And just whose responsibility is it to make things better? If your first thought is God, I would not correct you necessarily—but I would only remind you that God usually acts in this world nowadays through us human agents. Jesus came among us to teach us how to value, affirm, and love one another.
There is an old Hasidic story about a rabbi and his students. As they walked along one day, the rabbi asked, “How can we know the hour of dawn--the time at which the night ends and the day begins?” No one ventured an immediate answer, so they continued to walk. Then one of the rabbi's disciples offered something. “Is it when you can look from some distance and distinguish between a wolf and a sheep?” “No,” said the rabbi. And they continued to walk. “Is it when there is light enough to distinguish between a grapevine and a thorn bush?” ventured another student. “No,” said the rabbi. There was a long silence.
“Please tell us the answer to your question,” said one. “How is it possible to know the precise time at which the dawn has broken?” “The dawn comes for each of us,” said the wise old teacher, “when we can look into the face of another human being and—by virtue of the light that comes from within us—recognize that even a stranger is our brother or sister. Until then, it is night. Until then, the night is still with us.”
Last week in my “Sing Praise” article I asked the questions: How will you be remembered, and how do you want to be remembered? Self-centered lives are cramped, provincial, lonely and ultimately forlorn. It is only those souls large enough to live for others that are full of joy and bright with love. Love is, in fact, the only spiritual power great enough to overcome the selfishness, sin, fear and greed that seems to be instinctive to being alive.
As believers, we know that the central part of the Christian message is that Jesus came among us to teach us how to value, affirm, and love one another. He taught us to love God by loving one another. He wanted us to learn that giving is better than getting. This new season of Advent gives us the opportunity to reflect on our lives and our choices and priorities. There is too much darkness in this world. Le us pray together for the dawn to come quickly. As the Psalm today says: Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord!