All that I have and all that I am is a gift from God. All my talents and abilities, my family and friends, my experiences and growth, my life and faith—all these God has given to me. So, what should I do with all the gifts I have received?

At the end of the Spiritual Exercises, after having reflected on all the ways God has offered us abundant gifts and love, Ignatius encourages us to respond by offering these gifts and this love back to God.  Rather than holding on desperately to what we have and using our gifts solely for our own benefit, by offering our gifts and ourselves back to God, we allow God to guide us and our gifts towards greater love and service for others.

Today, we celebrate the feast of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr.  In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear of Stephen’s gifts of preaching and “working great wonders and signs.”  What a wonderful example of someone who handed over his gifts so that the Holy Spirit could work through him!  Even in his final words, Stephen continues to offer himself to God.

During this Christmas season, as we continue to rejoice in gratitude for the wonderful gift of the Incarnation, maybe we can take some time to reflect on the many gifts we have received and offer them  to God.

—Thomas Bambrick, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic in First Studies, studying philosophy at Fordham University, New York.