READINGS FOR THE DAY
• Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11
• Luke 1: 46-48, 49-50, 53-54
• 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24
• John 1: 6-8, 19-28
We are halfway through the season of Advent. Christmas lights and music are beginning to brighten our neighborhoods and our cities. Be grateful for their arrival – a perennial sign of hope in a decidedly unpeaceful world. Perhaps they can make a bit lighter the weight of war or poverty or natural disaster, though it will not be easy. Ours, in this global context, is thin hope: hope that we can stop torture, eradicate poverty, end war – at least this war or that war – reverse climate change, eliminate weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, racism, poverty, sexism.
Ours is thin hope, but it is there; it is tenacious; and it is nurtured by the day by day goodness and dedication of so many good people. They are the light, the bright shining light, that makes manageable the heavy burdens of these times.They are the ones who, with Isaiah, announce the year of favor from our God …
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God…
and who sing the Magnificat as the responsorial on this Gaudete Sunday (from Gaudete in Domino semper…Rejoice in the Lord always)
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, … (Luke 1:46-47)
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy… (Luke 1:53-54)
One example of tenacious hope is the Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron: http://www.kuronvillage.net, which was founded in 1999 during the long war in Sudan. Bishop Paride Taban’s dream was to create a community where people with different backgrounds, who were sometimes in conflict with each other, could live “side by side with confidence in harmony and fellowship.”
The village in Kuron welcomes people of all ethnicities and religions to live, to learn about and experience food self-sufficiency, to receive an education, and to co-exist peacefully. Programs at the village include those in primary education, adult literacy, internet connections, health care, agricultural outreach, and peace and reconciliation. The Kuron Peace Village is the most visible sign of Bishop Taban’s service to the Sudanese people through the years, when he gently accompanied a nation at war, urging multicultural understanding, reconciliation, and nonviolence. When violent conflict again broke out in South Sudan two years ago, the peace village remained a bright shining light and a sign of hope.
Spend some time reflecting on the Gospel call to follow Jesus in the hard work and long-term task of pro-active peacemaking. Remember the many people patiently making peace around the world – people like Bishop Paride Taban,especially those in extremely violent circumstances who are living witnesses to the possibility of peace and nonviolence.
CATHOLIC SOCIAL THOUGHT
… People live poised between each individual moment and the greater, brighter horizon of the utopian future as the final cause which draws us to itself. Here we see a first principle for progress in building a people: time is greater than space. This principle enables us to work slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results. It helps us patiently to endure difficult and adverse situations, or inevitable changes in our plans. It invites us to accept the tension between fullness and limitation, and to give a priority to time … to actions which generate new processes in society and engage other
persons and groups who can develop them to the point where they bear fruit in significant historical events. Without anxiety, but with clear convictions and tenacity. (Joy of the Gospel #222, 223)
Jesus, we call you the Prince of Peace. Give us the creativity and patience to be faithful and effective peacemakers in our own times. Help us to accept the depth of the challenge we face and to rely on the strength of community and the witness of courageous peacemakers to guide us on this peacemaking journey.
FAITH IN ACTION
Pax Christi was founded as a Catholic movement at the end of World War II to promote reconciliation between the French and the Germans. Now working on five continents through 115 member organizations, Pax Christi promotes active nonviolence and just peace locally and internationally. Look at the websites of Pax Christi International (www.paxchristi.net) and Pax Christi USA (http://paxchristiusa.org). Find ways to join Pax Christi in working for peace.