Engaging Faith | Mon, Sep 28, 2015
Twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]
October 4, 2015
Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern
Mark 10:2-16 or 10:2-12
October 2: International Day of Non-Violence
October 2: Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi
October 4: Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
October 4: Respect Life Sunday
October 5: World Teacher’s Day
October 5: World Habitat Day
October 5: Child Health Day
The first and fundamental structure for a "human ecology" is the family, founded on marriage, in which the mutual gift of self as husband and wife creates an environment in which children can be born and grow up.
-John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 49
Today no one can be unaware of the fact that on some continents countless men and women are ravished by hunger and countless children are undernourished. Many children die at an early age; many more of them find their physical and mental growth retarded. … The moment for action has reached a critical juncture. Can countless innocent children be saved? Can countless destitute families obtain more human living conditions? Can world peace and human civilization be preserved intact?
-Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 45
To overcome today's individualistic mentality, a concrete commitment to solidarity and charity is needed, beginning in the family.
-John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 49
What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? … It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.
-Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, 160
It seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.
-Pope Francis, Address at the White House, September 23, 2015
I want to be very clear. There is no social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever, for lack of housing.
-Pope Francis, Washington, D.C., September 24, 2015
Thoughts for Your Consideration
Imbedded in today’s readings are a number of values that are important in Catholic Social Teaching:
- The dignity of the human person [Jesus condemns the practice of writing a bill of divorce and just dismissing a wife. Jesus welcomes and respects the children.]
- The special care we need to have for children [“For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”]
- The value of relationships [“It is not good for the man to be alone.”]
- The importance of commitment
- The importance of caring for the earth and its ecology in a responsible way. [The human person is even given the power to name each of the earth’s creatures.]
Relationship and solidarity are central Christian values. These values are manifest in everyday interpersonal values – as in the loving relationship of two individuals in a marriage – and also in the social and economic values that bind us together as nations and the world community.
Marriage is a deep commitment of two people to one another. In the same way, the Social Teaching of the church reflects a commitment of the church and its members to one another and to the promotion of peace and justice in the world. A married couple is not concerned only with their own private relationship but also with the bigger world in which we all live. In the same way, Catholic Social Teaching is an expansive commitment.
A marriage is celebrated and lived out in the context of a bigger story. The bigger story is the biblical story of liberation and freedom. Marriage should be a source of freedom and joy. If marriage is seen in light of all the work of God in the world then the couple can see more clearly their vocation in that world. A spirit of freedom and service will then follow.
Elsewhere, the scriptures compare the loving relationship between two individuals with the relationship between Christ and the church. A desire for domination over another is replaced with the desire for loving mutuality. A good marriage models a spirit of respect, understanding, peace and active non-violence.
As we read the creation story today, we are reminded of our commitment to care for the creation that God has given us. Pope Benedict in Caritas in Veritate wrote, “The environment is God's gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.” Pope Francis wrote in Laudato Si’, “Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations.” When he visited the White House on September 23, Pope Francis said, “… it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. … Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them.”
On this respect life Sunday, we may find ourselves recalling our need to respect all the life of our creation which has been given to us as a gift.
In the longer form of the gospel, Jesus places a child in the midst of the group. It is very fitting to reflect on the various justice issues that affect the children of our world, especially those which relate to war and violence. One in three American children will be poor at some point in their childhood. Most of the people in the world who live in poverty are children. So many children do not have the opportunity for a quality education.
Furthermore, we may once again be reminded of how children and other vulnerable people have been abused by people working in our churches and other institutions.
Questions For Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
- What is the most important relationship in your life?
- How does this relationship help you to live out the social values of the gospel?
- How has your reading of the recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, called you to a great respect for the life of creation? How has it called you to a greater concern for the needs of the poor?
Who Am I? (A tale from Attar of Neishapur)
The lover knocked of his Beloved’s door.
“Who knocks?” said the Beloved from within.
“It is I,” said the lover.
“Go away. This house will not hold you and me.”
The lover withdrew and pondered for years on the words the Beloved had said. Then
he returned and knocked again.
“It is you.”
The door was immediately opened.
From Anthony DeMello’s Song of the Bird (http://bit.ly/1VfqYgY)
“The global average temperature increased by more than 1.4°F over the last century. In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the decade from 2000 to 2010 was the warmest on record, and 2010 was tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record. Rising global temperatures have also been accompanied by other changes in weather and climate. Many places have experienced changes in rainfall resulting in more intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced changes: oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising.  All of these changes are evidence that our world is getting warmer.”
“Every year of the conflict has seen an exponential growth in refugees. In 2012, there were 100,000 refugees. By April 2013, there were 800,000. That doubled to 1.6 million in less than four months. There are now four million Syrians scattered throughout the region, making them the world's largest refugee population under the United Nations' mandate. At this rate, the U.N. predicts there could be 4.27 million Syrian refugees by the end of 2015 — the worst exodus since the Rwandan genocide 20 years ago.” In addition there are estimated to be 7.6 internally displaced people.
Actions - Links
Learn about and share the global goals for sustainable development: http://bit.ly/1iAovBj
Raise your voice to President Obama for Syrian refugees: http://bit.ly/1NTj79S
Take action on climate change concerns: http://bit.ly/1FlUM9N
Read Pope Francis’s speeches from his recent trips to Cuba and the United States: http://bit.ly/1IQSZJf
Prayers of Intersession
Response: God, bring us together in peace.
For all who live together in committed relationships, may their mutual love find support from the community and in turn be a source of support and hope to the community, we pray…
For all our children, that they may be gifted with the love, respect, education, shelter, and nourishment so that they can grow into their full statue as loving people of God, we pray…
For all the nations and groups of our world, that we will learn to have healthy peaceful relationships with one another, we pray…
For the millions of refugees in our work, especially the millions fleeing the violence in Syrian, we pray…
For all the creatures of our world, as we name them may we also learn to treat them with care and respect, we pray…
For a renewed commitment to make changes in the way we live so as stop our destruction of the earth and decrease our carbon footprint, we pray…
For the wisdom and courage we need to make changes to how we live, so that we will not destroy the earth we have been given but treasure it with wonder and joy, we pray…
Prayer - Meditation
Two prayers from the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Florida
Increase, O God, the spirit of neighborliness among all who dwell on earth, that in peril we may uphold one another, in suffering tend one another, and in loneliness befriend one another. Grant us brave and enduring hearts that we may be strengthened, until the strife of these days be ended and you give peace in our time; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Adapted from To Will One Thing, by William Scarlett, 1994, Forward Movement Publications
O Thou protector of the universe, ruler of its destiny, abode of happiness and peace, ocean of mercy, friend of the poor, destroyer of the pangs of want, everlasting, whole, unending, beginningless, perfect, ancient of days, refuge of thy people, beloved of the heart, and guardian and mainstay of life, grant us peace in our time. Amen.
From Book of Prayers, by M. K. Gandhi, 1999, Berkeley Hills Books
“The Prayer of St Francis”
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is discord, vision.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Prayer for Refugees and Victims of War
Lord God, no one is a stranger to you and no one is ever far from your loving care. In your kindness, watch over refugees and victims of war, those separated from their loved ones, young people who are lost, and those who have left home or who have run away from home. Bring them back safely to the place where they long to be and help us always to show your kindness to strangers and to all in need Grant this through Christ our Lord.