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Advent – Thursday, Third Week

December 19, 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019

O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all people:
come to save us without delay.

Scripture for Today

We want to be good people. We want to be kind and helpful.

Kind feelings are good, certainly better than envious ones, which can leave us angry and bitter. Kindness is essentially unselfish movement toward relationship, a disposition toward wanting another person to flourish. But kindness is much more than a feeling. It also requires action, in the way that a tool can be very useful – but only if it is used.  Kindness becomes virtue only when it is exercised.  There is a selflessness about it that is very akin to hospitality. It requires us to look outside ourselves, to ask what someone else needs, whether that be a drink of water, a word of encouragement or appreciation, or gracious acceptance of a gift.  Kindness can also consist in action ordered toward abolishing an unjust situation, such as refusing to cross a picket line even if that results in inconvenience.  The action is what makes it useful, and fitness for use is what results from acting.

Sometimes we confuse our intentions with effects, though, or get pulled into doing things that seem purposeful but really aren’t. One example of this is signing internet petitions. That seems like a good thing, right? Get on board with thousands of other people who want to clean up the oceans or stop corruption in politics! They make us feel good, but they shouldn’t, because the problem is that those petitions are really just a way for organizations to harvest our contact information. They don’t go anywhere useful or make any concrete change.

It’s the same thing with “raising awareness” which is another thing people do a lot in the age of social media. Again, it sounds like a good thing, and it can be, but what does it really do in terms of making a difference if it’s all we do? Ok, now we’re all aware, and…the problem still exists…and…somebody should do something…

What are we waiting for?

We have to go beyond the quick and easy, feel-good stuff and begin to ask about what will really help the situation to change. What will make a difference for the actual people at the border? What do the people in the prison down the road from me need, and might it mean that I need to figure out how to go there and visit them in person, even if that idea makes me uncomfortable? Am I being called to go to a Black Lives Matter vigil for someone who has been killed by police? Should I go to the Park Board meeting and ask why they only fund parks in the wealthier parts of town? Could I donate musical instruments to the public school, or pay off some delinquent lunch accounts? Do I give money to beggars? My unused clothing to the Free Store? Do I donate to the food shelf?

There is so much that needs to be done. We mustn’t waste time on things that don’t help people in real, concrete fashion.

What are we waiting for?

Baya Clare

God ever gentle, ever caring, you call us home from the exile of selfishness to the freedom of justice, the balm of healing, and the joy of sharing. Make us eager to join you in your holy work, as friends of strangers and victims, companions of those whom others shun, and as the happiness of those whose hearts are broken.
Come, share with us your way of seeing as God does, and loving as God loves.
Amen.

_________

Find writers’ bios here.
Photographs by Theresa Ruttger. Graphic design by Baya Clare CSJ. Before copying or using any text or images from this site, please contact bayathread(at)gmail(dot)com for permission.
Some material on this site is adapted from Daily Prayer, Daily Bread, published by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille in 2004, and is used with the permission of the Editor and Project Director, Eleanor Bernstein CSJ.

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