If you’re new to this Advent blog, I recommend reading Welcome to Advent 2009 to get a sense of why we want to spend four weeks preparing for our Christmas celebration and how it can help you deepen your (our) spirituality whether you are a Catholic or even a Christian.
I’d like to call your attention to yesterday’s first reading (Isaiah 2: 1-5 ) because it’s an important Advent theme:
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore. — Isaiah 2:4.
All of my adult life my writing and my prayer has been against war —
Viet Nam / the Balkans / the Gulf War / Iraq / and Afghanistan.
Pope Paul VI, speaking before the United Nations General Assembly made an impassioned plea:
“No more war! Never again war!
And Pope John Paul II said the Iraq war was A defeat for humanity.
And Dwight David Eisenhower, the great general of Word War II and President of the U.S. said: “When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war. War settles nothing.”
And now Pope Francis has gone even further. The Vatican had a conference recently about building a world free of nuclear weapons. Pope Francis has inferred that the global political system has become irrational, describing his decision last month to shift papal teaching away from an acceptance of nuclear deterrence as partly due to the world’s instability.
In an hour-long press conference aboard the papal flight to Rome Dec. 2, the pontiff also said it is his “convinced opinion” that the world is “at the limit of licitly having and using nuclear weapons.”
Asked what about the world situation had changed that caused him to break with the church’s previous acceptance of nuclear deterrence, and if recent saber-rattling between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un had played a role, the pope replied: “What has changed is the irrationality.”
Pope Francis pauses as he answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Rome Dec. 2.
Comparing his November 10th statement at the Vatican conference that the “very possession” of nuclear weapons is to be “firmly condemned” to Pope John Paul II’s determination in 1982 that deterrence was “morally acceptable,” Francis said: “Many years have passed since the time of John Paul II.”
“Today, we are at the limit,” the pontiff continued. “Why? Because with nuclear arsenals that are so sophisticated today, the destruction of humanity is at risk, or at least the great part of humanity.”
Francis then told journalists he wanted to ask a question “not as part of the papal magisterium, but as a question made by a pope.”
“Today, is it licit to maintain nuclear arsenals as they are?” he asked. “Or, today, to save creation, to save humanity, is it not necessary to go backwards?” (National Catholic Reporter / Dec 2, 2017 online edition / Joshua J. McElwee)
And now, what about you and me?
Advent is a time to wish for peace / pray for peace / work for peace.
The Christmas story is about peace. One of the titles of Jesus is “Prince of Peace.”
But we become cynical about peace.
Many of us have our private little wars that we engage in every day with a sibling or a friend or co-worker.
Let’s “Practice peacefulness”, as a friend put it to me once. Let’s stop the gossiping, giving people a chance. Try to be kinder to the folks you interact with today.
The legend of St. Christopher carrying a child across a stream on a stormy night invites us to greet every human person as if they were Christ himself.
Think thoughts of peace. Be peace. At least try it today, the second day of Advent.
I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace,
peace for his people and his friends.
and those who turn to him in their hearts.
Mercy and faithfulness have met;
Justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven.
The Lord will make us prosper
and the earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
and peace shall follow his steps.
Before you go here’s a simple hymn about peace with a slideshow. Click here. Be sure to enter full screen. And here are today’s Mass readings: Click here.