Engaging Faith | Tue, Apr 7, 2015
Second Sunday of Easter [b]
April 12, 2015
Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern
Second Sunday of Easter [b]
April 12, 2015
1 John 5:1-6
April 11: Pope John XXXII issues Pacem in Terris in 1963
April 11: President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act in 1964
April 12: Divine Mercy Sunday
April 12: Orthodox Easter
April 22: Earth Day http://www.earthday.net
The solidarity which binds all people together as members of a common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist.
John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, 157
All around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit.
Pope Francis, Evanglii Gaudium, 276
An excessive desire for possessions prevents human beings from being open to their Creator and to their brothers and sisters.
John Paul II, Message for Lent, 2003
We may all be tempted by the disbelief of Thomas. Suffering, evil, injustice, death, especially when it strikes the innocent such as children who are victims of war and terrorism, of sickness and hunger, does not all of this put our faith to the test? Paradoxically the disbelief of Thomas is most valuable to us in these cases because it helps to purify all false concepts of God and leads us to discover his true face: the face of a God who, in Christ, has taken upon himself the wounds of injured humanity.
Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi Message, Easter 2007
The fundamental sin is exploitation, whether it be expressed in the domination of male over female, white over black, rich over poor, strong over weak, armed military over unarmed civilians, human beings over nature. These analogously abusive patterns interlock because they reset on the same base: a structure where an elite insists on its superiority and claims the right to exercise dominative power over all others considered subordinate, for its own benefit.
Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is, page 27
Every time we make the Sign of the Cross we should remember not to confront injustice with other injustice or violence with other violence: let us remember that we can only overcome evil with good and never by paying evil back with evil.
Pope Benedict XVI, Palm Sunday 2006
Thoughts for Your Consideration
Today’s scriptures offer at least three connections to Catholic Social Teaching:
- The first reading from Acts reminds us of the commitment by the early Christian community to the communal life. They shared whatever they had and held all their possessions in common. They responded to the needs of all, especially the poor. The life and practice of the very early community in Jerusalem invites us to look at how we possess and share material things. In what sense are we called to share our material goods with each other in a more radical way? In what way does our possession of material goods get in the way of being filled with that power that radiated from the early community? In what way does this first reading challenge those of us in the “developed world” to look at how we share our wealth with the rest of the world? How are we being called to “have everything in common?” We might think of applying this on the “micro level” to our personal lives and to our local communities. However, it might be even more fruitful to apply this on the “macro level” – to the level of nations and international institutions. Such an application might challenge us to look at the complex issues of global development, international trade, agriculture policy, immigration, and educational opportunity in a new, challenging, and creative way.
- The experience of Thomas in John’s gospel invites us to consider issues of faith and issues of inclusion. Thomas seems to be troubled because he has not enjoyed the experience of the rest of the disciples. We might say that he desires to be included. Thomas experiences doubt and uncertainty. We might apply this to our personal struggle to be included and our personal effort to come to faith. However, we might also apply it to the macro level of nations and to all the structures and institutions of the international community. Not only do individuals struggle with questions of inclusion, but whole nations, cultures, and classes of people do as well. In our world we find stereotypes, racism, xenophobia, sexism, and many other forms of discrimination and exclusion. As peoples experience injustice they feel excluded. Our faith might in some way move into doubt as we find ourselves isolated and divided by injustice. We might find that it is hard to believe in a God of resurrection and new life, unless we are committed to a faith that works for justice in our society. Jesus says, “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
- In light of our ongoing experience of war and terrorism, the appearance of Jesus in the gospel certainly reaffirms God’s desire for peace and reconciliation. The risen Jesus again and again says “Peace be with you.” The risen Jesus shares the power to forgive, a power much needed by the early community after some in the community had betrayed and denied Jesus and after they had seen Jesus suffer and die. God wants us to apply this spirit to our own world situation as we try to work for peace and promote a new era of nonviolence and forgiveness.
