Engaging Faith | Wed, Oct 23, 2013
Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time [c]
October 27, 2013
Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Oct. 24: United Nations Day
Oct. 26: International Red Cross Organized In Geneva, Switzerland in 1863
Oct. 24-30: Disarmament Week: http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/disarmament/
Oct. 31: Halloween
Nov. 1; Feast of All Saints
Nov. 2: Feast of All Souls
“The God of life summons us to life; more, to be lifegivers, especially toward those who lie under the heel of the powers.”
- Daniel Berrigan SJ
“Sophia pitches her tent in the midst of the world… This is profoundly good news for persons who are poor, denigrated, oppressed, struggling, victimized, and questing for life and the fullness of life, the majority of whom are women their dependent children.”
- Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is, p. 150
“If religion has so neglected the needs of the poor and of the great mass of workers and permitted them to live in the most horrible destitution while comforting them with the solace of a promise of a life after death when all tears shall be wiped away, then that religion is suspect. Who would believe such Job's comforters? On the other hand, if those professing religion shared the life of the poor and worked to better their lot and risked their lives as revolutionaries do, and trade union organizers have done in the past, then there is a ring of truth about the promises of the glory to come. The cross is followed by the resurrection.”
- Dorothy Day
“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.”
- Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, No. 157
“Back in 1986, when the Catholic bishops of the United States published a pastoral on the U.S. economy and how it was working or failing to work in our country, we suggested that every time we make decisions, either as individuals but especially in groups, we must always ask three questions: What does it do to the poor? What does it do for the poor? And how do the poor participate? What if we asked those questions when we began to work for public policies in our country?”
- Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Thoughts for your consideration
The first reading from Sirach reminds us of God’s special concern for the poor and for the oppressed. God cares for all people. God does not want to forget those who are powerless or voiceless. This is, of course, a radical statement to those of us who live in a society that seems to give special consideration to those who have great wealth or fame. Some people even seem to worship celebrities. Some people consider financial success as a measure of worth. Changes to U.S. tax policies over the years seem to reflect a preferential option for the rich.
The gospel today reminds us not to try to exult ourselves or focus too much on our own importance. It seems that Jesus is saying that we instead should forget all that and acknowledge our limits. God seems to be more pleased with the one who does not try to be the first or most important. This is radical “good news.” We can relax and not worry about our score, our rating, our status, or our bank account. We can be ourselves. We can be free to live as Christians, as men and women for others. We can focus on what is really important.
We may be inclined to apply this parable to our own personal lives and that is important. However, we might also want to ask ourselves whether this parable can be applied to nations and institutions as well as individuals. Are we, as institutions, governments and leaders, able to recognize our failures and our limits? Are we will to step back to become aware of our limits and even our sins so as to move forward with God’s wisdom and help? Are we able to reflect on how our practices and policies affect the poor?
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
Have you ever received special consideration or accommodation because you had a special need or were especially poor, weak or vulnerable? How were you helped?
How do you see our government policies affection the poor?
What do you feel is the role of government in a world of such radical income inequality?
In 2010, world military expenditures exceeded $1.5 trillion. http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/disarmament/index.shtml
Five years after the financial crisis sent the fortunes of many in the United States and around the world tumbling, the wealthiest as a group have finally gained back all that they lost. The 400 wealthiest Americans are worth just over $2 trillion, roughly equivalent to the GDP of Russia. That is a gain of $300 billion from a year ago, and more than double a decade ago. The average net worth of list members is a staggering $5 billion, $800 million more than a year ago and also a record. The minimum net worth needed to make the 400 list was $1.3 billion. The last time it was that high was in 2008, before property and stock market values began sliding. Because the bar is so high, 61 American billionaires didn’t make the cut.
I found one of my best teachers on the boardwalk at Coney Island many years ago. It was December, and I was doing a story about how the homeless suffer in the winter months. He and I sat on the edge of the wooden supports, dangling our feet over the side, and he told me about his schedule, panhandling the boulevard when the summer crowds were gone, sleeping in a church when the temperature went below freezing, hiding from the police amid the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Cyclone and some of the other seasonal rides.
But he told me that most of the time he stayed on the boardwalk, facing the water, just the way we were sitting now, even when it got cold and he had to wear his newspapers after he read them. And I asked him why. Why didn't he go to one of the shelters? Why didn't he check himself into the hospital for detox?
And he stared out at the ocean and said, “Look at the view, young lady. Look at the view.”
And every day, in some little way, I try to do what he said. I try to look at the view. That's all. Words of wisdom from a man with not a dime in his pocket, no place to go, nowhere to be. Look at the view. When I do what he said, I am never disappointed.
The closing paragraphs of Anna Quindlen's book “A Short Guide to a Happy Life”
Actions - Links
Disarmament Week: October 24-30
Disarmament Week has been observed by the United Nations since 1978, when member states were invited to highlight the dangers of the arms race, promote recognition of the need to stop it, and increase public understanding of the urgent tasks of disarmament.
• For an explanation of Disarmament Week, go to http://www.un.org/en/events/disarmamentweek/
• For more information on this topic, visit the United Nations Web Site for Disarmament, at http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/disarmament/index.shtml .
• Visit Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement, at http://paxchristiusa.org/
Launched in 2001, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s BioGems Initiative harnesses the power of online citizen activism to help save North America’s most endangered natural treasures for the sake of a sustainable planet and future generations. Take online action at http://www.savebiogems.org
Join the ONE campaign to speak up about extreme poverty and corporate wealth.
Prayers of Intercession
Response: The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
For those without access to quality affordable medical treatment, we pray…
For all those without enough to eat this day, we pray…
For all those working without a living wage, we pray…
For all those who are homeless, we pray…
For all those trapped in abusive relationships, we pray…
For all children in underperforming and underfunded schools, we pray…
For refugees throughout the world, we pray…
For all people caught up in wars and the threats of wars, we pray…
Prayer for Charity and a Preferential Option for the Poor
By Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB
Please take the bread.
It is yours.
The house with running water belongs to you.
A plot of land, a dignified job – all yours.
Forgive me for offering it.
Charity is not substitute for justice but your children are hungry now.
Spirit of Justice, break open our hearts.
Break them wide open
Let anger pour through
like strong winds
cleaning us of complacency,
Let courage pour through
like spring storms
flooding out fear.
Let zeal pour through
like blazing summer sun,
filling us with passion.
Force of Justice, grant me
anger at what is,
courage to do what must be done,
passion to break down the walls of injustice
and build a land flowing
with milk and honey
for God’s beloved,
God’s special love,
God’s Poor Ones.
Spirit of Justice break open our hearts.