This is the second week of Advent. This week we light the peace candle on the Advent wreath. It is significant that the second week of Advent this year ends with Human Rights Day (Dec. 10). We are invited also this week to remember in gratitude the importance of soil for the existence of life (World Soil Day, Dec. 5).

Jesus often drew our attention to soil when he spoke of sowing seeds. Shahidur Rashid, speaking of the significance of soil, says that if we are to define love as ‘unconditional giving’ then soil has been doing this for a very long time. Soil supports a variety of life forms. In its dark, warm depths every seed that grows finds nurture and nutrition. Advent is a season that invites us to reflect on emerging life. It is a period of waiting in joyful expectation for new life to burst forth. Like Mary and Joseph, with great anticipation we await the coming of Jesus.

At this time in our history, war rages in many parts of the world. The fear of terrorism grips many people. Thousands are forced to board fragile boats or travel hostile terrains in search of safer places to raise their children and families. Many people here in Ireland still do not have a roof over their heads or a place they can call home.

This is not too unlike the times in which Mary and Joseph awaited the birth of Jesus. On that first Christmas night, Jesus was born bringing light to a world that lay in the shadow of darkness. His birth was announced by angels singing ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace’.

During this second week of Advent, in which we mark Human Rights Day, let us remember all those who are affected by the vagaries of war, those who are forced to leave their homes, and those who have no place to call home.

READ: Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8th December. Some Resources

WATCH: World Soil Day, 5th December. The value of soil.

CONSIDER: Participating in some activity to mark Human Rights Day, 10th December.