November 27, 2015

Nov. 27

November 27, 2015:  Friday, 34th week, Ordinary Time

  • 'Lion,' 'bear' pins: beasts in Daniel's vision (1st reading); "beasts, bless the Lord" (psalm) 
  • 'Eyeball' pin: Horn had eyes like a man (1st reading)
  • 'Books' tie: The books were opened (1st reading) 
  • 'Tree' pin: Read signs like the tree (gospel) 
  • 'Crown' tie bar: Son of man received kingship (1st reading); Christ the King 
  • 'Clock' tie bar: countdown to end of liturgical year (tomorrow) 
  • Green shirt: Ordinary Time season
Pope Francis
To Kenyan youth:  Why do divisions, wars, deaths, and destruction occur?  The spirit of evil takes us to destruction, disunity, tribalism, corruption, drugs, and destruction out of fanaticism.  You lose the worst of your humanity if you forget how to pray, feel powerful, and don’t feel the need to ask the Lord for help.  You can look at difficulties as destroying you or as opportunities.  You can choose the path of destruction, or to overcome difficulties.  Earth is full of difficulties, opportunities, and invitations towards evil.  Do you choose the path of difficulty and division or of opportunity to overcome self and difficulties?  Do you want to overcome challenges or be overcome by them?  If you don’t listen to and dialogue with each other, you’re going to have division.  Stand up against tribalism.  Every day try to overcome the tendency to tribalism,  It’s a work of opening your heart to and offering your hands to others.
At Kangemi slum:  Your joys, hopes, troubles, and sorrows matter to me.  I realize the difficulties you experience daily and denounce the injustices you suffer.  Wisdom is found in poor neighborhoods, wisdom born of the “stubborn resistance” of the authentic, from Gospel values that an opulent society, anesthetized by unbridled consumption, seems to have forgotten.  You can weave bonds that convert overcrowding into community, tearing down walls and overcoming selfishness.
Poor neighborhoods express values like solidarity, self-giving, preferring birth to death, providing Christian burial, finding a place for the sick in your home, sharing bread with the hungry, and showing patience and strength in adversity:  values grounded in the importance of human beings.  The path of Jesus began on the peripheries; it goes from and with the poor towards others.  But urban exclusion is a dreadful injustice, inflicted by minorities who cling to power and wealth, who squander others are forced to flee to the peripheries.  Unjust distribution of land makes it even worse; developers” hoard land, even school playgrounds, forgetting God gave the earth to us all for the sustenance of all, without excluding or favoring anyone.
One problem is the lack of access to infrastructure and services like safe drinkable water, toilets, sewers, refuse collection, electricity, roads, schools, hospitals,....  May authorities embark on the path of inclusion, education, sport, community action, and protection of families; it's the only guarantee of peace.  These realities are a consequence of pressure to adopt policies typical of the culture of waste, like lowering the birth rate, legitimizing the present model of distribution, where a minority believes it has the right to consume 
We need integrated cities belonging to everyone.  We need to implement initiatives to improve living situations and plan better urban developments to house future generations.  We must respect the right to the “three Ls”: land, lodging, labor.  Take initiative against injustice, be involved in your neighbors’ problems, accompany them, protect the fruits of their labor, and celebrate every victory.  It may be the most important task, because the Gospel is addressed in a special way to the poor.  Pray, work and commit to ensure every family has dignified housing, access to drinking water, a toilet, and energy; that every neighborhood has streets, schools, hospitals, and areas for sport, recreation, and art; that basic services are available to all; that your appeals and pleas are heard; and that all enjoy the peace and security they deserve on the basis of their human dignity.
To UN officials in Nairobi:  I was happy to plant a tree in the UN park.  It's an invitation to continue battling against phenomena like deforestation and desertification.  It reminds us it's important to safeguard our planet's "lungs" and we need to appreciate and encourage agencies and organizations to draw attention to these issues and cooperate, to ensure that each government carries out its responsibility to preserve the environment and natural resources.  Planting a tree is also an incentive to keep trusting, hoping, and working to reverse injustice and deterioration.  We can choose to improve or destroy the environment.  Every step in caring for creation opens a path for creativity that brings out our best.  The climate belongs to all and is meant for all; climate change is one of the principal challenges facing us.  Our response needs to account the rights of the poor and the underprivileged.  Misuse and destruction of the environment are accompanied by a process of exclusion.  I hope COP21 will reach an agreement based on solidarity, justice, equality, and participation, to lessen the impact of climate change, fight poverty, and ensure respect for human dignity.  We're one people living in a common home.  If we want positive change, we must accept our interdependence.  We need to dialogue and cooperate.  We can rise above ourselves, choose good, and make a new start, so we hope we'll be remembered for having shouldered our responsibilities.  The economy and politics must be placed at the service of peoples, so human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the system so each individual's abilities and needs find suitable expression.  The human person and human dignity must be the point of departure and goal.  A new culture calls for education that fosters care for, vs. use and discarding of, oneself, others, and the environment.  By promoting awareness of our common origin, mutual belonging, and shared future, we'll favor development of new convictions, attitudes, and lifestyles.
