May 24, 2015
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31,34
1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13 or
John 20:19-23 or John 15:26-27, 16:12-15
About 15 years ago, my dad traveled to Brazil on business and, while there, he purchased a beautiful gold and aquamarine necklace for my mother.
It was stunning. We all admired it when she opened the gift on Christmas morning, after which my sister and I began the usual good-natured jokes about which one of us would inherit the piece.
Much to our surprise, however, mom never wore the necklace in public.
Instead, she announced a few months later that she had sold it and was using the proceeds to fund a four-day vacation — four adult children, spouses, and all eight grandkids — to a beach in Florida.
It turned out to be a wonderful time of family bonding and the beginning of an annual tradition that we observe to this day.
Mom could have kept the necklace in a drawer and brought it out on those relatively rare occasions that called for a little extra bling. But she realized that such an extravagant gift was better shared, and it was in the sharing of it that she took the greatest delight.
Each of us receives a magnanimous gift from God, bestowed first on the day of our Baptism and then strengthened on the day of our Confirmation.
It’s the gift of that same Spirit that Jesus breathed on his disciples in the upper room and so lavishly poured out at Pentecost.
But it was plain that God’s gift was not private property to be hoarded. Jesus told them, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” and he clearly intended for the power of his Spirit to be the means of mercy and forgiveness — or, as the psalmist proclaims, to “renew the face of the earth.”
I think that as much as my dad delighted in buying that necklace for my mom, and as much as he would have enjoyed seeing her wear it, he could not have foreseen its greater benefit for the entire family or the many wonderful memories that were created as a result.
But his generosity was amplified because my mother didn’t limit his largesse. Rather, she found a way to multiply both its value and her joy.
This column is offered in cooperation with The North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.