4th Sunday of Advent – Cycle A
December 22, 2019

“The Courage to Walk in Faith

As presented here, it was written to follow the entrance procession, hymn, and opening greeting at Mass.  It should, of course, be adapted to fit the needs and circumstances wherever it is used.

Intro:           [please be seated]

CELEBRANT:        Today we hear from Isaiah about the king, Ahaz, who does not trust the promise of God, withdraws in fear, and refuses to ask a sign.  In sharp contrast, Joseph trusts a sign from God in a dream and takes a life-changing step into a future shrouded in Mystery.  In writing to the Romans, Paul describes his mission and ours as courageous “obedience of faith.”

As we continue our Advent journey in solidarity with our Dominican sisters and brothers working among destitute young people, women, and indigenous peoples in the Nagpur region of India, let’s reflect briefly on the courage to walk in faith encountered in the Holy Preaching there, that is giving birth to new Christ Life half a world away.

Reader 1:     As we have described over these last 3 weeks, our Dominican family in India offers desperately poor and marginalized young people the Gospel’s Truth about who they are before God – loved and cared for and invited to grow and flourish.  We have talked about our outreach programs, our centers that provide them with the basic materials and skills for education, hygiene, basic healthcare, job training and social skills.

Reader 2:     But the fact is that these young people among whom we carry on this Holy Preaching must be willing to take advantage of the opportunities and supports.  They need to look long and hard at the promising visions put before them.  And they have to decide to make them their own, to believe in them, and to work hard to bring them to fulfillment in themselves, in who they become.

Reader 1:     Those who do that become powerful signs to their families and communities of the Gospel Truth we are trying to preach through all these activities.  For example, one of the very young boys who ran away from home to escape domestic violence lived on the streets for years.  Then he met the Dominican friars and discovered Yuvajyothi, the home that we run.  There he began his education.  And today he has completed a course as an Occupational Therapy (OT) technician and works in a reputed hospital as an OT technician assisting surgeons. He just got married and is very happy in his own family.  His life witnesses loudly and convincingly to the Truth of the Gospel vision and promise that we preach.

Reader 2:     This takes hard work for sure, but often it takes great courage as well.  That young man had to move away from his peers and the places he felt secure.  The same is true of the young women we help.  We can offer programs to empower women in disadvantaged situations to challenge gender violence and exploitation and to insist on gender equality and more political participation. We can set up women’s groups, socio-legal training, skills building and assistance in acquiring livelihood opportunities.  We can teach them how to facilitate dialogue in families and communities.  But they have to have the courage to stand up in very difficult and often dangerous situations to act on what they’ve learned.  Their courage is an inspiring witness to walking in faith into an uncertain future.

Reader 1:     The same is true of our work among indigenous communities.  We can teach them about their rights to self-governance, how to strengthen their political participation and be accepted as integral and equal members of society.  We can show them how to access social protection schemes and legal support and get them in touch with networks of Governmental and non-Governmental organizations.  But they have to have great courage to stand up and exercise those rights in situations where that could cost them their lives.

Reader 2:     From the perspective of our Dominican heritage, what we are doing is the Holy Preaching.  But there is no doubt that when they embrace the vision and the Word and the opportunity we proclaim, their response is Holy Preaching of the courage of faith as they step out into the future Mystery in hope.

Celebrant:              As we begin our liturgy in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the Dominican family in India and the communities of faith in which they work, let’s enter into the quiet of our spirits….

Asking that God deepen the courage of our faith…. that we may step forward into the Mystery that surrounds us, ready to nurture the Christ Life emerging….

Lord, have mercy….         Christ, have mercy….          Lord, have mercy….

May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins, and bring us together to the fullness of life in peace.  Amen

In solidarity with our sisters and brothers in India and around the world, with faith and hope in God’s promises, we prayerfully relight this first candle of promise, this candle of hope that, in the light of Christ, we will be alert to Christ’s coming in our lives and ready to respond.

[1stAdvent Wreath candle is lit]

In solidarity, we relight this second candle of promise, our candle of prayerful hope that God will lead all peoples of the world to peace with each other and with all creation, peace with justice, protection, healing and joy for all – and that the power of God’s Spirit will strengthen and prepare us for our role in bringing about the Peaceable Kindom.

[2ndAdvent Wreath candle is lit]

And in solidarity, we relight this third candle of promise, our candle of rejoicing and celebration at the coming of God in our world to save us, in slow but real ways making the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the poor to have the Good News proclaimed to them.

[3rd Advent Wreath candle is lit]

And in solidarity, we light a fourth candle of promise this week, a candle expressing our commitment to walk with the courage of faith, stepping forth to nurture, form, and protect the Christ Life emerging in our world as we enter the Mystery that lies ahead.

[4th Advent Wreath candle is lit]

[An Advent refrain is sung.]

Celebrant:      Opening Prayer      [ICEL 1998]

Ceremony by James Hug, SJ