Engaging Faith | Tue, Apr 17, 2012
Lectionary reflections for the third Sunday of Easter, April 22, 2012.
Third Sunday of Easter [b]
April 22, 2012
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
1 John 2:1-5a
April 22: Earth Day
April 25: Administrative Professionals Day
“Our nation has been blessed with great freedom, vibrant democratic traditions, unprecedented economic strengths, abundant natural resources, and a generous and religious people. Yet not all is right with our nation. Our prosperity does not reach far enough. Our culture does not lift us up; instead it may bring us down in moral terms. This new world we lead is still too dangerous, giving rise to ethnic cleansing and an inability to confront hunger and genocide. We are still falling short of the American pledge of “liberty and justice for all,” our declaration to defend the inalienable rights of the person--“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
-- U.S. Bishops, Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium
To rediscover and make others rediscover the inviolable dignity of every human person makes up an essential task, in a certain sense, the central and unifying task of the service which the Church, and the lay faithful in her, are called to render to the human family.
-- John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation on the Vocation of the Laity, Christifideles Laici
When the common good is promoted at every level, peace is promoted. Can an individual find complete fulfillment without taking account of his social nature, that is, his being "with" and "for" others? The common good closely concerns him. It closely concerns every expression of his social nature: the family, groups, associations, cities, regions, states, the community of peoples and nations. Each person, in some way, is called to work for the common good, constantly looking out for the good of others as if it were his own.
-- John Paul II, 1 January 2005
Integral human development is closely linked to the obligations which flow from man’s relationship with the natural environment. The environment must be seen as God’s gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations.
-- Pope Benedict XVI, 1 January 2010
Protecting the natural environment in order to build a world of peace is thus a duty incumbent upon each and all.
-- Pope Benedict XVI, 1 January 2010
Thoughts for your consideration
All three scriptures today speak about “repentance and the forgiveness of sins.” The risen Jesus proclaims forgiveness, renewal, and new life. The attitude of Christians is not to be one of revenge and violence, but of reconciliation and forgiveness.
The early church community could have reacted to the killing of Jesus, their leader, by trying to get revenge or by trying to destroy those who killed Jesus or throwing out those who denied or betrayed Jesus. They were initially afraid of the authorities; however, Jesus came saying “Peace be with you.” Jesus came giving the power to forgive. Instead of fear, revenge and violence, the early community seems to have adopted an attitude of forgiveness and reconciliation, even toward those who had been so hostile to Jesus and his teaching and even toward those who persecuted the early Christian community.
John writes that Jesus “is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.” In the gospel, Jesus says that this repentance and forgiveness are to be proclaimed to the whole world. Christians are called to believe that sins can be forgiven and are called to forgive other people.
In what way are we also called to apply this attitude of peace and forgiveness to social sins?
To groups of people, nations, and institutions?
To nation leaders and various political groups?
To situations of economic inequality?
To situations of violence and war?
To those who have gotten our nation into war?
To those who have gotten our economy into a financial mess?
To our use and abuse of our planet and its creatures?
We are not called to be passive and do nothing in the face of injustice.
We are called to speak up strongly and act boldly.
We are called to an active and loving nonviolence.
How does this spirit of forgiveness influence our action for justice?
Desmond Tutu, in his book on the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa, No Future Without Forgiveness, wrote “… to forgive is indeed the best form of self-interest since anger, resentment and revenge are corrosive of that summum bonum, that greatest good, communal harmony that enhances the humanity and personhood of all in the community."
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
With what institutions or organizations in our world today do you get upset?
Which political leaders upset you?
Do you find it hard to forgive them?
How does “repentance for the forgiveness of sins?”
Since September 11, 2001, it seems clear that the United States engaged in torture and abuse of prisoners. How does the forgiveness apply?
Today, April 22, is Earth Day. What to the scriptures say to our human behavior toward the earth and its creatures? What kind of forgiveness and repentance is needed?
