Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saying "Yes!" to God

“Let it be done unto me according to your Word.” 

This is Mary’s unequivocal “Yes” to God.  God chose Mary to be the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God.  God chose her to be the one who brings salvation into the world.  By Mary’s “Yes,” to God’s task for her - in his love for his people - we are all brought to a Life Eternal in heaven.

I’m sure we have all experienced being chosen.  As a child, I remember standing anxiously among my classmates waiting to be chosen to be on a team:
·         Or waiting to hear the outcome of a job interview, to see if I was chosen among the candidates,
·         Or again, waiting for a director to choose me for a part in a play after audition. 

All these are anxious moments - waiting to be chosen from among others – based on our abilities, - our qualifications – our talents - with our biggest and brightest smile.  If you’ve ever watched the Broadway show or movie “The Chorus Line” you see the anxiety of those waiting to be chosen.

But this kind of choosing is different from how Mary was chosen.  Mary was not chosen because she was the best, the brightest or the most hard-working – Mary was chosen because “Mary had found favor with God.”

Nothing that Mary did made her deserving of God’s gift of grace in choosing her to be the Mother of Jesus.  Remember, God chooses the weak things of this world to do his will.

Mary was not in a contest for God’s favor – in scripture we read that Mary was going about her normal everyday activities when she was approached by God’s messenger, Gabriel. It was quite a shock and very worrisome for Mary to be greeted – “Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with you.”
·         Kind of a “You talking to me?” moment for Mary

God’s grace is freely given.  Mary did not earn grace, or did she deserve God’s favor or was she entitled to God’s gifts.  God’s gifts and favors are given from his love and generosity.  He bestowed them on Mary as one of his beloved children.  His giving made her worthy and filled her with his grace.

Mary’s song response to God’s generosity:

“My soul does magnify the Lord
My spirit rejoices in God, my savior
For he has looked with favor upon his lowly servant”

Remarks on how undeserving she is of God’s grace and on how his love is reflected in her.  She knows it is God who does all these wonderful things for her and not anything she has done to deserve them.

“From his day forward
All generations will call me blessed
For the Almighty has done great things for me.”

Today, we all recognize the favor and grace God bestowed on Mary and call her blessed among women.  She is the one who sits in heaven, closest to us between Jesus and the world.  She is our heavenly Mother, God bearer – chosen with favor and grace – to bring God into the world - as one of us – to bring us back to God: to show us how to be truly human.

We too are chosen people, beloved children of God.  He chooses each one of us, like he chose Mary, not because we do anything to deserve to be chosen, not because we are the best, the brightest or the most deserving, but because God loves us.

He chooses each of us to be a part of his plan of salvation; each of us given a unique role to bringing all the scattered sheep of the flock back into his heavenly kingdom.  He bestows his grace and favor on us, so we might be called holy and blessed children of God.

But do we respond to God’s love as Mary did?  Do we give our immediate and unequivocal, “Yes” to God when he calls us?  Do we sing God’s praise for the favor and grace he freely gives?
·         Or do we hesitate?  Do we doubt?  Do we think he is calling someone else?

God’s grace abounds – it is everywhere – waiting for us to respond to his call. 
·         It is in cries of the poor. 
·         It is in responding to the needs of the least of God’s children. 
·         It is only in the listening in our hearts to the quiet of God’s voice - calling us to love as he loves; - to care as he cares – to follow in his way - toward the promised kingdom of heaven.

·         Be like Samuel - when God calls, saying, “Yes, Lord! Your servant is listening!”
·         Be like Mary – when God calls: Rejoice in God’s favor, saying, “Let it be done unto me according to your word.

Peace and Merry Christmas,
Deacon Don

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent - Waiting in Joyful Anticipation

This is truly a joyful time of the year.  We rejoice at the birth of Jesus, our Savior who was sent into the world by God the Father to free us from sin and lead us to life everlasting in heaven. This is the season for good will toward all people – a time for peace – a time for reconciliation with those with whom we have lost touch - a time for family and friends to gather together across the miles to celebrate and be reacquainted – it is also a time for reflection on the meaning of Christmas and the promise of God’s love for his people that is made manifest at Easter.

We see at this time of year, signs reminding us to Keep Christ in Christmas – on billboards, on car bumpers – I want to tell you of the original “Keep Christ in Christmas” story.

The Legend of the Candy Cane
Once upon a time a faithful disciple of Our Lord, Jesus wanted to make something to help people remember what Christmas was all about.  He thought very hard about what he could do to help people keep the mission of Jesus in mind and what his birth really means to us.

