For years, the commercialization and secularization of Christmas has expanded at an ever-increasing rate. From companies that try to compete for this year’s “must have” gift to retailers putting out more and more Christmas merchandise earlier and earlier, there is no doubt that Christmas has become about all the wrong things.
As very young kids we don’t even grasp the concept of gifts. We just know that we rip open some colorful paper, and inside is a new toy to play with. A few years go by, and the success of advertising campaigns and peer pressure makes us start to want. First little things, then bigger things and much more specific. In the teenage years the appetite for big, wonderful Christmas gifts can become insatiable. Fast forward a few decades and we find ourselves possessing pretty much every material thing we need or want. People ask us for gift ideas and we struggle to come up with them. The things we need or want can no longer be wrapped up in colorful paper with a ribbon and a bow, and they can’t even be given as gifts. We need more time in the day. We want a clone of ourselves so we can get done everything that needs done and be two places at once. We need better health, want more time with our kids, and need a better night’s sleep (or just more of it.)
And of course, we’ve all been in a gift exchange where we receive a gift that we don’t exactly want or have a use for. We put on our best smile, thank the giver and tell them how great the gift is, and when we get home we put it in the back of a drawer or closet, still in its box, to be left unopened. It’s usually hard to part with these things. After all, it was a gift. It cost someone else money. They did put thought into it. You can’t just throw it away. So years go by and the gift is still sitting there in an unopened box, unused and forgotten.
This isn’t to say that all gifts are useless junk, mere products of rampant consumerism. We all have some gifts that we truly adore, ones that we use all the time, ones that always remind us of the giver and the thought that went into the gift. Sometimes, however, it’s not immediately apparent how valuable they truly are. Sometimes these gifts are stuffed away in the back of your sock drawer for years until you rediscover them and open the box, only to finally appreciate the true treasure you have received.
At baptism, we receive the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. For most Catholics who were baptized as an infant, those gifts are initially left in their box. Our parents and Godparents have a duty and obligation to help us unwrap and use those gifts as we mature, and when we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, those gifts are strengthened. But all too often, those precious treasures are relegated to the box they came in, pushed to the back of the sock drawer with a new wallet and a Popiel Pocket Fisherman, still in their boxes.
God has selected these seven gifts for us, and Jesus brought those gifts to all of us, so that we may more perfectly live our lives and draw ourselves closer to our Creator. These gifts are a set of keys to a priceless fortune, set aside for each of us in Heaven. Are you still keeping them in their box?
Are you using the Wisdom God gave you to illuminate your mind and allow yourself to be attracted to the Divine? Are you using the Knowledge God gave you to see things from His perspective, to know what to believe and how to share it with others? Are you allowing Understanding to enlighten your mind to the mysteries and truths of our faith? Are you listening to His Counsel, so that you may judge promptly and righteously, especially in difficult situations? Are you filled with Fortitude of the mind so that you may endure evil and do good, even when under duress? Do you recognize that you are totally reliant upon God your Eternal Father, and come before Him with humility, trust, love, devotion, and honor, as all Pious people do? And do you have Fear of the Lord in your heart? Do you think of Him with wonder and awe, and view sin like a child’s fear of letting down his father?
These Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit — Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord — are in each one of us. God doesn’t want us to leave them in their box. He put great thought into these gifts, and they are true treasure. If you haven’t opened them yet, or if you put them away and forgot about them, go find where you put them. Open the box.