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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

Engaging Faith | Mon, Nov 7, 2011

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

Resources and Reflections for the Sunday liturgy

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]
 November 13, 2011

Readings
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6
Matthew 25:14-30 or 25:14-15, 19-21

Calendar
November 15: America Recycles Day http://americarecyclesday.org/
November 16: International Day for Tolerance
November 16: Anniversary of the deaths of the 6 Jesuits and 2 women at the University of Central America in 1989

Quotes

Parishioners are called to use their talents, the resources of our faith, and the opportunities of this democracy to shape a society more respectful of the life, dignity, and rights of the human person
US Bishops, Communities of Salt and Light

Holiness is not limited to the sanctuary or to moments of private prayer; it is a call to direct our whole heart and life toward God and according to God's plan for this world. For the laity holiness is achieved in the midst of the world, in family, in community, in friendships, in work, in leisure, in citizenship. Through their competency and by their activity, lay men and women have the vocation to bring the light of the Gospel to economic affairs, "so that the world may be filled with the Spirit of Christ and may more effectively attain its destiny in justice, in love, and in peace.
US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #332

“Hence, as Leo XIII so wisely taught in Rerum Novarum: "whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings, whether they be external and corporeal, or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God's Providence, for the benefit of others’ He that hath a talent,' says St. Gregory the Great, 'let him see that he hide it not; he that hath abundance, let him quicken himself to mercy and generosity; he that hath art and skill, let him do his best to share the use and the utility thereof with his neighbor."
John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, 119

The economic and financial crisis which the world is going through calls everyone, individuals and peoples, to examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence.
 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Global Economy, Oct. 24, 2011

Thoughts for your consideration

The scriptures today challenge us and our world to get our values in order, to focus on those things that are really important, and to take risks trusting in the generous power which God has been given to us.

The first reading from Proverbs offers the image of a wife who is judged to have her values in order. She cares for her family.  She cares for others.  She cares for the poor. It is possible to misuse this first reading from Proverbs and use it to envision a world where the role of women is limited to “domestic work in the home.”  This is not the proper way to use this scripture when we apply it to our situations and world today. This scripture is reminding us that the value of a human person is found not in superficial standards of beauty or charm or fashion or glamour, but in the quality of our life, the loving character of our relationships, and the concern we show to others.  “She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.” 

The gospel story reminds us of the possibilities that can unfold as God’s gifts are used well.  God has given us things which we must use well.  We must not be paralyzed by fear, but we must trust that as we make our efforts great things can happen. In the parable those who invest what they have been given all have success.  The one who is paralyzed by fear is the one who fails.

We live in a world that has abundant resources.  Experts tell us that today we produce enough food for everyone to eat well.  A just distribution is the challenge. God invites us to a responsible sharing of the abundance and a renewal of structures that will give everyone a just opportunity to share in the riches of the world.  Abundance and fruitfulness are possible.  Good things are possible.  Hunger and injustice can come to an end.   We need to use well what we have been given by God.

We live in a world that has abundant resources.  However, recent studies have reminded us of how unequal our wealth is distributed.  The top 1% control an inordinate percentage of our wealth and receive an inordinate proportion of income.  The people on the bottom seem to be getting less and less and even the people in the middle are not doing so well.  God invites us to a responsible sharing of our welcome and a commitment to the common good. It is a matter of justice. We need to use well what we have been given by God.

We live in a world that has abundant resources.  We can deplete those resources, pollute the environment, and keep producing green house gases that change the climate. God invites us to something different.  God invites us to use our gifts in a responsible way and for the common good so that all groups of people can enjoy the rewards of responsible development. Abundance and fruitfulness are possible.  Good things are possible.  We can live well using sustainable practices.  Everyone and all nations can share in development. Injustice can come to an end.   We need to use well what we have been given by God.

