First Sunday of Advent Stay awake, praying at all times. Luke 21:2528, 34-36 Weekend reflection Each weekend of Advent, we will reflect on the readings that weekend. Today, as Advent begins, we reflect that St Luke tells us to stay awake for the Masters coming. Its not a case of Quick, look busy! but a call to believe our Lord is coming and to live as if we believe it. So, we pray: Lord, help me to use this Advent to prepare for your coming at Christmas and at the end of time. Amen Monday 3 December Many will come from east and west...
Matthew 8:5-11 So, Advent started yesterday. Have you already enjoyed chocolate from behind the first doors of your Advent calendar? Lovely! But are you up for the challenge of a reverse Advent calendar - where you put something in each day, instead of taking something out? Join in to create your own alternative, virtual calendar supporting - in prayer and action - refugees and others living in extreme poverty around the world. In todays Gospel, Jesus challenged his audience - the Chosen People to welcome outsiders, when he said that many non-Israelites will feast in the kingdom of heaven. Globally, too often we still fail to
welcome outsiders. Refugees around the world experience this. Closer to home, do I resist new people entering my circle of friends? Todays challenge: Watch our animation and spend a minute imagining you are forced to leave home right now. What would you do? Lord, help me to welcome others into my circle of friends, just as you did. Amen Tuesday 4 December In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails. Psalm 71
In Colombia, despite a 2016 peace agreement between the government and the guerrilla group called the FARC, there are still other armed groups and much violence. Fernando, 15, studies at one of 34 secondary schools involved in a new peace-building project. He believes young people's actions matter: "Respecting other people leads to peace. If theres no respect, theres no peace. You have to be tolerant, even if someone else is behaving badly." Fernando Todays psalm reminds us that the Old Testament people longed for a Messiah to bring justice and peace. The first days of Advent look ahead to this prophecy being fulfilled, when
Christ returns at the end of time and there is peace forever. But we dont have to wait until then to live in Gods kingdom Jesus said it is all around us. We are called to live justly and peacefully right now! Todays challenge: Listen with respect to each person who speaks to you today. Holy Spirit, help me to really listen, so that I can understand the others viewpoint and build peace and justice wherever I go. Amen. Wednesday 5 December The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every cheek. Isaiah 25:6-10
Amina and her family fled home and spent three nights in the bush before reaching a camp in Kenya. We were given this tent and even other non-food items; they have tried to keep us comfortable. But Aminas children fell sick due to exposure. One of her twin babies died. Her other children are hungry. I feel very bad Our children are suffering I would like to work but it is not possible to do it here. Isaiah promises that God will wipe away tears. God uses our hands to do this and to offer support. Below is a way you can help people like Amina. Closer to home, your classmates may feel left out and awkward if they get fewer Christmas cards than others. There is an easy way to avoid this
Todays challenge: Resist buying cards for classmates this year. Instead, print a World Gifts Christmas card poster for your classroom, to include everyone! Extra challenge: Use the money you save as a class to buy a World Gift to help us reach people like Amina. Lord, help me to be aware of other peoples sorrows today. Help me to bring comfort and hope. Amen. Thursday 6 December Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them Matthew 7:21, 24-27 Young people around England and Wales are leading the way when it comes to putting faith into action.
