Engaging Faith | Mon, Mar 12, 2012
Lectionary reflections for the fourth Sunday in Lent 2012.
Fourth Sunday in Lent [b]
March 18, 2012
2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
[Some Catholic communities may opt to use the alternate A-cycle readings if they are celebrating the Scrutinies with the RCIA.]
March 17: St. Patrick’s Day
March 19: St. Joseph’s Day
March 20: Spring Equinox
March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
March 22: World Water Day
… despite the profession of good intentions, the value of the person, of human dignity and human rights is seriously threatened by the widespread tendency to have recourse exclusively to the criteria of utility, profit and material possessions ….
-- Benedict XVI, 1 January 2012
Yes, even today the Lord hears the cry of the multitudes longing for joy, peace, and love. As in every age, they feel abandoned. Yet, even in the desolation of misery, loneliness, violence and hunger that indiscriminately afflict children, adults, and the elderly, God does not allow darkness to prevail.
-- Benedict XVI, 2006 Lenten Message
Faced with the tragic situation of persistent poverty which afflicts so many people in our world, how can we fail to see that the quest for profit at any cost and the lack of effective, responsible concern for the common good have concentrated immense resources in the hands of a few while the rest of humanity suffers in poverty and neglect?
-- John Paul II, 2003 Lenten Message
Respect for nature by everyone, a policy of openness to immigrants, the cancellation or significant reduction of the debt of poorer nations, the promotion of peace through dialogue and negotiation, the primacy of the rule of law: these are the priorities which the leaders of the developed nations cannot disregard. A global world is essentially a world of solidarity!
-- John Paul II, Address to George W Bush, 23 July 2001
… conversion is a lifelong process. And, it is not undertaken alone. It occurs with the support of the whole believing community, through baptism, common prayer, and our daily efforts, large and small, on behalf of justice. As a Church, we must be people after God's own heart, bonded by the Spirit, sustaining one another in love, setting our hearts on God's kingdom, committing ourselves to solidarity with those who suffer, working for peace and justice, acting as a sign of Christ's love and justice in the world.
-- U.S. Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, 24
Thoughts for your consideration
The scriptures today emphasize redemption and salvation, even in the midst of human sinfulness.
* The book of Chronicles summarizes the history of turning away from God and then talks of the rebuilding – even of the temple. In an amazing way, after the experience of destruction and exile, there comes a return from exile and a rebuilding of the temple.
* Ephesians uses the images of death and being brought back to life by grace.
* The gospel of John uses the images of light and darkness. God does not want us to perish but have life.
The sin of the world - social sin – can cause us to be discouraged. The problems and divisions of our society and world seem do much to deal with. It seems our contemporary history of failure in following God’s way is not unlike the history described in Chronicles. Without focusing on blame, examples abound.
* After four years of the great recession, unemployment is still high. Housing prices are still down. Foreclosures are still a problem.
* Most of Europe is suffering from the so called debt crisis. Unemployment is very high in many nations. People are worried.
* Even before the economic crisis, over two billion people in our world lived on less than two dollars a day. A billion people live with chronic hunger. Even in the midst of the economic crisis, many others enjoy tremendous wealth and privilege. Inequality abounds.
* Many children in our world have access to very minimal education. In the US some children enjoy excellent education and others attend ineffective, under-funded schools. Even in a wealthy nation like the United States, maybe 25% of our children experience poverty.
* The nations of the world spend trillions on weapons.
* We witness violence in the world and feel that we don’t know how to stop it, for example in Syria.
* The war in Afghanistan drags on year and after year. Most people don’t seem to have been helped. Things seem to get worse not better. Innocents are killed. Corruption continues.
* Political leaders operate without transparency. Political expedience and ideology have dominated decision making. The election in the US drags on.
* In the United States political divisions abound. Negative campaigning abounds. Important issues are not always discussed. The congress cannot get things done in a timely way.
