We spend our lives giving. We give the efforts of our minds to our classes, the efforts of our hands to our jobs, and the efforts of our prayers to God. As students of the Jesuit tradition, we are taught to do all that we do and say all that we say “ad majorem Dei gloriam,” “for the greater glory of God.” I suggest that in the context of a world in which the giving of a gift is as commonplace as a dollar in the donation jar, that our Jesuit heritage calls us to more than giving, our Jesuit tradition calls us to fight for those that we love.
For the sake of metaphor we look at a man, desperate for a holiday gift for his significant other late in the evening on December 23rd. He calls in a favor with his family jeweler who meets him at the store and helps the man pick out a diamond necklace to go with last year’s diamond earrings, the same diamond necklace circled in the catalogue on the kitchen counter at home.
Then there is a boy, in middle school himself, who has walked his little sister the hundred yards to her bus stop each day since the first day of school. There is nothing markedly wrong with the girl that would otherwise disallow her from walking alone and she never asks for this favor, he just quietly joins her as she opens the front door to depart each morning. The words thrown between the two in an escalated but ultimately insignificant argument one night leave the boy in bed with wet eyes and the younger sister scowling into the bathroom mirror as she brushes her teeth. The following morning, she peers over her shoulder as she opens the front door to see the boy treading down the stairs in his shoes and coat.
The immediately obvious lesson is one of simplicity and while it is easy to read these stories and recognize the boy as more generous because he gave his love in the absence of material resources, this is missing the point. The man presumably woke up the each morning leading up to that night, ate a piece of toast before kissing his wife and as they both walked out the door to head to work. The boy struggled to fall asleep the night that he argued with his sister. He relived the stabbing pain in his chest that accompanied each syllable that left her mouth. He twisted the hate with which he responded into justified, argumentative rhetoric. He woke just as angry as he had gone to sleep, and while he lay in bed he thought of wanting to punish his sister by showing her that he didn’t need her and that she wasn’t as important to him as she may have thought. With a deep, frustrated breath, however, he slipped his feet into his shoes and his arms into his jacket, and moved towards the stairs to meet his sister at the front door.
This holiday season give more by fighting for everyone around you, all of the time. Whether you are fighting your own ego to humble yourself before another, or fighting to see something from another’s perspective that may not be abundantly clear to you, persevere. Where generosity falls short of expressing your love for another, fight for them. When the Christmas ham burns in the oven and your mother raises her voice at you in the kitchen, slip your feet into your shoes. When a hurried stranger curses a small error you make in front of him in the crowded grocery store, slip your arms into your jacket. And when your head hits the pillow left with thoughts of fear or anguish over the pain that another has caused you, walk towards the stairs to meet your little sister at the front door.
Adam is a Senior Biology major with minors in Business and Chemistry. He has been blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people in the CFJ through leading and co-directing the Approach retreat. Adam also serves as the president of the Pre-Med Student Association and will be attending medical school next year in hopes of spending his life making kids’ tummies feel better as a pediatric gastroenterologist.