving him more of your presence?