Recalling the gifts of the magi to Jesus, many of us choose to give gifts at Christmas. We remember the nativity of Jesus, in which God in his immeasurable generosity to us humbled himself and came “down to a stable, so that we might find him, so that his goodness might touch us, give itself to us and continue to work through us. This is Christmas” .
Recently, though, I was thinking about a different type of gift, the non-physical gifts and talents that we all have. This semester in seminary, I have had the fortune of getting to know many good men from across the country. It has been interesting to learn of the different backgrounds in which they were using their gifts before hearing and responding to the Lord’s call: a biochemist; a mathematician; an army veteran; an actor; a teacher; a lawyer. For those who heard and responded to the Lord’s call while they were still in school, from their talents I can imagine the varied paths they might have taken with their gifts had they not “taken the leap” and entered seminary.
Although perhaps nothing compares to the super-perfect gift of Jesus becoming incarnate and suffering the passion for us, the gifts and talents reflected in the lives of my seminarian brothers are also free gifts from God. “Every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” .
I see the gifts from God continue in these seminarians. Some are proficient in many languages; some are exceptionally talented in preaching; some have a deep understanding of God and his work in the world. I am reminded of St. Paul’s letters where he describes the many gifts from the Spirit and the many functions of the people of God in the one body. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith… to another prophecy,… to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” 
This of course is not just to seminarians. “For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”  God has given each and all of us so many gifts. How do we use his superabundant gifts to help our family, friends, and community? How would we respond if asked what the good news of Christ is, and how do we share that in the world?
And how do we give thanks to God for his gifts? “Man’s true thanksgiving, the thanksgiving that is in accordance with God, means entering into the will of God.”  What is God’s will for you? For some this might be his will for your life’s direction; for others who have already discerned their vocation on this earth, it might be just for today or tomorrow. In either case, considering his will for you is good and important. How has the Lord called you, and how are you responding to that call? Perhaps use the relative quietness that often comes after the year-end holidays to enter into silence and conversation with the Lord to understand his will for you. He has great plans for you, because he made you to be great.
 Benedict XVI, Homily at Midnight Mass of the Nativity of the Lord, 2005.
 Jas 1:17 (RSVSCE).
 1 Cor 12:7-11.
 Rom 12:4-5.
 Joseph Ratzinger, The God of Jesus Christ (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), 77.
Photo by the author. Mosaic at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC.