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Lectionary Reflections: Fourth Sunday in Advent [b] December 21, 2014

Engaging Faith | Fri, Dec 12, 2014

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

Fourth Sunday in Advent [b], December 21, 2014

Copyright © 2014 Center of Concern

Readings

2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

Romans 16:25-27

Luke 1:26-38

 

Calendar

December 16: start of "Las Posadas" in Mexico 

December 16: start of Chanukah in the evening (Jewish)

December 18: International Migrants Day See: http://www.un.org/en/events/migrantsday/ 

December 21: First Day of Winter

December 25:  Christmas

December 26: Kwanzaa begins

 

Quotes

"The obligation to evaluate social and economic activity from the viewpoint of the poor and the powerless arises from the radical command to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.” 

-  Economic Justice for All - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 

 

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

 

We cherish this hope: that distrust and selfishness among nations will eventually be overcome by a stronger desire for mutual collaboration and a heightened sense of solidarity.

- Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

 

We must repeat that the superfluous goods of wealthier nations ought to be placed at the disposal of poorer nations. … If prosperous nations continue to be jealous of their own advantage alone, they will jeopardize their highest values, sacrificing the pursuit of excellence to the acquisition of possessions.

- Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

 

Every individual and every community shares in and is responsible for promoting the common good. 

- Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Global Economy, October 2011

 

The inequalities and distortions of capitalist development are often an expression not only of economic liberalism but also of utilitarian thinking: that is, theoretical and practical approaches according to which what is useful for the individual leads to the good of the community. This saying has a core of truth, but it cannot be ignored that individual utility – even where it is legitimate – does not always favor the common good. In many cases a spirit of solidarity is called for that transcends personal utility for the good of the community. 

- Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Global Economy, October 2011

 

Thoughts for your consideration

In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI wrote for World Mission Day: “Violence, in many cases, marks the relations between persons and peoples. Poverty oppresses millions of inhabitants. Discrimination and sometimes even persecution for racial, cultural and religious reasons drive many people to flee from their own countries in order to seek refuge and protection elsewhere.”

In the book of Samuel, God promises something more than a fancy temple or new church.  God wants to work with us to address the issues of our world, especially poverty, violence, discrimination and persecution.  That is what the coming of Christ is about. God wants to create something new for the people. “I will fix a place for my people.”  

God wants something more than a building.  God wants to do something new. The 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 perspective and consumerism and bring together the whole world in a new kind of justice and peace.  God comes to us as a human person who is engaged in our struggles.

The scripture today speaks to our human situation and reminds us that God wants to create something new in the midst of all the injustice, violence, economic issues, confusion, and terror.  God wants to create a reign of justice, peace, simplicity, and hope.  We are invited to make God’s reign real.

As we reflect on and absorb the violence in the recently released “Senate Torture Report.” on the CIA post-9/11 torture program, we need to get back to the values of the gospel. We need to be committed to nonviolence, respect for every person, the rule of law, and basic human rights.

As our governments (local, state, and federal) continue to address the problems in the economy (especially low pay for many workers and unemployment for many, and income inequality) we need to work together to be sure that the values of our social teaching will be included in the solution.  We must not forget the poor (especially people who have been living the recession for decades).  We must be working to create an economy focused on the common good.  We need an economy that is concerned with something more than consumer spending and the gross domestic product and the stock market.  We must create an economy that is concerned with sustainable development and care for the planet.  

A healthy economy that is focused on the benefit of all people will indeed be a “building” in which God can dwell. God’s reign will transcend our limited personal perspective and consumerism and bring together the whole world in a new kind of justice and peace

 

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

  • What are signs for you that God is present – that God is dwelling in our midst?
  • What are the signs of justice and peace in your world?

+++++

  • How have you reacted to the recent “Senate Torture Report.” on the CIA post-9/11 torture program?  What to the scriptures and Catholic Social Teaching say to you about this?

 

Stories

“The Real Jew” is a story about listening to God’s voice.  In some way it is like Mary listening to God in today’s gospel. In some way it is different.

http://www.hasidicstories.com/Stories/Other_Early_Rebbes/real_jew.html

 

Through the account of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), the Bible warns us how the “diversity” of peoples can turn into a vehicle for selfishness and an instrument of division. In humanity there is a real risk that peoples will end up not understanding each other and that cultural diversities will lead to irremediable oppositions. The image of the Tower of Babel also warns us that we must avoid a “unity” that is only apparent, where selfishness and divisions endure because the foundations of the society are not stable. In both cases, Babel is the image of what peoples and individuals can become when they do not recognize their intrinsic transcendent dignity and brotherhood. 

- Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Global Economy, October 2011

 

Actions - Links

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace can be found on line at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html

 

Find the recent Statement of Catholic Theologians on Racial Justice at:

http://www.loyno.edu/jsri/news/statement-catholic-theologians-racial-justice

 

You might want to read “U.S. Faith Leaders Condemn CIA Torture Program, Ask Congress to Act” at http://www.nrcat.org/about-us/nrcat-press-releases/1045-us-faith-leaders...   You might want to sign onto “A Statement of Conscience of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture” found at http://www.nrcat.org/sign-the-statement

 

Bishop Oscar Cantú, chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said: “The Catholic Church firmly believes that torture is an ‘intrinsic evil’ that cannot be justified under any circumstance. The acts of torture described in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report violated the God-given human dignity inherent in all people and were unequivocally wrong. Congress and the President should act to strengthen the legal prohibitions against torture and to ensure that this never happens again.”

 

“Crazy Facts”

The “real unemployment rate” (U-6) in the United States in November was 11.4%.

“The U6 unemployment rate counts not only people without work seeking full-time employment (the more familiar U-3 rate), but also counts "marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons." Note that some of these part-time workers counted as employed by U-3 could be working as little as an hour a week. And the "marginally attached workers" include those who have gotten discouraged and stopped looking, but still want to work.” - See more at: http://portalseven.com/employment/unemployment_rate_u6.jsp#sthash.YVYjD3JI.dpuf  

 

Prayers of Intercession

Response: Lord, help us build a new dwelling place.

For those working without a living wage, we pray….

For those without jobs, we pray….

For those who are homeless, we pray….

For refugees and immigrants, we pray….

For those who are in prison, we pray….

For those who are victims of torture and abuse, we pray….

For those who sick and in need of care, we pray….

For all our children, we pray….

For all those filled with worry and fear, we pray…..

For our political and religious leaders, we pray….

 

Prayer - Meditation

 

CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, web site has worship resources for Advent and Christmas and many special concerns: http://www.cafod.org.uk/Pray 

 

God of our longing

hear our prayers,

protect our dreams,

and listen to our silent hopes.

 

Deal gently with our pain,

speak to our sadness

and remove the barriers

that imprison our spirit.

 

Shed your light

where shadows are cast,

that we may feel your warmth

and know your presence.

 

Give us courage

to hold fast to our vision

that we may build our world

and create our future.

 

 

Images

http://adamzyglis.buffalonews.com/2014/12/11/torture-report/

http://www.ibtimes.com/cia-torture-report-house-intelligence-chairman-former-cia-chief-warn-against-reports-1741702

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/10/opinion/the-torture-report-reminds-us-of-what-america-was.html