Choked by wealth and anxiety, we can close ourselves to the reality of the poor and marginalized of our world.  Choked by worry about our own needs, we can continue to misuse our gifts and earth’s resources. Choked by the structures and institutions of our world, we can feel paralyzed.  The scripture today reminds us that something more is possible.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
When have you been paralyzed by fear and failed to get things done or to address serious needs?  When have you taken risks and accomplished some surprising thing?

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What do the scriptures say to you about our care of the environment or our distribution of wealth and income?
Story

Aesop’s Fables:  The Lion's Share
The Lion went once a-hunting along with the Fox, the Jackal, and the Wolf. They hunted and they hunted till at last they surprised a Stag, and soon took its life. Then came the question how the spoil should be divided. "Quarter me this Stag," roared the Lion; so the other animals skinned it and cut it into four parts. Then the Lion took his stand in front of the carcass and pronounced judgment: The first quarter is for me in my capacity as King of Beasts; the second is mine as arbiter; another share comes to me for my part in the chase; and as for the fourth quarter, well, as for that, I should like to see which of you will dare to lay a paw upon it."
"Humph," grumbled the Fox as he walked away with his tail between his legs; but he spoke in a low growl."You may share the labors of the great, but you will not share the spoil."
http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_aesop_lionsshare.htm


Actions - Links

November 16 is the International Day for Tolerance. For some info about teaching tolerance, go to Teaching Tolerance, a Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center at http://www.tolerance.org/teach/

On November 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests, their co-worker and her teenage daughter were massacred in El Salvador. A U.S. Congressional Task Force reported that those responsible were trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  For info about the efforts to remember those killed and to bring an end of the SOA, go to
http://www.soaw.org . For other resources about remembering the martyrs go to: http://ignatiansolidarity.net/remembering-the-jesuit-martyrs-prayer-reso...

Vatican document calls for global authority to regulate markets
http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1104173.htm 
Read the document at:
http://www.zenit.org/article-33718?l=english
But the inequalities within and between various countries have also grown significantly. While some of the more industrialized and developed countries and economic zones – the ones that are most industrialized and developed – have seen their income grow considerably, other countries have in fact been excluded from the overall improvement of the economy and their situation has even worsened.

“Crazy Facts”

In countries and areas where the most elementary goods like health, food and shelter are still lacking, more than a billion people are forced to survive on an average income of less than a dollar a day.
 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Global Economy, Oct. 24, 2011

It is worth recalling that between 1900 and 2000 the world population increased almost fourfold and the wealth produced worldwide grew much more rapidly, resulting in a significant rise of average per capita income. At the same time, however, the distribution of wealth did not become fairer but in many cases worsened.
 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the Global Economy, Oct. 24, 2011
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God, guide us on the road to justice and peace.
For all workers, for those working in the home and those who work outside the home, we pray…..
For all those who cannot find jobs and those who have lost their jobs, we pray….
For all those who are hungry or homeless, we pray….
For the poor and the rich and those in the middle, that we may learn to share justly in the abundance of our world, we pray….
For an end to all war and for a just peace in all the places of our world, we pray….
For our planet earth that we may work together to heal the harm we have done, we pray….
For the development of our planet, that we may develop our gifts in a sustainable way, we pray….
For our political leaders, especially those recently elected, that they may guide us in what is right and good for all, we pray….

Prayer - Meditation

A PEACE PSALM based on chapter thirty-one of the Tao Te Ching
from Edward Hays (Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim)
 
O Prince of Peace,
whose active presence we seek in our lives,
come this day and show us
how to beat our swords into plowshares,
tools of life instead of instruments of fear.
 
May your love strip us naked
of all weapons and strategies of conquest,
which are not the tools of lovers,
wise ones and God's children.
Let us not lust for power
but rather strive for the insight
to be guided on the Way of Peace.
 
Let us not yearn for a victory
that requires a sister's sorrow
or a brother's shamefaced defeat.
With tears, black suits and dresses
and tolling funeral bells,
let us attend life's victory parties
that are won at such a cost.
 
Let us be peacemakers,
hammering swords into shovels,
filling holes and leveling peaks.
for only through such open hands and hearts
can The Peacemaker come.
AMEN.

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