Please see the first in this series —
1) First week of advent can be found here
Full PDF Version Here: Creative Voice_Marie Dennis_Second Sunday of Advent-December-7-2014_11414 Copyright © November 2014 l Education for Justice, a Project of the Center of Concern
SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT – December 7, 2014
READINGS FOR THE DAY
• Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11
• Psalm 85: 9-10, 11-12, 13-14
• 2 Peter 3: 8-14
• Mark 1: 1-8
All week, day after day, we have been steeped in Isaiah’s prophetic vision of a just peace, of the “new heavens and new earth.” The same anticipatory delight is described even more fully in the readings today with Isaiah reminding us of the blessings that will be ours if we do smell like the sheep:
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock:
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care. (Isaiah 40:11)
The psalmist and Peter assure us that God, who proclaims peace to the people, will not delay; that “righteousness dwells” in the new heaven and new earth for which we wait:
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven… (Psalm 85: 11-12)
But Mark’s description of John the Baptist (John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; he fed on locusts and wild honey.) gives us an inkling of the earth- and heaven-shaking significance of the arrival of the Prince of Peace in our midst:
One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Mark 1:7-8)
Peace is Mystery. It is the Promise, the “already and the not yet.” It is exactly what the new heavens and new earth are all about. Rooted in truth and justice, is, we know, much, much more than the absence of war.
Vukovar, a Croatian town, was utterly devastated by Serb forces in November 1991. It was also the site of a massacre where the Yugoslav army and Serb paramilitary forces executed 260 of 400 people who sought refuge in the town’s hospital. Not far away in Srebrenica a few years later, more than 7,000 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) boys and men were killed within a few days by Bosnian Serb forces. More than 20,000 Muslim civilians were expelled from the area. Sadly, to this day in the former Yugoslavia, anger and resentment between the Serbs and Bosniaks have survived the Dayton Accords and could reignite violent conflict, even war. There, as everywhere, true peace is much more than the absence of war.
Fortunately, Bosnians, Serbs, and Croats are coming together to insist that the truth be told, that justice be done for those who were killed, so that the long process of reconciliation can begin.
In many countries, in fact, impunity for horrific crimes and abuse has only slowly given way to truth, accountability, and genuine peace. Each step on the journey was exceedingly difficult. Truth was elusive, doggedly pursued most often by women: the co-Madres in El Salvador; the Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina; Mothers of the Disappeared in Guatemala; the Women in Black in the former Yugoslavia; the Soldiers’ Mothers in Russia; and many more. The pursuit of peace is an act of hope. It requires presence, accompaniment and the nurturing of relationships across boundaries – boundaries between countries and cultures and even neighborhoods.
We have to learn to “do” peace: Not a peace synonymous with my “feeling good” or with national security, not global control by the United States or any other nation, something much deeper than that, shalom, an integral well-being that embraces all human beings and the rest of creation, a peace that preempts every inclination to violence and war, a new paradigm rooted in an unwavering commitment to the value of every life, even the life of my bitterest enemy. Love your enemy. That is the earth – and heaven-shaking message of the Prince of Peace.
What healing, what help do you need to “prepare the way” for the in-breaking reign of God? How do you experience being gathered into the arms of God? What would it mean for you, personally, to love your enemy? What would it mean for your family or this whole nation? How would loving our enemies affect U.S. foreign policy?
CATHOLIC SOCIAL THOUGHT
In the words of our Holy Father, we need a “moral about-face.” Peacemaking is not an optional commitment. It is a requirement of our faith. We are called to be peacemakers, not by some movement of the moment, but by our Lord Jesus. (The Challenge of Peace, #56)
Peace is not merely the absence of war, nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies,nor is it brought about by dictatorship. Instead, it is rightly and appropriately called an enterprise of justice. (Gaudium et Spes #78)
Eternal Word, guide our world toward a lasting and just peace. How easily we say “Peace be with you.” How often we call you the “Prince of Peace.” Help us to put the beautiful message of this holy season into practice, Our words into action.
Fill us with the courage and creativity needed for this important work. Help us to live with integrity what we claim to believe.
Make us effective instruments of your peace.
• Monday, December 8 is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Pray on this day to Mary, the mother of Jesus, for the courage to promote nonviolence by the witness of our lives.
• Wednesday, December 10 is Human Rights Day. Remember in your prayers all the people around the world who protect human rights and seek truth in violent and difficult circumstances.
• Friday, December 12 is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Pray in thanksgiving for the inspiration of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the hope that she has brought to the most marginalized people in Mexico and all of Latin America.
FAITH IN ACTION
Search for and read information about the “human right to peace,” a proposal being actively considered by the United Nations for codification into international law: http://aedidh.org/?q=node/602