Life is all about gift

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE need to realize this truth about ourselves more deeply. Everything is gift in our life. All the good things that we have come from God, freely given to us so we can be what he wants us to be—his image and likeness, children of his, sharers of his divine life and nature. Since God is pure love, love is also meant for us, and love is at the very core of what a gift is.

We are reminded of this truth when in the gospel we are told that we should assume the mind and spirit of the unprofitable servant. (cfr. Lk 17,5-10) This should be the basic attitude in life that we need to flag up these days. Irrespective of how much we have worked and how many good things we have done, we should not make a big deal about it since that is what is actually expected of us.

It is our duty to work and to do good, a natural consequence of who and what we are. We should not feel as if we are entitled to some privileges and other perks, over and above what we need to live our life as decently, humanly and in a Christian way as possible.

The gospel is quite clear about this. “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what we were obliged to do,’” (Lk 17,10)

We are not doing God and the others a favor when we serve them. That is what is expected of us. To serve and not to be served was the attitude Christ had, and it should be the same attitude we ought to have.

To serve is the language and the action of love. It authenticates any affirmation of love we do, converting it from intention to tangible reality. More that good intentions, and beautiful ideas and words, it is deeds of service that would clearly show there is love in our very heart, the love of God.

Loving and serving cannot and should not be quantified in terms of cost and reward. It is above all these considerations. It’s a purely spiritual operation that should not be spoiled by giving it some material and temporal value. It’s where we can approximate, keep and build up that dignity of being the image and likeness of God and adopted children of his. It’s how we become God-like as we ought.

As man, we of course have our material and temporal needs. These should be attended to as well. We are body and soul, material and spiritual, and both dimensions have their distinctive requirements that have to be met as best as we could.

At least, in our earthly life, these two dimensions and components of our being are inseparable. One cannot be without the other. Just the same, we should not confuse them. We have to abidingly acknowledge their difference and learn how to handle this condition properly.

Of these two components, the spiritual aspect has pride of place, since as Christ said: “It is the Spirit that gives life. The flesh counts for nothing.” (Jn 6,63) In other words, our material and temporal dimension would have no value unless properly inspired by the Spirit who together with giving us life also inspires us to love, to give ourselves freely to others.

It’s this Spirit-inspired loving that makes serving and self-giving an affair where we gain and receive more the more we give ourselves to others.