Many are doing Faith in Action awards or take part in justice groups. Y10 students from St Bonaventures, London went to Parliament and spoke to their MP, Lyn Brown, about the Share the Journey refugee campaign. She agreed with them, saying, This could be us weve got a responsibility. Its about shared humanity and connection. In todays Gospel, Jesus says that wise people act on his words, rather than just listening to them. Jesus said so many things: love one another dont worry about your life be reconciled dont store up treasures on earth pray for those who persecute you
Todays challenge: What one thing that Jesus said will I try to act on today? Living Word, help me to put your words into practice. Amen. Friday 7 December after shadow and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see. Isaiah 29:17-24 Did you Give it Up during Lent? Erin and her friends from Reading did a 24-hour challenge, giving up something different every hour: We wanted to raise money and awareness but also to experience some of what people go through daily. We found that no talking and having
no sight were the hardest hours This made us realise how much we take such simple things for granted. We had a great time doing the challenge. Erin In todays Gospel, Jesus restores sight to two blind men. This Lent, thousands of you gave things up - and had fun at the same time! - to shine a ray of hope for communities tackling the challenge of extreme poverty. What will you give up next Lent?! Todays challenge: Watch this video to see how your Lent fundraising in 2015 helped the Concrete Youth Group. Lord, where there is darkness, let me
bring only light. Open my eyes to see the world as you do. Amen. Saturday 8 - Sunday 9 December, Second Sunday of Advent She was deeply disturbed by these words Luke 1:26-38 reflection Weekend In Saturdays Gospel, the Word of God comes to Mary and turns her life upside down. In Sundays, the Word comes to John the Baptist and sends him out to preach a message which will eventually lead to his execution. How might the Word of God want to shake me out of my comfort zone? Lord, shake me up! Show me new
possibilities and help me to respond bravely, like Mary and John. Amen. World leaders meet in Morocco Monday 10 December They were filled with awe, saying, We have seen strange things today. Luke 5:17-26 The crowds in todays reading see Jesus forgiving and healing a lame man. In awe, they praise God. Here at CAFOD we are in awe of you! This summer, schools and parishes in England and Wales walked more than four times around the world,
over 100,000 miles, sending a strong message to world leaders that we want them to treat refugees and migrants with dignity. Recent statistics say that, every minute, more than 30 people are forced from their homes an increase from 20 the previous year. World leaders prepare today to adopt a new global agreement on migrants. Because of Share the Journey walks in the UK and other countries, they will know that many people care deeply what is decided. Keep up the pressure - tell others! Todays challenge: Pray for refugees and ask at least two adults to petition Theresa May on refugees and migration.
Lord, help me to notice and praise the many awesome things you do around me every day. Amen. Tuesday 11 December Console my people, console them, says your God. Isaiah 40:1-11 In September, a huge earthquake and tsunami hit Sulawesi Province in Indonesia. Many homes were destroyed. Thousands lost their lives. Part of our global network, Fatwa Fadillah, said: In Balaroa village, on the outskirts of Palu, everything is destroyed. The streets are ruined and theres no water or sanitation facilities for people gathered in shelters. Most families only have one tarpaulin and
one mat." Todays reading tells us that God wants to console his people and wants us to be part of doing the consoling. Many of you did this by praying or sending donations to support the Indonesian people. Thank you. It's easy to forget that people closer to us have concerns too - we can be so wrapped up in our own lives. But it might take only a smile to console someone who feels downhearted. Todays challenge: Send a to cheer someone up and remember to smile today! Lord, open my eyes today to see every person, made in your image, as my sister or brother. Amen.
Wednesday 12 December Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened Matthew 11:28-30 This year, Venezuela has continued to experience political unrest and rising poverty. Many have been unable to feed their families. With spiralling costs, food, medicines and other goods are increasingly scarce. Hundreds of thousands have been trying to cross the borders to other Latin American countries. Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador have all struggled to respond, with some countries closing their borders to Venezuelans without passports.
Our global network has provided aid, including food, shelter and legal aid, to the growing number of people who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, as well as supporting those left behind. You may not have direct contact with refugees, but the food bank near you may well be supporting people who have fled their country for refuge. Todays challenge: Give a tin at the supermarket collection point for your local food bank. Jesus, you promised rest to those who are overburdened. May all refugees and migrants find a safe place to rest. Amen. Thursday 13 December
Their tongue is parched with thirst. I, the Lord, will answer them. Isaiah 41:13-20 Deserts often feature in the Bible. The Hebrew people wandered forty years in a desert and had to rely on God to provide them with water. Parts of Kenya suffered from drought last year. There were spring rains this year, but heavy rains also bring problems. Overgrazing has caused severe soil erosion. When it rains heavily, the top soil is washed away. Grass and shrubs - which have already withered in the scorching sun and have shallow roots - cannot regenerate.
