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Second Sunday in Lent [B] March 8, 2009

By: Fr. John Bucki, S.J.

Readings:
Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Romans 8:31b-34
Mark 9:2-10

Calendar:
March 8:  International Women's Day http://www.internationalwomensday.com    

Quotes:

There is a growing awareness of the sublime dignity of human persons, who stand above all things and whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. They ought, therefore, to have ready access to all that is necessary for living a genuinely human life: for example, food, clothing, housing ... the right to education, and work...
-- Vatican II, The Church and the Modern World, #26

The fundamental starting point for all of Catholic social teaching is the defense of human life and dignity: every human person is created in the image and likeness of God and has an inviolable dignity, value, and worth, regardless of race, gender, class, or other human characteristics.
Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration:
-- A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice,  USCCB

The recent crisis demonstrates how financial activity can at times be completely turned in on itself, lacking any long-term consideration of the common good.   …. What the fight against poverty really needs are men and women who live in a profoundly fraternal way and are able to accompany individuals, families and communities on journeys of authentic human development.
--Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day for Peace, 1 January 2009

Our goal should not be the benefit of a privileged few, but rather the improvement of the living conditions of all.
--John Paul II, Message of Lent 2003

Thoughts for your consideration:

The gospel story of the transfiguration is about seeing in a new way. In the midst of our complex contemporary world, the gospel invites us to be free enough to see things in a new way. In the midst of war and violence, the gospel invites us to see the presence of God and God's invitation to peace.   In the midst of poverty and injustice, the gospel invites us to hear God's invitation to respect the dignity of every human person and the need for justice for all. In the midst of a recession, the gospel invites us to focus on those values that are really most important.  

Abraham learned to hear God's desires in a new way; he came to see that God did not want the death of his son.   Maybe, in some analogous way, we have been learning to understand the social implications of the gospel.   Maybe we have been learning the same thing, as we have been learning to challenge war as the solution to disputes and to question the policies of our nations.   Maybe we have been learning the same thing, as our church is beginning to move away from support for the death penalty. Maybe we have been learning the same thing as we have been learning to speak up for justice for all those who are oppressed in any way.   Maybe we have come to see that war and injustice, poverty and hunger, do not have to be.

In his message on January 1 Pope Benedict XVI wrote "The recent crisis demonstrates how financial activity can at times be completely turned in on itself, lacking any long-term consideration of the common good."  Maybe we have to see our economic system in a new way (especially in light of the current fiscal problems) as something more directed to the common good of all and not the enrichment of the few.  

The Transfiguration is a sign of great hope. It is possible to see the presence of God in Jesus. It is possible to see things in a new way.   It is possible to see God in others. It is possible to let go of racism, to let go of an addiction to money, to let go of power and control, to let go of violence, to let go of inaction, to let go of our blindness and selfishness. It is possible to solve international problems without war. It is even possible to let go of the religious experience on the mountain and come down and find God in all things and all people.   It is possible to see the world as a global community and to see all people as our brothers and sisters.

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Today is International Women's Day.   Over the centuries women have challenged our society in new ways.   They have challenged us to move beyond the perspectives of the male half of our world.   Over the centuries we have also begun to see the role of women in our society and our church in new and more inclusive ways.   This too is part of what seeing in a new way is all about.   This too is a sign of hope. Unfortunately, in many ways this "new way of seeing" has been too slow to happen.   Our faith invites to see in a new way.

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 reset 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. ….   Feminist liberation theology hopes so to change unjust structures and distorted symbol systems that a new community in church and society becomes possible, a liberating community of all women and men characterized by mutuality with each other and harmony with the earth.
--Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group:

  • How has your awareness and commitment to Christian values changed over the years?  
  • How have you grown in your commitment to social issues?  
  • To issues of peace and justice?
  • This Lent, how is God calling you to see things in a new way -- from a new point of view?
  • What is your experience of working with immigrants and refugees?  
  • Do you know any?  How have they taught you to know or see?

Actions -- Links:

Today is International Women's Day.   For information go to http://www.internationalwomensday.com.   For a history of the day go to:
http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/women/womday97.htm

Women's Action for New Directions, WAND, empowers women to act politically to reduce violence and militarism, and redirect excessive military resources toward unmet human and environmental needs. http://www.wand.org/wand_home.htm

"Attention must be called to the rights of migrants and their families and to respect for their human dignity, even in cases of non-legal immigration."
--John Paul II, Ecclesiae in America

Immigration: Last year, the Jesuit Conference called for an end to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigration raids.   The Jesuit Refugee Service (http://www.jrsusa.org ) is presently asking people to "contact President Obama encouraging him to halt the raids and pursue comprehensive reform US immigration policy that is just and humane."  To take action, go to: http://capwiz.com/jesuit/callalert/index.tt?alertid=12787596

Immigration:  The Jesuit Conference of the Society of Jesus in the United States and the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform recently announced the winners of the video competition "Migration, My Home, My Story."  To view the videos go to: http://www.jesuit.org/SocialJustice/MigrationandImmigration/JFIvideo/def...

"Crazy Facts:"

  • According to the Center for American Progress and the group Health Care for America Now, 14,000 Americans are losing health-care insurance every day during our economic crisis.

Prayers of Intercession:

Response:  God, help us to see with a new vision.

For all those experiences poverty and suffering, we pray….
For those who are unemployed and underemployed, we pray….
For all those involved in war and strife, we pray…
For all those who are victims of torture or any form of violence, we pray….
For all people and nations working to enjoy basic human rights, we pray….
For immigrants and refugees, we pray….
For our planet earth and all our natural gifts, we pray….
For our political leaders as they try to help us work for the common good, we pray….

Prayer - Meditation:

God, help me to see.
God, help me to see your wonders.
God, help me to see your goodness all around me.

God, help me to be fearless.
God, help me to be fearless in my seeing.
God, help me to be fearless in seeing whatever is there.

God, help me to see the dignity and wonder of my sisters and brothers.
God, help me to see the dignity and wonder of people as they are.
God, help me to see the dignity and wonder even when I am overwhelmed by my judgments.

God, help me to be part of the world.
God, help me to be part of the world in its beauty and goodness.
God, help me to be part of the world in its diversity and mystery.

God, give me the courage to look at the sin of the world.
God, give me the courage to look at the sin of the world with a loving heart.
God, give me the courage to look at the sin of the world with a forgiving spirit.

God, heal our violence, racism, sexism, militarism, greed, and pride.
God, heal our culture, our nation, our rivalry, our jealousy.
God, heal our political institutions, our government, our political parties, and our religions.

God, heal our limited perspective and open our eyes wide.
God, heal our parochial plans and let our vision include the whole world.
God, heal our tiny projects and make them projects for the big world.

God, make us new.
God, make our institutions new.
God, make all things new and renewed.

Amen.

--Lectionary Reflection by Fr. John Bucki, S.J.

Type of content: Lectionary Reflections