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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ Advent People: A Community of Hope and Joy

                The joy and the hope, the grief and the anguish of the people of

                          our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way,

                          are the joy and the hope, the grief and the anguish of the followers

                          of Christ as well.

These are the opening words of Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.  It was promulgated as the final document of the Second Vatican Council on 7 Dec 1965.  In some ways this Constitution formed a capstone for Vatican II.  It brought together the spirit that motivated the whole Council.  From its beginning, Pope John XXIII enunciated two foundational aims for the Council.  One was aggiornamento that is, renewal for our Church in the light of the current world.  This renewal was linked to ressourcement, a French word which called the Council to honour our sources, our origins.

Vatican II was a new advent for the Catholic Church.  Now, with the Synod on Synodality that had its opening session this past October, we are in another advent for our community of faith.  When he addressed the delegates at the opening of the Synod on October 7, Pope Francis reflected the aims and hopes of John XXIII:

Let us keep going back to God’s own ‘style’, which is

closeness, compassion and tender love….  A Church

that does not stand aloof from life, but immerses

herself in today’s problems and needs, bandaging wounds

and healing broken hearts with the balm of God.  Let us not

forget God’s style.

In the reading from John`s Gospel (John 1:6-8, 19-28) we hear today, we again meet John the Baptist and are told: He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  This is our model.  We are witness for others, called to nurture the faith and hope of our generation and of the next.  Our call is to testify to the light and live in a way that is “God’s style”.

Testifying and living “God’s style”, is our way of sharing the Good News, and to reveal it in the words and actions of our lives.  The Old Testament prophet Isaiah, whom we hear so often in the Advent season describes his own call as prophet,… and also who we are as witnesses:             

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord

has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to

the oppressed, to bind-up the broken-hearted, to proclaim

liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;  (Is.61:1)


May Advent be a season of many blessings for us, for our community and for our world.

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