All of us are Married

Reflection for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time by Third Order Franciscan & Writer, Gordon Kubanek, P.Eng.

This reflection was originally posted in our January 10th newsletter

This Sunday is the 2nd in Ordinary Time and we hear in the first reading, “Your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.” – Isaiah 62:4

The Bible is full of surprises. Although I have read all of it I clearly did not truly digest what I read because the above words from Isaiah were a surprise to me. “Your land shall be married.” To whom? To God? To God’s people? To you? To me? I find this idea of land being married both a mystery and a treasure. It provokes me to see that our faith does not justify exploitation of Mother Nature as so many non-believers see. Truly, the wisdom of God’s words can help us heal both the land we are married to and to each other. For we too are married, all of us to each other, for we are all married by the Church to God.

Those of you who are married in the traditional sense might find this idea a “stretch”. But of course, that is always what God demands of us – a stretch. Nothing good is easy. Nothing true is obvious. Nothing beautiful can be taken for granted. When I think of my 33 years of marriage it does sort of feel like I am married to the land. My wife is the foundation to all I do and am. Without her I am adrift on the ocean without a goal and without a sense of direction. Perhaps I am finally seeing the words of Wendell Berry, my daughter’s favourite writer, in a new light. He is married to the good dirt of Kentucky. For him the land and its people are one. They nurture each other, or destroy each other – depending upon how much they take care of each other.

Now that I have read the words of Isaiah for truly the first time I see that our current destruction of the Earth is happening, at its root, because we do not recognize that we are committed to Earth as much as the Earth is committed to us. We are treating Creation like we are divorced from it, like we are “free” to do as we please. Well, God will never divorce us – God’s love is such that God, God’s creation and people are one family. We may think we are alone, we may think we are divorced – but we are always united to God – like it or not! We are always married to God and the most visible way we can see that is two fold – in a marriage to another person and in a marriage to God’s land.

I leave with these words of the great Christian lover of the land Wendell Berry as a prayer:

“If we apply our minds directly and competently to the needs of the earth, then we will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds. We will begin to understand and to mistrust and to change our wasteful economy, which markets not just the produce of the earth, but also the earth’s ability to produce. We will see that beauty and utility are alike dependent upon the health of God’s world.”  

Gordon Kubanek, P.Eng.

Third Order Franciscan & Writer

Published in: on January 11, 2022 at 10:30 am  Comments (1)  

2022 World Day of Peace message: Yes, to human needs! No, to militarization!

By Tony Magliano 

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose writings are published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.

Fifty-five years ago, on Jan. 1, 1968, with the Vietnam War raging, and numerous other armed conflicts causing untold death and destruction, St. Pope Paul VI initiated the first World Day of Peace. He wrote, “We address ourself to all men of good will to exhort them to celebrate “The Day of Peace” throughout the world, on the first day of the year.”

Pope Paul emphasized that this annual day of peace should encourage a defense of peace from selfish national ambitions in relations among nations, and should oppose the increasing danger of “recourse to frightful weapons of extermination, which some nations possess.” He further explained that this day of peace should challenge the harmful injustice of spending enormous money on weapons, “the expenditure of which is reason for painful reflection in the presence of the grave needs which hinder the development of so many other peoples.”  

With the passing of 55 years, it is most unfortunate that St. Pope Paul’s dire words of warning against vast expenditures on armaments at the price of unmet desperate needs of countless poor and vulnerable brothers and sisters, still need to be echoed by his current predecessor.

Pope Francis, in his Jan. 1, 2022 World Day of Peace message entitled Dialogue between generations, education and work: tools for building lasting peace, writes “In recent years, there has been a significant reduction worldwide in funding for education and training; these have been seen more as expenditures than investments. Yet they are the primary means of promoting integral human development; they make individuals more free and responsible, and they are essential for the defense and promotion of peace.”

The Holy Father continues writing in his challenging message that “Military expenditures, on the other hand, have increased beyond the levels at the end of the Cold War and they seem certain to grow exorbitantly.”

