Engaging Faith | Fri, Dec 4, 2009
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 8, 2009
Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
December 7 - 18: United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen
December 8: Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 10: Human Rights Day
December 11: Chanukkah begins at sunset. (Judaism)
December 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
May the Virgin Mary — proclaimed Mater Ecclesiae by Paul VI and honored by Christians as Speculum Iustitiae and Regina Pacis — protect us and obtain for us, through her heavenly intercession, the strength, hope and joy necessary to continue to dedicate ourselves with generosity to the task of bringing about the "development of the whole man and of all men"
Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 79
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
Women’s relational way of being in the world typically creates in them a deep vulnerability to being rendered desolate when suffering visits those whom they love and care about. … With dry eyes or wet, women do more than a fair share of the crying of the world. … Weeping women, women whose hearts moan like a flute because those they love have come to harm, are everywhere in the world. As imago Dei they point to the mystery of divine sorrow, of an unimaginable compassionate God who suffers with beloved creation.
Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, She Who Is, 259-260
Thoughts for your consideration
The Genesis story (with Adam and Eve eating the fruit from the tree in the garden) reminds us of the reality of sin and selfishness. Human beings can choose to become separate from the way of God. Human sinfulness continues to this day.
Recent headlines might cause us to lose hope about the progress of justice and peace.
In the US unemployment is over 10% and the real number is much higher.
Food stamp use in the US is dramatically up.
At the same time many financial corporations have been reporting huge profits.
The number of hungry people around the world is up.
The US has announced that we will be sending more troops to Afghanistan.
Acts of violence recently killed four police officers in Washington State and thirteen people at the Fort Hood, Texas military base.
A suicide bomber killed 22 people at a Somali graduation ceremony.
In light of all the sinfulness and discouragement that exists in our world, we might feel like losing hope. However, the second reading and gospel are statements of hope. The life of Mary of Nazareth is a testament to hope.
In the letter to the Ephesians we are told that God wants us "to be to be holy and without blemish before him." In the gospel God speaks to a poor woman in an out of the way town and reveals a vision of God doing something new. Mary is asked to say yes to this vision about something that is something bigger than herself and something that is to unfold by God’s work. Salvation is not in the power of the big man who takes charge, but in the yes of a poor woman who is open to see the divine taking over and calling us to something beyond our sinfulness and selfishness.
God wants to do something new. God’s 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 perspectives and consumerism and greed and violence and selfishness and bring together the whole world in a new kind of justice and peace. God comes to us as a human person. We have reason to hope!
Questions for use in your Faith Sharing Group
What recent political and public events have caused you to get discouraged or to lose hope?
How does Mary’s yes to God speak to you?
Does it inspire or encourage you?
Actions - Links
Human Rights Day is observed on December 10th, to mark the anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
Find out about the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) at http://www.ohchr.org
The Universal Declaration of High Rights can be found at http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html
Find out more about Human Rights Day at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/HumanRightsDay2009.aspx
The web site of the organization Human Rights Watch is at http://www.hrw.org . You will find suggestions for taking actions on various important issues.
Network, the Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Network makes it easy to lobby on justice issues (like healthcare, housing, etc.) online. Try it at:
The New York Times reported on November 28: "The number of food stamp recipients has climbed by about 10 million over the past two years, resulting in a program that now feeds 1 in 8 Americans and nearly 1 in 4 children." "There are 239 counties in the United States where at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps." For a map showing food stamp usage by county go to:http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/11/28/us/20091128-foodstamps.htm...
For the news article go to http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/29/us/29foodstamps.html
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God, send your spirit upon us today.
For openness to the call and challenge of God, we pray….
For openness so that we can be with those who are in need, we pray….
For openness to learn from those in need, we pray…..
For courage and hope in the midst of the overwhelming challenges, we pray….
For courage and hope to speak up for what is just and right, we pray…..
For courage and hope as we turn from sinfulness in our society and try to live the new way of Jesus Christ, we pray….
For the spirit – the same spirit that worked in Mary - that will help us create a world of justice and peace, we pray….
Immaculate Heart of Mary, help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us. From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin: individual sin and the "sin of the world," sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the redemption: the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.
-- Pope John Paul