November 27, 2016: First Sunday of Advent
Catholic Social Teaching:
Peace is built up day after day in the pursuit of an order willed by God and can flourish only when all recognize that everyone is responsible for promoting it. To prevent conflicts and violence, it is absolutely necessary that peace begin to take root as a value rooted deep within the heart of every person. In this way it can spread to families and to the different associations within society until the whole of the political community is involved. In a climate permeated with harmony and respect for justice, an authentic culture of peace can grow and can even pervade the entire international community. Peace is, consequently, the fruit of “that harmony structured into human society by its Divine Founder and which must be actualized by men as they aspire for ever greater justice”. Such an ideal of peace “cannot be obtained on earth unless the welfare of man is safeguarded and people freely and trustingly share with one another the riches of their minds and their talents”. (495) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
Readings: Cycle A
First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm: 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Second Reading: Romans 13:11-14
Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44
Catechism of the Catholic Church
When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (524)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the First Sunday of Advent, Cycle A
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
The covenant that God established with Abraham, chosen to be “the father of a multitude of nations” (Gen 17:4), opens the way for the human family to make a return to its Creator. The history of salvation leads the people of Israel to believe that God’s action was restricted to their land. Little by little, however, the conviction grows that God is at work also among other nations (cf. Is 19:18-25). The Prophets would announce, for the eschatological times, a pilgrimage of the nations to the Lord’s temple and an era of peace among the peoples (cf. Is 2:2-5, 66:18-23). Israel, scattered in exile, would become definitively aware of its role as a witness to the one God (cf. Is 44:6-8), the Lord of the world and of the history of the nations (cf. Is 44:24-28). (430)
Peace is the goal of life in society, as is made extraordinarily clear in the messianic vision of peace: when all peoples will go up to the Lord’s house, and he will teach them his ways and they will walk along the ways of peace (cf. Is 2:2-5). A new world of peace that embraces all of nature is the promise of the messianic age (cf. Is 11:6-9), and the Messiah himself is called “Prince of peace” (Is 9:5). Wherever his peace reigns, wherever it is present even in part, no longer will anyone be able to make the people of God fearful (cf. Zeph 3:13). It is then that peace will be lasting, because when the king rules according to God’s justice, righteousness flourishes and peace abounds “till the moon be no more” (Ps 72:7). God longs to give peace to his people: “he will speak of peace to his people, to his saints, to those who turn to him in their hearts” (Ps 85:9). Listening to what God has to say to his people about peace, the Psalmist hears these words: “Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss” (Ps 85:11). (490)
The hustle of preparing for Christmas has begun, less than four weeks away for us to climb the mountain of gifts, cards, dinners, parties, baked cookies and candy canes. To arrange in perfection of time, place, quantity and social correctness and if some spare time punctuates the calendar making it to mass in a hurry. Climbing our self-constructed mountain, has it obscured the mountain of the Lord’s house? Have we forgotten Advent’s intent offers us time to hone our waiting skills, pace our gait down from a sprint to a stroll to celebrate the Lord’s incarnation and dwelling among us with meaning? And also contemplation of His Second Coming at the end of time. What does His coming signify in our lives? A reign of peace realizing the Lord cares for all people, not to pit one sector of humanity against another. A realization that training for war can never lead us to peace and only fearful demonizing of others. A reminder when the days are shorter, daylight more scarce, we are called to live as people of light among the darkness of rivalry, jealousy and narrow horizons. Realizing to radiate light, to illuminate the world, we must expend energy, let ourselves melt as a candle where fire consumes us, exuding a passion for light and way of peace.
Throughout history, people consumed by the daily routine of making a living, providing shelter for their family and cooking the daily meals, seen by Noah with an intimate flood, Lot as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah loomed. But the coming of prophets tug people away from the daily normalcy of complacency. Will we let the prophetic words of the Isaiah text challenge our thoughts about real security if we believe in the light of the Lord? Challenge our thoughts of looking at the enemy, the other as us. We are called to be continually awake beyond the normalcies of life to externalities giving substance and depth, meaning and purpose. Alert to the floods of injustice, will not let us get carried away by rising tides scouring the landscape of mercy and meaning. A prayed posture abiding in peace, filled with hope and the courage to live all Gospel values, not a selective few. Economically and socially, we walk freely unshackled from the bonds of war. Then we heartfully say, “Peace be with you,” for the peace of the Lord dwells within us, we have abandoned the sword of violence for productive activities nurturing creation and all inhabitants.
Individual Reflection: Matthew 24:37-44
To prepare for a more socially responsible Christmas, refer to the Better World Shopping Guide:
http://www.betterworldshopper.com/book.html (Also available as an app)
Family Reflection: Isaiah 2:1-5
Watch the Advent Conspiracy video and discuss how the theme will support a more spiritual Advent in your family in preparation to celebrate Christmas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IN0W3gjnNE
Instead of a traditional Advent wreath, around the four candles place pictures from newspapers, magazines or downloaded from the internet of people waiting for their dignity to be restored, from violence, war, poverty, environmental degradation and climate change migration.
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.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born November 16, 2016 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.