29th Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

Engaging Faith | Mon, Oct 10, 2011

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

Reflections to help you prepare for this Sunday's liturgy.

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]
October 16, 2011

Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b
Matthew 22:15-21

October 19: World Mission Sunday
October 24: United Nations Day


Sacred Scripture continually speaks to us of an active commitment to our neighbor and demands of us a shared responsibility for all of humanity. This duty is not limited to one's own family, nation or state, but extends progressively to all . . .  so no one can consider himself or herself extraneous or indifferent to the lot of another member of the human family.
John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 51

In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue; participation in the political process is a moral obligation.   ….    all Catholics are called to a common commitment to protect human life and stand with those who are poor and vulnerable. 
Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility

Church has the right, indeed the duty, to proclaim justice on the social, national and international level, and to denounce instances of injustice, when the fundamental rights of people and their very salvation demand it.
Justice in the World, 36

Founded to build the kingdom of heaven on earth rather than to acquire temporal power, the Church openly avows that the two powers—Church and State—are distinct from one another; that each is supreme in its own sphere of competency. But since the Church does dwell among people, she has the duty "of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel." Sharing the noblest aspirations of people and suffering when she sees these aspirations not satisfied, she wishes to help them attain their full realization. So she offers her distinctive contribution: a global perspective on people and human realities.
Paul VI, Populorum Progresso

Everyone – from individuals to the organizations of civil society, States and international institutions – needs to give priority to one of the most urgent goals for the human family: freedom from hunger. In order to achieve freedom from hunger it is necessary to ensure not only that enough food is available, but also that everyone has daily access to it: this means promoting whatever resources and infrastructures are necessary in order to sustain production and distribution on a scale sufficient to guarantee fully the right to food.
Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Food Day, 2010

Thoughts for your consideration

The scriptures today remind us that God and the spirit of God ultimately transcend all other things.  From the perspective of faith, Isaiah is not afraid of saying that even the great Persian king Cyrus is really an instrument of God.  Jesus affirms that Caesar is not absolute.  Some things belong to the state and some things belong to God.  No government is absolute.

The Pharisees and Herodians try to engage Jesus in some sort of political game - much like the political games that are played out today in political discourse and in the media.  Jesus refuses to play.  He keeps his perspective much broader.

In a certain sense, no follower of Christ can pledge allegiance to the state in any absolute way.  The state has its essential role – but it is not absolute. Our ultimate allegiance is to God and not to a flag or a group or a government. At the same time, civil society and government have their important roles to play and Christians are to be involved and creative. 

As our economy deals suffers from the ongoing “great recession”,” we recall our commitment to place people before the market.  As we deal with the complex financial problems in the wealthy nations of the world, we continue our commitment to seek policies that support the common good of all.  As we deal with the problems of our financial markets, we don’t want to forget the people of the less developed world who have been living in poverty and oppressed by debt. As war continues in Iraq and Afghanistan, we bring our Christian critique of war as we invite our society to live in the nonviolent spirit of Jesus. As we continue to observe human rights violations in various places in the world, we speak up in opposition. As we become more and more aware of the power of global organizations and corporations, we speak up for those who are left out and have no power. As we see so much power in global corporations, we hear again the call of Jesus not to forget the things of God – a God who calls for liberation and justice for all. In some way many of the themes coming from the “occupation of wall street” connect with the social teaching of the church.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you experienced government as supportive of your Christian values? 
When have you experienced government as in conflict with your values? 
When have you spoken out to challenge the values and practices of government or society?


What themes and demands from the “occupation of wall street” connect with Catholic Social Teaching?   What does our Social Teaching have to add to these protests?
Actions - Links

World Food Day
World Food Day, October 16th, is a worldwide event designed to increase awareness, understanding and informed, year-around action to alleviate hunger.  Sign the petition at  Recent Papal messages for World Food Day can be found at

The Stand up and Take Action against Global Poverty Days are October 15th -17th.  This is an effort to demand that world leaders keep their promises to end poverty and inequality.       Recall the Millennium Development Goals which are listed here:

Jubilee USA
 October 8-16 is Illegitimate Debt Week! “Jubilee groups from all around the world are coming together for a week of action against illegitimate debt and reforming international financial institutions. We are demanding global debt justice by breaking the chains of debt slavery! “
October 16 is Jubilee Sunday - a Day of Prayer and Action.  “Join Jubilee Congregations around the U.S. in standing up for the hungry, poor, oppressed and vulnerable!” Get info at

“Crazy Facts”

United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that in 2010, 925 million people suffered from hunger.   In 2005, the latest year for which data is available, 1.4 billion people in developing countries lived in extreme poverty, or on less than $1.25 a day, down from 1.9 billion in 1981.

 About 75% of the world’s poor people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. In 2008, nearly 9 million children died before they reached their fifth birthday. One third of these deaths are due directly or indirectly to hunger and malnutrition.   Around the world, 178 million children under 5 are stunted, low height for age. Of all stunted children, 90 percent live in just 36 countries, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South and Central Asia.

The above is from Bread for the World at

Prayers of Intercession
Response:  Lord, guide us on the road to justice and peace.
For the billions of people in our world who are poor, we pray…..
For the many less-developed nations of the world who are burdened by debt, we pray….
For all the people who are homeless or in danger of losing their homes, we pray…..
For the millions of people who are refugees without even a nation to call home, we pray….
For the countless people who are excluded because of their ethnic or racial heritage, we pray….
For our political leaders called to lead us through all the difficulties, we pray….
For wisdom and integrity as the United States moves toward the upcoming election, we pray….


God, we pray that your spirit may rule over all things.

May your spirit rule over kings and presidents
    Over prime ministers and generals
        Over CEOs and party bosses
            Over the legislature and over the bureaucrats
                Over all citizens.

May your spirit guide us on the way of peace
    On the way of honest dialogue
        On the way of reconciliation between peoples
            On the way of disarmament and justice
                On the way of freedom and life for all.

May your spirit lead us on the journey of blessings shared with all
    On the journey of educational opportunity for all our children
        On the adventure of research and study that helps all men and women
            On the road to meaningful work for all your people
                On the path of solidarity and love between all our brothers and sisters.

May your spirit help us
    To speak up with courage
        To share what we have and what we are
            To challenge the powers that be
                To offer a message of liberation and life.

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