Most of you will recognize the title as the name of the third Sunday in Advent. Even though I propose that we talk about current events, sometimes these topics do overlap. As I was listening to the homily on the TV mass yesterday and idea struck me that seems especially appropriate for the way things have been recently in our county.
As you all know, there have been many demonstrations about the death of young minority men at the hands of white police officers. A few days ago, I viewed a YOUTUBE clip from a campus security video of an "arrest" on an empty street in Iowa City. It's pretty clear from the video that the officer did just about everything wrong to this young man. But what it highlighted to me was just how agressive some of our police officers have become, when a little more tact, gentleness, and simple kindess would probably work just as well. Emphasizing this point was the piece on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday where a real Secret Santa gave officers $100 bills to randomly distribute to people. The piece shows the officers stopping people and then giving them the $100. There were a lot of police personal cameras showing the hugs (best kind of interaction with the cops). It reminded me, and really anyone who cared to draw a conclusion, that most of our trusted officers are still trusted to do the right things. Too often we hear about the bad apples, like with the priest child abuse situation, that we forget that most, except that few, are doing what they should be and in many times going beyond to help others in their chosen field. We need to remember that the bad new sells and that we don't hear about all of the good that is done on behalf of others.
Now, the question is kind of how did it get this way. One of the major issues that I continue to see is that of selfishness. We have so emphasized personal rights that we have nearly forced everyone into the corner of being selfish. When I was teaching I could see this transformation over the years between 1970 when I began and 2012 when I retired. Students became more and more self centered and so rights conscious that they could indeed proclaim, "You can't touch me." Unfortunately, our self centered nature manifests itself so easliy. I think it's called pride.
In any event, in this season of Advent we are challenged to re-think how things have been going and make efforts to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. For many people, that last sentence is just a bunch of fancy religious words, but let me share my idea that I alluded to in the first paragraph. Usually, we talk about getting ready for the Christ Child as a physical fact, you know, putting the statue in the crib in our Nativity display. But what I think that we really need to do is to prepare ourselves by turning away from our own selfish desires and find something to do every day to help someone else's life become easier to live. Not a big revelation really, but just making that effort every day (kind of like the old Boy Scout's Motto "Do a Good Turn Daily) to make a real difference in a persons life. Looking outward away from one's own personal needs, wants, and desires completely changes ones outlook. It is so easy to make this change. Folks just need to do it.
Once a person make this shift from inward to outward, they can really begin to prepare their heart to become the manger to receive Jesus. A generous heart is a great repository for the love that God showed us with the incarnation of Jesus. The Great Love comes to us every day when we have that generous heart. The incarnation settles within us and grows and makes us more loving, forgiving, patient, and kind. What better solution to our societal enmity that this. But, we must freely choose to make this change. It cannot be forced by God or any one else. Freely chosen to let our hearts become the manger that receives the Lord, not just on 25 DEC, but every day. That is our salvation!