Engaging Faith | Mon, Apr 14, 2008
Fifth Sunday of Easter [a]
April 20, 2008
1 Peter 2:4-9
April 19: Passover begins in the evening
April 22: Earth Day
April 23: Administrative Professionals Day
Christians must be conscious of their specific and proper role in the political community; they should be a shining example by their sense of responsibility and their dedication to the common good; they should show in practice how authority can be reconciled with freedom, personal initiative with solidarity and the needs of the social framework as a whole, and the advantages of unity with the benefits of diversity.
Vatican II, The Church in the Modern World (#75)
Every citizen also has the responsibility to work to secure justice and human rights through an organized social response.
US Bishops, Economic Justice for All (#120)
It is in keeping with their dignity as persons that human being should take an active part in government.
Pope John XXIII, Peace on Earth (#73)
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, Apostolic Letter of 14 May 1971, (#23)
Let everyone examine themselves, to see what they have done up to now, and what they ought to do. It is not enough to recall principles, state intentions, point to crying injustice and utter prophetic denunciations; these words will lack real weight unless they are accompanied for each individual by a livelier awareness of personal responsibility and by effective action.
Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter of 14 May 1971, (#48)
Thoughts for your consideration
The gospel of Jesus is not simply a "personal interior message or experience" which changes the way we feel. Genuine belief leads to works. Spirituality is connected to action. As Jesus says in today's gospel, "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these."
The work of the gospel is reflected in the concern of the early church for the poor. In today's example from Acts, it is reflected in a concern for the widows in the community. The work of the gospel is about service and especially service to those who are most in need. It is a responsibility of the whole community - not just a responsibility for the apostles. Deacons are appointed. The whole community is involved in this very local need. [In some way this story reflects the principle of subsidiarity which is one of the key principles of Catholic Social Teaching.] The apostles also seek to create a structure for responding to the needs for the long term. [This too is important in Catholic Social Teaching, for we desire to offer more than charity to respond to some immediate need but to create structures of justice that empower all people.]
In the gospel Jesus reassures his disciples that he wants to see them taken care of. He speaks of a house with many dwelling places. We may think of this image as some vision of heaven where everyone will have a fine mansion. We might also think of the vision of Jesus as speaking to our world here and now. Might not Jesus envision a world where all God's people have decent, safe, and affordable housing here today? Might not Jesus envision a world where refugees find a safe home and those who come out of prison are welcomed back to the community? Might not Jesus envision a world in which all men and women enjoy a sense of belonging and community wherever they live? Is this not what the early community is trying to create as they appoint deacons to make sure that everyone is included in the resources of the whole? Is this not what we all want to be about? Are we not all called to focus on the "common good?"
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
How does your local community delegate and share responsibility for those in need? Does it fall on the efforts of a few or is it more the responsibility of the whole community? Is there a concern for creating a structure that promotes justice?
Actions - Links
Earth Day (April 22) has been celebrated since 1970. For more information go to:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Environmental Justice Program: Caring for God's Creation".... calls Catholics to a deeper respect for God's creation and engages parishes in activities that deal with environmental problems, particularly as they affect the poor." For resources go to: http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/ejp/
The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that "Congress is considering legislation that would effectively restrict the destructive dumping of mountaintop removal mining waste into Appalachia's streams and valleys." To send a message this week urging your representative to co-sponsor the bill and curtail mountaintop removal mining, go to: http://www.nrdconline.org/campaign/nrdcaction_040708
The National Geographic website reports that "The U.S. is responsible for more green house gas pollution than South America, Africa, the Middle East, Japan and Asia - all put together."
They also report that "Every gallon of gasoline burned puts about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."Prayers of Intercession
Response: May God lead us on the road to justice in the world.
For the poor of our world, especially those who are struggling because of rising food prices, we pray....
For those who have lost their homes as the number of foreclosures in the United States increases, we pray....
For those who have lost jobs as our economy seems to be moving into recession, we pray....
For those live in fear of losing their employment as plants are closed or moved, we pray....
For those who find affordable health care more difficult to access, we pray....
For our planet and a great respect for our earth and its resources, we pray....
Find prayer resources focusing on environment justice at:
Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.