December 18, 2016: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
Love faces a vast field of work and the Church is eager to make her contribution with her social doctrine, which concerns the whole person and is addressed to all people. So many needy brothers and sisters are waiting for help, so many who are oppressed are waiting for justice, so many who are unemployed are waiting for a job, so many peoples are waiting for respect. “How can it be that even today there are still people dying of hunger? Condemned to illiteracy? Lacking the most basic medical care? Without a roof over their head? The scenario of poverty can extend indefinitely, if in addition to its traditional forms we think of its newer patterns. These latter often affect financially affluent sectors and groups which are nevertheless threatened by despair at the lack of meaning in their lives, by drug addiction, by fear of abandonment in old age or sickness, by marginalization or social discrimination … And how can we remain indifferent to the prospect of an ecological crisis which is making vast areas of our planet uninhabitable and hostile to humanity? Or by the problems of peace, so often threatened by the spectre of catastrophic wars? Or by contempt for the fundamental human rights of so many people, especially children?” (5) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm: 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ”, that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples.Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.” (486)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle A
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)
The peace of Christ is in the first place reconciliation with the Father, which is brought about by the ministry Jesus entrusted to his disciples and which begins with the proclamation of peace: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!”’ (Lk 10:5; cf. Rom 1:7). Peace is then reconciliation with one’s brothers and sisters, for in the prayer that Jesus taught us, the “Our Father”, the forgiveness that we ask of God is linked to the forgiveness that we grant to our brothers and sisters: “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt 6:12). With this twofold reconciliation Christians can become peacemakers and therefore participate in the Kingdom of God, in accordance with what Jesus himself proclaims in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God” (Mt 5:9). (492)
Throughout the Advent season, we hear the proclamation of peace. An exhortation to beat our swords into plowshares, nor shall we train for war. The wolf and the lamb, calf and young lion coming together for a fullness of peace forever. And each Sunday we offer the sign of peace, but is our greeting phony, half-hearted, for do we truly live like we believe in peace?
Do our parish live under one roof, but segregated by racial divides? Are all people welcomed without exclusions? Will we appreciate the God-given gifts and talents everyone could bring to the table? As Church, do we openly discuss all issues impacting peace in the world? In our communities, do we affirm budgets that support a culture of violence by prioritizing war and letting childhood poverty rise, education languish and social services take a back seat? Do our purchasing decisions fuel agribusiness that exploits indigenous lands and the dignity of work? Does consumerism ravage environmental destruction instead of living in peaceful harmony with creation?
Is our lack of living peace rooted in fear? Fear of the other, fear of not having enough, fear my agenda will have to share the marquee with other topics. Is our lack of living peace because we twist the Gospel to wring out the challenging portions of loving our enemies, being peacemakers and its challenging work to accentuate the benefits of salvation, the solitude of prayer and aloofness of being a believer?
When will we believe the message of the Gospel that peace is a foundation of our faith and without peace, the Gospel vanishes into a vacuum of religiosity? For peace supports the healing of reconciliation, a spirit of inclusion, a paradigm shift from me to we in our personal lives and in our faith communities. As Advent concludes, may we take the peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to our celebration of the Nativity of Emmanuel. As God is with us, so peace abides for us to treasure and fully live in our lives.
Individual Reflection: Matthew 1:18-24
Mary, as the Mother of God, faithfully lived peace. Read the book, Mary of Nazareth, Prophet of Peace, by Fr John Dear.
Family Reflection: Isaiah 7:10-14
To prevent from becoming weary over the coming of Christmas, take a “time-out” to savor the peace of creation, watching the sunset in silence, a walk on the beach, a hike on a rural trail or watching migratory birds.
Prayer: In case your parish did not make it to verse seven of O Come, O Come Emmanuel, arrive early for mass and prayerfully read this verse in the hymnal.
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 30, 2016 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern. 12/18 HBRIP