Are you feeling sad/forgotten/useless? … Make room for Christ by greeting your neighbours / clean up your street
Sunday, December 19, 2021 – 4th Sunday of Advent – Many in the world blame others when things are not going well. It could be true. But, at a certain point, we have to admit that the past cannot be changed, and we ourselves, must make the best of what we have: we cannot play the victim and expect to be happy or successful.
Although we say that Advent is a time of waiting, I believe we are not so much waiting for Christ to come, as waiting for ourselves to wake up and take responsibility for ourselves: only then can we see that Christ has already come.
Advent is a time to “take stock of ourselves”: am I living in the past (blaming), or living in the future (dreaming), or am I living in the present (taking responsibility)?
In the 1st Reading we see how God abandoned Bethlehem for a time, perhaps because they were not ready to cooperate with God (living in the past!). Christ can only be born in us anew if we are responsible and humble.
As Richard Rohr OFM likes to say: the way up is, first of all, the way down. How could Bethlehem fall so far out of favour when it was the birthplace of King David? Our Response: God of Hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be healed.
This is a good analogy for ourselves when we are in a prolonged period of feeling sorry for ourselves. Playing the victim can only work for a short time. Then even our friends and family will grow tired of us. That’s when we lose sight of God and lose hope.
The second reading reminds us that unless our external actions are connected with helping others, encouraging others or building community, we cannot heal the pain inside of us. It is only by “making room” for others that we find healing for ourselves= build community.
From our Gospel we see the first sign that Christ has come is when we come together (Mary visited Elizabeth). The second sign is the feeling of joy that moves our hearts. The third sign is the desire to express our joy out loud.
We don’t have to express “holy” words like Elizabeth. Just the fact that we are touched with joy and happiness, and have a desire to say “thank you” to someone= gratitude. Self-pity and depression go hand-in-hand. Gratitude is the only way out. For this last week of Advent, can we start to think about what we are grateful for?
The more we appreciate what we have and what we have received in our lives, the more we will realise (feel) that God is with us.
Then, there is one final step to make Christ real: volunteer to help the Community. Giving ourselves away for the good of others is what Christ did for us at Christmas.
The only sure way to make Christmas real is to give ourselves away for some time. If you have a family, try to involve them all.
- go to the beach and pick up rubbish for 1 hour.
eg. walk around your street and pick up rubbish for 1 hour.
eg. walk around your street and say hi to 10 elderly or struggling people.
eg. get the whole family to write messages on Christmas cards for each resident in your apartment block – and present them.
Mary took time to visit her cousin Elizabeth: it sounds easy, but it was a tough climb, and risky, because women were very vulnerable in those days.
Christmas is a wonderful time for most people. But it can also be a terribly sad time for many people: those who’ve recently lost loved ones, those whose children can’t make it home; those suffering domestic violence, job loss or have broken up with their sweet-heart, etc.
By making small connections with people around us, we make room for Christ. Can we try to “make room” in our busy lives to greet our next door neighbours, our apartment block neighbours, etc. As we do, we are also making room for Christ.
Shall we be like Bethlehem long ago: forgotten and sad? Or make room for Christ? The Inn-Keeper was only able to give low quality accommodation. Can we, also, just give a little? Our Communities will be safer & prosper more.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI