Finding God on Gannon’s campus: Nathan Demarest emphasizes the value of a gift

Gannon asked students about religous perspective and worldviews in a recent online survey.

Gannon asked students about religous perspective and worldviews in a recent online survey.

Hello! Welcome back to a brand new semester, another brand new year and another brand new chance to begin again.
Did you ever see something in the store that grabs your eye and you desperately want it? Maybe it happened (at least once) when you were a kid and you saw that toy, that game, that card that you desired to have, no matter what the cost.
Sometimes you encounter those children in the store with their parents, and you could almost hear yourself echoed when they say, “Mommy, Daddy, look! I want it! I need to have it!”
Reflect on that one item that you absolutely HAD to have when you were a kid; the thing that made your eyes light up when you unwrapped or got it.
What did that feel like? What emotions emerged and caused you to literally jump for joy?
This past semester, I took Eric Dart’s class on Theology of Marriage. There were a few days where we talked about the idea of giving a gift. Approaching the act of marriage and a life-giving relationship as, well, a gift.
The same emotions and responses were evoked with the act of giving and receiving a gift, maybe one that is brand new. Surprise. Happiness. Joy. Experiencing unconditional love.
When was the last time that you gave someone a gift and you weren’t expecting anything in return?
I’m not talking about receiving a physical gift back, but maybe more abstract things too – looking to get attention, affection, gratitude, a smile.
In a lot of cases, we’re going through what Dart called “economic exchange.” This term can be defined as giving something with the intent that you would be getting something back. Motivated by selfish desires instead of selfless ones.
Here’s my challenge to you for this new semester. Receive the spring 2016 semester as what it is – a gift. A chance for you to work, study, compete, pray, play and ultimately, strive for excellence. You have the opportunity to make this semester awesome. Do it.
I pray that God will give you the graces you need to not only accomplish your goals, but surpass them.
I also pray that God will give you strength to overcome the storm when it rages around you anytime this semester. Praise him in the storm. He will never lead you astray.
I’ve got another challenge for you too. I want you to give gifts to others in return.
We are called to “love our neighbor as ourselves” – the Golden Rule, right? Just like the scribe in the Gospel, you may ask, “Who is my neighbor?” Everyone.
We are global citizens, sharing the earth with each other. Our Gannon community is a microcosm of the world we live in.
What better way to begin the semester than to begin a revolution of fellowship and friendship with those around you, even those whom you haven’t started being friends with yet?
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr., remember what he and other civil rights activists advocated. That all people would live in peace, regardless of who they are. Remember these words, and God bless you.

NATHAN DEMAREST
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