Rioting, Drunkenness and More

There’s often a big difference between how we like to behave and how God wants us to behave.  We’re so very, very fond of giving in without a thought to every little whim that pops up into our head.  Sometimes, those whims are perfectly acceptable, and God will smile upon us as we indulge these innocent quirks and impulses.  Sometimes, they might even be meritorious in the sight of God, and we will actually receive graces for doing something we want to do.  A sudden impulse to perform an act of charity is an example of this kind of spontaneous whim that is pleasing to God.

Unfortunately, we can’t always rely on our spontaneity to lead us towards such morally acceptable actions.  Only too often, our tendencies take us to what St. Paul calls “the works of darkness,” and it is this warning that the Church puts before us on this Advent Sunday.  It is indeed an appropriate time to reflect on our actions and behavior.  First of all, it’s the start of a new year in the Church’s liturgical cycle, so it behoves us to make some good resolutions at this time.  Secondly, we’re asked to think forward to the coming of Christ, not just at Christmas, but at the time of our own death, or the end of the world, whichever comes first!  The thought of Judgment and the Eternity that follows should be motivation enough to turn our lives around.

The third reason this is the perfect Sunday for contemplating our temptations to perform the works of darkness is simple: with the Feast of Thanksgiving, we have now entered upon what they call “Holiday Season.” And let’s face it, during this season on which we should be focusing upon the state of our souls and the coming of the Christ Child, we tend rather to be occupied with shopping, decorating and parties—office parties, family parties, parties with friends, and so on.  Not bad things in themselves, but an occasion of sin for many. 

St. Paul warns us against six “works of darkness,”—“rioting and drunkenness, chambering and wantonness, strife and envying.” Drunkenness is an obvious temptation when you’re partying.  Rioting in this case doesn’t refer to the type of rioting the Democrats do when they’re upset; it doesn’t mean burning down police stations and looting Macy’s.  Rioting just means inappropriately riotous partying, so let’s keep a modicum of human dignity when you attend all those Christmas parties that are coming up.  Chambering refers to the Sixth Commandment, as does wantonness.  Chambering has the connotation of switching regularly from one partner to another, while wantonness has a broader meaning and refers to pretty much every other kind of depravity.  Strife and envying often arise from the shopping part of the Christmas season.  Less dangerous than the other works of darkness, you should nonetheless be on your guard against envying others for getting nicer presents than you, or for being able to give nicer gifts than you can afford.

“Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”  The Light of the World is coming, and in the words of Psalm 90, “Whoso dwelleth under the defence of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

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