Engaging Faith | Tue, Dec 9, 2008
Third Sunday in Advent [b]
December 14, 2008
Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
December 16: start of "Las Posadas" in Mexico http://www.mexconnect.com/MEX/austin/posadas.html
December 18: International Migrants Day See: http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/events/migrants/
December 21: start of Chanukah (Jewish) http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday7.htm
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 in 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.
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 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."
For the last year, the United States and most of the world has been in the midst of a serious economic recession. Increasing numbers of people are losing jobs. Others are fearful of losing their jobs. 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. In our nation, millions of people have been living without health insurance. In our nation, "nearly nine million children still are without health coverage and 13.3 million live in poverty - 5.8 million of them in extreme poverty." (Children's Defense Fund) 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 is the recession affecting you and people you know?
What are your fears about the economy?
What do you hope for as our nation responds to the problems?
Actions - Links
"Posadas Project seeks to promote the celebration of Las Posadas and to dedicate this Advent to the hospitality and solidarity called for in Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope, the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform." Check it out at http://www.posadas-project.com/
An explanation of the celebration of "Las Posadas" in Mexico can be found at http://www.mexconnect.com/MEX/austin/posadas.html
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
According to the Children's' Defense Fund, in the United States, "... every 35 secondsa baby is born into poverty."
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 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 (http://www.rca.org/).
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.