Engaging Faith | Fri, Jan 29, 2010
Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time [c]
February 7, 2010
Isaiah 6:1-2, 3-81
February is African American History Month
February 7: The Super Bowl (Not a “religious” event but the American context into which we preach the word.)
February 7: National Day of Prayer for the African American Family http://www.usccb.org/saac/nationaldayofprayer.shtml
February 7: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day http://www.blackaidsday.org/
February 11: World Day of the Sick
Education demands a renewal of heart, a renewal based on the recognition of sin in its individual and social manifestations. It will also inculcate a truly and entirely human way of life in justice, love and simplicity. It will likewise awaken a critical sense, which will lead us to reflect on the society in which we live and on its values; it will make people ready to renounce these values when they cease to promote justice in all people.
Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World, #51
What is being looked for is not simply the solution to one problem, but an entire shift of worldview away from patterns of dominance toward mutually enhancing relationships.
Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is
A world which is divided unto blocs, sustained by rigid ideologies, and in which instead of interdependence and solidarity different forms of imperialism hold sway, can only be a world subject to structures of sin. … "Sin" and "structures of sin" are categories which are seldom applied to the situation of the contemporary world. However, one cannot easily gain a profound understanding of the reality that confronts us unless we give a name to the root of the evils which afflict us.
John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, #36
Racism is a sin; a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father. Racism is the sin that says some human beings are inherently superior and others essentially inferior because of races.
The structures of our society are subtly racist. Perhaps no single individual is to blame. The sinfulness is often anonymous but nonetheless real. The sin is social in nature in that each of us, in varying degrees, is responsible. All of us in some measure are accomplices. As our recent pastoral letter on moral values states: "The absence of personal fault for an evil does not absolve one of all responsibility. We must seek to resist and undo injustices we have not ceased, least we become bystanders who tacitly endorse evil and so share in guilt in it."
US Bishops, Brothers and Sisters are Us
Do not rob the poor because they are poor,or crush the afflicted at the gate;for the Lord pleads their causeand despoils of life those who despoil them.
- Proverbs 22:22-23
Thoughts for your consideration
1. The scriptures invite us to reflect on sin and our unworthiness before God. At the same time we see that both Isaiah and Peter experience a profound and powerful reconciliation experience after their deep experience of unworthiness. From a deep sense of sin flows a deep sense of God’s love and acceptance and then a powerful call to share that message in word and in action. “Do not be afraid.”
2. Sin has a communal element. It affects other people. I am affected by the sins of others and the sinful structures of our world. Others are affected by my sin. Sin is not just a personal action or a personal violation of some law. It does something to harm the structures and relationships of society, community and even church. If we reflect only on personal sin as it relates to ourselves alone, we miss something. Social sin is seen in the realities of racism, in inequalities of economic opportunity, in the lack of educational opportunities for children, in the culture of violence, in the materialisticvalues of our consumer culture, in the militarism that exists between nations, in the various failures within our church, in the falsehoods, deceptions and half truths that are sometimes shared by the mass media, in the dishonest behavior of political leaders, and in countless realities that are more than the sin of any one person or group.
3. Just as we experience the forgiveness of our personal sins, we believe that “social sin” can be forgiven and injustice can be overcome. We believe that divine forgiveness can be experienced in the reality of society – the depth of social relationships. Metanoia is possible. Sinful structures and ways of thinking can be healed. Change can happen. The experiences of Peter and Isaiah do not end with simply a nice feeling of God’s love but their experiences lead to action and to change in the world. Both move into a life of proclaiming the message and inviting people into a community of awareness and freedom from sin – a renewed world of peace and justice for all God’s people.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
You may recall a time that you experienced a deep sense of personal sin.
When have you had a deep experience of social sin or social injustice?
Actions - Links
World Day of the SickWith a letter dated May 13, 1992, Pope John Paul II instituted the World Day of the Sick, which is celebrated every year on February 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Each year, the Holy Father writes a message in honor of the World Day of the Sick. To read Pope Benedict’s 2010 message, go to http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/sick/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20091122_world-day-of-the-sick-2010_en.html
Not for Sale Campaign against human trafficking and the global slave trade“Not For Sale is a Campaign of students, artists, entrepreneurs, people of faith, athletes, law enforcement officers, politicians, social workers, skilled professionals, and all justice seekers united to fight the global slave trade and end human trafficking.” http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/
“Crazy Facts” According to a recent survey by Gallup and the Food Research and Action Center, in 2009, “of the 100 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), 82 had 15 percent or more of respondents answering that they did not have enough money to buy needed food at times in the last 12 months.” Connect to the report and the summary at:http://www.frac.org/Press_Release/food_hardship_report_jan2010.htm They have data for every congressional district.
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Lord, have mercy on us.
Loving God, inspire our nation to provide a good education for all our children, we pray….
God of Peace, help us to take action to bring all our wars to an end, we pray…..
God of Life, guide us to create a culture that respects life and the life of every person, we pray….
Spirit of truth, help us to be truthful and open in all that we communicate and let our media be free and truthful, we pray….
God of all people, lead us to understand and respect one another and put an end to the sin of racism, we pray….
Creator God, help us to respect all of creation and live within our limits so that we will not destroy our planet or its climate, we pray…
Healing God, give us the wisdom and generosity to create structures that can provide health care to all our sisters and brothers, we pray….
Spirit God, free us from the traps of our consumer culture and let us place our values in what is truly important, we pray….
"O God, all holy one, you are our Mother and our Father and we are your children. Open our eyes and our hearts so that we may be able to discern your work in the universe. And be able to see Your features in every one of Your children. May we learn that there are many paths but all lead to You. Help us to know that you have created us for family, for togetherness, for peace, for gentleness, for compassion, for caring, for sharing.”
"May we know that You want us to care for one another as those who know that they are sisters and brothers, members of the same family, Your family, the human family. Help us to beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, so that we may be able to live in peace and harmony, wiping away the tears from the eyes of those who are less fortunate than ourselves. And may we know war no more, as we strive to be what You want us to be: Your children. Amen.” Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa
For the people of Haiti, “the least of these,” O God we pray. Your children are in the depths of suffering, without food, homes, and the most basic forms of security, without hope. Their land is ravaged and their spirits in despair. In your mercy, open our eyes to what is happening and open our hearts so we may respond. May we grow in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Haiti. May they live to see rebuilding and renewal in their land. Amen
-Jane Deren, www.educationforjustice.org