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In 2022, Christmas With Emphatic Meaning (Church & Society)

“No one can celebrate a genuine Christmas without being truly poor.” Saint Oscar Romero, Catholic Archbishop of El Salvador

December 22, 2022

For many people around the world this is an especially welcome Christmas season. We can more comfortably gather with our families and loved ones. The isolation and loneliness of the past two COVID-related years are giving way to gatherings, in-person Christmas services, children hugging and laughing with excitement. Humbly, at the same time, we remember there are those in many countries and communities who cannot gather, sing together, pray together, and eat Christmas meals together. Recent outbreaks of COVID and flu, the expense of traveling, dangerous weather conditions, living in places without homes to gather and other factors will make gatherings impossible for many this year.

Woefully, we are mindful of some of the similarities of the First Christmas and Christmas 2022. There was occupation, conflict, crossing country borders, no room in the inn, poverty, and oppression. As we gather this Christmas may our prayers include those living in the midst of war, those without power and food, those with corrupt leaders oppressing their countries, those at border crossings and unable to cross, those where no inn is possible, those who are freezing or in heat ravaged regions of the world.

Saint Oscar Romero, the Catholic Archbishop in El Salvador, who was killed by an assassin as he celebrated Mass on March 24, 1980, had a meditation that is poignant and relevant this 2022 Christmas:

No one can celebrate
a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor.

The self-sufficient,
the proud, those who look
down on others because
they have everything,
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.

May we acknowledge our deep need of the One who comes to fill our poverty of spirit and hunger. May this One who comes on our behalf inspire us with humility, gratitude and out-reaching love.