“They shall beat their swords into plowshares.” — Isaiah 2:4
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares.”
— Isaiah 2:4
Cycle A Readings for First Sunday of Advent
  • 1) Isaiah 2:1-5
  • Psalm 122:1-9
  • 2) Romans 13:11-14
  • Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44

By Dcn. Mike Ellerbrock
Catholic News Service

Noah’s neighbors were so engrossed in celebrating their good fortune that they were caught unprepared for the calamity of the Flood. Had they invited the less-fortunate villagers, perhaps the party may have ended in joy.

Historically, lack of economic opportunity has led to civil wars and international conflicts, including terrorism. Hence, our economic choices involve ethical dimensions, moral issues and global challenges. Let us beware: Poverty remains a scourge invoking God’s wrath.

Today, 3 billion people (about one-third of humanity) live in “poverty,” on less than $2.50 per person per day. Half of those people are perpetually stuck in “extreme poverty,” living on less than $1.25 per person per day. The dollar distinction reflects the desperate reality that extremely poor people cannot save any money at all and thus are unable to invest in their children’s future.

The amount of money necessary to lift those 1.5 billion people out of extreme poverty equals only 0.7 percent of world gross domestic product, an amount equivalent to only four days of military spending by all nations!

To build peace on earth, converting a few swords into plowshares appears to be a no-brainer.

For another frame of reference, consider the Millennium Development Goals established by the United Nations in September 2000. Signed by the U.S. and 190 other nations, the goals commit each nation to allocate 0.7 percent of their annual income for official development aid to the poorest countries. Note that’s 0.7 percent — not 70 percent or 7 percent of our nation’s annual wealth. It is only seven-tenths of 1 percent!

So, is America a generous country? Yes and no.

In absolute dollars, we donate more money in development aid than any other nation, yet we are also the biggest laggard in meeting our millennium goals commitment. In 2015, the U.S. has contributed only 0.17 percent of our national income in development aid. That is about one-fourth of our official pledge. Though generous, we could do a lot better.

Advent is a time of spiritual reckoning. If the Christ child was welcomed by Magi from the East with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, is it not time to reverse the flow of wealth to feed His hungriest children?

Questions for Reflection:

  1. For the sake of our poorest neighbors, can we not reduce military spending by four days to welcome our infant Creator and Savior into His kingdom?