Christmas has become the largest gift-giving day of the entire year, where family members and friends exchange a mountain of gifts to each other.
While this certainly highlights a general spirit of generosity, we often forget that God is the true gift-giver of Christmas.
St. John Paul II reminded us all of this fact in his Christmas homily in 1980:
Dear brothers and sisters, here in St. Peter’s Basilica, and all of you who can hear my voice from any point in the world at this moment: All of humanity received its greatest gift that night! Every single person receives his greatest gift that night! God himself becomes a gift for man. He himself gives himself away to human nature. He goes down in human history − no longer only through his word, which he reaches from people, but through the one divine word that has become flesh!
Responding to the gift of God
He also goes one step further and challenges us all to not only recognize the gift God is giving us, but to respond to that gift with our own gift to God:
See, the ordinary people who live from their hands do not appear empty-handed in front of the newborn child, they do not come with empty hearts. They bring gifts. With their gifts they respond to the gift of God.
I ask all of you: are you aware of this gift? Are you ready to respond to this gift with your gift? Like the shepherds in Bethlehem…
This is my blessing for you from the middle of this new Holy Night of Bethlehem in 1980: that you know how to accept the gift of God who has become man.
That you respond to this gift of God with the gift of your whole person.
As you experience joy on Christmas giving gifts to others, be sure to pause and receive the gift of God into your heart and to respond to that gift with the gift of yourself.