by Ken Rolheiser
The Colored Gift from God

“Some years ago, when my nephew was young, I gave him a gift. It was wrapped up in a big box. With great eagerness and enthusiasm, he pulled off the wrapping paper and opened up the box. His eyes lit up with the beautiful big box. He opened the box a little bit, put the toy that was inside the box aside and started to play with the box.

“And I’m saying, ‘Oh no, that is not the gift.’ The gift is in the box. Right? Eventually, he goes and gets the gift and it was one of those things that was wrapped up in plastic. Then he opens that up and again, puts the gift aside and starts playing with all the plastic wrapping.

“He was having great fun between this beautiful box and the beautiful plastic wrapping. And I’m going, ‘No. The gift. The gift is inside!!’ Eventually, after hours, he gets to the gift, but he goes back to the box. He played with it. He stood in the box.” (Father Brendan McGuire – “Gifts from God: Peace and Love”).

Sometimes we get caught up in the externals of life and spend our time prioritizing the “box” itself over the gift of life, and we forget what the gift is inside the box of life, McGuire says.

“The gift is the love of God inside our soul that holds it all together… We have been given this incredible gift. Do not focus on the box. Do not focus even on the packaging inside the box. Go right to the gift of God’s love, and once we sit with that, ‘wow,’ the peace that gives us.” 

I will expand on the above metaphor and apply it to people of all colors. The real gift is inside us, spiritually. The real equality is inside us and the real life of God and love is inside us - the indwelling of the one Holy Spirit, the one Lord, which makes us all one Body in Christ. 

Theologically we are all temples of the Holy Spirit and God dwells in us. This divine spark gives us worth. Knowing this, it should be a simple matter to follow Jesus and love each other. 

In another reflection on Pentecost 2020 McGuire says Jesus calls us to imitate him rather than to worship him. Our churches could become places of transformation rather than worship.

Ideally, “the more I give my life away, the more, in fact, my life is full. The more I actually give my love to others, the more love I actually receive,” McGuire says.

But we are both body and spirit. “We sometimes do evil things even to those we love. To the person whom we love we will say things that are hurtful and painful, and we know not why but we still do it,” McGuire says in his Pentecost homily.

In addressing the tragic events of the death of George Floyd McGuire says we need to protest and demand changes. We need to root out racism and do it peacefully. 
“We do not live in the black and white. We live in the grey; in all sorts of grey.”

The change the world needs starts inside us, inside our homes. If we can first love those we live with and our neighbors, then it is possible to love the more distant stranger.

(565 words)