Engaging Faith | Tue, Sep 10, 2013
Twenty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time [c] September 15, 2013
Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Luke 15:1-32 or 15:1-10
Sept. 11: Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks of 2001
Sept. 13-14; Yom Kippur, Jewish Day of Atonement
Sept. 14: Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
Sept. 15: Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows
Sept. 15: National Catechetical Sunday
Sept. 15 to October 15: National Hispanic Heritage Month
Sept. 16: International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer
Sept. 21: International Day of Peace http://www.internationaldayofpeace.org/
“Christ is in search of every human being, whatever the situation!… Jesus wants to save each one. And with a salvation which is offered, not imposed.”
- Pope John Paul II, on the Jubilee in Prisons, July 9, 2000
“We want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.”
- Pope Francis, Sept. 1, 2013
“We believe that because we are all created by God, none of us is the sum total of the worst act we have ever committed. . . . As a people of faith, we believe that grace can transform even the most hardened and cruel human beings."
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration
“So tell the earth to shake
With marching feet
Of messengers of peace
Proclaim my law of love
To every nation
- Thomas Merton, “Earthquake”
“I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace. May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and be let themselves be led by the desire for peace.”
- Pope Francis, Sept. 1, 2013
Thoughts for your consideration
The first reading from Exodus is about the process of coming to find a God who is not vengeful, but who is willing to show mercy and forgiveness. It is about finding a God of healing and new life.
Jesus tells three stories to make his point about the mercy of God. He wants to teach us that God is concerned about redemption and forgiveness. God wants to save sinners. God wants to bring people to the fullness of life. God wants to reconcile individuals, groups, and nations.
Sometimes even religious people have trouble finding the merciful side of God. So many people fall into the trap of condemning others and showing no mercy.
We can be tempted to violence and revenge when we face evil. Nations and groups can be tempted to resort to war or terror rather than understanding, nonviolence, and reconciliation.
The challenge of today’s scriptures is to apply the message of mercy to our image of God and especially to our own way of treating others. (“Be merciful as God is merciful.”)
A further challenge is to apply this gift not only to our interpersonal relationships and our struggle with personal sin, but also to social sin – to our prejudices, to our racial attitudes, to our way of treating minorities or anyone different than ourselves, to our ways of dealing with national and ethnic groups, to our way of treating all our brothers and sisters.
An even further challenge is to apply this vision of mercy and reconciliation to our criminal justice system, to our country’s use of the death penalty, to our ways of allotting educational resources to children in different neighborhoods, to our ways of dealing with those who are struggling with substance abuse, to situations of violence and war in any part of the world, to our international relationships, especially toward those nations we have condemned and sanctioned, such as Iran, North Korea, or Cuba, and also to groups that use violence such as Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or even our own nation.
The gospel shares three parables that try to teach us about God’s mercy and compassion. In each story there is a powerful passion for finding the lost. The father deeply desires his younger son to come back and desires his older son to come into the party. The shepherd passionately desires to find the lost sheep. The woman looks everywhere until she finds her lost coin. God has a passion for all the people of the world. As we pray today, we might ask ourselves: “What is God’s passion today as God looks at our world?” How do we share that passion in our desires for the world and its people?
As the United States and the nations of the world try to respond to the fighting in Syria and the use of chemical weapons, we may want to apply today’s gospel to the need for healing and reconciliation after all of that violence and so much more throughout the Middle East.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
Share an experience where you received forgiveness and acceptance.
How did this experience change you behavior?
How did it change you way of treating other people?
The Tao of Forgiveness: the empty sack and the potatoes
The United Nations reports that the number of refugees who have fled Syria’s civil war has topped 2,000,000, with another 4,000,000 internally displaced.… On average, almost 5,000 people take refuge in Syria’s neighboring countries every day. The United Nations warned last month that the war is fueling the worst refugee crisis since the Rwanda genocide in 1994. Overall, the fighting in Syria has killed more than 100,000 since 2011, including some 7,000 children.
The United States and the world has been struggling with coming up with a moral response to the war in Syria and the use of chemical weapons. Here are some links to items to challenge our thinking.
•A statement of Pope Francis: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/angelus/2013/documents/papa-...
There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.
•An interview with Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, Superior General of the Jesuits: http://www.sjweb.info/news/prints/ensPrint.cfm?PubNumID=203&DownLang=1&p...
I have to confess that I cannot understand who gave the United States or France the right to act against a country in a way that will certainly increase the suffering of the citizens of that country, who, by the way, have already suffered beyond measure.
•An article on “What moral theologians say about getting involved in Syria:
Catholic prelates in the Middle East have been adamant in their opposition to military intervention.
The U.S. Catholic Bishops have reflected on the national criminal justice system in light of Catholic Social Teaching. Their reflections resulted in the November 2000 statement “Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice” It is available at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/criminal-j...
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God, help us to be merciful as you are merciful.
For an end to all our wars and genuine peace and reconciliation, we pray…
For an end to all terrorism and militarism anywhere around our world, we pray…
For all those in prison or jail, we pray…
For all ex-prisoners, we pray…
For refugees and for immigrants, we pray…
For all those without adequate employment or a living wage, we pray…
For all those without enough to eat or a decent place to live, we pray…
For an end to divisions and violence in our families and homes, we pray…
For an end to all racism, sexism, discrimination, and exclusion of others, we pray…
Prayer - Meditation
For a poem “Prayer for Reconciliation” go to http://www.invitationtoprayer.org/prayers_reconciliation.html
“Gracious God, ruling the earth and its people not by terror but in love; we worship you.”
For “Reconciliation - A Prayer” by Joy Harjo, go to
“All acts of kindness are lights in the war for justice.”
Copyright © 2013, Center of Concern