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports that world military spending rose to almost $2 trillion in 2020 – even amid the global COVID pandemic. The U.S. as the largest military spender, allocated a whopping $778 billion for its military (see:

Condemning this highly immoral misdirected use of valuable funds, Pope Francis writes, “It is high time, then, that governments develop economic policies aimed at inverting the proportion of public funds spent on education and on weaponry. The pursuit of a genuine process of international disarmament can only prove beneficial for the development of peoples and nations, freeing up financial resources better used for health care, schools, infrastructure, care of the land and so forth.”

Spot-on, Pope Francis!

The old bumper-sticker attributed to the down-to-earth wisdom writer, Robert Fulghum, fits nicely here: “It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need, and our air force has to have a bake-sale to buy a bomber.”

Pope Francis also makes a point to emphasize the importance of political responsibility in addressing the rights of workers and the common good. He writes, “Politics is called to play an active role by promoting a fair balance between economic freedom and social justice. All who work in this field, starting with Catholic workers and entrepreneurs, can find sure guidelines in the Church’s social doctrine” (see: and

In closing his 2022 World Day of Peace message, Pope Francis offers this invitation: “May more and more men and women strive daily, with quiet humility and courage, to be artisans of peace. And may they be ever inspired and accompanied by the blessings of the God of peace!”

Let’s be sure to accept the Holy Father’s invitation. Let’s become “artisans of peace!”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at

Published in: on January 8, 2022 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Ready for Ordinary Time?

Reflection for the Baptism of the Lord by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our January 3, 2022 newsletter

Image by Thomas B. from Pixabay

The Christmas Season ends with its wondrous stories of the Birth of Jesus, angels, shepherds, stars, gift-bearing Magi, and foreshadowings of the Cross, lest we think we can remain at the manger. Stories of Jesus as a baby, a child in a refugee family, a 12 year old acting as teenagers do, giving parents anxiety. Before we settle back into Ordinary Time, the gospel of Luke fast forwards to Jesus, all grown up, the mature adult being baptized by his cousin, John, his public ministry confirmed by hearing his heavenly Father call him “beloved Son” in whom God is “well pleased.” We are already aware that being God’s beloved is no picnic.

In the passage from Acts, we hear that God proclaimed peace without partiality through the beloved Son who “went about doing good.” What did doing good look like? Isaiah gave us a preview: “. . . he shall bring forth justice to the nations” (all of them). He was not just a personal savior, but was called “for the victory of justice”; that is, he would “open the eyes of the blind” (physical, mental, spiritual blindness); he would “bring out prisoners from the dungeon” (those imprisoned and enslaved by others and prisoners of their own fears or resistance to the Good News); and those “who live in darkness” (of ignorance, disease, poverty, hunger, oppression).

Jesus was initiated into his life’s mission of “doing good” by being baptized with water, he who would baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Probably most of us do not remember being baptized; we did not choose Baptism. Many, baptized as adults, did make this choice. Either way, Baptism initiated us into the Christian community and gave us the responsibility to go about doing good. We, too, are God’s beloved sons and daughters; we too are called to proclaim peace and to work for the victory of justice; we too must be motivated by love. And we, too, will suffer the consequences as Jesus did. If we take up the challenge of our Baptism in Ordinary Time, God will be –already is—“well pleased” with us.

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

FAN Associate Director

Published in: on January 4, 2022 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Faithful Democracy Wants You

by Patrick Carolan and Brian McLaren

The views of these authors do not necessarily reflect the views of the Franciscan Action Network

As faith leaders, one Catholic and one Protestant, we firmly believe it is everyone’s constitutional right to peacefully protest when serious injustices need to be challenged. That’s why one of us (Brian) went to Charlottesville, Virginia, and stood alongside other faith leaders to form a front-line of safety for protesters facing neo-Nazi and white supremacist torchbearers at the Unite the Right rally, a rally that ultimately turned deadly. Brian also faced angry extremists, including the Proud Boys, when they interrupted a peaceful protest in his home state of Florida. Similarly, Patrick fasted for 13 days as part of a 30-day hunger fast for immigration rights on the Washington DC Mall. Patrick has also been arrested on many occasions for nonviolent civil disobedience in Washington, on behalf of issues such as climate justice, voting rights, and immigration.

