Lectionary Reflections: Third Sunday of Advent [a] December 15, 2013

Engaging Faith | Thu, Dec 12, 2013

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Third Sunday of Advent [a]

Dec. 15, 2013

Copyright © 2013, Center of Concern


Isaiah 35:1-6a,10

James 5:7-10

Matthew 11:2-11



Dec. 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas

Dec. 16-24: Las Posadas celebrated in Mexico 

Dec. 18: International Migrants Day or

Dec. 20: International Human Solidarity Day 



“The future belongs to those who give the next generation reasons to hope.”

-  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.


“… [W]e have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present…”

- Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi


“…[I]f the Father calls us to be beloved children in his dearly beloved Son, he also calls us to recognize each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.”

- Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees


“The present situation of the world, from the point of view of development, offers a rather negative impression.… Without going into an analysis of figures and statistics, it is sufficient to face squarely the reality of an innumerable multitude of people – children, adults and the elderly in other words, real and unique human persons, who are suffering under the intolerable burden of poverty. There are many millions who are deprived of hope due to the fact that, in many parts of the world, their situation has noticeably worsened. Before these tragedies of total indigence and need, in which so many of our brothers and sisters are living, it is the Lord Jesus himself who comes to question us.

- Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 13


“While everything around me is every changing, ever dying, there is underlying that change a living power that is changeless, that holds all together, that creates, dissolves and recreates... For I can see in the midst of death, life persists, in the midst of untruth, truth persists, in the midst of darkness light persists.”

- Mohandas K. Gandhi


“… [T]he reign of God is making headway – and for this I am grateful. Do continue to be Spirit-filled and challenging.”   

- Sister Dorothy Kazel, OSU, martyred in El Salvador in 1980


“Life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others.”

- Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 11


Thoughts for your consideration

Advent is a season to open our eyes and see, to notice those who struggle or suffer, to see the injustice around us, to be more aware of the challenges in our world.   

When John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus, they may have been experiencing some discouragement since John is in jail. They may have been wondering: Is there any hope?  Are God’s promises really to be fulfilled? Can we expect something new?

Believers in all times and places can be challenged by discouragement. We, too, can be tempted to lose hope.  Maybe we are thinking of the persistence of poverty and injustice around our world.  Maybe we are thinking of the various people who are denied basic human rights.  Maybe we are considering the situation of so many immigrants and refugees. Maybe we are disappointed with our government policies, especially those policies that affect the poor. Maybe we are upset about how the Affordable Care Act is working out. Maybe it is increasing income inequality that angers us. Maybe we are thinking of the wars in places like Syria or the Congo or Afghanistan. Maybe we are thinking of the political situation in Washington or in our locality. Maybe we are thinking of racism and discrimination and the excessive incarceration of minorities in the United States.

The transformation and peace that we long for still seems to be missing. In fact, sometimes we seem only to encounter more war and violence and injustice and poverty.  Some say that the world will always be very dangerous. War will go on for a long time. We must arm ourselves to be safe. The way of nonviolence cannot work. Sometimes it seems that the world is only getting worse.

When we try to work for justice or show concern for the poor or empower the powerless, other powers seem to rule the day. The power of money seems to overwhelm. The oppression of the poor continues. It looks like wealthy corporations and the most powerful of nations are holding sway over all others.

It seems that politics still tends toward corruption or disappointment. Transparency and participation seem to be lacking in our government structures and international organizations. Opportunity seems to be limited to the few. Racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice seem to hold sway.  

However, Isaiah reminds us that it is precisely the desert that will rejoice and bloom. “Be strong, fear not!” James calls the community to “patience.” Don’t give up the vision!  Jesus reminds the disciples of John not to miss the signs of God’s spirit. Signs of power and the outward trappings of success are not what they should look for. They are called to see that “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”  We, too, are called to look for a transformation of values and life. We are called to enter into a whole new way of looking at things. Our faith calls us into action filled with hope.


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When you look at our world and our economy and our politics, are you ever discouraged?  

What are signs that would give you hope?


When you look at the world and our politics, what are the things that cause you to be discouraged?

What are the injustices that call out for justice in our world?  In your neighborhood?



Heart of a Mouse, a Spiritual Story by Anthony de Mello

A mouse was in constant distress because of its fear of the cat. A magician took pity on it and turned it into a cat. But then it became afraid of the dog.

So the magician turned it into a dog. Then it began to fear the panther, so the magician turned it into a panther. Whereupon it was full of fear for the hunter.

At this point, the magician gave up. He turned it into a mouse again saying, “Nothing I do for you is going to be of any help because you have the heart of a mouse.”


Actions – Links

The United Nations has designated Dec. 18 as International Migrants Day.  For information go to: or


Justice for Immigrants is a campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 

•To educate the public about Church teaching on migration and immigrants;

•To create political will for positive immigration reform;

•To enact legislative and administrative reforms based on the principles articulated by the bishops; and

•To organize Catholic networks to assist qualified immigrants obtain the benefits of the reforms.

Learn and participate at 


To read the 2014 Hunger Report and discover four steps to end hunger in America, go to


“Crazy Facts”

If the federal minimum wage had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years, it would be $10.74. Instead, it is $7.25. 


The first American citizen to become a saint, Frances Xavier Cabrini, was a naturalized immigrant from Italy and is now the universal patroness of immigrants.   

The Social Security Administration estimates that about half of undocumented workers in the United States pay social security taxes, though they will not receive benefits.


Prayers of Intercession

Response: God comes to save us.  Fear not.

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

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

For universal respect for the human rights of all people, we pray…

For all refugees that they find safety, homes and freedom, we pray…

For immigrants that they may find a welcoming place, we pray…

For all our children, that they will not be oppressed and have every opportunity, 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…

For the power of God’s Spirit to make a community alive and welcoming to all, we pray…


For Prayer

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you… Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers. 


Isaiah 43: 1-2, 18-19


Dorothy Day, friend and partner of the poor, guiding spirit for the Catholic Worker, home always open to the unwanted. Early, often lonely, witness in the cause of peace and conscience, eloquent pattern of gospel simplicity, Dorothy Day, disciple of the Lord, may we continue your gift of self to the needy and your untiring work for peace. May we follow your example and dedicate our lives to the creation of those structures of beauty and goodness, which characterize the kingdom of God.