Lectionary Reflections: Fourth Sunday of Advent [a] Dec. 22, 2013

Engaging Faith | Wed, Dec 18, 2013

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary reflections for the fourth Sunday of Advent - Dec. 22, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Advent [a]

Dec. 22, 2013


Isaiah 7:10-14

Romans 1:1-7

Matthew 1:18-24


Dec. 24: Christmas Eve

Dec. 25: Christmas

Dec. 26: Kwanzaa Begins


“The true apostle is first of all a person who is ‘tuned in,’ a servant ready for God's action.”

Pope John Paul II, May 5, 2001

“There are a wealth of signs that promise hope in the kairos of a new springtime of the Gospel!”

Pope John Paul II, August 10, 2004

“ …[T]he Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known – it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing.”

Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi

“In Europe and North America, the ‘us’ of the Church urges people to leave behind the selfish and technicist mentality, to advance the common good and to show respect for the persons who are most defenseless, starting with the unborn.”

Pope Benedict XVI, Christmas 2009

“Let us believe the Gospel when it tells us that the kingdom of God is already present in this world and is growing, here and there, and in different ways: like the small seed which grows into a great tree (cf. Mt 13:31-32), like the measure of leaven that makes the dough rise (cf. Mt 13:33) and like the good seed that grows amid the weeds (cf. Mt 13, 24-30) and can always pleasantly surprise us.” 

Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 278

“Mary was able to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love. She is the handmaid of the Father who sings his praises. She is the friend who is ever concerned that wine not be lacking in our lives. She is the woman whose heart was pierced by a sword and who understands all our pain. As mother of all, she is a sign of hope for peoples suffering the birth pangs of justice.” 

Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 286 

Three thoughts for your consideration

1)Ahaz seems to be fearful of asking God for a sign. Ahaz seems to be fearful of expecting something great from God.  Is this somehow analogous to the fear that some people have about speaking up for justice and peace? Is this analogous to the fear that some of us have that nothing can change?  In the case of Ahaz, God is weary of this fear. God is willing to make a great and extraordinary promise. We are called to make the assumption that great things can happen with God’s inspiration. Today are we willing to believe that social change is possible? Are we willing to believe that we can put Catholic Social Teaching into practice? Are we willing to make a stand for justice? Are we willing to speak up for the poor?

2)Paul reminds us that we are called to “belong to Jesus Christ,” that we are called to be holy. We called to expect something great – to be something great. We can be holy!  We can even have that type of holiness that is more than a conventional piety or superficial holiness. We can be people who put the faith into practice. Do you believe that we can be a community of faith that works courageously for justice and peace?

3)In the gospel, Joseph is a righteous man.  He seeks to do what is right. Then, Joseph discovers that what is right is not what he and the tradition had called for. God asks him for something unconventional. “Take Mary as your wife.” Believe that all this is happening by “the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Joseph is invited to think outside the box. Are we too invited to think outside of the box of our culture and the conventional value system of our country? We, too, are called to be faithful to the vision of God and work for a new era of peace and justice for all.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you acted with a confidence that change and growth is possible? 

Did this confidence bring about powerful results?


In our country, what would be a sign from God that things are changing?

In our country, what would be the radical sign that God wants us to present to the world?


A Fable of Hope

Actions – Links

Pax Christi International invites people to send electronic Christmas peace and justice wishes and prayers to the people of Bethlehem at

If you are concerned about wealth and income gaps in the United States, go to:  and .

From the JustSouth Monthly, read “Advent 2013, Called to Live the Joy of Gospel Solidarity,” by Dr. Alex Mikulich at

“Crazy Facts”


•Percentage of U.S. total income in 1976 that went to the top 1 percent of American households: 8.9

•Percentage in 2007: 21

See more stats at & 

Inequality Rampant: The widening gap between rich and poor is eroding faith in the American dream. By almost two to one, Americans say the United States no longer offers everyone an equal chance to get ahead, according to a Bloomberg poll. And some say the government isn’t doing much to help. The richest 10 percent of Americans last year earned more than half of all income, the largest total since 1917, according to Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley.  

Prayers of Intercession

Response: Emmanuel – God be with us.

For an end to all war and fighting, we pray…

For an end to all our preparations for war, we pray…

For an end to all our divisions, for an end to racism and discrimination, we pray…

For an end to the use of torture and violence in any situation, we pray…

For an end to end to all slavery and oppression, we pray…

For a new courage and commitment to peace and justice for all, we pray…

For the beginning of a new commitment to address human needs, we pray…

For a new and genuine commitment to the common good, we pray…

Prayer - Meditation

Various reflections for Advent can be found at the site of the CAFOD, England’s Catholic Agency for Overseas Development:[]=prayer&_tag[]=&_tag[]=advent

For a Christmas prayer, go to:


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