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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Advocacy

"We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one." 1 Jn 2:1

More than thirty years ago, following the renewal of religious life commissioned by Pope Paul VI, the Capuchin friars incorporated "house chapters" or formal gatherings of the friars to discuss our life and lifestyle. While  these meetings sometimes devolved into a sharing of our schedules, our new Constitutions intended them to be a forum in which we both reflected on our common life and shared our struggles and joys in living the Capuchin life. For me there was enormous wisdom in encouraging the friars to meet regularly to discuss our life together because I had noticed that every time our local fraternity added or lost a member life changed, and unless we attended to these changes we would struggle more than necessary to live well together.

People need to have a voice in families, fraternities and societies, and when new members are not given a voice they will take it either by talking too much or not at all at community gatherings. Whether a friar or a new member of a parish council chooses to over talk or say nothing, they have a voice, and unless they are asked to articulate their concerns and vision, they will block the work of the friary or the council.

All of this is implied in today's second reading when the first letter of John reminds us that we have an Advocate, one who speaks for us before God and the people. Because the apostles and disciples were told not to speak about Jesus after the resurrection, they needed an Advocate, a defense lawyer, who would empower them to speak for themselves. Afraid of the consequences of speaking out, the disciples needed the grace and strength to move beyond their fears to announce the Good News that God had set us free in Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of Jesus would continue to accompany the church throughout history. When we embrace this power, we speak and live without fear and with integrity, and become Advocates for all the voiceless in society, especially the poor.

Today, ask God to help you speak Good News without fear.

Who most impresses you with their willingness to speak with and on behalf of the poor?

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