Lectionary Reflections: First Sunday in Advent [a]. November 30, 2014

Engaging Faith | Fri, Nov 21, 2014

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary Reflections: First Sunday in Advent [a]. November 30, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern


First Sunday in Advent [b]

November 30, 2014



Isaiah 63:16b-17,19b; 64:2-7

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Mark 13:33-37



November 30: First Sunday of Advent

December 1: World AIDS Day

December 1: Rosa Parks Day (the day on which she refused to give up her seat)

December 2: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

December 2: Anniversary of the deaths of Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan in El Salvador 

December 3: International Day for People with a Disability

December 6: “St. Nicolas Day”



In order to overcome today's widespread individualistic mentality, what is required is a concrete commitment to solidarity and charity.

-John Paul II, Centesimus Annus

A Church which “goes forth” is a Church whose doors are open. 

-Pope Francis, Evangelli Gaudium, 46

Our nation has been blessed with great freedom, vibrant democratic traditions, unprecedented economic strengths, abundant natural resources, and a generous and religious people. Yet not all is right with our nation. Our prosperity does not reach far enough. Our culture does not lift us up; instead it may bring us down in moral terms. This new world we lead is still too dangerous, giving rise to ethnic cleansing and an inability to confront hunger and genocide. We are still falling short of the American pledge of “liberty and justice for all,” our declaration to defend the inalienable rights of the person--“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

-U.S. Bishops, Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium

But it will be necessary above all to abandon a mentality in which the poor — as individuals and as peoples — are considered a burden, as irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced. The poor ask for the right to share in enjoying material goods and to make good use of their capacity for work, thus creating a world that is more just and prosperous for all. The advancement of the poor constitutes a great opportunity for the moral, cultural and even economic growth of all humanity.

-John Paul II, Centesimus Annus 

A person who is concerned solely or primarily with possessing and enjoying, who is no longer able to control his instincts and passions, or to subordinate them by obedience to the truth, cannot be free.

-John Paul II, Centesimus Annus

Bringing the Gospel is bringing God’s power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world. 

-Pope Francis, World Youth Day, 28 July 2013


Thoughts for your consideration

The advent message today is very simple. “Be watchful and alert.”  

God and the goodness of God are available. 

The call to work together for justice and the common good is all around us.

All we have to do is be alert and watch and not miss it. 


Unfortunately, sometimes our world is not watchful or alert and we miss God and the goodness of God.  Sometimes we miss the call of God to get into action. Sometimes we don’t connect with God in the poverty and struggles of the people of the world. As individuals or as a society, we wander away from God and God’s values.  The question is: “why?”

Today might be a good time to reflect on those things in our society and culture that keep us from being alert and alive to God and God’s values. There seem to be so many pressures and values which indoctrinate us and keep us from being what God wants us to be.  So many ways of thinking and seeing are in tension with the values of Catholic Social Teaching. We need to be aware of them so that we can be truly free and alert.

As we look at our culture, we might way to reflect on


  • The individualistic mentality that keeps us from solidarity and the common good
  • The temptation to rely on power and even violence instead of love and activenonviolence
  • The tendency to accumulate wealth instead of sharing material resources
  • The practice of judging things from the limited view of our culture alone
  • The lack of a seamless, all-inclusive respect for life
  • The excessive power of the media which limits our vision
  • The ideological perspectives from left and right which keep us from seeing clearly.
  • The lack of direct contact with those who are in need or different than ourselves.


The list could go on and on.  The challenge is to open our eyes and be alert and aware, so that we can know the biases of our culture, make this list concrete, and begin to see things from a bigger viewpoint. 

In the face of all the challenges, we are invited to have hope. The second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians reminds us to rejoice in the spirit of Jesus who will help and set us free.


If we are alert we begin to see the needs of our world and its people.  We notice injustice and economic inequality.  We become sensitive to discrimination and racism.  

Those who are worried about the poor are hoping for policies that help those who are most in need. As Christians we are always called to be people of hope. This is a good thing. However, as Christians we know that no political system or leadership will be perfect.  We know that we always need as Jesus says today to be “watchful and alert.” We are called to open our eyes to the needs of all our brothers and sisters.


