Advent is normally one of my favorites seasons, a wonderful time of the year. The amazing gift being prepared for us over Christmas is often overrun by a lot of family busyness. There is much to be thankful for in this season, but instead of creating the runway for “Peace on Earth” by preparing soulfully for the arrival of the child Jesus, we become wrapped up, physically and metaphorically in things of the world. Perhaps because Advent does not give us that “call to action” which Lent seems to, it may be overlooked. I don’t write this as chastisement in any way, I am as guilty as any.
We want to give to others, especially those close to us, but what about the forgotten in the world during Advent. A one billion dollar call out has been made by the United Nations to feed the 100,000 plus children dying in Nigeria because of civil strife there. Aleppo in Syria is now a city literally dying in front of our eyes each evening on the news. All of this creates oscillating feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and exhaustion.
What can I do to help? Watch and pray?
As I look into the eyes of my granddaughter and see all the privileges she has in her world, I cry for her sisters in Nigeria and Aleppo.
Prayerful thankfulness and gratitude should perhaps pervade my thoughts entering the season, but if I walk on the other side of the street, ignoring the man how has collapsed in front of my path what does that make me? Perhaps Advent is a time for action as well as prayer.
Michael Cunningham is Director of Faith Formation for St. Eulalia Parish
Photograph by Michael J. Cunningham © 2016