Many in Leshoidas village had given up on farming until Isaiah Lekesike, part of our global network, offered them the chance to join a programme for communities affected by climate change. They received training, tools, pest-resistant seeds and a solar pump to help irrigate their crops. This has really boosted my morale. Now I put all my energy into farming as it enables me to provide a decent living for myself and my children. Leshoida Todays challenge: Find three ways to save water today. Lord, give water in the desert and help us all to care for our planet. Amen
Leshoida from Kenya email Friday 14 December I, the Lord your God lead you in the way that you must go. We like to think we can choose where Isaiah 48:17-19 we go. We do not want to be forced. But hundreds of thousands of people from Myanmar now live in camps in Bangladesh after being forced to leave home and flee for their lives. Nur, 11, volunteers in her camp, delivering vaccination certificates. I know all the mothers in this area of
the camp, and they know me. They smile when they see me coming; this is very important work. Isaiah the prophet said that God would lead his people. If we choose to let God lead us, we can build a better, fairer world just as Nur is trying to make life better for mothers in her refugee camp. Our World Gift, Emergency shelter, is one small step towards making the world better for refugee families who have lost almost everything. 40 Todays challenge: Look up the World Gift, Emergency shelter. Can you buy it as a class? Our poster can help!
Lord, help me to allow you to lead me every step along the way I must go. Amen. Saturday 15 Sunday 16 December, Third Sunday of Advent I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord. Philippians 4:4-7 Weekend reflection This Sunday is Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday. It reminds us that all the joy of Christmas is almost here! But St Paul says we should be happy, not just at Christmas, but always. Is that possible? Paul thinks so if we give thanks to God for everything. Lord, thank you for your many gifts.
Help me to share your joy, this Advent and always. Amen Monday 17 December Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife Matthew Poor Joseph! All was going well a 1:1-17 lovely fiance, a good job then he finds out that Mary is pregnant. But, like Joseph of the technicolour dreamcoat, he has a dream, acts on it, and the rest is history! Patrick in Zambia is living his dream
earning a living and helping others. When he was a child, Patricks mother didnt have enough to feed him. Your support helped Patrick with food, clothing and training. Now he teaches tailoring to people living with disabilities. Patrick works with traditional cloths helping people to make brightly coloured clothes. But not as bright as some of the clothes you wore for Brighten Up fundraisers this term! Thousands of you joined us to help build a brighter world for poor communities. Thank you! Todays challenge: Brighten up Advent too! Organise a Christmas jumper fundraiser and share your photos tagging
@cafod Lord, like Joseph, help me to believe that the dreams that come from you are worthy of my life. Amen. International Migrants Day Tuesday 18 December Emmanuel, a name which means God-is-with-us. AsMatthew Emmanuel, Jesus really was, and 1:18-24 is, God-with-us. We can meet him in the people around us and in our own hearts. Dwelling within us, he still wants to speak out for justice, just as he did while on earth.
Anna from Clifton is a CAFOD young leader. She made the effort to visit and lobby her MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg: I outlined the work of CAFOD and told him about the Share the Journey refugee campaign in support of those who have had to flee their homes. Anna Anna was speaking out for justice for some of the most vulnerable people of our world; those whose influence and power over their lives has been snatched away, through no fault of their own. Who around you is feeling vulnerable today, and how can you be Emmanuel to them? Todays challenge: Visit our campaign page and find out how you can contact and help
to influence your MP! Lord Jesus, thank you that you are with us. Help us to be your hands, your voice, in our world. Amen Wednesday 19 December Zechariah said to the angel, How can I be sure of this? Luke 1:5-25 Our lives would be so much easier if an angel appeared every time we needed to know what to do! At least, youd think so. But in todays reading, an aged Zechariah is told by an angel that he will have a son (John the Baptist). And he still doesnt believe it! So maybe its not angels and miracles
but ordinary things that will help us to believe in God and to work out what we ought to do in life like responding to the issues right in front of us, such as the fact that one in ten of our sisters and brothers survives on less than 1.50 a day. Thats what Jacob and Alexander did. Their new secondary school challenged them to raise money for a charity of their choice. They chose CAFOD and ran a bake sale in their Birmingham parish, raising more than 200 to help us ensure that no one is beyond reach. Well done! Todays challenge: Bake some mince pies and ask for donations. Give the money to CAFOD.
