Dear Clergy of Houma-Thibodaux
Greetings in Christ,
Reflections and thoughts for your consideration based on the social teachings of the church for Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Twenty-Six Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Twenty-Third 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.
Jesus seems to be saying that if you do not know your limits, you will end up doing “stupid things.” You end up building a house which you cannot finish. You end up fighting a war that you cannot win. You end up attaching excessive value to your possessions. You will end up not doing the life giving thing God wants.
The first reading also reminds us of our limits. The world is more than the material. Material possessions are not to be the defining things of our existence. Jesus goes so far as to say that we should renounce our possessions. It seems that so many people spend their life and all their energy getting, protecting and worrying about more and more material things. Jesus invites us to a freedom from all that. In other words, we are called to renounce materialism and keep our values in perspective. Jesus goes so far as to say that we should even renounce members of our family. Unless parents let go of their children, there can be no healthy adult relationship. Unless we treat each other as adults, filled with the dignity and freedom that comes from God, we cannot really be Christian brothers and sisters.
Catholic Social Teaching is based on the dignity of the human person. No person can be the possession of another. No person’s value is found in what they own or control or possess. No one is to be a slave to things. Rather we are all called to be free. Maybe that is what Paul is trying to talk about in the second reading when he talks about treating Onesimus as a brother and no longer a slave.
Twenty-Fourth 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 first reading from Exodus is about the process of coming to find a God who is not vengeful, but who is willing to show mercy and forgiveness. It is about finding a God of healing and new life.
Jesus tells three stories to make his point about the mercy of God. He wants to teach us that God is concerned about redemption and forgiveness. God wants to save sinners. God wants to bring people to the fullness of life. God wants to reconcile individuals, groups, and nations.
Sometimes even religious people have trouble finding the merciful side of God. So many people fall into the trap of condemning others and showing no mercy.
We can be tempted to violence and revenge when we face evil. Nations and groups can be tempted to resort to war and terror rather than understanding, nonviolence, and reconciliation.
The challenge of today’s scriptures is to apply the message of mercy to our image of God and especially to our own way of treating others. (“Be merciful as God is merciful.”)
Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Global Solidarity
A few decades ago, Pope Paul VI stated that “If you desire peace, work for justice.” Today Amos speaks in the strongest terms about those whose economic actions are “trampling the needy and destroying the poor.” Today Jesus says that one “cannot love both God and money.”
If we want peace, how must we speak and live the message of justice today?
War and terrorism continue in our world. Violence exists on so many levels. The Christian response to the violence of our world must flow from reflection on the realities of injustice that lead to the ways of violence.
The same energy that goes into making money should go into concern for the poor, justice for all, respect for other cultures and religious faiths, an end to violence and militarism, and a commitment to peace and the way to Jesus.
War and violence will continue generation after generation, unless we hear the words of the prophets and commit our energy toward an end to all injustice and violence.
As Amos found examples of people in his time who put profit before people and economic domination before justice for all, we may be able to find such examples in our global economy and our local economy as well.
Twenty-Six 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 scriptures today focus on the “chasm” that can exist between those who are rich and those who are poor – between those who have lots of power and control and those who have little power and control – between those who are like Lazarus and those who are like the rich man.
Catholic Social Teaching reminds us of God’s invitation to have a special concern for the poor – a special option for those who are in any way poor and powerless.
Catholic social teaching challenges us to do away with the chasms which divide our world and its people. We must allow the word and spirit of God to help us to bridge the “chasms” that divide us and not to create more “chasms.”
Jesus once said that “to the one whom much has been given, much is expected.” (Luke 12:48) The scriptures invite us to reflect on wealth. Amos is most critical about the wealthy who live in luxury, but give nothing back to the community. Jesus talks about the rich man who doesn’t even respond to the poor man living right outside his house.
As individuals many of us have been given lots. Certainly, as a society, we in the United States enjoy wealth and plenty, even if it is not always distributed evenly.
What responsibility do we have to do something with our wealth to benefit the common good? When do we have a responsibility to say that we have enough? When do we have a responsibility to give to those who have little? The gospel today should leave us with lots of good questions. What is our response?
---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.