Brother Paul’s Thoughts and Musings Regarding the “Signs of the Times”

Sunday, December 4, 2022
The Second Sunday of Advent

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been following the FIFA World Cup soccer event being held in Qatar. I have watched with interest how the United States team and the team from the land of my ancestors-Germany, were progressing in this tournament. It has been exciting and enjoyable. At the same time, I am hating myself and kicking myself for paying attention to the World Cup. I am very aware of the atrocities Qatar is guilty of in organizing and planning this event. I realize they brought in migrant workers from other countries and placed them in what could be considered slave camps and forcing them to work on constructing stadiums in oppressive heat without the necessary food and water to stay healthy. Additionally, many have not been paid for their work, and worse of all, how many of these migrant workers died due to these horrid conditions and treatment and were shipped back to their own countries with no dignity or respect. How in heaven’s name can I support an event with a history as horrible as this?

This is, regrettably, not the first time I have bypassed the consequential issues of a sport/event for the shear enjoyment of it. I know well of the physical and mental health dangers of American football, yet I watch. The Olympics/the host city is often accused of the same types of evils that Qatar is being accused of, yet I watch. And then there are college athletics with poor graduation rates and the exploitation of the student-athlete, yet I watch. If I am painfully honest with myself, I can compare my behavior to the priest and Levite who walk past the man beaten-up and dying on the street in the Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan.

As we proceed through the season of Advent, one of the prayer lines we recite is “come Lord Jesus.” As I have moved through life and try my best to live a life that is consistent to the Gospel message, this prayer asking Christ to come into my life becomes more important than ever.  I need Christ to enter my daily experience and call me to embrace the grace to transform my heart to better model the Christian message I am being called to. I think for all of us, we can identify the inconsistencies of our behavior to the Christian life we have been called to. So, as we ask for Christ to be born in us anew this Christmas, if we are wise, we desire this transformation even more.

At the same time, we are humans, and the “human condition” does impede us from living a consistent message. To acknowledge our humanness is to admit there will always be gaps in our actions and what we are called to. We should be careful not to beat ourselves up too much as we recognize our inconsistencies. But what they should call us to is to pray harder and lean on God for the graces needed to model the message of Jesus more fully. The spiritual life should be more profound in us as we age and gain wisdom. But as I, and most of us can attest to, it is not easy.

During these days of Advent, may we all become excited with what it means for Christ to come into our lives anew and become the best models and examples of the Christian life.