"Father, they are your gift to me" (from John 17).
This line intrigues. The sentiment amazes. How can Jesus, knowing He is going to suffer and die a horrible death, plus having suffered people misunderstanding Him and persecuting--how can He consider us as gifts to Him from God the Father?
How are we "gifts"? What are we to Jesus that He can possibly consider us as a gift to Him?
This hermit wonders. It awoke early this morning, tired per usual, reaching for and chewing up an extra strength Excedrin, chewing a half a pain med, swallowing a prescription anti-inflammatory, rising to use the chamber pot and filling a glass with a vegetable and fruit pureed drink and water. Painful body and painful thoughts broke through, per usual, and the hermit considered that its life has been filled with suffering.
Yet, the hermit offered a thought of praise to God and considered that even if not here, in over its head with heavy labor that it cannot do physically alone, what would be much different elsewhere? The life of suffering would remain; and would the hermit serve the Lord any better?
Well, perhaps. This place--the temporal aspects of it--has been a demoralizing strain and a tremendous spiritual challenge, both. Again, though, what would this body, mind, heart, and spirit be doing any differently in a clean and functional abode? True, the body and mind would have more comforts and organization. The mind would be free to be more creative artistically, perhaps, and to hopefully lift up others--have the energy to do so--in more tangible ways.
But what difference? Even the desire to "do something" with one's life, to "do something" for God with one's life, oozes of attachments to temporal loves--temporal love of perceived success and purpose. When, in reality, the body would yet require silence and solitude, and it would be constantly managing the physical suffering which affects the thoughts and emotions.
That is this hermit's doing something with its life and doing something for God. As for "being," the temporal circumstances should not affect "being." The mind and heart and spirit--the soul with its intellect and will--manage the "being" part of life. And in this, the hermit figures it can be a gift, a more pleasant and delightful and worthwhile gift for His Real Presence--even though Jesus has not put any stipulations on His "gifts".
He tells the Father in the prayer, as written in John 17, that we are the Father's gift to Him. My, oh my, what an uplifting and humbling consideration--that we are the Father's gift to Jesus, and Jesus views and accepts us as such.
Jesus did not say we are gifts to Him if we are pleasant or doing great things with our lives, or if we manage our temporal pain and suffering well. He accepts us as we are. Perhaps it is this tremendous, unconditional love of Jesus for us and His magnanimous consideration of us as "gifts" given Him by God the Father, that causes us, at least some of us, to want to be as good of gifts as humanly possible.
And that broaches the problem we face as humans. We cannot be marvelous gifts by our own doing and efforts. We seem only to become better the more we become dependent to the tiniest of details, upon His Real Presence: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Furthermore, as gifts, He wants us to accept His love and His gift--bequeathed to us by Him--of peace. He wants us to love Him and to be assured that He and the Father are One, and the Father loves us, and that He has sent the Holy Spirit to be with us ever since His Ascension, following our misunderstanding, persecuting, and killing Him.
Yes, it is all quite a lot to absorb...Jesus acknowledging to the Father that we are God's gift to Him.
The reality of what Jesus says and how He views us as gifts, changes temporal suffering, insecurities, and stresses to try to do this or that in order to please others and to please Him, into a peacefulness that approaches sweet death and release. The push and the concerns are on hold, if not off the list. This present moment, this day, this hermit will bask in Jesus's considering it as God's gift to Him.