by Ruth Moraes
With Christmas a little over three weeks away it is time to think about what, or more importantly who, inspires us to give gifts at Christmas. We give gifts at Christmas in imitation of Christ who gave us one of the greatest gifts ever at Christmas a little over two thousand years ago: the gift of himself. Therefore no matter what sort of gifts we give, whether tangible or intangible, Christ should be the inspiration for our giving.
While the guidance we have provided in previous years is still relevant, there are further considerations to take into account which emphasise the Catholic Social Teaching principle of the dignity of the human person. Christmas is a particularly pertinent time to remember the dignity of the human person, who is made in the image and likeness of God, because as Gaudium et Spes reminds us through the Incarnation the Son of God has united himself to every human person. While we often focus on the recipient of the gift we also need to take into account whether we are acting in charity and justice to those who have made, packaged, transported and sold the gift.
In Advent 2019, Pope Francis reminded us that “It will not be Christmas if …. we do not help at least one poor person, who resembles God because God arrived poor on Christmas.” Christ, who had a special love for those who are poor, should also encourage us to examine the different ways in which people experience poverty in our society whether material, social or spiritual and how we can alleviate their poverty.
You can always make a donation to a charity on someone’s behalf, perhaps to the Gift of Goodness which provides food and other assistance of individuals and families in need in Sydney. You may want to consider supporting a social enterprise or company that assists people that are experiencing disadvantage to be more self-sufficient through the products and services they sell. Some examples are Cana Farms which provide transitional employment for people who are making significant changes in their lives or Humans Like Us or The Welcome Merchant which identify businesses that support people who have come from a refugee or asylum seeking background.
Purchasing gifts from small, local businesses is an excellent way to support local communities, minimise the environmental impact of shipping items across large distances and eliminate the risk of deliveries arriving after Christmas. In some ways this has never been easier with sites like Buy from the Bush or the Buy Regional connecting us with regional businesses who are still recovering from drought and bushfires. Another very specific way to shop local is to gift food, artworks or gifts made by our Indigenous Australians, knowing these unique gifts would not be found anywhere else in the world.
These considerations we have mentioned are just some ideas to think about in the lead up to Christmas. We hope you will use them as a starting point to do some more research to see how you can give ethically and responsibly this Christmas. And if you already do this, we hope you will take this opportunity to share these ideas with others.