There was a touching Christmas episode from the old Dragnet television series (check it out here). Sargent Friday and his partner are called to a Catholic mission parish on Christmas Eve morning to investigate a theft. Somebody has taken the statue of the baby Jesus from the church nativity scene. The priest, Fr. Rojas, is hoping that it will be found and returned in time for Christmas Eve Mass.
Near the end of the episode, the detectives have all but given up hope of recovering the missing statue in time. They stand in the church, sharing with Fr. Rojas the difficult news. Just then a small boy walks through the front doors of the church, pulling behind him a red wagon. In the wagon is the baby Jesus. The detectives ask the little boy where he had found the statue. The boy explains that he hadn’t found it; he had taken it.
The boy further explains that for many years he had always wanted a red wagon. This year he prayed through the child Jesus. He promised that if he got the wagon the child Jesus would have the first ride in it. Now, after having fulfilled the promise, he has brought the statue back.
The episode teaches us that receiving a gift should inspire within us a humble gratitude. It shows us that when you receive a true gift, you can’t keep it to yourself. It must be shared. If you hold onto a gift, it ceases being a gift. If you give it away, for the glory of God and for the good of others, the gift will grow and continue to be a gift.
According to marketers and retailers, Christmas ends on December 25. The implication is, once you receive the gift, it’s over. We Catholics believe that the season of Christmas doesn’t end, but begins on December 25. Once we have received the gift, it has only just begun. We share the gift, it grows, and we pass it on and on and on.
At the end of that Dragnet Christmas episode, the priest explains that the little boy’s family is poor. Wise old Sargent Friday responds, “Are they, Father?”
Be enriched throughout the season of Christmas. Keep seeking new ways to share, and to give back to God, what you have received – and the joy and the gift will always grow.