Lord, Im sorry that I sometimes look away when others need me. Help me to serve others as you did. Amen. Thursday 20 December Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you. Luke 1:26-38 In todays reading, the angel says Mary is highly favoured. Mary could have said, Favoured? Im a pregnant teenager with no husband and no experience, and now I have to raise the Son of God! But she said, Let what you have said be done to me. Have you ever had someone tell you how lucky you are and felt like shouting, If only you knew!? It can be hard to really understand
what other people are going through. Like those affected by floods in Kerala, India this summer. Giovanna Reda from CAFOD's Asia team said: "Many families arrive at relief camps with only the clothes they are wearing. They have lost everything." Our global network reached some of the most vulnerable with emergency supplies like food, mosquito nets, hygiene kits and blankets, and will continue to work alongside people as they rebuild their lives. Todays challenge: Find out how our Help a refugee child World Gift helps traumatised children. Lord, remind me not to assume I
know what another person is going through. Help me take time to listen and to empathise. Amen. 46 Friday 21 December of all women you are the most blessed. Luke 1:39-45 In todays reading, Elizabeth greets Mary. Marys response to Elizabeths greeting is a song - The Magnificat praising God who lifts up the poor. Ania from Kent wrote her own powerful song when she took part in a workshop on injustice. Together we can prove that we are precious,
we are all worth it. With just a little courage we can do anything. Together we can change the world. Anias song is challenging. And Marys song wasnt a ditty either. The words are so revolutionary, challenging those in power, that a number of unjust governments in the last century banned people from using it. Who knew Mary was such a radical! Todays challenge: Is there a song that stirs your soul and inspires you? Listen to it today. Mary, help me to be as radical as you. Amen
Saturday 22 Sunday 23 December, Fourth Sunday of Advent My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord Weekend reflection Luke 1:46-56 In the Gospels this weekend, Mary hurries off to help Elizabeth and sings a song of praise to God. Mary responded generously to the challenges of every day. Do I meet challenges head on or do I avoid them and try to make my life as easy as possible? Mary, pray for me and show me how to step beyond my own concerns to
help others. Amen. Monday 24 December Christmas Eve to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:67-79 John the Baptists father said that Jesus would guide us towards peace. Peace is sorely needed in Colombia. In 2017, Colombias government reported that it had 7.7 million internally displaced people people who have been forced from their homes but remain within the country. This is more than any other country in the world, including Syria. Sebastian, 17, was recruited by an armed group when he was 15 and was threatened with death for leaving.
Now Sebastian is part of a youth group that is working for peace. He sees his faith as a vital part of this. I would like you to pray for young people. There are many children and young people who are lost. I'd like you to pray for change and that everything turns out well. Pray for a world without violence and mistreatment. Pray for people's hearts to change. Pray that voices of reason are heard in our country. Todays challenge: Pray with Sebastian and his friends for lasting peace in Colombia. Prince of peace, help me to be a peacemaker, forgiving anyone who has hurt me. Amen.
Tuesday 25 December Christmas Day The Word was made flesh, he lived among us John 1:1-18 In Bolivias Altiplano, Maria proudly holds her healthy baby, Joel. Eva Colque, part of our global network, accompanied Maria and her husband, Vladimir, helping them to establish a farm of vegetables to eat and to sell. Eva says: If families recognise something might help, and make the effort to make it work, we'll accompany them. Vladimir and Maria are both putting a lot of effort in. Maria says: We're no longer going to
my parents for food. In fact, it's the other way round. My parents ask for food from us. It makes me so happy to see how much we've changed. Today we thank God for the joy he gives us and pray for help to build a just world where everyone shares Earths bounty and all children have the nourishing food they need to grow up strong and healthy. Todays challenge: Like the shepherds and the angels rejoice! Jesus, you enter into our poverty and transform it. Empower me with hope and joy, to live and share your good news for all. Amen. Look out for our Epiphany
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