Fourth Sunday in Advent

Engaging Faith | Mon, Dec 22, 2008

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 21, 2008


2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

Romans 16:25-27

Luke 1:26-38


December 21: Winter Solstice

December 21: start of Chanukah (Jewish)

December 25:  Christmas

December 26: Start of Kwanzaa


Genuine progress does not consist in wealth sought for personal comfort or for its own sake; rather it consists in an economic order designed for the welfare of the human person, where the daily bread that each person receives reflects the glow of love and the helping hand of God.

Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

We cherish this hope: that distrust and selfishness among nations will eventually be overcome by a stronger desire for mutual collaboration and a heightened sense of solidarity.

Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

We must repeat that the superfluous goods of wealthier nations ought to be placed at the disposal of poorer nations. ... If prosperous nations continue to be  jealous of their own advantage alone, they will jeopardize their highest values, sacrificing the pursuit of excellence to the acquisition of possessions.

Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

Thoughts for your consideration

Last May, Pope Benedict XVI wrote for World Mission Day: "Violence, in many cases, marks the relations between persons and peoples. Poverty oppresses millions of inhabitants. Discrimination and sometimes even persecution for racial, cultural and religious reasons drive many people to flee from their own countries in order to seek refuge and protection elsewhere."

In the book of Samuel, God promises something more than a fancy temple or new church.  God wants to work with us to address the issues of our world.  That is what the coming of Christ is about. God wants to create something new for the people. "I will fix a place for my people." 

God wants something more than a building.  God wants to do something new. The promise is made real in the gospel story of an angel speaking to a poor young woman and promising a savior who will finally "rule" over the people and lead them to something new. "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."  "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you."  God's reign will transcend our limited personal perspective and consumerism and bring together the whole world in a new kind of justice and peace.  God comes to us as a human person.

The scripture today speaks to our human situation and reminds us that God wants to create something new in the midst of all the injustice, violence, economic issues, confusion, and terror.  God wants to create a reign of justice, peace, simplicity, and hope.  We are invited to make God's reign real.

As our governments address the huge problems in the economy, we need to work together to be sure that the values of our social teaching will be included in the solution.  We must not forget the poor (especially people who have been living the recession for decades).  We must be working to create an economy focused on the common good.  We need an economy that is concerned with something more than consumer spending and the gross domestic product and the stock market.  We must create an economy that is concerned with sustainable development and care for the planet.  A healthy economy that is focused on the benefit of all people will indeed be a "building" in which God can dwell. God's reign will transcend our limited personal perspective and consumerism and bring together the whole world in a new kind of justice and peace

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

What are signs for you that God is present - that God is dwelling in our midst?

What are the signs of justice and peace in your world?


What are the things in our world that make it difficult for you to have hope? 

What are the events that give you hope?

Actions - Links

"Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest."

Their web site encourages people to e-mail their representatives and senators about issues of importance.

Common Cause writes that "The original problem that caused the economic collapse -- housing foreclosures -- is getting worse, not better. Foreclosures on all types of mortgages are still occurring at an annual rate of 2.3 million.  These losses, in turn, are draining local resources from communities -- jeopardizing funding for services like police, fire and rescue, and even public schools."  They are inviting people to "Tell Congress that the bailout must serve the public interest by helping those hit hardest by the economic crisis!"

"Crazy Facts"

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the Department of Justice, as of December 31, 2007 -

    - 2,293,157 prisoners were held in federal or state prisons or in local jails - an increase of 1.5% from yearend 2006, less than the average annual growth of 2.6% from 2000-2006.

    - 1,532,817 sentenced prisoners were under state or federal jurisdiction.

    - there were an estimated 506 sentenced prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents - up from 501 at yearend 2006.

    - the number of women under the jurisdiction of state or federal prison authorities increased 1.7% from yearend 2006, reaching 114,420, and the number of men rose 1.8%, totaling 1,483,896.

     -- At yearend 2007 there were 3,138 black male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 black males in the United States, compared to 1,259 Hispanic male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 Hispanic males and 481 white male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 white males.

Prayers of Intercession
Response: Lord, help us build a new dwelling place.

For those working without a living wage, we pray....

For those without jobs, we pray....

For those who are homeless, we pray....

For refugees and immigrants, we pray....

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

For those who sick and in need of care, we pray....

For all our children, we pray....

For all those filled with worry and fear, we pray.....

Prayer - Meditation

CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, web site has worship resources for Advent and Christmas:

God of our longing

hear our prayers,

protect our dreams,

and listen to our silent hopes.

Deal gently with our pain,

speak to our sadness

and remove the barriers

that imprison our spirit.

Shed your light

where shadows are cast,

that we may feel your warmth

and know your presence.

Give us courage

to hold fast to our vision

that we may build our world

and create our future.

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