Now that the holiday season is upon us, it is time for all of our yearly traditions to come back. From caroling to gingerbread decorating to seeing loved ones, this time of the year is truly special. As I was growing up, I can recall all the times that my parents would tell me to be on my best behavior during the holiday season because “Santa was watching everything that I was doing.”
If I did not behave, they assured me that Mr. Claus would bring me a lump of coal and I would receive none of the toys that I wanted. Therefore, I made sure that I was a model citizen to receive all the Lego sets that I had put on my wish list. My efforts paid off as I have made Santa’s nice list for 20 consecutive years!
As I was reading the Gospel for the first week of Advent, I felt the same message of always striving to be an honorable person and practicing good behavior because you never know who is watching. That was a core value for me growing up. The word “integrity” was written in the hallways of my elementary school, middle school and even my high school.
However, instead of Santa watching to see if you deserve presents, it is God looking over us. Jesus tells the disciples to “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” Now of course, the Lord is not going to bring us the tangible gifts that we ask for. Instead, he is going to bring us the gift of salvation. This has always fascinated me because nothing can compare to the gifts with which God blesses us. So why do we encourage children to behave during the holiday season for Santa instead of the entire year for our Lord?
The simple answer to that question is that it is easier to ask someone to behave when that person can expect to receive something in return. If you are not going to get anything back from being nice, then why should you be? This selfish and naive way of thinking makes us so materialistic and somewhat greedy. We feel entitled to receive compensation for our kind deeds but we should not need to get something out of it. Think of all of the amazing miracles that Jesus performed. I cannot think of one instance where he offered his abilities to acquire some kind of reward.
I ask that we all take this same approach this holiday season. The Gospel alluded to the fact that we are unaware of when our Lord will be arriving. Jesus told his disciples, “You do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.”
I challenge you to be nice to all of your neighbors and everyone with whom you interact. Find ways to incorporate kindness into the lives of others and be a light to those who need it. Not because you will get something out of it, but rather it is what the Lord wants us to do.
(Chase Mason is a junior at St. Ambrose University in Davenport majoring in accounting.)