Advent has started and it’s time to prepare our hearts for the miraculous gift of Jesus’ birth. This should be a time of joyful prayer and reflection on how we can bring Christ to our brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, this season is overshadowed by consumerism and, particularly this year, crime. How do we navigate these next few weeks when our culture doesn’t make room for Jesus?
Crime is on an uptick across the United States. It’s taking the shape of flash mobs — groups of people coordinating online to rush into stores and take as much as they can grab in a few minutes. These groups overwhelm the store’s staff who are told to stand back and not get involved due to potential lawsuits. Basically, it’s a mob looting the store in broad daylight, in full view of cameras and staff, without a care about the ethical and moral implications of their actions.
It’s not surprising that we came to this place in our culture. Black Friday mobs in the USA have been escalating with arguments, fights, tramplings, and shootings. It was only a matter of time before these mobs started skipping the formality of actually paying. After all, if someone doesn’t have qualms about punching someone over a discounted toaster oven, why would he have qualms about not paying for it at all?
You Can’t Follow What You’re Not Taught
This escalation seems to coincide with a decline in the promotion of basic ethics. Think about where we traditionally learn about what is right and wrong — through our family, schools, culture, and faith. Now, look at the declining faith participation and empty churches. Look at how our society basically preaches that stealing and vandalism are righteous forms of social justice action fighting against large, dispassionate corporations. And when our kids see their parents participating in these Black Friday mobs, that behavior becomes normalized in their minds. We can’t expect people to follow rules like “though shalt not steal” if it’s not reflected anywhere in our society.
What do we do now? We can’t go back in time and teach these adults the basic ethics they should have learned as children. There’s plenty of voices out there warning us about the dangers of wokeness and secularism that are being silenced and ignored. We’re in a hard place right now. Our society is crumbling into warring factions and common sense ideas of how to treat each other have deteriorated. But this is where the awesome power of God comes into play. Nothing is outside His ability to fix. We just need to understand that God’s fix most likely won’t involve a shoplifting mob to magically disappear. But it might be someone changing his mind at the last minute and choosing not to participate.
What Can We Do?
We need to increase our devotion to prayer if we’re serious about changing our world. We need to ask God to help change all our hearts and minds to know and do His will. We have to want God to have a place in our world if we desire to have His truth present. God is the ultimate gentleman and will respect our wishes. If we don’t want Him to get involved in our world, we can remain silent. Or, we can pick up our rosary beads, bibles, and Mass schedules and ask for His help to heal our broken world.
Advent is a great time to look beyond the gifts and celebrations and see the need for God in our lives. Like Lent, Advent should be a time of reflection. Ask yourself, “Do you want God in your life?” And if so, are you making room in your life for Him? When Jesus was born, there was no room for him at the inn. Will there be room for him in your heart?