The first reading talks about the early community sharing what it has.
Here is a parable to think about these issues.
True Wealth: A Buddhist Master’s Parable
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What experiences have helped you to come to believe in God? What experiences have helped you come to believe in such a way that you want to work for justice and peace in the world?
In the Acts of the Apostles we are told that the disciples devoted themselves to the communal life. In what ways to do you find yourself devoted to the communal life?
How do you devote yourself to service, justice, and peace?
Actions - Links
The Easter 2015 Urbi et Orbi Message of Pope Francis can be found at: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/urbi/documents/papa-francesco_20150405_urbi-et-orbi-pasqua.html
As is true every year, the pope’s prayer addresses the difficulties and struggles in many parts of the world.
We ask for peace, above all, for beloved Syria and Iraq, that the roar of arms may cease and that peaceful relations may be restored among the various groups which make up those beloved countries.
We pray for peace for all the peoples of the Holy Land. May the culture of encounter grow between Israelis and Palestinians and the peace process be resumed, in order to end years of suffering and division.
We implore peace for Libya, that the present absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence may cease…For Yemen too we express our hope for the growth of a common desire for peace, for the good of the entire people.
We ask the risen Lord for the gift of peace for Nigeria, South Sudan and for the various areas of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. May constant prayer rise up from all people of goodwill for those who lost their lives – for those killed last Thursday at Garissa University College in Kenya –, for all who have been kidnapped, and for those forced to abandon their homes and their dear ones.
May the Lord’s resurrection bring light to beloved Ukraine, especially to those who have endured the violence of the conflict of recent months.
May the marginalized, the imprisoned, the poor and the migrants who are so often rejected, maltreated and discarded, the sick and the suffering, children, especially those who are victims of violence; all who today are in mourning, and all men and women of goodwill, hear the consoling and healing voice of the Lord Jesus: “Peace to you!” (Luke 24:36).
“Earthjustice uses the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health; to preserve magnificent places and wildlife; to advance clean energy; and to combat climate change.” Speak up online at http://earthjustice.org/action
The Wall Street bonus pool for last year is roughly double the total earnings of all Americans who work full time at the federal minimum wage.
In 1983, for every dollar held by the average black or Hispanic family, the average white family had five. Rather than shrinking, that gap has increased from the 1980s through today; white families now have nearly six times as much as black families.
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Risen Jesus, lead us to new life.
For a deeper faith that will be lived in the works of justice and peace, we pray…
For a powerful faith that will lead our world to an effective respect for life, we pray…
For a richer faith that will allow us to focus on people and their basic needs, we pray…
For a more merciful and forgiving faith that will heal or divisions, we pray…
For an end to the death and suffering that unfolds in our wars and fighting, we pray…
For a new spirit of care and respect for every human person, we pray…
For a new spirit of joyful acceptance of our diversity, we pray…
For a spirit of respect for our earth and its rich and beautiful resources, we pray…
For a renewed human community, healed of all divisions, we pray…
Prayer - Meditation
Teach me how to be compassionate to the suffering, to the poor, the blind, the lame, and the lepers. Show me, My Jesus, how you revealed your deepest emotions, as when you shed tears, or when you felt sorrow and anguish to the point of sweating blood and needed an angel to console you.
Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.
God of Compassion,
You let your rain fall on the just and the unjust.
Expand and deepen our hearts
so that we may love as You love,
even those among us
who have caused the greatest pain by taking life.
For there is in our land a great cry for vengeance
as we fill up death rows and kill the killers
in the name of justice, in the name of peace.
Jesus, our brother,
you suffered execution at the hands of the state
but you did no let hatred overcome you.
Help us to reach out to victims of violence
so that our enduring love may help them heal.
Holy Spirit of God,
You strengthen us in the struggle for justice.
Help us to work tirelessly
for the abolition of state-sanctioned death
and to renew our society in its very heart
so that violence will be no more.
Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