July 31, 2016: Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
“…To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.” (54)
One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption. (55) The Joy of the Gospel Pope Francis
First Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
Psalm: 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13
Second Reading: Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11
Gospel: Luke 12:13-21
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The beatitude we are promised confronts us with decisive moral choices. It invites us to purify our hearts of bad instincts and to seek the love of God above all else. It teaches us that true happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement – however beneficial it may be – such as science, technology, and art, or indeed in any creature, but in God alone, the source of every good and of all love:
All bow down before wealth. Wealth is that to which the multitude of men pay an instinctive homage. They measure happiness by wealth; and by wealth they measure respectability…. It is a homage resulting from a profound faith … that with wealth he may do all things. Wealth is one idol of the day and notoriety is a second…. Notoriety, or the making of a noise in the world – it may be called “newspaper fame” – has come to be considered a great good in itself, and a ground of veneration. (1723)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Jesus takes up the entire Old Testament tradition even with regard to economic goods, wealth and poverty, and he gives them great clarity and fullness (cf. Mt 6:24, 13:22; Lk 6:20-24, 12:15-21; Rom 14:6-8; 1 Tim 4:4). Through the gift of his Spirit and the conversion of hearts, he comes to establish the “Kingdom of God”, so that a new manner of social life is made possible, in justice, brotherhood, solidarity and sharing. The Kingdom inaugurated by Christ perfects the original goodness of the created order and of human activity, which were compromised by sin. Freed from evil and being placed once more in communion with God, man is able to continue the work of Jesus, with the help of his Spirit. In this, man is called to render justice to the poor, releasing the oppressed, consoling the afflicted, actively seeking a new social order in which adequate solutions to material poverty are offered and in which the forces thwarting the attempts of the weakest to free themselves from conditions of misery and slavery are more effectively controlled. When this happens, the Kingdom of God is already present on this earth, although it is not of the earth. It is in this Kingdom that the promises of the Prophets find final fulfilment. (325)
In the light of Revelation, economic activity is to be considered and undertaken as a grateful response to the vocation which God holds out for each person. Man is placed in the garden to till and keep it, making use of it within well specified limits (cf. Gen 2:16-17) with a commitment to perfecting it (cf. Gen 1:26-30, 2:15-16; Wis 9:2-3). Bearing witness to the grandeur and goodness of the Creator, he walks towards the fullness of freedom to which God calls him. Good administration of the gifts received, and of material goods also, is a work of justice towards oneself and towards others. What has been received should be used properly, preserved and increased, as suggested by the parable of the talents (cf. Mt 25:14-30;Lk 19:12-27).
Economic activity and material progress must be placed at the service of man and society. If people dedicate themselves to these with the faith, hope and love of Christ’s disciples, even the economy and progress can be transformed into places of salvation and sanctification. In these areas too it is possible to express a love and a solidarity that are more than human, and to contribute to the growth of a new humanity that anticipates the world to come. Jesus sums up all of revelation in calling the believer to become rich before God (cf. Lk 12:21). The economy too is useful to this end, when its function as an instrument for the overall growth of man and society, of the human quality of life, is not betrayed. (326)
“God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34; cf. Rom 2:11; Gal 2:6; Eph 6:9), since all people have the same dignity as creatures made in his image and likeness. The Incarnation of the Son of God shows the equality of all people with regard to dignity: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28; cf. Rom 10:12; 1 Cor 12:13, Col 3:11).
Since something of the glory of God shines on the face of every person, the dignity of every person before God is the basis of the dignity of man before other men. Moreover, this is the ultimate foundation of the radical equality and brotherhood among all people, regardless of their race, nation, sex, origin, culture, or class. (144)
The Lord Jesus is the prototype and foundation of the new humanity. In him, the true “likeness of God” (2 Cor 4:4), man — who is created in the image of God — finds his fulfilment. In the definitive witness of love that God has made manifest in the cross of Christ, all the barriers of enmity have already been torn down (cf. Eph 2:12-18), and for those who live a new life in Christ, racial and cultural differences are no longer causes of division (cf.Rom 10:12; Gal 3:26-28; Col 3:11).
Thanks to the Spirit, the Church is aware of the divine plan of unity that involves the entire human race (cf. Acts 17:26), a plan destined to reunite in the mystery of salvation wrought under the saving Lordship of Christ (cf. Eph 1:8-10) all of created reality, which is fragmented and scattered. From the day of Pentecost, when the Resurrection is announced to diverse peoples, each of whom understand it in their own language (cf. Acts 2:6), the Church fulfils her mission of restoring and bearing witness to the unity lost at Babel. Due to this ecclesial ministry, the human family is called to rediscover its unity and recognize the richness of its differences, in order to attain “full unity in Christ”. (431)
We own nothing, not even the shoes on our feet, clothes on our back or money in our wallet. If we think otherwise, we deceive ourselves into a false sense of security that we plan, control and own our destiny. An inflated, prideful vanity only wrought in futility laden with anxiety, leading to hardened hearts. When we try to possess the material world, building higher stacks of credit card receipts and bigger egos to capture the grandeur of purchasable, inanimate objects, God wilts and fades from our lives. The self-indulgence of prioritizing rest, relaxation and merriment is foolishness in God’s sight. Storing up assets for one’s self renders one’s life measurable by a financial balance sheet, wealth of a 401K or deposits in an IRA account for a retirement that may never come. But will this ever balance one’s life with kindness, joy and gladness all the days of our lives, so we are rich in what matters to God?
Our life does not consist of possessions for they are easily lost from our grasp, broken into innumerable pieces, tainted in obsolescence. The pursuit of possessions puts us on a treadmill, ever accelerating away from attaining true happiness. Our lives only renew in the wisdom of God when we loosed our grasp on greed. A form of idolatry laden with immorality for failing to realize we are only as wealthy, as well off as the person with the least resources. The struggle of the least is the true, common struggle of all humanity. Inequities of necessities denies God’s creation should be shared by all, not owned by a few. Greed says I am more important than a barbarian, slave, a trafficked woman, a homeless man instead of realizing every person has the spark of Divine creation. So we must live not as aliens to one another, but treasure each day so our lives spring anew wrestling our hands away from possessing to helping, from owning to offering assistance, from vanity to humility, from pride to prayer, from calculating to compassion. Only then will we be rich in what matters to God and find fulfillment in life.
Individual Reflection: Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23
July 31st is the memorial of St Ignatius of Loyola. Learn about the Ignatian Spirituality Project and become involved to help the least in society: http://www.ignatianspiritualityproject.org/
Family Reflection: Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13
August 6th is the Feast of the Transfiguration. After hearing the words of the Transfiguration in the Gospel reading at Mass, take a walk at a park, nature area that includes a walk up a hill. Discuss the metaphorical images of being on a hill and walking down to live our faith in the throes of society.
Theresa of Avila’s Prayer
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
**Look on the Internet for the prayer put to music**
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born July 18, 2016 Memorial of St Camillus de Lellis. St Camillus Pray for us.The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.