It’s been a tough summer financially. Our Buick unexpectedly died and had to be replaced. My pneumonia led to unexpected doctor’s bills. Our riding lawnmower bit the dust. As a single-income family, we’ve come up short and it’s kept me up many a night. It’s at moments like these that I question our commitment to a single-income and home-educating our children.

As the primary provider for our family, I have tried to shield our children from this reality as best I can, but they’ve still felt the results.

Hoped-for piano lessons for the children were eliminated. Eating out has ceased. I increased the insurance deductibles on our vehicles. A planned long-distance trip to see America’s approved Marian shrine has been put on hold. We’ve prayed together as a family that God would provide for our most immediate needs.

So, a week ago when I celebrated my birthday, I wasn’t expecting any gifts, least not the one I ended up receiving.

As I opened and read each of my five children’s, and my wife’s, hand-made cards, I savored their sentiments about being an “awesome dad,” and a “loving husband.”

The last card, however, wasn’t a card, but an envelope from our youngest son, eight-year-old Peter. It jingled as I opened it.

Once opened, it revealed a collection of dollars and assortment of loose change. As our children do not receive an allowance, I recognized that it had to be the contents of Peter’s piggy bank. Knowledgeable about our financial situation, Peter had held nothing back. Moved by his generosity, I couldn’t bring myself to count it at the time, but simply gave him a hug, told him that he didn’t need to do that, and thanked him.

Later, as I was putting the money away, I counted it out. A $1 bill, a $5 bill, one nickel, and 10 pennies. As I counted out each penny, 1, 2, 3… 4, 5, 6, 7… 8, 9… 10, I realized that my son had given me


that he had. Six dollars and fifteen cents. He held back nothing, but gave me every last penny. His gift to me was to give me everything. The totality of his gift moved me to tears as I placed the change in our change jar.

Reflecting on my son’s complete gift, I couldn’t help but think of the Father’s complete gift to us. The $6.15 reminded me of Our Heavenly Father, who held back nothing, but gave it all, including His Son Jesus Christ. Only instead of the Father’s gift of His Son, this was a gift made by a loving son to his father. A $6.15 Christ.

As Sunday’s Gospel reading about the workers in the vineyard made abundantly clear, we do not earn Christ. We do not deserve Christ. Yet, there He is – the Father’s complete gift to us, offered freely for all, whether we come to him early, or like the Good Thief, we come to him late. All that we have is gift, but He is the ultimate gift. It took $6.15 to remind me of that. In that, it was the best gift I’ve ever received.