This week we might ask ourselves a few questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What sort of person ought I be?
I was disturbed after seeing the news about the Walmart worker being trampled to death by the mob of shoppers entering the store after they busted down the doors this past Black Friday. There were reports that some were actually pushing the ones providing medical attention to the dying worker. This tragedy showed a lack of respect for human life by some. It put me in a sour mood. It made me feel gloomy going into the Advent season. I thought about how I would feel to be that person receiving the gift purchased by one of those people. Imagine how it would be to accept a gift from someone who cared less about the dying man they trampled over – and the big assumption here is that it was a gift – than the pursuit of the perfect gift. I also thought about the man who died. Was he prepared to die when he woke up and went to work?
This type of tragedy reminds us that we don’t need to look too hard before we find things that make us gloomy. There’s the economy. There are all those annoyances. We let ourselves down sometimes. Others let us down too. There are relationship issues. There are the many stresses we encounter during life. There are worries about the health of ourselves and loved ones. This can be all the more difficult to bear during the holiday season.
What if a different outlook on preparing for Christmas prevailed? A lot of us don’t have much money in these difficult times. Would our lives be better if we weren’t under the dictated control of investor’s expectations? What if there would not be a lot of presents under the tree? Would we be gloomy? Would our gloom lead to our doom? Or would we be changed by our situation? We might be moved to offer gifts in more creative and less expensive ways. What if we had to rely more on other’s goodwill? What if because of this we were in turn moved with gratitude to react charitably? What if we saw the Christmas GIFT as being Jesus’ birth bringing forth LOVE and JOY? How good would Christmas be then? Christmas wouldn’t be viewed just as some trite tradition reserved only for children. It would be more meaningful to us.
If we didn’t have Christmas, our gloom would in fact lead us to doom. Advent is a time we can reflect on the fact that despite our many problems, our gloom will never lead to our doom. God chose to identify with us in such a way as to take upon a human existence, like us in every way except sin.
The GIFT of Christmas can change us if we prepare to receive it worthily. The Love Boat theme song said that “love is life’s sweetest reward”. The words of this song could very well be the words of Jesus at the time of our death – “come aboard, we’re expecting you” followed by “well done my good and faithful servant”. Advent is a time for us to shape up before we ship out.
Our faith is calling us to be better Christians. We are being called to share the love of the baby Jesus despite all our problems.
John the Baptist at first glance may have looked like some sort of nut. A deeper look at his message makes a lot more sense. Or at least it does to me. Time is short. I think we do need to prepare ourselves for life’s final destination. We should have our eyes fixed on heaven and do everything in our power to make it there. We may get the news validating that our time is shorter than we think. We may even wake up and go to work one day not realizing it will be our last on earth.
There are those who would quote Billy Joel and say they’d “rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints”. My take is that Billy Joel had it all wrong. I’d rather laugh with the saints than cry with the sinners any day of the week. I happen to know that the saints have much more fun. And FUN IS GOOD.
There are many who believe that the more gloomy we are, the better off we’ll be. May God deliver us from these gloomy saints. Gloominess will find us easy enough. We don’t need to go out searching for it. The saints understood that life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. They relied on God to deliver them from their miseries. They bore their hardships by “offering it up”. They had insight into the whole faith story. They realized their hardships were only temporary. Offering it up may not make things any easier to bear. But it speaks volumes to the virtue of HOPE.
Here is a nice reflection on the beauty of Advent by Laura – The Beauty of Advent
PRAYER: Lord don’t let our gloom lead to our doom. Allow your light to shine through our hardened hearts this Advent and lead us to the JOY of Christmas morning. Help us to prepare for your coming this Christmas by helping us to understand who we are, where we are going, and what it is that you will for us. AMEN
The Advent season reminds us that it really is true that “The Waiting is the Hardest Part”. Tom Petty was right. Here’s a video courtesy of The Big Quiche, Tom Kiesche, that pretty much sums it up. Have a good time in Advent preparing for Christmas. God Bless.
A song by Chris Tomlin that reminds us that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.
He Shall Feed His Flock
Thief in the Night
Father Musaala : Prepare the way 4 da lord
Father Ted Tyler – Freedom and Salvation – catholic-church.org/ejtyler
Psalm 85 Let Us See Your Kindness
God will speak peace to his people