December 20, 2015: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
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”.
(Luke 1:38: Gospel Alleluia Acclamation for the Fourth Sunday of Advent) (59) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
First Reading: Micah 5:1-4a
Psalm: 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
Second Reading: Hebrews 10:5-10
Gospel: Luke 1:39-45
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, “and why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: “Let it be to me according to your word.” By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: “Thy will be done.”
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the “Mother of Mercy,” the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. and our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender “the hour of our death” wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son’s death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise. (2677) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle C
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
The promise of peace that runs through the entire Old Testament finds its fulfilment in the very person of Jesus. Peace, in fact, is the messianic attribute par excellence, in which all other beneficial effects of salvation are included. The Hebrew word “shalom” expresses this fullness of meaning in its etymological sense of “completeness” (cf. Is 9:5ff; Mic 5:1-4). The kingdom of the Messiah is precisely the kingdom of peace (cf. Job 25:2; Ps 29:11; 37:11; 72:3,7; 85:9,11; 119:165; 125:5, 128:6; 147:14; Song 8:10; Is 26:3,12; 32:17f.; 52:7; 54:10; 57:19; 60:17; 66:12; Hag 2:9; Zech 9:10; et al.). Jesus “is our peace” (Eph 2:14). He has broken down the dividing wall of hostility among people, reconciling them with God (cf.Eph 2:14-16). This is the very effective simplicity with which Saint Paul indicates the radical motivation spurring Christians to undertake a life and a mission of peace.
On the eve of his death, Jesus speaks of his loving relation with the Father and the unifying power that this love bestows upon his disciples. It is a farewell discourse which reveals the profound meaning of his life and can be considered a summary of all his teaching. The gift of peace is the seal on his spiritual testament: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27). The words of the Risen Lord will not be any different; every time that he meets his disciples they receive from him the greeting and gift of peace: “Peace be with you” (Lk 24:36; Jn 20:19,21,26).(491)
The prophets spoke with anticipatory words of a ruler arising from obscurity in an unfolding genealogy. Eventually, the ends of the earth hear His message, know His peace. As Mary and Elizabeth came together as women of faith, how do we come together in the woven threads of humanity to affirm the blessedness of our salvation? Do our greetings radiate joy in realizing the boundless gifts of mercy? If we live our lives absorbed in sacrificial offerings of faith, acts of charity, striving for justice out of faithful obligation, not love, we live as slaves to our faith. These do not delight or are desired by God, for they blot away His love with legalistic diligence. The sacrifice was given on the cross, allowing us to live rejoicing and loving through the peace of Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit.
The candle for the Fourth Sunday of Advent will burn for almost a full week this year, offering us extra days to prayerfully ponder the incarnation manifest in our lives. The humbleness of a stable, celebration of the newness of life, journeys we make around the corner, across town or trekking many miles in the sharing of faith and embracing the blessed belief manifest in others. A listening not of crumbling bows and bags, crunch of cookies, scent of pine and yule logs crackling, but the profound faith in the silent fruition of waiting, knowing God manifest words of hope in the prophets. From the incarnation, we take the hope and live prophetically to share the peace.
Individual Reflection: Luke 1:39-45
Read the 2016 World Day of Peace message (available in mid- December 2015) and suggest several quotes to be read before Mass on January 1st, 2016 or included in the parish bulletin, with a link to the document: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/peace.index.html
Family Reflection: Micah 5:1-4a
January 3rd thru the 9th is 2016 National Migration Week, about welcoming the stranger. Discuss your family’s migration history and encourage you parish’s liturgy team to include a symbolic representation of migration in the liturgy, like at the presentation of the gifts, have migrants bring forward an item representative of their homeland.
Visit the USCCB website for National Migration Week resources:
When the songs of Christmas fade, festive lights dim, holiday cookies are no more, help us Lord to realize Christmas is not an end, but a beginning. A beginning to live the words of your Mother’s canticle, a surrender to Divine justice. A beginning to appreciate humbleness, seeing behind the doors of stables, miracles happening in unlikely places. A beginning to knowing true peace, focused on the star the journey becomes oh so profound. A beginning to live, relishing the gifts Our Father has given us and letting them unfold into the mystery of faith. Lord your incarnation was a beginning of an infinite loop etched in eternity and we praise you for the grace of your song and light in our hearts and the Eucharistic feast that sustains us. In your dear name Jesus, we pray 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, December 10, 2015 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.