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Advent, December 23 The great captor - loneliness

"No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor. The self-sufficient, the proud, those who, because they have everything, look down on others, those who have no need even of God - for them there will be no Christmas. Only the poor, the hungry, those who need someone to come on their behalf, will have that someone. That someone is God, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Without poverty of spirit there can be no abundance of God." Oscar Romero

One of the greatest gifts that I receive is found through my encounters with people who find themselves in the middle of suffering. A parent watching a son or daughter struggle through addiction and helpless but to be present to them and attempt to begin one more time to start fresh. Often, one or the other or both will ask for a prayer, to deliver a message of love to someone they love or simply to hold them because so many others have shunned them because of their situations. They tell me they feel completely alone. 

I encounter children in their mid-life years whose parents have become old, sick, forgetful, deaf, mute, blind, lame, resistant and afraid to die. In some encounters, they ask if I believe if God is real, present and question why a merciful God would allow such suffering. They plead for answers and for prayers. Often times they tell me that they feel so alone because other siblings, relatives and friends have failed to step in to assist or simply avoid them and stay away. I hold them in the moment so, for just a little while, they don't feel quite so alone in the world. 

And then there are the encounters in stores, where a kind word or gesture will spark a conversation between the people in long lines who openly share their stories with complete strangers. Wealthy, middle class or poor - there is no distinction of class, race and gender in these encounters. Such is the hunger for community that I find to be the greatest poverty, the biggest captor of all - loneliness.  

On this day before Christmas Eve, will you have an opportunity to do one small act of kindness that may alleviate even one person's poverty? How can you be a symbol of God-with-us as we approach the inconceivable nearness of God made human - Emmanuel? 

O come, O come Emmanuel

and ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear. 

Rejoice, rejoice! 

Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel. 

 

 

 

 

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