Engaging Faith | Fri, Apr 24, 2009
Third Sunday of Easter [b]
April 26, 2009
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
1 John 2:1-5a
April 26: Catholic Home Missions Appeal
May 1: Feast of St. Joseph the Worker; International Workers' Day
May 3: World Press Freedom Day
"Our nation has been blessed with great freedom, vibrant democratic traditions, unprecedented economic strengths, abundant natural resources, and a generous and religious people. Yet not all is right with our nation. Our prosperity does not reach far enough. Our culture does not lift us up; instead it may bring us down in moral terms. This new world we lead is still too dangerous, giving rise to ethnic cleansing and an inability to confront hunger and genocide. We are still falling short of the American pledge of "liberty and justice for all," our declaration to defend the inalienable rights of the person--"life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
U.S. Bishops, Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium
To rediscover and make others rediscover the inviolable dignity of every human person makes up an essential task, in a certain sense, the central and unifying task of the service which the Church, and the lay faithful in her, are called to render to the human family.
John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation on the Vocation of the Laity, Christifideles Laici
When the common good is promoted at every level, peace is promoted. Can an individual find complete fulfillment without taking account of his social nature, that is, his being "with" and "for" others? The common good closely concerns him. It closely concerns every expression of his social nature: the family, groups, associations, cities, regions, states, the community of peoples and nations. Each person, in some way, is called to work for the common good, constantly looking out for the good of others as if it were his own.
John Paul II, 1 January 2005
Thoughts for your consideration
All three scriptures today speak about "repentance and the forgiveness of sins." The risen Jesus proclaims forgiveness, renewal, and new life. The attitude of Christians is not to be one of revenge and violence, but of reconciliation and forgiveness.
The early church community could have reacted to the killing of Jesus, their leader, by trying to get revenge or by trying to destroy those who killed Jesus or throwing out those who denied or betrayed Jesus. They were initially afraid of the authorities; however, Jesus came saying "Peace be with you." Jesus came giving the power to forgive. Instead of fear, revenge and violence, the early community seems to have adopted an attitude of forgiveness and reconciliation, even toward those who had been so hostile to Jesus and his teaching and even toward those who persecuted the early Christian community.
John writes that Jesus "is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world." In the gospel, Jesus says that this repentance and forgiveness are to be proclaimed to the whole world.
Christians are called to believe that sins can be forgiven and are called to forgive other people.
In what way are we also called to apply this attitude of peace and forgiveness to social sins?
To groups of people, nations, and institutions?
To nation leaders and various political groups?
To situations of economic inequality?
To situations of violence and war?
To those who have gotten our nation into war?
To those who have gotten our economy into a financial mess?
We are not called to be passive and do nothing in the face of injustice.
We are called to speak up strongly and act boldly.
We are called to an active and loving nonviolence.
How does this spirit of forgiveness influence our action for justice?
Desmond Tutu, in his book on the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa, No Future Without Forgiveness, wrote "... to forgive is indeed the best form of self-interest since anger, resentment and revenge are corrosive of that summum bonum, that greatest good, communal harmony that enhances the humanity and personhood of all in the community."
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
With what institutions or organizations in our world today do you get upset?
Which political leaders upset you?
Do you find it hard to forgive them?
How does "repentance for the forgiveness of sins?"
Over the last eight years, it seems clear that the United States engaged in torture and abuse of prisoners. How does the forgiveness apply?
Actions - Links
"Catholic Coalition on Climate Change supports and complements USCCB's Office of Social Development and World Peace and the bishops' Environmental Justice Program. The Coalition is funded with generous assistance from the National Religious Partnership for the Environment." Find out more and look at their resources at http://www.catholicsandclimatechange.org/
Pax Christi USA has produced "It is Time to End the Trail of Resentment and Hatred: A Sign-on Statement on Afghanistan." Check it out at: http://www.paxchristiusa.org/AfghanistanStatement2009.asp
May 1 is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. Catholic Social Teaching has been very concerned with the rights of working people. Last Labor Day, Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote An American Catholic Tradition to summarize our tradition on the rights of labor. Read it at http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/labor_day_2008.pdf
According to the Department of Labor, 5.1 million jobs have been lost in the past fourteen months. 15.6 percent of workers are either unemployed or underemployed. 15.6% meals one in every six workers!
"Prayers in Intercession"
Response: Lord, show us your mercy.
For all people who are unemployed or underemployed, we pray.....
For all who are homeless or in danger of losing homes, we pray.....
For all who caught up in our many wars around the world, we pray....
For all who have been tortured or abused, we pray.....
For all those who are refugees and immigrants, we pray.....
For all our children, we pray.....
For all of us that we may be people of mercy and compassion, we pray....
Prayer - Meditation
This "Prayer for Peace" is from the web site of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.
Loving God, you inspire us with love for all persons
and concern for the well-being of all creation.
Give us today the strength and courage
to transform the compassion of our hearts
into acts of peace, mercy, and justice.
Forgive us for the arrogance that leads to moral blindness,
for desires for vengeance and retaliation,
and for willingness to sacrifice others for our own security and avarice.
Help us to renounce all forms of violence:
prejudice, unfair allegations, intolerance, and injury.
Give us the courage to resist threatening postures,
calls to arms, mobilization of troops and weapons, and
all actions that threaten the lives and livelihoods of innocent people.
Empower us to live out the caring presence
of the merciful and generous persons we claim to be.
Make us channels of your peace, bearers of healing,
women and men who hear and respond with alacrity
to pleas for justice in our world.
We ask all this in the name of Jesus
Who came among us to show us the way.