Being a candy maker he decided that he would make a candy to help people, especially children remember Christmas.

He began with a stick of pure white hard candy.  White symbolized the purity of Mary’s Immaculate Conception and the virgin birth of Jesus.  It also stood for the sinless-ness and purity of Jesus. White is also the color of baptism, when we are clothed in a white garment to symbolize how our baptism makes us pure and sinless like Jesus.

The rock hard candy symbolized the rock-solid foundation of the Church, for Jesus told Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church.”  It also stands for the solid firmness of God’s promise to his people. His promise is never changing, never to be broken.

The disciple then put red stripes on the white candy stick to symbolize Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice on the cross.  Jesus took away our sins through his suffering and sacrifice to free us from sin and bring us to Life in heaven with God the Father.

The candy maker then made the candy into the shape of a shepherd’s staff – for Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lovingly looks after his flock; going out to search for all the lost lambs; carrying them safely back home in his arms.

And if you turn the shepherd’s staff upside down it makes the letter “J” which stands for Jesus – to further remind us of Our Lord and Savior who is the Son of God who became a man just like us – who came into the world this night as a baby; to take away our sins and bring us to Eternal Life in heaven for ever and ever.

The disciple’s simple creation became known as the Candy Cane and it is the original symbol reminding us to Keep Christ in Christmas.
And if this story isn’t true – it ought to be

So, whenever you see a Candy Cane –
W       Think of Jesus who was born on Christmas Day
W       Think of Jesus and the love of God, the Father who sacrificed his only Son to take away our sins and bring us to Eternal Life in heaven
W       Think of Jesus teaching us the Good News of God’s promise of Life everlasting and his great love for us his children.

Keep Christ in Christmas and every other day of the year
W       Keep Jesus, the Christ always:
o        W In your thoughts
o        W On your lips and
o        W In your heart
And let us rejoice and be glad for our Savior (comes) has come.

Deacon Don

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Prayer for Thanksgiving

Heavenly Father, we thank you for all the gifts and blessings you’ve bestowed on us. Not because we are deserving of them, but given because of your never-ending love for us. 

We thank you for all the opportunities of grace in our lives
Open our eyes to new occasions of grace, so we may grow ever closer to you

Help us Lord, in our struggle to do your will as we strive to love one another with your love and see one another through your eyes: as brothers and sisters
Let us be good stewards of your earthly Kingdom as we share its bounty with all your beloved children
Be with us as we care for one another as we would care for ourselves
Stand by us as we see in the suffering of the poor and downcast – your suffering on the cross - move us to act always with compassion, love and mercy
Show us the ways of love that put the needs of others before our own
Guide us on our journey of discipleship as we follow your Son into the promise of Eternal Life

Thank you for this gift of Life now and for showing us the way to your heavenly Kingdom where we will live with you forever and ever.


Peace and Happy Thanksgiving,
Deacon Don

Monday, November 21, 2011

When did we see you, Lord?

Today, a good friend calls to ask us to do an important task for him.  He says, “Visitors are coming who know nothing of our faith; I want them to see Jesus, please show them Jesus.”

What do we do?  What do we tell them? How do we show them who Jesus is?  Where can we take them to find Jesus?

Is Jesus in the great cathedrals?  Is he found in the churches?  Do we see Jesus in small prayer communities?  He tells us that: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among you.”  Are these the places we take our visitors to show them Jesus?

How about taking the visitors to see Jesus where he dwells for those who are “Blessed by my Father?”  He is always found and recognized among those who love, with the love of God.  Jesus is the one who receives the love of God through the acts of mercy and compassion given by those who care for the poor, the disenfranchised, the lonely, those whose basic human needs are met by his disciples.

Jesus is the one who was hungry. . .
            The one who was thirsty. . .
                        The one who was a stranger. . .
                                    The one who was naked. . .
                                                The one who was ill; in need of care
                                                            The one imprisoned; despairing and alone. . .

The righteous recognize and respond to those basic human needs with compassion and love.  They do not seek to find Jesus, but only to love as He loves and live as he lived – with mercy and kindness for all their brothers and sisters.  It is the Way of the Lord - not merely an action, but a life, lived in the Love of God. 

His Kingdom is for those who act as he acted, love as he loved; meeting the basic needs of the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned – A kingdom prepared for those who love with his love - completely, without question, without counting the cost – for in their suffering we see the suffering of our Lord and Savior, the Son of God, Jesus, the Christ, the King and our hearts are moved with compassion and mercy.

