Engaging Faith | Wed, Jan 18, 2012
Lectionary Reflections in Cycle B
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time [b]
January 22, 2012
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
1 Corinthians 7:29-31
January 18-25: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
January 21-22: National Prayer Vigil for Life
January 29 – February 5: Catholic Schools Week
The members of the Church, as members of society, have the same right and duty to promote the common good as do other citizens. Christians ought to fulfill their temporal obligations with fidelity and competence. They should act as a leaven in the world, in their family, professional, social, cultural and political life.
Bishops Synod, Justice in the World, #38
Daily human events clearly evidence how much forgiveness and reconciliation are undeniably needed for bringing about a real personal and social renewal. This is valid in interpersonal relations but also among communities as well as nations.
John Paul II, Lent 2001
Every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And, taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a Heaven creature or into a hellish creature -- either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is, it is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Social sin is the crystallization ... of individuals’ sins into permanent structures that keeps sin in being and makes its force to be felt by the majority of people.
- Oscar Romero, Salvadoran archbishop, assassinated in 1980
Today, the same Christ is in people who are unwanted, unemployed, uncared for, hungry, naked, and homeless. They seem useless to the state and to society; nobody has time for them. It is you and I as Christians, worthy of the love of Christ if our love is true, who must find them, and help them; they are there for the finding.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Thoughts for your consideration
The scriptures today remind us that reform and change are possible.
God sends Jonah into an immense, secular city to proclaim repentance and renewal. Jonah goes with great reluctance and expects no success. However, he is surprised by success. The people of Nineveh change their lives.
After John has been arrested and thrown into prison, Jesus appears proclaiming: "This is the time of fulfillment. The reign of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." Some people are so inspired by this message that they leave everything, and follow Jesus.
We live in a time when reform and change are needed.
· In a very wealthy nation, too many people are living in poverty.
· There is vast income and asset inequality.
· We have homeless families and empty homes.
· Dramatically high unemployment rates have continued for years.
· Over two million people are in prison or jail.
· In a nation largely built by immigrants, we have millions who live with the fear of deportation.
· In spite of our commitment to equal opportunity, not all of our children have equal access to a quality education.
· In spite of spending more per person on health care than almost any nation, not everyone has access of quality care.
· In spite of rhetoric about peace, we are involved in war.
· In spite of plans to reduce defense spending, we still spend huge amounts on the world’s largest defense budget
· Even though we have only 6% of the world’s population, we are the world’s largest energy consumer and until very recently the largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions.
We live in a time where proclaiming reform and change can seem to be futile. We can feel discouraged or overwhelmed by the powers that be – by the desire to settle things by war, by political leaders who are not honest, by a political process than is controlled by those with the most money, by political policies that seem biased against the poor, by the values of the consumer culture, by the economic interests that seem to show no respect for the environment, and by many other ideologies and ways of acting. Change seems impossible. Certain secular values seem to have overwhelming power. Yet the scriptures invite us to believe that reform is possible, that change and growth can take place and that God is calling us to something better.
The scriptures today remind us that reform and change is possible, not only in our personal life and interpersonal relations, but also in our society and its institutions.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What social and political problems of today seem to you to be impossible to address or solve?
How does your faith give you courage to deal with these problems?
How do the current primary elections for president effect you and your sense of hope? How does it effect your desire to create a world centered on the common good of all?
The following is from the late Anthony DeMello’s collection of stories, The Song of the Bird:
The Sufi Bayazid says this about himself; “I was a revolutionary when I was young and alI my prayer to God was: ‘Lord give me the energy to change the world.’”
“As I approached middle age and realized that half my life was gone without my changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come in contact with me. Just my family and friends, and I shall be content,’”
‘Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, my one prayer is, ‘Lord, give me the grace to change myself.’ If I had prayed for this right from the start I should not have wasted my life.”
Actions – Links
- National Prayer Vigil for Life, Jan. 22-23, 2012: Info can be found at the web site of the Bishop’s Conference at http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/resources/index.cfm
- Christians around the world celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity together from January 18 to 25. For more info go to: http://www.oikoumene.org/programmes/unity-mission-evangelism-and-spiritu...
- The theme for Catholic Schools Week 2012 is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Academics. Service.” “The annual observance starts the last Sunday in January and runs all week, which in 2012 is January 29 to February 5. For more info go to: http://www.ncea.org/news/CatholicSchoolsWeek.asp
- Poverty USA is an initiative of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. CCHD is the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, working to break the cycle of poverty by helping people help themselves. Check out their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/povertyusa
- The fifteenth annual “Gandhi-King-Chavez Season for Nonviolence” is January 30–April 4, 2012. For info go to http://www.agnt.org/season-for-nonviolence
- “A season for Nonviolence, January 30 - April 4, is a national 64-day educational, media, and grassroots campaign dedicated to demonstrating that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform, and empower our lives and our communities. Inspired by the 50th and 30th memorial anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this international event honors their vision for an empowered, nonviolent world.
Today there are more African-Americans under correctional control — whether in prison or jail, on probation or on parole — than there were enslaved in 1850. And more African-American men are disenfranchised now because of felon disenfranchisement laws than in 1870. Reported at www.democracynow.org Listen to the interview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3i0E8qu_nA&feature=g-all-u&context=G2bda...
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God hears the cry of the poor.
For all those who go hungry today, we pray…..
For those who have no home in which to sleep this night, we pray….
For men and women who cannot find work that pays a living wage, we pray….
For children who are denied a quality education, we pray…
For women who do not have equal rights with men, we pray….
For all people who are denied political freedoms, we pray….
For all those who are incarcerated for any reasons at all, we pray…..
For all those who live in fear of torture, political oppression, and even death, we pray….
Prayer – Meditation
Immaculate Heart of Mary, help us to conquer the menace of evil,
which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today,
and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths toward the future.
From famine and war, deliver us.
From nuclear war, from incalculable self-destruction, from every kind of war, deliver us.
From sins against human life from its very beginning, deliver us.
From hatred and from the demeaning of the dignity of the children of God, deliver us.
From every kind of injustice in the life of society, both national and international, deliver us.
From readiness to trample on the commandments of God, deliver us.
From attempts to stifle in human hearts the very truth of God, deliver us. From the loss of awareness of good and evil, deliver us.
From sins against the Holy Spirit, deliver us.
Accept, O Mother of Christ, this cry laden with the sufferings of all individual human beings, laden with the sufferings of whole societies.
Help us with the power of the Holy Spirit conquer all sin: individual sin and the “sin of the world,” sin in all its manifestations.
Let there be revealed once more in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the redemption: the power of merciful love.
May it put a stop to evil.
May it transform consciences.
May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of hope.
~ Pope John Paul II