We're growing accustomed to others' suffering and resigned to “using and discarding” via slavery, trafficking, forced labor, and prostitution.  We can't remain indifferent.  We've also witnessed urbanization that's led to cities unhealthy to live in; they show symptoms of social breakdown, increased violence, social aggression, drug trafficking, drug use, loss of identity, lack of rootedness, and social anonymity.  I encourage all those working to ensure urbanization is effective, guaranteeing everyone dignified living conditions, land, lodging, and labor.  City planning and maintenance projects must move forward, and local residents' views must be considered.  We have yet to attain an equitable system of commerce that battles poverty and exclusion.  Relationships between States can harm the environment, or renew and preserve it.  Free trade treaties dealing with protection of intellectual property should not only maintain intact the powers already granted to States but also ensuring basic health care for all.  Set aside partisan and ideological interests, and serve the common good.  The Catholic community, and I myself, pray and work that the fruits of cooperation, may be pursued and take the common good into account.
  • Dn 7:2-14  Daniel's vision:  beasts emerge:  lion with eagle wings, given human mind; bear ordered to eat flesh; leopard with bird wings, four heads, receiving dominion; terrifying, strong beast with horns, devouring with iron teeth, trampling with feet.  Snow-bright Ancient One took throne; myriads attended him.  Beast is slain, burnt up.  One like a son of man comes, receives dominion and glory.
  • Dn 3:75-81  "Give glory and eternal praise to him!"  Mountains, hills, growing things, springs, seas, rivers, dolphins, water creatures, birds, beasts, bless the Lord!
  • Lk 21:29-33  As when tree buds open you know summer is near, when you see these signs, know God's Kingdom is near.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but not my words.
    • Creighton:  We've been reading hard-to-understand apocalyptic writings (and will in the first part of Advent); today's 1st reading and gospel are examples.  God alone discloses the wonders of his love.  A comic strip shows an ascetic in flowing robes holding a sign:  “The End is not near, so figure out how to live in an imperfect world!”  God has revealed himself in Jesus, who showed us how to live; he brings God's Kingdom to our imperfect world and invites us to join him in helping illuminate the Kingdom.  We can get scared by violence, anger, and wars that threaten us, but Jesus showed us how to respond:  love God and neighbor; live the Beatitudes; trust in God's goodness; open up to the poor....  "The end is near" is a challenge and blessing from God.  The effects of our acts of faith, hope, and love go beyond the present into a future of hope God has planned for us.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Black Friday or Good Friday?"  Every Friday is a reminder of Good Friday. Jesus gave his life so we may have life; he took on the punishment of our sins so we could take on God's holiness.  Malls, parties, earth, stars, and sky  will pass away, but not Jesus' words.  May Jesus transfer us from Black Friday to Good Friday.
    • Passionist:  Jesus admonishes his disciples to stay awake and attentive.  He wants us to notice lessons from nature, too.  Obstacles aren't always extrinsic evils or influences; they might come from within.  Sometimes we're tempted to rush to a quick answer or crave certitude, but "When I despair, I remember the way of truth and love has always won.  Tyrants and murderers may seem invincible but in the end always fall" (Gandhi).
    •  "My words will not pass away":   Jesus used the fig tree image to teach about reading the "signs of the times."  The fig tree was an important source of food for the Jews, bearing fruit in the autumn and early spring.  The Talmud said the first fruit came the day after Passover.  The Jews believed that the Messiah would usher in God's kingdom at Passover time.  As signs of a change in season are evident, so too the signs of God's kingdom and his return.  The "budding" of God's kingdom begins in the hearts of those receptive to God's word.  Those who trust in God's word will bear the fruits of his kingdom:  justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  The Lord gives the first-fruits of his kingdom to those who open their hearts to him with faith.  We don't know when Jesus will come again, but he does give us signs to "wake us up" and "rouse our spirits" to be eager to receive his kingdom when he comes.  The "Day of the Lord" will be a day of joy and rejoicing for those who long to see the Lord.  While we wait for the Lord's return in glory, we can know his presence through the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts.  Jesus comes frequently to those who long for him and speaks tenderly to us.  He shows us the way to our Father and gives us hope.
    • Universalis:  St. Ferga (Vergilius of Salzburg), monastery founder, abbot, bishop

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