When I was a child I did not like this Gospel reading of Mark. I became scared because God was saying Look Out, Be On Guard. I was raised in a church that put fear in my mind and heart because I was afraid of doing something wrong. Did you notice that I used many I's in my little story because Advent used to have a way of making me concentrate on the actions of myself and ways I can improve myself.
Two nights ago I saw a wonderful program on CNN that celebrated the heroes of the world, and it was wonderful. Ten people were selected by a prestigious board of distinguished citizens that looked at thousands of people who had chosen to do wonderful things with their life. One person started a school for children who usually picked through the local dump for items of value. Another taught children to read and gave out school supplies; another started a running club in Philadelphia with the homeless and ran with them every morning. The winning person and her friend left her job and her home to New Orleans and began to rehab homes for displaced persons.
For these heroes they could see was a need around them. God called these heroes to do what they could to help the poor, sick, homeless, needy and the ones that others forgot. Their call often was unexpected and very strong.
I look at the Advent candle that we lit today and I say to myself what needs do I see around me. Do I see just the needs I have or do I see the needs of others. And then, most importantly, am I willing to do a little something or a big something to help ease others pain and suffering.
I am very upset about the four to five pages of foreclosure ads in my local newspaper. I see the food pantry with the long, long line of people wrapping themselves around the block. I see the news on CNN and look at the despair in people's faces. So many needs around me that I sometimes seem paralyzed and do not know where to start.
The Gospel today should be a beginning point for us to look around with vigilance at the needs around us. Lately I am realizing that before I die I have a great deal to do. Some people have called it the bucket list after a movie. I simple call it "The List" of things I want to do before God calls me home.
Everyone has a list of things they want to do in life. But do all of you have a LIST with the things you want and need to do for others. We are probably not going to be known as international heroes. But for this Advent can we begin to open our eyes and start seeing the needs that others have. Can I stop concentrating about what I need and about my fears and begin to look for the needs of others in our community? My biggest fear is that I might be running out of time. Since last year when I had my two knee surgeries, I know how important time is and how fast time slips a way. I feel a greater urgency to see what small things I can do for others. They do not have to be great deeds, just deeds that bring some relief for the stressed, some comfort to a caregiver, or a donation toys to children whose parents are incarcerated.
Do not be worried about the future or about what might come. God will take care of you. The light of Advent is a good beginning to look with new eyes into the darkness. God is depending on all of us to see ways to lighten loads the loads of others, to see where we are afraid, and to be the light in the darkness where God is calling us be.