The Fourth Sunday of Advent
is setting the stage for the wonder of a new precious life and peace. Mica 5:4a
identifies the Messiah with peace. Psalm 80:4, the Responsorial antiphon, is
also gentle. “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be
saved.” Hebrews moves away from the slaughter of animals to doing the will of
The Catholic Biblical Quarterly offers the
Faithful insights for the readings of the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The first
insight is a parallel between Judith 13:18, Judges 5:24, and Luke 1:42.
To the contrary, dragging a
pregnant wife for miles on a donkey, when she is about due, sounds abusive,
rather than gentle. This set
My intention, therefore, is to change the format into that of an annotated bibliography. This will eliminate the footnotes and move that material into the body of my Notes. I intend to stay with the Greek for the benefit of the insights I gain there, not because my Greek is special. My hope is to put the themes I see in a section with the Greek. I ask readers to help me with this change with their suggestions and observations.
Gentleness toward others is
not the same as self-discipline required for gentleness. The passage from
Hebrews 10:5-10 used by the Lectionary is part of Hebrews 7:1—10:25
about the sacrificial priesthood of
The psalmsinger chosen by
the Lectionary is also gentle, invoking the image of a shepherd to ask
for the presence of God, to shine forth and save his people.
The divine presence is described as light,
something dear to Poor Clare nuns. Light is inherently gentle. Psalm 80 is a
lamentation, suitable for offering hope to those suffering from such social
ills as racism. The
vocabulary used at Psalm 80:18, the man of your right hand,” dignifies
80 was probably begun when
The following is from the “Encyclical Letter: Deus Caritas Est of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI to the Bishops Priests and Deacons Men and Women Religious and All the Lay Faithful on Christian Love.” Paragraph 41 draws from Luke 1, utilizing verses just before and just after those in the Lectionary for today. Both the Lectionary and Deus Caritas Est use John 2:4, Deus Caritas Est in paragraph 41, the Lectionary in Reading 66C for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Brackets [ ] indicate personal insertions by me.
THE PRACTICE OF LOVE
BY THE CHURCH
AS A “COMMUNITY OF LOVE”
The Church’s charitable activity as a manifestation of Trinitarian love …
Charity as a responsibility of the Church …
Justice and Charity …
The multiple structures of chartable
The distinctiveness of the Church’s charitable activity …
Those responsible for the Church’s charitable activity
32. Finally, we must turn our
attention once again to those who are responsible for carrying out the Church’s
charitable activity. As our preceding reflections have made clear, the true
subject of the various Catholic organizations that carry out a ministry of
charity is the Church herself—at all levels, from the parishes [not the
Domestic Church, the familyh?], through the particular Churches, to the
universal Church. For this reason it was most opportune that my venerable
32. … 35 are treated at Reading 095B, Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 060625.
36. When we consider the immensity
of others’ needs, we can, on the one hand, be driven towards an ideology that
would aim at doing what God’s governance of the world apparently cannot: fully
resolving every problem. Or we can be tempted to give in to inertia, since it
would seem that in any event nothing can be accomplished. At such times, a
living relationship with
37. It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work. Clearly, the Christian who prays does not claim to be able to change God’s plans or correct what he has foreseen. Rather, he seeks an encounter with the Father of Jesus Christ, asking God to be present with the consolation of the Spirit to him and his work. A personal relationship with God and an abandonment to his will can prevent man from being demeaned and save him from falling prey to the teaching of fanaticism and terrorism. An authentically religious attitude prevents man from presuming to judge God, accusing him of allowing poverty and failing to have compassion for his creatures. When people claim to build a case against Gold in defense of man, on whom can they depend when human activity proves powerless?
38. Certainly Job could complain
before God about the presence of incomprehensible and apparently unjustified
suffering in the world. In his pain he cried out: “Oh, that I knew where I
might find him, that I might come even to his seat! … I would learn what he
would answer me, and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with
me in the greatness of his power? … Therefore I am terrified at his presence;
when I consider, I am in dread of him. God has made my heart faint; the
Almighty has terrified me” (23:3, 5-6, 15-16). Often we cannot understand why
God refrains from intervening. Yet he does not prevent us from crying out, like
39. Faith, hope and charity go
together. Hope is practices through the virtue of patience, which continues to
do good even in the face of apparent failure, and through the virtue of
humility, which accepts God’s mystery and trusts him even at times of darkness.
Faith tells us that God has given his Son for our sakes and gives us the
victorious certainty that is really true: God is love! It thus transforms our
impatience and our doubts into the sure hope that God holds the world in his
hands [ignoring the well-known song by the same name] and that, as the dramatic
imagery of the end of the Book of Revelation points out, in spite of all
darkness he ultimately triumphs in glory. Faith, which sees the love of God
revealed in the pierced heart of
40. Finally, let us consider the saints,
who exercised charity in an exemplary way. Our thoughts turn especially to
Martin of Tours (+ 397), the soldier who became a monk and a bishop: he is
almost like an icon, illustrating the irreplaceable value of the individual
testimony to charity. At the gates of Amiens, Martin gave half of his cloak to
a poor man: Jesus himself, that
night, appeared to him in a dream wearing that cloak, confirming the permanent
validity of the Gospel saying: “I was naked and you clothed me … as you did it
to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:36, 40).
Yet in the history of the church, how many other testimonies to charity could
be quoted! In particular the entire monastic movement, from its origins with
41. Outstanding among the saints is
42. The lives of
the saints are not limited to their earthly biographies but also include their
being and working in God after death. In the saints one thing becomes clear;
those who draw near to God do not withdraw from men but rather become truly
close to them. In no one do we see this more clearly than in
You have given the world its true light,
You abandoned yourself completely
To God’s call
And thus became a wellspring
Of the goodness which flows forth from him.
Teach us to know and love him,
So that we too can become
Capable of true love
And be fountains of living water
In the midst of a thirsting world.
The Notes continue. When I examine my
conscience as a member of the institutional Church, by my participation I
become responsible for the very conscience of that Church. Any such
examination, requires the gentle love espoused in the Lectionary readings.To
quote the encyclical no. 36, “guided by love in the
In a spirit of examining the conscience of the Church, this section of the Encyclical is a self-serving misrepresentation of the spiritual life I experience. How to square my experience with the Encyclical is another question. The sexual abuse cover-up of his hierarchy never occurs to Deus Caritas Est, when in paragraph 31 the encyclical mentions, “The Code of Canon Law, in the canons on the ministry of the Bishop, does not expressly mention charity as a specific sector of episcopal activity.”
Nor does it occur to Deus Caritas Est that when
Deus Caritas Est does not seem to understand prayer as a legitimate cloistered apostolic work. Deus Caritas Est makes no attempt even to recognize misogyny, let alone correct it.
Deus Caritas Est does not understand the Magnificat at all. The Magnificat is not a paean to passivity,
but, rather, a proclamation that God is managing to reveal himself through
human activity. I disagree with Deus Caritas Est, “
The papacy will not even use the word dialogue, let along engage in dialogue.
There is a
The Lectionary for this Sunday contrasts the
For more on sources see the Appendix file. Personal Notes are on the web site at www.western-civilization.com/CBQ/Personal%20Notes
 Benedict XVI, “Encyclical Letter: Deus Caritas Est of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI to the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, Men and Women Religious and All the Lay Faithful on Christian Love,” http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclixals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_2... 1/30/2006 20-23/25. I am somewhat anglicizing the grammar.
 Ibid., 194: pp. 213-214.
 Sermo 52, 16:PL 38, 360.