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Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time [C], November 14, 2010

By: Fr. John Bucki, S.J.

Readings:
Malachi 3:19-20a
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Luke 21:5-19

Calendar:
November 15: America Recycles Day
November 16: Anniversary of the murder of the six Jesuits and two women in El Salvador
November 16: International Day of Tolerance
November 22: Thanksgiving Day in the United States

Quotes:

May people learn to fight for justice without violence, renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes, and war in international ones.
--John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 23

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 . . .' “(54)
--Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 49

The individual today is often suffocated between two poles represented by the State and the marketplace. At times it seems as though the individual exists only as a producer and consumer of goods, or as an object of State administration. People lose sight of the fact that life in society has neither the market nor the State as its final purpose.
--John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 49

We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us.  If it has terrors, they are our terrors; if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us; if there are dangers, we must try to love them. … How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses?  Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.  Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
--Rainer Maria Rilke

Thoughts for your consideration:

Difficulty, opposition, confusion, mess, uncertainty, and ambiguity are all part of life.  Good religion does not guarantee that this will not sometimes be the case. Good religion does not remove all of the mess of life.  However, today God says through Malacchi, “… for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”  Jesus says, “by your perseverance you will secure your lives."  In the challenges of our life, we can find God and God will lead us to what is right and just.

With this vision of hope, we can challenge many of the voices of our culture – the voices of consumerism and materialism – the voices calling for control and domination of others – the voices that call for more violence or military power – the voices of policies that refuse to consider the needs of the poor -- the voices of discrimination and fear of different people – the voices that justify torture as a policy of our country – the voices that fill us with fear and prevent us from doing the good we want to do – and even the voices of hatred and violence.

We are invited to work for justice, even when it challenges the value system of our world or culture.  We are invited to overcome evil by love, war by peace, and selfishness by selfless giving.

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While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, "All that you see here-- the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down."

So many things that human beings consider important are not really the most important.  Even the adornments of the temple will not last.  The gospel invites us to focus on what is really most important.  We affirm the dignity of every human person.  We affirm our desire to live in solidarity as brothers and sisters.  We affirm our commitment to peace, justice, and nonviolence.  We affirm our efforts to live in a way that makes sure that everyone shares in the bounty of God’s gifts.  We affirm our desire to respect the gifts and resources of our planet and not abuse and overuse them.  We affirm our commitment to the values of Jesus Christ.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group:
Share an example of a contemporary situation that has felt to you to be a time “unsurpassed in distress.”  How has your faith challenged you in this situation?  Has it challenged you to work for justice or peace?

What is your reaction to the results of the recent elections in the United States?  What kind of faith and hope and love are you called to bring to the world of public policy and discussion?

Actions - Links:

Jesuit Refugee Services Retreat
In honor of its 30th anniversary, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is introducing a free 30-day online retreat that links Ignatian Spirituality to the plight of refugees and vulnerable migrants. It is an opportunity for people to fuse spirituality and social justice into their day. Check it out at http://www.jrsusa.org/Retreat

Anniversary of the Murders in El Salvador
On November 16, 1989, 6 Jesuits and 2 women were murdered in El Salvador at the Jesuit University for speaking up and acting for justice.  They were killed by soldiers trained at the US Army School of Americas (SOA) in Fort Benning, Georgia.  In the years before and after, over 70,000 men, women and children were killed in the violence and struggle for justice in El Salvador.  Each November, on the weekend before Thanksgiving, thousands of people gather at the gates of Fort Benning in Georgia to protest the continued existence of this school (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation).  For info go to: www.soaw.org.

Optional Protocol Against Torture
The United States has signed and ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture. The U.S. has never signed the Optional Protocol Against Torture (OPCAT). This treaty builds upon the UN Convention Against Torture by requiring each country to develop mechanisms that will help ensure that torture does not occur in any place in which that country holds persons in detention. It also provides for the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture to monitor the treatment of confined persons in signatory nations. 74 nations have signed OPCAT and 50 have ratified it. Individuals, congregations and organizations are invited to endorse a statement in support of signing and ratifying OPCAT. Go to the NRCAT (National Religious Coalition Against Torture) website at: http://www.nrcat.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=478&Itemi...

“Crazy facts:”

Income Inequality
http://wealthforcommongood.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/inequality-by-...

Percentage of U.S. total income in 1976 that went to the top 1% of American households: 8.9.
Percentage in 2007: 23.5. Only other year since 1913 that the top 1 percent’s share was that high: 1928.

Combined net worth of the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans in 2007: $1.5 trillion
Combined net worth of the poorest 50% of American households: $1.6 trillion

U.S. minimum wage, per hour: $7.25.
Hourly pay of Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon, assuming an 80-hour workweek: $27,034.74

Average hourly wage in 1972, adjusted for inflation: $20.06.
In 2008: $18.52
 
Prayers of Intercession:

Response: May the sun of justice shine in our world.
For an end to war and all the preparations for war, we pray….
For an end to terrorism and torture, we pray….
For employment with a living wage for all workers, we pray…
For an end to the radical economic inequality in our society, we pray….
For a new respect for our planet, we pray….
For a new commitment to the active nonviolence of Jesus, we pray….
For a new deeper prayerfulness and openness to God’s spirit, we pray….

Prayer:

God of life, help us to choose life, not death.
    God of life, help us to respect, not destroy.
        God of life, help us treasure, not control.
        God of life, help us see our value not in things, but in your gifts.

God of life, beat our swords into plowshares,
    Beat are spears into pruning hooks,
        Replace our shopping sprees with celebrations of community
            Replace our busyness with contemplation
                Change our things into gifts.
                Change our violence into your peace.
God of life, help us to choose life, not death.

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

Type of content: Lectionary Reflections