Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Sunday, December 5, 2021
Baruch 5: 1-9; Psalm 126: 1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6; Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11; Luke 3: 1-6

This reflection was published as part of the Advent Guide 2021: A Time of Hope and Healing.

“For God will show all the earth your splendor; you will be named by God forever
    the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.”

- Baruch 5: 3-4

In this second Sunday of Advent, the readings focus on preparing for the coming of Christ through repentance and asking for God’s healing. 

St. Paul prays that we grow in love and discernment “of what is of value,” so that we may be “pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” In the Gospel, we hear of John the Baptist preaching a “baptism of repentance,” according to the prophecy of Isaiah. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, in preparation for the Messiah, “every valley shall be filled…every mountain and hill shall be made low…all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

We are reminded that God’s reign of peace will involve all creation, a reign of right relationship between all created things. This means our preparation for his coming must involve repentance for the ways in which we have sinned against God, our neighbors, and against creation itself.

In this time of healing from the global pandemic, Pope Francis has asked us to see this time of recovery as a turning point from the ways in which we have devalued our neighbors and God’s precious Earth, destroying or exploiting what was good and beautiful for the sake of short-term gain or profit. As we survey what went wrong in our response to the pandemic, we can see that it is part of a larger pattern of powerful interests ignoring the cry of the poor and the Earth. We can see how we, too, are guilty of perpetuating this cycle. 

This August, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a new report putting in the starkest terms yet the situation facing all life on Earth if humans continue their patterns of consumption of fossil fuels and reckless pollution of natural resources. The window of time during which it is possible to stop catastrophic climate change is quickly closing, the report said, and decisive action is needed immediately in order to change course.

While it is true that action is needed at the highest levels of government and the corporate world to make sweeping changes, we as Christians can recognize the roots of our society’s disregard of the sacredness of creation in our own attitudes and behaviors. In Advent, as we meditate on the images from the Prophet Isaiah of the whole Earth responding to the coming of Christ, we can prayerfully discern ways of enacting our repentance of abuse of the Earth. 

Maryknoll lay missioner Peg Vamosy writes, “All of creation is waiting to see what we humans choose to do. Will we rush back to ‘normal’ patterns of consumerism, convenience, comfort, and indifference to anyone or anything but ourselves, or will we embark on a new path to restore the earth to right relationships, with God, with each other and with all of creation? 

 “…[This] should be an opportunity and a time of hope, because we can transform this reality. We don’t have to return to the normal we left behind; we can choose a more fertile ground in which to plant the seeds for the harvest that God wills.”

Questions for Reflection:

How have you been changed by the experience of the pandemic? What is one step you can take to “restore” your relationship with God, neighbor, or creation?

Prayer

A Prayer for Care of Creation

Reader: Lord, allow my ears to listen to the cry of the Earth, 
the voices of my sisters and brothers, 
those who face the harsh reality of climate change. 

All: Lord, I come to do your will.

Reader: Lord, allow my eyes to see the beauty of creation, 
in flowers, creatures, forests, and cities alike. 

All: Lord, I come to do your will.

Reader: Lord, allow my voice to speak out for justice and ensure people living in poverty are heard.  

All: Lord, I come to do your will.

Reader: Lord, allow my hands to care for the Earth, 
to toil, to reap, to celebrate. 

All: Lord, I come to do your will.

Reader: Lord, allow my feet to take the path less trod, to walk the extra mile, 
to take your message out to the world. 

All: Lord, I come to do your will.

Prayer by Father Michael Fitzsimmons/CAFOD

Faith in Action: 

Sign the global Catholic petition for bold climate action from the Laudato Si’ Movement (formerly Global Catholic Climate Movement).

Prayerfully discern how you and your community might participate in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, a 7-year Vatican initiative to help the Church practically implement care for creation in all sectors of life.