Archive for the ‘Social Justice’ Category

Wisdom 13:1-9: The Wisdom of God’s Creation

Monday, November 21, 2022Gods-creation

Anyone who does not know God is simply foolish.

When we look at the beauty of the planet, we see God’s goodness.

Such people look at the good things around them and still fail to see the living God.

When we share earth’s resources, we experience God’s generosity.

They have studied the things God made, but they have not recognized the one who made them.

When we bring together science, reason and spirituality, we experience God’s wisdom.

Instead, they suppose that the gods who rule the world are fire or wind or storm or the circling stars or rushing water or the heavenly bodies.

When we see the elements as God’s gifts to us, we see God’s trust in us.

tree in handsPeople were so delighted with the beauty of these things that they thought they must be gods, but they should have realized that these things have a master and that the master is much greater than all of them, for God is the creator of beauty, and God created them.

When we pause to reflect on the beauty of God’s creation, we see God’s hope for us.

Since people are amazed at the power of these things, and how they behave, they ought to learn from them that their maker is far more powerful.

When we witness to the resiliency in God’s creation, we begin to understand God’s strength.

When we realize how vast and beautiful the creation is, we are learning about the Creator at the same time.

creationWhen we witness to the complexity of God’s creation, we begin to understand God.

If the foolish had enough intelligence to speculate about the nature of the universe, why did they never find the Lord of all things?

Today we have the opportunity to discover if we are wise or foolish about God’s creation. We can read about the United Nations COP29 conference at: https://cop27.eg/#/ 

Images from: https://blog.greatnonprofits.org/save-the-planet-for-earth-day-with-nonprofits-that-care/ and https://newscenter.baruch.cuny.edu/news/baruchs-climate-scholars-program-expands-to-four-cuny-schools/ and https://www.nasa.gov/content/sunrise-from-the-international-space-station

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James 5: Patience, Plain Speech, Prayer

Tuesday, November 15, 2022hands_sprout_iStock_7221140-300x213 (1)

In a daily reflection, Richard Rohr writes about Joanna Macy, noted spiritual activist, and the Great Turning movement. Macy posits that: “While the agricultural revolution took centuries, and the industrial revolution took generations, this ecological revolution has to happen within a matter of a few years”. (Macy and Brown)

Listen to her On Being interview with Krista Tippet at: http://www.onbeing.org/program/joanna-macy-a-wild-love-for-the-world/61

Or we can read more at: https://www.ecoliteracy.org/article/great-turning

As we consider ideas presented by Macy, we hear her plain speech, we read patience in her voice and actions, and we might decide to join in prayer to heal the world.

Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown, Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (New Society Publishers: 1998), 17-21.

Image from: http://www.radiantbalance.com/programs/the-great-turning/

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James 2:19-20: Faith and Wisdom – Part II

Monday, October 10, 2022the-finance-bar-office-photographs--216_custom-36360f16815c83176350d0e82bc5c5c22aec4316-s800-c85

Yesterday we heard James’ description of true discipleship in Christ. Faith alone or works alone do not put us on the disciple’s path. Today James suggests that a lack of true wisdom can send us astray, can allow us to respond to the kind of thinking that tears down true faith and whittles away at true wisdom.

Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?

Spend a few minutes today with this brief podcast from NPR that describes how Marsha Barnes has put her faith and works together in true wisdom. The three and a half minutes are well worth our time. Click on the image above to find the interview or go to: http://www.npr.org/2015/10/04/445595860/got-a-personal-finance-question-dont-miss-the-bus

Tomorrow, James gives us concrete examples of those who walk and live in wisdom and faith . . . through their works in discipleship.

Image from: http://www.npr.org/2015/10/04/445595860/got-a-personal-finance-question-dont-miss-the-bus

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part Iwasted food

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Today’s verses for reflection are the famous “Dry Bones” of Ezekiel, the metaphor which describes the reunion of our own body and soul at our own resurrection.  This book is a panoply of images, for this prophet speaks in a variety of metaphors which, when examined, bring the understanding that the oasis mirages of the desert are possible.  Restoration after great tragedy can happen – not because of our own good works, but because of God’s infinite and ever-abiding compassion.

Several summers ago I had the gift of living in the Arizona desert for a week to witness the quiet but sudden blooming which happens after a rain. Tiny delicate yet sturdy flowers pop up overnight after a scattering of dew . . . and then disappear again with the heavy noon sun. The constant cycle of arrival and departure is fascinating.

So, too, are Ezekiel’s bones which clamber together to form full figures. This dramatic imagery came to the Jewish people when they were well into their exile, well into the desert, without much hope or recourse to salvation, or so they thought.  When the prophet is asked if he thinks it possible that the desiccated bones might rise to take on flesh and function again, he wisely replies that only God can answer that question.  What follows is an interesting interplay in which Ezekiel is invited to take a part in this resurrection which does occur quite dramatically. What was thought as lost has been found. And restored. The people who had no temple, no visible home for Yahweh, had never been abandoned by their God as they had thought. The dry bones rise, take on flesh, and live.

