Monday, 10 December 2018 17:19



advent 3

The Third Sunday in Advent

December 16, 2018


Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we are now gathered,

(the ……)  and recognise that it continues to be sacred to them.

We hail them: as guardians of the earth and of all things that grow and breed in the soil; as trustees of the waters – [the seas, the streams and rivers, the ponds and the lakes] - and the rich variety of life in those waters.

We thank them for passing this heritage to every people since the Dreamtime.

We acknowledge the wrongs done to them by newcomers to this land and we seek to be partners with them in righting these wrongs and in living together in peace and harmony.

As we do this, we must also acknowledge the loss of their hunting grounds,

the destruction of their ceremonial places and sacred sites, 

and the great loss of life from all kinds of violence and disease,

and that the land was never given away.

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Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18a

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

  1. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Second Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

Gospel Reading: Luke 3:10-18


Opening Prayer

God of Rejoicing,

give us the courage to welcome your Son every day,

by sharing what we have,

doing what is right and just,

and spreading peace.

Open our eyes to your presence,

and awaken our hearts to sing your praises.

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Prayer of the Faithful

Introduction: As we await the coming of Jesus among us, may we recognize his presence in the joy of sharing. Our response is: May we bring the Good News to the poor.


  • May we, in this time of preparation for Christmas, pray for the gift of freedom for children in detention and their families. Open our hearts that we might truly be a people that welcomes all, God of Rejoicing, hear us: May we bring the Good News to the poor.


  • May this Advent season be a time of serious awakening to a new and deep reverence for life and for a firm resolve to care for this planet - our home and mother, God of Rejoicing, hear us: May we bring the Good News to the poor.


  • May all the delegates at the Katowice COP 24 Climate Conference hold to a vision of birthing a new season of life for the earth so that all species may live in harmony and communion as one sacred earth community, God of Rejoicing, hear us: May we bring the Good News to the poor.


  • May we all strive together beyond our individual interests to heal deep wounds of violence and assault upon the earth and one, God of Rejoicing, hear us: May we bring the Good News to the poor.


  • May we grieve the injustices and stand up against violence against women everywhere especially in those parts of the world where they are most affected by war, conflict and natural disasters. God of Rejoicing, hear us: May we bring the Good News to the poor.
  • May all people strive to bring freedom to prisoners, food and drink to the needy and speak words of encouragement to the broken-hearted. God of Rejoicing, hear us: May we bring the Good News to the poor.
  • May all those imprisoned - those whose civil rights are denied in Guantanamo Bay, people in detention, Aborigines - find a just resolution in accordance with human rights law. God of Rejoicing, hear us: May we bring the Good News to the poor.


  • May our community reflect its hope and joy in the presence of Jesus by its willingness to share its resources, to be compassionate and mutually respectful of one another. God of Rejoicing, hear us: May we bring the Good News to the poor.
  • May we as a society work to cancel the debts that developing countries have paid so that greater justice may come to the global marketplace. God of Rejoicing, hear us: May we bring the Good News to the poor.
  • May we strive to overcome the tendency to war and conflict so that all people will live in peace, war will be no more and all people will live in peace. God of Rejoicing, hear us: May we bring the Good News to the poor.


  • May those who are sick find wholeness, that those who are weary find strength, that those who despair find hope. God of Rejoicing, hear us: May we bring the Good News to the poor.


Concluding Prayer: Loving God, you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus. Give us what we need to turn toward you and embrace a life of grace, peace and love so that we, too, may announce your presence to our waiting world.




Concluding Prayer: Loving God, we come to you with our prayers mindful that you have always acted on behalf of your people, bringing hope, relief and rejoicing. Open our ears and our hearts to hear and respond to all that you ask of us, as we reflect on Jesus’ coming yesterday, today and tomorrow.

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Prayer over the Gifts

God of Rejoicing,

may this bread and wine that we offer

remind us of your gospel call to share what we have

and consistently seek equality for all people.


Prayer after Communion

God of Rejoicing,

may this bread and wine that we have shared

refresh our hope and joy.

By our sharing in this Eucharist

may we be renewed

by the Holy Spirit

so that we may participate

in making Jesus’ visible

to all people who long for your presence. 

Further Resources

We pray for all people caught up in conflict situations…..

‘I shall break the bow and the sword and warfare, and banish them from the country, and I will let them sleep secure.’

Hosea 2:20

God of peace,

Show us how to put away the weapons of war

and help us destroy the tools of destruction.

God of peace, may your reign come.


God of peace,

Teach us to follow the ways of justice

and walk with us the paths of truth.

God of peace, may your reign come.

God of peace,

Challenge the weapons of war,

and banish hatred and division,

so that all your children may sleep secure.

God of peace, may your reign come.

