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2nd Sunday of Advent [b]

Engaging Faith | Mon, Nov 28, 2011

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Reflections for the Second Sunday or Advent, 2011

Second Sunday in Advent [b]
 December 4, 2011

Readings
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
2 Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

Calendar
28 November - 9 December 2011: Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa
                        http://www.cop17-cmp7durban.com/
December 6: Feast of Saint Nicholas
December 8: Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 10: Human Rights Day http://coc.org/calendar/display.html?Date=2005-12-10
December 12:  Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Quotes

Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by—people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way.  
Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 49

Our social doctrine is an integral part of our faith; we need to pass it on clearly, creatively, and consistently. It is a remarkable spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral resource that has been too little known or appreciated even in our own community.
                                    US Bishops, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching

Salvation comes to us through all women and men who love truth more than lies, who are more eager to give than to receive, and whose love is that supreme love that gives life rather than keeping it for oneself.
Jon Sobrino, Spirituality of Liberation

Catholic teaching offers consistent moral principles to assess issues, political platforms, and campaigns for their impact on human life and dignity. As Catholics, we are not free to abandon unborn children because they are seen as unwanted or inconvenient; to turn our backs on immigrants because they lack the proper documents; to create and then destroy human lives in a quest for medical advances or profit; to turn away from poor women and children because they lack economic or political power; or to ignore sick people because they have no insurance. Nor can we neglect international responsibilities in the aftermath of war because resources are scarce. Catholic teaching requires us to speak up for the voiceless and to act in accord with universal moral values.
                                    US Bishops, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching

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, 2

Thoughts for your consideration

The financial system seems to be a mess. 
The number of people without jobs for long periods of time remains very high.
Those who are poor seem to be forgotten. 
Income and asset inequality remains very high.
Fighting continues in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Political protests and violence continues to unfold in Syria and Egypt.
Billions continue to try to live on less than two dollars a day.
The behavior of the developed world continues to change the climate.
Our political system seems to be ineffective and polarized.

The scriptures remind us to speak up and to proclaim the message of God. 
There is a “voice crying in the desert.” 
“Speak tenderly.”  “Comfort my people.” “A voice cries out.” 
Work for justice.  Share the vision of God.
We are called to speak up and add our Catholic Social Teaching to the conversation.

With Isaiah, John the Baptist and Jesus we are invited to proclaim a message of hope to our world, especially to those who are in need.  In a world of war and terrorism, of poverty and injustice, of dishonesty and manipulation of the truth, and of political expediency, we are invited to practice our faith in the spirit of the great prophets and address issues of justice, peace, and genuine human development for all God’s people. 

The images of the scriptures are images of hope and possibility. The rough way can be made straight.  God will come with power.  We can expect a new heaven and new earth “where righteousness dwells.”  Baptism, repentance and all kinds of renewal are possible.  Justice can replace injustice; solidarity can replace isolation; nonviolence can replace violence; compassion can replace selfishness. We are invited to believe that the rich vision of Catholic Social Teaching can be made real in our world.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you personally encountered a person who spoke prophetically in the spirit of Isaiah or John the Baptist?  When have you tried to speak up in such a way?

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Where do you see signs of hope in the midst of the injustice in the world?
Where are the rough ways being leveled out?

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What do the scriptures say to the “Occupy Wall Street” folks?
What do the scriptures say to the “Tea Party” folks?
What do the scriptures say to the “99%”?
What do the scriptures say to the top 1 %?

Story
A story about the “common good” from Anthony DeMello’s The Prayer of the Frog, Volume 2:
A farmer, whose corn always took the first prize at the State Fair, had the habit of sharing his best corn seed with all the farmers in the neighborhood.  When asked why, he said, “It is really a matter of self-interest. The wind picks up the pollen and carries it from field to field. So if my neighbors grow inferior corn the cross-pollination brings down the quality of my own corn. That is why I am concerned that they plant only the very best.”

Actions - Links

December 10 is International Human Rights Day. On December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). “It is the foundation of international human rights law, the first universal statement on the basic principles of inalienable human rights, and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”  

·    To read the Universal Declaration on Human Rights go to http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
·    Download the poster versions at: http://www2.ohchr.org/English/events/UDHR60/docs/DECLARATION.pdf
·    The 16 days of activism campaign, which runs every year from 25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – to 10 December – Human Rights Day - calls for the elimination of violence against women and invites everyone to take action against it. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/16DaysOfActivismCampaign.aspx

The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security. Indeed, the victims of hardship and despair, whose human dignity is violated with impunity, become easy prey to the call to violence, and they can then become violators of peace. The common good that human rights help to accomplish cannot, however, be attained merely by applying correct procedures, nor even less by achieving a balance between competing rights. The merit of the Universal Declaration is that it has enabled different cultures, juridical expressions and institutional models to converge around a fundamental nucleus of values, and hence of rights.
Benedict XVI, at the United Nations, April, 2008
The Climate Change Summit is going on in Durban, South Africa from November 28 to December 8. You may find links to various Vatican statements on Climate Change at:

http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/catholic-teachings/vatican-messages/
You might want to consider taking the St. Francis Pledge to care for creation and the poor at:
http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/

“Crazy Facts”
Paul Krugman in the November 24 NY Times reports:
“… the 99 percent slogan aims too low. A large fraction of the top 1 percent’s gains have actually gone to an even smaller group, the top 0.1 percent — the richest one-thousandth of the population. … The recent Congressional Budget Office report on inequality didn’t look inside the top 1 percent, but an earlier report, which only went up to 2005, did. According to that report, between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted, after-tax income of Americans in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. The equivalent number for the richest 0.1 percent rose 400 percent.” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/25/opinion/we-are-the-99-9.html?_r=1&ref=...

Bloomberg News on November 27 reports:
Secret low-interest loans from the Federal Reserve to big banks between August 2007 and April 2010 brought them $13 billion in profits. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-28/secret-fed-loans-undisclosed-to...

Prayers of Intercession

Response: Prepare the way of the Lord.
For a world that offers hope and justice to all people, we pray….
That all people may enjoy basic human rights, we pray….
That all people will enjoy food security and decent housing, we pray….
That all people enjoy political freedom and safety, we pray….
That we bring an end to war, terrorism, and all forms of violence, we pray….
That we embrace the path of nonviolence and mutual understanding, we pray….
That we simply learn to listen to each other and learn from each other, we pray….
For a world that offers hope and justice to all people, we pray….

Prayers

You will find A Prayer for International Human Rights Day at Rabbi’s for Human Rights [http://www.rhr-na.org/].  Simply go to: http://www.rhr-na.org/documents/Prayer-for-Human-Rights-Day_0.pdf
Help us to uphold the values that are so central to whom we are.

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A Prayer from Pope John Paul II

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.       Amen.

 

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