Engaging Faith | Sat, Dec 26, 2009
The Epiphany (c)
January 3, 2010
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
January 3: Epiphany of the Lord (in the US)
January 3-9: National Migration Week http://www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw/index.shtml
January 7: Orthodox Christmas
January is Poverty in America Awareness Month www.povertyusa.com
January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
The words of the apostle Paul, "caritas Christi urget nos" (2 Cor 5:14), urge us to give ourselves preferentially to our brothers and sisters who are most in need.
Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Migrant and Refugees 2007
In Christ Jesus "there does not exist among you Jew or Greek, slave or freedom, male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus." …. It is in Christ, that the Church finds the central cause for its commitment to justice, and to the struggle for the human right and dignity of all persons.
Brothers and Sisters are Us, US Bishops
"We belong to one human family. As such we have mutual obligations to promote the rights and development of all people across communities, nations, and the world, irrespective of national boundaries. In particular, the rich nations have responsibility toward the poor nations, and the structures of the international order must reflect justice."
Catholic Social Teaching, Our Best Kept Secret, page 24
"In the course of twenty centuries of history, the generations of Christians have periodically faced various obstacles to this universal Mission. Despite such adversities, the Church constantly renews her deepest inspiration, that which comes to her directly from the Lord: To the whole world! To all creation! Right to the ends of the earth! She did this once more at the last Synod, as an appeal not to imprison the proclamation of the Gospel by limiting it to one sector of mankind or to one class of people or to a single type of civilization."
Paul VI, On Evangelization in the Modern World, Evangelii Nuntiandi
The migrant is a human person who possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance (cf. n. 62).
Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Migrant and Refugees 2010
Thoughts for your consideration
In an age of globalization, the celebration of Epiphany takes on more importance than ever. The magi are not Jews, but they seek the Christ as do the Jewish people. Christ is a light for the whole world. Christ calls together the whole world and all its peoples. Christ calls for a healing of divisions and openness to learn from all people. Christ calls for a just world order – trade policies that respect the economic opportunities of all people especially the poor – environmental policies that respect the world that we all share together – spending policies that respond to human needs – investment in human needs rather than the weapons of war.
The Feast of the Epiphany invites us to celebrate the wonderful reality that Jesus came as a light to all people, not just to some subset of the human race. Thus, the categorical exclusion of anyone contradicts the good news of Jesus Christ. Racism, stereotyping, discrimination, xenophobia, ethnic violence are all wrong.
The behavior of Herod reflects the behavior of one who is afraid. The news about a new child to be "king" threatens his kingship. Rather than learning from the wisdom of the foreign visitors, he is afraid, and seeks to destroy what they came to discover.
The behavior of the foreign visitors or magi is the behavior of those who seek the truth at great cost. The child offers a vision that is worth traveling a long distance to experience. Jesus offers a light that is worth sharing. In the wisdom of a child born in humble circumstances, they find a wonderful light, a powerful good news, and a liberation from sin, injustice, and prejudice.
The foreigners experience the power and the gift of Christ. They also bring gifts with them gifts that are given to the child but also "gifts" that open our eyes to the experience of the light of Christ as a gift for the whole world. This mutuality is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Giving and receiving happen at the same time. This must be true in our ministry for justice.
The story of the magi has implications for many aspects of church ministry. No one is to be excluded from the light of Christ. Whether we are young or old, female or male, gay or straight, rich or poor, black or white, from the south or the north, from the east or the west, from a famous school or a very ordinary one, employed or unemployed, healthy or sick, born in the US or elsewhere, we are all invited to experience the epiphany.
In the United States over the last few years immigration policies have become a matter of great discussion. Today is the start of National Immigration Week. In mid-December, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP) was introduced in the US Congress. The Feast of Epiphany invites us to reflect on these issues and translate our faith into an inclusive welcome to all God’s children.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
When have you lived outside of our own country or culture?
How did this influence your understanding of Jesus Christ and the gospel?
