Engaging Faith | Fri, Apr 17, 2009
Second Sunday of Easter [b]
April 19, 2009
1 John 5:1-6
April 19: Divine Mercy Sunday
April 19: Orthodox Easter
April 19-20: The Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia http://crs.org/public-policy/prayer-action.cfm
April 22: Earth Day http://www.earthday.net/
April 22: Administrative Professionals Day (formerly Secretaries Day) http://www.iaap-hq.org/APW/apwindex.htm
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 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 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. Pope Benedict expressed this in his Easter message this year: "Reconciliation - difficult, but indispensable - is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence."
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 2009 Urbi and et Orbi Message of Pope Benedict XVI can be found at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/urbi/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20090412_urbi-easter_en.html He prays for God's help with the difficult political issues of our day:
Even if through Easter, Christ has destroyed the root of evil, he still wants the assistance of men and women in every time and place who help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love. .... At a time of world food shortage, of financial turmoil, of old and new forms of poverty, of disturbing climate change, of violence and deprivation which force many to leave their homelands in search of a less precarious form of existence, of the ever-present threat of terrorism, of growing fears over the future, it is urgent to rediscover grounds for hope. Let no one draw back from this peaceful battle that has been launched by Christ's Resurrection. For as I said earlier, Christ is looking for men and women who will help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love.
The Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia:April 19-20, 2009
"More than forty years of violent conflict has caused great suffering for millions of Colombians, especially poor and marginalized communities, but has also inspired amazing efforts in Colombia to create a new vision for peace. The Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia is an opportunity for Catholics in the United States to support our Colombian brothers and sisters in this vision."
Find our more including suggestions for prayer and for action at the CRS web site: http://crs.org/public-policy/prayer-action.cfm
Fumigation in Colombia: Earthjustice, a non-profit public interest law firm working on environmental issues, is working on ending the use of fumigation as an anti-drug policy in Columbia. You can find out more and take action at: http://www.earthjustice.org/library/features/plan-colombia.html
Earth Day: & connecting faith, justice and ecology
"Educating congregants about the connection between faith, justice, and ecology can be challenging, especially in a culture of consumerism. But this challenge is at the heart of the mission of the Ecological Working Group of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond (EWG), which has developed numerous resources and educational opportunities." For info go to:
According to Earthjustice, "Between 2000 and 2008, the United States spent more than half a billion dollars for the chemical spraying of approximately 3 million acres of land in Colombia-the world's second most biodiverse country." At the same time, "According to U.S. government studies, the area subject to coca cultivation has actually increased by 23 percent since the U.S.-backed fumigation began in earnest, and Colombia remains the leading supplier of cocaine for U.S. markets." Further, "the chemical mixture used in Colombia has not been fully tested for environmental or human health impacts under these conditions. People on the ground in affected regions say that the spraying significantly harms both." "The spray drift lands on food crops, water sources, and even humans."
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 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