Engaging Faith | Fri, Jul 10, 2009
Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 12, 2009
Ephesians 1:3-14 or 1:3-10
July 14: Bastille Day (France)
July 18: Birth of Nelson Mandela
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (12:21). Evil is never defeated by evil; once that road is taken, rather than defeating evil, one will instead be defeated by evil. The great Apostle brings out a fundamental truth: peace is the outcome of a long and demanding battle which is only won when evil is defeated by good.
John Paul II, Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 2005
Catholic social teaching is a central and essential element of our faith. Its roots are in the Hebrew prophets who announced God's special love for the poor and called God's people to a covenant of love and justice. It is a teaching founded on the life and words of Jesus Christ, who came "to bring glad tidings to the poor . . . liberty to captives . . . recovery of sight to the blind"(Lk 4:18-19), and who identified himself with "the least of these," the hungry and the stranger (cf. Mt 25:45). Catholic social teaching is built on a commitment to the poor. This commitment arises from our experiences of Christ in the Eucharist.
US Bishops, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions
The Scriptures say, "Without a vision the people perish" (Prv 29:18). As Catholics, we have an inspiring vision in our social teaching. In a world that hungers for a sense of meaning and moral direction, this teaching offers ethical criteria for action. In a society of rapid change and often confused moral values, this teaching offers consistent moral guidance for the future. For Catholics, this social teaching is a central part of our identity. In the words of John Paul II, it is "genuine doctrine" (Centesimus Annus, no. 5).
US Bishops, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions
In the Old Testament, the prophets after Amos keep affirming with particular vigor the requirements of justice and solidarity and the need to pronounce a very severe judgment on the rich who oppress the poor. They come to the defense of the widow and the orphan. They threaten the powerful: the accumulation of evils can only lead to terrible punishments. Faithfulness to the Covenant cannot be conceived of without the practice of justice. Justice as regards God and justice as regards mankind are inseparable. God is the defender and the liberator of the poor.
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation, 6
Our faithfulness will depend on our willingness to go where there is brokenness, loneliness, and human need. If the church has a future it is a future with the poor in whatever form.
- Henri J.M. Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey
Thoughts for your consideration
Today's scriptures focus us on God's call - to Amos, to Paul, to the Twelve, and to us. The call was not and is not always easy. As always, the call of God has social implications.
In the first reading Amos is expelled for being a prophet. It is important that we remember that Amos was a particularly strong prophet in the area of social justice. Amos was not afraid to speak up and talk about those who "sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals. They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way." (Amos 2:6-7) We must not forget the message that caused Amos to be so unpopular.
Today Paul praises God for choosing us to be "holy and blameless" and to share the wonder of this message with the world. As with Amos, when we make this beautiful message concrete and unpack its social implications for our world, we might run into trouble. Paul certainly did in his time. This call to be holy has social implications.
Today Jesus sends the Twelve to drive out the evil spirits that are in the world. As we know from our social teaching, the evil spirits today include all kinds of powers that move us away from what is just and good for all God's people. We are called [with God's help] to drive out materialism, racism, militarism, greed, consumerism, and all the other forces in our world that are opposed to the spirit of God. [Jesus tells the Twelve to keep their lives simple, without money and other extra possessions, so as to keep their lives simple and their ministry uncorrupted by possessions.]
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What are the evil spirits that you would like to drive out of our world?
What are the evil spirits that are causing us difficulty in our social structures and institutions?
What evil spirits have become more apparent as the financial crisis and recession have unfolded over the last two years?
Actions - Links
Caritas in veritate ("Charity in truth"), Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, was signed by the Holy Father on June 29, 2009, was to be released to the public on Tuesday, July 7. It should be available at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/index_en.htm
The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) invited participation in their Climate Justice Campaign. Learn more and get involved at http://www.cafod.org.uk/take-action/climate
Global AIDS Alliance (GAA) works to halt the global AIDS crisis and mitigate its impacts on poor countries hardest hit by the pandemic. http://www.globalaidsalliance.org/ They are presently advocating for A Global Fund for Education which will address these things and give 75 million kids a chance to thrive. "By ensuring that the children of the world have access to a quality education we will have made incredible progress in slowing some of the crises facing the world today such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, and gender inequality. Education has been proven to be one of the most cost-effective, equitable ways to combat these problems."
The Global AIDS Alliance writes "Today, at least 75 million school aged children are not enrolled in primary school, 226 million adolescents will never attend secondary school and 776 million adults are illiterate."
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God, let us proclaim your justice to the world.
For children who do not have access of education, we pray....
For those who do not have enough to eat, we pray....
For all those who continue to suffer from HIV/AIDS, we pray....
For refugees who are struggling to find a safe and peaceful place to live, we pray....
For an end to war between nations and other groups of people, we pray....
For our planet earth that we may use it responsibly and respectably, we pray....
Prayer - Meditation
The following is from the web site of CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development and can be found at: http://www.cafod.org.uk/worship/trade
Scales of justice Based on Amos 8:4-7
Our choice could
tip the balance
in favour of the poor
and lighten the load
of those weighed down
We could level inequality
And distribute warehouse mountains
Share out the wealth
that was never ours to hoard
Turn the tables
On those who play
We could stockpile generosity
And speculate in hope
Sell up our shares in selfishness
And settle for the dividends
For added value
build portfolios of justice
Or an ISA in the growth
of the kingdom of God
Buy shares in trust and act in faith
Risk our securities to find a richer life
May the percentage of our interest
In people rise,
And may we be the prophets
© Sophie Stanes / CAFOD