Engaging Faith | Fri, Nov 6, 2009
Thirtieth-second Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]
November 8, 2009
1 Kings 17:10-16
Mark 12:38-44 or 12:41-44
November 11: Veteran’s Day in the US, Remembrance Day in Canada
November 15: America Recycles Day [http://americarecyclesday.org]
November 16: Twentieth Anniversary of the deaths of the 6 Jesuits and 2 women at the University of Central America in 1989
The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word.
Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 22
Concern for our neighbor transcends the confines of national communities and has increasingly broadened its horizon to the whole world.
Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 30
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 Bishops’ Synod, Justice in the World, 10
Although in general it is difficult to draw a line between what is needed for right use and what is demanded by prophetic witness, we must certainly keep firmly to this principle: our faith demands of us a certain sparingness in use, and the Church is obliged to live and administer its own goods in such a way that the Gospel is proclaimed to the poor. If instead the Church appears to be among the rich and the powerful of this world its credibility is diminished.
1971 Bishops’ Synod, Justice in the World, 47
… the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.
Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 28
The truth of development consists in its completeness: if it does not involve the whole man and every man, it is not true development.
Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 18
Thoughts for your consideration
Sometimes those who have the least are the most generous with the little they have and show the greatest hospitality or generosity. In some way having a lot or being rich can prevent one from being free and generous. Having a lot can prevent one from moving beyond the preservation and accumulation of wealth. So much of the economic injustice in our world seems to arise from those who have a lot and seek to preserve it or increase it rather than share it.
In the story about the widow, Jesus challenges those around him to look at their own practices and behavior – the priorities of their own life – their own unfreedom concerning possessions. The spirit of Jesus invites people to let go of what they have so as to be really free and alive.
As we reflect on this story we may want to apply it not only to our individual lives, but also to our nation. As a nation we are indeed very wealthy. In with the seriousness of the recession as a whole our nation is still very wealthy. For a “Christian” country with so many resources, the proportion of our wealth used to help those in need around the world is small compared to many other nations. For a country that has been blessed with so many immigrants, we sometimes develop policies that are very restrictive of new immigrants and deal with those that are here very harshly. For a country with so many gifts to be shared, we direct so many of our resources and wealth to military defense. For our country with so many natural resources we can misuse and overuse them so that we may have little to share with others and with the future. While we are richest of the nations, we seem to be the least willing to reduce our carbon footprint and to moderate our use of energy and other natural resources.
As is so often the case, Jesus calls us to see things from the viewpoint of the poor. Catholic Social Teaching talks about “a fundamental option for the poor.” Part of this option involves more than charity to those in need. It also involves learning from the poor, from the widows in the two readings today, so as to be able to create a justice society with our values in balance. The depth of faith and freedom about possessions shown by the two women today has much to teach us as individuals and a society.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
When have you observed someone like the widow who “gave all that they had?”
When have you experienced the generosity of someone who themselves had very little?
Actions - Links
Climate Change Issues
“DaySix.org is a campaign of Faithful America, an online community of more than 100,000 citizens motivated by faith to take action on the pressing moral issues of our time. We come from diverse faith traditions but share a unifying commitment: to restore community and uphold the common good in America and across the globe. “DaySix" is a reference to the creation story in Genesis, when God made human beings stewards of creation. On the sixth day, we were made in God's image and given responsibility to care for the earth and each other.”
Go to http://www.daysix.org/ to learn more and to take action online.
Remembering those who have died
In the Catholic Church and maybe in other Christian churches as well, November is the traditional month to remember those who have died.
· The Children’s Defense Fund recently released its annual report Protect Children, Not Guns. Over 3000 children and teens were killed by firearms in the most recent year reporting. Find out more at http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/protect-children-not-guns-report-2009.html
· Iraq Body Count continues to report on the over 93,000 civilian deaths in the war in Iraq at http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ The total of over 4000 US military deaths can be found at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iraq_casualties.htm and find photos at http://projects.washingtonpost.com/fallen/iraq/
· In Afghanistan civilian deaths have been increasing. Over 800 US military have been killed. You can find some photos at http://projects.washingtonpost.com/fallen/afghanistan/
- Bread for the world reports that “Each year, 3 million under-five children die because they are undernourished.” http://www.bread.org/learn/hunger-basics/
- The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports: “Violence is a serious public health problem in the United States. From infants to the elderly, it affects people in all stages of life. In 2006, more than 18,000 people were victims of homicide and more than 33,000 took their own life.” http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/index.html
On November 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests, their co-worker and her teenage daughter were massacred in El Salvador. A U.S. Congressional Task Force reported that those responsible were trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) at Ft. Benning, Georgia. For info about the efforts to remember those killed and to bring an end of the SOA, go to
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that “More than one billion people are undernourished worldwide.” “With lower incomes, the poor are less able to acquire food, especially as prices are still high by historical standards.” http://www.nysjcommunity.org/s/316/images/editor_documents/TriProvince%20News/UN%20FAO%20Policy.pdf
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God, help us to work for justice for all.
For our nation, that we will learn to listen to one another, learn from one another, and work together for the common good, we pray…
For the help of the Spirit that we may discern a path away from war toward peace and justice for all God’s people, we pray…
For those who are wealthy, that they might live in a spirit of freedom and generosity, we pray…
For those who are poor, that they might obtain whatever employment, education, assistance and justice that they need, we pray…
For those who are economically in the middle, that they might find joy, peace, and freedom in their struggles, challenges and blessings, we pray…
For those who are unemployed, we pray…..
For those without health insurance, we pray…..
For our planet and its environment, we pray….
Prayer - Meditation
Psalm 146: A Psalm to Praise God, the One who Executes Justice
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
Do not put your trust in princes,
In mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
On that very day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the LORD their God,
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them;
Who keeps faith forever;
Who executes justice for the oppressed;
Who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
The LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
The LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the strangers;
He upholds the orphan and the widow,
But the way of the wicked He brings to ruin.
The LORD will reign forever,
Your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD!