Approaching Christ with empty hands

December 22, 2016

The following comes from an Advent sermon in 2008 by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the Pontifical household. It’s a poignant illustration about justification by faith alone (h/t Mockingbird, emphasis theirs).

This is the most necessary conversion for those who have already followed Christ and have lived at his service in the Church. An altogether special conversion, which does not consist in abandoning what is evil, but, in a certain sense, in abandoning what is good! Namely, in detaching oneself from everything that one has done…

This emptying of one’s hands and pockets of every pretension, in a spirit of poverty and humility, is the best way to prepare for Christmas. We are reminded of it by a delightful Christmas legend that I would like to mention again. It narrates that among the shepherds that ran on Christmas night to adore the Child there was one who was so poor that he had nothing to offer and was very ashamed. Reaching the grotto, all competed to offer their gifts. Mary did not know what to do to receive them all, having to hold the Child in her arms. Then, seeing the shepherd with his hands free, she entrusted Jesus to him. To have empty hands was his fortune and, on another plane, will also be ours.

2 Responses to “Approaching Christ with empty hands”

  1. Tom Harkins Says:

    Well, it is certainly true that (a) God takes us as we are, whether we have the ability to bring gifts or not; (b) God is especially cognizant of the poor and needy; (c) nothing we can give bears much of a flicker compared to what God has done for us, including most especially himself through Christ; and (d) we can neither give nor do anything worthy to earn our salvation. All that being said, we should not approach Christmas (or God at any time) with “hands empty” if we have something we can give with them. “For God loves a cheerful giver.” “Give, and it will be given unto you.” “I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing,” David says. The wise men offered gifts. In fact, as per your earlier post, we are to give beyond even the tithe, even beyond a “comfort level” (such as the “widow’s mites”). God wants us to “invest” what he has given and receive his own back with increase (parables of the talents and minas). All this giving pleases God and enhances our relationships with him. Probably you agree with all this, but I don’t think it is exactly correct to think that God looks forward to “empty” hands, but rather “giving” hands.

  2. Domini Re-Darling Says:

    how beautiful!

    From: Rev. Brent L. White To: dominiredarling@ymail.com Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2016 11:53 AM Subject: [New post] Approaching Christ with empty hands #yiv1577610710 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1577610710 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1577610710 a.yiv1577610710primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1577610710 a.yiv1577610710primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1577610710 a.yiv1577610710primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1577610710 a.yiv1577610710primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1577610710 WordPress.com | brentwhite posted: “The following comes from an Advent sermon in 2008 by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the Pontifical household. It’s a poignant illustration about justification by faith alone (h/t Mockingbird, emphasis theirs).This is the most necessary conver” | |


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