The Scriptures and Earth Day 2012
It is always interesting and enlightening to read the scriptures in the context of our particular human situation and in light of our contemporary questions and problems. Today is earth day and so it is very appropriate to ask if the scriptures today have anything to say to us.
First, of course, we need to be aware of our situation. We have a moral obligation to be aware of the environmental impact of our human behavior. We need to be well educated and open to findings of good scientific study.
Second, we have to be aware of our church’s teaching on moral behavior and care for creation. Pope Benedict wrote the following for the start of 2010:
Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of “environmental refugees”, people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement? Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources? All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human rights, such as the right to life, food, health and development.
Third, we have to listen to what the scriptures are saying to us today. In today’s first two readings we are challenged to consider our sinfulness. In Acts we read the strong statement by Peter: “The author of life you have put to death.” In John’s letter we read “If anyone does sin we have an Advocate….” In some way our sins against creation are killing the planet. In some ways we are still crucifying the Christ who is the Author of Life.
Fourth, we must respond with a sense of hope. All three Easter time readings call us to be hopeful. Our sins can be forgiven. We have a message of hope to share.
"Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things."
Actions - Links
“Catholic Coalition on Climate Change supports and complements USCCB’s Office of Social Development and World Peace and the bishops' Environmental Justice Program. The Coalition is funded with generous assistance from the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.” Find out more and look at their resources at http://www.catholicsandclimatechange.org/
To read Benedict’s message for the World Day of Peace 2010, If you want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation, go to http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/...
Another statement of Benedict can be found at:
If you are involved in higher education and are interested in environmental issues:
“Some 1000 billion tons of carbon dioxide and other climatically important “greenhouse” gases have been pumped into the atmosphere. As a result, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air now exceeds the highest levels of the last 800,000 years.”
“Each of the last 11 years (2001–2011) features as one of the 12 warmest on record.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrumental_temperature_record
See also: in Commonweal Magazine Global Suicide Pact: Why Don’t We Take Climate Change Seriously? By Richard W. Miller
“Prayers in Intercession”
Prayers of Petition
O Lord, grant us the grace to respect and care for your creation.
Lord, hear our prayer.
O Lord, bless all of your creatures as a sign of your wondrous love.
Lord, hear our prayer.
O Lord, help us to end the suffering of the poor and bring healing
to all of your creation.
Lord, hear our prayer.
O Lord, help us to use our technological inventiveness to undo
the damage we have done to your creation and to sustain your gift
Lord, hear our prayer.
Prayer - Meditation
St. Francis’s Canticle of the Sun
O most High, almighty, good Lord God,
to you belong praise, glory, honor, and all blessing!
Praised be my Lord God with all creatures;
and especially our brother the sun, which brings us the day, and the light;
fair is he, and shining with a very great splendor:
O Lord, he signifies you to us!
Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon,
and for the stars, which God has set clear and lovely in heaven.
Praised be my Lord for our brother the wind,
and for air and cloud, calms and all weather,
by which you uphold in life all creatures.
Praised be my Lord for our sister water,
which is very serviceable to us,
and humble, and precious, and clean.
Praised be my Lord for brother fi re,
through which you give us light in the darkness:
and he is bright, and pleasant, and very mighty, and strong.
Praised be my Lord for our mother the Earth,
which sustains us and keeps us,
and yields diverse fruits,
and flowers of many colors, and grass.
Praised be my Lord for all those who pardon
one another for God’s love’s sake,
and who endure weakness and tribulation;
blessed are they who peaceably shall endure,
for you, O most High, shall give them a crown!
Praised be my Lord for our sister,
the death of the body,
from which no one escapes.
Woe to him who dies in mortal sin!
Blessed are they who are found walking
by your most holy will,
for the second death shall have no
power to do them harm.
Praise you, and bless you the Lord,
and give thanks to God, and serve God
with great humility.