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Father Muench Says...

Advent: a time to consider our poverty

Dec. 6, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Advent can be a difficult season of the Church year to explain, especially to fit it into present ideas.  Our Church tells us that during Advent we do not begin our decorating for Christmas – and we don’t in the Church. In fact, we dress down to purple.  But we do decorate at home, inside and outside.  Personally, I got my Christmas tree up last week.

Advent is the season for preparing for Christmas. We all get involved in the usual Christmas stuff – gift buying, writing cards, holding Christmas parties and such.  And it is a busy time – with all these enjoyable activities. 
Again, personally speaking, I thought about having a Christmas party next week.  But wait! This is not exactly the kind of preparations that Advent Spirit means.  However, I like all of these things.

So, let us consider this time of Advent spiritually.  For Catholics, Advent is an important opportunity to grow spiritually.  It is meant to be a time of prayer and possibly a good time for daily Mass as well as on Sundays.
Advent is a time for some meditating on the Christmas story.

Advent is the time we again sort out that yearly question – “What is the true meaning of Christmas?”

I am certain that you know the correct answer: Christmas is the celebration of the Birth of Jesus.  We believe that God became incarnate among us with the birth of Jesus.  Jesus becomes one of us – human in every way. He lived among us, he taught us, he showed us what life is about, he died for us as our Savior, he rose to a new life in resurrection to lead us to our resurrection.

I would like to add something more to our consideration of Advent Spirituality as our preparation for Christmas.  This week, I came across one of those daily meditation books.  This book, “Grace in Every Season,” used the writings of Catherine Doherty.  The editor, Mary Bizzett, chose a paragraph for each day from Catherine’s writings.
I want to share with you the meditation for the first of December. “This is the month of Christ’s birthday.  The Son of God and Son of Man was born in a cave.  Over the centuries men and women have sentimentalized it. It is a time for us Christians of the twenty first century to take another look at this cave and him who was born in it.  People who live in caves are not the wealthy of this world.  They are poor.”

Advent is our time to again fill our hearts for the Jesus who loved us so much that he would die for us. He was born in a cave and, this, part of our celebration must involve the honor we pay this child, realizing his readiness to be born in poverty.

Jesus chose to be born in poverty – his parents, Mary and Joseph, were poor.  Jesus lived his life in poverty.  Jesus came to teach and guide us, despite his poverty.  Jesus transformed our world – Jesus transformed all of our history – this Jesus accomplished all of this even though he lived in poverty.

So, our Advent must be about poverty.  This is not an easy message to speak about. Advent and Christmas have become times of spending and buying.  Many make a great deal of money because of Christmas.  Yet, spiritually we are encouraged to recognize Christ’s poverty during Advent.

Our preparation for the Birth of Jesus must be filled with our recognition of the poverty of Jesus and our call to be poor also.  “Are we going to the cave like the shepherds, who were also poor?”

It is time for us to understand how poor we really are and establish a real relationship with Jesus in his poverty.  We have so much, yet, we are still very needy.  There is so much we like to do, so many we would like to help, so many opportunities to make our world a better place yet, we fail.We are just too poor.

We need to allow Jesus to be part of our lives, part of our Advent.  Jesus born in poverty changed the world.  Jesus now wants to help us to see how, despite our own poverty, we can accomplish so much, help so many ,make this a better world.

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