Dear Clergy and People of Houma-Thibodaux
Greetings in Christ,
Reflections and thoughts for your consideration based on the social teachings of the church for Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Global Solidarity
Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, even though they may be different from us. That means those neighbors who live next door and those who live on the other side of the planet. Jesus reminds us that we are all part of God’s great family.
The readings for this Sunday speak of the wonderful, positive power of faith amid all kinds of problems and challenges.
+ Habakkuk writes: “…the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint.”
+ Paul speaks of a “rich trust that dwells within us.”
+ Jesus says that if you have faith “the size of a mustard seed,” you can move a mountain.
The violence, of which Habakkuk speaks, has been made real in our generation in wars and acts of terrorism, and in all sorts of disputes.
Violence is not new. It appears again and again throughout human history. The scriptures today remind us that God has an alternate vision of how life is to be lived. The “mountain” can be moved. There is alternative to violence and discord. We can only address this violence if we know ourselves and our limits. Without self-knowledge, we are destined to repeat the mistakes that cause violence. We are “servants.” We need that increase in faith that can only come from God. We are not in charge of everything. We don’t have to use force. We don’t have to be more than we are. With this sort of realism and humility, we will have the wisdom to talk to one another, to avoid violence, and bless the world with Christ’s gift of peace and justice.
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Call to Family, Community, and Participation
We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
God desires good things for all people. God’s desire for good is not limited to any one group of people. Naaman is a foreigner, but he is still healed. Jesus heals all 10 people with leprosy including the Samaritan. God’s love is inclusive. As followers of such a God, we too want to be inclusive. Such a perspective will affect how we relate to people from other parts of the world or other religious traditions or other racial and ethnic groups. Such a perspective will influence how we act on
immigration issues or the welcoming of refugees. Such a way of thinking and seeing will influence how nations relate to each other or how they use the resources of our planet. Genuine gratitude is a transforming experience that opens us up to others. It changes our whole way of looking at things and our way of behaving. Naaman, the foreigner, is overwhelmed with gratitude and has a religious conversion after his healing. After his healing, the Samaritan runs back with enthusiasm to thank Jesus and to be a part of the community of people around Jesus. Genuine gratitude changes us. We see everything differently. It is an invitation to be open to all sorts of things – concern for the poor, concern for those who are different, desire for growth and change, commitment to community and the common good. Gratitude is an invitation into fearlessness. It is an invitation into new life and joy – a new life and joy that change our world and us and help us form real community. Gratitude energizes us to live out the social teaching of our church and to share our gifts with the world.
Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Global Solidarity
At the end of today’s gospel, Jesus wonders whether the Son of Man will find faith at the end of time. To put it in other words:
+ Will people remain faithful to the spirit of God, the spirit of Jesus?
+ Will human beings allow themselves to be transformed by the radical vision of Jesus?
+ Will peace and justice prevail?
+ Will our society care for those in need, like the widow?
Jesus proclaimed a radical message about God’s love for all of us. Jesus offered a radical invitation to love one another without condition – to love those who are different than themselves, to love even our enemies. In a world with many examples of hatred, violence, war, and unnecessary death, Jesus appears with the radical call for us to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, to trust in the way of peace, and to be especially concerned for those most in need. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the response to Amalek’s attack on Israel was to wage war trusting in the power of God to bring victory. Can our faith today help us to work together as a community for the good of the world? In the second reading we are told to “remain faithful to what we have learned and believed.” We are to “be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient, convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.” As we work for justice, do we have the persistence and vision of the widow in the gospel story?
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Jesus tells us to care for those who are most in need in the world. He reminds us of our Christian duty to give a voice to those who go unheard and to help those who are most vulnerable.
The first reading from Sirach reminds us of God’s concern for the poor and for the oppressed. God cares for all people. God does not want to forget those who are powerless or voiceless. The gospel today reminds us not to try to exult ourselves or focus too much on our own importance. It seems that Jesus is saying that we instead should forget all that and acknowledge our limits. God seems to be more pleased with the one who does not try to be the first or most important. He wants us to be free to live as Christians so we can focus on what is really important.
Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Life and Dignity of the Human Person
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society.
Today’s reading from the Book of Wisdom reminds us that God’s “imperishable spirit is in all things.” Catholic Social Teaching affirms the dignity of every human person. In the gospel today, Jesus affirms the worth and goodness of God in a concrete human person, Zacchaeus of Jericho. As a tax collector
for the Roman oppressors, Zacchaeus makes lots of money but understandably seems to be respected or honored by no one in the town. Jesus does not ignore this man whom so many people dislike. Jesus does not start out by condemning his behavior. Jesus simply begins treating him as a human being – by acknowledging his existence and coming to his house for dinner. The next thing you know, Zacchaeus is changed. He returns money to those who have been cheated. He gives to the poor. Salvation comes to him and his household. Salvation is now just a feeling. It involves a change in behavior and in how we relate to the world. This is what happened to Zacchaeus. His behavior is changed. His way of dealing with people is transformed. Social transformation begins. Spirituality is not simply an interior thing. Spirituality involves our behavior and not just our personal behavior, but also our behavior as a society, as a community. Good spirituality leads to social transformations.
---Education for Justice Lectionary Reflections By: Fr. John Bucki, S.J.
Parish Social Ministry (PSM) calls the entire church, and all people of goodwill, to establish a more just and peaceful society. The PSM office invites all to answer the Gospel call to work for the Kingdom of God and serves as a resource for church parishes in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. Parish Social Ministry is lived out through education about Catholic Social Teaching, legislative advocacy, community organizing, parish leadership development and church social service program development. Call us for presentations to confirmation classes, RCIA, religious education teachers, pastoral councils, social ministry committees, liturgy committees, retreats and other parish ministries.
A Catholic Voice for Justice is the parish-based legislative advocacy network in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux through which we contact local, state or national elected officials about a social justice issue of concern to the Church. Over 500 parishioners in our diocese are members of our network. Sign up here to join.