Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Engaging Faith | Tue, Jan 26, 2010

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

January 31, 2010



Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19

1 Corinthians 12:31--13:13 or 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Luke 4:21-30



January 31 - February 6: Catholic Schools Week

February 2, Feast of the Presentation (Candlemas)

February 7, The Super Bowl (Not a religious event but the American context into which we preach the word.)



"Charity will never be true charity unless it takes justice into account ... Let no one attempt with small gifts of charity to exempt themselves from the great duties imposed by justice."


                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pope Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris, 49

There were those who presumed to accuse the Church of taking no interest in social matters other than to preach resignation to the poor and generosity to the rich, but Leo XIII had no hesitation in proclaiming and defending the legitimate rights of the workers. As he said at the beginning of his exposition of the principles and precepts of the Church in social matters: "We approach the subject with confidence, and in the exercise of the rights which manifestly appertain to Us, for no practical solution of this question will be found apart from the counsel of religion and of the Church."

Blessed John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, 16

The person who is "light in the Lord" and who walks as a "child of the light" has a sure grasp of the fundamental demands of justice in all life's difficulties and complexities, obscured though they may be by so much individual, national and racial selfishness.  Animated, too, by the charity of Christ, a human person finds it impossible not to love his fellow human beings. He makes his own their needs, their sufferings and their joys. There is a sureness of touch in all his activity in every field. It is energetic, generous and considerate. For "charity is patient, is kind; charity envies not, deals not perversely, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, seeks not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Blessed John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, 257

The denial of God distorts the freedom of the human person, yet it also devastates creation. It follows that the protection of creation is not principally a response to an aesthetic need, but much more to a moral need, in as much as nature expresses a plan of love and truth which is prior to us and which comes from God.


Blessed John XXIII, address to diplomats, 11 January 2010

Thoughts for your consideration

From the perspective of the social teaching of the church, at least three themes seem to emerge from the scriptures today.

  1. The word of God will indeed get us into trouble. It will challenge the way we look at everything. It may invite us to challenge the values of our culture. It will move us to take positions on issues that are important to the people. It will call us into action for justice. Not everyone will like what we say and do. This was the experience of Jeremiah and of Jesus. It may be our experience as we try to live the gospel and speak and act for justice and peace and as we get involved in the difficult issues of our world.
  2. The great hymn to love in Corinthians must not be read only from the point of view of a nice sentiment or an emotional feeling, but as a challenge to transcend self and to confront the broader issues of justice and peace. The call of Jesus involves more than acts of charity or gift giving, but also the transformation of relationships and the works of justice. We are invited to read the characteristics of love from the point of view of social interaction and justice in social structures, not just from the point of view of personal piety.

  3. God is in charge and will protect and bless the one who is faithful to the message. God was ultimately faithful to Jeremiah or Jesus. As the first reading from Jeremiah concludes: They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD. So, dont be afraid of the challenge of Gods message. Youll be OK. In Lukes gospel, Jesus simply and courageously walks away from the crowd and continues his ministry.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When has your love been reflected in gift giving to someone in need?

When has your love moved into a relationship with the other?

When has your love moved you to challenge the structures of society or church or your own way of thinking?

Actions Links

Pope Benedicts address to the diplomatic corps

Pope Benedict recently gave his annual address to the diplomatic corps and touched on many issues of social justice, especially the environment. You can read the address at


Pope Benedict picks up on what he said in his message for the World Day of Peace which can be read at:

The protection of creation is indeed an important element of peace and justice! There is so much suffering in our world, and human selfishness continues in many ways to harm creation. For this reason, the yearning for salvation which affects all creation is that much more intense and present in the hearts of all men and women, believers and non-believers alike.

Pope Benedict XVI


Pax Christi USA recently created a page of resources to help you pray, study and act in response to the crisis in Haiti. You can find it at:



Pew Environment Group, one of the Pew Charitable Trusts, advocated and educates around environmental issues. They invite citizen actions on various issues at


Crazy facts


In 2009, the average concentration for atmospheric CO2 (Mauna Loa Observatory) was 387.35 parts per million (ppm). In 2008, it was 385.57 ppm. Since the 1958 start of precise CO2 measurements in the atmosphere, the annual mean concentration of CO2 has only increased from one year to the next. There have been no decreases in annual CO2 levels since direct instrument measurements began.


Year CO2 (ppm)

2009 387.35

2008 385.57

1997 363.47

1987 348.98

1959 315.98

Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity.

Prayers of Intercession

Response: God of love, lead us on the road to justice.

For wisdom for all of us as we confront injustice and dont know what to do, we pray.

For all those who experience opposition as they speak up and act up for justice, we pray.

For a special courage and wisdom as we discern what to do to bring peace to the Middle East and other troubled places, we pray.

For the people of Haiti as they continue their struggle after the great earthquake, we pray.

For the ability to listen and learn from one another as we try to work together for the common good, we pray.

For our children, that we may know how to teach the ways of peace and justice, we pray.

For our church that we may become love in action and speak up for justice for all, we pray.

Prayer for the People of Haiti

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

Prayer - Meditation

Based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The Scriptures say Love is patient.

God, how can I be patient when I experience injustice?

God, teach me to patient without being silent or inactive.

The Scriptures say Love is kind.

God, how can I be kind as I confront what is evil?

God, teach me to love my enemy.

The Scriptures say Love is not jealous.

God, how can I not be jealous of those who have so much wealth or power or control?

God, teach me to keep my values straight.

The Scriptures say Love is not pompous.

God, how can I not be pompous when I am speaking truth to those who seem so wrong?

God, teach me to know how to both speak and listen.

The Scriptures say Love is not inflated.

God, how can I not be inflated with righteousness in the cause of justice?

God, teach me to know my limits, to realize my mistakes and that I dont always see clearly.

The Scriptures say Love is not rude.

God, how can I be gracious but also committed to what is right?

God, teach me to respect all my sisters and brothers.

The Scriptures say Love does not seek its own interests.

God, how can I move beyond my own limits and desires and needs?

God, teach me to understand the needs and perspectives of others, especially the poor.

The Scriptures say Love is not quick-tempered.

God, how can I learn from my anger?

God, teach me to learn from my strongest emotions.

The Scriptures say Love does not brood over injury.

God, how can I not get discouraged by all the hurts and injuries in our world?

God, teach me to move forward and get into action for what is right.

The Scriptures say Love does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

God, how can I stop thinking of what helps my side win and the other side lose?

God, teach me to practice a love that wants the truth to win for all people.

The Scriptures say Love bears all things.

God, how can I bear the stress of trying so hard to do what is right?

God, teach me to let go and to trust in your wisdom and help.

The Scriptures say Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

God, how can I possibly love?

God, teach me that I dont love alone,

But rather in community with you and with all my sisters and brothers.

The Scriptures say love never fails.

God, how come I sometimes feel failure? How can I believe?

God, teach me to love with a heart as big as the world

And to receive love and help with a big a heart.

God, may our love be able to focus on the common good of all.