Bar 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Lk 3:1-6
2nd Sunday in Advent
Let’s continue to follow the thoughts of St. Paul during this Advent season. In his letter to the Philippians, he prays that a number of gifts might be bestowed upon the community, including the ability to “discern what is of value.”
Living in consumer-driven economies here in the West, that’s a prayer we can all make our own. Someone once described advertising in America as the business of, “Making one feel like he needs what he doesn’t even really want.” The Christmas shopping season begins right after Thanksgiving – sadly, it seems now it is bleeding into Thanksgiving due to certain greedy and heartless corporations that can’t even find the shreds of humanity within their profit-glutted innards to allow the one holiday in the United States that is recognized and embraced by every one of us to avoid their filthy grasp.
I don’t mean to sound like the capitalist anti-Christ here. (I just needed to get that out of my system.) There’s a time and a place for almost everything during this Advent season – spiritual and secular. But here’s the million dollar question:
Are we who are followers of Christ transforming the buying and selling of the Christmas shopping season into a tangible way to express our love and sense of community to family in friends, or are we allowing ourselves to be conformed to a vapid and nihilistic view of life in which the human person is reduced to merely a small part of the great Capitalistic engine?
The choice is always ours. The Holy Spirit moves us towards the path of transformation but won’t force us down that path. This Advent season can be a time to reassert the sacredness of every human person anchored in the complete expression of God’s love that we call the Incarnation, or another sad opportunity to bear false witness to the great lie nestled within the gears of capitalism – that a person is only as valuable as the monetary wealth he/she generates and expends.
As you continue your preparations for Christmas this week, I invite you to take Paul’s prayer to heart. What is it among those preparations that is of value? What needs to be thrown out with the trash?
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)
(To purchase book-length versions of my reflections on Scripture and on the Church, go to http://www.twentythirdpublications.com or to http://www.amazon.com. You’ll find my writings under “James Philipps”)