December 20, 2005
According to popular culture, Christmas began the day after Thanksgiving in a shopping frenzy. For some businesses, it began in September! The shopping, the planning, the parties.are in full swing. In contrast, Christians began the season of Advent – a time of hope and anticipation of the coming of the Savior into the world and into our hearts.
Advent is a quiet time of preparation for Christmas, which is a season of at least twelve days, not just December 25.
In the homily for the first Sunday of advent, the priest asked the question, “Who is molding you?” That is a question for all to consider, whether Christian or not.
To answer that question requires some serious thinking about our lives. That’s not easy. It is easier to go along with our lives the way they are and not ask that question.
Part of the answer are the people around us: family, friends, co-workers or fellow students, and neighbors. Because we are in contact with them regularly, they can have a strong molding influence. Are they a good influence?
On the other hand, what we have internalized through our life experiences, home life, and religious opportunities have also had a big influence in molding our lives. Are these helping us grow into a better person?
That’s a good place to start, but those are pretty general considerations. What else might be molding us?
We have abundant opportunities to own material things in this country. Things, however, have a way of controlling us. They can become the object of our wants instead of the tools they are intended to be.
A packrat insists on saving things just because they might be useful some day. A packrat is a good example of someone being molded by things in a neagative way.
We all have attitudes – you know, those qualities that just flow from us. Some of them are endearing and make other people want to be around us. Others are offensive and drive people away.
Some people need a “attitude adjustment”. They probably are showing an attitude of arrogance, superiority, sarcasm, hostility or some such negative attitude. Without examining these attitudes we have, they can easily define who we are. Are our attitudes molding us into persons we want to be or are they tearing us away from that goal? Do the people in our lives have attitudes that rub off on us?
If drugs are used properly, they can be very helpful in maintaing our health. Alcohol usage can be moderate and healthy.
If they become addictive, however, then they are destructive. They make us into persons that are generally no fun to be around.
Are drugs or alcohol molding us?
Our parents formed us in our beliefs, values, and basic understanding of life at a very early age.Other care givers and teachers invluenced us as well. Are these basic beliefs taught to us as children still molding us? St. Paul says, 1“When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” (1 Cor 13:11) Are some of our beliefs “childish” or have they matured right along with us?
Once we realize what is molding us in a negative way, it is time to let go of them. It is easier said than done, of course. Joan Chittsiter in her book, Called to Question, sums it up well: “let God be the the point of the compass for us.”
Are the people around us molding us in a way that is not healthy or in keeping with our ideals and goals?
Whether you are a Christian or not, the spirit of the Christmas time is a right relationship with God and our fellow human beings through loving actions and behaviors. This reight relationship requires letting go of people, attitudes, and things that get in the way of loving others. It also means being grateful for all those people that are molding us positively.
What is molding you?