December 23, 2010

The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor, Blessed be the Lord!

Contemplation of the mystery of Christmas, almost upon us, sees the Lord's attentiveness to the plight of the poor. He who came into our poverty, in silence and obscurity, also comes into the hidden plights of every man and woman.  Though He seems powerless or even absent, his love is the gravity that holds together not only the world but every heart that avails itself to its presence, a force so strong that it constantly pulls us back from the brink, and even today in a world irrationally against God reminds us anew of what it is to be human.  While this is true for everyone, it is especially true for those who feel they are on the brink, who do not know where to turn, who struggle to hope against all hope.   Such people are the truly poor and live an existence not unlike that of the prophets and John the Baptist, Joseph and Mary, the Shepherds, and the Magi - a life pregnant with deep faith.

Those whose poverty makes it a struggle to live, these come to rely on the Lord in everything because they have no one else to rely on, not even themselves. The person facing death or the uncertainty of severe illness or aggressive cancer or permanent disability knows something of this kind of poverty.  Then there is the grieving widow struggling to be a good mom in the face of uncertainty, so totally alone even in the midst of friends. The orphaned baby, the abused child, the distraught teenager, the addict who lost his family, the lonely neighbor, the weary laborer, the farmer who lost everything, even the despairing young professional whose lifetime ambitions were shattered in an instant through both familial and financial disaster: these are the poor for whom the Lord comes. It is these the Lord is especially concerned for and to whom belongs in the most unique way the whole Christmas mystery. He feels a deep solidarity with them. Even when they, not knowing, reject Him, He will not reject them and suffers their suffering with them to the end - because He knows the truth about them and believes that they are worth whatever it takes.

If we really want to find Him, if we want real Christmas joy, then we must enter into solidarity with with those who struggle to live, make their plights our plight, and humbly search for Him in their midst. This journey requires deep prayer, seeking forgiveness and forgiving, sacrificial kindness even towards one's enemies, and that generosity which is inclined to see everyone as one's own neighbor, someone for whom I am responsible in some way. Left to our own devices, this journey is impossible. But that is why the Lord is coming and the reason we will find Him - for He is drawn to those who put themselves in places where they must rely on Him alone.