"The watchful person is one who, in the noise of the world, does not let themselves be overwhelmed by distraction or superficiality, but lives in a full and conscious way, with a concern above all for others. With this manner we become aware of the tears and the needs of neighbors and we can also understand their human and spiritual strengths and qualities. The heedful person then also turns toward the world, seeking to counter the indifference and cruelty in it, and taking delight in its beautiful treasures which also exist and are to be safeguarded."—Pope Francis1
In these beautiful words, Pope Francis reminds us of our duties in Advent to be people of the world, part of the world, appreciative of the world, but to be mindful of our place in the world and in our relations with one another.
This Advent, amid the trials and tribulations of our times, being watchful for the coming of Jesus can include the awareness of how our neighbor struggles. In turn, this action opens our eyes to new ways of thinking and seeing opportunities in which we, ourselves can grow. We don't have to listen too closely or watch too keenly to see the wonderful work of God made manifest in those who are struggling or suffering. Jesus comes each Christmas to remind us of Love, and the great day when He will finally come in the fullness of the Kingdom. We need to practice love each day until that day comes. Watch: Who needs you in your family, at work or in your neighborhood? What can you do to fill that need?
Bake some brownies, bring them to a neighbor and talk—listen. Buy a Christmas gift, wrap it up nice, and hand it to the person at work or in your neighborhood who might least expect it. Buy a scarf, mittens, and hat—drop it off at a shelter, and speak with the person at the door. Listen to what they share. Being present is a present. Being watchful for those in need is another present, but more to yourself than others. Happy Advent.
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