September 26, 2015

Sept. 26

September 26, 2015:  Saturday, 25th week, Ordinary Time

Papal visit 2015 video on demand, thanks to the USCCB


  • Hallelujah chorus, from Messiah/ Handel: flash mob, "soulful" (Pope's MSG homily)
Pope Francis
Madison Square Garden homily:  [Readings:  Is 9:1-3, 5-6; Ps 85; Mt 5:38-48]  In this site of athletic, artistic and musical events we hear, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”  The people who walked, caught up in their routines, have seen light.  God's people are called to contemplate this light, a light meant to shine everywhere, on everyone, on every part of our lives.  God’s people can see the light Christ brings; they can discern his presence in the midst of life.  We can say, The people who live in the midst of smog have experienced a breath of fresh air.  City living isn't easy, but cities remind us of the riches of diverse cultures, traditions, experiences, languages, costumes and cuisines; they bring together ways we express life's meaning.  But cities also conceal people who don’t appear to belong; faces pass unnoticed because they have no “right” to be there:  foreigners, children without schooling, those deprived of health care, the homeless, the forgotten elderly; they stand in our streets, in deafening anonymity, part of an urban landscape taken for granted.
Isaiah helps us see Jesus as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” so the Son's life can be ours:
    • Wonderful Counselor who motivates us to go out to meet others where they are and proclaim joy.
    • Mighty God,  God-with-us, who gets involved in our lives and homes.
    • Everlasting Father:  Nothing can separate us from his Love.  Show God is in your midst as a merciful Father who awaits his son's return and runs out to embrace him.  A Father who's “glad tidings to the poor, healing to the afflicted, liberty to captives, comfort to the mourning.”
    • Prince of Peace:  Share the good news that God walks at our side, frees us from anonymity, emptiness, selfishness, competition, and self-absorption, and he opens the path of encounter and peace, accepting others, filling our hearts when we see those in need as our brothers and sisters.
God lives in our cities.  The Church lives in our cities and wants to be like yeast, to relate to everyone, to stand at everyone’s side, as she proclaims the marvels of the Great Light.  We're witnesses of that light.
To children at OLQA School, Harlem:  A nice thing about this school is that you come from all over.  It can be hard to move and find new friends; you might have to learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, and learn a lot.  But we meet people who are kind to us, offer us friendship, and help us feel at home.  School can become a second home, a big family, where we, our parents and grandparents, our teachers and friends,  learn to help one another, to share, give our best, work as a team, and pursue our dreams.
Rev. Martin Luther King once said, “I have a dream,” a dream that many children, many people could have equal opportunities.  It's beautiful to have and fight for dreams.  Keep dreaming.  We celebrate the opportunities that enable you, and us grownups, to hope for a better world.  One of your parents' and teachers' dreams is that you grow up and be happy.  Keep smiling and help bring joy to everyone you meet.  You have a right to dream, and I'm happy that you can find support in this school, in your friends and teachers.  Where there are dreams, there's joy; Jesus is present.  Jesus is joy; he wants to help us to feel joy every day.  Pray for me, so that I can share the joy of Jesus with many, and pray that many can share joy like yours.
At Ground Zero interfaith prayer service:  Here grief is palpable, where lives fell prey to those who think that destruction settles conflicts.  But violence, hatred, and revenge only cause pain, suffering, destruction, and tears.  Here we shed tears at the devastation and ruin, weep out of helplessness in the face of injustice....  We mourn the senseless loss of life because of inability to find solutions respecting the common good.  This flowing water reminds us of yesterday’s tears, but also of all the tears still being shed today.  Acts of destruction have a face, concreteness, names.  Family members' pain touches us and cries to heaven, but they also show the power of love and remembrance.  Here we have a sense of the goodness people are capable of.  In pain and suffering, you witnessed generosity and service.  You demonstrated solidarity born of mutual support, love, and self-sacrifice.  No one thought about race, nationality, neighborhoods, religion or politics.  It was about solidarity, meeting needs, brotherhood.  Firefighters walked into the towers, with no concern for their own well-being; their sacrifice enabled many to be saved.  This place of death became a place of saved lives, a hymn to the triumph of life over death, goodness over evil, reconciliation and unity over hatred and division.
May we be a force for reconciliation, peace, and justice.  In opposing attempts to create rigid uniformity, we must build unity and lift our voices against whatever stands in the way.  We're called to say no to attempts to impose uniformity and yes to diversity.  We must uproot from our hearts hatred, vengeance and resentment.  It's only possible as a gift from heaven.  Spend a moment in silence and prayer.  Implore the gift of commitment to peace in our homes, our families, our schools, our communities, wherever war never seems to end.  Peace for all who have only known pain.  Peace throughout our God-given world.  So the lives of our dear ones won't be forgotten but will be present whenever we strive to be prophets of building up, reconciliation, and peace.
To UN General Assembly:  I reiterate my predecessors' appreciation for this Institution so important to the Church and put great hope in your activities.  You codified and developed international law, established norms about human rights, advanced humanitarian law, resolved conflicts, and staged peace-keeping and reconciliation operations; these achievements dispel darkness caused by unrestrained ambitions and selfishness.  Problems remain, but without your intervention, we wouldn't have survived.  Each advance brings us closer to fraternity.  I pay homage to all who gave their lives for peace and reconciliation.
Reform is necessary to grant all countries a share in decision-making.  Greater equity is especially needed in the case of bodies with executive capability.  Financial Agencies should care for development of countries and ensure they're not subjected to oppressive lending systems.  The UN's work is development and promotion of the rule of law, realizing justice is essential.  Limitation of power is implicit in the concept of law.  Justice means no person or group can consider itself absolute, bypassing others' dignity and rights.  Effective distribution of power with a system for regulating claims and interests is a concrete way to limit power.  Yet the world presents us with false rights and broad sectors of the vulnerable, victims of power badly exercised:  e.g., the environment and the excluded.  These sectors are interconnected and fragile; we must affirm their rights by protecting the environment and ending exclusion.
