"The poor are not alone in their distress; God is here to help." Office of Readgings
Last night there was a painful and troubling piece on 60 minutes. Called, Hard Times Generation: Families in Cars , it chronicled the lives of homeless children and families in Florida where one third of the 16 million homeless children live. Listening to children talking about the fear they have at night living in cars and trucks, often in poor neighborhoods, is sobering. 60 minutes found articulate, faith filled families with whom to speak, and while their testimony was graphic and clear, I kept thinking about the millions of other children who do not have the parental help, education or social skills to express their feelings in what the program called, the "hidden America."
One young fifteen year old, trying hard to normalize her life, almost casually said, "Yeah it's not really that much an embarrassment. I mean, it's only life. You do what you need to do, right." How hard this young woman is trying to accept what most of us would consider a hopeless life. How hard her dad is looking for work and loving his children each day. Somehow they are surviving and looking forward to a time when they will have their own homes again.
Listening to the program I was reminded of an antiphon from the Office of Readings for today, "The poor are not alone in their distress; God is here to help them." It is a good place to begin Advent. When we "listen to the cries of the poor," (Prov 21:13) and accept our own poverty of spirit, when we acknowledge how often we fail to live the gospel, and identify with those who are physically poor and homeless, we find God waiting and anxious to be with us in our aloneness. Standing, sitting, walking quietly at the beginning of Advent, full of gratitude and humility, allows us not only to see "hidden American," but the "hidden church," all those who live on the edges of our parishes and communities hoping we will notice them but not judge.
Today, as the ordinary days of Advent begin let us open our eyes and stand in solidarity with people everywhere who are hungry, homeless and lost.