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

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.

Advent

ADVENT 2016: A reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent, December 11

by Janice McLaughlin, MM
African Forum for Catholic Social Teaching

Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10 | James 5:7-10 | Matthew 11:2-11

“Be patient and stand firm because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:8)

adv4

Advent is a time to be patient and to stand firm, not losing hope even if the situation looks hopeless – as it does in war-torn countries such as South Sudan. This past week Pax Christi International held a conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the theme “Nonviolence in Africa – Creating a Future of Hope.” The participants came from 12 countries on the African continent, all of which have suffered war or violence at some time. Each of the participants is working for peaceful change and has not given up hope in a better future.

Bishop Paride Taban, who attended the conference from South Sudan, is himself a sign of hope. After retiring as bishop of Torit Diocese, he founded a peace village in his country that brings together people from various ethnic groups and political persuasions, showing that people can live together in peace, regardless of their differences.

At 80, he still plays soccer with the youth and spreads the message of nonviolence near and far. “I have always done my best to be a sower of peace and a bridge maker, despite all the violence and evil surrounding me,” he says. Like John the Baptist, he is a prophet preparing the way for the Lord’s coming and proclaiming God’s message of love and peace.

Each one of us, like Bishop Taban and John the Baptist, is called to be a sower of peace and a bridge maker. We may not live in a war zone, but we can find people in our families and in our neighborhoods or work places who need a word of encouragement or a sign of forgiveness. Let us create a future of hope, wherever we are!

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Janice McLaughlin, MM was a participant in the Pax Christi International conference “Nonviolence in Africa: Creating a Future of Hope,” held this past week, 5-9 December, in Johannesburg, South Africa.