Engaging Faith | Wed, Apr 11, 2012
Lectionary reflections for the second Sunday of Easter 2012.
Second Sunday of Easter [b]
April 15, 2012
1 John 5:1-6
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.
-- John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, #157
An excessive desire for possessions prevents human beings from being open to their Creator and to their brothers and sisters.
-- John Paul II, 2003 Message for Lent
The poverty that Jesus means - that the prophets mean - presupposes above all inner freedom from the greed for possession and the mania for power.
-- Pope Benedict XVI, Palm Sunday 2006
We may all be tempted by the disbelief of Thomas. Suffering, evil, injustice, death, especially when it strikes the innocent such as children who are victims of war and terrorism, of sickness and hunger, does not all of this put our faith to the test? Paradoxically the disbelief of Thomas is most valuable to us in these cases because it helps to purify all false concepts of God and leads us to discover his true face: the face of a God who, in Christ, has taken upon himself the wounds of injured humanity.
-- Benedict XVI, Urbi and Orbi Message, Easter 2007
“The fundamental sin is exploitation, whether it be expressed in the domination of male over female, white over black, rich over poor, strong over weak, armed military over unarmed civilians, human beings over nature. These analogously abusive patterns interlock because they reset on the same base: a structure where an elite insists on its superiority and claims the right to exercise dominative power over all others considered subordinate, for its own benefit.”
-- Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, She Who Is, page 27
Every time we make the Sign of the Cross we should remember not to confront injustice with other injustice or violence with other violence: let us remember that we can only overcome evil with good and never by paying evil back with evil.
-- Pope Benedict XVI, Palm Sunday 2006
Thoughts for your consideration
Today’s scriptures offer at least three connections to Catholic Social Teaching:
* The first reading from Acts reminds us of the commitment by early Christian community to the communal life. They shared whatever they had and held all their possessions in common. They responded to the needs of all, especially the poor. The life and practice of the very early community in Jerusalem, invites us to look at how we possess and share materials things. In what sense are we called to share our material goods with each other in a more radical way? In what way does our possession of material goods get in the way of being filled with that power that radiated from the early community? In what way does this first reading challenge those of us in the “developed world” to look at how we share our wealth with the rest of the world? How are we being called to “have everything in common?” We might think of applying this on the “micro level” to our personal lives and to our local communities. However, it might be even more fruitful to apply this on the “macro level” – to the level of nations and international institutions. Such an application might challenge us to look at the complex issues of global development, international trade, agriculture policy, immigration, and educational opportunity in a new, challenging, and creative way.
* The experience of Thomas in John’s gospel invites us to consider issues of faith and issues of inclusion. Thomas seems to be troubled because he has not enjoyed the experience of the rest of the disciples. We might say that he desires to be included. Thomas experiences doubt and uncertainty. We might apply this to our personal struggle to be included and our personal effort to come to faith. However, we might also apply it to the macro level of nations and to all the structures and institutions of the international community. Not only do individuals struggle with questions of inclusion, but whole nations, cultures, and classes of people do as well. In our world we find stereotypes, racism, xenophobia, sexism, and many other forms of discrimination and exclusion. As peoples experience injustice they can feel excluded. Our faith might in some way move into doubt as we find ourselves isolated and divided by injustice. We might find that it is hard to believe in a God of resurrection and new life, unless we are committed to a faith that works for justice in our society. Jesus says, “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
* In light of our ongoing experience of war, the appearance of Jesus in the gospel certainly reaffirms God’s desire for peace and reconciliation. The risen Jesus again and again says “Peace be with you.” The risen Jesus shares the power to forgive, a power much needed by the early community after some in the community had betrayed and denied Jesus and after they had seen Jesus suffer and die. God wants us to apply this spirit to our own world situation as we try to work for peace and promote a new era of nonviolence and forgiveness.
The first reading talks about the early community sharing what it has.
Here is a parable to think about these issues.
True Wealth: A Buddhist Master’s Parable
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What experiences have helped you to come to believe in God? What experiences have helped you come to believe in such a way that you want to work for justice and peace in the world?
In the Acts of the Apostles we are told that the disciples devoted themselves to the communal life. In what ways to do you find yourself devoted to the communal life?
How do you devote yourself to service, justice, and peace?
Actions - Links
The Easter 2012 Urbi and et Orbi Message of Pope Benedict XVI:
As is true every year the pope’s prayer addresses the difficulties and struggles in many parts of the world.
May the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights. Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community. … May the paschal victory encourage the Iraqi people to spare no effort in pursuing the path of stability and development. In the Holy Land, may Israelis and Palestinians courageously take up anew the peace process. … May the Lord, the victor over evil and death, sustain the Christian communities of the African continent; may he grant them hope in facing their difficulties, and make them peacemakers and agents of development in the societies to which they belong. … May the risen Jesus comfort the suffering populations of the Horn of Africa and favor their reconciliation; may he help the Great Lakes Region, Sudan and South Sudan, and grant their inhabitants the power of forgiveness. In Mali, now experiencing delicate political developments, may the glorious Christ grant peace and stability. To Nigeria, which in recent times has experienced savage terrorist attacks, may the joy of Easter grant the strength needed to take up anew the building of a society which is peaceful and respectful of the religious freedom of all its citizens.
The Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia:
“With over five million internally displaced people, Colombia has the world’s largest displacement crisis. Ongoing conflict has forced half a million people to flee to neighboring countries. Unequal land distribution is at the heart of Colombia’s conflict. The homes and lands of indigenous people, Afro-Colombians and small-scale farmers in Colombia continue to be violently and illegally seized by paramilitary and guerrilla groups who profit from the sale of these lands to unscrupulous companies.” The Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia is an opportunity for Catholics in the United States to support our Colombian brothers and sisters.
Earth Day & connecting faith, justice and ecology
Earth Day is next Sunday, April 23. For info about Catholic efforts for the environment go to:http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environmen... or go to Ecological Working Group of the Diocese of Richmond, Richmond VA or the Catholic Climate Covenant.
According to data from the Federal Reserve, in the United States household net worth fell between 2007 to 2009 by a total of $17.5 trillion or 25.5%. The Great Recession caused a drop of 36.1% in median household wealth but a drop of only 11.1% for the top 1%. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_in_the_United_States .
Get a very detailed analysis of net worth and income and wealth inequality at http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Risen Jesus, lead us to new life.
For a deeper faith that will be lived in the works of justice and peace, we pray….
For a powerful faith that will lead our world to an effective respect for life, we pray….
For a richer faith that will allow us to focus on people and their basic needs, we pray….
For a more merciful and forgiving faith that will heal or divisions, we pray….
For an end to the death and suffering that unfolds in our wars and fighting, we pray….
For a new spirit of care and respect for every human person, we pray….
For a new spirit of joyful acceptance of our diversity, we pray….
For a spirit of respect for our earth and its rich and beautiful resources, we pray….
For a renewed human community, healed of all divisions, we pray….
Prayer - Meditation
God of Compassion,
You let your rain fall on the just and the unjust.
Expand and deepen our hearts
so that we may love as You love,
even those among us
who have caused the greatest pain by taking life.
For there is in our land a great cry for vengeance
as we fill up death rows and kill the killers
in the name of justice, in the name of peace.
Jesus, our brother,
you suffered execution at the hands of the state
but you did no let hatred overcome you.
Help us to reach out to victims of violence
so that our enduring love may help them heal.
Holy Spirit of God,
You strengthen us in the struggle for justice.
Help us to work tirelessly
for the abolition of state-sanctioned death
and to renew our society in its very heart
so that violence will be no more.
-- By Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