Advent: December 3

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3–9

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (ESV)

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10–11)

Charles Feeney is a rich man. He made billions in the duty-free shopping market and could have been counted among the richest men in the world except for one fact: he did not use the vast majority of his wealth to enrich himself. Instead, he has donated $8 billion toward medical research, education, and other causes. Even more astonishing than the amount he gave away was the fact that he made every effort to do so secretly. He didn’t care about the attention and he knew other donors might be turned away from specific charities if they knew someone was already giving them large sums of money. Earlier this year, the nonprofit foundation Feeney established to allow his gifts to remain secret was dissolved because it had accomplished its mission – it had given away the last of Feeney’s wealth. All that remains is a nest egg of less than 1 percent of what he gave away, enough to ensure his needs will be met for the rest of his life.

Even though Charles Feeney is a paragon of generosity, his gifts still pale in comparison to the gifts we have been given in Christ. Not only did Jesus give the gift of himself – in the manger, as a teacher and healer, and on the cross – he continues to enrich us “in all speech and all knowledge,” and this good work will continue in us until we are united with him in the presence of the throne of the Almighty.

Like the wise men who brought their gifts to the newborn Christ, our response to this overwhelming generosity of God giving of himself should be a flood of gratitude toward God and an outpouring of generosity – to God and to others. Spend today thanking God for all the ways he has blessed you, and look for ways to be generous to those around you, in time, attention, or resources.

Michael Benson – Communications Writer for the NAB International Office