The Second Day of Christmas
On the Fourth Day of Christmas

On the Third Day of Christmas

Snow_2"On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, three French hens. . . ."  It's unfortunate that the three could not have been more intelligent birds, as hens (I testify from experience) seem to be the dolts of bird-dom.  These three are said to signify the trilogy of theological virtues the Apostle Paul refers to in 1 Cor. 13:13 and elsewhere.  However, I much prefer commentator John Gill's description of them as the three theological "graces," signifying that they are imparted by God in his regeneration of us and not the product of our work.  Maybe it is a reminder that it is grace that we have three dumb and not intelligent birds to remind us of the three graces!

Having said so, I don't mean to imply that the graces are fully-realized.  As Gill says, "faith may droop and hang its wing, hope may not be lively, and love may wax cold, but neither of them can be lost."  Thank God for grace as I'm not much good at realizing the virtues on my own and left to myself would falter in faith, lose hope, and love only when it paid off for me (which is no love at all.)  Undoubtedly you've experienced what I have commonly recognized -- that my faith is impure, tainted by doubt; my hope ephemeral, and plagued now and then by doubts; and my love exercised with mixed motivations, always self-serving to some degree.  Thank God for his grace.

Paul also says that the greatest of the three is love.  Gill says that this is because love is more durable, that is, it will endure for eternity.  In essence, love was present in the Trinity prior to Creation and will continue throughout eternity.  God is love.  In addition, while faith and hope well serve us as individuals, through love we serve others -- so love is, as Gill perhaps unfortunately says, more "useful" -- unfortunate in that the word has a pragmatic emphasis.  Better to say that love is fundamentally other-centered and, so, more fruitful. So what happens to faith and hope in heaven?  Gills says that "in the other world, faith will be changed for vision, and hope for enjoyment, but love will abide, and be in its full perfection and constant exercise, to all eternity."

Today, be thankful for the three graces, and spend them wisely.