Advent 1 and December overview. Family Thoughts Dec 1

Overview:  December: Every Family matters.  Every member of every type of family is precious, to one another and to God. Imagine how the Church and society would benefit if everyone understood this and was willing and able to live up to their commitments and take responsibility for what matters!  Society and the Church do not take sufficient care of families as units. Far more energy is spent on separate and individual issues, e.g  empowerment of women, jobs for youth,  protection of children. These are family matters too, whether in a dysfuntional single parent family, a granny-headed one or any family with teenage children on drugs.  If spouses were faithful and parents concerned for children’s welfare it would go a long way to building a healthy society. If all family members worked at their communication, kept their promises, looked after their health and made the decision to love even when they did not feel loving we would show that is what matters to us. Good fortune and misfortune can and do happen but at all times our faith in God’s love and mercy calls us to an attitude of thankfulness.  Although you have no need of our praise, our thanksgiving is itself your gift, since our praises add nothing to your greatness, but profit us for salvation through Christ our Lord.  From Common Preface of the Mass IV. 

Setting the scene. Liturgical year A begins on this the 1st Sunday of Advent.  Reading, discussing and making up a Jesse tree with names of biblical families as an Advent and Christmas activity can give interesting and valuable insights into the faith story of God’s chosen people.  Ancestors do play an important role in families more in some cultures than others. After the story of Jesus’ birth both Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels contain genealogies listing ancestors of Jesus.  The history of God’s people is carried forward over nearly four thousand years until today, through all the generations of people as they lived in families of many kinds, with many ups and downs. There were land invasions and wars between different tribes. God remained present with them, witnessing these events.  They are interpreted in the Scriptures over and over as a cycle of conversion, sin, repentance, punishment and conversion. Some men, and a few women, were exceptional leaders, some soldiers, some prophets as advisers to kings.  Many were simple people called by God for a particular task in his plan.

Jesse was the father of King David.  Creating a Jesse tree as a way of remembering the ancestors of Jesus is a tradition is sometimes done in parishes and in homes. The THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY this month up to Christmas are mainly on Old Testament characters from the perspective of families and those after Christmas from the New Testament. There are different ways to make a Jesse tree. Draw a tree on a large poster.  The symbols and names can be written on strips of coloured paper and stuck on. Strips can also be hung on a branch or small tree, even an artificial tree that can be a family Christmas tree.See many other Advent suggestions

December 1st.  1st Sunday of Advent.  World AIDS Day. Read Genesis 1-4 Adam and Eve. Shame. Fr Pius had spoken to the PPC about his idea and they had agreed to invite anyone who was willing to share their story.   Johnson came forward, “When AIDS was first diagnosed there was so much fear, shame and stigma attached to it.  People would talk but few would say, “My son is infected,” or “My daughter died of AIDS.”   Many families would close ranks.  Even now it remains unsaid, although we can see the signs, that AIDS was the reason why we ended up looking after 6 grandchildren at one time and our daughter and son came home very sick.  She died in those early days but he is well taking his ARVs regularly.” Fr Pius thanked him and gently added, “Should there be shame attached to AIDS?  We say it is a disease and not a sin and it can be, but so often there was a sinful act committed somewhere that caused the infection. It is also not right that the infection rate is still too high.  It makes me think of Adam and Eve. They were created to live in harmony with God and one another.  After their sin of disobedience when God came looking for them he found them wearing figleaves because they had become ashamed about their nakedness. It is sad too how the sin of jealousy caused Cain to kill his brother Abel.”   He paused and concluded, “This Advent I invite each one of us to make an examination of conscience. Later this month we will have a Parish and Family Reconciliation service.

 Let us live decently as people do in the daytime: no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy. Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 13: 13-14 

Pope Francis. Reading the scriptures makes it clear that the Gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God.  Jesus’ mission is to inaugurate the Kingdom of his Father; he commands his disciples to proclaim the good news that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. EG 180.

For reflection and sharing. People are very sensitive to being blamed and shamed.  What is the effect of shame on how people behave?  In times of corruption and other wrongdoing could blaming and shaming be a deterrent?  We say that AIDS is a disease and not a sin but there may have been sinful acts to cause the infection. Are there not times when there is guilt and shame?  Could speaking out, blaming and shaming put a stop to the ongoing rate of infection?

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