In the foreword to Antonio Lopez’s Gift and the Unity of Being , Milbank says that by giving “gift” a transcendental status, Lopez offers “a rethinking of the Thomistic metaphysics of act and being that renders it a fully Trinitarian metaphysics” (xii).
He elaborates, “The divine actus is already, as in the case of the Paternal origin, in a certain sense receptive in order that it may act at all; equivalently we cannot see any finite reality as an act unless we also see it as a received gift.
Gifts must be received to be given, and therefore, “if every being is a gift of itself to itself, then it can only exist as reflectively giving itself to itself. This means that consciously spiritual beings are the first and primordial created beings. There cannot be a cosmos without spirit, as indeed Aquinas like the Fathers taught, and equally every non-spiritual creature must exhibit this spirituality in some lesser, analogical degree.” Milbank sees in the metaphysics of gift a form of “vitalism” that begins not from immanence but from transcendence.
What follows is that “every being qua being is a gift and that God is eminent generosity,” but also “that every being is internally and externally involved in a gift-exchange of initiation, reception, and counter-giving that in God is Trinitarian relation” (xii-xiii).