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Fourth Sunday in Advent [b] December 18, 2011

By: Fr. John Bucki, S.J.

Readings
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

Calendar
December 16: start of "Las Posadas" in Mexico http://www.mexconnect.com/MEX/austin/posadas.html
December 18: International Migrants Day See: http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/events/migrants/
December 20: start of Chanukah (Jewish) http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday7.htm
December 22: Winter Solstice -- First Day of Winter
December 25:  Christmas

Quotes

"The obligation to evaluate social and economic activity from the viewpoint of the poor and the powerless arises from the radical command to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.”
-- Economic Justice for All - United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Genuine progress does not consist in wealth sought for personal comfort or for its own sake; rather it consists in an economic order designed for the welfare of the human person, where the daily bread that each person receives reflects the glow of love and the helping hand of God.
-- Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

We cherish this hope: that distrust and selfishness among nations will eventually be overcome by a stronger desire for mutual collaboration and a heightened sense of solidarity.
-- Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

We must repeat that the superfluous goods of wealthier nations ought to be placed at the disposal of poorer nations. … If prosperous nations continue to be jealous of their own advantage alone, they will jeopardize their highest values, sacrificing the pursuit of excellence to the acquisition of possessions.
-- Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio

Every individual and every community shares in and is responsible for promoting the common good.
-- Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Global Economy, October, 2011

The inequalities and distortions of capitalist development are often an expression not only of economic liberalism but also of utilitarian thinking: that is, theoretical and practical approaches according to which what is useful for the individual leads to the good of the community. This saying has a core of truth, but it cannot be ignored that individual utility – even where it is legitimate – does not always favor the common good. In many cases a spirit of solidarity is called for that transcends personal utility for the good of the community.
-- Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Global Economy, October, 2011

Thoughts for your consideration

In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI wrote for World Mission Day: “Violence, in many cases, marks the relations between persons and peoples. Poverty oppresses millions of inhabitants. Discrimination and sometimes even persecution for racial, cultural and religious reasons drive many people to flee from their own countries in order to seek refuge and protection elsewhere.”

In the book of Samuel, God promises something more than a fancy temple or new church.  God wants to work with us to address the issues of our world.  That is what the coming of Christ is about. God wants to create something new for the people. “I will fix a place for my people.” 

God wants something more than a building.  God wants to do something new. The promise is made real in the gospel story of an angel speaking to a poor young woman and promising a savior who will finally “rule” over the people and lead them to something new. “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”  God’s reign will transcend our limited personal perspective and consumerism and bring together the whole world in a new kind of justice and peace.  God comes to us as a human person.

The scripture today speaks to our human situation and reminds us that God wants to create something new in the midst of all the injustice, violence, economic issues, confusion, and terror.  God wants to create a reign of justice, peace, simplicity, and hope.  We are invited to make God’s reign real.

As our governments (local, state, and federal) address the huge problems in the economy, we need to work together to be sure that the values of our social teaching will be included in the solution.  We must not forget the poor (especially people who have been living the recession for decades).  We must be working to create an economy focused on the common good.  We need an economy that is concerned with something more than consumer spending and the gross domestic product and the stock market.  We must create an economy that is concerned with sustainable development and care for the planet. 

A healthy economy that is focused on the benefit of all people will indeed be a “building” in which God can dwell. God’s reign will transcend our limited personal perspective and consumerism and bring together the whole world in a new kind of justice and peace

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

What are signs for you that God is present – that God is dwelling in our midst?
What are the signs of justice and peace in your world?

+++++

What are the things in our world that make it difficult for you to have hope? 
What are the events that give you hope?

Story

Through the account of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), the Bible warns us how the “diversity” of peoples can turn into a vehicle for selfishness and an instrument of division. In humanity there is a real risk that peoples will end up not understanding each other and that cultural diversities will lead to irremediable oppositions. The image of the Tower of Babel also warns us that we must avoid a “unity” that is only apparent, where selfishness and divisions endure because the foundations of the society are not stable. In both cases, Babel is the image of what peoples and individuals can become when they do not recognize their intrinsic transcendent dignity and brotherhood.
-- Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Global Economy, October, 2011


Actions - Links

Human Rights
December 10 was International Human Rights Day. On December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). “It is the foundation of international human rights law, the first universal statement on the basic principles of inalienable human rights, and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”  
•    To read the Universal Declaration on Human Rights go to http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ 
•    Download the poster versions at: http://www2.ohchr.org/English/events/UDHR60/docs/DECLARATION.pdf 
•    The 16 days of activism campaign, which runs every year from 25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – to 10 December – Human Rights Day - calls for the elimination of violence against women and invites everyone to take action against it. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/16DaysOfActivismCampaign.aspx 

The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security. Indeed, the victims of hardship and despair, whose human dignity is violated with impunity, become easy prey to the call to violence, and they can then become violators of peace. The common good that human rights help to accomplish cannot, however, be attained merely by applying correct procedures, nor even less by achieving a balance between competing rights. The merit of the Universal Declaration is that it has enabled different cultures, juridical expressions and institutional models to converge around a fundamental nucleus of values, and hence of rights.
-- Benedict XVI, at the United Nations, April, 2008


“Crazy Facts”

Which nations are really responsible for climate change - interactive map
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/interactive/2011/dec/08/carbon-emi...

Who has the lobbying power in Washington?
“In 1971 only 175 firms had registered lobbyists in the capital; by 1982 nearly 2,500 did. Corporate PACs increased from fewer than 300 in 1976 to more than 1,200 by the mid-’80s.”
~ Bill Moyers http://october2011.org/blogs/kevin-zeese/bill-moyers-describes-why-we-ar...


Prayers of Intercession

Response: Lord, help us build a new dwelling place.
For those working without a living wage, we pray….
For those without jobs, we pray….
For those who are homeless, we pray….
For refugees and immigrants, we pray….
For those who are in prison, we pray….
For those who sick and in need of care, we pray….
For all our children, we pray….
For all those filled with worry and fear, we pray…..

Prayer - Meditation

CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, web site has worship resources for Advent and Christmas: http://www.cafod.org.uk/worship/advent-resources

God of our longing
hear our prayers,
protect our dreams,
and listen to our silent hopes.

Deal gently with our pain,
speak to our sadness
and remove the barriers
that imprison our spirit.

Shed your light
where shadows are cast,
that we may feel your warmth
and know your presence.

Give us courage
to hold fast to our vision
that we may build our world
and create our future.

Amen.

Type of content: Lectionary Reflections
Calendar: Advent