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Reflection – First Sunday of Advent Dec 1, 2023

First Sunday of Advent
Isaac Falzon1

Dear friends,

Holidays! What a fantastic time of year. When hearts are filled with anticipation and hope, the subject of war might seem bizarre. Yet, the Catholic perspective on war during this season of Advent offers us an interesting reflection on the pursuit of peace amidst conflict and chaos.

Advent is a period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth. It calls us to contemplate the Prince of Peace that enters into an un-peaceful world. It calls us to reflect on the promised peace and the harsh realities of conflict that persist in our world.

At the heart of Mother Church’s teachings is the belief in the sanctity and dignity of every human life. This core principle offers a lens through which to view the tragedy of war. The Church denounces war as a failure of humanity to resolve conflicts through peaceful means, emphasising the importance of pursuing alternatives to violence.

Jesus is the personification of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Catholic teaching challenges us to echo these fundamental principles through faithfully seeking avenues of dialogue and understanding, even in the most unfortunate and disastrous circumstances. Advent reminds us of the importance to embody these virtues. To be instruments of peace in a world plagued by strife.

Pope Francis has been an advocate for peace, urging nations to seek dialogue and diplomacy instead of resorting to armed conflict. His passionate pleas for peace resonate deeply with the spirit of Advent, emphasising the urgency of cultivating a culture of encountering the Risen Lord.

The season of Advent invites us to reflect, prompting us to consider the ways in which we contribute to or alleviate the causes of conflict. It challenges us to examine our roles as missionary disciples and peacemakers, calling us to action in fostering harmony within our communities and across nations.

The Catholic Church has a rich tradition of “just war theory”, which is a moral framework that seeks to limit the devastating impact of armed conflict. Rooted in principles of proportionality, discrimination, and the last resort, this doctrine endeavours to alleviate the horrors of war while acknowledging the complexities of human conflicts.

During Advent, Catholics are called to fervent prayer and reflection. It is a time to pray for peace, to ask God for the healing of nations that are torn apart by violence. It’s a period to seek comfort in the message of hope that Christ’s birth brings – a hope that transcends the darkness of conflict, offering a glimpse of a world where swords are transformed into ploughshares.

Before the joys and festivities this Christmas, the Church’s perspective on war during Advent serves as an important reminder. It is a call to confront the grim realities of our world with compassion, seeking avenues of peace in the midst of discord. It invites us to align our actions with the message of reconciliation heralded by the birth of Christ.

In the quiet anticipation of Advent lies the profound truth – that even amidst the tumult of war, the hope for peace endures, illuminated by the promise of a newborn Saviour.

 

Fr Isaac Falzon

 

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