At this time of year, the world is obsessed with gifts – gift-giving, gift-receiving, and especially gift-purchasing. Surrounded by the commercial frenzy, it is often difficult for Christians to remain focused on proper gift-giving – on the spirit of charity and generosity and on preparing to receive again in our hearts the most important gift of all, the Christ child, the Savior.
To help us in our efforts, the Church offers the saints, who will both intercede for us and also serve as examples of true generosity.
We learn from our patron, St. Gregory the Great, about a saint of his day, Servulus of Rome. Servulus was a most pitiable man. He suffered from a paralysis that prevented him from standing, sitting, feeding himself or turning himself over. His family was too poor to afford his care, so each day, his mother and brother carried him to the door of St. Clement’s Church in Rome, where he lay so that passersby who took pity on him could place coins on his pallet. Servulus endured this life of begging with patience and humility. He never considered himself so poor that he couldn’t share the offerings given to him with others who were hungry or in need.
Servulus kept his good spirit by asking those who came to pray in the church to read passages of Scripture (which he memorized) to him, and he endured his physical pain by singing hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God.
On December 23, 590, as he felt himself nearing death, Servulus called for others to join him in praying, singing and reciting the Psalms. Soon he declared that he could hear the angels singing, and he breathed his last. This poor man, who had generously shared the little that he had with others, was buried in St. Clement’s Church and his relics brought about many miracles.
Whatever our station in life, may we, like St. Servulus, offer what gifts we have to others in the name of Christ who gave his life for us.