A “right of the environment” exists because we're part of the environment, so harm to the environment is harm to humanity, and because every creature has intrinsic value.  We believe the universe is the fruit of a loving Creator who lets us use creation for our good and his glory; we're not authorized to abuse or destroy it.  Misuse of the environment is accompanied by a process of exclusion; thirst for power and prosperity leads to misuse of natural resources and to exclusion of the weak.  Exclusion is a denial of human fraternity and an offense against human rights and the environment.  The poor suffer the most:  society casts them off as part of the growing “culture of waste.”  Exclusion and inequality led me to speak out.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Paris Conference on Climatic Change are signs of hope.  The classic definition of justice includes an effective, practical, constant will; we must take concrete steps to preserve and improve the environment and put an end to exclusion, human trafficking, human tissue marketing, sexual exploitation, slave labor, drug and weapons trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime.  Don't let declarationist nominalism assuage your conscience; ensure our institutions struggle effectively against these scourges.
Today's problems require instruments of verification, but we risk resting content with lists of proposals or thinking that a single solution will answer all challenges.  Political and economic activity is only effective when understood as a prudential activity, guided by justice and conscious that we're dealing with real people often forced to live in poverty, deprived of rights.  To enable them to escape poverty, we must allow them to be dignified agents of their destiny.  Integral human development and the full exercise of human dignity can't be imposed; they must be built up and unfold for each individual, in right relationship with friends, communities, cities, schools, businesses, unions, provinces, nations, etc..  This requires the right to education for all, respecting the family's right to educate its children and churches' and social groups' right assist families in their education.  Government leaders must ensure all can have the means to live in dignity and support a family.  This minimum has three names:  lodging, labor, and land; it's spiritual freedom and includes religious freedom, education, and other civil rights.
The simplest and best measure will be access to essential material and spiritual goods:  housing, dignified employment, adequate food and water, religious freedom, spiritual freedom, and education, all founded on the right to life.  The ecological crisis threatens our existence.  The consequences of mismanagement of the global economy summons us to reflect:  “Man does not create himself.  He is spirit and will, but also nature.”  Creation is compromised “where we have the final word…  Misuse of creation begins when we see nothing but ourselves.”  Defense of the environment and the fight against exclusion demand we recognize a law written into human nature that includes the natural difference between man and woman, and respect for life in all stages and dimensions.
Without the recognition of incontestable ethical limits and the implementation of integral human development, saving our children from war and promoting social progress can become unattainable, or even a cover for corruption or ideological colonization.  War is the negation of rights and an assault on the environment.  Integral human development requires avoiding war.  For this we must ensure the rule of law, negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.  Full application of international norms is effective but only when enforced.  When the UN Charter is respected and sincerely applied, peaceful results ensue, but when the norm is used only when favorable, Pandora’s box is opened, and harm to people, culture, and the environment follows.
The UN Charter set forth the foundations of peace, peaceful solution of disputes, and development of friendly relations between nations.  Arms proliferation is in opposition to such statements.  An ethics based on the threat of mutual destruction is an affront to the UN's framework.  Work for a world free of nuclear weapons.  Military and political interventions not coordinated by the international community can have such negative effects.  Those charged with conduct of international affairs need to examine their conscience.  In cases of religious or cultural persecution, and every situation of conflict, human beings must take precedence over partisan interests.  In conflicts our brothers and sisters suffer and die; people are easily discarded when all we do is draw up lists of problems, strategies, and disagreements.  “Basic understanding of human dignity compels the international community, particularly through international law, to do all it can to stop and prevent further violence against ethnic and religious minorities” and to protect the innocent.  Another conflict that kills millions is the drug trade; it's accompanied by human trafficking, money laundering, the arms trade, child exploitation, and other corruption that's penetrated social, political, military, artistic, and religious life and given rise to a parallel structure threatening our institutions' credibility.
“A pause, a moment of recollection, reflection, prayer, is needed to recall our common origin, history, and destiny.  The appeal to conscience has never been as necessary as now… For danger comes neither from progress nor science; if they're used well, they help solve serious problems.  Among other things, human genius, well applied, will surely help to meet the grave challenges of ecological deterioration and of exclusion.  “The real danger comes from us; we have instruments to bring ruin or achieve lofty conquests.”  Our common home must continue to rise on the foundations of right understanding of fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life.  This common home must also be built on the understanding of the sacredness of created nature.  Such understanding and respect call for higher wisdom, acceptance of transcendence, rejection of an élite, and recognition that life's meaning is found in service to others and in respectful use of creation for the common good.  “Civilization has to be built on spiritual principles; they're the only ones that can both support and shed light on it.”
El Gaucho Martín Fierro, a classic of Argentine literature, says: “Brothers should stand by each other, because this is the first law; keep a true bond always–because if you fight among yourselves, you’ll be devoured by those outside.”  The world, apparently so connected, is fragmenting, placing at risk “the foundations of social life.” leading to “battles over conflicting interests.”  Give priority to actions that generate new processes and bear fruit in significant, positive events.  Don't procrastinate; the future demands critical decisions in the face of conflicts that increase exclusion and need.  The framework of the UN and its activities can be improved but remains necessary; it can be the pledge of a secure, happy future.  Set aside partisan and ideological interests, and serve the common good.  May God help this Institution, its member States, and each of its officials, to serve humanity effectively, respecting diversity and bringing out the best in each people and every individual.
  • Zec 2:5-9, 14-15a  I, Zechariah, saw a man with a measuring line in his hand.  “Where are you going?” / “To measure Jerusalem.”  The angel who spoke with me advanced, and another met him and said, “People will live in Jerusalem as though in open country, but I'll be for her an encircling wall of fire and the glory in her midst.”  Rejoice, O Zion!  The Lord is coming to dwell among you....
  • Jer 31:10-12ab, 13  "The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock."  He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together.  The Lord shall ransom Jacob.  They shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings, and all shall make merry.  I will turn their mourning into joy....
  • Lk 9:43b-45  Jesus:  “The Son of Man is to be handed over.”   But they didn't understand and were afraid to ask him about this saying.

