First, let us examine the idea of gift. Each of us has experienced physically receiving a gift especially on a special occasion such as a Birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, or Graduation. Although I very much enjoy receiving an anticipated gift, I must admit some of my fondest gift memories come from those given without reason or expectation, those unexpected packages in the mail or the little fist full of wilting dandelions and buttercups. That special intention offered as gift, given from the heart, for no other reason than love for you. Those are the most precious, the most cherished, the purist manifestation of a heart devoted to another.
It is, for me, those gifts that mimic most closely the heart of God exhibited in the gifts Pope Francis mentioned in his Wednesday Audience.
- The Gift of Knowledge
- Pope Francis explained, “The knowledge that comes from the Holy Spirit, however, is not limited to human knowledge: it is a special gift, which allows us to grasp, through Creation, the greatness and love of God and His profound relationship with every creature.”
- A similar idea is expressed in the Vatican I document, Dei Fillius which says the following about how we can know God:
“The same Holy mother Church holds and teaches that God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason: ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. It was, however, pleasing to his wisdom and goodness to reveal himself and the eternal laws of his will to the human race by another, and that a supernatural, way. This is how the Apostle puts it: In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.”
- The Beauty and Goodness of all Things
- “The gift of knowledge, of this beauty, we have to thank God for having given us this gift, this beauty! This is the path…and when God finished creating man, He didn’t say that “it was good”, He said that it is “very good!”, He draws us close to Him. And in God’s eyes we are the greatest, the most beautiful, the best things about Creation”
- Continuing what I consider one of his greatest teaching of his papacy — witnessing to the gospel with JOY, he states, “All of this is a source of serenity and peace and renders the Christian a joyful witness of the God, in the wake of St. Francis of Assisi and many saints who were able to sing and praise His love through the contemplation of Creation.”
- “It [Creation] is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.”
- This reminded me of St. Paul’s words in Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
- Custodians of Creation not Masters
- “Custody of Creation is custody of God’s gift to us and it is also a way of saying thank you to God. I am the master of Creation but to carry it forward I will never destroy your gift. And this should be our attitude towards Creation. Safeguard Creation. Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”
- Once a great, dare I say, Hedonist, St. Augustine famously changed his ways, and later penned, “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all.” (St Augustine, “Confessions,” X, 27: PL 32, 795.)
To contemplate this idea of gift further, let us consider some of the elements necessary for a gift to be fruitful for the recipient. A present is only useful if it is received, opened and then utilized for intended purpose for which it has been given. In correlation to these many gifts, Pope Francis reminds us the Heavenly Father has so lavishly bestowed, we must be willing to accept the Spirit’s gift of knowledge, and then open it. Uncovering the Gift of Knowledge includes learning more of how we can best interact with all creatures, and all of Creation, and then ultimately how the utilization of this gift can deepen our relationship with God.
St. Therese said, “Everything is grace” (Her Last Conversations, p. 57). I would surmise, after pondering Pope Francis thought-pausing audience today, in addition, everything is gift.