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Lectionary Reflections: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [b] August 2, 2015

Engaging Faith | Fri, Jul 24, 2015

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]

August 2, 2015

Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern

Readings

Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15

Ephesians 4:17, 20-24

John 6:24-35

 

Calendar

August 6: Feast of the Transfiguration

August 6: Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima in 1945 

August 9: United Nations International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 

August 9: Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Nagasaki in 1945

 

Quotes

Charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine. 

-Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 2

If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is inseparable from charity. 

-Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 6

-God’s heart has a special place for the poor, so much so that he himself “became poor” (2 Cor 8:9). The entire history of our redemption is marked by the presence of the poor.

-Pope Francis, Evangelli Gaudium, 197

A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to "make room" for our brothers and sisters, bearing "each other's burdens" (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy. Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become mechanisms without a soul, "masks" of communion rather than its means of expression and growth. 

-John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte

We have a lot of work to do. Every time we reach out and assuage someone's hunger, and do that in memory of Jesus, a sense of Eucharist will bring to consciousness the Spirit and the real presence of Jesus - in us, through us, among us. That Spirit alone is capable of transforming us and the world.

-Miriam Therese Winter, MMS

As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills. 

-Pope Francis, Evangelli Gaudium, 202

 

Thoughts for your consideration

In the Exodus story God provides food for the people of Israel.  God is concerned about the needs of the people.  Concern for the poor and the hungry is an essential element of Catholic Social Teaching. Our concern is especially focused on the basic needs of those who are most vulnerable. The recent encyclical on the environment especially connects our concerns to the needs of the poor.  Pope Francis in Laudato Si 48, wrote,

…the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet: “Both everyday experience and scientific research show that the gravest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest.” For example, the depletion of fishing reserves especially hurts small fishing communities without the means to replace those resources; water pollution particularly affects the poor who cannot buy bottled water; and rises in the sea level mainly affect impoverished coastal populations who have nowhere else to go. The impact of present imbalances is also seen in the premature death of many of the poor, in conflicts sparked by the shortage of resources, and in any number of other problems which are insufficiently represented on global agendas.

In the letter to the Ephesians, the people are reminded that they are called to renewal – to put away ‘old corrupting desires’ and to live in a new spirit from Christ.  To build on the first reading, we care called to something more than fulfilling our own desires or our own personal needs. We are called to a common concern for the excluded and for those in need. Pope Francis in Laudato Si 49, wrote,

It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. …  Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile. … many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centers of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. …  Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

In the gospel story the people search for Jesus and finally find him on the other side of the lake. Jesus points out their desire for food and calls them to something more than just free food.  God desires to satisfy our need for essential things like food, but also desires to give us “a bread that gives life to the world.”  God wants to empower people.  God wants people to create a world where all people have enough to eat and all share their food with others in dignity and respect.  God calls us to act as if our world is a “common home.”  God wants us to be a communion or community.  Creating a world of justice and of healthy social structures and relationships is essential to Catholic Social Teaching. Pope Francis toward the end of his recent encyclical, Laudato Si 240, wrote,

… the world, created according to the divine model, is a web of relationships. …  The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters into relationships, going out from themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures. …  Everything is interconnected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity.

 

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

  • How does the spirit call you (us) today to have a special concern for those in need?
  • What particular situation of need is calling out to you (us)?

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  • In the readings today, we find examples of people who desire food.
    • When have you experienced a strong desire for something?
    • What did you learn from your desire?

 

Story

We Are Three, You Are Three

When his ship stopped at a remote island for a day, the bishop determined to use the time as profitable as possible. He strolled along the seashore and came across three fishermen attending to their nets. In Pidgin English they announced to him that centuries before missionaries had Christianized them. "We Christians!" they said proudly pointing to one another. 

The bishop was impressed. Did they know the Lord's Prayer? They had never heard of it. The bishop was shocked. "What do you say then when you pray?" 

We lift eyes towards heaven. We pray, "We are three, you are three, have mercy on us!"

The bishop was appalled at the primitive, downright heretical, nature of the prayer. So he spent the whole day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. The fishermen were poor learners, but they gave it all they had and before the bishop sailed away the next day, he had the satisfaction of hearing them go through the formula faultlessly. 

Month later his ship happened to pass those islands again and the bishop, as he paced the deck reciting the evening prayer, recalled the pleasure of the three men on that distant island who were now able to pray, thanks to his patient efforts.

Suddenly he saw a spot of light in the east that kept approaching the ship. As he gazed in wonder seeing three figures walking on the water, the captain stopped the boat and everyone leaned over the rails to see this sight. They were the bishop's fishermen, of course! 

"Bishop", they exclaimed, "we heard your boat go past and have come in a hurry to meet you." 

"What is it you want?" asked the awe-stricken bishop. 

"Bishop,” they said, "we are so, so sorry. We forget lovely prayer. "We say: Our father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come! then we forget. Tell us the prayer again." 

It was a chastened bishop who replied, "Go back to your island, my friends, and each time you pray, say "We are Three, You are Three, have mercy on us!"

From Anthony DeMello’s collection The Song of the Bird

 

Actions - Links

The Institute for Food and Development Policy

The IFDA, or better known as Food First, is a member-supported, nonprofit 'peoples' think tank and education-for-action center. Their work highlights root causes and value-based solutions to hunger and poverty around the world, with a commitment to establishing food as a fundamental human right. See their web site at: http://bit.ly/1HXUq4I.

Bread for the World 

“…is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.”  Find out more at: http://www.bread.org/.

Pew Research Center Report

“For First Time, Number Of Black Kids In Poverty Overtakes Number of White Kids” Read the whole article here: http://huff.to/1MaE66S.

 

“Crazy Facts”

The following are taken from an article by Robert Reich (http://bit.ly/1hVNC05):

  • Forty years ago the richest 1 percent of Americans got 9 percent of total income. Today they get over 20 percent of total income. 
  • America is one of only three advanced countries that spends less on the education of poorer children than richer ones, according to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  Among the 34 O.E.C.D. nations, only in the United States, Israel and Turkey do schools serving poor neighborhoods have fewer teachers and crowd students into larger classrooms than do schools serving more privileged students. In most countries, it’s just the reverse: Poor neighborhoods get more teachers per student.

 

Prayers of Intercession

Response: Lord, empower your people to do what is right.

For the millions or billions of people, living the experience of poverty and hardship today, we pray….

For all those who are hungry this day, we pray….

For people who are suffering without access to medical care, we pray….

For our children, millions of whom have no access to education, we pray….

For our church, the people of God, who are called to work for justice, we pray….

For our nation, filled with a great diversity of people, who are challenged to work for the common good of all, we pray…..

For our world, blessed with billions of people and called to be a community of solidarity, charity, and justice, we pray….

For our planet, stressed by overuse and misuse, we pray…..

 

Prayer - Meditation

The Dinner Party

A Poem by Judy Chicago

 

And then all that has divided us will merge

And then compassion will be wedded to power

And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind

And then both men and women will be gentle

And then both women and men will be strong

And then no person will be subject to another's will

And then all will be rich and free and varied

And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many

And then all will share equally in the Earth's abundance

And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old

And then all will nourish the young

And then all will cherish life's creatures

And then all will live in harmony with each other and the Earth

And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.

 

The Dinner Party is a poem that is part of Judy Chicago’s large work of art. It can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/1e27WLl.

 

Images

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