By Dr. Carol Younger
The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?” ~ Luke 3:10
We Americans have a habit of asking others exactly how we should go about our daily lives. We look to those who seem popular or widely listened to for advice, and we seek to emulate them, hoping for the same results that cause that popular one to look young, hopeful, successful, and having it “all together.” We ask for all the details. What is the best diet for healthy living? What do I serve on Sunday for guests who may not be on a diet? What’s the best way to teach my children the faith? How should I pray each day?
Every email download to my inbox is chock-full with requests from those who seem to know the best way to live: donate to this Catholic college sending advice about prayer in their latest newsy bulletin, buy and read this book on Catholic liturgy to enhance your appreciation of worship, teach your baby with this nice Catholic storybook about how Jesus loves them, enhance your personal spiritual life with this Catholic virtual event listening to these Catholic speakers. While good, inviting, and content-rich, all these options can sometimes cause anxiety.
Should I have signed on for this virtual event, or maybe the other one? Should I have used the time differently? Did I write in this new journal the right way? Am I doing this prayer correctly; I don’t feel different, better, calmer, or more trustful and peaceful. Especially now, during the rushed preparation from All Hallows’ Eve to Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, choose to narrow your perspective to daily gratitude, helping others to find gratitude. Be merciful to yourself, and be merciful to others. After all, it’s the King of Mercy Himself Who is to be celebrated soon!
Luke’s description of John the Baptist’s advice is focused on this mercy in the practical Christian living in the material life. In the midst of Advent’s rush to be ready for Christmas, pause, and Rejoice! Be content with what you have; share your material goods and time with others who may have so much less. Jesus, our Savior, is coming with love in His heart, looking for the love of Him in your heart. In your ordinary, not-so-perfect, daily preparation for Christmas, your calmly Catholic, prayerful, merciful gratitude for what you have, and the charity you can give away to others, is the best way to prepare for the arrival of the real reason for the season. Ordinary, Catholic, Corporal works of mercy for the love of Jesus. Rejoice in His Mercy; give His Mercy away today!
O, Jesus, You are arriving so soon, and I’m hardly ready. Show me what among the many gifts and treasures, both material and spiritual, that You have already given me, that I can share with others. Increase in me Your Love to choose to give these away. Amen.
Call to Action
Find at least one or two items from each family member to donate and take the time to bring them to a charitable association.
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So well said! I have gotten past those years when I felt like I squandered Advent because I didn’t read a particular book or listen to a particular on-line retreat. I still have a book that I pulled out for this Advent, thinking I would read it, and flagged webinars that I thought I would watch, but gone is the guilt from not checking everything off my imagined spiritual to-do list. As I look at my stack of Christmas cards that I have not yet sent, my partially-decorated Christmas tree and the fact that I have not yet ordered all of my Christmas gifts (with Christmas less than two weeks away), I still have to fight back the impulse to panic and remind myself that I am choosing the better part – bringing the Eucharist to an assisted living facility, helping at a soup kitchen, driving a friend to the hospital… I think of the words from ”Midwinter”, “What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. What can I give him? Give my heart, give my heart, my heart.”