Faith leaders and followers of all religions have been at the forefront of justice throughout history and often provide an important presence and message at protests. Sadly, the opposite can also be true.

January 6th, 2021 was a violent armed insurrection for the purpose of overthrowing our legally elected government. Extremists threatened to kill elected leaders of both parties in an attempted coup fueled by lies emanating from President Trump and his allies, in order to hold onto power after he lost the election.

It is sad enough that elected leaders have not come together in a bipartisan call for national unity in the aftermath of January 6. It is even sadder that only a few Republicans have joined Democrats in investigating how the coup attempt happened so similar attempts can be prevented in the future. Sadder still, Congress still has not come together in support of securing voting rights, foundational to our democracy. And no less tragic, many religious leaders and people who profess a strong Christian faith are supporting those who planned the coup attempt or minimizing its significance. Some are spreading lies themselves. Some remain silent for fear of offending their donors. Meanwhile, our democracy is teetering on the edge.

Why do so many religious people trust these dishonest leaders and their conspiracy theories? How do religious people so easily betray the wisdom, justice, compassion, integrity, and solidarity inherent in our faiths and rooted in our sacred scriptures?

Faith leaders in particular would do well to remember the craven roles their predecessors have played in history. The “slave bible” was published in 1807, which removed huge portions of scripture, including the Exodus story, to protect the slave economy from biblical challenge.  Ministers justified enslavement by promoting the idea that Africans were descended from Ham who was cursed in Genesis. Shortly before the Civil War, in 1840, Bishop John England of South Carolina justified slavery to that state’s leadership by claiming that Pope Gregory XVI’s encyclical letter, In Supremo Apostolatus, was against the slave trade but not slavery itself. Bishop England then suggested that its abolition would be a violation of religious freedom. Many Christian and Catholic leaders openly supported the rise of Nazism and Hitler; some even preached he was the savior who was going to save us from the evils of socialism and communism. In July 1933, Hitler and Pope Pius XI signed a concordat (treaty) which Hitler used to enhance his respectability. He knew if church leaders stood by his side and praised him, ordinary folks would be more willing to overlook what he really was doing. Not all faith leaders overtly supported Hitler, of course; many more did so by remaining silent.

We all should remember the words of the Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” Likewise, the recently departed champion of justice, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Though the coup on January 6th failed, the lust for insurrection is still strong in many hearts. The battlefield has expanded, from the nation’s capital to state capitols. State-by-state, new laws are being passed that make it more difficult for many to vote, marginalizing the young, the poor, and especially people of color. Gerrymandering further distorts fair representation and partisan appointees charged with overseeing free and fair elections are preparing to overturn them.

We must challenge spiritual leaders who continue to support the spread of the big lie by their complicit silence. Their silence will not result in a fair and just society that cares for the poor and marginalized, as Jesus taught. Every bishop, priest, and minister who is not part of the problem needs to become part of the solution by speaking out with conviction against current attempts to sabotage our elections and destroy our democracy. And the rest of us need to join our voices with theirs and come together to heal a divided nation as we hold accountable those who continue efforts to destroy it.

On January 5th and 6th, we are going to lift our voices and every one of you has the opportunity to reflect and be heard. A nationwide prayer vigil on the evening of January 5th will feature prayer, scripture, and individual reflection, led by the Faithful Democracy Coalition, in the lead up to January 6. Then on January 6th, the day will be spent registering voters and at sundown, hundreds of candlelight vigils will be held across the U.S. People of every race, place, party, religion and background will send a unified demand to Congress: Make voting rights and democracy protections federal law, and ensure that we voters decide our elections, not corrupt politicians and their religious wing-men.

About the Authors:

Brian McLaren is a best-selling author/speaker/activist and an Auburn Senior Fellow.

Patrick Carolan is the former executive director of the Franciscan Action Network and co-founder of the Global Catholic Climate Movement. He is a writer/speaker and a faith justice activist.

Published in: on January 3, 2022 at 3:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Building God’s Kingdom in the New Year

By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose writings are published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.

Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

The powerful temptation to build earthly kingdoms has been a painful thorn lodged deep within the human psyche from ancient times to the present day.

