Engaging Faith | Mon, Aug 4, 2008
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]
August 10, 2008
1 Kings 19: 9a,11-13a
Romans 9: 1-5
August 11: Feast of Clare of Assisi
August 14: Feast of Maximilian Mary Kolbe
August 15: Feast of the Assumption of Mary
There is a growing awareness of the sublime dignity of human persons, who stand above all things and whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. They ought, therefore, to have ready access to all that is necessary for living a genuinely human life: for example, food, clothing, housing, ... the right to education, and work...
Vatican II, The Church and the Modern World, #26
We exact your elements to make cannons and bombs
But out of our elements you create lilies and roses.
How patient you are earth and how merciful!
Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it.
... when we seek guidance in terms of discernment and decisions we need to look not just to God in heaven, but also to what is being pointed out to us by the Body of Christ on earth, namely, our families, our friends, our churches, and our communities. ... God does not speak to us through séances, and the most important things that God wants to say to us are not given in extraordinary mystical visions. The God of the incarnation has real flesh on earth and speaks to us in the bread and butter of our lives, though things that have skin - historical circumstance, our families, our neighbors, our churches.
Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing, 95
Trade conditions favorable to poor countries, including, above all, broad and unconditional access to markets, should be made available and guaranteed in lasting and reliable ways.
-- Pope Benedict XVI, December 2006
Thoughts for your consideration
Today's scriptures are centered on the experience of God and the invitation to believe.
As always, our experiences of God and of faith have a social dimension.
Our contemporary social and economic situation can challenge our faith. Prices are rising. Recession is looming. War continues. Fear of violence dominates our planning. Poor folks are struggling. Injustice abounds. Political discourse sometimes focuses on trivial issues. World problems, along with local problems, can overwhelm us.
For serious Christians, the existence of war and violence, the prevalence of injustice and poverty, a certain widespread apathy about all these things, and the shear volume of issues and needs, can feel like the storm in the gospel or like the winds, earthquake and fire in the first reading. Demands on our goodness, can rightly make us want to get away from it all, like Jesus who dismisses the crowd and goes off to pray. However, somehow in the midst of all the storms, God can be experienced, we can even grow in our faith, and we can get into action to do something. We might even "walk on water" for a little while.
Getting away from it all, can be a good thing. Jesus (in his prayer on the mountain) reminds us of the need we have to get away, connect with God, and take care of our spirits as we struggle to continue in our ministry and deal with the contemporary social situation. Rooted in real experience, reflection and prayer is critical. All men and women, especially those who are poor or struggling for justice, need time and resources to take care of themselves and to nurture their life and solidarity with God and others. Every person is a being worthy of dignity, respect, and even leisure.
Elijah (in his prayer on the mountain) reminds us that our faith is not to be based on religious excitement or fireworks. We don't need the spectacular to find God. Getting fixated on special religious phenomena can keep us from finding God. Real faith is a much different thing. Real faith is involved with the issues of the world. It is something more than a "spiritual high." It involves humble service and solidarity with those in need and even sometimes, as in the second reading, feeling "great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart." Such solidarity can be empowering for us and for all those we are with. Then, we might experience anew, the God in the "tiny whispering sound."
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What world or local political or social problems challenge you and your faith?
How do you deal with the demands and challenges?
When have you had a significant experience of God?
How did it affect the way you live and treat others?
Actions - Links
Many parts of the media have been decrying the collapse of the WTO trade talks, "often claiming that the success of the talks would have helped the poor of the world. If that were true, why would developing countries resoundingly reject the proposals from the U.S. and the E.U.? The claims we hear about "free trade" in this country are most often naive ideological claims that fail to look realistically at the impact of the current agreements on real people." Read the Blog by Maria Riley of the Center of Concern for another perspective. http://www.coc.org/node/6188
Cultural Diplomacy News reports that in sub-Saharan Africa, half of the more than 600 million people live in poverty. Almost 50% of sub-Saharan Africans live on less than a dollar a day-the highest rate of poverty in the world.
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Let us not be afraid. Let us be strengthened by God. Let us build a world of justice for all.
For those who discouraged by the politics of the day, we pray....
For those who confused by the complexity of our economic situation, we pray....
For those who are suffering from loss of employment or a declining income, we pray....
For those who have lost homes or are in danger of losing their homes, we pray....
For those caught up in war and violent situations of all sorts, we pray.....
For those who enjoy a wealth of material things, we pray.....
For those who find themselves apathetic about the needs of others, we pray...
Prayer for Peace
Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.
Jewish source: The Tanakh, Micah 4:2-5 from jewishvirtuallibrary.org
St. Theresa on Christ Today
Christ has no body now but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes thought which
Christ's compassion must look out on the world.
Yours are the feet with which
He is to go about doing good.
Your are the hands with which
He is to bless us now.
~ attributed to Theresa of Avila