The words of our psalm response today tie together a theme that runs through all our readings this weekend: the many ways that God gifts, blesses, and welcomes us.
In the reading from Kings, a woman of influence pays a kindness to Elisha the prophet because he is a man of God. God in his generosity promises she will be fondling a son by that same time the next year. A son in this context is not only a gift of life, but is also a symbol of protection — someone to help manage her affairs as she ages, and a symbol of hope — that the legacy of this family will spread into the future. In our time the gift of a child (or children) often becomes another tool by which God draws us closer to each other and the larger human family.
In our second reading, Paul teaches us that it is through the goodness of God that Jesus gave us the gift of baptism through which God leads us into the “newness of life”. This newness of life carries with it the freedom from the weight of sin and death. Filled with this spirit of life, and the knowledge of where it ultimately leads, allows us to be free from fear so we too can lead others to life without end.
In our Gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus reminds us of the many gifts that are lavished upon us like family. Our family is one the earliest sources of welcome that God uses to demonstrate his love and desire care for us. As much as we love these gifts, Jesus reminds us our appreciation of the gifts cannot outweigh the love we have for the Giver of the gifts.
These God given gifts in their many forms are surely designed to make our lives more pleasant and enjoyable. The true purpose of these gifts however, is to remind us of the many ways God dwells among us, how God nurtures us, and how He helps us to grow. The best way we can show God our appreciation for these gifts is to offer our thanks each day, share them with each other, and use them to the best of our ability to reflect the greatness of our Heavenly Father.