A couple of weeks ago, on my day off, I went out to dinner with my mom. Afterwards, we planned to see a movie. We had some time before the show would begin, and we decided to stop into one of the local department stores to browse. Lo and behold, I couldn’t believe it! Christmas decorations! Christmas displays! Christmas presents! It was still September! It was hot outside! We had been to the beach earlier that day! I had been in a bathing suit that afternoon soaking up the sun! Unbelievable! Simply unbelievable!
Our society is so obviously driven by an intense consumer mentality indicative of a world focused on materialism—things, things and more things! Buy this product! You need this beauty aid to look good! This car will tell everyone how important you are! This latest smart phone is worth standing outside all night long to purchase! If you don’t wear these athletic shoes you will not excel among all the competition! You absolutely must give her this piece of jewelry to tell her how important she is to you! This television . . . this computer . . . this beer . . . this candy . . . this toy . . . will make your dreams come true, will satisfy your every longing, will make you the perfect person, will tell him how much you love him, will show everyone that you understand what it means to enjoy life.
Will it really? Rather, it will probably just increase the amount of debt that you owe on your credit cards.
Instead, should we not treasure the person over the thing? Isn’t the time that we can spend listening, helping, consoling, encouraging, teaching, etc., much more valuable than the things we could ever give to someone? In the end, what do we actually take with us when we die? Nothing. Absolutely nothing from this material world!
Before Christmas actually arrives, our society celebrates occasions like Halloween and Thanksgiving. Then the Church asks us to observe the four weeks of Advent in preparation for Christmas. When Christmas arrives we have an octave (8 days) to celebrate it and an entire season to enjoy it! (You can tell when you are actually in the Christmas season itself because everything about Christmas is removed from the stores, the after-Christmas sales are over, no more Christmas music is played, the decorations and trees come down, and the focus is on Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter!)
All of the stress on things (which can cause a considerable amount of stress in our lives) can eclipse the more important spiritual matters to which we need to be more attentive—the Incarnation and Nativity of Jesus, the Son of God. This eclipse will happen, however, only if we let it!