Lectionary Reflections: Third Sunday in Advent [b] - December 14, 2104

Engaging Faith | Fri, Dec 5, 2014

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary Reflections: Third Sunday in Advent [b]. December 14, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern


Third Sunday in Advent [b]

December 14, 2014



Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

John 1:6-8, 19-28



December 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 16: start of "Las Posadas" in Mexico 

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

December 18: International Migrants Day See: 

December 21: First Day of Winter



The Church is called to draw near to every person, beginning with the poorest and those who suffer.

-Pope Francis @Pontifex Dec 2, 2014


Animated by the charity of Christ, a human person finds it impossible not to love his fellow human beings. He makes his own their needs, their sufferings and their joys. There is a sureness of touch in all his activity in every field. It is energetic, generous and considerate. For "charity is

patient, is kind; charity envies not, deals not perversely, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeks not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

-Pope John XXIII, Mater and Magistra


… the church is not perfect. Its early bishop James had to remind the people: . . . it was those who are poor according to the world that the Lord chose, to be rich in faith and to be heirs to all that was promised to those who love God.  …. Yet the church continues, despite its sins, working for the poor, insisting on practical love, and not just prayers and good intentions.

-This Land is Home to Me: A Pastoral Letter on Poverty and Powerlessness in Appalachia by the Catholic Bishops of the Region, February 1, 1975

The millions of people whose very lives are at risk because they lack the minimum basic food call for the attention of the International Community, because it is the common duty of us all to care for our brothers and sisters.   Indeed, famine is not entirely due to geographical and climatic situations or to the unfavorable circumstances linked to harvests. It is also caused by human beings themselves and by their selfishness, which is expressed by gaps in social organization, by rigidity in economic structures all too often oriented solely to profit, and even by practices against human life and ideological systems that reduce the person, deprived of his fundamental dignity, to being a mere instrument.  True world development, organized and integral, which everyone hopes for, requires on the contrary an objective knowledge of human situations, the identification of the real causes of poverty and practical responses whose priority is the appropriate formation of each person and community. Thus, the authentic freedom and responsibility that are proper to human action will be put into practice.

-Pope Benedict XVI, 12 October 2005


Thoughts for your consideration

Today’s reading from Isaiah is a clear proclamation about justice. 

[It is used in Luke, chapter 4, to define the nature of Jesus’ ministry.] 

It reminds us that justice is essential to the spirit of God.  

God wants the poor to hear glad tidings.  

God wants the broken to be healed.  

God wants to free those in captivity.  

God wants a year of jubilee – a year of God’s favor toward the poor.

This is what the message of Jesus is all about.

It is an essential part of the Christmas message.


The gospel makes clear that John is speaking in the spirit of Isaiah.

The spirit of Isaiah is a spirit that is concerned with justice.  


Our coming celebration of the birth of Christ makes no sense if we do not connect it with the challenge of the great prophets, if we do not proclaim justice and peace, if we do not connect with those who are poor or in need in our world.   Christmas makes no sense if it does not involve “glad tidings to the poor … liberty to the captives    release to the captives.”


In the last month “Ferguson” and “Eric Gardner” and police behavior toward minorities and other racial issues have been a big part of the news in the United States and have challenged people to reflect on issues related to race in our country. There exist persistent structures of distrust and fear.  It seems that there is a need for healing and reconciliation about issues of race and the criminal justice system in our nation.


Isaiah makes clear that God wants the poor to hear glad tidings.  

God wants the broken to be healed.  God wants to free those in captivity.  


In the gospel John is speaking the spirit of Isaiah – a spirit that wants to bring justice to all this suffering and injustice.  How can we heal the divisions?


For many years now, the United States and most of the world has been in the midst of a serious economic recession. Although the recession officially ended some time ago and many people are prospering, many other people are left out. Governments have cut their spending for human needs. Millions of people are still unemployed or underemployed. Others are fearful of losing their jobs.  Much of Europe is facing economic uncertainty. Inequality has grown.  Something is radically wrong in our economic system.


For some people in our nation and in the world, “recession” has been the reality for a long time.  In our world, billions of people have been living on less than two dollars a day for their whole lives. Some people still don’t have access to health care.


In the spirit of Isaiah and in the spirit of the gospel, our response to the recession must include everyone, especially those whose lives have been in “recession” for a long time. I suspect that we are called not to “re-create” the economy as it was a few years ago, but to create a new economy that includes everyone and that moves us from over-consumption and injustice to a sane respect for our planet and a justice that includes all men and women.



Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

Who are the captives of our age?  

Who are the people who need to experience liberation?


How do you experience racism and discrimination in our society?

What do you hope for as our nation responds to the problems?



Be challenged or inspired by the story of Barbara Johns’ fight for racial justice in the 1950’s. 


Actions – Links


Take action online to speak up for the needs of poor children in our country by going to:


December 18: International Migrants Day

The latest message from Pope Francis concerning migrants and refugees is at: 


Amnesty International: Write for Rights

“Write for Rights is Amnesty’s annual global letter writing marathon for people whose basic human rights are under attack. Every December, Amnesty supporters like you write millions of messages to change lives worldwide.”


“Crazy Facts”

“Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings.  The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.” 

See also 


“There are 232 million people living outside their country of birth…”


According to the Children’s’ Defense Fund, in the United States:

  • Every 2 seconds during the school year a public school student receives an out-of-school suspension.*
  • Every 9 seconds during the school year a public high school student drops out.*
  • Every 20 seconds a baby is born to an unmarried mother.
  • Every 21 seconds a child is arrested.
  • Every 30 seconds during the school year a public school student is corporally punished.*
  • Every 32 seconds a baby is born into poverty.
  • Every 47 seconds a child is abused or neglected.
  • Every 62 seconds a baby is born into extreme poverty.
  • Every 70 seconds a baby is born without health insurance.
  • Every 1-and-a-half minutes a baby is born to a teen mother.
  • Every 1-and-a-half minutes a baby is born at low birth weight.
  • Every 3-and-a-half minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense.
  • Every 8 minutes a child is arrested for a violent offense.
  • Every 22 minutes a baby dies before his or her first birthday.
  • Every hour a child or teen dies from an accident.
  • Every 3 hours and 15 minutes a child or teen is killed by guns.
  • Every 4-and-a-half hours a child commits suicide.
  • Every 5-and-a-half hours a child is killed by abuse or neglect.
  • Every 11 hours a baby’s mother dies due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth.
  • Based on calculations per school day (180 days of seven hours each).


 Prayers of Intercession

Response: Lord, send down your spirit.

For all those who are poor, that they may experience the glad tidings of justice, we pray….

For all those who are brokenhearted and overwhelmed by injustice, we pray….

For all those who are captives to economic and political oppression, we pray….

For all those who are in prison, we pray…..

For those who live in fear of the police and other authorities, we pray….

For all police officers and other civil officials who strive to protect and serve the common food, we pray…

For those who are immigrants or refugees, we pray…..

For children who are growing up in poverty, we pray….

That we can announce a year of God’s favor and a day of vindication by our God, by speaking up for justice and acting for what is right in our world, we pray…..


Prayer - Meditation

The following prayer was found on the web site of the Reformed Church of America (


God our Father,

in the name of him

who gave bread to the hungry,

we remember all

who through our human ignorance,

folly, and sin

are condemned to live in want.

Show us, who have so much,

what we can do

to help those who have so little;

and bless the efforts of those

who work to overcome poverty and hunger,

that sufficient food may be found for all;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

--From the Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland, St. Andrew Press.



Ella’s Song by Sweet Honey in the Rock


We who believe in freedom cannot rest

We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons

Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons