Bishop Barron's Advent Reflection: What Should We Do?
Your daily Advent reflection...
Third Thursday in Advent
What Should We Do?
is, in principle, interested in repentance. Whenever that call is
uttered in a clear and uncompromising way, people tend to respond. No
matter how high they might seem in the society, no matter how
self-confident, they ultimately want God.
so, like those who in the time of John the Baptist, we ask “What should
we do? How should we live our lives?” This question, of course, tells
us something else about repentance: that it has to do with action more
than simply changing our minds.
know our lives have gone off the rails in different ways, and we want
to get them back on track. This is possible only through certain things
we do. The spiritual life is, finally, a set of behaviors.
what does John the Baptist tell us to do? His first recommendation is
this: “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none”
This is so basic, so elemental—yet so almost thoroughly ignored! In the
Church’s social teaching, we find a constant reminder that although
private property is a social good, the use of our private property must
always have a social orientation.
Leo XIII wrote in Rerum Novarum, “If the question be asked how must
one’s possessions be used, the Church replies without hesitation that
man should not consider his material possessions as his own but as
common to all.” And then this startling line, very effective for an
examination of conscience: “when what necessity demands has been
supplied, and one's standing fairly taken thought for, it becomes a duty
to give to the indigent out of what remains over.”
early Church Father, St. Basil the Great, expressed this idea even more
radically and in tones that echo John the Baptist: “The bread in your
cupboard belongs to the hungry. The cloak in your wardrobe belongs to
the naked. The shoes you allow to rot belong to the barefoot. The money
in your vaults belongs to the destitute. You do injustice to every man
whom you could help but do not.”
what should we do this Advent, we who seek repentance, we who await the
coming of the Messiah? Serve justice, render to each his due, and give
to those who are need.