The Gift of Self
I have always loved the Christian life’s focus on newness. We are called to become a new creation through our Lord Jesus Christ. As the splendor of a new dawn presents the beginning of a new day, our spiritual day is also meant to start with the contemplation of Christ’s life present in us. We witness the splendor of His presence here among us and in us. Christ’s Word rings in our ears and minds and is meant to guide our thoughts and actions so that we may become little Christs in our small communities and among those who need to know Christ. We help others know Christ by being like Christ. At Mass, we pray that we may become what we eat. During Communion, we are changed. In that most intimate moment, we are made whole and new, no longer just us. For a few moments, we live our prayer that we may become one with Christ.
As beautifully encompassing and fulfilling as the Mass is, how do we live this prayer beyond the Eucharistic banquet? To do this properly, Saint Peter Julian Eymard encourages us to offer God what he called the “Gift of Self” or the “Gift of our Personality.” We give up what we are, our desires, hang-ups, thoughts, and our very selves so that we may become one with Christ, that He may live in us, and that His Holy Will be done in us and through us.
The perfect selflessness of Christ was the gift of His own personality to our Father, the Most High. For most of us, it may be easy to see how to be selfless in situations we consider extreme, like during the Crucifixion, but how can we find it in ordinary, day-to-day life? There seems to be a misconception of what it means to be selfless. I believe it is seen as something that you turn on or off. Do you become selfless by denying your own needs? No. Do you become selfless by denying your dreams and motivations? No.
So, being selfless as Christ is selfless is what exactly? It is turning our lives, needs and dreams, motivations, and charism, who we are, into a gift to others. It is to keep an open mind and a willing heart, to gift our fellow brothers and sisters with our very selves. When we are able to make that mental switch, committing our lives to be a gift to God and others, then we become genuinely selfless. This is part of the gift of self, the gift of personality. If we are willing and able to allow Christ to live in us and take over, then we will discover that Christ will say to us:
Many Saints have spoken about relinquishing desires, wants, and expectations so that we may become empty vessels, vessels that may be filled to the brim by the Grace of God. A saintly life means we are vessels, vessels of God’s Grace. Just as water is transported to combat thirst, we, vessels of grace, transport God’s gifts to those we interact with, fighting faithlessness, hopelessness, and the lack of love. Do we actively think about our role as vessels of God’s grace? Do we take our participation in the Eucharistic banquet as a call to distribute that which we receive from God’s goodness? Grace is God’s gift for us, but what do we do with our gifts? If we gift ourselves to God, then we are His instruments. We are called to be pliable in His hands so that we may allow Him to do His sacred work in the world through us. That is living a saintly life.
This does not mean that we are all called to go out to the nations and preach and minister as the apostles. It does mean that we all have an essential part in God’s mission of Mercy and Love that is ours, and we must allow His Will to mold us and guide us to our daily mission in life through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are called to be like Christ. Let us take every new day and choose to be a new creation in Him. Let us allow ourselves to be His hands in this world so that we may help our loved ones to know and love Christ through His Real Presence in our lives. May we be much less like us and much more like Christ.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, allow us to grow in humility and accept your will for us. Help to make of ourselves a gift to You, that You may reside in us, live presently in us, and minister to the world through us. May we always be Your new creation. Amen.
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We are Ivonne J. Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.