Engaging Faith | Fri, Nov 27, 2009
First Sunday of Advent (c)
November 29, 2009
1 Thessalonians 3:12--4:2
Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
December 1: World AIDS Day
December 2: International Day for the Abolition of Slavery http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/slavery/
December 3: International Day of Disabled Persons http://www.un.org/disabilities
December 5: International Volunteers Day http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/
"Do everything possible so that liberty is victorious over oppression, justice over injustice, love over hate."
-- Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria, SJ (killed November 16, 1989
at the University of Central America in El Salvador)
Listening to the cry of those who suffer violence and are oppressed by unjust systems and structures, and hearing the appeal of a world that by its perversity contradicts the plan of its Creator, we have shared our awareness of the Church's vocation to be present in the heart of the world by proclaiming the Good News to the poor, freedom to the oppressed, and joy to the afflicted.
US Bishops, Justice in the World
… how many natural resources are squandered by wars! Peace in and among peoples would also provide greater protection for nature. The hoarding of resources, especially water, can generate serious conflicts among the peoples involved. Peaceful agreement about the use of resources can protect nature and, at the same time, the well-being of the societies concerned.
Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 51
To do all we can with what strength we have, however, is the task which keeps the good servant of Jesus Christ always at work: "The love of Christ urges us on" (2 Cor 5:14).
Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 35
"Like Mary in proclaiming her Magnificat, we marvel at the wonders God has done for us, how God has raised up the poor and the lowly and promised great things for them in the Kingdom. God now asks of us sacrifices and reflection on our reverence for human dignity - in ourselves and in others -and on our service and discipleship, so that the divine goal for the human family and this earth can be fulfilled. Communion with God, sharing God’s life, involves a mutual bonding with all on this globe. Jesus taught us to love God and one another and that the concept of neighbor is without limit. We know that we are called to be members of a new covenant of love. We have to move from our devotion to independence, through an understanding of interdependence, to a commitment to human solidarity. That challenge must find its realization in the kind of community we build among us. Love implies concern for all - especially the poor - and a continued search for those social and economic structures that permit everyone to share in a community that is a part of a redeemed creation (Rom 8:21-23)."
US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, 365
Thoughts for your consideration
The gospel talks to us of the difficulties in the end times - a time of anxiety and destruction - a time of all kinds of problems and challenges. The gospel also speaks with hope about the coming of the ‘Son of Man.’ A theology of "realized eschatology" reminds us to reflect not only on some distant future but on the present struggles and hopes of our world.
Our contemporary world experiences things that frighten us and events of destruction and violence. Each day we hear about terrorism, war, and death. War continues in Iraq and Afghanistan. In our own nation there are dramatic cases of violence like the recent killings at Fort Hood, Texas. Domestic violence erupts in families every day. More and more people buy guns "for protection." Each day or week we hear of places near and far which experience dramatic examples of violence.
Countless men, women, and children experience the effects of poverty and injustice. Economic policy and trade policy seem to leave the poor with little power. The great recession has caused millions to lose their jobs or even their homes. Somehow it seems that many of those who have the most wealth end up in the best situation. Inequality continues in our own nation and throughout the world.
Those who work to make real the vision of justice for all encounter difficulties, indifference, or opposition. There are too many issues to be concerned about. Good people get discouraged.
Jesus’ vision of justice and peace is not yet complete despite all our work. There are still poor people; we still have war and we still spend billions preparing for war; we still have domestic violence; we still have inadequate schools; we still have not put an end to practices that lead to global warming; we still encounter discrimination and racial profiling; we still have millions of hungry people; we still have so many people who do hot have access to health care; we still find it hard to forgive enemies. The list goes on and on.
The scriptures challenge us to pay attention to the problems of today. In the spirit of the Advent season we are called to pay attention with hope. We are told to be vigilant and awake and keep our heads up high. "The Lord will be our justice." We are called to get into action and address the issues that cause our world distress and injustice. Don’t be afraid of the problems of today or of the end times. At the same time don’t be afraid of dealing with these problems. Get into action today. Make room for peace.
Questions for Faith Sharing
1. What issue of injustice in the world makes you feel most discouraged?
2. As you see people address injustice in the world, where do you see some sign of hope?
Actions - Links
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) joins people of faith committed to ensuring that the United States does not engage in torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of anyone, without exceptions. Check out their web site at http://www.nrcat.org/ Consider signing on to their statement "Torture is a Moral Issue." To ask Congress to close Guantanamo go to http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2162/t/3961/p/dia/action/public/?ac...
For Advent resources go to:
Church World Service is inviting individuals to ask their congressperson to sign a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supporting Afro-Colombian and indigenous rights in Colombia. To participate go to:
According to a USDA report "Eighty-five percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2008, meaning that they had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households (14.6 percent) were food insecure at least some time during the year, including 5.7 percent with very low food security—meaning that the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food. Prevalence rates of food insecurity and very low food security were up from 11.1 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively, in 2007, and were the highest recorded since 1995, when the first national food security survey was conducted." You can read the full report at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/documents/usda_report_househ...
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God, help us make room for peace and justice.
For an end to the violence that keeps showing up all over our world, we pray…..
For the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and an end to the wars and terror in their lands, we pray….
For the poor that they may be empowered and included among those who enjoy the gifts of our world, we pray…
For all who feel left out of the system that governs and controls our world, we pray…
For our planet that we may work together with respect for our natural resources, we pray….
For those who are afraid to speak up and speak truth to power, we pray…
For all those who are discouraged by the politics of our world, we pray….
Prayer - Meditation
O Thou protector of the universe, ruler of its destiny, abode of happiness and peace, ocean of mercy, friend of the poor, destroyer of the pangs of want, everlasting, whole, unending, beginningless, perfect, ancient of days, refuge of thy people, beloved of the heart, and guardian and mainstay of life, grant us peace in our time. Amen.
From Book of Prayers, by M. K. Gandhi, 1999
"Mary, patroness of America, renew in us a love for the beauty and sanctity of the human person from conception to natural death; and as your Son gave His life for us, help us to live our lives serving others. Mother of the Church, Mother of our Savior, open our hearts to the Gospel of life, protect our nation, and make us witnesses to the truth. "
Living the Challenge of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics, US Bishops, 1998
Below is a very partial list of places that have suffered from war and military violence over the last sixty years. Use the list to focus your prayers for peace.
United States (September 11, 2001)