Watch out if you’re an ivory bed lounger! Today’s readings from Amos and 2 Thessalonians are clear in their condemnation of those living it up indifferent to God in Israel as well as those persecuting early Christians. The warnings of Amos in particular are potent: the more we enjoy life while consciously shutting God out, the more we set ourselves and those around us up for disaster. One such disaster was of course realized in the exile of the Israelites, but this is true for our lives as well. We need not remain forever solemn, but we need to remember who to thank for our joy, our success, and ultimately our lives. In this world, we also need to make sure to take some of the focus off of ourselves and give back to those around us. The advent season calls us to this exact sort of reflection.
On a lighter note, the story of the naming of John the Baptist in Luke today reminds us that God always has a surprise ready for us, and with his help we can surprise others. Nothing needs to remain as it is; if we listen carefully, we just might find a new way that the Spirit is calling us to help bring about that divine kingdom we all long for. And we should be grateful for this, singing and praising the Divine Artist as today’s Psalms so eloquently do. In particular, Psalm 148 has a wonderful message: the sun, moon, mountains, hills, trees and animals (among many others) praise God by being just what they were intended to be. We should remember who and what we are called to be so that we too can join their songs of praise.