Engaging Faith | Sat, Apr 23, 2011
Second Sunday of Easter [a]
May 1, 2011
1 Peter 1:3-9
April 29: Arbor Day
May 1: Divine Mercy Sunday
May 1: May Day, International Worker’s Day, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker
May 3: National Teacher’s Day
May 5: Cinco de Mayo
May 8: Mother’s Day
We may all be tempted by the disbelief of Thomas. Suffering, evil, injustice, death, especially when it strikes the innocent such as children who are victims of war and terrorism, of sickness and hunger, does not all of this put our faith to the test? Paradoxically the disbelief of Thomas is most valuable to us in these cases because it helps to purify all false concepts of God and leads us to discover his true face: the face of a God who, in Christ, has taken upon himself the wounds of injured humanity.
Benedict XVI, Urbi and Orbi Message, Easter 2007
Partaking of the Lord’s table cannot be separated from the duty of loving our neighbor. Each time we partake in the Eucharist, we too say our "Amen" before the Body and Blood of the Lord. In doing so we commit ourselves to doing what Christ has done, to "washing the feet" of our brothers and sisters, becoming a real and visible image of the One who "emptied himself, taking the form of a servant" (Phil 2:7).
John Paul II, Homily, March 28, 2002
The solidarity which binds all people together as members of a common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist.
John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, #157
Injustice is rooted in a spiritual problem, and its solution requires a spiritual conversion of each one's heart and a cultural conversion of our global society so that humankind, with all the powerful means at its disposal, might exercise the will to change the sinful structures afflicting our world.
Hans Peter Kolvenbach SJ
The church fully supports the right of workers to form unions or other associations to secure their rights to fair wages and working conditions. This is a specific application of the more general right to associate. In the words of Pope John Paul II, "The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies." --US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #104
Thoughts for your consideration
The first reading from Acts reminds us of the commitment by the early Christian community to the communal life. They shared whatever they had and held all their possessions in common. They responded to the needs of all, especially the poor. We might think of applying this on the “micro level” to our personal lives and to our local communities. However, it might be even more fruitful to apply this on the “macro level” – to the level of nations and international institutions. Such an application might challenge us to look at issues of global development, international trade, global climate change, agriculture policy, worker’s rights, immigration, and educational opportunity in a new, challenging, and creative way.
The experience of Thomas in John’s gospel seems to invite us to consider issues of faith and issues of inclusion. Thomas seems to be troubled because he has not enjoyed the experience of the rest of the disciples. We might say that he desires to be included in their faith. Thomas experiences doubt and uncertainty. We might apply this to our personal struggle to be included and our personal effort to come to faith; however, we might also apply it to the “macro level” of nations and to all the structures and institutions of the international community. Not only do individuals struggle with questions of inclusion, but whole nations, cultures, and classes of people do as well. As peoples experience injustice they can feel excluded. The faith of all of us might in some way come into doubt as we find ourselves isolated and divided by injustice. We might find that it is hard to believe in a God of resurrection and new life, unless we are committed to a faith that works for justice in our society, unless we work for a world that includes justice for all.
Since today is also the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and International Worker’s Day, it might be a good occasion to apply the scriptures and our social teaching to the rights of workers. In the United States, rights of workers and unions have become under attack, especially in certain states. Income inequality has increased as the income of upper management has gone way up and the wages of ordinary workers have not. People cannot live well and raise a family by earning the minimum wage.
The share of total income going to the top-earning 1 percent of Americans went from 8 percent in 1980 to 16 percent in 2004. … the people at the very top saw their incomes surge: In the 1970s, corporate chief executives earned 30 times as much as the average worker. Ten years ago, CEO compensation was 116 times the average. CEOs now earn close to 300 times as much as the average worker. … During the same 10-year period, American workers became among the most productive in the rich, industrialized, world. But the growth in their wages, when adjusted for inflation, was spotty at best. All of the above is from: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7180618
In the first reading we hear that “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.” The question is how we apply this communal spirit to our common life today so that all people and all workers have what they need for a decent and good life. How do we work to include all people in the prosperity of our nation? How do we work so that people of all the nations of our world share the gifts of our world and its prosperity?
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What issues that arise in our world make it difficult for you to believe in the risen Jesus?
In the Acts of the Apostles we are told that the disciples devoted themselves to the communal life. In what ways to do you find yourself devoted to the communal life? How do you devote yourself to service, justice, and peace?
Actions - Links
Vaccines for children
“ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support smart and effective policies and programs that are saving lives, helping to put kids in school and improving futures.” http://www.one.org/us/ Tell President Obama: “Childhood vaccines are one of the most cost-effective ways to save lives and prevent disease for a lifetime. Please fund two proven new vaccines that will help stop pneumonia and diarrhea - two of the biggest killers of children in poor countries." http://www.one.org/us/actnow/vaccines2011/
Justice for Workers
“Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) calls upon our religious values in order to educate, organize, and mobilize the religious community in the U.S. on issues and campaigns that will improve wages, benefits, and working conditions for workers, especially low-wage workers.” http://www.iwj.org
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Risen Jesus, lead us to new life.
For a deeper faith that will be lived in the works of justice and peace, we pray….
For a powerful faith that will lead our world to an effective respect for life, we pray….
For an end to the death and suffering that follows from our wars and fighting, we pray….
For justice for all workers and work for all who need it, we pray….
For a new spirit of care and respect for every human person, we pray….
For a new spirit of joyful acceptance of our diversity, we pray….
For a renewed human community, healed of all divisions, we pray….
For Prayer and Meditation
Men and women of the Third Millennium,
the Easter gift of light
that scatters the darkness of fear and sadness
is meant for everyone;
all are offered the gift of the peace of the Risen Christ,
who breaks the chains of violence and hatred.
Rediscover today with joy and wonder
that the world is no longer a slave to the inevitable.
This world of ours can change:
peace is possible even where for too long
there has been fighting and death, as in the Holy Land and Jerusalem;
it is possible in the Balkans, no longer condemned
to a worrying uncertainty that risks
causing the failure of all proposals for agreement.
And you, Africa, a continent tormented
by conflicts constantly threatening,
raise your head confidently,
trusting in the power of the Risen Christ.
With his help, you too, Asia,
the cradle of age-old spiritual traditions,
can win the challenge of tolerance and solidarity;
and you, Latin America, filled with youthful promise,
only in Christ will you find the capacity and courage
needed for a development respectful of every human being.
Men and women of every continent,
draw from his tomb, empty now for ever,
the strength needed
to defeat the powers of evil and death,
and to place all research and all technical and social progress
at the service of a better future for all.
URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II
Easter Sunday, 15 April 2001