In this annual series, current and former volunteers reflect on the Advent Gospels and the Four Pillars of Faith-Based Service: Social Justice, Simplicity, Community and Spirituality.
First Sunday of Advent Reflection by Brianna Ledsome, Current Jesuit Volunteer
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain…” – Isaiah 2:1-5
Gospel Reflection: The first time I really listened to the words of today’s first reading, Isaiah 2:1-5, was in preparation to visit the Catholic Worker House in New York during my freshman year at Xavier University. This passage, and its “swords-into-plowshares” imagery, grounds my belief that community empowerment and nonviolence are two keys to a more just world. These words remind me that if I want to walk in the path of God, then I must commit myself to peace, not just the colloquial world peace, but a deep inner peace as well, that allows for self reverence as a creation of God.
Isaiah envisions many people joining together, saying, “Come let us go up to the Lord’s mountain- that he may instruct us in His ways and we may walk in his paths.” I believe it is no accident that in this verse, we must “go up to” the Lord’s mountain – that we must climb to walk in God’s path. Hearing God’s call is difficult; answering is even harder. To walk in God’s path is to deeply contemplate the plans God has for you, even when they are not what is desirable. Answering God’s call means opening your heart to the world around you, and for me I feel that it means continuing to discern where I am meant to be.
Focus on Social Justice: During that New York trip, I stayed at an intentional lay community called Benincasa – my first experience with intentional living, my first engagement with individuals committed fully and completely to justice. The verse, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks,” inspired the “Plowshares Eight,” consisting of Fr. Daniel Berrigan S.J., his brother Philip Berrigan, and six others in 1980. Their choice to vocally protest nuclear weapons – and the war as a whole – led to a worldwide Plowshares movement of nonviolent action, that continues today.
During my visit to Benincasa, Liz McAllister was living there as well. She, the wife of Philip Berrigan, shared with us about her life’s work with the Plowshares movement, and other nonviolent actions. As of September 2019, Liz has spent over 500 days in jail for nonviolent action she made with the Kings Bay Plowshares. She, as well as her husband, her brother-in-law, and all participants in the Plowshares movement live a deep commitment to the work of justice, one that is carried out at the intersection of faith and justice.
Service Suggestion: The work of the Plowshares movement, as I see it, is one of deep connections. My role as a Jesuit Volunteer is in homelessness outreach, so, my suggestion for service this Advent season is to engage in street outreach in your own community. Ask folks who are experiencing homelessness or might be at risk of hypothermia what they need for the holiday season, and try to collaborate with friends, family, and congregations to provide support to people experiencing homelessness in your area. Hand warmers are really helpful in cold temperatures!
Dear Creator God,
This Advent season give us the strength to not just hear your call for us, but the courage to answer. In times of trouble, ground us in your word, and allow us to remember your exemplary children who came before us. Grant us the ability to build community, foster growth in the world around us and within ourselves, and to love our neighbors and strangers alike. Amen.
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