Selfish parents raise children to be selfish. Selfish school teachers teach children to be selfish. Selfish leaders encourage selfishness in society. We are a selfish society here in America, and our selfishness is "new every morning". It seems that we are constantly coming up with new ways to view our selfishness as a virtue. Years ago, honor was a known virtue. Today it is almost forgotten, and those few who know what that word actually means find it hard to point out good examples of it. When rebellion began to be viewed as a virtue in the last century, honor quickly became a matter of personal interpretation. What is honorable to me, may not be to the next guy. Selfishness never used to be honorable; times have changed.
Apparently our illustrious mis-Leader, Mr. President, spoke recently about the school shooting in Connecticut. In this speech he was quoted as saying "we will have to change". This coming from a man who believes that it is acceptable to murder unborn babies if they are inconvenient to our individual desires. Selfishness once again. I mean no disrespect, but I cannot take his claims of sorrow as serious. Yes, we will need to change, but he has absolutely no idea of what that means in God's eyes.
We are sick. Yet, most do not get it. Our sickness is deep; deeper than most people are willing to look. School shootings are not the main problem, they are a symptom of a greater problem. This greater problem is one that many of us do not want to deal with. It is the problem of selfishness. Those who choose to pick up a weapon and kill innocent people are certainly not doing so out of a sense of personal self-sacrifice. Selfishness is rampant in the world today, and this is one more symptom that shows just how far selfishness can go.
The reality of our selfishness is not easily made clear. We often think, "I would never do such a horrible act as he did", and we do this to salve our conscience. Yet, each of us has our own selfish streak. The Blessed Virgin lived selflessly, but the rest of us fall short of this at one time or another. If God spoke to you today and said that you were selfish, would you know what behavior He was speaking about? Would it take you time to figure it out? I am afraid that for most of us, it might require some extensive introspection.
When I first read about the shooting in Connecticut, I could not even read it aloud to my wife without crying. I mourn for everyone effected by this tragic event, and they are all in my prayers. I also, however, mourn for what is in our future. We keep seeing these horrific events take place, and we cry out "why?!" and look for answers. Yet, few are willing to admit that it is our own selfishness that encourages this type of behavior. We have been recreating our world to support and defend selfishness, and yet we cannot see the clear consequences of this foolishness. We want to have more security guards and better metal detectors at the schools, but we do not want to give up our lusts.
The collect of the day for the third Sunday in Advent is different in the Ordinariate Missal than it is in the Roman Missal. Our collect comes from one that was in the Book of Common Prayer. In this prayer we petition the Lord to come to us quickly because we are "sorely hindered by our sins". It is usually our own sins that keep us from a peaceful and joyful life. Yes, there are also outside influences that sometimes come against us, but a godly response to those influences can overcome all these.
Advent is not supposed to be the time when we have big Christmas parties, and get all festive. The days of Christmas (which come after Christmas, not before) are the times for celebration. Advent is the time of introspection and preparation (signified by the liturgical color violet or deep blue). The distortion of Christmas from a time of rejoicing in what we have been given into a time of rejoicing for what we can get has driven us all away from the point of Advent. The Church encourages us to spend four weeks preparing to worship Jesus correctly on Christmas day. Are you wasting this time focusing on other things?
This is going to be a hard Christmas for many who have suffered from this recent tragedy. It is also going to be a hard Christmas for every one who refuses to prepare themselves to stand before Jesus. It may be a good Christmas if all we care about is how big a haul we take in, but if eternal issues matter to us we will spend the right amount of time making our hearts right with God. To show up in Mass focused on self and attempting to look good for everyone except God is not what we should call a "good Christmas".
"Getting ready for Christmas" should mean more than buying gifts and putting up decorations (which did not used to happen until Christmas Eve--for good reason!). It should mean thinking about our own need to give up our sins; our need to be willing to sacrifice self for the sake of others; and our need to ready our hearts to go before Christ in the Mass on one of the most important days of the year. Christmas is the day we commemorate Christ's willingness to humble Himself for the sake of us, His selfish people. I thank God that Jesus was thinking back then more about what He could give than what He could get.