Engaging Faith | Mon, Dec 30, 2013
Lectionary Reflections for Feast of the Epiphany, January 5, 2014
Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern
Jan. 5, 2014
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
Jan. 5-11: National Migration Week http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week/
Jan. 7: Orthodox Christmas Day
Jan. 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Migrant and Refugees 2007
“We belong to one human family. As such we have mutual obligations to promote the rights and development of all people across communities, nations, and the world, irrespective of national boundaries. In particular, the rich nations have responsibility toward the poor nations, and the structures of the international order must reflect justice.”
“Catholic Social Teaching, Our Best Kept Secret,” page 24
“In the course of twenty centuries of history, the generations of Christians have periodically faced various obstacles to this universal Mission. Despite such adversities, the Church constantly renews her deepest inspiration, that which comes to her directly from the Lord: To the whole world! To all creation! Right to the ends of the earth! She did this once more at the last Synod, as an appeal not to imprison the proclamation of the Gospel by limiting it to one sector of mankind or to one class of people or to a single type of civilization.”
Pope Paul VI, “Evangelii Nuntiandi” (On Evangelization in the Modern World)
“Asylum seekers, who fled from persecution, violence and situations that put their life at risk, stand in need of our understanding and welcome, of respect for their human dignity and rights, as well as awareness of their duties.”
Pope Benedict XVI, “Message for World Day of Migrant and Refugees” 2011
“Child of Bethlehem, touch the hearts of all those engaged in human trafficking, that they may realize the gravity of this crime against humanity. Look upon the many children who are kidnapped, wounded and killed in armed conflicts, and all those who are robbed of their childhood and forced to become soldiers.”
Pope Francis, “Urbi et Orbi” message, Dec. 25, 2013
Thoughts for your consideration
In an age of globalization, the celebration of Epiphany takes on more importance than ever. The magi are not Jews, but they seek the Christ as do the Jewish people. Christ is a light for the whole world. Christ calls together the whole world and all its peoples. Christ calls for a healing of divisions and openness to learn from all people.
Christ calls for a just world order – trade policies that respect the economic opportunities of all people, especially the poor; environmental policies that respect the world that we all share together; spending policies that respond to human needs; investment in human needs rather than the weapons of war; a world that lives in an environmentally sustainable way; a greater equality in sharing the fruits of our work and our earth; an end to racism and exclusion.
The Feast of the Epiphany invites us to celebrate the wonderful reality that Jesus came as a light to all people, not just to some subset of the human race. Thus, the categorical exclusion of anyone contradicts the good news of Jesus Christ. Racism, stereotyping, discrimination, xenophobia, ethnic violence, and extreme inequalities of income and assets are all wrong.
The behavior of Herod reflects the behavior of one who is afraid. The news about a new child to be king threatens his kingship. He is not only afraid of change, but afraid of real community. Rather than learning from the wisdom of the foreign visitors, he is afraid, and seeks to destroy what they came to discover.
The behavior of the foreign visitors or magi is the behavior of those who seek the truth at great cost. The child offers a vision that is worth traveling a long distance to experience. Jesus offers a light that is worth sharing. In the wisdom of a child born in humble circumstances, they find a wonderful light, a powerful good news, and a liberation from sin, injustice, and prejudice.
The foreigners experience the power and the gift of Christ. They also bring gifts with them. Gifts that are given to the child but also gifts that open our eyes to the experience of the light of Christ as a gift for the whole world. This mutuality is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Giving and receiving happen at the same time. This must be true in our ministry for justice.
No one is to be excluded from the light of Christ. Whether we are young or old, female or male, gay or straight, rich or poor, black or white, from the south or the north, from the east or the west, from a famous school or a very ordinary one, employed or unemployed, healthy or sick, born in the United States or elsewhere, we are all invited to experience the epiphany.
In the United States over the last few years immigration policies have become a matter of great discussion. Despite much work, immigration reform is stalled in Congress. Sunday, Jan. 5, is the start of National Migration Week. The Feast of Epiphany invites us to reflect on these issues and translate our faith into an inclusive welcome to all God’s children.
Pope Francis writes: “Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity.They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more. The sheer number of people migrating from one continent to another, or shifting places within their own countries and geographical areas, is striking. Contemporary movements of migration represent the largest movement of individuals, if not of peoples, in history. As the Church accompanies migrants and refugees on their journey, she seeks to understand the causes of migration, but she also works to overcome its negative effects, and to maximize its positive influence on the communities of origin, transit and destination.” (Message for World Day of Migrant and Refugees, 2013)
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
When have you lived outside of our own country or culture?
How did this influence your understanding of Jesus Christ and the Gospel?
