Engaging Faith | Fri, Aug 9, 2013
Lectionary Reflections for Nineteen Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 11, 2013
Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time [c]
August 11, 2013
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 or 11:1-2, 8-12
Luke 12:32-48 or 12:35-40
August 9: Íd al-Fitr (Islam) end of Ramadan
August 9: International Day of the World's Indigenous People (United Nations celebration)
August 12: International Youth Day (United Nations celebration)
August 14: Feast of Maximilian Kolbe, priest and martyr
August 15: Feast of the Assumption of Mary
“Today, it would be good for all of us to ask ourselves sincerely: in whom do we place our trust? In ourselves, in material things, or in Jesus? We all have the temptation often to put ourselves at the center, to believe that we are the axis of the universe, to believe that we alone build our lives or to think that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But we all know that it is not so. Certainly, possessions, money and power can give a momentary thrill, the illusion of being happy, but they end up possessing us and making us always want to have more, never satisfied. And we end up “full”, but not nourished, and it is very sad to see young people “full”, but weak. Young people must be strong, nourished by the faith and not filled with other things!”
Pope Francis, July 25, 2013
“We must repeat that the superfluous goods of wealthier nations ought to be placed at the disposal of poorer nations. The rule, by virtue of which in times past those nearest us were to be helped in time of need, applies today to all the needy throughout the world. And the prospering peoples will be the first to benefit from this. Continuing avarice on their part will arouse the judgment of God and the wrath of the poor, with consequences no one can foresee. If prosperous nations continue to be jealous of their own advantage alone, they will jeopardize their highest values, sacrificing the pursuit of excellence to the acquisition of possessions. We might well apply to them the parable of the rich man. His fields yielded an abundant harvest and he did not know where to store it: ‘But God said to him, Fool, this very night your soul will be demanded from you . . .' "
Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 49
“The fundamental sin is exploitation, whether it be expressed in the domination of male over female, white over black, rich over poor, strong over weak, armed military over unarmed civilians, human beings over nature. These analogously abusive patterns interlock because they rest on the same base: a structure where an elite insists on its superiority and claims the right to exercise dominative power over all others considered subordinate, for its own benefit.”
Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, She Who Is, p. 27
“Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church's mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.”
1971 Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World, 6
“Being with Christ does not mean isolating ourselves from others. Rather, it is a ‘being with’ in order to go forth and encounter others.”
Pope Francis, July 27, 2013
Thoughts for your consideration
Jesus says to his disciples: "Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your God is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
The scriptures today invite us to keep our values (and valuables) in perspective and not to focus on the accumulation of money or possessions. The great people of faith, who are discussed in Hebrews, held onto values that transcended what was immediate. In this way they were so energized by their great faith that great things happened for them and their community.
To use the image of the gospel, the Christian is invited to respond to the knocking. Thus, the Christian is invited to listen to the call of those in the need and so to live responsibly in a spirit of justice for all, to respect and care for the earth, to treat all people and all of life with respect, to turn away from violence and war, to work for human rights, and to have special concern for the poor and marginalized.
Consider the words of Pope Francis from the recent World Youth Day in Brazil:
- “We all have the temptation often to put ourselves at the center, to believe that we are the axis of the universe, to believe that we alone build our lives or to think that our life can only be happy if built on possessions, money, or power. But we all know that it is not so.”
- “… build a better world, a world of brothers and sisters, a world of justice, of love, of peace, of fraternity, of solidarity.”
- “… our world civilization has gone beyond its limits, it has gone beyond its limits because it has made money into such a god that we are now faced with a philosophy and a practice which exclude the two ends of life that are most full of promise for peoples.”
- “What is the Lord saying to us? Three simple ideas: Go, do not be afraid, and serve.”
In the gospel story of the master who is abusive to others, we may hear the challenge to think about those who experience abuse in our contemporary world. We may recall those who experience abuse in a systemic way by our economic and political systems. We might be involved in the systems ourselves. We might note the systemic abuse of women and children in our economic system, the trafficking in women for use in the sex business, the enslavement of young African children to harvest cocoa beans for chocolate, the employment of people in poor working conditions at meager wages, the minimum wage workers who work in the fast food places in our neighborhoods, the large numbers of people experiencing abuse by oppressive governments, the people who live in fear of constant violence, the families who live in war zones, the sexual abuse crisis in the church, or many other examples.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
In the gospel Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
Where is your treasure?
Where is your heart?
Which of your behaviors reflect those values that are most important to you?
In the gospel we hear: “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.” How is God knocking on your door?
The Miser and His Gold
Once upon a time there was a miser who used to hide his gold at the foot of a tree in his garden; but every week he used to go and dig it up and gloat over his gains. A robber who had noticed this went and dug up the gold and hurried off with it. When the miser next came to gloat over his treasures, he found nothing but the empty hole. He tore his hair and raised such an outcry that all the neighbors came around him, and he told them how he used to come and visit his gold. “Did you ever take any of it out?” asked one of them. “Nay,” said he, “I only came to look at it.” “Then come again and look at the hole,” said a neighbor; “it will do you just as much good.”
Actions - Links
Take action for the climate:
Support the Shaheen (D)-Portman (R) Energy Efficiency bill S761.
Tell Congress America Deserves a Raise:
Urge your representative and senators to support the Fair Minimum Wage Act
July 26, 2013: “This week marked the four-year anniversary of the last time Congress increased the minimum wage — from $5.15 in 2007 to $7.25 in 2009. Groups demonstrated across the country, demanding increases at both the state and federal level. President Obama pledged that he would continue to press for an increase in his economic policy speech at Knox College. But there’s another problem: Millions of working Americans make less than minimum wage. In fact, more Americans are exempt from it than actually earn it.”
See also “The United States of Inequality” at
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Help us to respond with open hearts.
For those without a fair share of the resources of our earth, we pray....
For those without a living wage or a piece of land to call their own, we pray....
For those who live in fear of violence and abuse, we pray....
For those who cannot give their children the things they need, we pray....
For those who are hungry today, we pray…..
For those who are alone and isolated from community, we pray…..
For those our planet earth with all its resources and wonders, we pray....
A Prayer attributed to St. Anselm of Canterbury and found at http://www.anglocatholicsocialism.org/prayers.html
Almighty God, you teach us by reason that all the riches of the world are made by you for our common use, and that by nature not one of them belongs to one human being more than to another; direct us, we pray, in obedience to your will, that all things may serve all people, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer for Liberation from Materialism by Peter Marshall found at the Christian Resource Institute at http://www.crivoice.org/prayers.html
Forbid it, Lord, that our roots become too firmly attached to this earth, that we should fall in love with things. Help us to understand that the pilgrimage of this life is but an introduction, a preface, a training school for what is to come.
Then shall we see all of life in its true perspective. Then shall we not fall in love with the things of time, but come to love the things that endure. Then shall we be saved from the tyranny of possessions which we have no leisure to enjoy, of property whose care becomes a burden. Give us, we pray, the courage to simplify our lives.
So may we be mature in our faith, childlike but never childish, humble but never cringing, understanding but never conceited. So help us, O God, to live and not merely to exist, that we may have joy in our work. In your name, who alone can give us moderation and balance and zest for living, we pray. Amen.