Advent, Peace Spirituality

Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, 23 December 2018

from Pax Christi France

Pax Christi France has put together a series of prayers and reflections for the weeks of Advent. Each Saturday, we’ll post those reflections on the blog for the upcoming Sunday. You can download the entire resource at this link in French. 

Fourth Sunday of Advent, 23 December 2018

Here I am at home with you!


Readings: Mic 5:1-4 | Ps 79 | Heb 10:5-10 | Lk 1:39-45

Extract from the letter of Pope Francis

“Welcoming” recalls the need to expand the possibilities of legal entry, to not push refugees and migrants back to places where persecution and violence await them, and to balance the concern for national security with the protection of fundamental human rights.

The Scripture reminds us of this: “Do not forget hospitality: it has allowed some, without knowing it, to entertain angels.”

“Protect” recalls the duty to recognise and guarantee the inviolable dignity of those fleeing a real danger in search of asylum and security, and to prevent their exploitation. I am thinking, in particular, of women and children who are in situations where they are more exposed to the risks and abuses that go so far as to make them slaves. God does not discriminate: “The Lord protects the stranger, he supports the widow and the orphan.”

For reflection

To welcome and to protect is a part of the life that Mary lived with Jesus by offering a mother’s love.

“Globalization is good, especially if it is globalization with a human face, guided by solidarity. And migrants remind us of this globalisation of solidarity!” (Anselm Mahwera, a missionary priest from Africa, founder of Gao’s Migrant House)

  • Have I ever had an experience of being welcomed? Or have I ever had the experience of being protected by someone?
  • What feeling(s) or reaction(s) did I have?

Prayer

Lord, you call us to take the path of meeting, open to others of another country, of another culture. Help us get started, together.

Impress us with your Word so that we can give substance to your Gospel:

– By welcoming each other, in trust, because each one carries a message from you. This meeting will make us grow in humanity.

– By protecting those in need, especially the weakest. Their flesh is your flesh!

– By promoting the life of each person and living together based on goodwill and mutual recognition, in the soil of respect, brotherhood, justice, peace.

– By living in a reconciled diversity that allows everyone to integrate, to be able to appreciate the beauty of this country where we live, ready to take care of it and bring the wealth it carries in it.

It’s not always an easy path; it demands choices, overcoming. But it is a way of life and hope that leads to your Kingdom. She invites us to walk as brothers and sisters, with you at our side.

AMEN

(International Migrants Day 2018)

For deeper consideration

Here we are a few days away from Christmas. Let us take the time to live encountering others.

Advent, Peace, Peace Spirituality

A Christmas gift from the heavens

by Tony Magliano

Fifty years ago on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24, 1968) the crew of Apollo 8 entered lunar orbit and began circling the moon – the first time in history for humans to visit another world (see: https://bit.ly/2EkLJda).

That evening the crew’s astronauts Bill Anders, Jim Lovell and Frank Borman transmitted a live television broadcast including spectacular pictures of the moon just 60 miles below them, and of the Earth – a quarter of a million miles away.

In a most fitting conclusion to the broadcast, the astronauts shared a biblical reading of the first 10 verses of the creation account in the book of Genesis.

Anders started by inspiringly saying “We are now approaching lunar sunrise, and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send you: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”

Immediately after reading from Genesis, Borman said, “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.”

But in 1968, the good Earth, and countless good people on it, were suffering from various evils. The bloody Vietnam War, the brutal Soviet crushing of the Prague uprising, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and race riots throughout the U.S. were among the critical ills sickening our good Earth.

But humanity’s first manned step toward the heavenly bodies gave 1968, and all of us living on the good Earth that year, an astronomical boost. And the famous “Earthrise,” photographically captured by Anders, offered humanity a fresh heavenly perspective of how we might better view our earthly home.

Give yourself a wonderful Christmas gift. Click onto the following NASA link and meditate on the awesome “Earthrise” photo. And then with an open mind and heart prayerfully listen to Apollo 8’s Christmas Eve 1968 message (see: https://www.nasa.gov/topics/history/features/apollo_8.html).

Anders said that despite all the training and preparation for an exploration of the moon, the astronauts ended up discovering the Earth.

Creator God, open our eyes, ears, minds, hearts and souls to discover afresh this planet we all share in common. Help us to discover its magnificent beauty and gentle fragility. And move us to cherish it as faithful stewards. Help us to discover with justice, compassion and love each human being on it – especially the poor and vulnerable. And help us to discover your way – the only way – to bring heavenly peace upon our Earth home.

On Christmas Day, with a view of the distant Earth from above the moon, Apollo 8 astronaut Frank Borman offered this deeply inspiring prayer. Let’s pray it together: “Give us, O God, the vision which can see thy love in the world in spite of human failure. Give us the faith to trust the goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness. Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts, and show us what each one of us can do to set forth the coming of the day of universal peace. Amen.”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

Advent, Peace Spirituality

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent, 16 December 2018

from Pax Christi France

Pax Christi France has put together a series of prayers and reflections for the weeks of Advent. Each Saturday, we’ll post those reflections on the blog for the upcoming Sunday. You can download the entire resource at this link in French. 

