Fourth Sunday of Advent [a]

Engaging Faith | Fri, Dec 10, 2010

By John Bucki, S.J.

Fourth Sunday of Advent [a]

December 19, 2010



Isaiah 7:10-14

Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-24



December 16-24: Las Posadas celebrated in Mexico

December 18: International Migrants Day 

December 25: Christmas




The true apostle is first of all a person who is "tuned in" - a servant ready for God's action.

John Paul II, Athens, May 5, 2001


There are a wealth of signs that promise hope in the kairos of a new springtime of the Gospel!

John Paul II, 10 August 2004


 … the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known—it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing.

Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi


This Council exhorts Christians, as citizens of two cities, to strive to discharge their earthly duties conscientiously and in response to the Gospel spirit. They are mistaken who, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one which is to come, think that they may therefore shirk their earthly responsibilities. For they are forgetting that by the faith itself they are more obliged than ever to measure up to these duties.  ....  Nor are they any less wide of the mark who think that religion consists in acts of worship alone and in the discharge of certain moral obligations, and who imagine they can plunge themselves into earthly affairs in such a way as to imply that these are altogether divorced from the religious life. … This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age. Long since, the Prophets of the Old Testament fought vehemently against this scandal and even more so did Jesus Christ Himself in the New Testament threaten it with grave punishments. … Therefore, let there be no false opposition between professional and social activities on the one part, and religious life on the other. Christians who neglect their temporal duties, jeopardizes their eternal salvation. 

Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 43


In Europe and North America, the “us” of the Church urges people to leave behind the selfish and technicist mentality, to advance the common good and to show respect for the persons who are most defenseless, starting with the unborn.

Benedict XVI, Christmas 2009


Three thoughts for your consideration


1)     Ahaz seems to be fearful of asking God for a sign. Ahaz seems to be fearful of expecting something great from God.  Is this somehow analogous to the fear that some people have about speaking up for justice and peace?  Is this somehow analogous to the fear that some people have about sharing what they believe concerning justice and peace?  Is this analogous to the fear that some of us have that nothing can change?  In the case of Ahaz, God is weary of this fear. God is willing to make a great and extraordinary promise. We are called to make the assumption that great things can happen with God’s inspiration.  Are we willing to believe that social change is possible?  Are we willing to believe that we can put Catholic Social Teaching into practice? Are we willing to make a stand for justice?


2)     Paul reminds us that we are called to “belong to Jesus Christ,” that we are called to be holy. We called to expect something great – to be something great.  We can be holy!  We can even have that type of holiness that is more than a conventional piety or superficial holiness.  We can be people who put the faith into practice.  Do you believe that we can be community of faith, which works courageously for justice and peace?


3)     In the gospel, Joseph is a righteous man.  He seeks to do with is right.  Then, Joseph discovers that what is right is not what he and the tradition had called for. God asks him for something unconventional. “Take Mary as your wife.” Believe that all this is happening by “the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Joseph is invited to think outside the box.  Are we too invited to think outside of the “box” of our culture and the conventional value system of our country?  We too are called to be faithful to the vision of God and work for a new era of peace and justice for all.



Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group


When have you acted with a confidence that change and growth is possible?

Did this confidence bring about powerful results?




In our country, what would be a sign from God that things are changing?

In our country, what would be the radical sign that God wants us to present to the world?


Actions – Links


For the eleventh year, Pax Christi International invites people to send electronic Christmas Peace and Justice Wishes & Prayers to the people of Bethlehem at

You can read the messages that others have already sent at:


The National Religious Campaign Against Torture is an organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.  You can sign their statement of conscience at .



“Crazy Facts”


Spending on Arms

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute 2010 Year Book on Armaments reports “Total global military expenditure in 2009 is estimated to have been $1531 billion. This represents an increase of 6 per cent in real terms compared to 2008, and of 49 per cent since 2000.”



From the Working Group on Extreme Inequality:

v  Percentage of U.S. total income in 1976 that went to the top 1% of American households: 8.9%

v  Percentage in 2007: 23.5%

See more stats at


Unemployment benefits and Election Spending

The non-profit group Public Citizen recently reported:

“$293? That’s the average weekly unemployment check collected by the 15 million Americans looking for work right now. Or $293 million? That’s what outside groups funded primarily by corporations and the very wealthy spent on the 2010 elections.”


Prayers of Intercession


Response: Emmanuel -- God be with us.

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

For an end to all our preparations for war, we pray….

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

For an end to the use of torture and violence in any situation, we pray….

For an end to end to all slavery and oppression, we pray….

For a new courage and commitment to peace and justice for all, 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….


Prayer - Meditation


Various reflections for Advent can be found at the site of the CAFOD, England’s Catholic Agency for Overseas Development:



A Christmas Prayer by Philip Berrigan can be found at: