The Law of the Gift
- Posted by Guest Blogger
- On November 28, 2021
By describing this reality as a “law,” Pope St. John Paul II made it clear that generosity is not optional, not something we can “take or leave.” Our giving takes different forms, depending on our talents and circumstances. But the Law of the Gift is universal, written into our humanity.
We give special thanks to each of you for your commitment, loyalty and discipline to this apostolate. We have experienced exponential growth – meaning, thanks to you, so many more people are praying the rosary and honoring God with their bodies through this apostolate.
In this time of thanksgiving, we are reminded of the Law of the Gift and pray each of you are recipients of this very law!
“During the last public address before his retirement, our pope-emeritus Benedict XVI said something that struck me deeply: “One receives one’s life precisely when one offers it as a gift.”
This teaching was part of Benedict’s reflection on what it meant for him to become Pope. As the “Servant of the Servants of God,” he could not live for himself. He had to give up his private life and personal interests, for the good of the Church and humanity.
But this sacrifice was not simply a loss. In giving up his personal life and becoming the servant of all, Benedict XVI gained something greater: he entered into a deeper communion with all who love and follow Christ.
“The Pope,” he reflected, “has truly brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world … He feels safe in the embrace of their communion, because he no longer belongs to himself, but he belongs to all and all are truly his own.”
Benedict XVI found his life’s deepest meaning in the sacrifice of his pontificate. He gave up those things that were “his,” and opened his arms to the entire world. “One receives one’s life precisely when one offers it as a gift.”
In those words, our pope-emeritus was not simply reflecting on his own experience. He was expressing a supreme truth of the Christian life.
We should take this truth to heart as we respond to the Lord’s call for generous almsgiving and other forms of charity.
Our sacrifices probably won’t be as dramatic, or as public, as those of Benedict XVI. But they will follow the same sacred rule. We will become fully alive only by giving ourselves completely to God and others.
Benedict XVI’s predecessor and friend, Blessed John Paul II, spoke often of this same mysterious truth, which he called “The Law of the Gift”: “Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.” I know this sounds, at first glance, to be counterintuitive, but it strikes a deep cord of truth within in the heart of every human person.
By describing this reality as a “law,” John Paul II made it clear that generosity is not optional, not something we can “take or leave.” Our giving takes different forms, depending on our talents and circumstances. But the Law of the Gift is universal, written into our humanity
As an expression of the Church’s faith, almsgiving takes on a new spiritual depth. It becomes a means of entering into our deepest identity, as members of Christ’s mystical Body. In accordance with the Law of the Gift, we find our identity in Christ only by giving of ourselves “in his name.”
Christian charity, after all, does not merely imitate God’s love. It is a direct expression of that same love, and a real participation in it.
When we give to others in Jesus’ name, we offer more than just material help and practical assistance. We also give them the love of Christ in a tangible form. We become, in a mysterious way, the “hands of God.” – Bishop Conley