Engaging Faith | Thu, Jul 2, 2015
Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]
July 12, 2015
Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern
Ephesians 1:3-14 or 1:3-10
July 11: 20th Anniversary of Srebrenica Slaughter in Bosnia
July 11 World Population Day
July 14: Bastille Day (France)
July 17: Eid al-Fitr, Muslim Holiday, end of Ramadan (Muslim Holy Month)
July 18: Birthday of Nelson Mandela
The writings of the prophets invite us to find renewed strength in times of trial by contemplating the all-powerful God who created the universe.
- Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 73
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (12:21). Evil is never defeated by evil; once that road is taken, rather than defeating evil, one will instead be defeated by evil. The great Apostle brings out a fundamental truth: peace is the outcome of a long and demanding battle which is only won when evil is defeated by good.
- John Paul II, Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 2005
Catholic social teaching is a central and essential element of our faith. Its roots are in the Hebrew prophets who announced God's special love for the poor and called God's people to a covenant of love and justice. It is a teaching founded on the life and words of Jesus Christ, who came "to bring glad tidings to the poor . . . liberty to captives . . . recovery of sight to the blind"(Lk 4:18-19), and who identified himself with "the least of these," the hungry and the stranger (cf. Mt 25:45). Catholic social teaching is built on a commitment to the poor. This commitment arises from our experiences of Christ in the Eucharist.
- US Bishops, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions
In the Old Testament, the prophets after Amos keep affirming with particular vigor the requirements of justice and solidarity and the need to pronounce a very severe judgment on the rich who oppress the poor. They come to the defense of the widow and the orphan. They threaten the powerful: the accumulation of evils can only lead to terrible punishments. Faithfulness to the Covenant cannot be conceived of without the practice of justice. Justice as regards God and justice as regards mankind are inseparable. God is the defender and the liberator of the poor.
- Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation, 6
A spirituality which forgets God as all-powerful and Creator is not acceptable. That is how we end up worshipping earthly powers, or ourselves usurping the place of God, even to the point of claiming an unlimited right to trample his creation underfoot. The best way to restore men and women to their rightful place, putting an end to their claim to absolute dominion over the earth, is to speak once more of the figure of a Father who creates and who alone owns the world. Otherwise, human beings will always try to impose their own laws and interests on reality.
- Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 75
Thoughts for your consideration
Today’s scriptures focus us on God’s call – to Amos, to Paul, to the Twelve, and to us. The call was not and is not always easy. As always, the call of God has social implications. As always, the call has a special relevance to us in our historical situation.
In the first reading Amos is expelled for being a prophet. It is important that we remember that Amos was a particularly strong prophet in the area of social justice. Amos was not afraid to speak up and talk about those who “sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals. They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way.” (Amos 2:6-7) We must not forget the message that caused Amos to be so unpopular.
Paul praises God for choosing us to be “holy and blameless” and to share the wonder of this message with the world. As with Amos, when we make this beautiful message concrete and unpack its social implications for our world, we might run into trouble. Paul certainly did encounter troubles and challenges in his time. This call to be holy has social implications.
Today Jesus sends the Twelve to drive out the evil spirits that are in the world. As we know from our social teaching, the evil spirits today include all kinds of powers that move us away from what is just and good for all God’s people. We are called [with God’s help] to drive out materialism, racism, militarism, greed, consumerism, and all the other forces in our world that are opposed to the spirit of God. [Jesus tells the Twelve to keep their lives simple, without money and other extra possessions, so as to keep their spirits free and their ministry uncorrupted by possessions.]
Pope Francis put it well in his recent encyclical (#14):
We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”.  All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.
Pope Francis reminds us that in the face of so many challenges God “… calls us to generous commitment and to give him our all.” (#245)
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
- What are the evil spirits that you would like to drive out of our world?
- What are the evil spirits that are causing us difficulty in our social structures and institutions?
- What evil spirits have become more apparent as we reflect on the recent tragedies like the killing of the nine church people in Charleston?
- What are the evils that have become apparent in our “ecological crisis?”
Two shorts stories about materialism:
What do you think?
Actions - Links
Ramadan (Muslim Holy Month) concludes with Eid al-Fitr on July 17
- For various short articles on interreligious dialogue go to: http://groups.creighton.edu/sjdialogue/documents/documents_njn.html
- For various statements from the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue go to: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/index.htm
- You can find their statement for this year at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20150612_ramadan-2015_en.html
- The title is “Christians and Muslims: Together to counter violence perpetrated in the name of religion.”
- For a few thoughts on the interfaith dimensions of "Laudato Si," go to: http://americamagazine.org/content/all-things/bonus-pope-francis-praying-people-other-faiths
NETWORK, the Catholic Social Justice Lobby
- Take action on various issues of justice at: https://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51184//p/dia/action3/common/public/
- The earth has warmed 1.4 degree Fahrenheit since 1800. Check out a series of graphs that illustrate the factors that have caused this: http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-whats-warming-the-world/
- The following is from the National Center for Law and Economic Justice: http://www.nclej.org/poverty-in-the-us.php
- One out of seven people in the USA are living in poverty. The poverty rate (the percentage of all people in the United States who were poor) also remained at high levels: 15% for all Americans and 21.8% for children under age 18.
- Almost one out of sixteen people in the USA are living in deep poverty. People with income 50% below the poverty line are commonly referred to as living in deep poverty; Census figures show that, in 2012, 6.6% of our population, or 20.4 million people, were living in deep poverty.
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God, let us proclaim your justice to the world.
For children who do not have access to a good education, we pray….
For women who are denied equal rights in our societies, we pray….
For all those who do not have enough to eat, we pray….
For all those who continue to suffer from HIV/AIDS, we pray….
For refugees who are struggling to find a safe and peaceful place to live, we pray….
For an end to war between nations and other groups of people, we pray….
For our planet earth that we may use it responsibly and respectably, we pray….
Prayer – Meditation
The following is from the web site of CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development
Scales of justice Based on Amos 8:4-7
Our choice could
tip the balance
in favour of the poor
and lighten the load
of those weighed down
We could level inequality
And distribute warehouse mountains
Share out the wealth
that was never ours to hoard
Turn the tables
On those who play
We could stockpile generosity
And speculate in hope
Sell up our shares in selfishness
And settle for the dividends
For added value
build portfolios of justice
Or an ISA in the growth
of the kingdom of God
Buy shares in trust and act in faith
Risk our securities to find a richer life
May the percentage of our interest
In people rise,
And may we be the prophets
© Sophie Stanes / CAFOD