February 24, 2019: Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
Jesus taught us to be merciful like our heavenly Father (cf. Lk 6:36). In the parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:29-37), he condemned those who fail to help others in need, those who “pass by on the other side” (cf. Lk 10:31-32). By this example, he taught his listeners, and his disciples in particular, to stop and to help alleviate the sufferings of this world and the pain of our brothers and sisters, using whatever means are at hand, beginning with our own time, however busy we may be. Indifference often seeks excuses: observing ritual prescriptions, looking to all the things needing to be done, hiding behind hostilities and prejudices which keep us apart.
Mercy is the heart of God. It must also be the heart of the members of the one great family of his children: a heart which beats all the more strongly wherever human dignity – as a reflection of the face of God in his creatures – is in play. Jesus tells us that love for others – foreigners, the sick, prisoners, the homeless, even our enemies – is the yardstick by which God will judge our actions. Our eternal destiny depends on this. It is not surprising that the Apostle Paul tells the Christians of Rome to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep (cf. Rom 12:15), or that he encourages the Corinthians to take up collections as a sign of solidarity with the suffering members of the Church (cf. 1 Cor 16:2-3). And Saint John writes: “If any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother or sister in need, yet refuses help, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 Jn 3:17; cf. Jas 2:15-16).
This then is why “it is absolutely essential for the Church and for the credibility of her message that she herself live and testify to mercy. Her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father. The Church’s first truth is the love of Christ. The Church makes herself a servant of this love and mediates it to all people: a love that forgives and expresses itself in the gift of oneself. Consequently, wherever the Church is present, the mercy of the Father must be evident. In our parishes, communities, associations and movements, in a word, wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.”
We too, then, are called to make compassion, love, mercy and solidarity a true way of life, a rule of conduct in our relationships with one another. This requires the conversion of our hearts: the grace of God has to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh (cf. Ezek 36:26), open to others in authentic solidarity. For solidarity is much more than a “feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far”. Solidarity is “a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all”, because compassion flows from fraternity.
Understood in this way, solidarity represents the moral and social attitude which best corresponds to an awareness of the scourges of our own day, and to the growing interdependence, especially in a globalized world, between the lives of given individuals and communities and those of other men and women in the rest of the world.
Pope Francis thoughts on mercy from World Day of Peace message January 1, 2016
First Reading: 1st Samuel 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23
Psalm: 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
Second Reading: 1st Corinthians 15:45-49
Gospel: Luke 6:27-38
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Christ died out of love for us, while we were still “enemies.”100 The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself.101
The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: “charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”1(1825) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
1st Samuel 26:9, 16
The prototype of the king chosen by Yahweh is David, whose humble origins are a favourite topic of the biblical account (cf. 1 Sam 16:1-13). David is the recipient of the promise (cf. 2 Sam 7:13-16; Ps 89:2-38, 132:11-18), which places him at the beginning of a special kingly tradition, the “messianic” tradition. Notwithstanding all the sins and infidelities of David and his successors, this tradition culminates in Jesus Christ, who is par excellence “Yahweh’s anointed” (that is, “the Lord’s consecrated one”, cf. 1 Sam 2:35, 24:7,11, 26:9,16; Ex 30:22-32), the son of David (cf. Mt 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38; Rom 1:3).
The failure of kingship on the historical level does not lead to the disappearance of the ideal of a king who, in fidelity to Yahweh, will govern with wisdom and act in justice. This hope reappears time and again in the Psalms (cf. Ps 2, 18, 20, 21, 72). In the messianic oracles, the figure of a king endowed with the Lord’s Spirit, full of wisdom and capable of rendering justice to the poor, is awaited in eschatological times (cf. Is 11:2-5; Jer 23:5-6). As true shepherd of the people of Israel (cf. Ezek 34:23-24, 37:24), he will bring peace to the nations (cf. Zech 9:9-10). In Wisdom Literature, the king is presented as the one who renders just judgments and abhors iniquity (cf. Prov 16:12), who judges the poor with equity (cf. Prov 29:14) and is a friend to those with a pure heart (cf. Prov 22:11). There is a gradual unfolding of the proclamation of what the Gospels and other New Testament writings see fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, the definitive incarnation of what the Old Testament foretold about the figure of the king. (378)
1st Corinthians 15:47-49
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)
What would the world be like if we ceased judgment and condemnation, while opting for mercy, forgiveness and generosity? What would your life be like? How would other people respond to your reciprocity? A transition from idolatry of thinking power comes from put downs. God who has infinite power in love, creation and gifts could leverage His Divinity with harsh judgment, authoritarian condemnation, not a smidgen of forgiveness and ultimately withhold all Divine gifts. But instead He offers love over judgment, mercy over condemnation, forgiveness instead of guilt and provides lavish gifts in creation from the complexity of a grain of sand, a drop of water to the simplicity of a cloud floating across the sky. And He invites us to do likewise and instructs us how to live as we look at the cross and the host in our hands. He invites us to heal wounds in the world with mercy instead of festering problems with words and actions of condemnation. The embrace of forgiveness to extol a better beginning, rebounding instead of rebuffing into schismatic divide. And to give gifts instead of hoarding what we do not own. That does not mean to live in a land of make believe and pretend everything is perfect when injustice crawls amidst good intentions of those seeking the will of God. For in love we tell the reality, state the facts of hypocritical actions. Not a blaring siren or smear to condemn, but facts to articulate in following God’s way we could do better for everyone involved, be more inclusive so some are not fractioned from God’s generosity by humanly erected barriers. At times that means disarming those wrought in exercising control with spears of violence by non-violent means rooted in prayer, by peaceful protest, the vigil of witness, establishing chains of solidarity to paint soul filled renditions of what could be instead of what is if we lives with hearts infused by God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and generosity. We must be willing to awaken from our slumber of feeling the status quo, sameo, sameo is ideal. While it might protect some interests how many others are tarnished with oxidation from the corruption of unjust structures lacking any credence to God’s ways. Will we bear the image of our Heavenly Father in our earthly humanity of live in the proverbial sandbox, puddle of mud to continually make a mess of ourselves and others? The Lord will reward each of us for our justice and faithfulness. May we strive to see, not let us blur the distinction between justice and judgment. Justice to do right in God’s eyes, judgment to dissect for my agenda without compassionate regard for those hooked by the barbed spear. Justice listens, observes to define failings and construct answers, where judgment rushes to conclusions in faceless objectivity. Justice seeks mercy, with gifts to those rightfully in need to sooth sorrow. What would the world be like if we ceased judgmental condemnation for mercy, forgiveness and generosity? We won’t know until we give it a try! Let’s ask for God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and get crusin’ !
Individual Reflection:Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13
Prepare to celebrate Lent by downloading the CRS Rice Bowl app on your phone. Invite ten friends to do likewise to stand in global solidarity thru prayer, education and action.
Family Reflection:Luke 6:27-38
March 1st is the World Day of Prayer: Join in praying for peace and justice
Prayer: Write a poem about mercy, how you receive and give mercy. Use it as a prayer to God and share with someone who has given you mercy or you need to give mercy to.
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 February 21, 2019 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.