The following reflection is from the Advent Reflection Guide 2020: Building a Culture of Peace.
Click here to read the Sunday Mass readings for the second week in Advent.
“Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
- Isaiah 40: 5
“Comfort, give comfort to my people.” These words of the prophet Isaiah are thought to have been written to the Israelites in exile in Babylon – a people forced from their home, mistreated and weary in a foreign land.
The first two readings are filled with imagery depicting God’s action of fulfillment of his promises: “Kindness and truth shall meet; Justice and peace shall kiss.”
“The glory of the Lord shall be revealed; all people shall see it together.” It is a vision we all long for, of unity, peace, justice, and righteousness. It is an image that is a balm to people of all ages who are weary and downtrodden.
Yet the Gospel strikes a different tone: John the Baptist calls us to “prepare the way of the Lord” and undergo baptism “of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” We are once again reminded that God calls and strengthens us to take part in the realization of the vision of fulfillment. God offers us comfort, especially when we are downtrodden, but God also calls us out of complacency.
Our country – and our world – is in the midst of a deep reckoning with the injustice caused by the sin of racism. The pervasiveness of racism and all ways in which our society values some lives more than others are great impediments to peace. We have seen the ways in which they result directly in the unjust, violent deaths of people of color.
Father Bryan Massingale, SJ, a prominent African-American theologian and professor at Fordham University, writes, “Yes, racism is a political issue and a social divide. But at its deepest level, racism is a soul sickness. It is a profound warping of the human spirit that enables human beings to create communities of callous indifference toward their darker sisters and brothers.”
Likewise, the leadership of the branches of the Maryknoll family wrote in a statement in June 2020, “We abhor the violation of life that racism represents…Seeing the [violence afflicted on] black and brown people by police and others who benefit from white privilege has made us all witnesses to the persistent sin of racism that resides within hearts and distorts social structures in the United States.
We stand in solidarity with our suffering black and brown brothers and sisters who live in fear due to systemic violence, and with all those expressing grief and outrage, who feel their voices are not heard.”
Questions for Reflection:
How are you affected by the “soul sickness” of racism? How can you be part of the effort to prepare the way for God’s fulfillment, which “all people shall see together?”
Prayer for the Elimination of Racism
Good and gracious God, you invite us to recognize and reverence your divine image and likeness in our neighbor. Enable us to see the reality of racism and free us to challenge and uproot it from our society, our world and ourselves.
This we pray. Amen.
- Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
A Prayer to Overcome Racism
Mary, friend and mother to all,
through your Son, God has found a way
to unite himself to every human being,
called to be one people,
sisters and brothers to each other.
We ask for your help in calling on
seeking forgiveness for the times when
we have failed to love and respect
We ask for your help in obtaining from
the grace we need to overcome the evil
and to build a just society.
We ask for your help in following your Son,
so that prejudice and animosity
will no longer infect our minds or hearts
but will be replaced with a love
the dignity of each person.
Mother of the Church,
the Spirit of your Son Jesus
warms our hearts:
pray for us.
- U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops