As we begin another season of Advent which always comes with the risk of quickly forgetting the “reason for the season,” I find it good to try to keep my focus on why we celebrate this time of year. Advent is about the coming of Jesus Christ into our lives through His words and actions. The opportunity to renew our commitment to Jesus and His teachings is one we can all use to look back over the past year while looking forward to the coming year. While there are likely several things, we had planned to do this past year which did not happen, we should reflect on what we did accomplish and plan to continue these and other actions in the coming year. If we can keep our Vincentian charism as our base and allow it to govern our future efforts, this will be a prosperous year ahead.
It is interesting how Christmas can change the way people treat one another, how we tend to care more and do more for the less fortunate and how we just seem more sensitive to others. The cynic in me wonders why we can’t act this way for an entire year. Why do we only become kinder and more considerate at Christmas? Over the years, I have mellowed and now believe that if only for a few days of special kindnesses each year when we are all better at giving and helping, then our world is a better and kinder place for all.
As Vincentians, perhaps we too should examine our efforts to address poverty and take time during this Advent to do that little extra. Many of us are going to take more time and effort to work on special Christmas projects that reach out to our neighbors in need. These can be meals, clothing and food drives and more visits to those in need. Let us not be afraid to tell others about what Vincentians do as we may help others to continue their Christmas giving into the new year and make it an on-going act of kindness. This great gift God gives us every Advent is one that is not meant to be put on the shelf with some of our other gifts, but to be used repeatedly.
May you have a most Holy and Merry Christmas.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.
Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.