Engaging Faith | Fri, Mar 21, 2008
Readings:Acts 2:42-47 1 Peter 1:3-9 John 20:19-31
Calendar:March 31: birthday of the late Cesar Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers Union
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
Partaking of the Lord's table cannot be separated from the duty of loving our neighbor. Each time we partake in the Eucharist, we too say our "Amen" before the Body and Blood of the Lord. In doing so we commit ourselves to doing what Christ has done, to "washing the feet" of our brothers and sisters, becoming a real and visible image of the One who "emptied himself, taking the form of a servant" (Phil 2:7). --John Paul II, Homily, March 28, 2002
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
Injustice is rooted in a spiritual problem, and its solution requires a spiritual conversion of each one's heart and a cultural conversion of our global society so that humankind, with all the powerful means at its disposal, might exercise the will to change the sinful structures afflicting our world. --Hans Peter Kolvenbach SJ
Thoughts for Your Consideration:
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. 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 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 seems to invite 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 in their faith. 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. As peoples experience injustice they can feel excluded. The faith of all of us might in some way come 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, unless we work for a world that includes justice for all.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group:
- What issues that arise in our world make it difficult for you to believe in the risen Jesus?
- 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 War in Iraq: Bishop Gabino Zavala, the bishop-president of Pax Christi USA, has a column written on the 5th Anniversary of the War in Iraq. It is called "Toward a Just and Peaceful Solution in Iraq." You can read it at: http://www.paxchristiusa.org/news_Events_more.asp?id=1356 A new Pax Christi policy paper on the war can be read at: http://www.paxchristiusa.org/IraqPolicyPaper.pdf
March 31 is the birthday of the late Cesar Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers Union. "He led the historic non-violent movement for farm worker rights and dedicated himself to building a movement of poor working people that extended beyond the fields and into cities and towns across the nation." Get more info and view videos about Cesar Chavez by going to: http://www.ufw.org/_page.php?menu=research&inc=_page.php?menu=research&i...
Pac Christi USA writes in their recent policy paper: "Nearly 4,000 U.S. service people have lost their lives in the war, and more than 27,000 have been maimed since the March 2003 invasion. Estimates of Iraqis killed vary greatly, with some estimates approaching one million. Over two million Iraqis have fled the country, and another two million are displaced within Iraq's borders."
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 an end to the death and suffering that follows from 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 renewed human community, healed of all divisions, we pray"¦.
For Prayer and Meditation:
Men and women of the Third Millennium, the Easter gift of light that scatters the darkness of fear and sadness is meant for everyone; all are offered the gift of the peace of the Risen Christ, who breaks the chains of violence and hatred.
Rediscover today with joy and wonder that the world is no longer a slave to the inevitable. This world of ours can change: peace is possible even where for too long there has been fighting and death, as in the Holy Land and Jerusalem; it is possible in the Balkans, no longer condemned to a worrying uncertainty that risks causing the failure of all proposals for agreement.
And you, Africa, a continent tormented by conflicts constantly threatening, raise your head confidently, trusting in the power of the Risen Christ.
With his help, you too, Asia, the cradle of age-old spiritual traditions, can win the challenge of tolerance and solidarity; and you, Latin America, filled with youthful promise, only in Christ will you find the capacity and courage needed for a development respectful of every human being.
Men and women of every continent, draw from his tomb, empty now for ever, the strength needed to defeat the powers of evil and death, and to place all research and all technical and social progress at the service of a better future for all.
URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II Easter Sunday, 15 April 2001
--Lectionary Reflection by Fr. John Bucki, S.J.