“What should we do?”

December 16, 2018

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

The people ask John, “What should we do?” His answer is surprisingly authentically ordinary: share with others; avoid extortion; be satisfied with your wages. We too, might ask how might I embrace the sacred in the ordinary? I am sure that during the course of this week, most of us see hundreds of people, as we walk through the mall, pick up our groceries, eat at restaurants, take care of personal errands, and do all the other things associated with daily life. Unless they are relatives or friends, we usually take no notice of the people who cross our path. They are just part of the scenery that surround us we move through our day. Those we do notice attract our attention for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it is their physical appearance or the clothes they are wearing. When someone grabs our attention, questions start coming to mind. Who is that person? Why is that individual acting that way? Where is that person from? Is this someone to avoid or someone worth meeting?

This Gospel begs the questions: “Who are we?” Do we testify to the light? In this season of Advent, this season of waiting for the light, my game plan is to prepare for the coming of Jesus by testifying to the light so that others might believe through me. So if you are like me, and can’t seem to get yourself in a waiting mode, or if you simply haven't begun your Advent preparation, I invite you to join me in modelling John’s ministry in our lives. John the Baptist lived a life of passionate commitment. His passion for justice and honesty spoke to the hearts of the crowds, tax-collectors and soldiers. What John did is something we are to do. As Christians, we are to attract the attention of people and then we are to focus that attention on Jesus Christ. We might say we are to get people to notice us so that they might notice the one we follow. As we await the birth of Christ, will I share what I have with others, especially those who are poor and on the margins of society?

John insists that preparing the way for the Messiah is not simply a matter of belonging to the Jewish nation, but comes about through justice, peace, anid love. John offers some practical examples. People should share clothing and food with those who have none as basic expressions of faith. These are things we must do to prepare to meet the Messiah. Today, St John asks us to consider our honesty and integrity; for we know that many are poor, at home and abroad, because of the greed of others. Christmas is a reminder of a challenge that all can live with the dignity we have come to regard as human rights. The Christ child who was born poor represents all the poor of the world.

—fr. Peter Damian, O.P.