“Father, they are your gift to me…” (John 17:24a, NAB version)
I recently read the New American Bible version of the “Upper Room discourse” in the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John. I was struck by how Jesus refers to us – “those who will believe in me through their [the disciples’] word” – as a “gift” to him from the Father.
I mused on whether I would consider myself to be a “gift” to Jesus, and I was saddened to feel that, often, I am not convinced that I am such a great gift. I’m frequently selfish and prideful, occasionally stubborn, often judgemental. At times, I resent the irritations I encounter in my life (which are often other people) rather than being grateful for the opportunity to trust God’s goodness.
Yet as I thought further, I realized that, just as with our own children who often frustrate us with their behavior, we would still consider them to be gifts to us, simply because we love them. We believe in their potential, and can imagine a good future for them. While we might occasionally despair that they’ll ever grow up, we mostly hold on to hope for their progress and growth. We often delight in them and enjoy their company. Sometimes we might even want them to hang out with us more than they do. We might also wish for their undivided attention, not wanting to share so much with screens, video games, and other competitors. If only they would pay more attention to us, the ones who only want the best for them!
Because of my baptism into Christ, I have become not only God’s own child, but also even more intimately, part of him as a member – like a limb is a member, not like a member of a club – of the very Body of Jesus Christ. How much he must want the same trust in his love and his perfect wisdom that I want from my own children! Perhaps I should stop being so discouraged by my foibles and failures, and instead spend more quality time with my Heavenly Father, trusting his acceptance of me, and enjoying his favor and his delight in whom he is making me to be by his grace.