The good news of Christ is to be good news for the whole world.
Have you ever felt excluded from the good news of Christ?
How did this experience of exclusion come to be healed?
Actions - Links
National Migration Week: Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice
Resources for liturgy and other info about National Migration Week (January3-9) can be found at the site of the NCCB/USCC Office for Migration and Refugee Services: http://www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw/index.shtml . Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees focuses on the needs of minors and can be found at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/migration/docume...
Immigration Bill in Congress
In mid-December, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2009 (CIR ASAP) was introduced in the US Congress. Read the Jesuit Refugee Service Statement of Support at http://www.jrsusa.org/news/news_091215.php.To urge your congressperson to sponsor this bill go to Network at http://www.networklobby.org or
Poverty Awareness Month
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has designated January as Poverty Awareness Month. See www.povertyusa.org for details.
Using Census Bureau data, Energy of a Nation, the on-line immigration resource center for The Advocates for Human Rights, http://www.energyofanation.org/ , reports:
An estimated 22.5 million immigrants are currently working in the U.S.—accounting for 15% of the total civilian labor force. Approximately 80.5% of immigrants are of working age (between 18-64), while 60% of the native-born population falls within that group. Immigrants are just as likely to be self-employed and start new businesses as the native-born. They generate employment and bring new innovations and creative diversity to our communities.
They go on to report
Although undocumented persons are not eligible for most types of public assistance, they must pay federal taxes because the Internal Revenue Service treats both unauthorized and authorized persons the same for purpose of taxation. Undocumented persons must also pay sales tax and property taxes, just like authorized immigrants. Furthermore, immigrants are large contributors to—rather than recipients of—Social Security, and will play an integral role in financing Social Security as the U.S. population ages. A study in 2005 found that undocumented immigrants pay $6-7 billion in Social Security taxes alone that they will never be able to claim.
This and more can be found at http://www.energyofanation.org/8b354522-016c-41ea-9d2d-e56e0a4e471e.html...=
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God of all people, lead us on the road to peace.
For our church that we will be a welcoming community, we pray….
For our nation that we will be a welcoming country, we pray….
For the many refugees struggling around our world, we pray….
For migrants who have left their lands to find new homes and work, we pray….
For all peoples that they may learn a way to welcome and respect new people into their lands, we pray….
For effective dialogue to replace the fighting and barriers between peoples, we pray….
For cooperation between all people to bring an end to the abuse of our environment, we pray….
May the God who became man out of love for humanity strengthen all those in Africa who work for peace, integral development and the prevention of fratricidal conflicts, for the consolidation of the present, still fragile political transitions, and the protection of the most elementary rights of those experiencing tragic humanitarian crises, such as those in Darfur and in other regions of central Africa. May he lead the peoples of Latin America to live in peace and harmony. May he grant courage to people of good will in the Holy Land, in Iraq, in Lebanon, where signs of hope, which are not lacking, need to be confirmed by actions inspired by fairness and wisdom; may he favor the process of dialogue on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere in the countries of Asia, so that, by the settlement of dangerous disputes, consistent and peaceful conclusions can be reached in a spirit of friendship, conclusions which their peoples expectantly await.
From URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE of Benedict XVI, CHRISTMAS 2005
The following is from http://www.diochi.org.uk/content/prayer4.htm and attributed to Pax Christi:
An Inter-faith prayer for peace
God, you are the source of life and peace.
Praised be your name for ever.
We know it is you who turn our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our prayer in this time of crisis.
Your power changes hearts.
Muslims, Christians and Jews remember, and profoundly affirm,
that they are followers of the one God, children of Abraham, brothers and sisters.
Enemies begin to speak to one another;
those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
nations seek the way of peace together.
Strengthen our resolve to give witness to these truths by the way we live.
Give to us:
understanding that puts an end to strife;
mercy that quenches hatred, and
forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower all people to live in your law of love. Amen.