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Advent calendar 2023 - 10 December

Claudelice by ‘The Majestade’ - a centuries-old tree covered in spiders’ webs and greenery.

A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.

Mark 1:3

The Gospel of Mark does not include the story of Jesus’ birth. Instead, it opens with a very different scene – the arresting figure of John the Baptist in the wilderness, announcing the kingdom and calling people to repentance. 

There is an urgency about the Baptist, an urgency that continues to speak to us today. How can we make straight the paths of God in a world of inequality, violence and environmental destruction?  

When Claudelice Silva dos Santos was a child in Brazil, forest covered much more of the land around her, but illegal logging and deforestation for cattle ranching have destroyed vast areas. Claudelice’s brother, José Claudio, and his wife Maria do Espirito Santo were murdered after years of standing up for their rights and trying to protect the land and forest. 

Despite receiving death threats, Claudelice strives to continue her brother’s work. “The Amazon is our life,” she declares. “Do we feel afraid? Yes, we feel afraid. But this is not going to stop our struggle.” 

Can we hear the voices crying out in the desert today? It is up to us to prepare a way for the Lord, by building a world in which people and creation can flourish in harmony together. “The world sings of an infinite Love,” Pope Francis tells us, “how can we fail to care for it?” (Laudate Deum #65) 

On Human Rights Day, let us feel that love. Let’s hear the call to change our hearts and minds and commit to bringing about a time when “justice and peace have embraced”. 

Advent prayer 

Merciful God,  
You sent John the Baptist  
to preach repentance. 
Forgive us for the times 
when we have done wrong,  
and damaged our earth.  
Lead us to live differently,  
preparing your way 
and making your paths straight.  
Amen. 

Act 

Find out more about Claudelice’s work to protect the Amazon in our moving film A Luta; The Struggle.

Advent prayers

Pause, reflect and pray with us as we prepare for Christmas.