Engaging Faith | Mon, Mar 28, 2011
Fourth Sunday of Lent [a]
April 3, 2011
1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
April 2: World Autism Awareness Day
April 4: International Day for Landmine Awareness
April 7: World Health Day, http://www.who.int/world-health-day/en
It is in community that we come to see God in the other. It is in community that we see our own emptiness filled up. It is community that calls me beyond the pinched horizons of my own life, my own country, my own race, and gives me the gifts I do not have within me.
- Joan Chittister OSB
In the gospel according to Luke, Jesus began his public life by reading a passage from
Isaiah that introduced his ministry and the mission of every parish. The parish must
proclaim the transcendent message of the gospel and help:
- bring "good news to the poor" in a society where millions lack the necessities of life;
- bring "liberty to captives" when so many are enslaved by poverty, addiction, ignorance, discrimination, violence, or disabling conditions;
- bring "new sight to the blind" in a culture where the excessive pursuit of power or pleasure can spiritually blind us to the dignity and rights of others;
- and "set the downtrodden free" in communities where crime, racism, family disintegration, and economic and moral forces leave people without real hope (cf. Lk 4:18).
U.S. Bishops, Communities of Salt and Light
Pius XI … “taught what the supreme criterion in economic matters ought not to be. It must not be the special interests of individuals or groups, nor unregulated competition, economic despotism, national prestige or imperialism, nor any other aim of this sort. On the contrary, all forms of economic enterprise must be governed by the principles of social justice and charity.”
John XXIII, Mater and Magistra 38-39
A time comes when silence is betrayal. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, people do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought, within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world.
- Martin Luther King Jr.
The Sunday of the man born blind presents Christ as the light of the world. The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” “Lord, I believe!” (Jn 9: 35. 38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as “children of the light”.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2011
Thoughts for your consideration
As we reflect on the experience of the man born blind, we might reflect on the millions of people in our world who experience actual physical blindness.
In light of Catholic Social Teaching, we might also look at the spiritual or cultural blindness that we all encounter in our world and the desire of Christ to heal us and our world.
One in six children in the United States experience poverty, yet many of us don’t see them. Billions of people throughout the world experience poverty, yet many people of the world don’t notice them.
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by all the problems and we do not see the hopeful possibilities that can unfold by the power of God. Sometimes we see people, not as they are, but through the lens of our prejudice and stereotypes. Racism, xenophobia, and other attitudes can affect our vision.
How we see is often affected by the media and other cultural forces of society. Thus, we experience a certain blindness even though our eyes are working. We hear what people tell us and see what they show us, but we don’t see for ourselves.
Christ wants us to have open eyes and ready hearts, so that we can see and then have the freedom to act with justice and love. As we reflect on today’s scriptures, we might reflect on our need to see things in a new way -outside of the box of our culture - outside of the limits of our American way of looking at things – outside of the ideologies of our age.
The story of John 9 is a powerful story about how one person comes to see while so many other people continue to be trapped by their own blindness. We all have our personal blind spots and prejudices. Our cultures have their blind spots and prejudices as well. Christ calls us to be free. Christ calls us to see in a new way, just as Samuel learned to see “not as man sees but as God sees.”
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
When were you “blind” in a certain situation?
What helped you to see it all in a new way? [What healed your blindness?]
How has your faith grown or changed?
How has your commitment to justice changed or developed?
How have come to see a situation of injustice in a new way?
Actions - Links
Sojourners whose “mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world” in reflection on the federal budget is asking the question WWJC – What would Jesus Cut?
“Congress is considering a budget plan that would make a 9 percent cut in discretionary spending while giving a 2 percent increase for military spending. This would be devastating for domestic programs that provide basic nutrition, health, and opportunity to poor children and international aid programs that save lives every day. As a country, we face difficult financial choices, but one thing that should not be on the table is to abandon the poor and vulnerable while allowing more military spending. Tell Congress to get its budget priorities in order.” Consider taking action at their site:
Greenpeace is joining up with around 200 coalition groups to deliver a petition to the President in early May on the one-year anniversary of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) President’s Cancer Panel report. They write: “One American will die from cancer every minute this year. But that can change. President Obama has the ability to reverse decades of failed policies and set the course for a national cancer prevention strategy that includes eliminating the use of cancer-causing chemicals in everyday products.” http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/news-and-blogs/campaign-blog/cancer-kills-one-american-every-minute/blog/33510
The Children’s Defense Fund’s report, The State of America's Children 2010, is “a compilation of the most recent and reliable national and state-by-state data on poverty, health, child welfare, youth at risk, early childhood development, education, family income and gun violence. The report provides a statistical compendium of key child data showing alarming numbers of children at risk: the number of poor children has increased by 2.5 million since 2000 to 14.1 million, with almost half of them living in extreme poverty, and 8.1 million children lack health coverage―with both numbers likely to increase during the recession” http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/data/state-of-americas-children-2010-report.html
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God, help us to see in a new way.
For those who are living in poverty, we pray….
For all those who are homeless, we pray….
For those living with mental illness, we pray….
For those caught up in the wars that are waging all around the world, we pray…..
For refugees and immigrants, we pray….
For all those of other religions, we pray….
For women throughout the world, we pray….
For single parents, we pray….
For all those who seem to be different than ourselves, we pray….
Prayer – Meditation
God, I believe that you can do new things. Help my unbelief!
I believe that you can help us to make a way in the desert. Help my unbelief.
I believe that you want to create rivers through the wasteland. Help my unbelief.
I believe that we are not stuck to just repeat the evils of the past. Help my unbelief.
I believe that I can do things that I was not able to do before. Help my unbelief.
I believe that I might be able to forgive my enemy. Help my unbelief.
I believe that peace among nations is possible. Help my unbelief.
I believe that we can overcome the ways of violence. Help my unbelief.
I believe that we can eliminate hunger and poverty. Help my unbelief
I believe that we can overcome racism. Help my unbelief.
I believe that we can create homes for everyone. Help my unbelief.
I believe that we can finally drop the stones of condemnation. Help my unbelief.
I believe that we will have a new heaven and a new earth. Help my unbelief.
I believe that with your Spirit we can all see things in a new way. Help my unbelief.
God, I believe that together we can do new things. Help my unbelief! Amen.