Monday, September 19, 2011

The Gift of Reception

It is said that it is better to give than to receive. This may well be true. But it is very good to receive. And indeed, it is necessary for Christians to be able to graciously receive the good gifts God and others give us to be truly Christian.
Reception is a key component in the Christian life. We ask God to “give us this day our daily bread” in the Our Father. Christians receive the seven sacraments. Christian married life is built upon mutual gift and reception between two partners. These and many other aspects of Christian life depend upon humble receptivity to the gifts God has given us.
But often, we are too arrogant and stubborn to receive help from others – help that may enhance our spiritual growth.
On first glance, this statement may seem ridiculous. Who doesn’t love gifts or presents? Everyone loves to receive things. (Well, almost everyone.)
But oftentimes, we refuse to accept the assistance that people offer. Rarely, perhaps, do we refuse gifts of money, or material things. But the prayers that other people offer, the advice or words of comfort that other people give, the helping hand that others offer – these are gifts which we would be wise to accept, but often laugh off as pointless or worthless.
Instead, we often prove unwilling to share our burdens, bearing them in stubborn silence. Our refusal to accept the help of others reflects a kind of spiritual pride. And our pride harms both us and those that seek to help us.
I remember for the longest time how I hated to receive help from anyone. Even simple offers of assistance, such as help lifting a heavy object or tutoring in bad areas in school, drove me up a wall. I wanted to help others – but I refused to accept any help for myself.
This, of course, was foolish. What if everyone was like me, and refused to accept any help given? No one could give any help of any kind to anybody. And the world would be a poorer, less generous place as a result.
But I am still tempted to “go it alone” often. And I know many others who suffer from the same difficulty as well.
Human beings sometimes need the help of others. We cannot bear our own burdens alone, all the time. Even Christ was humble enough to share His cross with Simon on the road to Calvary. We too must be humble enough to accept the gifts that others are gracious enough to give.
What good would the virtue of generosity be if everyone proved unwilling to receive help? Without the humility of reception, generosity could not exist.
Sometimes, the greatest humility is that of recognizing our own frailty and imperfection, and letting God and others help us in our times of trouble.  

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