“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks!”
Our readings on this third Sunday of Advent call us to rejoice! We are called and challenged to be the prophets for our world today, to live with engagement and vitality so as to be witnesses of God’s love.
Our readings on this third Sunday of Advent call us to rejoice! We are called and challenged to be the prophets for our world today, to live with engagement and vitality so as to be witnesses of God’s love. In the spirit of Francis and Clare of Assisi, as Franciscans and people with Franciscan hearts, we are called to do this in fraternitas, that is, communally as lesser sisters and brothers of Jesus Christ. And so, we cannot think of our fraternitas.. It calls us to expand our vision and our service to be a voice crying out “make straight the way of the Lord.”
With the prophet Isaiah we are called to witness what it means to live attentively to the spirit of God. How do we bring glad tidings to the poor? How do we bring healing to those who are brokenhearted and freedom to those held captive or imprisoned? This witness cannot be done alone or as individuals. This truly calls for communal witness to be and to make visible the Body of Christ for those who live in fear and despair, for those who live without hope or a belief in the goodness and the love of God.
I recently experienced this call in reading some of the reports of the General Assembly of the Conference of U.S. Catholic Bishops held in Baltimore, November 13 to 16. The bishops engaged in discussions on the critical topics of immigration and racism. According to a report from the Catholic News Service, the bishops “acknowledged the current polarization in the country and divides within the Catholic Church and stressed their responsibility as church leaders to promote immigration reform, educate parishioners on justice issues and listen to those affected by “sins of racism.” The bishops acknowledged that unfortunately, defending immigrants is not a position taken by some U.S. Catholics. Cardinal Cupich of Chicago went further to express his concern, “of Catholics falling prey to and believing ‘poisoning rhetoric’ about immigrants that demonizes them.” He further stated, “There’s something wrong in our churches, where the Gospel is proclaimed, and yet people leave our worship services, our Masses on weekends, with that rhetoric still echoing in their hearts.” The bishops have committed themselves to issuing a statement calling for comprehensive immigration reform. In the spirit of fraternitas, let us stand with our brother bishops and with all our immigrant sisters and brothers as well as all those effected by sin of racism and hatred.
Our God is breaking forth in our lives and in our world to renew us and to dwell with us. God desires a new future, a future of oneness and wholeness that carries us beyond the divisiveness we now experience into a deeper consciousness where listening, dialogue and respect for others can restore the integrity and dignity of all people. Once again in this Advent season, God is preparing us to be born anew and to restore the beauty, dignity and image of all creation and of all people. Are we willing to be God’s co-creators and the prophets proclaiming integrity and justice for all? Let us not quench the Spirit of God!
Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
Franciscan Action Network Board President
O God, who see how your people
faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,
enable us, we pray,
to attain the joys of so great a salvation
and to celebrate them always
with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.