Engaging Faith | Mon, Apr 26, 2010
Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 25, 2010
Acts 13:14, 43-52
Revelations 7:9, 14b-17
April 22: Earth Day http://www.earthday.org/
April 30: Arbor Day
May 1: May Day, International Workers Day, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker
Sad to say, it is all too evident that large numbers of people in different countries and areas of our planet are experiencing increased hardship because of the negligence or refusal of many others to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment.
Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Prayer for Peace 2010
The life and words of Jesus and the teaching of his Church call us to serve those in need and to work actively for social and economic justice. As a community of believers, we know that our faith is tested by the quality of justice among us, that we can best measure our life together by how the poor and the vulnerable are treated.
US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #8
One of the first steps toward freedom occurs when, usually through the dynamics of a questioning, supportive community, oppressed people awaken to their own dignity and worth and begin to exercise their own power.
Elizabeth Johnsons, She Who Is, page 253
The ministries which exist and are at work at this time in the Church are all, even in their variety of forms, a participation in Jesus Christ's own ministry as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep, the humble servant who gives himself without reserve for the salvation of all.
John Paul II, Christifideles Laici
Integral human development is closely linked to the obligations which flow from mans relationship with the natural environment. The environment must be seen as Gods gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations.
Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Prayer for Peace 2010
Thoughts for your consideration
In the gospel, Jesus says: I give them eternal life. What does this mean?
There are, of course, many levels of meaning. However, in light of the Incarnation, we cannot focus simply on eternal life in some other future world. Jesus is concerned with what promotes eternal life in the present. We might want to say that Jesus is expressing his concern for all the things that promote a full human life:
Food, water, health care, decent housing
Community, compassion, solidarity
Spirituality, freedom, spirit
Human rights, an end to all racism, a respect for every human person
Justice, peace, righteousness, virtue.
In the context of the first two readings we must see this divine concern as a universal concern a concern that goes out to all the men and women of our world.
In the context of Easter, we are called to feel the joy that is part of this divine concern. We hear today of the citizens of Antioch and the multitude in Revelations who are filled with life and filled with joy not the joy of the consumer culture not the joy of military victory or political control not even the joy of a long life or perfect health. It is the joy of an eternal life that is beginning now and is shared with others. Despite opposition, Paul and Barnabas are not discouraged. They shake off the dusk and continue to share what they have been given.
Eternal life involves a joy and life that comes in solidarity with others and from a relationship with a loving shepherd. It is a life which comes together in Christ not because we possess a spirituality of rugged individualism or a religion of knowing it all or a spirituality of being better than others. Joy and life flow from relationship relationship in community relationship fostered and nourished by a Good Shepherd whose desire is to bring all the sheep together into the fullness of life -- a relationship of justice and righteousness with people of from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What most gives you a spirit of life and joy?
How do you share that spirit with the world?
Earth day was a few days ago on April 22.
How does the scripture invite you to care for the life of our planet?
If we think of Christ as the Good Shepherd, how does Christ want us to take care of the planet?
Actions - Links
Earth Day, which occurs annually on April 22, involves tens of thousands of events, from rallies and teach-outs to concerts and earth fairs throughout the world. See http://www.earthday.org/ for more info.
The Environmental Justice Program (EJP) of the United States Catholic Conference (USCC) calls Catholics to a deeper respect for Gods creation and engages parishes in activities that deal with environmental problems, particularly as they affect the poor. Find their resources on climate change and childrens health at http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/ejp/ .
In 2006, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change was launched with the support of both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change supports and complements USCCBs Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development (formerly, the Department of Social Development and World Peace) and the bishops Environmental Justice Program. The Coalition is a membership organization consisting of twelve national Catholic organizations that offers advice and assistance in implementing its programs. http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/
Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. To make your voice heard on various environmental issues go to their web pages at http://www.earthjustice.org/
Last year, American power plants burned over a billion tons of coal, accounting for over 50 percent of this country's electricity use. http://www.grist.org/article/reece/
The U.S. EPA estimates that over 700 miles of healthy streams have been completely buried by mountaintop removal and thousands more have been damaged. Where there once flowed a highly braided system of headwater streams, now a vast circuitry of haul roads winds through the rubble. From the air, it looks like someone had tried to plot a highway system on the moon.
Prayers of Intersession
Response: Lord, lead us to the fullness of life.
For an end to all our wars and violence, we pray.
For an end to all of our violence and abuse of other human beings, we pray.
For an end to our overconsumption of the things of our world, we pray.
For an end to all our practices which abuse and destroy our environment, we pray..
For a total commitment to promote life in our society, we pray.
For a culture of justice, respect, and active nonviolence, we pray.
Prayer for the Environmental Common Good By: Jane Deren
As we breathe the very air which sustains us,
We remember your love, God,
which gives us life.
Fill us with your compassion for Creation.
Empty us of apathy, selfishness and fear,
of all pessimism and hesitation.
Breathe into us solidarity
with all who suffer now
and the future generations who will suffer
because of our environmental irresponsibility.
Move us into action
to save our earth
and to build your sustainable Kingdom.
O Virgin full of courage,
may your spiritual strength
and trust in God inspire us,
so that we might know
how to overcome all the obstacles
that we encounter
in accomplishing our mission.
Teach us to treat the affairs
of the world
with a real sense of Christian responsibility
and a joyful hope
of the coming of God's Kingdom, and
of a "new heaven and a new earth".
John Paul II Christifideles Laici