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Lectionary Reflections: Presentation of the Lord, February 2, 2014

Engaging Faith | Mon, Jan 27, 2014

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Presentation of the Lord

February 2, 2014

Copyright © 2014, Center of Concern

Readings

Malachi 3:1-4

Hebrews 2:14-18

Luke 2:22-40 or 2:22-32

 

Calendar

Jan. 26 - February 1: Catholic Schools Week

February is African-American History Month

Feb. 2: Super Bowl Sunday

Feb. 2: World Day for Consecrated Life

Feb. 2: National Day of Prayer for the African-American Family

Feb. 7: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day http://www.blackaidsday.org/ 

 

Quotes

“Listening to the cry of those who suffer violence and are oppressed by unjust systems and structures, and hearing the appeal of a world that by its perversity contradicts the plan of its Creator, we have shared our awareness of the Church's vocation to be present in the heart of the world by proclaiming the Good News to the poor, freedom to the oppressed, and joy to the afflicted.”

- 1971 Synod of Bishops, “Justice in the World”

 

“The Risen Christ signals the paths of hope along which we can advance together towards a world more just and mutually supportive, in which the blind egoism of the few will not prevail over the cries of pain of the many, reducing entire peoples to conditions of degrading misery.”

- Pope John Paul II

 

“The more a person wants to live in the absolutes of God, the more essential it is for this absolute to be rooted in the midst of human suffering.”

- Brother Roger of Taize

 

“A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table, but above all to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness and respect for every human being.”

- Pope Francis, Address to the Food and Agricultural Organization, June 20, 2013

 

“Let us contemplate the humility of the Son of God born into poverty. Let us imitate him by sharing with those who are weak.” 

- Pope Francis, via Twitter, January 9, 2014

 

Thoughts for your consideration

Luke's gospel has sometimes been called the "gospel of the poor."  In today's gospel, we see a poor family enter the temple to present their child according the law. As an offering, they present not “a one year old lamb,” but "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons," the offering of the poor. These details set a context for reading the scriptures in light of our social teaching, in light of God's option for the poor and needy.

It is with the poor that we find God. It is in an ordinary and poor family that Anna and Simeon see the glory of God. Simeon goes so far as to call the child a "sign that will be contradicted." In the child, we have something that conflicts or challenges the values of our society or culture. The child reveals the values of God which are different from the values of wealth or power or violence or control.

The spirit of Jesus is a spirit that challenges our world and in the process hopes to purify us and set us free. More than ever, our world with all its social problems needs this type of challenge and this type of redemption and freedom.  

The spirit of Jesus desires to lead us through the suffering that our world experiences, not because suffering is good, but because suffering is part of the human experience and as we work our way through it, we will experience redemption/liberation. When we are really free as human beings, we will be able to face the challenges and sufferings of life. At the same time, we will be committed to work for justice and to put an end to the suffering that oppresses so many of our brothers and sisters. The Spirit of Jesus is about liberation. Simeon and Anne can see this and rejoice.

Jesus is the prophet Malachi talks about – the prophet who is a messenger who will come into the temple with a powerful authority and a fire that will purify. Today we celebrate this fire as we light and bless the candles. Today we celebrate this fire as light up the world with the transforming values of Jesus. 

 

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

Simeon points out to Mary that she will endure suffering – that a “sword will pierce her heart.”  What pain or sorrow do you experience as a follower of Jesus?  What are the issues in our world that cause you sorrow?

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How does thinking of the Christian message as a “Gospel of the Poor” help you to understand Jesus and his teaching?  Have you had an experience of learning from people who are poor?

 

Actions – Links

Income Inequality as a Catholic Concern

Check out this photo presentation: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/labor-empl...

Super Bowl and sex trafficking 

Slavery, also known as human trafficking, still happens today. It is estimated that as many as 21 million people are trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor today. Large sporting events like the Super Bowl are targets for human traffickers. Many groups are working on this issue in and around the Super Bowl.  Find out more at

http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/efforts-against-trafficking-gam...  and http://www.abolishchildtrafficking.org/.  Discover action ideas at https://www.covenanthouse.org/notagame/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=ch...

 

"Crazy Facts"

  • Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
  • The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
  • The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
  • Seven out of 10 people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.
  • The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.
  •  In the United States, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

Read the report from Oxfam at: http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/bp-working-for-few-politi...

 

Stories

Check out the following links for stories about people who have suffered by being victims of human trafficking: 

http://richmondjusticeinitiative.com/human-trafficking/survival-stories/

http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/client-services/survivor-stories

http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/policy-advocacy/national-policy...

 

Prayers of intercession 

Response: Let us bring light into our world.

For all those who go hungry today, we pray…

For those who are homeless, we pray…

For all who suffer from the cold of winter, we pray…

For those who are victims of human trafficking and the sex business, we pray…

For those who are immigrants and refugees, we pray…

For all those who live in fear of torture, political oppression, and even death, we pray…

For the poor in all places, we pray…

 

Prayer - Meditation

Prayer to End the War against Iraq 

Loving God,

We beg your forgiveness for the war that the U.S. is waging against the Iraqi people, for destroying Iraq's infrastructure by massive bombings, for using highly toxic weapons that contaminate Iraqi land and water, and are causing major increases in cancers among children. Forgive us for imposing economic sanctions that have killed over one million Iraqis, mostly children.

Forgive us for placing oil interests above human welfare.

Heal us of our moral blindness and fill our hearts with love.

Help us to renounce all killing, to stop demonizing our adversaries, to value all life as sacred, and to see the Iraqi people as our brothers and sisters.

Empower us to engage in nonviolent action to end this slaughter of the innocents.

O God, make us channels of your peace and reconciliation.   Amen.

- By Art Laffin. This prayer is available in prayer card format from Pax Christi USA.  E-mail lori@paxchristiusa.org to order or go to “Books and Publications” at www.paxchristiusa.org.

 

Images

http://www.the-crises.com/income-inequality-in-the-us-2/

http://www.risinghopefoundation.org/