In today’s reading, Isaiah tells us of a promise that the Lord will provide for all of us a feast of wine and rich food—quite the vision of a party as we begin to prepare for the Christmas season! (Isaiah 25:6) The promises of hope that fill our lives as we await the Incarnation fill my heart with hope for Heaven and the coming of the Kingdom here on Earth.
We may not be able to hasten the reality of the Second Coming and the total fulfillment of all these promises, but we can participate in God’s working of miracles on Earth still today! As Jesus feeds the multitude through gifts of fish and loaves (Matthew 15:29-37), friends of Jesus today (like us!) can still help feed the multitude.
Jesus asks our help in continuing to provide for all of those who still live in need and want. Today, appropriately, we celebrate the feast of a saint who continues to be a model of joyful giving—Saint Nicholas! We can also use the traditions of Saint Nicholas, who goes by "Santa Claus," as a model of being a cheerful and generous giver.
Today’s Gospel gives us an example of the necessity of participating in the material generosity that Saint Nicholas models. When we give alms, we are asked to give the choicest and best we have to offer with a celebratory spirit. When we give Christmas gifts, we do not give the old things and leftovers, we give the best and choicest. We should give with the same generosity to those who belong to our greater human family.
As Catholics, we call this giving of the best and choicest the “Preferential Option for the Poor and Vulnerable.” I have often struggled with how to give preferentially and am grateful to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which provides many resources to help me understand how to give in a way that reflects Christ. Among their resources are writings from Pope Saint John Paul II and Blessed Paul VI that helped truly clarify how “charitable giving” is truly united with charity, our Christian virtue.
Participating in a miracle doesn’t have to be rare or limited to the past. We continue participating in the miracle of feeding the multitudes whenever we give with a joyful and charitable heart.
Let us give with a joyful heart today to someone in need. Maybe it's food for the food shelf or a phone call to a lonely friend. Participate in the miracle of God's abundant love for us in our most tender times.
Brigid Hogan is a midwestern graduate student who finds peace in lakes, the Mass, and fiction when she isn’t ensconced in schoolwork. Find out more about her here.