A couple of weeks ago the United Nations came out with a report of the stark reality of the climate changes that are taking place in our time. The report told of the urgency of this matter. The impact of human activity on the climate of the earth is reaching a point of no-return. We need to curtail our use of fossil fuel and use renewable sources of energy. This will not be easy. Governments are more interested in creating jobs and improving the economy than facing the long term disastrous effects on our present and future life styles. The attitude seems to be, let future generations clean up our mess.
This important United Nations report dealing with the future wellbeing of our planet found its way to page eight of the Toronto Star. Gian Gomeshi’s saga was on page one. So much for the priorities of our concerns.
This past week Pope Frances spoke to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. He spoke about the globalization of indifference born of selfishness that is a tragic reality of our times. There is a globalization of indifference to the environmental stresses and crisis of our day. There is a globalization of indifference to world poverty, world hunger, immigration, the sectarian battles in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. We just don’t see the urgencies of these issues. They are not our problem.
We are not bad people. We are busy people caught up with our own problems, trying to keep our heads above water. What can we do about these world problems, they are beyond us. We too can be part of that globalization of indifference that blinds us to the needs and sufferings of others.
Advent calls us to be alert, be aware, be conscious of and sensitive too what is going on around us. Are we concerned about the homeless, the street people of the city, the good men, women and children surviving on food banks, the exploited part time workers? Do we ever think about the life situations of millions of families driven from theirs, losing loved ones, surviving in tents in refugee camps? Does it ever cross our minds what it must be like to live in a city or village struck by Ebola and having no adequate medical care? Are we caught up in global indifference?
That’s why this season of Advent can be so important to us. The simple message of today’s gospel is; be aware, be alert, be conscious to what is going on around us. We can be so wrapped up in the cocoon of our own concerns that we can be unaware of a crisis that stares us in our face. We hear of people on cell phones or listening to I pads and walking into buses and being killed. How many times a day do we see people driving cars and talking on cell phones, lost in their own little worlds?
This globalization of indifference and unawareness can touch us in very personal ways. We can be so caught up in personal worries that we fail to notice – another name for indifference -that our own world of relationships might be going through its own climate change. Things are heating up or things are cooling off. We may be unaware of family relationships disintegrating because we don’t have the time to sit and listen to what is happening in the lives of those we live with. Have you ever heard the complaint ‘you haven’t heard a word I said? Do we take the time, make the time to sit and talk to an adult son or daughter about their anxieties over their careers of lack of them? Are we aware of any seething resentments that are developing in our homes or places of work? Are we aware of the stressful situations a spouse may be enduring day after day at work?
Too many marital breakdowns happen because husbands and wives are too busy or too angry to be aware of growing tensions and hostilities that are developing and won’t take the time to be present to one another.
During these coming weeks of Advent, weeks filled with the busyness of getting ready for Christ, can we make the effort to be aware, be conscious of and open to those nudges of God nudging us to be more aware of those closest to us – spouses, partners, sons and daughters, friends? May we be more conscious of how much they mean to us and never take them for granted. May we be willing to listen to their wants and needs and always let them know how important they are to us.