Advent Reflection: Let Us Gather for Peace

Having been so richly blest the Catholic Worker Community of Youngstown pledges to do our best to take up the mantle of Dorothy Day and to provide our many friends with a channel for peacemaking during the Holiday Season. As our culture is so caught up in the materialism of the season or what form of Christmas greeting is appropriate, and we are all susceptible to this; we hope to deepen our experience of peace by following the non-violent Jesus who embraced the outcasts of His day.

As the Gospel of Luke tells the story of John the Baptist it quotes the prophet Isaiah as it proclaims: “A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low.'” (Luke 3:4,5a) Here the scriptures call for us as a people to turn away from our excesses and address the injustices that plague God’s people. Here’s a call to make the causes of our neighbor’s poverty our top priority for this year’s journey of peace.

At the Dorothy Day House we gather day in and day out and dream together about peace, and as we gather for prayer and for our Roundtable, we hear the Gospel calling us to be a community of peace. The Prophet Isaiah implores people of all times: “beat your swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks and study war no more”. Jesus takes it one step further: “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

Because Advent has become the shopping season, there is a golden opportunity for Christians to seize the moment and reclaim the message of peace. As a Catholic Worker community, we are planning just a handful of prayers and actions that put us in solidarity with all those victimized by man’s inhumanity to man. (See our Calendar for times and dates.) We hope you’ll join us as we struggle to embrace Isaiah’s words and follow the “Prince of Peace”. He took all that Empire could throw at him; harassment, interrogation, torture and the brutal death by crucifixion, but remained true to His Beatitudes: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

“Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the Glory of the Lord shown around them; and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them; “do not be afraid for behold, I proclaim to you Good News of great joy, that will be for all the people. For today in the City of David a savior has been born for you whom is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was a multitude of heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

This Holy Family who became refugees fleeing for their lives encountered on their journey shepherds; these were among the poor who were counted as sinners by the religion of their day. We must forever remember, Mary and Joseph were homeless at Jesus’ birth and found themselves  among these shepherds; the undesirables of society. They fledBethlehem for their lives and arrived in Egypt as undocumented immigrants, they were poor and don’t forget Mary’s words that we now call the Magnificat. Read the birth narratives for yourselves in light of this past year’s journey at the Dorothy Day House. This Advent we have the opportunity to weave a new narrative through our own lives; as we journey with the poor. Being born again can take on a whole new meaning; a chance not just to transform our hearts but our lives as well. Who are the shepherds in your life?

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