The Greatest Gift
May 15, 2022
Try to imagine the greatest gift you have ever received. Perhaps, the gift was a diamond ring, an all-expense paid vacation, or a down payment on your first home. Today, five weeks after Easter, we may need to be reminded what the greatest gift truly is.
If someone forced me to name the gift, then I would name the gift Divine Understanding, which leads us to the ultimate gift of eternal life.
To receive and appreciate this gift of Divine Understanding, we must first worship God. Psalm 148 reminds us that all of creation praises God:
Praise him, all you angels of his;
praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, heaven of heavens,
and you waters above the heavens.
The Divine Understanding cultivated by the speaker of the poem leads us to realize it is natural to praise God. In essence, Divine Understanding is part of our DNA. The psalm leads us to God’s extravagance of giving his only son as a sacrifice for our sins.
I believe Peter realizes this when he faces the first crisis of the early church: Do Gentiles have to become Jews in order to become Christians? Peter takes time to commune and worship God and falls into a trance through which God offers Peter Divine Understanding. Peter realizes anything that comes from God can’t be profane. Therefore, he realizes Jews and Gentiles are good because they both come from God. Similar to the rest of creation, we can praise God no matter who we are because Jesus offers salvation to all people.
Through Jesus Christ, we are heirs of eternal life that begins with the ransom paid by his blood. Christ set us free from the shackles of sin. This ransom is a gift given to us so that we can live into the Easter mystery and be glorified with Christ. In other words, we have died with Christ and are risen with Christ, which results in the gift of eternal life. The reading from the Acts of the Apostles summarizes this reality concisely: “God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.” As the Easter Vigil fades in our memories, let us reconsider the greatest gift we have ever received. As Christians, it should be no contest.
Photo: Stained glass: Alfred Handel, d. 1946, photo: Toby Hudson, Creative Commons