July 30, 2017:Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable: How might the use of charity and justice help parishioners at your parish find the hidden, buried treasure of faith?
“Parishes are called to reach out to the hurting, the poor, and the vulnerable in our midst in concrete acts of charity. Just as the gospel tells us our lives will be judged by our response to the “least of these,” so too our parishes should be measured by our help for the hungry, the homeless, the troubled, and the alienated-in our own community and beyond. This is an area of creativity and initiative with a wide array of programs, partnerships with Catholic Charities, and common effort with other churches. Thousands of food pantries; hundreds of shelters; and uncounted outreach programs for poor families, refugees, the elderly, and others in need are an integral part of parish life. The parish is the most significant place where new immigrants and refugees are welcomed into our Church and community. A Church that teaches an option for the poor must reflect that option in our service of those in need. Parish efforts to meet human needs also provides valuable experience, expertise, and credibility in advocating for public policy to address the forces that leave people in need of our charity.
Catholic teaching calls us to serve those in need and to change the structures that deny people their dignity and rights as children of God. Service and action, charity and justice are complementary components of parish social ministry. Neither alone is sufficient; both are essential signs of the gospel at work. A parish serious about social ministry will offer opportunities to serve those in need and to advocate for justice and peace. These are not competing priorities, but two dimensions of the same fundamental mission to protect the life and dignity of the human person. ” Communities of Salt and Light, USCCB
First Reading: 1st Kings 3:5, 7-12
Psalm: 119: 57, 72, 76-77, 127-0128, 129-130
Second Reading: Romans 8:28-30
Gospel: Matthew 13:44-52
Catechism of the Catholic Church
We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for “all men to be saved.” She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:
Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.” (1821)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
This document is proposed also to the brethren of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, to the followers of other religions, as well as to all people of good will who are committed to serving the common good: may they receive it as the fruit of a universal human experience marked by countless signs of the presence of God’s Spirit. It is a treasury of things old and new (cf. Mt 13:52), which the Church wishes to share, in thanksgiving to God, from whom comes “every good endowment and ever perfect gift” (Jas 1:17). It is a sign of hope in the fact that religions and cultures today show openness to dialogue and sense the urgent need to join forces in promoting justice, fraternity, peace and the growth of the human person.
The Catholic Church joins her own commitment to that made in the social field by other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, whether at the level of doctrinal reflection or at the practical level. Together with them, the Catholic Church is convinced that from the common heritage of social teachings preserved by the living tradition of the people of God there will come motivations and orientations for an ever closer cooperation in the promotion of justice and peace. (12)
Christian realism sees the abysses of sin, but in the light of the hope, greater than any evil, given by Jesus Christ’s act of redemption, in which sin and death are destroyed (cf. Rom 5:18-21; 1 Cor 15:56-57): “In him God reconciled man to himself”. It is Christ, the image of God (cf. 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15), who enlightens fully and brings to completion the image and likeness of God in man. The Word that became man in Jesus Christ has always been mankind’s life and light, the light that enlightens every person (cf. Jn 1:4,9). God desires in the one mediator Jesus Christ, his Son, the salvation of all men and women (cf. 1 Tim 2:4-5). Jesus is at the same time the Son of God and the new Adam, that is, the new man (cf. 1 Cor 15:47-49; Rom 5:14): “Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling”. In him we are, by God, “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom 8:29). (121)
God said to Solomon, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” How do we respond to that question? You may say I never heard God ask me that question, but if you profess faith in God he repeatedly asks you that question. He trusted Solomon and he trusts us, hIs children created in his image and likeness, to ask such a question exposing the compassion and generosity of God. The rubrics of faith are not lived by our self-contrived notions, but only thru grace and our free will choices. We can choose to act wisely and ask God for gifts to support his kingdom or selfishly demand our way lavished with earthly endowments.
Asking for gifts rooted in faith, we affirm we don’t know all, no matter what our earthly years tabulate, for we are always maturing into new insights of faith, to burrow further into the mystery, illuminating what appeared to be an abyss of linear infinity. Continually matriculating towards an understanding heart, learning to distinguish right from wrong, not in black and white but shades of gray where God dwells. Those gifts of God always perched on the shelf of life, are always accessible, ready for us to place in our hands and hearts. We can pretend like they do not exist, never crossing our cerebral radar or the lure of the trendy, vogue expression of life catches our eyes, wets our pallet with emotion to answer God’s question with I desire instead of I need. Consciously acting and living our faith is then not a priority in life, but more of a causal observance, where one tries to use, thinking they can manipulate God, instead of being used by God to nurture his kingdom. God is acknowledged with a causal hi, how is it going, but leading to no deeper conversation or answering God’s question with heartfelt thought.
Once we faithfully mature and respond to God’s question for gifts only attainable from God for the fulfillment of needs to live faith, we joyfully have found the pearl of great price, uncovered buried treasure, landed a net harvesting great abundance. God’s compassion comes to us that we might truly live and fully delight in God’s wonderful precepts. We love where faith take us realizing its value more precious than silver or gold. Comfort abounds from the kindness of God’s promises realizing the lure of false ways offer no hope, but runs one around in continual circles, never leading to the true path of God’s loving embrace.
Individual Reflection: Matthew 13:44-52
On your faith journey, what buried treasure have you found? How do you share that buried treasure with others? In reflections and prayer, what ways might you better share the buried treasure? What did you have to “sell”, shed, let go of to truly open your heart to the magnitude of the buried treasure and fully appreciate the gift? How was joy and wondered expressed in this experience?
Family Reflection: Romans 8:28-30
“…We know that all things work for good for those who love God…”
Share how you have seen this Scripture manifest in your lives.
Prayer: From USCCB prayer of Faith, Hope and Love:
http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/prayers-and-devotions/prayers/acts-of-faith-hope-and-love.cfm of Love
Act of Love
O Lord God, I love you above all things
and I love my neighbor for your sake
because you are the highest, infinite and perfect
good, worthy of all my love.
In this love I intend to live and die.
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.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born July 24 2017 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.