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Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary
He gave some as apostles, others as prophets … evangelists … pastors and teachers. (Ephesians 4:11)
There’s something different about this list of spiritual gifts, don’t you think? Elsewhere in the New Testament, the charisms are generally listed as divinely empowered abilities like healing, wisdom, and generosity. But today’s list identifies the charisms as persons (compare Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 1 Peter 4:10-11). In other words, the people are themselves the gifts.
Is this how you look at other people—or yourself? Whether unconsciously or not, we tend to assess people in terms of their abilities and achievements. But in God’s plan, even the most helpless, lowly, off-putting, or seemingly unaccomplished members of society are gifts by virtue of their very existence. Of course, it’s hard to take this view when relationships are wearing or unpleasant. Here, then, are a few suggestions to help us see the gift in every person.
Find something to appreciate. Don’t focus on flaws and failings. Your in-laws—or children’s spouses, nosy neighbors, demanding superiors, or [fill in the blank]—may drive you crazy. Surely, though, there’s something that you can appreciate. If you can’t see it, ask God for his perspective. Even if it’s just one little thing, try to focus on that. And remember: every person, no matter how challenging, is Jesus in disguise.
Consider the positive effects. Do you want to be more patient, compassionate, or courageous? Perhaps these relationships are opportunities to grow in the virtues you seek! Dealing with a demanding friend or family member, for example, can give you a clearer vision of your own weakness and need for the Lord. That’s a blessing! Throw yourself on the Lord and seek his lead about how to relate: when to forbear, weep with those who weep, or speak the truth in love.
Be a gift. You can’t force people to become the gifts that God has designed them to be. But you can decide to make your own sincere gift of self to the Lord and to everyone around you. Your self-giving will build up the body of Christ and may even spark a transformation in the challenging people around you!
“Lord, help me to see each person in my life as your gift. Empower me to be a gift to them.”
Psalm 122:1-5; Luke 13:1-9
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