Engaging Faith | Wed, Jul 16, 2014
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]
July 27, 2014
Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern
1 Kings 3:5, 7-12
Matthew 13:44-52 or Matthew 13:44-46
July 29: Eid al-Fitr, Islamic festival of the breaking of the fast and end of Ramadan
July 31: Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Jesuits
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
There is more to life than merely increasing its speed.
- Mohandas Gandhi
I ask everyone with political responsibility to remember two things: human dignity and the common good.
- Pope Francis @Pontifex, May 1, 2014
Our examination of conscience now comes to the life style of all: bishops, priests, religious and lay people. 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.
- 1971 Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World, 48
All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love to God more readily…We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.
- St. Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, Contemporary Reading by David Fleming, SJ
…When the believer enters into a profound relationship with God, he cannot be content with a mediocre life under the banner of a minimalistic ethic and a superficial religiosity.
- Pope Benedict XVI, 10 July 2005
Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
- Pope Francis, Evangelli Gaudium, 53
Thoughts for Your Consideration
The merchant gets excited about finding the perfect pearl.
The finder of the lost treasure does everything to buy the field.
Solomon desires an understanding heart to govern God’s people well.
What do you get excited about? What do you worry about? What do you desire?
In our culture some people worry about issues of self-esteem or personal gratification or sexual fulfillment. In our American culture, some people worry about money and security, especially with the problems that continue in our economy for the poor and the middle class.
What do you worry about?
Do you worry about the values of our society that are drifting away from Christian values?
Do you worry about all the violence and war?
Do you worry about the poor or the sick or the elderly or the young?
Do you worry about your own financial security?
What do you get excited about?
Do you get excited about the vision and freedom of Jesus Christ?
Do you get liberated by the challenging teachings of Jesus Christ?
Do you get excited about the social teaching of the church?
Some have referred to Catholic Social Teaching as the Church’s “best kept secret.”
We could call it a “pearl of great price” and a “found treasure.”
What would you ask for if you were Solomon?
Solomon in today’s first reading seems to be free enough not to ask for a long life, or riches, or the life of his enemies. The teachings of Jesus are meant to lead us to liberation from greed, selfishness, and violence. They are to be a source of life and liberation for the whole world, especially the poor. The parables of Jesus invite us to focus on what is really most important and not get distracted by all the other desires and confusions.
Today’s parable might remind us the many examples of income inequality in our society and greed by those in powerful positions. People and corporations get excited about making money or corporate success or status and they do almost anything to get the results which they want. In the process they forget to focus on the common good.
Today’s parable might remind us of government agencies that spy on citizens and about other abusive behaviors in the press and media. Governments ignore individual rights in the name of security. The press gets excited about getting a news story at any price. People get excited about the latest gossip about the private lives of famous people. People get excited about pushing their political agenda at all costs. In the process they may disregard a real search for the truth or a focus on what is really important or about ethic values.
Today’s parable might remind us of the international policies and values that have led our nation and others into war and into the misuse of our earth’s resources. In the process we might forget to focus on the common good and those desires that are really most important.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
- When in your life have you gotten most excited about something?
- Where did this desire lead you?
- How did it affect others?
- When in your life have your selfish desires gotten you into trouble?
- What happened? How did it affect others?
Aesop’s Fable: The Miser and His Gold
Once upon a time there was a Miser who used to hide his gold at the foot of a tree in his garden; but every week he used to go and dig it up and gloat over his gains. A robber, who had noticed this, went and dug up the gold and decamped with it. When the Miser next came to gloat over his treasures, he found nothing but the empty hole. He tore his hair, and raised such an outcry that all the neighbors came around him, and he told them how he used to come and visit his gold. "Did you ever take any of it out?" asked one of them. "Nay," said he, "I only came to look at it." "Then come again and look at the hole," said a neighbor; "it will do you just as much good." Wealth unused might as well not exist.
- "Seventeen percent of white, non-Hispanic Americans live in a high-poverty area, according to the Census Bureau. Fifty percent of all black Americans live in high-poverty areas. That rate is higher than the rate of white Americans who themselves are in poverty, 38 percent. To put this another way, any black American, in poverty or not, is more likely to live in a high-poverty area than a white American who is actually in poverty.”
- “The big story on jobs (hardly mentioned in today’s job report for June) is America is in the midst of a massive shift to part-time work. Part-time jobs accounted for 2/3 of all new jobs in June. Most people don’t want part-time work; they need a full-time job. But corporations are shifting to part-time work because it allows them to:(1) avoid paying overtime, (2) avoid paying health insurance (evidence suggests Obamacare’s employer mandate, although delayed, is adding to the part-time shift), (3) more cheaply respond to ups and downs in customer demand, and (4) keep workers obedient and docile (and punish anyone trying to unionize) because workers need whatever hours they can get. So when you hear that the U.S. economy is creating lots of new jobs (288,000 jobs in June), be skeptical. Most are part-time.”
Robert Reich, 3 July 2014 https://www.facebook.com/RBReich?fref=nf
Actions - Links
The Economically Hardest Places to Live in the USA
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)
“The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) fields the largest team of registered peace lobbyists in Washington, DC. Founded in 1943 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), FCNL's multi-issue advocacy connects historic Quaker testimonies on peace, equality, simplicity, and truth with peace and social justice issues which the United States government is or should be addressing. FCNL is nonpartisan.” http://fcnl.org
- Sign up to receive their weekly e-mails about what to do about peace and justice issues at: http://fcnl.org/splash/s1/c2/p1/
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Lord, give us wise and understanding hearts.
Lord, we live in a world with so many diverse people. We pray….
Lord, we are people with so many varied desires. We pray….
Lord, we are people who can be so filled with worries and fears. We pray…
Lord, we are blessed with a world filled with so many gifts. We pray…
Lord, we live in a world with some who are very rich and some who are very poor. We pray…
Lord, we live in a world distorted by human greed and selfishness. We pray….
Lord, we live in a world with so much misunderstanding and violence. We pray….
Lord, we live in a world with inequality and injustice. We pray….
Prayer – Meditation
Prayer for All of Humanity
I pray for all of humanity to one day feel the pulse of the Mother Earth in their feet as they tread. I pray for mankind to find the faith to believe in the messages carried by their dreams and to see beyond the visible world. I pray that everyone I come in contact with can walk away with much, or at least some, of the happiness that lives within me. I pray for peace, acceptance, and tolerance for all who express their love for the higher power (whatever that name may be). Most of all, I pray for an end to the violence and depravity that darkens many souls. Peace be with us all!