 (Linda Jones/CAFOD)

The church in Latin America

has much to say about humanity.

It looks at the sad picture

portrayed by the Puebla conference:

faces of landless peasants

mistreated and killed by the forces of power,

faces of laborers arbitrarily dismissed

and without a living wage for their families,

faces of the elderly,

faces of outcasts,

faces of slum dwellers,

faces of poor children who from infancy

begin to feel the cruel sting of social injustice.

For them, it seems, there is no future –

no school, no high school, no university.

By what right have we cataloged persons

as first-class persons or second-class persons?

In the theology of human nature there is only one class:

children of God.

Oscar Romero, murdered Archbishop of San Salvador, March 2, 1980

Who will put a prophet’s eloquence into my words

to shake from their inertia

all those who kneel before the riches of the earth –

who would like gold, money, lands, power, political life

to be their everlasting gods?

All that is going to end.

There will remain only the satisfaction of having been,

in regard to money or political life,

a person faithful to God’s will.

One must learn to manage the relative and transitory

things of earth according to his will,

not make them absolutes.

There is only one absolute: he who awaits us

in the heaven that will not pass away.

Oscar Romero

Love measures our stature: the more we love, the bigger we are.  There is no smaller package in all the world that that of a (person) all wrapped up in (self).

William Sloan Coffin

Clear the trick in live is to die young as late as possible.

William Sloan Coffin

Truth is always in danger of being sacrificed on the altars o good taste and social stability.

William Sloan Coffin

We must guard against being too individualistic and elitist in our understanding of spirituality. Some Christians talk endlessly about the importance of one’s interior life and how to develop it more fully, forgetting that Christ is born to bring hope and joy also to whole communities of people – the exiles, the deported, the tortured, the silenced.

William Sloan Coffin

This nation is affluent and has more than it needs. The realization that what we have is a free gift can deepen our desire to share this gift with others who cry out for help. When we bless the fruits of the harvest, let us at least realize that blessed fruits need to be shared. Henri J.M. Nouwen, from The Genesee Diary

Herein lies a riddle: How can a people so gifted by God become so seduced by naked power, so greedy for money, so addicted to violence, so slavish before mediocre and treacherous leadership, so paranoid, deluded, lunatic?

Philip Berrigan, Hell, Healing and Resistance Veterans Speak

Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.

James Bryce

I'm convinced that if we are to get on the right side fo the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin to shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people; the giant triplets of racism, militarism, and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.

Martin Luther King

Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought! Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder! Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings! Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction! Be heroes in an army of construction!

Helen Keller, Told to an audience at Carnegie Hall one year before the United States entered World War I. From 'Declarations of Independence' by Howard Zinn page 75

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

War, we have come to believe, is a spectator sport. The military and the press ... have turned war into a vast video arcade game. Its very essence- death - is hidden from public view.

Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for New York Times

War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.

Karl Kraus (1874-1936)

Television is altering the meaning of ‘being informed’ by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation... Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information - misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information - information that creates the illusion of knowing something, but which in fact leads one away from knowing.

Neil Postman

‘In all history, there is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. Only one who knows the disastrous effects of a long war can realize the supreme importance of rapidity in bringing it to a close.

Sun Tzu, (c.500-320 B.C.)

Every great historic change has been based on nonconformity, has been bought either with the blood or with the reputation of nonconformists.

Ben Shahn, (1898-1969) Atlantic Monthly, September 1957

In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.

Mark Twain,(Samuel Langhornne Clemens), (1835-1910)

Let no man think we can deny civil liberty to others and retain it for ourselves. When zealous agents of the Government arrest suspected ‘radicals’ without warrant, hold them without prompt trial, deny them access to counsel and admission of bail....we have shorn the Bill of Rights of its sanctity.

Robert M. Lafollette, Sr. (1855-1925) U.S. Senator, The Progressive, March 1920

Whenever justice is uncertain and police spying and terror are at work, human beings fall into isolation, which, of course, is the aim and purpose of the dictator state, since it is based on the greatest possible accumulation of depotentiated social units.

Carl Gustav Jung, (1875-1961) The Undiscovered Self, 1957

Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience…therefore [individual citizens] have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring. 

Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, 1950

Some explanations of a crime are not explanations: they’re part of the crime.

Olavo de Cavarlho

And so long as they were at war, their power was preserved, but when they had attained empire they fell, for of the arts of peace they knew nothing, and had never engaged in any employment higher than war. 

Aristotle, Politics

It would be some time before I fully realized that the United States sees little need for diplomacy. Power is enough. Only the weak rely on diplomacy ... The Roman Empire had no need for diplomacy. Nor does the United States.   

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Secretary General of the United Nations.

Justice is as strictly due between neighbour nations as between neighbour citizens. A highwayman is as much a robber when he plunders in a gang as when single; and a nation that makes an unjust war is only a great gang.  

