Give more sounds like a simple and direct call to action, a catchy magis slogan. The magis can be loosely defined as living greater, being more, continuous quality improvement, etc. Theologically, the Ignatian concept of the magis means pursuing what leads to a deepening relationship with Jesus, which leads to doing more for others. When I hear “giving more” my mind goes there, giving more of ourselves to others; to our classmates, co-workers, university community, families, and extending out to include our larger human family. But in order to “give more” (of ourselves) we need to have “more” to give.
During the liturgical season of ordinary time I’m not sure we think about giving (much less giving more) nearly enough because we are often so focused on consuming and doing. We take in so much information in this technologically saturated age that we live in. We are inundated with images and text from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. With smart phone capabilities we are in constant communication, always checking email or texting someone. We are always doing, doing, doing and not always thinking about why we do what we do. We are going to class or work, trying to secure internships or jobs, involved in a myriad of extracurriculars, attending meetings, etc.
During the hectic time of the end of the semester when papers and academic projects consume our time, when the NFL playoff race heats up (and simultaneously when we are trying to win our Fantasy Football leagues and our pick’em leagues), when we are trying to make travel arrangements to visit with our families for the holiday season, when we write or buy Christmas cards or gifts for loved ones, sometimes I imagine we feel like we don’t have more of ourselves to give. We may even feel we have less to give during this stressful time. Especially as Advent continues and Christmas draws nearer we simply don’t have any more time, money, or energy. Giving more is the last thing we want to do or feel like we could do even if we desire to. If giving is not our standard way of life, when crazy busy times of the year like this come up, we are not only unprepared to give, but it is sometimes not even on our radar…
I imagine that if we didn’t live in a competitive consumerist culture of continuous partial attention ruled by technology it would be easier for us to be oriented toward giving more each day and it would allow us to give more during this time of the year when we should be intentionally reflecting on what it means that God became one of us. But the reality is that we do live in a society ruled by capitalism and technology, one that often sees Christmas merely as presents and “holiday stuff” as Advent goes unnoticed. So what are we to do? I believe a way forward is found in who Xavier’s Center for Faith and Justice exhorts students to be: attentive, reflective, loving, and yourself.
Being attentive and reflective is not easy in the culture I’ve described but if we intentionally take time to become aware of what’s going on in our lives and in those around us we realize we are not only called to be loving but we are made to be loving. In fact, we are made in the image and likeness of God, a God (because of the Incarnation) who had a human face and showed us how to love. Give more? Jesus gave
all. In doing so in the messiness of all that is human existence, He showed us that being loving is not easy but it is possible and loving others changes lives.
Giving more is not what we are called to do; it is who we are called to be. The exhortation to be yourself translates into be loving, to give more and not only during the season of Advent and then Christmas but each and every day we walk the earth. During this time of the year we remember who we are called to be a little more explicitly. If we remember (which is not easy given everything else floating around in our minds at this busy time) then living out who we are called to become only can be made a possibility IF we are taking care of ourselves. Self-care is so important because without it we are not able to be ourselves, a loving people that live for our fellow brother and sisters… and not just during December.
Carl Caceres is a Coordinator for Faith and Ministry in the CFJ and began working at Xavier in July. He has enjoyed his return to Jesuit Higher Education (Scranton ’11) and is delighted to be a part of this university community where he has seen Xavier students care deeply for one another and attempt to live out the magis. Carl is currently watching a lot of football and cheering on the Miami Redhawks and the defending NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles as they make their annual playoff push.