Growing up as I did, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, it’s hard not to appreciate “the law of the gift”: protect, defend, nourish, share. Liberty is a great treasure. We have tremendous responsibility here.
Almost hidden in a corner of the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art is the image of a man. He seems to embody a tender authority. The artist described this particular image of Jesus as “a portrait of Jesus from life.” Rembrandt “offers for our contemplation a face of Christ that is at one and the same time the most humanly human and the most divinely divine ever created by an artist,” Pierre-Marie Dumont writes in the monthly devotional Magnificat. “He takes us along on the spiritual quest that drove him to contemplate the man Jesus in order to discover the true God.”
That man is the reason so many of us had Christmas off from work. He’s the reason we deck the halls and give gifts.
But what about the gifts we have? There’s that Liberty. Faith is another big one for many. And then there is Family. We may not all have the perfect models of the family unit — perhaps we did and lost it, perhaps it all fell apart with a bad decision or a sudden mistake or abrupt end. Or maybe it’s just foreign — and something we don’t even read about anymore, because we all too often give priority to making room for new normals instead of the old standbys that do seem to make natural and demographic sense.
St. Therese of Lisieux was a cloistered Carmelite nun with a mission. “I wish to travel the world, proclaiming your name throughout the earth,” she declared in prayer to Christ, shortly before her death. But her health prevented her from leaving the convent. Nevertheless, her mission continues.