A week is a long time in politics, they say. In our hectic world, a week is a long time, period. We forget what happened in our anxiety to keep up with the frenetic pace of events, many of which hardly concern us, are superficial and evanescent, but have the glow of novelty.
So when we face another Christmas and are reminded that Jesus is the reason for the season, we have to undertake a significant shift in mental activity to realign ourselves behind the coming of Christ in the midst of the manufactured world of advertisement for perfume, alcoholic beverages and Carnival fetes.
Maybe it would be more reasonable to see Advent as a moment when once again we are brought up short by the fact that God became human and spent a lifetime among us. Not merely as a historical fact, but as an event which had and continues to have profound implications for the conduct of human relations.
Because God signalled that humankind is loved and supremely valued, every single human person is a precious and unique creation with a right to respect, to the resources necessary for actualising her full human potential, to participation in the life of his society. In this way the specific contribution each individual is called to make is not lost, and the New World of justice, love and peace may be brought nearer.
This of course requires hard work, radical re-ordering of priorities that will disturb the status quo. When one per cent of the world’s population owns more than half the wealth of the world, we have a measure of the extent of the injustice to be addressed.
Of course, we can take comfort in the fact that we do not belong to that oligarchy, but the persistence of crime and the pervasiveness of corruption in our minuscule island societies underline the extent to which conversion is needed.
Christmas can be a comforting fairy tale, best aimed at children and the sentimental who can be satisfied with presents and food while the Real Presence of the Creator of all things and the Source of all good gifts is ignored or relegated to an hour of carols and a short sermon that does not ask us to change anything. After all, we have given to charity and put in collection, so we have done our Christian duty.
But the God who gave his Son to make it possible for us to become authentically human may not be so easily disposed of. We may find that as we stumble into the New Year, our refusal to invite God into our seasons of celebration may result in more frenzy as we scramble to mask the emptiness that no amount of action will fill as we struggle to stave off the results of our greed and self-centredness. ADVENT – Are we preparing to meet Him?