Kingdoms from Babylon to Persia, from Greece to Rome, from Ottoman Turkey to Great Britain, have come and gone. And the days of the modern kingdoms of the U.S., Russia and China are numbered as well. Yet, the powerful cling to their kingdoms at all costs – costs that have always crushed the weak, poor and vulnerable, and continue to do so to this day.

From abortion to war – and the arms industry which feeds it – from poverty to hunger, from untreated sickness to euthanasia, from human trafficking to child labor, from homeless people on our streets to fleeing refugees waiting at our borders, from pollution to climate change, from corporate greed to militaristic nationalism countless fellow human beings are enduring tremendous suffering in a world that is largely indifferent to their cries – what Pope Francis calls the “culture of indifference.”

Boldly challenging this “culture of indifference,” the Holy Father repeatedly declares that we are morally obligated to justly meet the needs of the world’s poor and vulnerable, and link them with the needs of our common earth home.

In his cutting-edge environmental encyclical letter “Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home,” Pope Francis writes “Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (see:  

In hearing the cry of the earth, the pope warns that “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.” Adding that “The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels” – that is coal, oil and gas.

And in hearing the cry of poor, Francis astutely observes that living comfortable lifestyles far removed from the poor, often leads to a “numbing of conscience” and to a cold impersonal analysis. “At times this attitude exists side by side with a ‘green rhetoric.’ ’’

In Laudato Si’, Francis tries to awaken the consciences of all – especially the economically and politically powerful – to the plight of the poor. He writes that in political and economic discussions the poor seem to be brought up as an afterthought. “Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile.”

All of this indifference and injustice is rooted in self-centered decisions to build our national and individual kingdoms. The only remedy to this cold-hardness of heart and mesmerized path to self-destruction is a full rejection of “my kingdom come,” and a full embrace of “Thy kingdom come!” 

Those of us desiring to build the kingdom of God need to be growing in the fruits of his Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – and to actively use these fruits to end the suffering of our heavy burdened brothers and sisters and deeply wounded mother earth. And we need to tirelessly work to transform the “structures of sin” – as St. Pope John Paul II called them – which exist in our cultures, governments and corporations into structures aiding the building up of God’s kingdom.    

In this New Year, this 2022, let us commit to building the kingdom of God – one human family with God as our loving Father, each person as our beloved brother or sister, and the earth, our common home, cherished as a mother.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at

Published in: on December 31, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Christ Born for All People

Reflection for the Feast of the Epiphany by FAN Board President, Bro. Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap., MSW

This reflection was originally posted in our December 27th newsletter

This Sunday, the Epiphany of the Lord, we continue our Celebration of the Birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but with a different lens.

Epiphany means manifestation. In our readings we see that Christ came for the whole world.

In the parish that I was in, this is known as “Three Kings Day.”  In fact the parish would have three men dressed as the Magi process into the Church during the opening procession. It continued the wonder of the Season and, in fact, it was a day of great joy to the people from many lands and places. With so many different customs and languages, it brought all traditions together to rejoice that Christ was born for each and every person. There is no difference among us in the eyes and heart of God.

Today, with so much political division, rumors of war, COVID, hunger, homelessness, broken families and a great sadness of hearts, Christ comes to bring Peace, Community, Understanding, and acceptance of “the other.”

Jesus who is our Lord and Savior came to feed us, sustain us, embrace us, and to invite us to do the same for others.

God calls us to open our treasures, which are our hearts, to others.

Dorothy Day shared that when she first discovered God, she would ask in her prayers, “Where are those who should feed the hungry, clothe the naked and welcome the stranger?” God answered her by saying ‘How about you?’

We can do so much with God’s strength, but we need to begin, to try, to accept, to forgive and then to follow the lead of the Spirit.

For God is in our midst!

Bro. Paul Crawford, OFM, Cap., MSW
FAN Board President

Published in: on December 28, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Many Different Definitions of “Family”

Reflection for the Feast of the Holy Family by FAN Board President Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap., MSW

This reflection was originally posted in our December 20th newsletter

In life the word “Family” has expanded from a safe, supportive place, bringing a lot of memories both good and not so good, to encompass times of great cheer and times of mixed feelings.

