Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]

Engaging Faith | Mon, Jul 9, 2012

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary reflections for the fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time- July 15, 2012.

Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]
July 15, 2012

Amos 7:12-15
Ephesians 1:3-14 or 1:3-10
Mark 6:7-13

July 14: Bastille Day (France) 
July 18: Birth of Nelson Mandela
July 20: Ramadan (Muslim Holy Month) begins (in North America Ramadan starts on the 21st)

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (12:21). Evil is never defeated by evil; once that road is taken, rather than defeating evil, one will instead be defeated by evil.  The great Apostle brings out a fundamental truth: peace is the outcome of a long and demanding battle which is only won when evil is defeated by good.
John Paul II, Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 2005
Catholic social teaching is a central and essential element of our faith. Its roots are in the Hebrew prophets who announced God's special love for the poor and called God's people to a covenant of love and justice. It is a teaching founded on the life and words of Jesus Christ, who came "to bring glad tidings to the poor . . . liberty to captives . . . recovery of sight to the blind"(Lk 4:18-19), and who identified himself with "the least of these," the hungry and the stranger (cf. Mt 25:45). Catholic social teaching is built on a commitment to the poor. This commitment arises from our experiences of Christ in the Eucharist.
US Bishops, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions
The Scriptures say, "Without a vision the people perish" (Prv 29:18). As Catholics, we have an inspiring vision in our social teaching. In a world that hungers for a sense of meaning and moral direction, this teaching offers ethical criteria for action. In a society of rapid change and often confused moral values, this teaching offers consistent moral guidance for the future. For Catholics, this social teaching is a central part of our identity. In the words of John Paul II, it is "genuine doctrine" (Centesimus Annus, no. 5).
US Bishops, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions
In the Old Testament, the prophets after Amos keep affirming with particular vigor the requirements of justice and solidarity and the need to pronounce a very severe judgment on the rich who oppress the poor. They come to the defense of the widow and the orphan. They threaten the powerful: the accumulation of evils can only lead to terrible punishments. Faithfulness to the Covenant cannot be conceived of without the practice of justice. Justice as regards God and justice as regards mankind are inseparable. God is the defender and the liberator of the poor.
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 
Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation 6
Our faithfulness will depend on our willingness to go where there is brokenness, loneliness, and human need. If the church has a future it is a future with the poor in whatever form.
- Henri J.M. Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey
Thoughts for your Consideration
Today’s scriptures focus us on God’s call – to Amos, to Paul, to the Twelve, and to us. The call was not and is not always easy. As always, the call of God has social implications.
In the first reading Amos is expelled for being a prophet.  It is important that we remember that Amos was a particularly strong prophet in the area of social justice.  Amos was not afraid to speak up and talk about those who “sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals.  They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way.” (Amos 2:6-7)  We must not forget the message that caused Amos to be so unpopular.
Paul praises God for choosing us to be “holy and blameless” and to share the wonder of this message with the world. As with Amos, when we make this beautiful message concrete and unpack its social implications for our world, we might run into trouble.  Paul certainly did in his time.  This call to be holy has social implications.
Today Jesus sends the Twelve to drive out the evil spirits that are in the world.  As we know from our social teaching, the evil spirits today include all kinds of powers that move us away from what is just and good for all God’s people.  We are called [with God’s help] to drive out materialism, racism, militarism, greed, consumerism, and all the other forces in our world that are opposed to the spirit of God.  [Jesus tells the Twelve to keep their lives simple, without money and other extra possessions, so as to keep their lives simple and their ministry uncorrupted by possessions.]
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

What are the evil spirits that you would like to drive out of our world?  
What are the evil spirits that are causing us difficulty in our social structures and institutions?
What evil spirits have become more apparent as the financial crisis and recession have unfolded over the last five years?
What are the evils that seem to be coming apparent as the presidential election season unfolds?
Two shorts stories about materialism:
What do you think?
Actions - Links
Vatican: Catholic Church 'committed' to universal healthcare
The International Violence Against Women Act
Woman Thrive Worldwide tells us “The International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) was recently reintroduced into the U.S. House of Representatives! This groundbreaking legislation would put the weight of U.S. foreign policy and international assistance behind ending the global epidemic of gender-based violence, which affects one in three women and girls worldwide.”  Urge your congressperson to support this bill at 
Ramadan (Muslim Holy Month) begins about July 20.
For various short articles on interreligious dialogue go to:
For various statements from the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue go to:
“Crazy Facts” 

Woman Thrive Worldwide tells us “Over a billion people worldwide live on a dollar a day or less — and women make up a majority of the world’s poorest citizens. Women face unique economic barriers in developing countries, such as unequal property rights, low wages, bad working conditions, and lack of access to credit.  When women are poor, families and communities cannot be strong. Women living in poverty face greater challenges in earning a steady income, feeding their children, and escaping violence.”
Prayers of Intercession

Response: God, let us proclaim your justice to the world.
For children who do not have access of education, we pray….
For women who are denied equal rights in our societies, we pray….
For all those who do not have enough to eat, we pray….
For all those who continue to suffer from HIV/AIDS, we pray….
For refugees who are struggling to find a safe and peaceful place to live, we pray….
For an end to war between nations and other groups of people, we pray….
For our planet earth that we may use it responsibly and respectably, we pray….
Prayer – Meditation

The following is from the web site of CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development and can be found at: 
Scales of Justice (based on Amos 8:4-7)
Our choice could
tip the balance
in favour of the poor
and lighten the load
of those weighed down
We could level inequality
And distribute warehouse mountains
Share out the wealth
that was never ours to hoard
Turn the tables
On those who play
the markets
We could stockpile generosity
And speculate in hope
Sell up our shares in selfishness
And settle for the dividends
of solidarity
For added value
build portfolios of justice
Or an ISA in the growth
of the kingdom of God
Buy shares in trust and act in faith
Risk our securities to find a richer life
May the percentage of our interest
In people rise,
And may we be the prophets
of hope
© Sophie Stanes / CAFOD
PDF icon Lectionary_July 15, 2012.pdf132.53 KB