WHAT MUST WE DO?
The Baptist’s preaching shook the consciences of many. That prophet of the desert was telling them loud and clear what they felt in their heart: it was necessary to change, to come back to God, to prepare themselves to welcome the Messiah. Some approached him with this question: What must we do?
The Baptist has very clear ideas. He doesn’t propose that they add new religious practices to their life. He doesn’t ask them to stay in the desert doing penance. He doesn’t talk to them about new rules. You need to welcome the Messiah by looking attentively to those in need.
He doesn’t get caught up in sublime theories or in deep motivations. Speaking directly, in the purest prophetic style, he summarizes everything in one great formula: «Anyone who has two tunics must share with the one who has none, and anyone with something to eat must do the same». And us – what must we do to welcome Christ into the midst of this society in crisis?
Before anything else, we must make a much greater effort to know what’s going on: the lack of information is the first cause of our passivity. In addition, we mustn’t tolerate lies or the cover-up of the truth. We need to know, in its harsh reality, the suffering that is being generated unjustly in our midst.
It’s not enough to bounce around being generous. We can make tracks toward a more sober life. We must dare to experience «becoming poor» little by little, cutting back on our current level of well-being, in order to share with the most needy so many things that we have and don’t need to live.
We can be especially attentive to those who have fallen into grave situations of social exclusion: the evicted, those deprived of needed sanitation, those without work or any social resources…. We need to instinctively go out in defense of those who are drowning in powerlessness and the lack of motivation to deal with their future.
In our Christian communities we can develop different initiatives to be near to the most violent cases of social abandonment: concrete knowledge of situations, mobilization of people so as to not leave anyone on their own, sharing of material resources, development of possible assistance.
For many these are difficult times. All of us are being offered the opportunity to humanize our reckless consumerism, making ourselves more sensitive to the suffering of victims, growing in practiced solidarity, being a part of denouncing the lack of compassion as the crisis grows. It will be our way of more truly welcoming Christ in our lives.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf