My fellow-Jesuit friend Hedwig Lewis gifted me his new book. I found the title of the book very interesting: PERSONS ARE OUR BEST GIFTS. We do appreciate our friends. We value their love and friendship as precious to us. Friends make our lives great and worthwhile. In the book of my friend Hedwig, who considers every friend as a gift, has a variety of stories of people, stories of personal experiences and narration of great persons. We can draw inspiration and encouragement for our lives from the book.
In this essay I consider not only persons are gifts but also everything else which comes across the path of my life. Everything in the world is gift for me. In the last analysis I do not consider myself as owner of anything. The sun-light coming through my window, the rain, plants, animals, insects – in sort, all animate and inanimate beings are precious gift of God to me.
After all, what is my life? My life is God’s precious, invaluable gift to me. Naked I came into this world. I didn’t have any clothes or ornaments. Clothes, ornaments, toys were all gift to me. Today whatever things I have or possess – they are all received as gifts.
Take for example my parents. The Creator God’s precious gifts to me are my father and my mother. I did not choose them. Similarly my sisters, my brothers, my relatives and my friends as well as anything and everything are invaluable gifts of God to me. When I consider anyone and anything as God’s precious gift to me, I am reminded of a unique character of Job in the Bible. I have written a long character-sketch of Job in my book on (Old Testament) Bible Characters published by R. R. Sheth & Co. Mumbai-Ahmedabad. The book is now out of print.
Introducing the character of Job the Bible says: “Job worshipped God and was faithful to him. He was a good man, careful not to do anything evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, one thousand head of cattle, and five hundred donkeys. He also had a large number of servants and was the richest man in the East.”
Job was a very happy and prosperous person with sons and daughters, friends, much live-stocks and property. Job lacked nothing in life. Job’s sons used to take turns to give feasts to which all others would come. They all enjoyed life eating and drinking. In the midst of this happy and contented life calamities struck Job one after another. There were natural disasters and man-made calamities. In the course of time Job lost everything: his sons and daughters, his live-stocks and all other properties. Finally Job’s whole body was covered with sores. Job became weak and bedridden. Pitying Job’s condition his wife said: “You are still faithful as ever, aren’t you? Why don’t you curse God and die?”
But Job continued to cling to his faith in God. He told his wife: “You are talking nonsense! When God send us something good, we welcome it. How can we complain when he sends us trouble?”
Three friends of Job visited him and said to him very discouraging and hopeless things. Job acknowledged that he is much afflicted. But still Job remained steadfast in his faith in God. His response to the calamitous situation is classic: “I was born with nothing, and I will die with nothing. The Lord gave, and now he has taken away. May his name be praised?”
Gandhiji, we know, did not consider himself as the owner of whatever things which he possessed; but he said that he was only a steward responsible to take care of them. There are two ideas or two thinking behind the consideration of stewardship. The first thinking is that everything is God-given. The second thinking is that everything one possesses is not for oneself but for all especially for those in need.
We have people saying: My money is for me by right. It is my earning; it is the fruit of my hard work. In this context let us a few questions: Who gave you your right? Who all helped you that you are able to earn? From where did your money come from? Who all created your wealth?
If we ask ourselves these questions and sincerely seek their answers, then we need to acknowledge that a lot of people are involved helping us to earn our money; and we owe much to them and realize that we have no exclusive right to our money. We have received everything through or from others. In the last analysis everything belongs to the Creator God and everything is God’s generous gift to us. So with a sense of love, care and sharing with people, let us express our gratitude to God the sources of every good things.
Changed On: 16-03-2019
Next Change: 01-04-2019
Copyright Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2019