December 14, 2014: Third Sunday of Advent
Catholic Social Teaching: Call to Family, Community and Participation
“The sacredness and dignity of human life exists not in isolation, but affirmed through individuals growing in community and seeking together the well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.”
“Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met. To some extent this is because our “technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy”. I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to. I also think of the real joy shown by others who, even amid pressing professional obligations, were able to preserve, in detachment and simplicity, a heart full of faith. In their own way, all these instances of joy flow from the infinite love of God, who has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ. I never tire of repeating those words of Benedict XVI which take us to the very heart of the Gospel: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”. (7)
“Let us go forth, then, let us go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ. Here I repeat for the entire Church what I have often said to the priests and laity of Buenos Aires: I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37).” (49)
The Joy of the Gospel Pope Francis
First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Psalm: Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
Second Reading: 1st Thessalonians 5:16-24
Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The prophetic texts that directly concern the sending of the Holy Spirit are oracles by which God speaks to the heart of his people in the language of the promise, with the accents of “love and fidelity.” St. Peter will proclaim their fulfillment on the morning of Pentecost. According to these promises, at the “end time” the Lord’s Spirit will renew the hearts of men, engraving a new law in them. He will gather and reconcile the scattered and divided peoples; he will transform the first creation, and God will dwell there with men in peace. (715)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Third Sunday of Advent, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 1:50-53
Heir to the hope of the righteous in Israel and first among the disciples of Jesus Christ is Mary, his Mother. By her “fiat” to the plan of God’s love (cf. Lk 1:38), in the name of all humanity, she accepts in history the One sent by the Father, the Saviour of mankind. In herMagnificat she proclaims the advent of the Mystery of Salvation, the coming of the “Messiah of the poor” (cf. Is 11:4; 61:1). The God of the Covenant, whom the Virgin of Nazareth praises in song as her spirit rejoices, is the One who casts down the mighty from their thrones and raises up the lowly, fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty, scatters the proud and shows mercy to those who fear him (cf. Lk 1:50-53).
Looking to the heart of Mary, to the depth of her faith expressed in the words of theMagnificat, Christ’s disciples are called to renew ever more fully in themselves “the awareness that the truth about God who saves, the truth about God who is the source of every gift, cannot be separated from the manifestation of his love of preference for the poor and humble, that love which, celebrated in the Magnificat, is later expressed in the words and works of Jesus”. Mary is totally dependent upon God and completely directed towards him by the impetus of her faith. She is “the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe” (59)
The benevolence and mercy that inspire God’s actions and provide the key for understanding them become so very much closer to man that they take on the traits of the man Jesus, the Word made flesh. In the Gospel of Saint Luke, Jesus describes his messianic ministry with the words of Isaiah which recall the prophetic significance of the jubilee: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk4:18-19; cf. Is 61:1-2). Jesus therefore places himself on the frontline of fulfilment, not only because he fulfils what was promised and what was awaited by Israel, but also in the deeper sense that in him the decisive event of the history of God with mankind is fulfilled. He proclaims: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). Jesus, in other words, is the tangible and definitive manifestation of how God acts towards men and women. (28)
Christian realism sees the abysses of sin, but in the light of the hope, greater than any evil, given by Jesus Christ’s act of redemption, in which sin and death are destroyed (cf. Rom5:18-21; 1 Cor 15:56-57): “In him God reconciled man to himself”. It is Christ, the image of God (cf. 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15), who enlightens fully and brings to completion the image and likeness of God in man. The Word that became man in Jesus Christ has always been mankind’s life and light, the light that enlightens every person (cf. Jn 1:4,9). God desires in the one mediator Jesus Christ, his Son, the salvation of all men and women (cf. 1 Tim 2:4-5). Jesus is at the same time the Son of God and the new Adam, that is, the new man (cf. 1 Cor 15:47-49; Rom 5:14): “Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling”. In him we are, by God, “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom 8:29). (121)
1st Thessalonians 5:21
Christian faith, while inviting that whatever is good and worthy of man should be sought out wherever it may be found (cf. 1 Thes 5:21), “is above and is sometimes opposed to the ideologies, in that it recognizes God, who is transcendent and the Creator, and who, through all the levels of creation, calls on man as endowed with responsibility and freedom”.
The Church’s social doctrine strives to indicate the different dimensions of the mystery of man, who must be approached “in the full truth of his existence, of his personal being and also of his community and social being”, with special attention so that the value of the human person may be readily perceived. (126)
In the midst of waiting rejoice! Pray without ceasing, so life becomes a prayer. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God as we remain in Christ Jesus. The Lord who proclaimed His mission, by unrolling the scroll on the Sabbath in Nazareth, as bringing glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, provide release to the prisoners, announce a year of favor and day of vindication by our God. These actions represent a tangible manifestation of how God acts towards humanity. Will we believe like Mary believed, that the Lord has done great things in our lives, has mercy on us, satisfied our spiritual hunger with Divine goodness? Will we live in the prophetic words of Third Isaiah, to rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul to know we are not nakedly exposed to the challenges of the world, but clothed in the peace and grace of salvation and covered with a mantle of justice? A mantle, a loose, sleeveless, garment, metaphorically acts as a buffer for our soul to the challenges afoot, but allows our hands and arms to freely extend compassion to become engaged and not retreat from society. Retreating would embody fear, not rejoicing, quenching the Spirit and despising prophetic utterances from the Hebrew prophets, Mary and Jesus. We must refrain from the evil of limiting the rich breadth of faith and be open to faith’s power of transformation in all aspects of humanity.
Dynamic parishes displaying a welcoming spirit offer an extensive array of ministries. This type of environment allows the diversity of parishioners’ spiritual gifts to be manifest in service. By not quenching the Spirit and allowing the Spirit to blossom, parishioners rejoice in this affirmation. With narrowness in ministry, lacking diversity, avenues of service are limited. Exclusion prevails; all gifts of the Spirit imparted on believers are not utilized. Rejoicing is stifled for people cannot be faithful to the spiritual call of holiness in manifesting the graces God bestows on their lives.
As the waiting and pondering of Advent continues to proclaim, O Come, O Come Emmanuel, reflect on ways to manifest Jesus’ mission in your parish. To utilize the diversity of gifts, serving not in narrowness, but seeing the relevance of faith in all aspects of people’s lives, interconnected to support the Kingdom of God. For this will not factionalize, compartmentalized faith, but embed parishes with inclusiveness and the spirit of rejoicing for all are welcomed and affirmed in living faith of loving service.
Individual Reflection: Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Look at how the Catholic Campaign for Human Development supports environmental justice
What project in your community might seek CCHD funding? Share with them the grant process.
Family Reflection: 1st Thessalonians 5:16-24
As the rose Advent candle is lighted, have each family member share how they will rejoice one new way this week.
Mary, The Mother of God and Our Mother
Thank you for articulating the words of the Magnificat. Thank you for the example of being a servant and rejoicing in the call. We ask for your intercession, that we may have the courage to seek God’s mercy, have hunger for spiritual goodness and realize we are only truly rich when we remember the promises of your Son.
Hail Mary full of grace. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born November 28, 2014 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.