I love Christmas! Celebrating the precious gift of Jesus, who perfectly embodied God's love for us, gives me such joy and hope. Just as God gifted us with Jesus, we too are called to be gifts to others. That's why I think it is so important that we encourage our young people to give of themselves to those most in need.
Gifts can be self-serving and materialistic. But when the gift is ourselves, God smiles. How much does our youth ministry, be it in the context of a parish or Catholic high school, provide opportunities for our teens to give of themselves in service to others? Whether it's a two-hour local service project or a week-long mission trip, the experience of giving one's self to and for others is beyond price. So too is accepting the gift that those who are poor and vulnerable can be for us.
Teens often under-value themselves as gifts. I once had a young person on a Young Neighbors in Action mission trip share that she wasn't contributing because she was assigned to hang out with children at Boys and Girls Club. She felt like she wasn't doing anything except talking to little kids. We tried to help her see that she was doing so much—by giving her time, her attention, and her compassion to those who get little of these in their lives. We encouraged her to see herself as a role model. Over the course of the week, she began to realize she was a gift, and those children were a gift to her. It was an incredible moment of revelation.
So as we prepare to receive once again the greatest gift of all, the incarnate Word of God, let's give of ourselves to our young people. And let's invite them to give of themselves to a world which needs them more than ever before. Joyous Christmas to you!