December 10, 2017: Second Sunday of Advent
Catholic Social Teaching: Life and Dignity of the Human Person
The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ. (2) Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis
First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalm: 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
Second Reading: 2nd Peter 3:8-14
Gospel: Mark 1:1-8
Catechism of the Catholic Church
John the Baptist is “more than a prophet.” In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the “voice” of the Consoler who is coming.As the Spirit of truth will also do, John “came to bear witness to the light.” In John’s sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels. “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. . . . Behold, the Lamb of God.” (719) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Second Sunday of Advent, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Psalm 85:9 and 11
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 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)
2nd Peter 3:10 and 13
The definitive salvation that God offers to all humanity through his own Son does not come about outside of this world. While wounded by sin, the world is destined to undergo a radical purification (cf. 2 Pet 3:10) that will make it a renewed world (cf. Is 65:17, 66:22; Rev 21:1), finally becoming the place where “righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13).
In his public ministry, Jesus makes use of natural elements. Not only is he a knowledgeable interpreter of nature, speaking of it in images and parables, but he also dominates it (cf. the episode of the calming of the storm in Mt 14:22-33; Mk 6:45-52; Lc 8:22-25; Jn 6:16-21). The Lord puts nature at the service of his plan of redemption. He asks his disciples to look at things, at the seasons and at people with the trust of children who know that they will never be abandoned by a provident Father (cf. Lk 11:11-13). Far from being enslaved by things, the disciple of Jesus must know how to use them in order to bring about sharing and brotherhood (cf. Lk 16:9-13).
2nd Peter 3:13
God’s promise and Jesus Christ’s resurrection raise in Christians the well-founded hope that a new and eternal dwelling place is prepared for every human person, a new earth where justice abides (cf. 2 Cor 5:1-2; 2 Pet 3:13). “Then, with death conquered, the children of God will be raised in Christ and what was sown in weakness and corruption will be clothed in incorruptibility: charity and its works will remain and all of creation, which God made for man, will be set free from its bondage to vanity” This hope, rather than weaken, must instead strengthen concern for the work that is needed in the present reality. (56)
The intent of the Church’s social doctrine is of the religious and moral order. Religious because the Church’s evangelizing and salvific mission embraces man “in the full truth of his existence, of his personal being and also of his community and social being” Moral because the Church aims at a “complete form of humanism”, that is to say, at the “liberation from everything that oppresses man” and “the development of the whole man and of all men” The Church’s social doctrine indicates the path to follow for a society reconciled and in harmony through justice and love, a society that anticipates in history, in a preparatory and prefigurative manner, the “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13). (82)
How does perception of time skew our relationship with God? We fixate our gaze on minutes, hours, days transcending into years clicking in digital glances, but ignore that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and thousand years like one day. The paradoxical perception is an invitation into the infinite, where our minds list to instantaneous. The infinite perspective perpetuates patience and a delve into pondering. For the Lord desires none should parish but all come to repentance. In our hyper sensitivity to time we short circuit the Lord’s compassion. Not everyone has an instant conversion, but the nuances of the journey define the affirmation of faith. Traversing obstacles, climbing the mountain of the Lord takes time. Too fast and important background details that accentuate grace get lost in haste. The importance is not how fast we embrace God but that we do, trusting that when it happens it is the right time. Too soon and we might not fully appreciate the grace for God teaches us to value time for the experiences not the chronological calculation. There kindness and truth meet, justice and peace kiss in the exclamation of truth where righteousness dwells so all people shall see the salvation of God. Centuries elapsed since the prophecy of John the Baptist proclaimed in Isaiah appeared in the desert. Faith grounds us in belief to live in God time not our time to trust eternal promises. Advent, in the liturgical calendar gives us four weeks of Sundays to practice living in the Lord’s time. Will we waste that time shopping, eating and partying missing the invitation to learn the beauty of God’s time in living our lives or endeavor to live the mystery of the timeless Incarnation?
In your celebration of Advent, take time to volunteer at an event where you interact with people facing challenging times in their lives, instead of just making a donation.
Plan to attend a display of ethnically diverse nativity sets, to appreciate the various cultural contexts people incorporate in celebrating the birth of our Savior.
Prayer: For the remainder of Advent spend fifteen minutes in sacred silence each day
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 29, 2017 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.