Tubby and Jimmy went up on a hill where wild strawberries grew. They took two coffee cans, poked holes in the side, made a handle and off they went to gather strawberries. Tubby put a strawberry in the bucket, then one in his mouth, one in the bucket, one in his mouth, and so on. Jimmy put all his strawberries in the bucket, and filled it quickly. Excitedly, Jimmy ran home with his bucket filled to the brim. He was anxious to eat his treasure, and also anxious to share it with his mother, whom he loved very much.
When Jimmy got home he put the strawberries in a bowl and presented this to his mother. “Now Jimmy,” said his mother, happy at the surprise, yet wanting to make a teaching moment, “This is a lovely gift, but when you give a gift you must make it the best that you can. See these greens at the tip of the strawberry? You must pick these off like this…” And she showed him how. “Then,” she continued, “you must wash the strawberries to make them clean. Then, put them in a pretty bowl. Add a little bit of cream and sugar. That way you will be giving the best gift you can.”
So Jimmy ran into the kitchen and did as he was told. He presented the result grandly to his mother. She was delighted. It was the best bowl of strawberries she ever had eaten. And, she even shared some with Jimmy.
When we give a gift we must make it the best that we can. In Holy Communion we give ourselves to Jesus and Jesus gives Himself to us. We want to have a clean place for Him when He comes to live in us. We wouldn’t attend a fine banquet in dirty clothes. We wouldn’t visit a king, president or other dignitary with mud on our faces and hands. We want to give to those we love beautiful and clean fruit. We wash our souls by Confession before we make our First Holy Communion and we keep our souls clean by going to Confession once a month.
Especially during this time of Advent we need to remember to prepare our souls for the coming of the Christ Child on December 25. The best way to start is with a visit to the confessional.
And, if we can find affordable strawberries in our grocery store this time of year, we might also bring them home, clean them, put them in a bowl with some cream and a little sugar and share with our children the story of Tubby and Jimmy and his mother, and the meaning of it all.
When we do this, we can also say a little prayer for Father James Seculoff, a good and holy priest, the original “Jimmy” who is both the character in the story and original storyteller as far as I can tell, a dear, dear spiritual director from our early homeschooling days, who taught me and my children the proper way to give, and prepare a gift.
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