Engaging Faith | Tue, Dec 3, 2013
Second Sunday of Advent [a]
December 8, 2013
Copyright © 2013, Center of Concern
Dec. 6: St. Nicholas Day
Dec. 9: Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary
Dec. 9: International Anti-Corruption Day
Dec. 10: Human Rights Day (the anniversary of the United Nations adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948)
Dec. 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas
“The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope.”
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
“The more insurmountable the difficulties and obscure the prospects, the more insistent must our prayer be, to beg of God the gift of mutual understanding, harmony and peace.”
- Pope John Paul II, Nov. 18, 2001
“Christian love of neighbor and justice cannot be separated. For love implies an absolute demand for justice, namely recognition of the dignity and rights of one's neighbor.
- 1971 Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World
“The conditions of extreme poverty afflicting many millions of people are a cause of grave concern to the international community. The Church, committed to a ‘preferential option for the poor,’ naturally shares in that concern and strongly supports the Millennium goal of halving the number of people living in poverty by the year 2015.… Much work has already been done to reduce the burden of debt afflicting poor countries, but more is needed if developing nations are to escape from the crippling effects of underinvestment and if developed countries are to fulfill their duty of solidarity with their less fortunate brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.”
- Pope John Paul II, July 5, 2004
“Traditionally Advent is a time of waiting. In a flurry focused on family and friends, we wait for Christmas to unwrap our gifts and wrap our lives with meaning. In our churches and in our spiritual lives, we wait for Christ to come again to fulfill the hopes that remain unfulfilled from that initial coming. Spiritually, we are waiting. Well, it seems to me, as I look around, that we have waited long enough.… It is our responsibility to attend to all that was left undone by the One who was sent to prepare a way of justice and compassion. We, as disciples of Jesus, are not only his followers. We are leaders charged with a mission, believers filled with his spirit, messengers sent, as he was sent, to do the will of God.”
- Miriam Therese Winter
“The Church is missionary. Christ sends us forth to bring the joy of the Gospel to the whole world.”
- Pope Francis, Nov. 26, 2013
Thoughts for your consideration
Advent is a season to open our eyes and see, to notice those who struggle or suffer, to see the injustice around us, to be more aware of the challenges in our world.
In today’s advent scriptures, we hear messages of both hope and challenge. John the Baptist talks of a repentance that will produce fruit, that will burn up the chaff and result in something new and life-giving. Isaiah talks of a new spirit that will bring wisdom, understanding, and justice. He talks of a healing of relationships between people and nations. Paul talks of harmony and an inclusive community.
Our Christian hope is not a “superficial” hope. It doesn’t say “don’t worry, all will be well.” Our hope is not only about individual feelings, about our personal problems coming to an end. Rather, our hope involves a radical transformation of the whole community and the way we live with each other. Our hope is based in an invitation from God to enter into a new life and not be stuck in what fails to give life.
Pope Francis, in his recent exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, speaks of a joy that spreads as we share the fruit of Jesus Christ. He reminds us that “Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society.’’ He writes: “God constantly renews his faithful ones, whatever their age.”
The hope that we have involves responding to the challenges and working for a new world of justice and peace. In our response, we will be changed as a community of men and women. It may not always be easy, but it is wonderful and it is good news. Great things can happen.
Remarkably and wonderfully in this age of war and terrorism, today we hear powerful images of nonviolence and healing between diverse people.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra's den,
and the child laid his hand on the adder's lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on my entire holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.
Who does God want to bring together today?
What divisions do we long to see healed?
Sunni and Shiites? Israelis and Palestinians?
Democrats and Republicans? Afghans and Taliban?
Tea Party and Progressive? Indians and Pakistanis?
Liberals and Conservatives? Blacks and whites?
Immigrants and native born? Rich and poor?
Young and old? Gay and straight?
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
When have you seen diverse people live together in peace?
When have you been surprised by the experience of reconciliation and harmony?
What are the divisions in your local community that need to be overcome?
How is the spirit speaking to your community in this regard?
A story of homelessness
Actions - Links
December 10 is Human Rights Day.
•Human Rights Day has been observed every year since 1950. It is held on Dec. 10 to mark the anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. You can read the declaration of and listing of human rights at: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
•Get resources, bulletin resources, and other suggestions at the website of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. http://www.nrcat.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=472
The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNDFFW) is campaigning to put an end to violence against women around the world. Learn more at http://www.saynotoviolence.org/ or check out the video, “A Life Free of Violence is Our Right” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENjhPLRXOPs
Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium,” can be found at
“Each individual Christian and every community is called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society. This demands that we be docile and attentive to the cry of the poor and to come to their aid.” 
The United Nations states that at least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. The abuser is usually someone known to her.”
The United States has a murder rate of 4.7 per 100,000.
Honduras has a murder rate of 82 per 100,000, the highest of any country in the world.
Prayers of Intercession
Response: May peace and justice be a band around our waist.
For an end to 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 universal respect for the human rights of all people, we pray…
For an end to end to all slavery and oppression, we pray…
For all our children, that they will not be oppressed and have every opportunity, 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…
O Jesus, in an empty desert your prophet John proclaimed: God is here, at your side. God has come to bring about a kingdom where injustice and suffering will be no more, where tears will be wiped away, and where those who turn to God will feast at a banquet.
Turn now, your God is standing at your side. Reform your lives, God's kingdom is at hand. In an empty desert, John said these things.
Give me faith like John’s, O Lord, strong enough to believe even in a desert that you and your kingdom are no farther from me than my hand. Make my heart strong like his, not swayed by trials or snared by false pleasures. Give me courage to be faithful until your promises are fulfilled.
Other Advent prayers can be found at this site.
Shopping during Advent
Dear God, as I look through my gift shopping list, I hold up to you each person listed on it. Slowly, one by one, I ask that the fire of your abundant love burn within each of them. I pray that the gift I find for each person will bring joy into that life.
But, help me to keep a balance this season, Lord. Let me keep my buying in perspective, not to spend more than I need to or can afford. Let me not give in to the pressures of this world and not equate love with money spent. Let me always remember the many, many people who have so much less in material things. Help me to buy wisely, so that my choices will not burden those in other countries who are so deeply affected by this country’s economy.
And finally, loving God, help me to find time in the frantic moments of each day to become centered on you. Walking through a store, riding on the bus, hurrying down a street: let each of these times be moments when I can remember your incredible love for me and rejoice in it.