Our visitors will find Jesus in the cathedrals, the churches and the prayer communities; there among the faithful who praise Him and give Him glory and honor, but they will especially find Jesus among those who dwell in refugee camps and slums and prisons and alleyways and hospitals – among his suffering brothers and sisters. It is here that they will see the face of Jesus in the face of those who suffer and in the face of those who tend to their needs.

Mother Teresa reminds us that we are to love the poor because “each one of them is Jesus in disguise” In them we can show Jesus to our visitors.  Here is where they will also find him in the love of his disciples, filled with the love of God; doing simple things to serve the basic needs of our brothers and sisters.  Jesus sees each kindness done to “one of the least” of his brothers and sisters as being done for him.  He promises those who do work to help the least with love, mercy and kindness will share in his inheritance - the Kingdom of God.

As disciples, we are not called to solve all the problems of the poor and suffering, but to love them and do what we can to serve them in relieving their suffering.  Again, Mother Teresa tells us, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”  Our love is not measured by how much we do, but by our loving as we would want to be loved.

Our visitors will see in the face of the poor and suffering, the broken body of Christ.  In their face they will see Him on the cross.  In their wounded-ness they will see his wounds. 

The visitors will also see the love of Christ in the faces of those who are “blessed of God”; in their quiet and simple service to the poor, the naked, the hungry, the lonely and the sick – For the King said, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

Deacon Don

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

“My Mother did not raise me to be a punching bag, so don’t hit me.”
With these words, spoken to me by my wife over 30 years ago, I was introduced to the sad and terrifying world of domestic violence.

Let me clarify something before I go on – my wife, did not say this to me because of anything I was doing or was about to do.  The statement was completely unprovoked.

After my initial shock of hearing her say, “My Mother did not raise me to be a punching bag, so don’t hit me.” I had to ask why she said what she did.  The story she told me was terrible and almost unbelievable in its portrayal of inhumanity.

She was previously married to a man who abused her physically, verbally and mentally.  He hit and kicked her, threw things at her, called her vile names, isolated her from friends and family, forced her to cook meals at all hours of the night and day for him and his friends and made her endure the degradation of sleeping on their living room floor while he ‘entertained’ girlfriends in their bedroom.

She felt trapped in this marriage.  She was forced her to quit her job, forbidden to contact friends or family, not allowed to go out alone except to buy groceries for which she had to account for her time and any change, because he would not allowed her to have money.  This was not a marriage, this was enslavement.

My wife lived in fear.  Even if she was allowed to contact her family, she was too ashamed and embarrassed by what was happening to her.  She blamed herself for not being able to please him. And she blamed herself for ignoring his violence before they married.  She believed, like many women, that marriage would change her husband’s violent behavior – and in fact, it did – they got worse.

The violence made her afraid to leave the relationship.  His abuse was reality for her – a reality that seems almost impossible for us to understand.  She was only able to escape when she suffered a mental breakdown and he dumped her at a hospital.  A sympathetic nurse contacted her family, who knew nothing of what was happening to her.  Her sister flew to New York and brought her back to the safety of their home.

I tell you this story for two reasons:
First – It is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urges us to make known the Church’s concern for victims of this terrible and devastating scourge on women, children and families.
Second – I believe it’s important to tell my wife’s story, so other victims know that they do not suffer alone and that there is help available for them and their children.

You may wonder why I only mention women and children as victims – While men can be victims of Domestic Violence, it is women and children who make up the majority of victims – And over 50% of men who abuse women are likely to abuse children too.

I want to give you some background on Domestic Violence, which is defined as:
Any kind of behavior that a person uses to control an intimate partner through fear and intimidation
  • Domestic Violence is an under-reported crime (like child abuse)
  • It is estimated 30-50% of women have experienced some form of domestic violence sometime in their life
  • Younger, unmarried women are at greatest risk for domestic violence incidents
  • One third of victims were abused by a spouse, - 14% by an ex-spouse
  • Women aged 16-24 are three times more likely to be victims of abuse
  • Women 35-49 run the greatest risk of being killed in a domestic violence incident
Domestic Violence is a learned behavior – passed down from father to son, mother to daughter – a reinforced learning through observation and experience

Drinking or drug abuse does not cause someone to become violent: it just exacerbates their existing violent tendencies
Victims of Domestic Violence and their abusers come from every ethnic and age group, every race, religion, and social and economic class, including women with disabilities, the elderly and women who become pregnant.

It’s easy for us to say to victims, “Just leave, get out of it: run away!” But without resources, friends or any family nearby (all of my wife’s family lived in the Philippines), leaving is a difficult process.  Cultural norms may also keep women from reporting abuse; believing that what goes on inside a family is no one’s business.

