‘Tis the season for frantic shopping, eye-popping light shows in suburban front yards, and Christmas television specials.
It’s also the start of Advent.
Today’s Gospel has some good advice:
Each of us has humanity’s “transcendent dignity.” (Catechism, 1929)
We all have “the same nature and the same origin,” but we’re not all alike. We’re not supposed to be. (Catechism, 1937)
Those two categories overlap, and that’s another topic.
“Newspaper fame” can last longer than Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame.” A few folks earn much more lasting recognition. Millennia after they lived and died, we remember Homer, Yan Ying and Himiko. Some of us, that is.
Then there’s Jesus. Two thousand years after he lived and died, a sizable fraction of humanity call him “Lord,” among other titles.1 I’m one of them.
I think what our Lord did is important.
That doesn’t explain why I review what we know about Jesus before each winter solstice. Along with well upward of a billion other folks.
After two millennia, we might have decided our Lord wasn’t coming back. Some have.
I think John sums it up rather well:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
I’ll be mostly talking about how I see our long watch, and why it’s more than just waiting.
There’s a short link list to Advent resources and homilies near the end of this post.2
That seems like good advice.
We’re not lacking for work to keep us busy during our long watch.
I’ve accepted the offer. That’s why I try to live as if the ‘family values’ matter.
That’s given us an impressive backlog of issues: troubled relationships within families and communities, and between nations.
So does cultivating patience.
It’s simple, and very far from easy. But it’s a good idea.
Maybe it also sounds less grandiose than what I’ll talk about next.
Building a better world starts within me, with an ongoing “inner conversion.” (Catechism, 1888)
Not that I expect to single-handedly change the course the history, establishing truth and justice throughout the world.
I’m just one man, living in central Minnesota, with very little influence on world affairs. But I can suggest that treating others with respect makes sense, and that working for a better future is an option.
The job will take time, lots of time, since it involves radical ideas like peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty:3
“…We must overcome our fear of the future. But we will not be able to overcome it completely unless we do so together. The ‘answer’ to that fear is neither coercion nor repression, nor the imposition of one social ‘model’ on the entire world. The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the twentieth century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty….”
(“To the United Nations Organization,” Pope St. John Paul II (October 5, 1995))
We haven’t made much progress in building his “civilization of love” in the 22 years since St. John Paul II said working together made sense.
That’s hardly surprising. I am quite sure this will take centuries. Millennia, more likely.
We’re further along, sharing the best news ever. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that we’re a bit further along.
Acting like love is a good idea is still hard. We’re far from convincing many, including ourselves, that we’re all neighbors. But I think we’ve made some progress in the last two millennia.
- “Seeing the Big Picture”
(November 26, 2017)
- “Emmaus: Looking Back and Ahead”
(April 30, 2017)
- “The Eighth Day: Two Millennia and Counting”
(April 16, 2017)
- “Jesus and Expectations”
(December 11, 2016)
- “Advent and Being Prepared”
(November 27, 2016)
How others see holiday shopping frenzies, Advent, and all that:
- “Why this Catholic convert says ‘Bah, humbug’ to Christmas celebrations”
Robert Kurland, Aleteia (December 3, 2017)
- “Contemporary Violence”
Pauca Verba (November 28, 2017)
- “Greccio and the First Crib – A Christmas Reflection”
David Torkington (December 30, 2016)
tiberjudy (November 27, 2016)
- Catechism of the Catholic Church (Christ’s titles)
Pope Francis (November 27, 2016)
(From vatican.va/content/francesco/en/angelus/2016/documents/papa-francesco_angelus_20161127.pdf (November 27, 2017))
Pope Benedict XVI (November 28, 2010)
- “Caritas in veritate”
Pope Benedict XVI (June 29, 2009)
- “Dialogue between cultures for a civilization of love and peace”
Pope St. John Paul II, XXXIV World Day For Peace 2001 (January 1, 2001)
- “To the United Nations Organization”
Pope St. John Paul II, Apostolic Journey to the United States of America (October 5, 1995)
(From w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/speeches/1995/october/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_05101995_address-to-uno.pdf (November 26, 2016))
- “Evangelium Vitae”
Pope St. John Paul II (March 25, 1995)