26th Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

Engaging Faith | Mon, Sep 19, 2011

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary reflections

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]
 September 25, 2011
Ezekiel 18:25-28
Philippians 2:1-11 or 2:1-5
Matthew 21:28-32
September 27: Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Patron of Charitable Societies
September 28: Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) starts at sunset.
October 1: International Day of Older Persons
Every citizen also has the responsibility to work to secure justice and human rights through an organized social response. In the words of Pius XI, "Charity will never be true charity unless it takes justice into account ... Let no one attempt with small gifts of charity to exempt himself from the great duties imposed by justice.” The guaranteeing of basic justice for all is not an optional expression of largesse but an inescapable duty for the whole of society. 
Economic Justice for All (#120)
The Old Testament prophets emphasize that worship and prayer are not pleasing to God unless they are accompanied by practical works of justice and charity. Following the Great Jubilee, we must acknowledge the call to commit ourselves ever more generously to working for justice and the liberation of the oppressed.
                                                John Paul II, General Audience, Jan. 10, 2001
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, defend the rights of those who have nothing. Speak up and judge fairly, and defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Proverbs 31:8-9
No one may claim the name of Christian and be comfortable in the face of hunger, homelessness, insecurity, and injustice found in this country and the world.
 Economic Justice for All (#27)

Thoughts for your consideration
(1) Like the second son in the gospel story, it is sometimes easy to pay lip service to the values of Catholic Social Teaching. The more challenging thing is to put those values into practice in our complex world with all its problems and history. [It is easy to put out public relations statements of concern. It is more of a challenge to do something.] 
(2.) Catholic Social Teaching assumes that religion has something to do with life and the way we behave. Good religion is not an escape from the world and its problems. This is the message of the gospel today and the message of the first reading.  Religion that is put into practice is religion that leads to life rather than death. Our behavior makes a difference. Catholic Christians are concerned with more than doctrine or ritual or piety.  They are concerned with ethical values, the common good, social structures, social sin, injustice, war and peace, institutions that promote peace and justice, and all these sorts of things.
(3.) Catholic Social Teaching invites us to act in the same spirit that animated Jesus. [At the same time, ethics is more than a simple WWJD. The ethical world is more complicated than a simple slogan. However, that does not mean than Jesus has nothing to say to us and our behavior.] Today Paul writes:  “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.”  In short Jesus acted in solidarity with others. We are invited to do the same.  We are invited to do so, even when it involves risk, as it did for Jesus. Jesus was free enough to let go of life.  The spirit of Jesus is one of liberation.
(4.) Change is possible.  The second son changed his no to a yes.   In a world of social sin, economic injustice, corrupted values, and all kinds of war and violence, it is possible for us to move in another direction. 
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
In the language of the second reading, when have you (or someone you knew) acted with the same attitude as Christ? 
How have you been affected by the “great recession” over the last three or four years? 
What are your worries and fears?
How has it changed your way of looking at things in America? 
Has it inspired you to do something different?
From the late Anthony DeMello SJ:
First, realize that you are surrounded by prison walls, that your mind has gone to sleep. It does not even occur to most people to see this, so they live and die as prison inmates.
Most people end up being conformists; they adapt to prison life. A few become reformers; they fight for better living conditions in the prison, better lighting, better ventilation.
Hardly anyone becomes a rebel, a revolutionary who breaks down the prison walls. You can only be a revolutionary when you see the prison walls in the first place.

Actions - Links
“Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples is an independent organization based in Hong Kong with an Asian focus. It was founded in 1979 when groups and individuals of the Church committed to Justice and Peace work in Hong Kong saw beyond the needs of the Territory and realized the urgency of an Asian-level involvement. They were inspired by Pope Paul VI's Encyclical letter "Progress of Peoples" (Populorum Progresso, 1967).”  Hotline Asia Urgent Appeals are requests for international solidarity and letter writing.
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS/USA) is urging Congress to say NO to cutting funding for refugee and disaster assistance. You can add your voice to this campaign at .
“Crazy Facts”
“At least 25 top United States companies paid more to their chief executives in 2010 than they did to the federal government in taxes.”
The US Census Bureau reports “Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate increased for children under age 18 (from 20.7 percent to 22.0 percent).”
The US Census Bureau reports “In 2010, 46.2 million people were in poverty, up from 43.6 million in 2009—the fourth consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty.”

Prayers of Intercession
Response: God, help us to live the good news of Jesus.
We pray for those who unemployed or underemployed.
We pray for those without health insurance and good medical care.
We pray for those cannot pay their basic living expenses.
We pray for those who are homeless or at risk for losing their homes.
We pray for those who are afraid of economic problems.
We pray for those who are well off.
We pray for immigrants and refugees.
We pray for those who are unaware of the needs of others.
We pray that we may all focus on the common good.
Prayer - Meditation
A Prayer for Compassion
From Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ
Oh God, I wish from now on
To be the first to become conscious
Of all that the world loves, pursues, and suffers;
I want to be the first to seek,
To sympathize and to suffer;
The first to unfold and sacrifice myself,
To become more widely human
And more nobly of the earth
Than any of the world’s servants.

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