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The Gift of God

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 NKJV) 8 December traditionally marks the beginning of Christmas preparations. It should warm the hearts of people, despite these being, each year more and more, pervaded by feelings of sadness and growing dissatisfaction. Can the shimmer of a decorated tree or a nativity scene full of characters be enough to make us forget the tragedies of every day, thus also clouding the souls of people about the real reason why Christ came to be born? Christ came to dwell among the darkness as the light of God so that His light could shine in the darkness of humanity. The biblical text is very clear in indicating to us in Jesus, the expiation of our sins, the only one capable of reconciling us to the Father and giving us eternal life, the only gift that cannot be purchased, because it is truly a gift. Too bad that this glorious truth tends to disappear in the glitter of the period and in the festive decorations. I hear the Lord's warning echo: "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men" (Matthew 5:13). To the Christians of all times, Jesus directs words to reveal their identity: salt of the earth, light of the world, city placed on a mountain. Unfortunately many like salt disappear (dissolve) in water, and beyond the flavor, the fact that they are not noticed at all is noticeable. Salt was used above all to give taste to food and to preserve food, Christians are called to give flavor to life, to fight against decomposition. We need to rediscover the "measure" of our presence among men, too often shelved just under the tree. As the salt in foods, with the right measure, the appropriate discretion we should be contributors of taste. Jesus warns that, to carry out the function of salt in the world, it is necessary to be authentic and not become insipid. If the salt does not maintain its quality, then it is no longer needed, but can only be thrown away; so too the Christian community, if it becomes worldly, flattening itself on the "so everyone's", if it is no longer capable of having its specificity, the "Christian difference", has no more reason to be. The image takes on a rather surprising connotation, as Jesus warns us against the danger of losing our taste. Be careful to mix the salt with something else that alters its purity and genuineness. The Gospel has its own taste and must be left to it, it must not be distorted, otherwise it is no longer the gospel. Just as the church that modifies it is no longer the church of the Lord. If we tend to sweeten the Gospel to make it more "workable", we are depriving it of its taste. It is the failure of the mission, metaphorically indicated with the image of salt thrown onto the road: it is trampled on, like the dust to which no one pays attention or attributes any value. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2). As salt of the earth, we are called to preserve the faith received and to transmit it intact to others. A challenge for us is to keep the deposit of faith intact. And I am aware that in this period many are torn between the desire to evangelize and to refrain from all that is folklore and commerce.

Devotional 50/2019 Weekly Bible reading plan December 09, Daniel 11-12; Judah December 10, Hosea 1-4; Revelation 1 December 11, Hosea 5-8; Revelation 2 December 12, Hosea 9-11; Revelation 3 December 13, Hosea 12-14; Revelation 4 December 14, Joel; Revelation 5 December 15, Amos 1-3; Revelation 6

On 10 December 1968 Karl Barth (10 May 1886, Basel) died, Calvinist theologian and pastor, initiator of "dialectical theology".

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