Engaging Faith | Wed, Jul 1, 2015
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [b]
July 5, 2015
Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
July 1: Canada Day in Canada
July 4: Independence Day in the United States
July 4: International Day of Cooperatives
July 11: 20th Anniversary of Srebrenica Slaughter in Bosnia
July 11: World Population Day
When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.
- Dom Helder Camara, former Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil
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.
- 1971 Synod, Justice in the World, 9
In the face of the present-day situation of the world, marked as it is by the grave sin of injustice, we recognize both our responsibility and our inability to overcome it by our own strength. Such a situation urges us to listen with a humble and open heart to the word of God, as God shows us new paths towards action in the cause of justice in the world.
- 1971 Synod, Justice in the World, 29
Our nation is enriched and our tradition of pluralism is enhanced, not threatened, when religious groups contribute their values to public debates. … The Catholic community enters public life not to impose sectarian doctrine but to act on our moral convictions, to share our experience in serving the poor and vulnerable, and to participate in the dialogue over our nation's future.
- US Bishops, A Call to Faithful Citizenship
There are powerful negative forces in the world, but we are also aware of God’s presence permeating this world, inspiring persons of all cultures and religions to promote reconciliation and peace. The world where we work is one of sin and grace.
- 35th General Congregation of the Jesuits, Decree 3, 18
When people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears”
- Pope Francis, Laudato Si, (#204)
Thoughts for your consideration
Today’s scriptures remind us of the resistance which we might encounter when we try to preach and put into practice our faith. In living out the social teaching of the church we may encounter with Ezekiel those who are “hard of face and obstinate of heart.” With Paul we might encounter “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints.” We might come to know what Jesus encountered in his native place: “They took offense at him.”
We might even see resistance to the good in ourselves. In the image used in the recent encyclical Laudato Si, we might look at our common home and our own sinfulness and “… come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.” (#2)
Sometimes resistance arises from the dominate values of our culture or our society – values which may conflict with the values of the gospel. Materialism, consumerism, exaggerated individualism, militarism, moral relativism, economic injustice, racism, and discrimination of all sorts, are often imbedded in the values of the culture around us and contradict the values of Christ.
Not everyone experiences their dignity as a person of God. The wealth of the world is not distributed fairly. Some people get greedy. Fighting and violence erupt. The poor continue to be left out. The environment of our planet continues to be abused.
The social teaching of the church invites us to continue to grow in an awareness of how the values of the world may not be values of our God. From this awareness we learn about ourselves and what we really believe. We can then work to make sure that our values are not destroyed by the values of the culture. We can work to promote those values that are really life giving for ourselves and our whole world. We can then be moved into action for justice and peace. We can work for a positive transformation of our world in the liberating spirit of Jesus the Christ.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
- What injustice are you afraid to speak about to people around you?
- What positions would evoke a strong and emotional opposition from people in your circle of friends?
- What values of our culture cause you to get upset?
- What values of our culture make it hard for you to live out your faith?
The Golden Eagle
A man found an eagle’s egg and placed it under a brooding hen. The eaglet hatched with the chickens and grew to be .like them. He clucked and cackled; scratched the earth for worms; flapped his wings and managed to fly a few feet in the air.
Years passed. One day, the eagle, now grown old, saw a magnificent bird above him in the sky. It glided in graceful majesty against the powerful wind, with scarcely a movement of its golden wings. Spellbound, the eagle asked, “Who’s that?”
“That’s the king of the birds, the eagle,” said his neighbor. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to earth—we’re chickens.”
So the eagle lived and died a chicken for that’s what he thought he was.
From Anthony DeMello’s The Song of the Bird
Actions - Links
On June 18, Pope Francis issued his encyclical, "Laudato Si: On the Care of the Common Home."
- You can read it at: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html
- You can find various resources at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/index.cfm
- You can see a list of tips for helping the environment at: http://cnstopstories.com/2015/06/18/what-to-do-the-popes-practical-tips-for-helping-the-environment/
- You can read about ethics and energy use at: http://catholicecology.net/blog/ethics-energy
- You can take online action at: https://secure.sierraclub.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=16005
In June nine people were killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Once again issues of racial hatred and violence came to our attention in the United States.
- Read the response of the United States Catholic Conference at: http://www.usccb.org/news/2015/15-095.cfm
- Read the USCCB pastoral statement on racism at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/cultural-diversity/african-american/brothers-and-sisters-to-us.cfm
- Explore efforts to work against racism in the United States at:
- People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond: http://www.pisab.org/
- Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training: http://crossroadsantiracism.org/
- Pax Christi Antiracism Initiative: http://paxchristiusa.org/programs/brothers-and-sisters-all/
UNICEF reports “that about 4,500 children die every day from preventable, water-related diseases.” http://pacinst.org/issues/water-and-poverty/
Though Americans make up just 4 percent of the world's population, we produce 25 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning -- by far the largest share of any country. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-global-warming
Since 1870, global sea levels have risen by about 8 inches. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-global-warming
In 2012, 51% of Americans expressed anti-black sentiments in a poll; a 3% increase from 2008. https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-racial-discrimination
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Lord, give us help to put our faith in action.
We remember all those who speak up for justice.
We remember all who continue to speak up to an end to war and preparations for war.
We remember those who educate and work for an economy that respects the environment.
We remember those who speak up about racism and other forms of discrimination.
We remember journalists who take great risks to share the truth.
We remember those who work overseas in solidarity with people in need.
We remember leaders in our church and in our nation.
We remember all people who are persecuted for their putting their faith into action.
We remember all those who are frustrated as they struggle to do what is right.
Prayer – Meditation
Reform Church in America provides a collection of prayers for peace and justice on their web site at: https://www.rca.org/resources/prayers-peace-and-justice?pid=1871
God of our lives, by the power of your Holy Spirit
we have been drawn together by one baptism into one faith,
serving one Lord and Savior.
Do not let us tear away from one another through division or hard argument.
May your peace embrace our differences,
preserving us in unity, as one body of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--from the Worship Book, Westminster, 1970
you have reconciled us in Christ Jesus
and have given us the ministry of reconciliation.
We pray for all those from whom we are estranged.
Bring healing to strained or broken relationships.
Forgive us for the times we have wronged others,
whether by ignorance, neglect, or intention.
Grant us the courage and the grace to seek their forgiveness
and opportunity to make amends.
Where others have wronged us,
grant us a gracious spirit,
that we might forgive
even as we have been forgiven in Jesus Christ. Amen.