Opening Three Gifts for God

“A feast of rich food and choice wines” may very well be the hopeful thoughts of those on dialysis three times a week.

“On this mountain, he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples,” may very well be the revelation that you do not know everything about everything just because you watch cable news every night.

“The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every face,” might very well be a year after the death of someone you love. You still tear, but at that time, that time is accompanied by a smile for having known that person.

Finally, in the last of my Isaiah excerpts is “let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us.” That may very well mean that salvation is given us as a gift—the gift of God’s Son. 

Dare we open that gift? (I feel like Monty Hall.) Gift number one. Do you rip the wrappings off and quickly look inside? Or, gift number two, do we carefully unwrap this precious gift because grandmother is watching and wants to reuse the wrapping next year? One more “or.” Or, gift number three, do we put the gift aside and wait for some setback or disappointment to occur before we slyly peek inside?

Those are my three questions for us fellow faith travelers on our way to Matthew’s Gospel of the great wedding feast. The wedding feast of life eternal. The wedding feast that doesn’t need to wait. For it can also be celebrated every single day here and now. 

The first is the ripoff. It’s someone else’s faith that you fool yourself into living. Faith passed on? Yes. Faith owned? No. Two of my sisters were nuns, and my brother was a Christian Brother. All three quit. When I was in eighth grade, the undertone from my parents said, “Not are you going to the seminary, but which seminary are you attending?” It worked for me because of question number two. My three siblings are all spiritual but uncovered and lived in their own discovery.

Most three questions save the correct or best answer for last. This time I sandwiched the best one in the middle. It’s the number two method for opening this magnificent gift we call faith. (Forget grandma, she’ll get the wrapping.) It’s the slow exploration of faith – questioning/learning, doubting/accepting, struggling like Jacob and the angel while knowing that angels always win. That’s the carful and deliberate formula for revealing religious mystery after religious mystery to us. Wondering about some of them, cherishing and holding on others, and smiling at the rest. 

Folks, this faithful journey of life, is truly the number two gift. “Walking in the mystery of life,” a pastor friend told me years ago, and she was right. It’s not always complete acceptance, as though God is the only One in charge or that we’re solely in charge. It is always a giving over ourselves to something (Church) and someone (Jesus Christ).

Gift number three? It’s the cheapest and most convenient gift. But, remember that it is still a gift from God. Number three is the emergency box at restaurants and hotels. When an emergency falls upon you, you break the glass, grab the ax, and hope for the best. Not worthy of our Creator, but, I’m told, it still works. But here’s the spoiler alert for gift-opener-of-number-three. Be careful what you wear to a wedding because you may not have been invited.

Dialysis, cable news, and tears. I hold out for gift number two through all times of life; good, threatening, or indifferent. Wrapping neatly folded and never forget to save the bow and then proudly hand it to grandma, I mean God.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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