  • 'Eyeball' pin, 'ruler' tie bar, 'hand' pin:  Zechariah raised my eyes and saw man with measuring line in his hand (1st reading); Lord will redeem Jacob from his conqueror's hand (psalm); the Son of Man is to be 'hand'ed over (gospel)
  • 'Angel' pin:  Angel spoke to him (1st reading)
  • Red shirt:  The Lord will be a wall of fire for Jerusalem (1st reading), Holy Spirit theme at SFPR Regional Congress
  • 'Sheep' tie bar:  "The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock." (psalm)
  • 'Jubilee year' button:  I'll turn their mourning into joy (psalm), upcoming Jubilee of Mercy
  • Green suspenders:  Ordinary Time season
    • Creighton:  Zechariah, after the Babylonian exile, sees someone measuring a place for the temple. Rebuilding had started but had stopped for political reasons; Zechariah saw a future place that would prosper with God as protector. In the canticle, earlier when the northern kingdom was occupied. Jeremiah saw a future of freedom, with God as protector.
    SS. Cosmas and Damian
    The disciples were confused when Jesus foretold his fate, but nobody asked him.  How often I've not spoken or acted because of fear. Fear of failure or embarrassment becomes more important the more we derive our worth from others' perceptions. “Fear is like a fog. It sits on your brain and blocks everything....  Lift the fog  and you're in for the ride of your life (Defending your Life).  We're not promised an easy ride, but God as a protector on the way. My prayer today is for liberation from the paralysis that fear may bring.  Lord, give me wisdom to know your ways and my purpose, courage to act in your service, the ability to listen and to discern, knowledge to avoid sins of commission, and fortitude to avoid sins of omission.
    • One Bread One Body:  "Cross purposes":  The disciples didn't understand Jesus' prediction of suffering but didn't want to ask.  We still don't want to hear the message of the cross, though it's the power of God and center of God's revelation.  May we receive the message by God's grace and make it the heart of our lives....
    • Passionist:  I see the presence of Pope Francis among us as a reflection of what the Zechariah writes in today’s first reading: “See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the Lord. Many shall join themselves to the Lord, and they shall be his people....”  Pope Francis communicates the Gospel in new ways, making real Christ’s words of mercy in his care for those alone, poor, and shunned.  He makes us rethink what it means to live out our faith.  Jesus didn't go to make people feel judged; he reflected to them the truth of their lives:  their hopes and dreams, sin and blindness.  They recognized who they were and who they could be.  We need to see the truth of who God created us to be to hear his call.  By his simplicity, mercy, forgiveness, challenges, and embraces, Francis holds a mirror to us to help us see how we can live better, living the joy of Jesus in a broken world in need of God’s love....
    •  Jesus' prophesy about his crucifixion made no sense to the disciples; they thought the Messiah would come free his people from oppression but didn't know that would be how.  They were afraid to ask, like someone afraid to ask a doctor out of fear of bad news. How often do I reject what I don't want to see?...

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