Those of us who are focused on spending eternity with God in heaven realize the importance of a close personal relationship with Jesus. However, our efforts to enhance our relationship with Him often stagnate and grow stale. We go to Mass, but our minds wander. We say our prayers, but we recite them from memory and we don’t take the time to listen. We don’t pause during our day to realize God’s presence in our lives.
Especially during this season of gift giving and receiving let me suggest we all invigorate our relationship with Jesus by consciously offering various gifts to him. We must realize God doesn’t need our gifts. As Bishop Robert Barron often says, “God needs nothing. He is God.” However, through His infinite love for us He always multiplies our gifts and returns them thousand-fold. We need to pray for the grace to be able to receive His gifts.
There are countless things we can offer to give our Lord. Most of all, we need to give him more of our time, a precious commodity. Finding time in our busy lives is hard to do, so it is crucial to make a commitment to spend extra time with Jesus after thoughtful prayer. Pick gifts you can offer lovingly and consistently within the extra time you commit to devote. The key to undertaking the gift exchange process is to talk out loud directly to Jesus and let Him know what you want to offer Him. It is easier to follow through once you have promised Him.
Some ideas of gifts we can consider include taking more time to relax and listen to Him during our prayer time. Spend some time saying a Rosary once or twice a week, even daily if you can. Attending a daily Mass at least once a week is a good idea. Read the Bible on a regular basis. Find a daily devotion online and use it each day. Spend some time in an adoration chapel. Read up on, and put into practice, St. Ignatius’ The Daily Examen whereby by we prayerfully go through the pluses and minuses of our day. Put together a list of half a dozen religious books and read them.
Of course, there are other more creative things we can gift to God. We can offer him our talents to use in his service each day. Look for that random act of kindness and offer that to him. Volunteering to help the poor, the elderly or kids always pleases the Lord. Keep a diary during the holiday and offer your innermost thoughts as a gift to your creator.
Here’s a good thing to do; offer God this season your troubles and your sins. Give them over to him completely. Speak with him out loud. Go to Reconciliation and offer that up and a special gift of humility; tell him your problems out loud and surrender to his will. Ask Him for what you need. Offer him five minutes a day of relaxation to him by calming yourself, slowing your breathing and using the phrase “Christ have mercy on me” as you meditate. I can imagine God would love for you to devote your relaxation time to him. Spending more time with God is a beautiful gift, however you decide to do it.
God’s gifts will begin to flow back to you in bunches. There are times He will answer your prayers of petition directly. A friend will get well. A family member will get a job promotion they had been working toward. He won’t solve all your problems, but His grace will ensure you make it through. In fact, most of the time His shower of gifts will come through grace and mercy. His loving presence will be noticeable in our lives. His love for you will overflow so that you can share with it others.
He will also make the gifts we receive through the Holy Spirit at confirmation more obvious to us. Wisdom will grow. Understanding will become deeper. Our courage will strengthen. Of course, a closer relationship with Jesus will increase our piety…. and so on.
We can deepen and strengthen our relationship with our Savior through a specific program of gift giving and receiving. We will know Him better. We will love Him more. We will be happier, and our lives will be marked with His peace and joy. Then once we do make it through to the end of this life here on earth, we can be confident we will see His face and enjoy His presence in heaven forever.
By: Brad Bushell
Brad Bushell is a Eucharistic Minister and RCIA Director at St. John in Darien.