Engaging Faith | Fri, Aug 30, 2013
Lectionary Reflections for Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time [c] Sept. 1, 2013
Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time [c]
September 1, 2013
Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a
Luke 14:1, 7-14
September 2: Labor Day in the United States
September 4-6: Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
“In teaching us charity, the Gospel instructs us in the preferential respect due to the poor and the special situation they have in society: the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others.”
Pope Paul VI, “Call to Action,” No. 23
“Love for others, and in the first place love for the poor, in whom the Church sees Christ himself, is made concrete in the promotion of justice.”
Pope John Paul II, “Centesimus Annus,” 1991
“Everybody wants to be somebody. Since the dawn of history, human beings have been trying to move up the scale of importance. The clincher used by the serpent to tempt Adam and Eve was ‘when you eat of [the tree of good and evil], your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’ (Genesis 3:5). Henri Nouwen says that ever since then, we have been tempted to replace love with power. ‘The long painful history of the church is the history of people ever and again tempted to choose power over love, control over the cross, being a leader over being led.’ This is a theme running through the Bible, through human history and through our own psyche.”
Kenneth L. Carder, “The Call to Downward Mobility”
“Jesus has another strategy, and that strategy is a strategy of poverty and solidarity. It's a strategy of downward mobility. Not that everybody has to live in misery, by any means, but Ignatius argues that typically the enemy will try to undo us by getting us to have too many things and to think of ourselves too highly. The best strategy to avoid the pitfalls is one of humility and humble service and solidarity with the poor. I find that Ignatius is right.”
Dean Brackley, S.J.
“In the extended banquet story in Luke 14, Jesus systematically undermines prevailing conventions and proprieties, while advocating a new ‘table’ of compassion and equality. The opening episode deals (not surprisingly) with a dispute over the Sabbath practice (Luke 14:1-6). Next comes Jesus’ attack on the dominant system of meritocracy, with its hierarchies, prestige posturing, and ladder-climbing, and his invitation to ‘downward mobility’ (verses 7-11). He then offends his host by criticizing his guest list, rejecting the reciprocal patronage system of the elite, and calling instead for a focus upon ‘those who cannot repay’ (verses 12-14). The series concludes with Jesus’ pointed little fable about an exemplary host who finally understands the bankruptcy of meritocracy and decides instead to build a Jubilee community with the poor and outcast (verses 15-24).”
Ched Myers, “Jesus’ New Economy of Grace”
Thoughts for your consideration
Jesus observes the people of his day and tells a story about people seeking the highest place. Something similar sometimes goes on today. Maybe it is not always about the good places at a dinner. Maybe it is about having the nicest car or house or a second car or house. Maybe it is about being able to “keep up with your neighbors or colleagues.” Maybe it is about having our own way. Maybe it is about political power or about cultural status or about some kind of striving for more material things than one really needs. Maybe it is about the use of military or economic power by various nations. Maybe it is about getting our self worth by being better than someone else. Maybe it is about consuming more than others.
Jesus seems to be saying that we should consider taking the lowest place. Jesus’ message is a challenge to individual behavior. Jesus’ message is a challenge to institutions and organizations. Jesus message is a challenge to those with political power. Jesus message is a challenge to those who want to use military power. Jesus’ message is a challenge to the nations of the world and to the large transnational corporations of our day.
If we get trapped by the desire always to be better than someone else, we miss something. If we try to get our value by saying our race is better or our ethnic group is better or our group is better than yours, then we miss something. If we get trapped by some kind of striving for wealth or material things or powerful status, we miss something. We miss the truth and freedom of Jesus Christ.
Jesus challenges our culture of upward mobility by inviting the lowest and neediest to the banquet. Jesus makes an option for the poor. Jesus invites us to something more than possessions and power over others. Jesus offers a path to great life and peace and happiness.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
How have you tried to simplify your life?
How has this simplicity of life affected you?
Some time ago, a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree. Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, “This is for you, Daddy.” He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found the box was empty.
He yelled at her, “Don’t you know that when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside it?” The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, “Oh, Daddy, it is not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy.” The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl, and he begged for her forgiveness.
It is told that the man kept that gold box by his bed for years and whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.
In a very real sense, each of us as humans have been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, friends, family and God. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.
Actions - Links
Support Energy Efficiency
Take online action with Physicians for Social Responsibility [http://www.psr.org/ ] in support of Senate Bill 761: https://secure2.convio.net/psr/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=D38AD6F3118697A1...
Labor Day statement from the USCCB
“Every human being enjoys a basic right to be respected, not because of any title, position, prestige, or accomplishment but first of all because we are created in the image and likeness of God.” See more at:
Support the Fair Minimum Wage Act
“One of the most surprising, and perhaps confounding, facts of charity in America is that the people who can least afford to give are the ones who donate the greatest percentage of their income. In 2011, the wealthiest Americans – those with earnings in the top 20 percent – contributed on average 1.3 percent of their income to charity. By comparison, Americans at the base of the income pyramid – those in the bottom 20 percent – donated 3.2 percent of their income. The relative generosity of lower-income Americans is accentuated by the fact that, unlike middle-class and wealthy donors, most of them cannot take advantage of the charitable tax deduction, because they do not itemize deductions on their income-tax returns.”
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God, set us free to serve you and others.
For all of us who have many possessions, we pray….
For all of us who find ourselves separated from the poor and those in need, we pray….
For all of us who live out of prejudices and stereotypes about others, we pray….
For all those caught up in the desire for more political and economic power, we pray….
For those who are poor and lack the basic necessities of life, we pray….
For those of us who are immigrants and refugees, we pray….
For all working people as we celebrate Labor Day, we pray….
For those who have no voice in the political deals of our day, we pray….
in love you have fashioned the human family
in a variety of races, languages, and cultures.
Do not let our diversity divide us,
but help us to welcome gifts we can give and receive from one another.
Save us from prejudice, arrogance and fear,
and teach us how to live together as members of one family,
sharing one home,
and the children of one God. Amen.
From the Reform Church of America at http://www.rca.org
God, teach me to pray, to pray each day, to pray always, to pray with an open heart, to pray as Jesus prays.
God, teach me to pray, to be aware, to be aware of myself, of my world, of the needs of others, of the bigger world, of the poor, of those who are victims of violence, of war and the possibilities of peace, of other continents, of other cultures, of other races, of other people’s problems, of all that is.
God, teach me to pray, to be open about myself and my history, about my questions, about my adventures in life, about my hopes and dreams, about my struggles and questions, about my limits and sins, about life as it is.
God, teach me to pray, to contemplate and meditate, to slow down and be still, to be a contemplative in action, to pray always, to be a contemplative in each encounter with the other and with the world, to respect all, to let you work, to be.
God, teach me to pray, to pray with my body, to pray as I walk and run and sit and stand and kneel and sleep, to pray in my actions, actions for others, actions for peace, actions for justice, actions for freedom and life.
God, teach me to really pray, teach me to be really alive and in love, teach me to be free.
Copyright © 2013, Center of Concern