Third Sunday of Advent, 16 December 2018

See in the immigrant, your brother, your sister!

Readings: Zeph 3:14-18a | Ps 12:2, 4-6 | Phil 4:4-7 | Lk 3:10-18

Extract from the letter of Pope Francis

Finally, “integrating” means enabling refugees and migrants to participate fully in the life of the society that welcomes them, in a dynamic of mutual enrichment and fruitful collaboration in promoting the integral human development of local communities. As St. Paul writes: “Therefore, you are no longer strangers or people passing through, you are fellow-citizens of saints, you are members of the family of God” (Eph 2:19).

For reflection

  • The reception of migrants is not unanimous in public opinion. It sometimes gives rise to difficult tensions. Faced with the immensity of the task, discouragement is high. Gestures of solidarity do not necessarily appear in everything but they are lived daily in the simplicity and with discretion, in perseverance and fidelity.
  • Many of us have foreign-sounding names and it is this diversity combined with our commitment to common values that makes a country so rich. Recalling the immigrants in our history whom we admire and venerate, are we ready today to accept and integrate new immigrant sisters and brothers?

Prayer

Make peace across all nations. In your cities, in your families, your houses, let us dream of a more beautiful land!

And let us build a more communal world. In our neighbourhoods, our cities, it’s the same refrain: it’s not easy to reach out, to take the time to listen to each other, to discover each other, to dare to meet, while respecting each other. Despite our disagreements and oppositions, let’s dare to live together, in the same place.

Lord show us the way and open our eyes to the stranger who knocks on our door!

AMEN

For deeper consideration

“I was a stranger, and you welcomed me” (Matt 25)

  • I have time and I want to help an immigrant in learning to read and in our culture.
  • I wish to accompany a distressed minor immigrant for a meal, cultural visits, games.
  • I have a place and I want to make it available to an immigrant.
  • I want to invest in the daily accompaniment of an immigrant family.
Advent, Peace Spirituality

Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent, 9 December 2018

from Pax Christi France

Pax Christi France has put together a series of prayers and reflections for the weeks of Advent. Each Saturday, we’ll post those reflections on the blog for the upcoming Sunday. You can download the entire resource at this link in French. 

Second Sunday of Advent, 9 December 2018

A voice cries in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord” (Luke 3:1)

Readings: Bar 5:1-9 | Ps 125:1-6 | Phil 1:4-6, 8-11 | Lk 3:1-6

Extract from the letter of Pope Francis

“The wisdom of faith feeds this contemplative gaze that recognises that we all belong to one family, migrants and the local population who welcome them, and all have the same right to benefit from the goods of the earth, whose destination is universal, as the doctrine of the Church teaches. It is here that solidarity and sharing are based. These words send us back to the image of the new Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah and the Apocalypse describe it as a city whose doors are always open, in order to let in people of all nations. Peace is the ruler who guides it and justice the principle that governs the coexistence of all within it.

“It also brings us to a contemplative look at the city where we live, that is to say, a look of faith that discovers this God who lives in these houses, in these streets, in these squares, by promoting solidarity, community, desire for good, truth, justice …”

For reflection

  • What is the new Jerusalem for me?
  • We all belong to one family. How can I open my family and my house to welcome others?
  • What do the words ‘solidarity’ and ‘sharing’ mean to me? Let’s prepare the way of the Lord.
  • Do we know how to contemplate the work of God in the city, the neighbourhood where we live?

Prayer

God, Parent of all, all cultures and all origins,
Look at our world separated by borders, torn by wars,
Disfigured by hunger and injustice, divided by our fears and prejudices.
So many migrants roam in search of a better future.
In Jesus Christ, you have come to reveal humanity, you have sown friendship and trust in our hearts.
You showed us the way of sharing and meeting,
You opened our eyes to recognise our brothers and sisters.
Fill us with your Spirit so that we live like your children,
United in the diversity of our cultures.
May your Kingdom come, reign of peace, justice and community
For all the peoples of the earth.
AMEN

(www.incarnation.org)

For deeper consideration

  • Let us be aware of what is happening in our city and in our neighbourhood regarding the reception of refugees. Let us be open and listen to their lives and their difficulties.
  • Let us create or participate in a prayer group for peace and community among peoples.
  • Let us open our homes to welcome a young person or a family on the day or the evening of Christmas, with simplicity, sharing and generosity.
Advent, Peace Spirituality

Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent, 2 December 2018

from Pax Christi France

Pax Christi France has put together a series of prayers and reflections for the weeks of Advent. Each Saturday, we’ll post those reflections on the blog for the upcoming Sunday. You can download the entire resource at this link in French. 

