3rd Sunday of Advent [b]

Engaging Faith | Sun, Dec 11, 2011

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary reflections for the 3rd Sunday of Advent

Third Sunday in Advent [b]
December 18, 2011

Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

December 16: start of "Las Posadas" in Mexico
December 18: International Migrants Day See:
December 20: start of Chanukah (Jewish)


Animated by the charity of Christ, a human person finds it impossible not to love his fellow human beings. He makes his own their needs, their sufferings and their joys. There is a sureness of touch in all his activity in every field. It is energetic, generous and considerate. For "charity is patient, is kind; charity envies not, deals not perversely, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeks not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
Pope John XXIII in Mater and Magistra

… the church is not perfect. Its early bishop James had to remind the people: . . . it was those who are poor according to the world that the Lord chose, to be rich in faith and to be heirs to all that was promised to those who love God.  …. Yet the church continues, despite its sins, working for the poor, insisting on practical love, and not just prayers and good intentions.
This Land is Home to Me: A Pastoral Letter on Poverty and Powerlessness
in Appalachia by the Catholic Bishops of the Region, February 1, 1975

The millions of people whose very lives are at risk because they lack the minimum basic food call for the attention of the International Community, because it is the common duty of us all to care for our brothers and sisters.   Indeed, famine is not entirely due to geographical and climatic situations or to the unfavorable circumstances linked to harvests. It is also caused by human beings themselves and by their selfishness, which is expressed by gaps in social organization, by rigidity in economic structures all too often oriented solely to profit, and even by practices against human life and ideological systems that reduce the person, deprived of his fundamental dignity, to being a mere instrument.  True world development, organized and integral, which everyone hopes for, requires on the contrary an objective knowledge of human situations, the identification of the real causes of poverty and practical responses whose priority is the appropriate formation of each person and community. Thus, the authentic freedom and responsibility that are proper to human action will be put into practice.
Pope Benedict XVI, 12 October 2005

Thoughts for your consideration

Today’s reading from Isaiah is a clear proclamation about justice.
[It is used in Luke, chapter 4, to define the nature of Jesus’ ministry.]
It reminds us that justice is essential to the spirit of God. 
God wants the poor to hear glad tidings. 
God wants the broken to be healed. 
God wants to free those in captivity. 
God wants a year of jubilee – a year of God’s favor toward the poor.

The gospel makes clear that John is speaking in the spirit of Isaiah.  The spirit of Isaiah is a spirit that is concerned with justice.  Our coming celebration of the birth of Christ makes no sense if we do not connect it with the challenge of the great prophets, if we do not proclaim justice and peace, if we do not connect with those who are poor or in need in our world.   Christmas makes no sense if it does not involve “glad tidings to the poor … liberty to the captives … release to the captives.”


For the last four years, the United States and most of the world has been in the midst of a serious economic recession. Governments have cut their spending for human needs. Millions of people have become unemployed or underemployed. Others are fearful of losing their jobs.  People have lost their homes in foreclosure actions which continue today.  Much of Europe is facing economic uncertainty.  Radical cuts are being imposed in Greece, Italy, and other nations.  Something is radically wrong in the system.

For some people in our nation and in the world, “recession” has been the reality for a long time.  In our world, billions of people have been living on less than two dollars a day for their whole lives.  In our nation, as many as 50 million people have been living without health insurance.   In our nation, over eight million children are without health coverage and the number of poor children has increased since the year 2000 by 2.5 million to 14.1 million. (Children’s Defense Fund)

In the spirit of Isaiah and in the spirit of the gospel, our response to the recession must include everyone, especially those whose lives have been in “recession” for a long time. I suspect that we are called not to “re-create” the economy as it was a few years ago, but to create a new economy that includes everyone and that moves us from over-consumption and injustice to a sane respect for our planet and a justice that includes all men and women.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

Who are the captives of our age? 
Who are the people who need to experience liberation?


How is the recession affecting you and people you know?
What are your fears about the economy?
What do you hope for as our nation responds to the problems?


Be challenged or inspired by the story of Barbara Johns’ fight for racial justice in the 1950’s.

Actions – Links

Take action online to speak up for the needs of poor children in our country by going to:

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace can be found on line at

Climate Change: A Life Issue
Read this article from America Magazine at:

December 18: International Migrants Day
The latest message from Pope Benedict concerning migrants and refugees is at:

“Crazy Facts”

According to the Children’s’ Defense Fund, in the United States:
·    Every second a public school student is suspended.*
·    Every 8 seconds a high school student drops out.*
·    Every 18 seconds a baby is born to an unmarried mother.
·    Every 20 seconds a public school student is corporally punished.*
·    Every 21 seconds a child is arrested.
·    Every 34 seconds a baby is born into poverty.
·    Every 42 seconds a child is confirmed as abused or neglected.
·    Every 42 seconds a baby is born without health insurance.
·    Every minute a baby is born to a teen mother.
·    Every 2 minutes a baby is born at low birthweight.
·    Every 4 minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense.
·    Every 8 minutes a child is arrested for a violent offense.
·    Every 18 minutes a baby dies before his or her first birthday.
·    Every 45 minutes a child or teen dies from an accident.
·    Every 3 hours a child or teen is killed by a firearm.
·    Every 5 hours a child or teen commits suicide.
·    Every 5 hours a child is killed by abuse or neglect.
·    Every 16 hours a woman dies from complications of childbirth or pregnancy.
* Based on calculations per school day (180 days of seven hours each).

Prayers of Intercession

Response: Lord, send down your spirit.
For all those who are poor, that they may experience the glad tidings of justice, we pray….
For all those who are brokenhearted and overwhelmed by injustice, we pray….
For all those who are captives to economic and political oppression, we pray….
For all those who are in prison, we pray…..
For those who are immigrants or refugees, we pray…..
For children who are growing up in poverty, we pray….
That we can announce a year of God’s favor and a day of vindication by our God, by speaking up for justice and acting for what is right in our world, we pray…..

Prayer - Meditation
The following prayer was found on the web site of the Reformed Church of America (

God our Father,
in the name of him
who gave bread to the hungry,
we remember all
who through our human ignorance,
folly, and sin
are condemned to live in want.
Show us, who have so much,
what we can do
to help those who have so little;
and bless the efforts of those
who work to overcome poverty and hunger,
that sufficient food may be found for all;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--From the Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland, St. Andrew Press.

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