An Undervalued Gift

by | Apr 29, 2022 | Formation, Reflections

Let me share an image of myself as an immature child at Christmas with an undervalued gift.

Taking both the gift and the love of the giver for granted

It may not be surprising, but as a young boy the birthday or Christmas gift that I definitely did not appreciate was clothing. I wanted toys! I took clothing for granted.They were gifts that I did not appreciate because they were not what I wanted.

More significantly, I often missed the more important gift… the love that was being shown through the gift. My parents were only later able to afford a better life. At an earlier stage of their life journey, they sacrificed much to give my sister and I the gifts we needed … and wanted.

In short, sometimes I neither appreciated the gift nor the love that the gift symbolized.

I thought of this as we celebrated “Earth Day.”

Awareness of the gift we take for granted

I am finally becoming aware of the gift I have taken for granted all my life. The home we call Planet Earth. I suspect I am not alone in this

I never paid attention to the Arctic. I knew there was a lot of ice. I never thought of the possibility that ice would melt at the ever-increasing rate that is now being documented..

Far less did I think of the implications of rising sea levels on low-lying coastal areas. We are just beginning to experience the impact of rising sea levels in our recreational playgrounds such as Florida. A day is coming when the Everglades will be beneath the sea.

The day is already here where whole islands in the Pacific are already underwater and the indigenous people who inhabited them have had to abandon their homes and way of life.

We have taken for granted life as we know it will always continue.

Going beyond a secular celebration of Earth Day

Pope Francis has written some things that stopped me in my tracks and made me think more deeply.

  • Significantly, our common home is also God’s own house, permeated by the Spirit of God from the dawn of creation, where the Son of God pitched his tent in the supreme event of the incarnation. 
  • It is in this common home that God co-dwells with humanity and of which we have been entrusted with stewardship, as we read in the book of Genesis [2:15].
  • The contemporary ecological crisis, in fact, lays bare precisely our incapacity to perceive the physical world as impregnated with divine presence.
  • We have swapped the lofty vision of the physical world as God’s own abode, sanctified by the incarnation of the Son of God, with the one-dimensional mechanistic outlook of modernity.
  • Accordingly, the physical world gets reduced to a mere storehouse of resources for human consumption, just real estate for market speculation. . . . Through pollution of the planet’s land, air, and waters, we have degraded our common home that is also God’s own home.
  • We have turned this sacred abode into a marketplace.

The last sentence invites reflection on Jesus’ reaction to the money changers in the temple.

I now ask myself is my concept of “My Father’s house” too small?

We live in God’s house as God’s children. But as children we haven’t matured yet. We neither appreciate the gift itself, nor the love of the giver.

About “My Father’s House”…

  • Is my concept of “my father’s house” too small?
  • Do I see our global home as God’s gift?
  • And then the “Vincentian Question” …What must be done ?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk