Father Eugene Hemrick

A scene from the play “A Man for All Seasons” contains a wonderful way to celebrate Advent. The play is about St. Thomas More’s duel with King Henry VIII that leads to More’s beheading.

In the play, Richard Rich, who is envious of More’s renown, pleads with More for a prominent court position.

“Why not be a teacher,” More implores him.

“And if I was, who would know it?” Rich responds.

“You, your pupils, your friends, God. Not a bad public, that … oh and a quiet life,” More says.

Later, Rich betrays More. While on trial, More notices the chain of prominence Rich wears.

“That’s a chain of office you are wearing. May I see it?” More requests and observes, “The red dragon. What’s this?”

He is told that Richard has been appointed attorney general for Wales.

More exclaims, “For Wales? Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. … But for Wales!”

The dialogue between More and Richard portrays a lost soul selling out a friend for gain.

No matter where we look, we find lost souls. They may have lost faith in God, may be considered the black sheep of the family, may have cheated to achieve prominence or let chemical substances ruin their lives. The list is unending. And yet, many of them wish to be found, but most often no one is willing to take the chance to come to their aid.

Once I told a Franciscan friend I desired to dedicate my life to working with the destitute. “Eugene,” he warned, “that life is not for everyone.”

This is true. It is extremely difficult to forgive a family black sheep, to reach out to lost souls living in the gutters, to befriend a drunk or drug addict, to be kind to a cheat or to forgive an injustice.

It’s easy to feel justified in walking away from these situations.

Advent is an opportunity to examine our ultimate purpose in life — a time to focus on Christ returning a lost sheep to the fold; to experience the happiness of going out on the limb and walking him or her back on our shoulders and experiencing Advent joy at its best.