Benjamin Franklin to Benjamin Vaughan, 14 March 1785 (B 11:16-7)

If... the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.   

Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, 1849

Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and excusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.

Mark Twain

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

James Bovard, 1994 ,  Lost Rights. The Destruction of American Liberty (St. Martin's Press: New York, 1994), p. 333

It is part of the moral tragedy with which we are dealing that words like ‘democracy,’ ‘freedom,’ ‘rights,’ ‘justice, which have so often inspired heroism and have led men to give their lives for things which make life worthwhile, can also become a trap, the means of destroying the very things men desire to uphold.        

Sir Norman Angell (1874 - 1967), 1956.


The possession of unlimited power will make a despot of almost any man. There is a possible Nero in the gentlest human creature that walks.

Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836-1907, Ponkapog Papers, 1903

Now those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth, and let me remind you they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyranny. 

Barry Goldwater (1909-1998) US Senator (R-Arizona) Senator Goldwater's Acceptance Speech at the Republican National Convention, 1964

It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a (person) of his/her natural liberty upon the supposition she/he may abuse it.

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), Address, First Protectorate Parliament, 1654

There is as far as I know, no example in history, of any state voluntarily ceding power from the centre to its constituent parts.

Charles Handy, The Age of Unreason

When I tell the truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those that do.

William Blake

It seems that 'we have never gone to war for conquest, for exploitation, nor for territory'; we have the word of a president [McKinley] for that. Observe, now, how Providence overrules the intentions of the truly good for their advantage. We went to war with Mexico for peace, humanity and honour, yet emerged from the contest with an extension of territory beyond the dreams of political avarice. We went to war with Spain for relief of an oppressed people [the Cubans], and at the close found ourselves in possession of vast and rich insular dependencies [primarily the Philippines] and with a pretty tight grasp upon the country for relief of whose oppressed people we took up arms. We could hardly have profited more had 'territorial aggrandizement' been the spirit of our purpose and heart of our hope. The slightest acquaintance with history shows that powerful republics are the most warlike and unscrupulous of nations.

Ambrose Bierce, Warlike America

What child is this who came to turn the tables on traditional notions of power and authority? Who is this who came to bring justice and peace? Reconciliation and judgment? Who is this who glorified God with his vulnerability, overturned the tables in the Temple, broke all the purity codes by welcoming the stranger and the sinner, healing lepers and women with issues of blood, and elevating the status of widows with the mite of a penny, as well as children who had no cultural status or value, saying, ‘If you want to enter the Realm of God, be like one of these.’ 

Rev. Elizabeth Keaton

Creativity, when all is said and done, may be the best thing our species has going for it. It is also the most dangerous.

When we consider creativity we are considering the most elemental and innermost and deeply spiritual aspect of our beings.’ ……. ‘Imagination brings about not just intimacy but a big intimacy, a sense of union with the cosmos, a sense of belonging and being at home, of our knowing we have not only a right to be here but a task to do as well while we are here.

Matthew Fox

John the Baptist’s preaching hardly echoes today’s consultants on church growth and congregational development. Theirs is a church that meets the needs and aspirations of its members. Theirs is a church whose yoke is so light as to be no burden at all. For Luke, the good news, the gospel, is not warm and fuzzy; it is not about our needs, but rather about the needs of God and the needs of a hurting world. It is about repentance and forgiveness, which bring about God’s healing.

It is in relationships that this good-news healing is revealed. The Baptist describes in detail the character of our healed relationships with one another. Once we understand Luke’s image of the good news as the healing of relationships, we can more easily see how the good news is also about repentance and forgiveness; they are neither onerous duties laid on us by an angry God, nor something we must do to earn God’s love. Rather, they are gifts to us from God and the means by which relationships are healed. Yes, it is hard to repent. When we repent, we are admitting that we have failed, that we are imperfect, but when we repent and receive forgiveness, our relationships with ourselves, with others, and with God are healed. That is the Advent hope.

United Church of Canada

The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry person; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to the person who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the person with no shoes; the money you put in the bank belongs to the poor. 

Basil the Great

The large rooms of which you are so proud are in fact your shame.  They are big enough to hold crowds - and also big enough to shut out the voice of the poor... There is your sister or brother, naked, crying!  And you stand confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering.   Ambrose of Milan


Loving God of creation, transform us.

Turn our words

into acts of your justice and love.

Turn points of conflict

into possibilities for coalition.


