Engaging Faith | Tue, Aug 4, 2009
Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 9, 2009
1 Kings 19:4-8
August 9: Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Nagasaki in 1945
August 9: United Nations International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples
August 15: Feast of the Assumption of Mary
The Church's social doctrine illuminates with an unchanging light the new problems that are constantly emerging.
Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 12
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men and women. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with humankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.
Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes
May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes, and war in international ones.
John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 23
No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war. Just as the time has finally come when in individual States a system of private vendetta and reprisal has given way to the rule of law, so too a similar step forward is now urgently needed in the international community.
John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 52
Testimony to Christ's charity, through works of justice, peace and development, is part and parcel of evangelization, because Jesus Christ, who loves us, is concerned with the whole person.
Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 15
Thoughts for your consideration
Have hope! The Christian vision has something to offer to our world in these challenging and difficult times.
In Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI writes "...we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present." In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI writes "As the absolutely gratuitous gift of God, hope bursts into our lives as something not due to us, something that transcends every law of justice."
Each of the scriptures today can be applied to our challenging efforts to live out the social teachings of our faith in our contemporary world, as we struggle for economic justice, world peace, and the common good.
Elijah has been following the commandments of God and speaking up for what is right and now he is in trouble. King Jezebel wants to kill him. Elijah seems to be overwhelmed, tired and discouraged. He wants to die. In some way, his situation is analogous to that of so many women and men who struggle to work for justice and peace in the world and encounter "failure" or opposition. In some way, his situation is analogous to that of so many people who are overwhelmed by underemployment or unemployment or the loss of their savings in our "great recession." In the midst of complex social problems that are hard to "fix," we can feel overwhelmed and get discouraged. We may be criticized. In speaking up for what is right, we can encounter opposition, threats and even death. War, poverty, and injustice, seem at times to be so persistent and "unfixable."
In the letter to the Ephesians, we are reminded that "All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice." (As always we are invited to apply this wisdom not only to our personal life but also to relationships between groups of people and nations.)
Both the first reading and the gospel, talk about divine "bread" and nourishment for the journey. Elijah gets a hearth cake and a jug of water is able to complete the journey to the mountain of God. Jesus promises to be the "living bread" which is "for the life of the world." God wants to strengthen us for the journey.
In order to be faithful and to put our faith into practice, we need to be supported by our God. We need the support and challenge of a community of believers. In the Christian tradition this is made real in the celebration of the Eucharist - were we receive the "bread of life." When the church is at her best, her social ministry flows out from the Eucharist, for as Jesus says "... the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." We are not alone as we strive to put our faith into action in the pursuit of justice.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What social problems get you discouraged?
When do you want to walk away like Elijah?
What issues and situations seem to be overwhelming to you?
Are you ever discouraged by our political system and our political leaders?
Do you think that the United States will ever be able to change our health care system?
"In 1955, IRS records indicated the 400 richest people in the country were worth an average $12.6 million, adjusted for inflation. In 2006, the 400 richest increased their average to $263 million, representing an epochal shift of wealth upward in the U.S. In 1955, the richest tier paid an average 51.2 percent of their income in taxes under a progressive federal income tax that included loopholes. By 2006, the richest paid only 17.2 percent of their income in taxes. In 1955, the proportion of federal income from corporate taxes was 33 percent; by 2003, it decreased to 7.4 percent. Today, the top taxpayers pay the same percentage of their incomes in taxes as those making $50,000 to $75,000, although they doubled their share of total U.S. income.
~ Donald Monkerud in The Capital Times, http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/17-8
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Bread of Life, strength us for the journey
God of the hungry, teach us how to share our bread with the hungry of the world.
God of peace, teach us how to work for peace in our divided, often violent, world.
God of the poor and rich, teach us to share with one another out of our riches and our poverty.
God of justice, teach us to create policies, institutions and governments that are just for all.
God of inclusion, teach us to welcome and include all our sisters and brothers.
God of unity, teach us to work and live together as a church united and supportive of one another.
God of hope, teach us to overcome all discouragement with your gift of hope.
Prayer - Meditation
From the Urbi et Orbi Message of Pope John Paul II, Easter Sunday, 23 April 2000
The Risen Christ signals the paths of hope
along which we can advance together
towards a world more just and mutually supportive,
in which the blind egoism of the few
will not prevail over the cries of pain of the many,
reducing entire peoples
to conditions of degrading misery.
May the message of life proclaimed by the angel
near the stone rolled back from the tomb
overturn the hardness of our hearts;
may it lead to removing unjustified barriers
and promote a fruitful exchange between peoples and cultures.
May the image of the new person,
shining on the face of Christ,
cause everyone to acknowledge
the inalienable value of human life;
may it encourage effective responses
to the increasingly felt demand
for justice and equal opportunity
in all areas of society;
may it impel individuals and States
to full respect for the essential and authentic rights
rooted in the very nature of the human person.