In the Church, we are beginning to prepare for Christmas, a time when we celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, God with Us; and our calling is to be a sign of the reality of God with Us. The god we are exhorted to serve in our modern consumer society encourages us to consume more and more. The true message of Christmas has been rejected by those who worship this false god. It's a time when we are pressured to spend exorbitantly, to eat lavishly and drink to excess. Our God, the God of Jesus Christ, turns everything on its head. Our God is the help of the helpless and the hope of the hopeless. Jesus taught us that being close to God means turning our backs on accumulation of goods and wealth and sharing what we have with those who have little or nothing. As we wait in hope for the coming of God's Reign of Peace, we are called to challenge the values of our consumer culture by being a sign of the true God with Us, the God we know through the person and message of Jesus.
What Values Will We Uphold?
In today's industrialized countries people are dominated by the frenzied race for possessing material goods. The consumer society makes the gap separating rich from poor even more obvious, and the uncontrolled search for a comfortable life risks blinding people to the needs of others. In order to promote the social, cultural, spiritual and also economic welfare of all members of society, it is therefore absolutely essential to stem the unrestrained consumption of earthly goods and to control the creation of artificial needs. Moderation and simplicity ought to become the criteria of our daily lives. …Pope John Paul II, 1993 Message for the World Day of Peace
What Can We Do?
Some suggestions for challenging our consumer culture this Christmas:
- Set aside a regular time of prayer and reflection for your household or neighbourhood over Advent
- Instead of giving gifts to each other, pool your money and donate it to agencies which support those who are poor in Australia and overseas
- Instead of purchased gifts, offer a "gift voucher" of a service, like cleaning or gardening, which you will provide to family and friends
- Give family and friends a letter telling them of your love for them and how you appreciate their personal gifts
- Focus on buying what food and drink will be needed for your Christmas celebration so that there is no wastage afterwards
- Invite an isolated person or the resident of an institution to your Christmas celebration
- Recycle Christmas cards, wrapping paper and packaging
- Boycott post-Christmas sales
- Don't shop on any Sunday of the year that follows
- Contact your local Federal Member and the Prime Minister and urge them to:
- develop a comprehensive plan to significantly reduce poverty in Australia, especially the national scandal of Indigenous poverty;
- increase our foreign aid budget as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).