by Jan Lewis
Today is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
Rather than gathering around the table to break bread with family and friends, too many of us may have spent Thanksgiving Day pouring over the thick advertisements and plotting our strategy to attack the retail outlets early this morning. There were bargains to be had, rebates to grab, limited supplies to fight over and long lines to endure. “’Tis the season” to spend and accumulate.
We justify our actions by saying we want our kids, our spouses, our families and friends to be happy. But what is “happy”? A new television or video game to distract us from our real lives? The latest smartphone that ensures we never have to talk to someone face to face? The must-have fashion accessory that will be passé by next year? Are these the things that bring eternal happiness? Are these the things that store up treasure in heaven? It is hard to break from the lure of consumerism, but as followers of Christ we are called to something greater.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Luke that we should take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions. Saint Paul writes to Timothy that we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it, and he identifies selfishness and idolatry — the worship of things — as two of the sins of the flesh in his Letter to the Galatians.
While Black Friday may be behind us, and the damage already done, we can make a different choice tomorrow. As we prepare to celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, let us commit to choosing relationships over retail experiences. Let us spend time building up the kingdom of God, rather than building retail profits at the Great Mall.
So how do we do that? We can start by practicing hospitality as Paul tells us in his Letter to the Romans; to share with God’s people who are in need. He challenges us to not grow tired of doing good, and promises that we will be made rich in every way, so that we can be generous on every occasion. The gifts we are given, we were given to share.
This year, find ways to share with those less fortunate. Provide a family in need with a Christmas meal, clothing and gifts. Invite someone who is alone to your family celebration. Volunteer to sing at a nursing home, feed the hungry at a food kitchen, or make blankets for the homeless.
This Christmas, be Christ for someone else.
For information on volunteering or donating to Catholic Charities of Northeast visit our website at: www.catholiccharitiesks.org.