The gospel reminds us that God desires that we “might not perish but might have eternal life.” Ephesians reminds us that there is a salvation that comes by grace. At this point in human history we are called to open ourselves once again to this grace so that we can rebuild a world of social justice and nonviolence, a world of light not darkness, a world of life not death. Now is a time for rebuilding a world of justice and peace.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
How so economic problems affect you and your family?
How do they affect people that you know?
How does your faith speak to you about these realities?
What things in public life most upset or discourage you?
How do you bring these evils to your prayer?
How to you respond to these evils in your action?
The Seven Blunders of the World is a list that Mohandas Gandhi gave to his grandson Arun Gandhi on their final day together, shortly before his assassination.
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Knowledge without character
Commerce without morality
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice
Politics without principle
Actions - Links
March 22 is world water day. Learn more at http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/
The Bishops petition for a change in our policies on nuclear weapons. Sign their petition.
“At a time of fiscal restraints, our nation is currently planning to spend about $210 billion over the next ten years to maintain our Cold War-based nuclear force structure. We could save tens of billions of dollars for other needs. As the Second Vatican Council taught:"[T]he arms race is an utterly treacherous trap for humanity, and one which ensnares the poor to an intolerable degree."”
Election 2012: Catholics Vote for the Common Good. The new website is now active at http://commongood2012.org
There are 7 billion people to feed on the planet today and another 2 billion are expected to join by 2050. Statistics say that each of us drinks from 2 to 4 litres of water every day, however most of the water we ‘drink’ is embedded in the food we eat: producing 1 kilo of beef for example consumes 15,000 litres of water while 1 kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 litres.
Water scarcity already affects every continent and more than 40 percent of the people on our planet. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water stressed conditions.
The National Center on Family Homelessness reports that families experiencing homelessness:
* Are typically comprised of a mother in her late twenties with two children
* 84% of families experiencing homelessness are female-headed.
* 42% of children in homeless families are under age six.
* More than half of all homeless mothers do not have a high school diploma.
* 29% of adults in homeless families are working.
Prayers of Intercession
Response: May we all share eternal life with one another.
For the homeless and the hungry, we pray….
For the unemployed and underemployed, we pray….
For the two billion people who live on less than two dollars a day, we pray….
For all those who are worried and anxious about their material needs, we pray….
For people without access to healthy water and sanitation, we pray…..
For people caught up in the wars and violence in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo, and all the other places, we pray….
For those who have positions of leadership and responsibility in our troubled times, we pray….
For those who generously share their goodness and love in the midst of all the troubles and injustice, we pray….
God of Compassion,
You let your rain fall on the just and the unjust.
Expand and deepen our hearts so that we may love as You love,
even those among us who have caused the greatest pain by taking life.
For there is in our land a great cry for vengeance
as we fill up death rows and kill the killers in the name of justice, in the name of peace.
Jesus, our brother, You suffered execution at the hands of the state
but you did no let hatred overcome you.
Help us to reach out to victims of violence
so that our enduring love may help them heal.
Holy Spirit of God, You strengthen us in the struggle for justice.
Help us to work tirelessly for the abolition of stat-sanctioned death
and to renew our society in its very heart so that violence will be no more.
-- Helen Prejean, CSJ (Prayer cards available from The Pax Christi Store)
O loving God, help us to be masters of the weapons that threaten to master us. Help us to use science for peace and plenty, not for war and destruction. …Save us from the compulsion to follow our adversaries in all that we most hate, confirming them in their hatred and suspicion of us. Resolve our inner contradictions, which now grow beyond belief and beyond bearing… Grant light, grant strength and patience to all who work for peace; grant us prudence in proportion to our power, wisdom in proportion to our science, humanness in proportion to our wealth and might. And bless our earnest will to help all races and peoples to travel, in friendship with us, along the road to justice, liberty and lasting peace.
-- Thomas Merton, Non Violent Alternative