December 21, 2014: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
There comes from the Decalogue a commitment that concerns not only fidelity to the one true God, but also the social relations among the people of the Covenant. These relations are regulated, in particular, by what has been called the right of the poor: “If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren, … you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him, and lend him sufficient for his need” (Deut 15:7-8). All of this applies also to strangers: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Lev 19:33-34). The gift of freedom and the Promised Land, and the gift of the Covenant on Sinai and the Ten Commandments are therefore intimately linked to the practices which must regulate, in justice and solidarity, the development of Israelite society. (23) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
First Reading: 2nd Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Psalm: 89:2-4, 4-5, 27, 29
Second Reading: Romans 16:25-27
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
Catechism of the Catholic Church
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle Briel
Mary’s prayer is revealed to us at the dawning of the fullness of time. Before the incarnation of the Son of God, and before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, her prayer cooperates in a unique way with the Father’s plan of loving kindness: at the Annunciation, for Christ’s conception; at Pentecost, for the formation of the Church, his Body. In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made “full of grace” responds by offering her whole being: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.” “Fiat”: this is Christian prayer: to be wholly God’s, because he is wholly ours. (2617)
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
The prototype of the king chosen by Yahweh is David, whose humble origins are a favourite topic of the biblical account (cf. 1 Sam 16:1-13). David is the recipient of the promise (cf. 2 Sam 7:13-16; Ps 89:2-38, 132:11-18), which places him at the beginning of a special kingly tradition, the “messianic” tradition. Notwithstanding all the sins and infidelities of David and his successors, this tradition culminates in Jesus Christ, who is par excellence “Yahweh’s anointed” (that is, “the Lord’s consecrated one”, cf. 1 Sam 2:35, 24:7,11, 26:9,16; Ex 30:22-32), the son of David (cf. Mt 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38; Rom 1:3).
The failure of kingship on the historical level does not lead to the disappearance of the ideal of a king who, in fidelity to Yahweh, will govern with wisdom and act in justice. This hope reappears time and again in the Psalms (cf. Ps 2, 18, 20, 21, 72). In the messianic oracles, the figure of a king endowed with the Lord’s Spirit, full of wisdom and capable of rendering justice to the poor, is awaited in eschatological times (cf. Is 11:2-5; Jer 23:5-6). As true shepherd of the people of Israel (cf. Ezek 34:23-24, 37:24), he will bring peace to the nations (cf. Zech 9:9-10). In Wisdom Literature, the king is presented as the one who renders just judgments and abhors iniquity (cf. Prov 16:12), who judges the poor with equity (cf. Prov29:14) and is a friend to those with a pure heart (cf. Prov 22:11). There is a gradual unfolding of the proclamation of what the Gospels and other New Testament writings see fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, the definitive incarnation of what the Old Testament foretold about the figure of the king. (378)
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 her Magnificat 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 the Magnificat, 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)
Like David desiring to honor God by building a dwelling for the Ark of the Covenant, do we seek to comfortably house God inside our church buildings? It might seem like a respectful observance, to give honor and offer praise during worship, but then we depart after Mass, leaving God confined and lonely during the week until the crowds return for the next Sunday’s liturgical cycle. But God does not need the continual safety and security of a building. For He created the world in all its grandeur, He created humanity out of love and does not wish to be isolated from that embrace. So when we leave the Eucharistic liturgy, we must realize we are taking the Lord with us to partner in His continual unfolding of creation. An experience of opportunity to see God’s continuous graciousness present, active, embedded in the nuances and niceties of life, the brokenness, the despair, calling us to be instruments of change and hope.
As Mary dialogued with the angel Gabriel, she already had grace and the Most High was to overshadow her, not consume her, manipulate her. An overshadowing of love allowing her free will to accentuate the Divine indwelling and birth salvation history to fulfill a covenant. Mary, as the model believer, did not let her plans of betrothal to Joseph get in the way of God’s plans, even when fear and pondering grasped her judgment. As Christmas nudges closer on the calendar, are you too busy to listen to God’s plans, clicking the delete button on prayer to jostle more time for shopping, more preparing for accolades of human voices. An immediate affirmation that fades like a falling star, forgotten as calendars unfold. But if we pause, get our egos ruffled, our fears aroused, ponder what really matters in life and become servants like Mary, how much more meaningful will Christmas be? To indulge oneself in conversation with a person living on the street, being an instrument to share God-given time. Leaving a poinsettia at the door step of a person that lives alone, to let the gift be a Christmas miracle for them. We worship and praise God in the communities of our parish buildings, but collectively as individuals we birth Christmas each day of our lives to nurture the grace we have received as peace, hope, joy and love.
Individual Reflection: Luke 1:26-38
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Family Reflection: Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
As the last Advent wreath candle is lit each day before Christmas, have everyone share how they will ”forever sing of the goodness of the Lord.”
Each day leading up to Christmas spend twenty minutes in silence with the Lord
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 December 8, 2014 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.