December 11, 2016: Third Sunday of Advent
Catholic Social Teaching: Rights and Responsibilities
One can sin against God’s love in various ways:
- indifference neglects or refuses to reflect on divine charity; it fails to consider its prevenient goodness and denies its power.
- ingratitude fails or refuses to acknowledge divine charity and to return him love for love.
- lukewarmness is hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love; it can imply refusal to give oneself over to the prompting of charity.
- acedia or spiritual sloth goes so far as to refuse the joy that comes from God and to be repelled by divine goodness.
- hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to love of God, whose goodness it denies, and whom it presumes to curse as the one who forbids sins and inflicts punishments.
(2094) Catechism of the Catholic Church
First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Psalm: 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
Second Reading: James 5:7-10
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11
Catechism of the Catholic Church
St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom. (523)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Third Sunday of Advent, Cycle A
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Gospel Acclamation: Isaiah 61:1: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor
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 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)
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)
Human misery is a clear sign of man’s natural condition of frailty and of his need for salvation. Christ the Saviour showed compassion in this regard, identifying himself with the “least” among men (cf. Mt 25:40,45). “It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones. When ‘the poor have the good news preached to them’ (Mt 11:5), it is a sign of Christ’s presence”.
Jesus says: “You always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me” (Mt26:11; cf. Mk 14:7; Jn 12:8). He makes this statement not to contrast the attention due to him with service of the poor. Christian realism, while appreciating on the one hand the praiseworthy efforts being made to defeat poverty, is cautious on the other hand regarding ideological positions and Messianistic beliefs that sustain the illusion that it is possible to eliminate the problem of poverty completely from this world. This will happen only upon Christ’s return, when he will be with us once more, for ever. In the meantime, the poor remain entrusted to us and it is this responsibility upon which we shall be judged at the end of time (cf. Mt 25:31-46): “Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren”. (183)
Gaudete Sunday, in our waiting for Christmas, the exclamation of joy! Joy comes not from created objects that prickle a moment of happiness, but a deep in dwelling acknowledging our spiritual treasure. An emotion where searching ends and steadfast peaceful exuberance prevails. Joy can be as contagious as the proverbial winter cold, if we don’t trap the joy internally, but let it manifest in our outward demeanor. For joy is not capable like a soda fizzing from a bottle, freely flowing, bubbling over.
What do we let joy empower in our lives? How does joy transcend to passion? Does your joy see beyond the immediacy of now to hope in faith? The prophets are our role models. They faced challenges and hardships, but the basis of their witness encompassed joy to prepare a way for the Lord.
Do we have the patience to deal with joy as they did, to let the Spirit direct the joy to where it will bear fruit? Or do we try to save ourselves instead of letting Divine joy save us from distractions that sap joy from our lives?
Without justice, joy evaporates, for the kingdom of God fails to matriculate faith with the human family. People are oppressed, captive to exploitation, strangers unwelcomed, people blinded from seeing the true cost of their economic endeavors, the least in society existing not living, so humanity’s intercessions obstruct God’s justice and dwarf the potential for joy to exist beyond superficial platitudes. Only a phony joy, removed from spiritual origins exists when God’s justice strains to be upheld. We must probe our conscience to ask ourselves what type of good news we proclaim to the poor. Do we, as society, empower them for participation in an equitable society or do we trap them in servitude with false hyperboles? This is one of the many questions we must ask and then with courage exhort the path of justice to reign forth joy in our lives and share the opportunity for the infusion of joy in others’ lives.
Individual Reflection: Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
Research organizations in your area that address justice issues articulated in the Psalm passage. Make a list of their contact info to share with friends and your parish, as a resource for people needing services and possible ways for people to become involved in justice in your community.
Family Reflection: Matthew 11:2-11
As your family illuminates the third Advent candle, talk about the meaning of joy, how joy differs from happiness and ways to manifest joy.
God we thank you for the joy in our lives…Jesus, for His presence in our lives and the gift of salvation brings us joy. Opening our hearts to your divine quest for justice helps us to see the basis for joy. Yearnings cease and our lives are complete when your joy abides in us
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 25, 2016 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.