Beware that your hearts don’t become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life. —Luke 21:34
Sometimes religious people can get carried away with separating Advent from the Christmas season, refusing invitations to pre-Christmas parties and banning all Christmas music and decorations until December 25.
This can especially be an issue for people deeply involved in parish liturgies and activities. Advent begins to feel like a penitential season with no celebration allowed. But life rarely fits into the neat compartments of an IKEA shelving unit. We can strive to hold onto the quiet withdrawal of the ideal Advent, but when that means refusing the hospitality of another’s invitation, we might need to reconsider our commitments.
We take seriously the words of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel when he warns against “carousing and drunkenness.” But he also warns against “the anxieties of daily life.” We know that especially in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus was fond of a dinner party or a celebration with friends. And it’s from Luke that we hear the story of Mary and Martha. When Martha, busy about the many tasks of hospitality, asks Jesus to make her sister, sitting at his feet, help in the kitchen, he tells her, “Martha, Martha, you are busy and anxious about many things. Mary has chosen the better part.”
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the many tasks of this season of preparation. Cleaning, cooking, shopping, wrapping packages, cleaning some more, baking, doing dishes, going on one more shopping excursion. As so often happens during busy times, we find ourselves going to bed late, getting up early, grabbing fast food on the go, skipping a workout at the gym because we don’t have time, and generally not taking good care of ourselves. Then we go to parties where we eat too much rich, sweet food, and drink one too many alcoholic beverages and the downward spiral continues.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Sit quietly for five or ten minutes today. Pay attention to your breathing. Hear Jesus say, “You are busy and anxious about many things.” You know what those anxieties are. As you breathe in calm reassurance, breathe out those anxieties and turn them over to the Lord.
A SIMPLE GIFT
Ask your body and your spirit what they need at this time. It might be rest. Then again it might be more exercise. Our needs change throughout our lives and we don’t always pay attention to that. Take a walk. Take a nap. Do both. Cancel an engagement and stay home for the evening. Or resist the pull of the recliner and Netflix and go to dinner with a good friend. The main thing is to take time to ask yourself in any given moment if what you’re doing is really what you need or if another choice would be better. Then make the better choice, choose the better part.