Growing up I felt that my family was so different from what I saw on TV and in other families. In my work as a Social Worker, I finally realized that all families might have different experiences but all the family members did as best as they could.

In our faith, the word “family” plays a big part of our getting to know who God is to us. To be honest, that memory might be painful and in fact challenge us about our need for safety and welcome. It is far easier to protect ourselves than to trust in ourselves, others and even God.

What the world is experiencing today with the COVID virus has, for the most part, added to our desire to be safe. It’s natural to not want to take some chances with our health and therefore, the pandemic has brought about even more separation within our families.

But to God, belonging is important and so are our families.

In this week’s readings for the Feast of the Holy Family, we hear that Joseph is warned to flee and find safety in Egypt. His family is in danger. So they flee to survive and to do the will of God. To leave for a safer life, for a better chance for the family to not just survive but thrive, takes a risk. Making a journey always has risks, but how else could you respond that would hopefully be better?

So this week, let us pray that our family, in spite of what state it is in, can be safe and nurture each other to see and know God’s call.

Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap., MSW

FAN Board President

Published in: on December 21, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Old Stories Ever New

Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent by FAN Associate Director Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our December 13th newsletter

In the scriptures, there are few stories in which women are the main characters. The bond between Ruth and Naomi is one such story, and the gospel account for the Fourth Sunday of Advent of the visit of Mary to Elizabeth is another. Year after year we read the familiar narrative of the Visitation, treasured especially by women. Joseph and Zechariah are good, faithful men, but this story belongs to Mary and Elizabeth, praising God, rejoicing in their pregnancies, and delighted to be together.

It is Elizabeth who speaks. Having felt her infant leap in her womb, Elizabeth cries out in words that are so familiar to us because they are joined with Mary’s words at the Annunciation in one of the first prayers we ever learned, and which is prayed in every Rosary, the Hail Mary.

While the words of the narrative don’t change, the context in which it is read alters from century to century. The history and culture in which we reflect on the story are very different from those of Elizabeth and Mary. Yet, some realities don’t change very much. The world of these women was ruled by Roman emperors and governors, and by Jewish tetrarchs and high priests, all men. Women were near the bottom of the pecking order. Today’s world, country, and Church are still ruled predominantly by men, changing ever so slowly. Yet, it was not on powerful men that God’s favor fell, but on two humble Jewish women whose children would alter human history forever.

Imagine their conversation. First, they would share amazing stories of their pregnancies, their great joy and deep gratitude to God, and their questions about what their children would become. Personal stories. But in the gospel of Luke, Mary’s response to Elizabeth is her Canticle, in which she sings that God’s “mercy is from age to age…” God “throws down rulers from their thrones but lifts up the lowly. . .” The personal encounter expands to embrace God’s saving greatness through all ages to all peoples. What meaning might this blessed encounter have for us today, in our particular time of woes and blessings, in our society, culture, and church?

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

FAN Associate Director

Published in: on December 14, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

A Christmas miracle – when enemies became brothers

by Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose writings are published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

As the first Christmas of World War I approached, Pope Benedict XV on Dec. 7, 1914, asked the leaders of all warring governments to agree to an official ceasefire. He begged “that the guns may fall silent at least upon the night the angels sang.”

Sadly, his plea was ignored by government leaders. But remarkably, many of the soldiers in the trenches declared their own unofficial truce.

On Christmas Eve of 1914, German troops in Ypres, Belgium put candles around their trenches and sang Christmas carols. When opposing British troops heard the Germans singing, they responded with Christmas caroling of their own.

Artillery throughout the region fell silent.

Then a remarkable scene occurred. German and British soldiers climbed out of their trenches and ventured unarmed into the highly dangerous “No Man’s Land” to exchanged gifts of food and drink, as well as souvenir hats and buttons.

The truce also allowed opposing sides to retrieve their dead and participate in joint services.

A firsthand account of this inspiring Christmas truce was given by Bruce Bairnsfather, who fought with a British machine gun unit. He wrote: “I wouldn’t have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything. … I spotted a German officer, some sort of lieutenant I should think, and being a bit of a collector, I intimated to him that I had taken a fancy to some of his buttons. … I brought out my wire clippers and, with a few deft snips, removed a couple of his buttons and put them in my pocket. I then gave him two of mine in exchange.”

