Engaging Faith | Thu, Jul 2, 2009
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 5, 2009
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
July 4: Independence Day in the United States
When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.
- Dom Helder Camara, former Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil
Unless combated and overcome by social and political action, the influence of the new industrial and technological order favors the concentration of wealth, power and decision-making in the hands of a small public or private controlling group. Economic injustice and lack of social participation keep people from attaining their basic human and civil rights.
1971 Synod, Justice in the World, 9
In the face of the present-day situation of the world, marked as it is by the grave sin of injustice, we recognize both our responsibility and our inability to overcome it by our own strength. Such a situation urges us to listen with a humble and open heart to the word of God, as God shows us new paths towards action in the cause of justice in the world.
1971 Synod, Justice in the World, 29
Our nation is enriched and our tradition of pluralism is enhanced, not threatened, when religious groups contribute their values to public debates. ... The Catholic community enters public life not to impose sectarian doctrine but to act on our moral convictions, to share our experience in serving the poor and vulnerable, and to participate in the dialogue over our nation's future.
US Bishops, A Call to Faithful Citizenship
There are powerful negative forces in the world, but we are also aware of God's presence permeating this world, inspiring persons of all cultures and religions to promote reconciliation and peace. The world where we work is one of sin and grace.
35th General Congregation of the Jesuits, Decree 3, 18
Thoughts for your consideration
Today's scriptures remind us of the resistance which we might encounter when we try to preach and put into practice our faith. In living out the social teaching of the church we may encounter with Ezekiel those who are "hard of face and obstinate of heart." With Paul we might encounter "weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints." We might come to know what Jesus encountered in his native place: "They took offense at him."
Sometimes resistance arises from the dominate values of our culture or our society - values which may conflict with the values of the gospel. Materialism, consumerism, exaggerated individualism, militarism, moral relativism, economic injustice, and discrimination of all sorts, are often imbedded in the values of the culture around us and contradict the values of Christians.
Not everyone experiences their dignity as a person of God. The wealth of the world is not distributed fairly. Some people get greedy. Fighting and violence erupt. The poor continue to be left out. The environment of our planet continues to be abused.
The social teaching of the church invites us to continue to grow in am awareness of how the values of the world may not the values of our God. From this awareness we learn about ourselves and what we really believe. We can then work to make sure that our values are not destroyed by the values of the culture. We can work to promote those values that are really life giving for ourselves and our whole world. We can then be moved into action for justice and peace. We can work for a positive transformation of our world in the liberating spirit of Jesus the Christ.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What injustice are you afraid to speak about to people around you?
What positions would evoke a strong and emotional opposition from people in your circle of friends?
What values of our culture cause you to get upset?
What values of our culture make it hard for you to live out your faith?
Actions - Links
The Eco-Justice Program office of the National Council of Churches works in cooperation with the NCC Eco-Justice Working Group to provide an opportunity for the national bodies of member Protestant and Orthodox denominations to work together to protect and restore God's Creation.
Check out their web site and various suggestions for action and study: http://www.nccecojustice.org/
Climate Change Issues: Leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) recently wrote to Congress about the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454). They voiced concern about funding to help the poorest people cope with changes. You can read their letter at:
Bill McKibben, the environmental author, and author of The End of Nature, writes "The atmospheric concentration of CO2 was about 275 parts per million before the Industrial Revolution. It is now about 385 parts per million and it will be above 500 parts per million long before the middle of this century unless we do very dramatic things in the next few years to dramatically curtail our use of fossil fuels."
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Lord, give us help to put our faith in action.
We remember all those who speak up for justice.
We remember all those who are campaigning for health care benefits for all.
We remember all who continue to speak up to an end to war and preparations for war.
We remember those who educate and work for an economy that respects the environment.
We remember journalists who take great risks to share the truth.
We remember those who work overseas in solidarity with people in need.
We remember leaders in our church and in our nation.
We remember all people who are persecuted for their putting their faith into action.
We remember all those who are frustrated as they struggle to do what is right.
Prayer - Meditation
Reform Church in America provides a collection of prayers for peace and justice on their web site at: http://www.rca.org/Page.aspx?pid=1871
God of our lives, by the power of your Holy Spirit
we have been drawn together by one baptism into one faith,
serving one Lord and Savior.
Do not let us tear away from one another through division or hard argument.
May your peace embrace our differences,
preserving us in unity, as one body of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--from the Worship Book, Westminster, 1970