By Fr. Ken McClure
"What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a wise man I would do my part; yet what I can, I give him—I give my heart." [from "In the Bleak Midwinter" by Christina Rossetti]
I like this verse. I like it because it effectively articulates the tension that exists between hoping that Christ will come and anxiously preparing for the inevitability of it. With all the ‘what do I get them’ nervousness that comes with the execution of the ‘perfect’ Christmas celebration rustling around in our brains, the sentiment of our verse provides us with the link that connects Jesus to each and every one of the other relationships represented on our Christmas shopping lists; demanding that as we wonder what we're doing for each of our friends, family, and obligatory gift recipients (we ALL have those), we also wonder what we're doing for Christ.
We give our heart; but what is that?
When I think of matters of the heart, I think of Love.
The weekly themes of our Advent journey have demonstrated that this divine expression of Love is built upon a foundation. It begins with Hope, which makes Peace possible. Where there is peace, Joy follows, and joy felt within the peace that comes from hope opens our hearts to Love in its fullest sense.
With this in mind, I offer that what we give to the Christ child when we give our hearts is a commitment to continue to ask our Advent questions:
What is my Hope? Where do I find Peace? How do I feel Joy? When do I open myself up to the Love of God?
These are questions of the Heart, and when we ask of the heart, we give of the heart!
So, as we continue to journey with our Lord through the coming year, let us ensure that the gift we have provided, and have been provided, doesn't get tucked into the back of the closet (or worse: returned). May each step we take with Christ hereafter, be taken with an Advent obligation to prepare for the next step, so that all our steps may be filled with Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, leading us always to the open arms of God.
Merry Christmas, and God Bless us Everyone!