The good news of Christ is to be good news for the whole world.
Have you ever felt excluded from the good news of Christ?
How did this experience of exclusion come to be healed?
When have you encountered immigrants or refugees? How were touched by their stories?
A Sufi of forbidding appearance arrived at the doors of the palace. No one dared to stop him as he made his way right up to the throne on which the saintly Ibrahim ben Adam sat.
"What is it you want?" asked the King.
"A place to sleep in this inn."
"This is no inn. This is my palace."
"May I ask who owned this place before you?"
"My father. He is dead."
"And who owned it before him?"
"My grandfather. He is dead too."
"And this place where people lodge for a brief while and move on—did I hear you say it was not an inn?"
Actions - Links
National Migration Week: "Out of the Darkness."
Resources for liturgy and other info about National Migration Week (Jan. 5-11) can be found at the site of the USCCB Office for Migration and Refugee Services: http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week/
Pope Francis’ message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees can be found at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/messages/migration/documents/papa-francesco_20130805_world-migrants-day_en.html
Visit the Justice for Immigrants website, where you can find a wide range of educational resources on immigration and Catholic Social Teaching. http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/index.shtml
Strangers No Longer Together on the Journey of Hope, a Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States, can be found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigration/strangers-no-longer-together-on-the-journey-of-hope.cfm
January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
Various information and educational resources can be found at the web pages of the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center. http://www.ipjc.org/links/trafficking.htm
Also check out the web site of the Not for Sale Campaign at: http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/
“There are more than 30 million slaves in the world today. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “After drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world.” http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/about/slavery/
Since 1986, the federal government has spent an estimated $186.8 billion on immigration enforcement. Over the past 25 years, the number of undocumented immigrants has tripled to more than 11 million. http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/cost-doing-nothing
Immigration facts for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., are available at: http://www.fairus.org/facts .
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God of all people, lead us on the road to peace.
For our church that we will be a welcoming community, we pray…
For our nation that we will be a welcoming country, we pray…
For migrants who have left their lands to find new homes and work, we pray…
For the many refugees struggling around our world, we pray…
For all peoples that they may learn a way to welcome and respect new people into their lands, we pray…
For effective dialogue to replace the fighting and barriers between peoples, we pray…
For an end to the persistent sighting between ethnic groups all over our world, we pray…
For those who are victims of human trafficking or modern day slavery, we pray…
For cooperation between all people to bring an end to the abuse of our environment, we pray…
National Migration Week: A Collected Book of Prayers for Migrants can be found at:
http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week/upload/Booklet-of-Prayers-2.pdf . Here is one prayer from this resource:
Good and gracious God, we thank you for the gift of families.
We are grateful for all of the joy and love that they bring into our lives, and we ask that you provide special protection for all families, particularly those who face hardships as they move in search of a better life.
Show mercy to those who travel in danger, and lead them to a place of safety and peace.
Comfort those who are alone and afraid because their families have been torn apart by violence and injustice.
As we reflect upon the difficult journey that the Holy Family faced as refugees in Egypt, help us to remember the suffering of all migrant families.
Through the intercession of Mary our Mother, and St. Joseph the Worker, her spouse, we pray that all migrants may be reunited with their loved ones and find the meaningful work they seek.
Open our hearts so that we may provide hospitality for all who come in search of refuge.
Give us the courage to welcome every stranger as Christ in our midst.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
The following is attributed to Pax Christi:
An Inter-faith prayer for peace
God, you are the source of life and peace.
Praised be your name for ever.
We know it is you who turn our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our prayer in this time of crisis.
Your power changes hearts.
Muslims, Christians and Jews remember, and profoundly affirm,
that they are followers of the one God, children of Abraham, brothers and sisters.
Enemies begin to speak to one another;
those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
nations seek the way of peace together.
Strengthen our resolve to give witness to these truths by the way we live.
Give to us:
understanding that puts an end to strife;
mercy that quenches hatred, and
forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower all people to live in your law of love. Amen.
A Prayer for Migrants
Merciful and loving Father,
you provided for your people Israel in their exodus from slavery
a promised land that you established for them,
and in Jesus Christ you provide welcome refuge for all in need.
We ask for your divine protection for all migrants
who have left their homes in search of new opportunity in another land.
For refugees, who are forced from their homes due to threats of violence,
we beseech you to provide them a safe haven.
For migrants trafficked into slavery,
grant them rescue, healing, and the strength to start again.
For immigrants, who so often leave their family and friends behind,
grant them a better life and greater opportunity elsewhere.
We pray in particular for your protection over migrant children
who are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse at the hands of others.
We implore you to grant all migrants your protection
and lead them to a place of safety.
Be with all those in need with your power to save.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.