Reflections on the readings

Calling people a ‘brood of vipers’ or snakes is a real ‘ouch’ moment. A great way to get people to listen to you, I think not! Anyone hearing this language would normally be scandalised by putting people down and dehumanising them. We have heard how those who were in power such as Emperor Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip, Lysanias, Annas and Caiaphas were somehow overlooked when God’s word became manifest. Not to those in power or who abused power and used violence but to one like John the Baptist who was on the margins of society. What we usually expect is flipped by the gospels. Clearly, from last week’s readings and those this week we are called to change our mind about God and see that God is not out to get us and this God is found in the most unexpected places and unexpected people and who wants peace and joy for all people. Maybe crowd hung around with John because they wanted to stop being ‘a brood of vipers’ or snakes. John tells them to share what they have and act justly towards others.

Three years ago Pope Francis inaugurated the Jubilee Year of Mercy with the opening of the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica. As children in our family we had special calendars that marked the days from the First Sunday of Advent to Christmas Eve. For each day, there was a little door that revealed a picture or message. For most people, opening and closing doors carry something deeply personal and meaningful. Open doors can bring us into a welcoming space, and connection with people we know and love. Closed doors can suggest fear, anxiety, even self-centredness.

Though the Year of Mercy has ended, the focus on mercy continues to be the major focus in Pope Francis’ ministry. His concern is for a church increasingly merciful and less rigid in its demands; a church more open to the world than fearful of it; a church more compassionate and forgiving rather than harsh and dogmatic. The Pope message is that God’s forgiveness comes before judgement and lays out a way of relating with one another. ‘The church is the home that accepts everyone and refuses no one…’(March 13, 2015).

With this comes a message of social responsibility towards the most vulnerable near and far. Many people reel from aggression and threat of aggression whether by terrorists or Western empires. It is in the midst of this darkness that we called to respond with mercy and be part of a ‘revolution of tenderness’ tested in the fire of reality.

When we speak of doors, there is a choice between supporting systems based on individualism, domination, control; seeing the world as hostile or threatening that demands more prisons, more military spending and more security. There are the closed doors where the rich get tax cuts or the open doors of a supporting community based on care, equality, compassion, partnership and cooperation. John’s message called for deliberate, concrete countercultural actions that do not collude with systems that rely on pedigree or entitlements. Three practical examples of actions that counter this collusion concerned coats, taxation, and extortion. These are doable. John speaks simply and prophetically to the voices of closed hearts and doors. When the people ask what they should do, John begins with what is most immediate and go on from there: share with the needy; be honest and just in dealings with others; the tax collectors are urged to be honest and just; and not abuse authority or take advantage of others. John’s concern was to create a society where people are equal in a system where some have a great deal and others have the cards stacked against them. It is to love one’s neighbours by attending to their immediate needs as well as challenging unjust structures. The challenge is for all to embrace a way of peace in our words, thoughts and actions and confront those people who fail in this regard. Can we speak to those who promote hated and challenge those who put profit over care for people? We cannot wait for religious leaders to call out those who poison our relationships with one another or fail to name the injustices that make up our broken world when it comes to inequality, discrimination, violence, climate change, refugees, Muslims, women, and gay and lesbian people.

John calls us to attend to our better selves: that of mercy and compassion, of integrity and peace. Despite very hard times in our world, nation and church, God will not abandon us. In fact, the prophet tells us, ‘The Lord is in your midst.’ The prophet invites us to open our eyes and ears and take note how close God is. Fr. Anthony de Mello tells the story of The Master who became a legend in his lifetime. “It was said that God once sought his advice: ‘I want to play a game of hide-and-seek with humankind. I’ve asked my Angels what the best place is to hide in. Some say the depth of the ocean. Others say the top of the highest mountain. Others still the far side of the moon or a distant star. What do you suggest? Said the Master, ‘Hide in the human heart. That’s the last place they will think of!’”

One this Gaudete Sunday, maybe the knowledge that God’s favourite dwelling place is in the human heart and that this is the source of our joy despite setbacks around us or what is happening in the world. It is not a matter of closing our heart to these but allowing our hearts to be opened and let the world in (thanks to Joanna Macy).

This is Good News! God is as near as our hearts. It is an awesome realisation. Pope Francis in 2013 said: ‘God who draws near out of love walks with (His) people, and this walk comes to an unimaginable point. We could never have imagined that the same Lord would become one of us and walk with us, be present with us, present in His Church, present in the Eucharist, present in (His) Word, present in the poor, (He) is present, walking with us. And this is closeness: the shepherd close to his flock, close to (his) sheep, whom (he) knows, one by one.’

It can be a disturbing thought. If God is so near, then God knows us through and through. But we also have Jesus to point out to us how to use our hearts in a way that imitates the actions of his heart. As we open our hearts to the God’s presence among us, the fruit of conversion is shown through our lives of joyful, loving service. Let us rejoice in anticipation, preparation, proclamation, and action as we await that day when God’s justice, God’s dwelling of love, is fully manifest.

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