Robert De Vincenzo, the great Argentine golf professional, had just won a tournament. After receiving the winner's check and smiling for cameras, he went to the club house to leave. As he walked to his car, a young woman approached him, congratulating him on his victory. Then she told him in great detail how her baby was seriously ill and near death. She did not know how she and her husband were going to pay doctor bills and hospital expenses. The golfer was deeply moved by her story. He took out his pen, endorsed his winning check and gave it to her. "Make some good days for your baby," he said.
The following week as Robert was having lunch at the golf club, a PGA official came to his table and said "I heard you were approached by a young woman last week after winning the club tournament." Robert nodded. The official continued, "I have difficult news for you. That woman's a phony. She has no sick baby. She's not even married. She fleeced you, my friend!" "You mean she has no sick, dying baby?" Robert asked. "That's right," said the official. The golfer replied, "That's the best news I've heard all week!"
At times we can all be generous, especially with those we love. Oh the things we do to give them gifts. But we don't mind, do we? We would do it all again. In fact we do! We give gifts on Christmas, on birthdays, on anniversaries. Furthermore we often find ourselves in strange places ae" grown-ups in Toys-R-Us, grandmas and grandpas in baby departments, wives at Cabella's, husbands in women's lingerie, children at flower shops or Hallmark. Yes, it could be said that we are at our best when giving gifts. The fact is, we are most like God when giving gifts.
Jesus reminds us in today's Gospel: Our God is a Giving God! Have we wondered why God gives so very much? God might have created this world of ours dull and gray, but God didn't! In the words of a particular poet (Max Lucado):
"God splae sky blue.
If you love to see geese as they gather, chances are you'll see that too.
Did God have to make the squirrel's tail furry? Was God obliged to make birds sing?
And the funny way that chickens scurry, or the majesty of thunder as it rings?
Why give a flower fragrance? Why give food its taste?
Could it be God loves to see that smile upon your face?"
If we give gifts to show our love, how much more does God do so? If we, infected with selfishness and greed, enjoy giving gifts to each other, how much more does God enjoy doing so? As today's Gospel reminds us, "If God gives such magnificent attention to wildflowers and the things of nature ae" most of which are never seen ae" don't you think God will do well for you, take pride in you, do the best for you?" So if you want, continue going to unusual places to find gifts for those you love, because gift-giving is good! But know this: You are already the greatest gift in each others lives. That's why I invite you right now to turn to those sitting next to you in church this morning. Give them a big smile, a handshake, a hug and let them know how much you appreciate the gift you are to each other. Amen!