Lots of videos of Black Friday show proof of where people’s priorities are. Madness to see people trampling over each other, knocking down barriers, pushing through doors in order to save a few dollars. Obviously there was no concern for others, just for the sales.
There’s nothing wrong with shopping. However, when there is no regard for human dignity, something’s wrong. No one to blame but ourselves. We have created the obsession which surrounds Black Friday. There’s a count down of shopping days and here comes Santa Claus. The malls, the streets, the home decorations—all signal the approach of December 25th. Rarely does anyone mention the Season of Advent, the Advent Wreath, the spiritual preparation for the Christ Child. Little wonder that the First Sunday of Advent starts with a warning about the end times—to get our attention. The end of the world should turn on a little light in our mind that we are only passing through. This world is not forever. Heaven is forever. Our life on this planet is only intended for us to get in shape for eternity. Meanwhile, we try to live our life with our eyes focused on Jesus Christ—His Kingdom—His teachings. Look around. Does our world look like we are getting in shape for eternity? Do we act like the reflection of Christ? If not, then we have to make adjustments. Remember that we influence each other—for better or for bad. “The child is the explanation of the father and mother…this truism cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.” C.K. Chesterton. Whatever is happening in our society, in our world is a reflection of what is happening in our families. We can never pay too much attention to our families.
Should not surprise us that the Holy Father and many bishops took part in a synod devoted to the issues facing families. Questions in Africa are a bit different than those from the United States, but the common denominator is that not everyone is called to marriage but that everyone should come from a marriage. Father, Mother, children—that’s the recipe—the way that God designed the original group. As we wait for Christmas, we examine what is most sacred about what we believe. Joseph, Mary and a Baby—not so complicated—yet, the essence of why we are here. Courageous people who risked everything for each other.
We all know the story. Yet, unless we can connect the story of Christmas to our own experience—there will only be emptiness. Somehow we have to identify—given our present challenges—to the original scene in the stable. No luxury, no money, no insurance. They just had each other. If we search down deep—that’s really all we need. When we have our family, we have everything. The presents we can afford are not as important as the time we can give each other. Time spent together is the best gift. All the documents from Rome will not make a bit of difference unless we decide to give priority to our families. A conversation costs nothing but is priceless and will certainly be remembered. Advent is a time of waiting but not idly. Much can happen from now until Christmas. Rather than counting down shopping days we need to count down days of opportunity—to apologize if we have done wrong—to call someone we know is lonely—to reach out to the poor. Opportunities are always present, beginning in our own home.
Christmas will be filled with joy when we are at peach with our family. Peace starts with each of us.