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Lectionary Reflections: Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time [c] August 4, 2013

Engaging Faith | Tue, Jul 30, 2013

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary reflections for 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time [c]
August 4, 2013
 
Readings
Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11
Luke 12:13-21
 
Calendar
August 6: Feast of the Transfiguration
August 6: Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima 
August 9: Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Nagasaki
 
Quotes
“And it is important to be able to make people welcome; this is something even more beautiful than any kind of ornament or decoration.”
Pope Francis, July 25, 2013
 
“In the case of needy peoples it must be asked whether belonging to the Church places people on a rich island within an ambient of poverty. In societies enjoying a higher level of consumer spending, it must be asked whether our life style exemplifies that sparingness with regard to consumption which we preach to others as necessary in order that so many millions of hungry people throughout the world may be fed.”
Justice in the World (48), Synod of Bishops, 1971
 
“Do not let a desire for wealth cause you to become so consumed by your work that you prevent happiness for yourself and your family.”  
Thich Nhat Hanh 
 
“Respect for nature by everyone, a policy of openness to immigrants, the cancellation or significant reduction of the debt of poorer nations, the promotion of peace through dialogue and negotiation, the primacy of the rule of law: these are the priorities which the leaders of the developed nations cannot disregard. A global world is essentially a world of solidarity!”
Pope John Paul II, July 23, 2001
 
Unless combated and overcome by social and political action, the influence of the new industrial and technological order favors the concentration of wealth, power and decision-making in the hands of a small public or private controlling group. Economic injustice and lack of social participation keep people from attaining their basic human and civil rights. 
Justice in the World (9), Synod of Bishops, 1971
 
“I would like to make an appeal to those in possession of greater resources, to public authorities and to all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity! No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world! ... The culture of selfishness and individualism that often prevails in our society is not, I repeat, not what builds up and leads to a more habitable world: rather, it is the culture of solidarity that does so; the culture of solidarity means seeing others not as rivals or statistics, but brothers and sisters. And we are all brothers and sisters!”
Pope Francis, July 25, 2013
 
Thoughts for your consideration
There is a temptation in the culture of the United States to become addicted to work and accomplishments, to worry about money, to find one’s value in possessions and to judge life by one’s material wealth and status. The scriptures strongly challenge this way of thinking and living. 
 
Jesus says "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions."  Paul writes: “Put to death the greed that is idolatry.” The teacher in Ecclesiastes points out that all the fruit of human toil can sometimes just be vanity.
 
Even in light of the serious recession that continues to oppress so many ordinary people, the wealth of the United States is striking when compared to the economic situation of many other nations. In light of this economic inequality, the desire of the U.S. government to defend its economic interests can appear to other nations as greedy and selfish. At the same time, many Americans are very generous with their possessions, time and talent. Not all people in the affluent American society are worried about possessions and wealth.
 
God’s word today invites us to be aware of our own behavior as individuals and as a society. Out of this awareness – out of and examination of consciousness – will come the wisdom to live lives that are more in tune with the gospel values of Jesus. Then will come a genuine ability to celebrate the gifts we have been given. Then will come a freedom to share and enjoy those gifts and not to be a slave to them.
 
We are not all greedy, yet sometimes we are tempted by a culture of greed.  
The good news of Jesus Christ invites us to be free.
 
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
When have you been most worried or concerned about material goods and possessions? 
How did you deal with your worry or concern?  
What helped you keep your values in balance?
 
Stories
The Dog and His Bone
 
The Goose with the Golden Eggs
 
Various folktales about greed
 
Actions – Links
This month we mark the anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 
 
“The arms race is a threat to our highest good, which is life; it makes poor peoples and individuals yet more miserable, while making richer those already powerful; it creates a continuous danger of conflagration, and in the case of nuclear arms, it threatens to destroy all life from the face of the earth. “
Justice in the World (9), Synod of Bishops. 1971
 
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation initiates and supports worldwide efforts to abolish nuclear weapons, to strengthen international law and institutions, and to inspire and empower a new generation of peace leaders. Review its resources at http://www.wagingpeace.org .and sign its petition asking President Obama to engage in upcoming discussions on nuclear disarmament.      
 
A Catholic Update featuring a condensed version of “The Challenge of Peace,” the U.S. Bishops’ pastoral letter on peace, can be found at http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0883.asp 
 
Urge your congressional representatives to support the Fair Minimum Wage Act
 
 
“Crazy Facts”
Today there are still more than 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world. 
Nine countries now possess these weapons.
 
In 2012, 19 percent of the federal budget ($689 billion), paid for defense and security-related international activities. About 12 percent ($411 billion) supported programs that provide aid (other than health insurance or Social Security benefits) to individuals and families facing hardship.
Such programs keep millions of people out of poverty each year. A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis shows that government safety net programs kept 25 million people out of poverty in 2010. Without any government income assistance, either from safety net programs or other income supports such as Social Security, the poverty rate would have been 28.6 percent in 2010, nearly double the actual 15.5 percent. http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=1258
 
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God, help us to focus on what is really important.
For those who are always excessively worried about possessions and money, we pray….
For those who do not have enough to eat or decent housing, we pray…..
For those who have a surplus of things and resources, we pray….
For those nations and political groups who rely on violence and war and weapons, we pray….
For those who are under stress because of work and other responsibilities, we pray….
For those who tend to focus on status and appearances, we pray….
For those who are discouraged by what they have or don’t have, we pray….
 
Prayer
The following prayer about the beatitudes is from http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/litany15.htm
 
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Keep us from being preoccupied with money and worldly goods, and with trying to increase them at the expense of justice. 
 
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth." Help us not to be ruthless with one another, and to eliminate the discord and violence that exists in the world around us. 
 
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Let us not be impatient under our own burdens and unconcerned about the burdens of others. 
 
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be filled." Make us thirst for you, the fountain of all holiness, and actively spread your influence in our private lives and in society. 
 
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." Grant that we may be quick to forgive and slow to condemn. 
 
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." Free us from our senses and our evil desires, and fix our eyes on you. 
 
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." Aid us to make peace in our families, in our country, and in the world. 
 
Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice, for the kingdom of heaven in theirs." Make us willing to suffer for the sake of right rather than to practice injustice; and do not let us discriminate against our neighbors and oppress and persecute them.
 
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