Making the most of the gifts God has given to me. Putting them at the service of God, the Church, and society.
Many Gifts, No?
God has entrusted to each one of us many gifts. I invite you to test this claim against your life to see if it is true.
Some of these gifts are life itself, a rational intellect, a free will, a span of time to live and to act, a particular personality, spontaneous likes and dislikes, a unique family, a local and national culture, a particular period of history to live in, an education or formation, friends, some material goods, work, and so on.
As we go on in life, we certainly affect these gifts by what we choose. And these gifts are also affected by any evils we encounter along the way.
Sometimes these gifts are invisible to us. We may need others to tell us what we have and what our talents are.
Time to Take a Stand
By the time we are adults, we ought to know what gifts we possess. Even the pagan philosopher Confucius said “When I was thirty I knew where I stood” (Analects 2:4).
Some of these gifts we have opened and put to use. Some are still in their boxes. There may be others we are not aware of yet. It is exciting and somewhat scary to make a conscious inventory of what we have been given and what we have to offer. To make this inventory, we need to stop and contemplate our lives. This contemplation is best undertaken in the presence of God in mental prayer.
The Third Level of Happiness
If we take our Roman Catholic faith seriously and maturely, we will put a major focus of our adult lives into pursuing what Fr. Robert Spitzer calls the third level of happiness, that is, making a contribution toward the good of others. This is the natural counterpart of Christ’s New Commandment to will the good of the other even to the point of sacrifice (see Jn 13:34-37).
The Gift Which Is Suffering
One particular kind of gift we have that we might easily overlook is our infirmities.
We may not be healthy enough, physically fit enough, smart enough, virtuous enough, devout enough, knowledgeable enough, good-looking enough, energetic enough, rich enough, or “whatever enough” to do the good we would like to do. But I have found that if you keep your hand to the plow, these deficiencies become valuable. They become part of one’s daily cross which one can take up in following Christ. As St. Paul complained and proclaimed,
A thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” . . . [W]hen I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12: 7-10)
It’s Happening to Me
Making the most of the gifts God entrusts to us and putting them at the service of God, the Church, and society is something that can change as the years go by, as some doors close and others open. This summer, unexpectedly and rapidly, things changed for me and our family. I got the opportunity to go back to being a high school teacher. I am now teaching English and theology. I believe I have a gift to give: to help young persons think, read, and write well and to understand the One, True Faith more deeply. I’m currently in the process of finding out if I really do have these gifts and if I am capable of giving them.
Now It’s Your Turn
What are your gifts? Are you giving them? Are there other treasures you possess or could gain that you could put into service for others: for God, the Church, and society?