Engaging Faith | Tue, Jan 1, 2013
Lectionary reflections for Epiphany - 6 January 2012.
January 6, 2013
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
January 6: Epiphany of the Lord
January 6-12: National Migration Week http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migra...
January 7: Orthodox Christmas Day
January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
The words of the apostle Paul, “caritas Christi urget nos” (2 Cor 5:14), urge us to give ourselves preferentially to our brothers and sisters who are most in need.
~ Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Migrant and Refugees 2007
In Christ Jesus "there does not exist among you Jew or Greek, slave or freedom, male or female. All are one in Christ Jesus." …. It is in Christ, that the Church finds the central cause for its commitment to justice, and to the struggle for the human right and dignity of all persons.
~ Brothers and Sisters are Us, US Bishops
“We belong to one human family. As such we have mutual obligations to promote the rights and development of all people across communities, nations, and the world, irrespective of national boundaries. In particular, the rich nations have responsibility toward the poor nations, and the structures of the international order must reflect justice.”
~ Catholic Social Teaching, Our Best Kept Secret, page 24
“In the course of twenty centuries of history, the generations of Christians have periodically faced various obstacles to this universal Mission. Despite such adversities, the Church constantly renews her deepest inspiration, that which comes to her directly from the Lord: To the whole world! To all creation! Right to the ends of the earth! She did this once more at the last Synod, as an appeal not to imprison the proclamation of the Gospel by limiting it to one sector of mankind or to one class of people or to a single type of civilization.”
~ Paul VI, On Evangelization in the Modern World, Evangelii Nuntiandi
The migrant is a human person who possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance (cf. n. 62).
~ Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Migrant and Refugees 2010
Asylum seekers, who fled from persecution, violence and situations that put their life at risk, stand in need of our understanding and welcome, of respect for their human dignity and rights, as well as awareness of their duties.
~ Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Migrant and Refugees 2011
Thoughts for your consideration
In an age of globalization, the celebration of Epiphany takes on more importance than ever. The magi are not Jews, but they seek the Christ as do the Jewish people. Christ is a light for the whole world. Christ calls together the whole world and all its peoples. Christ calls for a healing of divisions and openness to learn from all people. Christ calls for a just world order – trade policies that respect the economic opportunities of all people especially the poor – environmental policies that respect the world that we all share together – spending policies that respond to human needs – investment in human needs rather than the weapons of war – a world that lives in an environmentally sustainable way -- a greater equality in sharing the fruits of our work and our earth.
The Feast of the Epiphany invites us to celebrate the wonderful reality that Jesus came as a light to all people, not just to some subset of the human race. Thus, the categorical exclusion of anyone contradicts the good news of Jesus Christ. Racism, stereotyping, discrimination, xenophobia, ethnic violence, extreme income & asset inequality are all wrong.
The behavior of Herod reflects the behavior of one who is afraid. The news about a new child to be “king” threatens his kingship. Rather than learning from the wisdom of the foreign visitors, he is afraid, and seeks to destroy what they came to discover.
The behavior of the foreign visitors or magi is the behavior of those who seek the truth at great cost. The child offers a vision that is worth traveling a long distance to experience. Jesus offers a light that is worth sharing. In the wisdom of a child born in humble circumstances, they find a wonderful light, a powerful good news, and a liberation from sin, injustice, and prejudice.
The foreigners experience the power and the gift of Christ. They also bring gifts with them gifts that are given to the child but also “gifts” that open our eyes to the experience of the light of Christ as a gift for the whole world. This mutuality is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Giving and receiving happen at the same time. This must be true in our ministry for justice.
The story of the magi has implications for many aspects of church ministry. No one is to be excluded from the light of Christ. Whether we are young or old, female or male, gay or straight, rich or poor, black or white, from the south or the north, from the east or the west, from a famous school or a very ordinary one, employed or unemployed, healthy or sick, born in the US or elsewhere, we are all invited to experience the epiphany.
In the United States over the last few years immigration policies have become a matter of great discussion. Today is the start of National Immigration Week. The Feast of Epiphany invites us to reflect on these issues and translate our faith into an inclusive welcome to all God’s children.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
When have you lived outside of our own country or culture?
How did this influence your understanding of Jesus Christ and the gospel?
The good news of Christ is to be good news for the whole world.
Have you ever felt excluded from the good news of Christ?
