Lectionary Reflections: Fourth Sunday of Advent [a] December 18, 2016

Engaging Faith | Tue, Dec 13, 2016

By John Bucki, S.J.

Fourth Sunday of Advent [a]

December 18, 2016


Isaiah 7:10-14

Romans 1:1-7

Matthew 1:18-24



December 18: International Migrants Day (

December 20: International Human Solidarity Day (

December 21: Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere

December 24: Hanukkah begins at sundown (Jewish)

December 24: Christmas Eve

December 25: Christmas Day



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

— John Paul II, Athens, 5 May 2001

… the 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

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

All it takes is one good person to restore hope!

— Pope Francis, Laudato Si', 71

The God who created the universe out of nothing can also intervene in this world and overcome every form of evil. Injustice is not invincible.

— Pope Francis, Laudato Si', 74

Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope. 

— Pope Francis, Laudato Si', 244


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 somehow analogous to the fear that some people have about sharing what they believe concerning justice and peace?  Is this analogous to the fear that some of us have that nothing can change? Is this somewhat like the complex feels that have discouraged people since the last election?  Is this like the fear that has been growing about a culture of racism and exclusion that seems for prevalent in our world?  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? Do we believe that God’s spirit can do great things?

To read the rest of this reflection from John Bucki, S.J., as well as his reflection questions, faith in action links, prayers of intercession, and prayer meditations, become a member of Education for Justice:

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