December 16, 2012 I am glad to see that people in Christmas think about gifts. We priests receive lots of chocolates and cookies. These past few days in Toronto, I have seen in the subway so many advertisements with proposals of different gifts, especially to countries that are poor. Scholarships, food, vaccination packs, even animals, etc. That's a good sign. It means that for many people Christmas is not a shopping season. People understand that there is something wrong with focusing so much in parties, food, gifts, travels, etc.
It seems that for many people, Christmas is a reminder that we have to love one another. That Christmas is something else than a holiday, it appeals to your conscience. It is not a party, it is a celebration of something else. We feel a call to give something, because we ourselves have received a wonderful gift. God gave himself to us, as a baby, in Bethlehem.
Gifts are very good. I would like to talk to you about a beautiful gift we can make.
Gifts to our family are very good. Gifts to the poor, excellent. Works of charity, volunteering, visiting the sick, perfect. But perhaps the best: a gift to Jesus. In this Advent, pray a little more. Give some of your time to your God.
When it is someone's birthday, we give a present to that person, not to others. "Is it wrong to give gifts to others?". Of course not. "But, what can I give to Jesus?". Nothing, except your time. Your heart. Your love. And not because he needs it, but because he wants the opportunity to give, he himself, a gift to you.
It is a challenge. In this time of the year, we should pray more than usual, or at least not less than usual. What a beautiful gift! Because it costs much. God knows that for us it may be costly. Those minutes we steal, from our many obligations, may be for God like the coins of that widow, who give "all she had to live on" (Mark 12:44). But if we are generous with God, he will pay it back with a better gift. He will never be beaten in generosity.
We may come to visit Jesus at the Chapel, or we may invite him to our own home, praying the Rosary in family, or reading the Bible in your room. You may contact him at any moment, in every place. You don't need a smart phone for that! He is always available! May this Advent and Christmas season be for us a deeper experience in our dialogue with God.
I want to thank God for this first semester in the university. I could finish my three courses very well, thanks to God, to your prayers and the help of so many people. To God, because he gave me the time and the health to do it. To you, because I felt the prayers of many people while I wasn't here. And to those who in some way or another help me: most especially Fr. Mario, then those who help me with corrections and translations, those who carry on the different issues of the parish in my absence, etc. Thank you for all, it would not have been possible without you.
I hope my studies will be fruitful for you.