How did this experience of exclusion come to be healed?
A Sufi of forbidding appearance arrived at the doors of the palace. No one dared to stop him as he made his way right up to the throne on which the saintly Ibrahim ben Adam sat.
"What is it you want?" asked the King.
"A place to sleep in this inn."
"This is no inn. This is my palace."
"May I ask who owned this place before you?"
"My father. He is dead."
"And who owned it before him?"
"My grandfather. He is dead too."
"And this place where people lodge for a brief while and move on—did I hear you say it was not an inn?"
Actions - Links
National Migration Week: We are Strangers No Longer: Our Journey of Hope Continues
>> Resources for liturgy and other info about National Migration Week (January6-12) can be found at the site of the NCCB/USCC Office for Migration and Refugee Services: http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migra... . >> Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees can be found at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/migration/docume...
>> Visit the Justice for Immigrants website where you can find a wide range of educational resources on immigration and Catholic Social Teaching. http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/index.shtml
>> Strangers No Longer Together on the Journey of Hope, a Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States, can be found at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigratio...
January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
Various information and educational resources can be found at the web pages of the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center. http://www.ipjc.org/links/trafficking.htm
Also check out the web site of the Not for Sale Campaign at:
“There are more than 30 million slaves in the world today, more than at any other point in human history.” https://secure.notforsalecampaign.org/about/slavery/
Justice for Immigrants, a campaign of the USCCB, provides lots of info about immigrants at
http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/myths.shtml like the following:
While first generation, non-English speaking immigrants predictably have lower rates of English proficiency than native speakers, 91% of second generation immigrants are fluent or near fluent English speakers. By the third generation, 97% speak English fluently or near fluently.
Between one half and three quarters of undocumented immigrants pay state and federal taxes. They also contribute to Medicare and provide as much as 7 billion dollars a year to the Social Security Fund.
Harvard sociologist Robert Sampson has found that first generation immigrants are 45% less likely to commit violent crimes than Americanized, third generation immigrants.
A recent study produced by the Pew Hispanic Center reveals that “Rapid increases in the foreign-born population at the state level are not associated with negative effects on the employment of native-born workers.”
Prayers of Intercession
Response: God of all people, lead us on the road to peace.
For our church that we will be a welcoming community, we pray….
For our nation that we will be a welcoming country, we pray….
For the many refugees struggling around our world, we pray….
For migrants who have left their lands to find new homes and work, we pray….
For all peoples that they may learn a way to welcome and respect new people into their lands, we pray….
For effective dialogue to replace the fighting and barriers between peoples, we pray….
For an end to the persistent sighting between ethnic groups all over our world, we pray….
For those who are victims of human trafficking or modern day slavery, we pray….
For cooperation between all people to bring an end to the abuse of our environment, we pray….
National Migration Week: A Collected Book of Prayers for Migrants can be found at:
http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migra... . One prayer from this booklet is here:
Good and gracious God, we thank you for the gift of families.
We are grateful for all of the joy and love that they bring into our lives, and we ask that you provide special protection for all families, particularly those who face hardships as they move in search of a better life.
Show mercy to those who travel in danger, and lead them to a place of safety and peace.
Comfort those who are alone and afraid because their families have been torn apart by violence and injustice.
As we reflect upon the difficult journey that the Holy Family faced as refugees in Egypt, help us to remember the suffering of all migrant families.
Through the intercession of Mary our Mother, and St. Joseph the Worker, her spouse, we pray that all migrants may be reunited with their loved ones and find the meaningful work they seek.
Open our hearts so that we may provide hospitality for all who come in search of refuge.
Give us the courage to welcome every stranger as Christ in our midst.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
The following is from http://www.diochi.org.uk/content/prayer4.htm and attributed to Pax Christi:
An Inter-faith prayer for peace
God, you are the source of life and peace.
Praised be your name for ever.
We know it is you who turn our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our prayer in this time of crisis.
Your power changes hearts.
Muslims, Christians and Jews remember, and profoundly affirm,
that they are followers of the one God, children of Abraham, brothers and sisters.
Enemies begin to speak to one another;
those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
nations seek the way of peace together.
Strengthen our resolve to give witness to these truths by the way we live.
Give to us:
understanding that puts an end to strife;
mercy that quenches hatred, and
forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower all people to live in your law of love. Amen.