Donate a dollar for this cause. Round up to the nearest dollar for that cause. Help cooking or serving at a soup kitchen. Tutor, babysit, visit the sick, shovel snow…you name it, we give of our time, talent, and treasure to help others. Americans give approximately $470 billion to charities each year and, on average, adults volunteer about 52 hours per year. This is good. Do we remember, though, to give all that we have, all that we do, and all that we are to God trusting that He can do the magnificent with our small gifts?
Recently I have been reading a book titled A Second Look: Encountering the True Jesus by Mark Hart. The second chapter, “Encountering Jesus Magnifies Your Gifts,” has been a great reminder of the power of giving when all is given to God. The chapter tells of the miracle of the loaves and fish after a small boy offers all he has – 5 barley loaves (food of the poor) and 2 fish. Jesus takes this small offering given freely and turns it into something much larger and more significant. A meal for one or two satisfied the hunger of 5000 men.
Jesus’ ability to take the small gifts of his followers and magnify them was not exclusive to 1st century Israelites. In fact, Catholic Christians have preferential seating before a great miracle at every single Mass. We, Jesus’ followers, offer simple gifts of bread and wine to God. Remember, of course, that God’s very own creation is what allows us to grow the wheat and grapes to make the bread and wine. After the gifts of bread and wine have been brought to the altar, we say, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands…” And then, in the words spoken by the priest, we ask God to make these small gifts better, “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” And God does it! Our gifts of bread and wine, through the words of consecration said by the priest, become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. A miracle has occurred. The greatest gift, that of Himself, is right before us.
And then, we offer this awesome gift of the Body and Blood of Christ back to God when the priest says, “Therefore, as we celebrate the memorial of his Death and Resurrection, we offer you, Lord, the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvation…” The Mass, the most perfect prayer of the Church, teaches us to give and shows us the power of God.
One small boy whose name we don’t even know gives bread and fish, and God feeds a multitude. God has given each one of us unique gifts and talents to use. Do we use them to the best of our abilities and give them to God? Are we paying attention to the people God is putting in our paths and serving them and giving that service to God? When suffering enters our lives, do we remember Jesus’ Passion and offer our suffering to God? Our small gifts, acts of love, diligent use of our talents, and patient suffering will impact the world in great ways when we give them to our Lord, Creator of the universe and Savior of the world.