Inside Story

The economic crisis presents particular challenges and questions for people of faith: What is the appropriate Christian response? What theological, biblical, and spiritual issues are raised by the crisis, and what are the appropriate pastoral responses? As Jim Wallis ex­plains, the community of believers has a particular responsibility to reach out—to one another and to our neighbors in need—in such difficult times.

But these times also carry an opportunity for reflection, particularly in this season of Advent. Advent is sometimes called the “little Lent,” associate editor Rose Marie Berger writes in her column. “It is a time of joyful penitence when we cleanse ourselves from our many human endeavors and make ourselves holy and presentable for the Incarnate One’s entrance into our humble lives.” We can recognize Christ, not our financial investments, as the true source of our value.

In this month’s “Living the Word,” Michaela Bruzzese (whom we joyfully welcome back to our pages) urges us to look for ways to give presence rather than presents this season. As she writes, God’s gift of Jesus emphasizes relationship and solidarity over things. Let us look for those whose needs are greater than our own and offer our presence—emotionally and practically.

A short story by Demetria Martínez, titled “La Anunciación,” reminds us that this is also a season of anticipation, of new life. Christ came to us in the most unexpected way and with a most unexpected gift: a promise of eternal presence. Now that’s something we can bank on.

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