Reportedly as many as 100,000 British and German troops along much of the Western Front – a line of trenches stretching from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France – stopped fighting and engaged in similar acts of human kindness.

What an incredibly inspiring Christmas story! Nothing short of a miracle – when enemies became brothers!

But as is often the case, the “leaders” got in the way. High ranking officers ordered all such truces to stop – and to start killing again.

The political, cultural, military, media and economic forces for war have long been extremely powerful. And in recent decades their power has become almost invincible.

Our culture praises warriors. Our entertainment industry inspires a sick delight in war. With patriotic platitudes, politicians send our young men and women off to battle – to kill and be killed. Weapon producing corporations – like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics (see: – get rich from war and war preparation. Clergy remain mostly silent. And countless Christians just simply accept all of this evil as normal.

Well thank God not everyone follows the constant drumbeat to war. In fact, some who were once a part of the war-machine are now committed to dismantling it. The organization Veterans for Peace ( is an excellent example.

These former warriors, now converts to nonviolence, have a prophetic message to all who support war: “Our collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are predominantly the innocent.”

The mass murder of war is right out of hell.

But Christmas is a time to think of heaven touching earth; a season to joyfully recall the Prince of Peace coming among us.

It’s a time to climb out of our trenches to grasp the hands of our enemies, and seriously reflect upon the message of angels who call each of us to build peace on earth and good will towards all.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at

Published in: on December 11, 2021 at 10:31 am  Comments (1)  

Challenge and Joy in a Rosy Dawn

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent by FAN Executive Director Michele Dunne, OFS

This reflection was originally posted in our December 6th newsletter

In the Gospel (Luke 3:10-18) for the third Sunday of Advent, the crowds ask John the Baptist the most basic question, “What should we do?” The query follows John’s call to “produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance” and his warning not to rely merely on religious heritage (“We have Abraham as our father”) for salvation.

So, as we continue to proceed through Advent, what should we do? The Gospel is clear and straightforward: “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none…whoever has food should do likewise.” Do not abuse your authority or privilege, and do not be greedy.

These directives seem like the most basic guidelines of human decency, but do I always abide by them? In our society, in which wealth and privilege are unequally distributed, it is far too easy for me to slip into my comfort zone and stay there. Recently I was shopping when a store clerk remarked to me, “just looking at your coat makes me feel warmer.” I noticed that she was wearing a thin cotton hoodie on that chilly November day and recalled that I had two more warm coats in my closet at home. Dorothy Day said, “if you have two coats, one of them belongs to the poor.” It was time to rethink and redistribute the goods with which I had been blessed.

If I want to go beyond the simple act of donating a coat in winter, how else might I rethink what it means not to be greedy and not to abuse my privilege? Might I take care this Christmas to give more to those in need in my community than I spend on gifts for my family and friends? What about looking at the structural privilege and greed in which I participate, wittingly or not? Personal charity, while essential, cannot correct our society’s drift toward ever-greater inequality. What are the laws and practices in my city, state, and nation that I should support to correct inequity in education, healthcare, economic opportunity, and access to voting? What about needed adjustments in taxation to pay for it?

Beyond using my resources and my vote on behalf of justice, what about lending my presence and my voice? John the Baptist and Jesus were not afraid to speak up publicly, and neither should I fear to show public solidarity with my sisters and brothers who have been impoverished and marginalized. Prayerful reflection this Advent might well show me new ways that God is calling me to action as this new year dawns.

While challenging us, the mass readings also remind us that this is a dawn of joy. This is Gaudete Sunday, in which the rose-colored candles and vestments signify the rosy dawn of Christ’s imminence. And the prophet Zephaniah speaks not only of imminence but immanence: “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior. He will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love.”

Ultimately, this is where willingness to forego greed and act in solidarity with others can come from: a sense of abundance springing from confidence in God’s great love. As Zephaniah reminds, ours is a merrily caroling God who delights in us and “will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals”!

Michele Dunne, OFS

Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network

Published in: on December 7, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment