Lectionary Reflections: Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]. October 19, 2014

Engaging Faith | Thu, Oct 9, 2014

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a], October 19, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern

Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]
October 19, 2014
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5b
Matthew 22:15-21
October 16: World Food Day
October 17: International Day to Eradicate Poverty
October 19: World Mission Sunday
October 26: International Red Cross Organized in 1863
Sacred Scripture continually speaks to us of an active commitment to our neighbor and demands of us a shared responsibility for all of humanity. This duty is not limited to one's own family, nation or state, but extends progressively to all . . .  so no one can consider himself or herself extraneous or indifferent to the lot of another member of the human family. 
- John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 51
In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue; participation in the political process is a moral obligation.   ….    all Catholics are called to a common commitment to protect human life and stand with those who are poor and vulnerable.  
- Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility
Church has the right, indeed the duty, to proclaim justice on the social, national and international level, and to denounce instances of injustice, when the fundamental rights of people and their very salvation demand it.
- Justice in the World, 36
Everyone – from individuals to the organizations of civil society, States and international institutions – needs to give priority to one of the most urgent goals for the human family: freedom from hunger. In order to achieve freedom from hunger it is necessary to ensure not only that enough food is available, but also that everyone has daily access to it: this means promoting whatever resources and infrastructures are necessary in order to sustain production and distribution on a scale sufficient to guarantee fully the right to food.
- Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Food Day, 2010
Demands involving the distribution of wealth, concern for the poor and human rights cannot be suppressed under the guise of creating a consensus on paper or a transient peace for a contented minority. The dignity of the human person and the common good rank higher than the comfort of those who refuse to renounce their privileges. When these values are threatened, a prophetic voice must be raised.
- Pope Francis, Evangelli Guadium, 218
The Gospel has an intrinsic principle of totality: it will always remain good news until it has been proclaimed to all people, until it has healed and strengthened every aspect of humanity, until it has brought all men and women together at table in God’s kingdom. The whole is greater than the part. 
- Pope Francis, Evangelli Guadium, 237
Thoughts for your consideration
The scriptures today remind us that God and the spirit of God ultimately transcend all other things.  From the perspective of faith, Isaiah is not afraid of saying that even the great Persian king Cyrus is really an instrument of God.  Jesus affirms that Caesar is not absolute.  Some things belong to the state and some things belong to God.  No government is absolute.
The Pharisees and Herodians try to engage Jesus in some sort of political game - much like the political games that are played out today in political discourse and in the media.  Jesus refuses to play.  He keeps his perspective much broader.
In a certain sense, no follower of Christ can pledge allegiance to the state in any absolute way.  The state has its essential role – but it is not absolute. Our ultimate allegiance is to God and not to a flag or a group or a government. At the same time, civil society and government have their important roles to play and Christians are to be involved and creative.  
Our economy continues to suffer from the effects of the “great recession.”  Income and asset inequality has increased recent decades.  Many of those with jobs are not receiving a living wage. As a society or economic system we are not placing people before the market. 
As we deal with the complex financial problems of the wealthy nations of the world, we must continue a commitment to seek policies that support the common good of all.  As we deal with the problems of our financial markets, we don’t want to forget the people of the less developed world who have been living in poverty and oppressed by debt. 
As war continues in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and elsewhere, we must share our Christian critique of war as we invite our societies to live in the nonviolent spirit of Jesus. As we continue to observe human rights violations in various places in the world, we must speak up in opposition. As we become more and more aware of the power of global organizations and corporations, we must speak up for those who are left out and have no power. As we see so much power in global corporations, we hear again the call of Jesus not to forget the things of God – a God who calls for liberation and justice for all. 
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
  • When have you experienced government as supportive of your Christian values?  
  • When have you experienced government as in conflict with your Christian values?  
  • When have you spoken out to challenge the values and practices of government or society?
Actions - Links
World Food Day
World Food Day, October 16th, is a worldwide event designed to increase awareness, understanding and informed, year-around action to alleviate hunger.  Recent Papal messages for World Food Day can be found at 
Global Poverty
“The UN Millennium Campaign was established by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2002 in order to support citizen participation in the achieving the Millennium Development Goals, adopted by 189 world leaders from rich and poor countries, as part of the Millennium Declaration which was signed in 2000.”  Get info at  and at
Jubilee USA
October 8-16 is Illegitimate Debt Week! “Jubilee groups from all around the world are coming together for a week of action against illegitimate debt and reforming international financial institutions. We are demanding global debt justice by breaking the chains of debt slavery! "Join Jubilee Congregations around the U.S. in standing up for the hungry, poor, oppressed and vulnerable!” Get info at   or 
Stop Locking Up Refugee Mothera and Children
“More than 1,200 mothers and children who fled to the United States to escape violence in Central America will spend tonight in prison-like detention centers. Many of these mothers and children are survivors of domestic and gang violence and sexual assault.”
“Crazy Facts”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a breakdown of who in the US contributes the most to global warming — by state, by sector and even by individual business.
At the state level, the top greenhouse gas producer was Texas, with more than double the output of Indiana, the second-largest producer. Texas also produces and consumes more energy than any state in the union.
But if you look at greenhouse gas emissions per capita, Wyoming and a handful of other relatively unpopulated states far surpass Texas. Wyoming, like runners-up North Dakota and West Virginia, generates a huge amount of energy, mostly from fossil fuels. But these states send much of the energy they produce to other states. Wyoming sends 326 trillion BTUs elsewhere, North Dakota exports 231 trillion BTUs, and West Virginia sends 412 trillion BTUs to other states.
Producing all that dirty energy takes a toll on residents. “When coal is burning at Wyoming power plants, nearby states get electricity and we get the pollution,” Shannon Anderson, a representative of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a Wyoming citizens’ organization suing to improve air quality in the state, said in March.
“If you include World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the Vietnam War, and the “War on Terror” that began in 2001 and continues to this day, the United States has been at war for 61 of the last 73 years.”
- From Robert Reich on Facebook, October 3
Prayers of Intercession
Response:  Lord, guide us on the road to justice and peace.
For the billions of people in our world who are poor, we pray…..
For the many less-developed nations of the world who are burdened by debt, we pray….
For the millions of people who are living in lands torn by war and violence, we pray….
For all the people who are homeless or in danger of losing their homes, we pray…..
For the millions of people who are refugees without even a nation to call home, we pray….
For the countless people who are excluded because of their ethnic or racial heritage, we pray….
For our political leaders called to lead us through all the difficulties, we pray….
For wisdom and integrity as the United States moves toward the upcoming mid-term election, we pray….
God, we pray that your spirit may rule over all things.
May your spirit rule over kings and presidents
Over prime ministers and generals
Over CEOs and party bosses
Over the legislature and over the bureaucrats
Over all citizens.
May your spirit guide us on the way of peace
On the way of honest dialogue
On the way of reconciliation between peoples
On the way of disarmament and justice
On the way of freedom and life for all.
May your spirit lead us on the journey of blessings shared with all
On the journey of educational opportunity for all our children
On the adventure of research and study that helps all men and women
On the road to meaningful work for all your people
On the path of solidarity and love between all our brothers and sisters.
May your spirit help us
To speak up with courage
To share what we have and what we are
To challenge the powers that be
To offer a message of liberation and life.