First Sunday of Advent, 2 December 2018

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25: 35-36)

Readings: Jer 33:14-16 | Ps 24:4-5, 8-10, 14 | 1 Thes 3:12-4:2 | Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

Extract from the letter of Pope Francis

Since the angels’ announcement of peace at Bethlehem, St. John Paul II interpreted the growing number of refugees as one of the consequences of an endless and horrific succession of wars, conflicts, genocides and ethnic cleansing that marked the 20th century. The new century has not yet reached a turning point: armed conflicts and other forms of organised violence continue to cause displacement of populations within and beyond national borders.

But people also migrate for other reasons, above all by a “desire for a better life, trying very often to leave behind the desperation of an impossible future to build anew.”

For reflection

  • Because we are created “in the image of God”, each person should be deeply respected. Am I attentive to this inner reality?
  • When Jesus sends his disciples on a mission, he asks them to enter the houses where his peace is welcomed and lived. Where are we in our own homes? Are we careful to cultivate this peace between us?

Prayer

Lord, disarm me, disarm us, disarm them!

Lord, disarm them of their kalashnikovs, their bombs, their belts, their hatred, their thirst for vengeance, their bitterness and their ignorance.

Lord, disarm us of our will to power, of our feeling of superiority, of our need to dominate, to be always right, to want to bring everything back to ourselves, to our achievements, to our knowledge, to our history.

Lord, disarm me of my pride, my excuses, contempt, anger, resentment, hypocrisy, envy, my self-assurance, my sufficiency, my arrogance. Help me to strip myself little by little because when I’m weak, then I’m strong. To reach Easter, I must accept being unarmed, naked with Christ on the cross.

AMEN

(Father Christian de Chergé)

For deeper consideration

“May the Lord give you an ever more intense and overflowing love between you and all people.”

  • How do we manifest this love towards our migrant brothers?

“Stay awake and pray at all times.”

  • In this time of Advent, are we ready to stand before the Son of Man?
Advent, Peace Spirituality

ADVENT 2017: A reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent, 17 December

by Sr. Teresia Wamũyũ Wachira, IBVM
Pax Christi International Board member, Kenya

Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11 | Resp.-Luke 1:46-48; 49-50; 53-54| 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 | John 1:6-8, 19-28

EMMANUEL – COME AMONG US UNTIL WE BECOME LIKE YOU

“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
release to the prisoners …
Mourn with those who mourn…” (Isaiah, 61: 1-2)

Years after the birth, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, there is still no room in the inn to accommodate the millions of migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons that come ‘knocking’ at our borders, our great walls and our hardened hearts. We also witness the Herods of our times who kill innocent lives through justification of all sorts of violence within countries: bombing and killing of civilians, sexism and masochism, extra-judicial killings, denial of access to adequate child and maternal care, corruption, cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and early marriages that have led to young girls suffering fistula and HIV/AIDS; the Pharisees of our times that ‘preach but do not walk the talk’: through justification of oppressive laws and regulations, violent approaches to dealing with challenges that face the different contexts of our world — the challenges of extremisms, fair trade, occupation of territories and also grabbing of land that belongs to the poor, religious and gender affiliations and ‘otherness’.

Today, we are reminded of the message of peace, healing, liberty, comfort and restoration that the child we await, Jesus, brings into our hearts and world. Through the prophesy of Isaiah of a Messiah that ‘proclaims God’s year of favour’ we are consoled and at the same time challenged. We are consoled because Jesus whom the world awaits anew brings a message of hope – that there is room in the inn, for in God’s house ‘there are many dwelling places’ (John, 14:2); that all will have life more abundantly (John 10:10); that all are welcome to feast at the table of the Lord — friends and enemies alike. Jesus’s message and mission is of love, especially love of the enemy (Matthew, 5:44).

Therefore, as we wait for the coming of Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us this Christmas 2017 with great hope and joyful hearts, let us reflect and feel challenged to follow in Jesus’ footsteps – the way of active nonviolence. Following in this way is a great challenge and calls for a different way of thinking, doing and being. However, we need not be afraid, for Jesus, God-with-us has shown and modeled peace through active nonviolence as witnessed through his life, mission and death and through his resurrection. After his resurrection, we witness Jesus who does not come back demanding revenge or seeking justice for being tortured, humiliated and killed for a crime he never committed. He kept true to himself and focused on his mission of preaching the good news to the oppressed, binding up the broken-hearted, proclaiming liberty to captives, releasing prisoners, and mourning with those who mourned (Isaiah, 61:1-2; Luke 4:18-19).

Let Christmas 2017 and the 2018 New Year be a time to denounce all forms of violence (direct, structural and cultural) and also violent approaches in dealing with conflicts in our societies today. Let us also reflect on our ‘swaddling clothes’ as we wait to receive the baby Jesus in our arms that he might transform us so that we become like him.