What should we do? That’s the question asked of John the Baptist in today’s Gospel reading from Luke. What should we do? A question asked by the crowds, by the tax collectors, and by soldiers. What should we do?
I also heard that question, what should we do, asked by a news reporter on Friday after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut to a parent whose child attends Sandy Hook Elementary School. Obviously the mother had no response; she simply wanted to know that her child was safe and alive. But she did go onto say, “I don’t know what we should do. I just know something has to be done. No one should ever have to go through something like this.” What should we do?
I have to believe, that at least in the case of today’s Gospel, those coming to be baptized by John at least were aware that something was wrong. That their way of life was not going in the right direction. That something needed to change. Stop collecting more than what is prescribed; stop extorting people; be satisfied with your wages; give food and clothing to those in need. For John it often came down to a recognition that you aren’t the center of the universe and your choices and actions are impacting the people around you. What should we do? At least they were aware enough to ask the question, even if they may not have wanted to hear the answer that John had to give. Change your life; recognize what is most precious and what is most important in life; grow a relationship with God; trust the Holy Spirit working within each of us; preach the good news to the people. This is what John tells them, and us, we should do.
Saint Paul sums it up in one word, rejoice! Rejoice and be grateful for the life that has been given. Show kindness, have no anxiety, pray, again, trust in God and the peace of God will overcome your lives. Paul knew what to do, but he also understood the darkened side of humanity. He was there. He too had to recognize that something had to change. What should we do? Be grateful and have grateful hearts for all that God does in our lives.
What should we do? Like the mother on the news, I don’t know if I have an answer either, but I can try. What should we do? Expose the culture of violence. Learn to deal with anger and rage. Recognize I am not the center of the universe. Learn, and teach others, that failure and loss is ok and a part of life. Don’t hate. Forgive those who have hurt. Take responsibility. Don’t stop at “quick fixes” for mental illness. Become more aware and listen. And most especially, pray; and I don’t just mean prayers; I mean prayer that runs deep into the heart, that changes the heart, that moves us to do something in a world plagued by such senseless tragedy and darkness. What should we do? Not only preach the good news of God’s love but also live it by our actions, our words, our example…and the peace of God will surpass everything else that comes our way. What will you do? What will I do? What will we all do to remain people of hope and to bring the good news of The Christ into our world?