Tomorrow, oracles and more possibilities . . . 

Click on the image above for more of Chef Barber’s vision or visit: http://www.karenandandrew.com/2015/03/chef-dan-barbers-vision-to-slash-food-waste-transforms-blue-hill-into-wasted-through-march-31st/ 

And as you consider resurrection from desolation, you may want to read about chef Dan Barber who pulls together exquisite meals from food that would otherwise be thrown away. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/waste-not-want-not-eat-up

Adapted from a reflection written on February 1, 2008.


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Mark 8:1-10: Some Left Over – Part Vdownloadmore fish and loaves

Friday, August 5, 2022

Although some scholars believe that these descriptions of four and five thousand are the same event, there are those who believe that Jesus des large crowds on a number of occasions. Each of us has the opportunity today to reflect on the times we have been nourished by his presence.

We use the scripture link to bring a fresh perspective to familiar details, and reflect on the following points.

Despite knowing that the apostles do not have the money to feed so many, Jesus offers his apostles the option of giving of themselves before he steps in. What actions have we taken that rob others of an opportunity to serve?

Perhaps knowing that the apostles question the need to feed so many, Jesus speaks openly of how his heart is moved with pity for the crowd. What actions can we perform that affirm our own interest in serving God’s people?

Understanding that the act of sharing asks us to give more than we may receive, we look for opportunities to advocate for those who go hungry through no fault of their own. What social action can we take today in the name of Jesus Christ?

This miracle is also described in Matthew 15:32-39

Tomorrow, how does Luke tell this story of God’s abundance?

Image from: https://wherepeteris.com/multiplication-of-loaves-and-fish-a-miracle-within-the-miracle/

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Matthew 14:13-21: Some Left Over – Part IVloaves and fish

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Today’s story of the feeding of thousands follows the death of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. Perhaps it is for this reason that Jesus withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But as often happens with Jesus, the crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. Matthew also tells us that Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. In his deep compassion and love for these crowds, Jesus challenges his apostles to find food for the weary and needy. When the twelve report that all they have is five loaves and two fish, Jesus steps in to provide. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over – twelve wicker baskets full. 

Today as we reflect on this familiar story, we use the scripture link to bring a fresh perspective to familiar details and reflect on the following three points.

Despite his weariness and sorrow, Jesus is moved by emotion to tend to those who need him, knowing that ultimately there will be some left over. What social action can we take today on behalf of God’s people?

Having had their fill, Jesus’ followers gather up what is left over, knowing that God’s plenty is not to be squandered. What social action can we take today on behalf of God’s creation?

Weary from our own travels and fearful of the future, we hesitate to trust God and give from our need; we are tempted to trust ourselves and give from our surplus. What social action can we take today in the name of God’s holy Spirit?

This miracle is also described in Mark 6:34-44. 

Tomorrow, Mark and the feeding of four thousand. 

Image from: https://fravelinogonzalez.com/2015/07/26/homily-2015-07-26/

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2 Kings 4:42-44: Some Left Over – Part I

Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Monday, August 1, 2022

When I was a child and company arrived unexpectedly on a warm summer afternoon, my mother would whisper to my older sisters, “Go peel another pound of potatoes, and squeeze more lemons for another batch of lemonade”. The main course would stretch, she knew; the other side dishes and desserts were ample. It was the sustaining starch and the refreshing fruit drink that our surprise summer visitors would need for their journey onward.

Each time I read about the manna and quail in the dessert I think of my mother and the trust she placed in God as she and my dad raised their large family in unpredictable times. And when I hear the story of Elisha read out during liturgy as it was last week, I pledge to affirm the faith of my parents, knowing that they understood the power of good stewardship and the gift of conserving what was left over.

“Wasting food is like stealing from the poor,” Pope Francis has told us, and it was is this spirit that I was raised. It is this spirit I have tried to pass on to my children and grandchildren. Offering food and drink to the wayfarer, my parents showed us, extending hospitality to all is a way of life worth fostering; it is a tradition we find in both the Old and New Testaments. Honoring the sudden guest is our affirmation that God always gives us enough. Inviting the lost into a safe refuge is our demonstration of belief in the mercy of God. Husbanding all that is left over is our response to God’s call that we treasure all we are given by a generous and loving God.

Over the next few days we will look at stories from scripture, both old and new, to explore God’s message about sustenance, hospitality, and something left over. Today, we read Pope Francis’ words about food and we use a search engine to find an agency that provides a means for the poor to gain a permanent food supply, and we consider giving something of our wealth left over – even if it is only a few barley loaves and fish – to this cause.

