Bishop Ricken

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The Most Rev. David L. Ricken is the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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A whale of a gift

By | December 15, 2011

On Christmas morning we opened our gifts and we went right away to the gift from Mom, mostly out of curiosity. As Mark and I opened the gift, we saw that it was a small ceramic whale that could be used on the top of our dressers for loose change and things we wanted to keep handy every day. After all of that expectation, I must admit I was a bit disappointed. But guess what? I still have the whale curio. I still use it and so does my brother. It was a whale of a gift that keeps on giving and reminds me of my parents so very often.

As we are preparing to do the Christmas proclamation at the vigil of Christmas Masses and to read the infancy narratives from the New Testament throughout the Christmas season, be sure to notice the expectation in the readings from the Old Testament and the great fulfillment of those prophecies that the Jewish people hoped would be fulfilled even in their own times.

Just as my brother’s and my expectations escalated over the days before Christmas, the Jewish people raised expectations of the savior for centuries. Those expectations are written about all through sacred Scripture, especially by the prophet Isaiah, who talks about the dreams of a coming Messiah who would save the House of Israel, a savior who would deliver them from death and be a beacon of hope to all the nations.

When the answer to their long awaited prayers and hopes came, not a few were disappointed and incredulous. The savior was not meant to come as a little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. He was supposed to come as a great king or a member of the nobility or from some very high rank in society. To all appearances, Jesus came as a son of very humble parents. He was rejected from the very beginning of his life, with no room in any of the hotels or hostels or inns.

In fact, the earthly Jesus was a “whale of a gift in a very tiny package.” He was and is the perfect gift for Christmas. He himself is the very gift that keeps on giving. When we see him we see the Father’s love for us. When we see him in the beautiful crèche and manger scenes at home, in our churches and elsewhere, he is a reminder to us of the lengths of the love God will go in order to grant us the gift of life and salvation from death. We are reminded of the love of his mother and foster father, Joseph, and the gift of their “yes” to the divine will. These are the perfect gifts, the gifts that fulfill all of the deepest longings of our hearts and even beyond.

Have a blessed remainder of the Advent season and may you be most focused on the perfect gift that meets all expectations.

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