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Advent: a season intended to prepare the Lord's way into our hearts and minds, into our lives. Although we spend billions of dollars at this time of year, the heart of Christmas calls us to become more and more poor: to simplify our lives and to identify with and to serve those who have so much less than we do.  Saint Oscar Romero wrote about this:
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,
only they 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 Archbishop Romero speaks a hard word here, difficult for us to hear and understand in our first world comfort. But his words are true to the season's spirit. Christmas is for those "who need someone to come on their behalf."  If we think we need no one or if we don't believe the "someone" we need most is, indeed, God - then we will have no idea of what Christmas is all about...  Advent is a time for waiting for the One who comes on our behalf...

Let's pause for prayer...

O God,
help me know how much I need you...

And if I think I don't need you,
or that I can get by without you on some days,
or for months and even years at a time -
then help me see my folly
and lead me home to you...

I need you to be there for me, Lord,
I need you to come on my behalf,
to be my strength, my guide, my advocate,
my help, my healing, my hope,
my Savior...

Teach me to hunger for time with you,
for prayer...

Teach me to thirst for your truth,
your wisdom and your counsel...

Teach me to long for the peace
that only you can give,
the peace I so much want and need...

Teach me to be poor, Lord, and help me know 
that your love is the greatest treasure
I might ever find and possess...

You hear the cry of the poor, Lord:
hear the cry of my poor heart
and help me hear the cry of those in need...

Amen.


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