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Sixth Sunday of Easter [C]
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
[In some places, Ascension is celebrated this coming Thursday, May 20. In other places, it is celebrated next Sunday, May 23. When the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated on May 23, 2004, the second reading and Gospel from the Seventh Sunday of Easter may be read today, the 16th of May.]
Dates to Remember
Thursday, May 20: Ascension (See note above.)
Saturday, May 22: International Day for Biological Diversity
"Love for others, and in the first place love for the poor, in whom the Church sees Christ himself, is made concrete in the promotion of justice."
Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, #58
"Love of neighbor is an absolute demand for justice, because charity must manifest itself in actions and structures which respect human dignity, protect human rights, and facilitate human development. To promote justice is to transform structures which block love."
World Synod of Bishops, Justicia in Mundo, #34
"A charity that loves and serves the person is never able to be separated from justice. Each in its own way demands the full, effective acknowledgment of the rights of the individual, to which society is ordered in all its structures and institutions."
Pope John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, #42
"Finally, may Christ inflame the desires of all people to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong. Through His power and inspiration may all peoples welcome each other to their hearts as brothers and sisters, and may the peace they long for ever flower and ever reign among them."
Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, #171
Thoughts for your Consideration
Religion can cause lots of harm and confusion or it can become a source of life and hope to all people. Looking at history, we might say that there exists good religion and bad religion. We like to think that the Christianity that we practice is "good religion"--religion which leads people to life and peace and justice.
In the first reading the men and women in Antioch have heard religious messages or opinions that have upset them and disturbed their peace of mind. There is tension and conflict. The issue is brought to the community in Jerusalem. The community consensus is not to impose anything that gets in the way of the spirit, anything that gets in the way of liberation, anything that gets in the way of the freedom and joy of the people of God in Antioch or elsewhere.
In the heavenly Jerusalem envisioned in the second reading, things are so simple and direct, that there is no need for a temple--the presence and glory of God is everywhere. As Jesus in the gospel makes clear: the spirit comes and the gift is peace.
The invitation of the scriptures is to get involved in good, healthy religion. The invitation is to keep it simple and focused on what is really important--what will give life and freedom and peace. The social teaching of the church aims to help us keep focused on what is really important.
Religion should not be about ideology or empty spiritual practices or rigid rituals disconnected from life. Rather, it should be about spiritual values and a concern for the issues of justice and peace in the world, a concern for the impoverished, a concern for reconciliation with those with whom we are in conflict, a focus on a world that (using the images of the second reading) reflects the "glory of God."
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What things disturb you sense of peace? What issues or conflicts disturb your spirit, rob you of energy, prevent you from being free and alive in Christ?
Actions - Links
- The following is taken from the Pax Christi USA Rapid Response Network Action Digest of May 8, 2004.
U.S. Military Abuses and Torture Must not be Tolerated in Iraq. The Pentagon blames the gross violations of human rights at Abu Ghraib on a "few individuals" in "an exceptional, isolated" case. Yet tragically, this is not true. Yesterday, in Geneva, the International Red Cross said it had warned U.S. officials of abuse of prisoners in Iraq more than a year ago (AP 5/7/04). "We were dealing here with a broad pattern, not individual acts. There was a pattern and a system," said Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross. Also yesterday, in his opening remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee, an embattled Defense Secretary Rumsfeld apologized to Congress and said that he regretted the damage done to the U.S. armed forces by the scandal (Washington Post, 5/7/04). However, responsibility does not end with the Bush administration. Congress is also responsible for failing to exercise its Constitutional powers of oversight and prevent atrocities from occurring in Iraq.
To take immediate action, go to the following web sites:
Education for Peace in Iraq Center
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International
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.
Written by Peter Marshall and posted at http://www.cresourcei.org
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