Jesuit Gardens: A Gift's True Worth Isn't Always Apparent

A Gift’s True Worth Isn’t Always Apparent

By The Rev. Thomas A. Simonds, SJ, EdD, Associate Professor of Education, College of Arts and Sciences

One day a man with an unusual talent went to see a talent scout. The man said, “I have a unique talent. I can do very convincing bird imitations.” The talent scout looked the man up and down, and with a dismissive wave of his hand said, “Get out of here —bird imitations are a dime a dozen.” With that, the man flew out the window.

Sometimes we have to wait for a gift to be revealed. Someone’s gift may not be readily apparent to us. The man who flew out the window obviously had a unique gift that the talent scout would have loved to market, but because he did not give the man time to share his gift, the talent scout lost out.

One of the challenges we face at Christmas­time is that we receive so many gifts, it is hard to appreciate all of them in a good way. I am not only talking about gifts that are wrapped or stuffed in a stocking. Think of the gift of a new snow, or a song someone sings, or a warm embrace. God gives us so many gifts at Christmas­time, the biggest gift being his Son Jesus. How can we possibly appreciate all of them? It is not easy, but the key is to keep things simple. If we overdo it, we end up with lots of gifts that we cannot appreciate.

One year I received a Christmas card with a picture of the Magi on the front. Below the picture in large type was the line, “The wise still seek him.” Now I have had this card for some time, and it is a little bit worn, but the message is clear. The Magi were wise men, ancient scientists and scholars, whose study of astronomy and ancient texts led them to the conclusion that the King of all Kings would be born in Bethlehem of Judea.

They were so convinced of their conclusion that they set out on camels to follow a star and find this King of Kings. And when they came to Bethlehem, the City of David, what did they find? A baby nestled with hay in a rough-hewn feeding trough for animals, his wayfaring parents nearby, resting in a place where animals were kept in those days.

If you were Caspar, Melchior or Balthazar, and you came to this little shed, or maybe a cave in the side of a hill, would this look like the birth place of the King of Kings? No, it would not. However, remember the story about the flying man. The baby lying in a manger really is the King of Kings, and he really can save your life, if you let him show you his gifts.

About the writer: Fr. Simonds is the author of Advent and Christmas Reflections: Ideas for Teaching the Catholic Faith in the Home, School, and Parish (2010, National Catholic Educational Association).