Pastors corner for the 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year B, by Fr. Rampeoane Hlobo SJ
Today we begin our Second Week of Advent. We continue our journey of preparing for Christmas by lighting the second advent candle while reflecting on the theme of PEACE. At the end of another turbulent and difficult year for many people living in the margins of society, in poverty, unemployed because of rampant corruption and poor governance; forcibly displaced by wars, violations of their rights, climate change and xenophobia; living in fear because of the widespread violence and uncontrollable crime in our societies; we hear the comforting words of the prophet Isiah: “Console my people, console them…” These are joyful words of the prophet Isiah on the eve of the return of the children of Israel to Jerusalem after the seventy years of exile in Babylon.
We hear these words today as we not only focus on the theme of PEACE but also on a day when the International Community celebrate 75 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). On the 10th of December 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the UDHR as commitment to protecting dignity, freedom and justice for all. This commitment emanate from the conviction that all are born free, equal in dignity and rights. It is a document rooted in universal principles of dignity, equality, and freedom that transcend time, culture and space. The UDHR is a constant reminder that human rights are unbreakable, transcend national boundaries, and are essential in building an equitable and peaceful community.
The 75th anniversary of the UDHR is celebrated under the theme of “EQUALITY, FREEDOM & JUSTICE for all”. These are not only important elements for peace, but they are essential principles according to the social doctrine of our faith. Today’s commemoration is therefore, not the 75th anniversary of a legal document put together by plenipotentiaries of the UN General Assembly that adopted the UDHR on the 10th of December 1948, but primarily the 75th anniversary of a set of ethical and moral rights and duties that were put together to promote and protect human dignity, freedom, justice and peace in the world.
Human Rights are derived from human dignity that is at the heart of the social teaching of the church. The preamble of the UDHR makes reference to recognition of this inherent dignity and the equality and inalienability of the rights of all members of the human family. But Pope John Paul II argued that “The UDHR declares and proclaims the rights but does not confer them, therefore no one can and should deprive another person any of these rights. Otherwise it would be violence to their nature.” And that is what has denied many, the PEACE we are reflecting on today.
As we are reminded of our baptism in the gospel today, we remember that we are commissioned as Christians to continue the mission of Jesus of bringing PEACE to the world. We endeavour to achieve that mission by promoting and protecting the inherent human dignity and rights of all.
For the sick
Let us continue to pray for the sick members of our parish especially Benedicta Ngwebelele,Phoeb Ngwenya, and Andrew Ledwaba
Rev. Fr. Rampeone Hlobo SJ