There is a lot of material wealth in this country. Many people have a good standard of living, and it shows by the kinds of things we have or are given. I gave up long ago buying gifts for anyone in my family, because they have so many things. I don’t know what I could give them that they don’t already have. So I resort to gift cards. It makes gift shopping for Christmas a whole lot easier. Here in Chicago, my Christmas shopping consists of a local trip to the Jewel-Osco grocery store, a visit to the gift card kiosk, and the Christmas gift card-holder part of the greeting card section.
We buy our children all kinds of sophisticated and expensive toys; let’s not forget the Barbie dolls, and of course marketed toys from famous movies. Mel Brooks, playing “Yogurt” in the movie “Spaceballs,” said the key to the Schwartz (instead of the Force), was “Merchandizing!” But it always amazes me how real young children get tremendous pleasure in going into a kitchen cabinet to take out pots and pans, banging them around, and maybe putting them back in, and taking them out again! Give a child some safe items from a junk drawer, and they will find something to do with them and be occupied for a while.
As we approach this Advent Fast, let us reflect on our acquisition of possessions. What do we really need versus what do we really want? What is our budget for gift buying? Can a part of the budget be diverted to supporting a worthy charitable endeavor? If you have a local FOCUS chapter or something comparable to that, would a more appropriate family gift be to take a shift and work at serving a meal? You can even sit down and get to know some of the people that come seeking a meal.
This Sunday, November 10th is the Sunday when the Good Samaritan parable is read. It always is read just before the Fast begins. Most know this story and have heard many sermons preached on it. If Christ in that gospel reading is the image the Good Samaritan, what can the story teach about our possessions, how we use them, and to what end? What does Christ teach us about what it means to be a Good Samaritan? Finally, to what end do we acquire things, for what purpose?
The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
The unworthy +Paul