22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

Engaging Faith | Wed, Aug 24, 2011

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Weekly Lectionary Reflections

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]
August 28, 2011
     Jeremiah 20:7-9
     Romans 12:1-2
     Matthew 16:21-27
August 1 to 29: approximate dates for the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan
August 26: Women’s Equality Day in the United States
August 28: Martin Luther King Jr. gave the 'I Have a Dream' speech in 1963.
September 5: Labor Day in the United States and Labour Day in Canada
There is a growing awareness of the sublime dignity of human persons, who stand above all things and whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. They ought, therefore, to have ready access to all that is necessary for living a genuinely human life: for example, food, clothing, housing,... the right to education, and work...
Vatican II, The Church in the Modern World, #26
Every citizen also has the responsibility to work to secure justice and human rights through an organized social response.
US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #120
It is no less mistaken to think that we may immerse ourselves in earthly activities as if these latter were utterly foreign to religion, and religion were nothing more than the fulfillment of acts of worship and the observance of a few moral obligations. One of the gravest errors of our time is the dichotomy between the faith which many profess and their day-to-day conduct. As far back as the Old Testament the prophets vehemently denounced this scandal, and in the New Testament Christ himself even more forcibly threatened it with severe punishment. Let there, then, be no such pernicious opposition between professional and social activity on the one hand and religious life on the other. Christians who shirk their temporal duties shirk their duties towards their neighbor, neglect God, and endanger their eternal salvation.
Vatican II, The Church in the Modern World, #43
The "spirit of the world" offers many false illusions and parodies of happiness. There is perhaps no darkness deeper than the darkness that enters young people's souls when false prophets extinguish in them the light of faith and hope and love. The greatest deception, and the deepest source of unhappiness, is the illusion of finding life by excluding God, of finding freedom by excluding moral truths and personal responsibility.
John Paul II, Toronto, Canada, WYD 2002

Thoughts for your consideration
The prophet Jeremiah tries to be faithful to God’s message and then discovers that everyone mocks him.  However, despite the difficulty, divine strength comes to Jeremiah and he continues to speak God’s word even at great personal cost. 
Jesus anticipates the opposition that he will face in Jerusalem from various authorities.  The disciples discourage him from going forward.  However, Jesus dismisses their opposition.  Jesus is not afraid of speaking truth to power.  Jesus goes forth on his mission.
Doesn’t the word of God and the social teaching of the church call us today to the same thing?  Are we not called to open our eyes to the concerns of those who are in need in our world and those who have no voice? Are we not called to speak up for what is just and right in our world?  Are we not called to be faithful to what we believe even when we foresee opposition?
In Catholic Social Teaching we hear a call to speak up for the rights of workers, for justice for the poor and the powerless, for care for refugees and immigrants, for a revolution in the values of our consumer society, for leaders whose first concern is the common good, for an end to war and violence, and for the dignity of all human persons.
The power of our culture and the power of our institutions may oppose the message that we try to share.  We may become afraid or confused.  We may experience opposition and persecution. However, Jesus was not afraid of speaking truth to power.  Jesus says: “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
When have you been called to speak up for justice in the face of opposition? 
What happened?  Where did you get the strength to speak up?
From Anthony de Mello, The Heart of the Enlightened:
Two gunfighters were about to engage in a duel. A space was cleared for them in the saloon. One was an unimposing little man, known far and wide as a professional fighter. The other was a huge, hefty fellow. The big guy took one look at his opponent, then said: “Wait a minute! This isn’t a fair fight! He’s shooting at a larger target!”
Think about the story before you go to this web site for a perspective and connection to this week’s scriptures.
Actions - Links
Join the Children’s Defense Fund to speak up for children:
“Congress must reject The State Flexibility Act (H.R. 1683/S. 868) which would repeal the federal Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) protections, called the maintenance of effort (MOE) provisions, which would allow states to roll back eligibility and erect new barriers to prevent eligible children from enrolling. Together, Medicaid and CHIP provide critical health services to 38 million children each year, including more than half of all low-income children in the United States.”
Join Justice for Immigrants in speaking up for immigrants to the United States:
“Enforcement-only immigration policies are not working.  In the past decade, Congress has spent $117 billion of taxpayer dollars on immigration enforcement initiatives, yet the number of unauthorized immigrants in the country has grown to 11.2 million and the demand for foreign-born, low-skilled labor has continued on pace with the ebbs and flows of the U.S. economy.  Approximately 8 million – or 70 percent – of the unauthorized population are in the U.S. labor force and each year another 300,000 to 400,000 enter the country.  It is clear that another approach is necessary.”
“Crazy Facts”
The kids count data center is a project of the Anne E. Casey Foundation.  You can access their data at  Three examples for us to speak up about:
·         Today, one in five U.S. kids are living in poverty
·         More than one in three black kids—a full 36 percent of black youth—live in poverty
·         31 percent of Latino kids lives in poverty.
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Lord, help us to call out for justice.
For all our children in the United States who live in poverty, we pray…
For all the children in our world who live in extreme poverty, we pray….
For the people of Somalia who are dying in the drought and famine, we pray….
For the refugees and immigrants, especially those who live in fear of deportation, we pray….
For those without access to quality medical care for themselves and their families, we pray….
For those who are trapped in places of war and constant terrorism, we pray….
For all the wealthy of our world who are unable to see the needs of others, we pray…
For our earth with all is plants, animals, oceans and streams that is straining and dying because of our misuse and over use, we pray…..
Come Holy Spirit. Come! Fill the hearts of your people.
Come Holy Spirit that we may be aware:
·   -aware of the people around us, especially the poor and oppressed
·   -aware of the children, the young people, all the people striving to grow into their dignity as children of God
·   -aware of the world around us, especially the environment with its plants and animals, with its land and water, with its air and space, with all its mystery
·   -aware of the structures of power, especially those that keep people poor or powerless or confused or unfree
·   -aware of the violence and the threats of violence, which are not the way of Jesus
·   -aware of our selves and our bias and stereotypes and all our unfreedom
·   -aware of all the possibilities for freedom and joy and life.
Come Holy Spirit. Come! Fill the hearts of your people.
Give us the freedom to see.
Give us the wisdom and courage to speak.

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