This Advent Calls us to Bring Rejoicing

Jarrett Smith
December 12, 2023

Readings for the Third Sunday of Advent, December 17.

Is 61:1-2A, 10-11
Lk 1:46-48, 19-50, 53-54
1 Thes 5:16-24
Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

The readings on the Third Sunday of Advent are meant to be a time of rejoicing and gladness amidst solemn anticipation. This spirit could readily apply to expanding the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The prophet Isaiah speaks of God bringing glad tidings to people in poverty, healing the brokenhearted, proclaiming liberty, and giving freedom to imprisoned people. A “year of favor” is one way to describe the year that Congress passed the expanded CTC and lifted a record number of children out of poverty. Across the U.S. millions of families were able to flourish where they had previously been held back or held down by lack of basic resources. This was a resounding victory for justice-seekers who envision a world in which all people have what they need.

Read NETWORK’s Advent 2023 reflections here!

When Congress allowed the expanded CTC to expire at the end of 2021, child poverty rose from 5.2 percent in 2021 to 12.4 percent in 2022. This hit Black, Brown, and Indigenous families especially hard, and this staggering setback was about one thing: the choices of Congress.

It is reckless policy, and morally repugnant, to extend tax breaks to corporations without also enacting robust expansion of the CTC. Congress must pass a Child Tax Credit that allows the 19 million who do not qualify for the entire credit to get the entire credit phased in faster. And it must apply to all children in the household.

In recent years, NETWORK has sought to tell this story and spread it far and wide. In doing so, we have centered two justice-seekers — Fr. Bryan Massingale and Dr. Robert P. Jones — whose voices cry out in the desert of white supremacy as it manifests itself in U.S. Christianity. In October, we hosted the third of our White Supremacy and American Christianity dialogues with them, this time focusing on how “a consistent ethic of hate threatens our democracy.”

Read NETWORK’s Advent 2023 reflections here!

For people of faith, especially Christians, it should be especially clear that a policy that helps so many children out of poverty should receive enthusiastic support and not be allowed to expire. In the Gospel this Sunday, John the Baptist refers to Jesus as “one among you who you do not recognize.” Similar to the judgment account in Matthew 25, we so often fail in our policy choices to recognize Jesus in those who are marginalized and harmed.

As we look to the Third Sunday of Advent, the church also celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. This feast celebrates the love that Our Lady has for all of her children. What better way to translate that love into concrete action in the world than for Congress to pass a CTC that supports the most vulnerable?

Call to Action:

Send a message to your Members of Congress. Tell them to pass a fully refundable, monthly Child Tax Credit so all of us have what we need to take care of ourselves, and our families.