Engaging Faith | Thu, Dec 8, 2011
Lectionary reflections for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2011.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 8, 2011
Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
28 November - 9 December 2011: Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa
December 10: Human Rights Day
December 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
May the Virgin Mary — proclaimed Mater Ecclesiae by Paul VI and honored by Christians as Speculum Iustitiae and Regina Pacis — protect us and obtain for us, through her heavenly intercession, the strength, hope and joy necessary to continue to dedicate ourselves with generosity to the task of bringing about the “development of the whole man and of all men”
Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 79
Genuine progress does not consist in wealth sought for personal comfort or for its own sake; rather it consists in an economic order designed for the welfare of the human person, where the daily bread that each person receives reflects the glow of love and the helping hand of God.
Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio
Women’s relational way of being in the world typically creates in them a deep vulnerability to being rendered desolate when suffering visits those whom they love and care about. … With dry eyes or wet, women do more than a fair share of the crying of the world. … Weeping women, women whose hearts moan like a flute because those they love have come to harm, are everywhere in the world. As imago Dei they point to the mystery of divine sorrow, of an unimaginable compassionate God who suffers with beloved creation.
Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, She Who Is, 259-260
Thoughts for your consideration
The Genesis story (with Adam and Eve eating the fruit from the tree in the garden) reminds us of the reality of sin and selfishness. Human beings can choose to become separate from the way of God. Human sinfulness continues to this day.
Recent headlines might cause us to lose hope about the progress of justice and peace.
In the US unemployment has been high for years and the real number (when we consider discouraged workers and part time workers) is much higher.
Food stamp use in the US is dramatically up.
At the same time many financial corporations have made huge profits.
The number of hungry people around the world is up.
Occupy Movement points out the increasing inequality in our economic system.
In light of all the sinfulness and discouragement that exists in our world, we might feel like losing hope. However, the second reading and gospel are statements of hope. The life of Mary of Nazareth is a testament to hope.
In the letter to the Ephesians we are told that God wants us “to be to be holy and without blemish before him.” In the gospel God speaks to a poor woman in an out of the way town and reveals a vision of God doing something new. Mary is asked to say yes to this vision about something that is bigger than herself and something that is to unfold by God’s work. Salvation is not in the power of the big man who takes charge, but in the yes of a poor woman who is open to see the divine taking over and calling us to something beyond our sinfulness and selfishness.
God wants to do something new. God’s promise is made real in the gospel story of an angel speaking to a poor young woman and promising a savior who will finally “rule” over the people and lead them to something new. “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” God’s reign will transcend our limited personal perspectives and consumerism and greed and violence and selfishness and bring together the whole world in a new kind of justice and peace. God comes to us as a human person. We have reason to hope!
Questions for use in your Faith Sharing Group
What recent political and public events have caused you to get discouraged or to lose hope?
How does Mary’s yes to God speak to you?
Does it inspire or encourage you?
Actions - Links
December 10 is International Human Rights Day. On December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). “It is the foundation of international human rights law, the first universal statement on the basic principles of inalienable human rights, and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”
• To read the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, go to http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
• Download the poster versions at: http://www2.ohchr.org/English/events/UDHR60/docs/DECLARATION.pdf
• The 16 days of activism campaign, which runs every year from 25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – to 10 December – Human Rights Day - calls for the elimination of violence against women and invites everyone to take action against it. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/16DaysOfActivismCampaign.aspx
The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security. Indeed, the victims of hardship and despair, whose human dignity is violated with impunity, become easy prey to the call to violence, and they can then become violators of peace. The common good that human rights help to accomplish cannot, however, be attained merely by applying correct procedures, nor even less by achieving a balance between competing rights. The merit of the Universal Declaration is that it has enabled different cultures, juridical expressions and institutional models to converge around a fundamental nucleus of values, and hence of rights.
Benedict XVI, at the United Nations, April, 2008
The Climate Change Summit is going on in Durban, South Africa from November 28 to December 8. You may find links to various Vatican statements on Climate Change at:
You might want to consider taking the St. Francis Pledge to care for creation and the poor at:
From Money Magazine:
“The number of Americans using the government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- more commonly referred to as food stamps -- shot to an all-time high of 45.8 million in May, the USDA reported. That's up 12% from a year ago, and 34% higher than two years ago.”
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God, send your spirit upon us today.
For openness to the call and challenge of God, we pray….
For openness so that we can be with those who are in need, we pray….
For openness to learn from those in need, we pray…..
For courage and hope in the midst of the overwhelming challenges, we pray….
For courage and hope to speak up for what is just and right, we pray…..
For courage and hope as we turn from sinfulness in our society and try to live the new way of Jesus Christ, we pray….
For the spirit – the same spirit that worked in Mary - that will help us create a world of justice and peace, we pray….
Immaculate Heart of Mary, help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us. From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin: individual sin and the “sin of the world,” sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the redemption: the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.
-- Pope John Paul II