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

What things in our culture keep you from being watchful or alert?  

What are the things or values that keep you from the spirit of God?


Advent is a season of hope.  What things give you hope?  How is God’s spirit offering to set us free?  Do you have hope after the recent election or are you discouraged?



From Anthony DeMello SJ:

Imagine that you’re unwell and in a foul mood, and they’re taking you through some lovely countryside. The landscape is beautiful but you’re not in the mood to see anything. A few days later you pass the same place and you say, “Good heavens, where was I that I didn’t notice all of this?” Everything becomes beautiful when you change. 

Or you look at the trees and the mountains through windows that are wet with rain from a storm, and everything looks blurred and shapeless. You want to go right out there and change those trees, change those mountains. Wait a minute, let’s examine your window. When the storm ceases and the rain stops, and you look out the window, you say, “Well, how different everything looks.” We see people and things not as they are, but as we are. That is why when two people look at something or someone, you get two different reactions. We see things and people not as they are, but as we are.


Actions - Links

World Aids Day is December 1. 

Get data at

Get some data especially from the international perspective at

December 2 is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.   

The Not For Sale Campaign estimates that 30 million people in the world are enslaved in some way today.  For more information go to: 

Men, women, and children are sold into a $150 billion annual market for sex and labor. This is happening globally, and domestically; in urban and suburban areas; in hotels, restaurants, and on street corners. Slavery is wrapped up in almost every industry’s supply chain, tainting the food we eat, the clothes we buy, and the electronics we love. After the international drug trade, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second- largest criminal industry in the world. Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation..


“Crazy Facts”

“A staggering 2.5 million children are now homeless each year in America. This historic high represents one in every 30 children in the United States. Child homelessness increased in 31 states and the District of Columbia from 2012 to 2013. Children are homeless in every city, county, and state—every part of our country. “

From America’s Youngest Outcasts, a report from the National Center on Family Homelessness and available at 

There are more than 30 million slaves in the world today, more than at any other point in human history. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 35.3 million people were living with HIV worldwide in 2012. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1,144,500 persons aged 13 years and older are living with HIV infection.


Prayers of Intercession

Response: God, help us stay watchful and alert.

For those who are homeless or unemployed or underpaid, we pray….

For all those who are poor, especially the billions of people living on less than two dollars a day, we pray…..

For the rich and powerful, especially those who are addicted to their power and possessions, we pray…..

For all of our children, especially those who are growing up without access to a good education, we pray….

For all those with HIV/AIDS and their families, we pray….

For the thirty million people in our world today who have been enslaved, we pray….

For the media, especially the media controlled by those with power and money, we pray…..

For our churches everywhere, as they hope to become a welcoming, inclusive communities in the spirit of Jesus, we pray…..


Prayer – Meditation 

World AIDS Day is December 1.  Various prayers for those suffering from AIDS can be found at: 

Hear our prayer, O God of mercy and love, 

for all who live with HIV or AIDS.

Grant them loving companions

who will support them in the midst of fear; 

give them hope for each day to come, 

that every day may be lived with courage and faith.

Bless them with an abundance of your love, 

that they may live with concern for others.

Pour on them the peace and wholeness, 

which you alone can give.

Through Jesus Christ, our Savior, 

who came to give us abundant life.



Vienna Cobb Anderson (shortened version) in Prayers, Litanies and Liturgies, Diocese of the Highveld, South Africa


An Advent Prayer

God, Christmas is coming and I thought that I should send you a list of things that I want this year. I’m sending it early, so that you will have enough time to do the shopping. I know that I should not confuse you with Santa Claus; however, I think I might need some of the following:

1. A place to go to get away from all the ads.

2. A day of silence to just be with the mystery of incarnation.

3. A chance to be of service to the poor.

4. A little more time to be with my family and friends. 

5. Some time to meditate on the fact that Jesus was born poor.

6. Time to be watchful and alert to the needs of those who are poor today.