Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, Daughter of Jerusalem! Zephaniah 3: 14
The mood for the third week of Advent changes to one of joyful expectation as we reach the half way stage in our preparation.
Known as Gaudete Sunday (the Latin for Rejoice), its jubilant theme is echoed in the pink priestly vestments. Here is an opportunity to focus on all that is good in our lives and to give heartfelt thanks.
Yet conflict continues to rage in the Holy Land and for many people in that war-torn region there is no cause to rejoice.
Pope Francis, Prayer for Peace, Holy Land, May 2014
Open our eyes and our hearts,
and give us the courage to say: "Never again war!" With war everything is lost.
Instil in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.
Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters.
Give us the strength daily to be Instruments of peace.
Enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister.
www.paxchristi.org.uk/campaigns /israel-and-palestine/world- week-for-peace-in-pi/
- available as a prayer card from Pax Christi with a photo of Pope Francis at the Separation Wall.
When all the people asked John, 'What must we do?' he answered, 'If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.' There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, 'Master, what must we do?' He said to them, 'Exact no more than your rate.' Some soldiers asked him in their turn, 'What must we do?' He said to them, 'No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!' Luke 3: 10-14
John the Baptist was the herald of the Good News, and yet he was ignored or reviled by many.
• Who are the prophets of our time?
• Do I listen to their voices and acknowledge the truth they speak?
• Am I sometimes swayed or distracted by false prophets?
• When and where do I recognize Jesus?
• Do I see him in the stranger and the outcast, the poor and the lowly or in the kindness of others?
• Am I willing to share with those who have nothing?
Our modern world is so immediate that we have lost the joy of waiting patiently. The build-up to Christmas can be so frenetic that it's easy to lose sight of its true meaning. It's great to buy gifts for our loved ones, but do we need to spend so extravagantly?
To prepare well for the Christmas celebration it can be helpful to slow down; to make space to sit quietly for a few minutes in the presence of God; to take time to wonder at the beauty of creation and to give thanks for all that is good.
Lord, there is so much bad news in our world: famine; natural disasters; cruelty; violence; war; acts of terrorism; prejudice; self-interest.
And yet there is also much good: love; concern; solidarity; small, unseen acts of kindness.
For the times I have focused only on the bad and failed to see the good, I ask your forgiveness.
For the times I have looked the other way because I was embarrassed and didn't know how to reach out to those in need, I ask your forgiveness.
For the times I meant to do something, got distracted and forgot my good intentions, I ask your forgiveness.
• Look for a 'good news' story in your local newspaper and share it with others.
• Try not to buy expensive new items - reuse or adapt what you have.
• Give hand-made cards and gifts or bake Christmas biscuits for family and friends.
• Join a local community action group or the LETS scheme (Local Exchange Trading Schemes) www.letslinkuk.net to swop skills and resources.
• Look at the Pax Christi website for resources and information www.paxchristi.org.uk