The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
December 16, 2018 – Third Sunday of Advent
After reading today’s gospel, I suddenly feel guilty about what John the Baptist says about preparing to meet the Messiah. After letting people know that he is not the one they are hoping for (apparently, some thought he was), he suggests something along these lines. “Well, if you want to prepare for the coming of the Messiah and you have two coats, give one to someone who has none. And if you have power over someone, let go of that power and be kind and considerate to that person.” Since I don’t have much power over anyone (our children are on their own – mostly) that suggestion doesn’t challenge me that much. But the coat thing does.
I have more than one coat. But I say to myself, I need more than one coat. I live in a part of the world that can be very cold during winter. The temperature goes up and down. Sometimes it snows. Sometimes it rains. I need a coat for every possibility. But it is not just coats. What about my other items of clothing. How many shirts do I need? Pants? You get the picture. I ‘m sure that I have more than I need.
I have a friend, Susan Vogt, who has been writing about “living lightly” for years. You can google her to read her ideas. She writes as a dedicated Catholic and has served the church in multiple roles as a family minister. A few years back she came upon the idea that all the stuff we accumulate during our lives might be a barrier to our spiritual lives. Or to our lives as responsible Christians. Having “too many things” can block our access to what’s more important in life. Plus, others with less, may need some of our unneeded stuff.
Having less, we might live with more. More of what’s important, especially our connection with God.
One of the growing businesses in the town where I live are storage facilities. There seems to be a new one built every month. They must be profitable. They seem almost everywhere these days. Sometimes they are needed to store important things we do need, but simply don’t have a place to store them. We may be storing items for others. In other words, storage places may be necessary.
I bet, however, there’s a lot being stored that is not needed. That if people gave that stuff to those in need, we would all be better off. I wonder, given the words of John the Baptist, whether I might have too many coats and, well, a lot of other things that this Advent, I might let go of and make more space for God and God’s interests in my life.
©David M. Thomas, PhD