All the people asked John, "What must we do?" (Luke 3:10)
What is the best way of preparing for Christmas? It's a reasonable question.
Of course many people prepare for Christmas by beginning the celebrations early. Their trees are in their houses decked with lights and decorations. The round of Christmas dinners and parties is well underway. Carols and other seasonal songs are to heard in homes and pubs and shops. And of course there is the shopping …
But others of course frown upon this frivolity. It is yet advent, and the parties and the decorations and especially the carols must wait. No trees till Christmas Eve, please! This is a time for reflection and prayer, let the feasting follow the fast. The trouble is, this attitude makes us look like latter day scrooges to the unbelieving world, and scrooges about the vestige of Christian culture which still makes an impact on our increasingly secular culture.
"Master, what must we do?" our situation is very different, but the question is the same. Should we go along with the world, or refuse to be part of it?
John's answer is a wise answer. Don't be a glutton or a Scrooge. Act justly and with honesty. Be generous. Protect and do not exploit the weak and those in need. Give with joy.
This is a time when it is very easy to think only of our own wants and pleasure, but just as easy to give from full and joyous hearts to others: to the sick and the lonely, to the homeless poor, to the refugee and the seeker after asylum, to those who are abused and neglected.
John's answer is profound because it is so simple. Just do what you do and do it honesy and well. Just do what you already know to be right. Just do it.