Tomorrow, bread from heaven. 

You might begin your search with these organizations, or you might conduct your own search of global or local agencies.

www.foodforthepoor.org, www.moveforhunger.org, www.feedthehungry.org, www.helpthechildren.org

If you still have no idea where to begin, consider food for the poor with the Forbes list of the 50 largest cities in the U.S.A. at http://www.forbes.com/companies/food-for-the-poor/ Or Feed the Future at www.feedthefuture.gov

Image from: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/06/05/uk-pope-food-idUKBRE9540OV20130605

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2 Corinthians 8:7-15: A Matter of Equality

Tissot: The Gathering of the Manna

James Tissot: The Gathering of the Manna

Monday, July 11, 2022

Frequent arguments arise about how to create social and political policy for the common good and this is natural. There will always be those among us who take advantage of generosity hearts. This incontrovertible fact causes worry and suspicion. It creates a feeling of ill will toward those who need the help of the fortunate. There will always be suspicion and bias in human relationships but this does not mean that we cannot practice Christ’s example in our small, everyday dealings with one another.

Though Christ was rich, for your sake he became poor . . .

Once we discover how we our sharing of wealth can be managed prudently, we might begin to offer more of our abundance to others.

By Christ’s poverty you might become rich . . .

As Jesus so often tells us, our treasure must lie in our actions rather than the goods, property and fame we have stored up in this world.

Not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs, so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.

Paul reminds his readers that God dealt with the Israelites in the desert with generosity and grace by providing water from rock, and quail and manna from the sky. The real miracle in this story is not so much that sustenance appeared out of nowhere, but that there was enough for all.

Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less. (Exodus 16:18)

This generosity and plenty will again be seen when Jesus feeds thousands with a few fish and loaves offered by a child. (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 and John 6)

There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people? So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten (John 6:9 and 13)

And so Paul sends us this message: Brothers and sisters: As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you, may you excel in this gracious act also.

All that have and all that we are is gift from God. Jesus himself, although he is divine, tells us that he does the will of the creator. How then can we refuse to imitate Christ in his generosity for us? How then can we reject the idea of sharing the abundance we have at this present time?

As we meditate on this reading today, let us consider where our wealth lies. It may be physical in that we own much and we may have worked quite diligently for this abundance. Yet is it not God who gives us this plenty and how can we not share it?

Our wealth may be spiritual or psychological. Again, was it not God who blessed us with this equanimity? How can we not share the benefit of stable mind and heart when God has given this sense of balance to us in the first place?

As we spend time with these verses and compare varying versions of these stories by clicking on the scripture links, let us also pledge to share our wealth in some way with those who have less. And let us commit to sharing a portion of this plenty with those who have far less than the gifts we have received from God.

If you find yourself without a cause to which you might devote yourself, click on the words Social Justice in the category cloud in the right hand column of this blog. Or enter the words Social Justice into the blog search bar and explore. If you already have a favorite cause, enter that information into the comment bar below and share it with others. In this way we come together in our reply to Christ’s invitation to share God’s gifts as a matter of equality.

Image from: http://www.jesuswalk.com/moses/4_grumbling.htm

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Philippians 3:7-12: The Mystery of Altruism

Monday, July 4, 2022

Matthieu Ricard

Matthieu Ricard

Whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ.

On June 15, 2015, talk show host Diane Rehm spoke on the topic of altruism with her guest Matthieu Ricard. Ricard, a Frenchman who left a career in molecular biology for life as a Buddhist monk, has published an international bestseller, THE MONK AND THE PHILOSOPHER. Listen to some of the podcast today to discover why “Ricard argues that altruism is the key to solving major world problems like inequality and climate change”. Like Ricard, we ask ourselves about the mystery of altruism: How is it that consideration of others solves challenges more efficiently than power, money or fame. http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2015-06-15/matthieu-ricard-altruism

monkphilosopherWe might consider reading some of Ricard’s words as we contemplate the mystery of how we become strong in our weakness and confident in our vulnerability.  We may also want to explore the relationship Ricard has with his atheist father and discover how East meets West in this intimate relationship. For a quick review and a link to an audio version of THE MONK AND THE PHILOSOPHER, visit: http://www.enotes.com/topics/monk-philosopher

Or listen to Ricard’s Ted Talk and learn about how the evolution of cultures can bring about change in the world through enhancing cooperation rather than competition, sustainable harmony rather than sustainable growth, caring economics, local commitment, global responsibility, and an extension of altruism to the other 1.6 million species on the planet. Consider how these ideas mix or clash with values that Jesus brings to us. Listen, watch, and learn about qualitative simplicity at: https://www.ted.com/talks/matthieu_ricard_how_to_let_altruism_be_your_guide

Image from: https://dianerehm.org/shows/2015-06-15/matthieu-ricard-altruism

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