Victims worry about their children, they want to escape, but are not sure they can make it out without taking their children or keeping them safe.  In addition to great courage, escaping takes planning, money and a network of safe friends – resources often denied by the abuser to his victim.

The Church wants all victims of Domestic Violence to know that it does not condone violent behaviors and that there is no scriptural basis for allowing men to abuse women.  The Bishops declare that, “A correct reading of Scripture leads people to an understanding of the equal dignity of men and women and to relationships based on mutuality and love.”

The Bishops want us to know that violence and abuse break a marriage, - not divorce.  No person is expected to stay in an abusive marriage.  The bonds of marriage are secured only in a valid marriage.  The Church’s annulment process determines if a marriage bond was, in fact, valid.

Jesus commands each of us to love as we love ourselves and to have dignity and respect for all our brothers and sisters.  In His name, let us pray for victims of Domestic Violence to find peace, and their tormentors to seek healing.

Listen, God, to my prayer
do not hide from my pleading
hear me and give answer.

If an enemy had reviled me,
that I could bear;
If my foe had viewed me with contempt,
from that I could hide.
But it was you, my other friend,
You, whose company I enjoyed,
at whose side I walked
in procession in the house of God.

But I will call upon God
and the Lord will save me.
At dusk, dawn and noon
I will grieve and complain,
and my prayer will be heard.
(Ps 55:2-3, 13-15, 17-18)

Deacon Don
(c) 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Looking Around - 10.7.11

The Desert
I've been in the desert. Not the Sahara or out west in Arizona or New Mexico. No, this is a desert of the spirit - a place of despair and gloom - where I am uninspired, frustrated and disappointed (mostly in myself) unable to bring myself to do more than go through the motions of ministry. Maybe its the end of the summer, an end to beach, barbecues and outdoor living; facing a return to the cold, wet, and icy darkness of winter that sets me off into the desert, I don't know, but I find the desert is not a bad place, more of a necessary place. A place where I can think, contemplate, pray and begin to understand better why I do what I do and why its worth doing. Our Lord often went into the desert and returned renewed and refreshed to face the challenges of ministry.

I too find the desert a positive experience where I come away with a renewed energy, a restored hope and a firmer belief. I feel as if the wind has picked up and filled my sails; lifting me up and pushing me along to bigger and better things. And it comes at a good time too.  After lazing around during the summer months, when ministry take a holiday, I am filled with a fire for new things.

This month is Respect Life Month and Domestic Awareness Month.  Two related and very important subjects, not only to our Christianity, but to our society.

To be Pro-Life is to love our brothers and sisters as God intends us to love, as he loves.
We love when we not only protect the unborn, but as we teach respect for life in the God's gift of creation and the sanctity of marriage.
We love when we care for the sick and infirm; providing healing care and comforting rest toward natural death.
We love when we work to help the poor in their immediate need and in working to relieve the situations that perpetuate poverty.
We love when we provide help and care for those who are struck by misfortune, unemployment, natural disaster, catastrophic illness and the other things that can befall each of us.
We love our brothers and sisters in so many ways; recognizing that when one suffers, we all suffer and know that we are each vulnerable until we rest in the arms of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Domestic Violence is an epidemic that affects every facet of society. It does not discriminate by social group, race, religion, gender, culture or wealth. Anyone can become a victim and anyone could be an abuser. It has long reaching and lasting impact on of women, men, and children. It destroys families.

No one suffers Domestic Violence in a vacuum. Victims live in pain and fear, children see the impact it has on their parents - both victim and abuser; learning to perpetuate the violence either through abuse or acceptance of abuse in their relationships. It destroys families, hurts and kills people, leaves great psychological scars, and costs society, not only in dollars through medical and/or legal expense, but more importantly, in tearing at the fabric of peaceful existence and harmony.

Awareness of Domestic Violence, its symptoms and the best ways to help its victims is an important way of showing our love for one another. No one has to suffer abuse or be an abuser.

#Occupy Wall Street and The 99%
I think (and hope) we've all been watching this growing movement started by a few courageous people in downtown New York City. It seems chaotic and unfocused, but I think that is part of its attraction. While we are all (at least 99% of us) are frustrated with the way things are going in this country and in the western world, we seem to be unable to put our finger on exactly what is wrong. I think its because there is not one thing wrong, but many things that need to change to get us back on track in our pursuit of loving one another and treating one another with dignity and respect.

When I experience the news concerning the growing inequality in society, I am often reminded of the scripture story of The Rich Man and Lazarus. If we fail to heed God's word and care for the poor and disenfranchised we will suffer the loss of God's love and peace in His heavenly Kingdom. When I see the arrogance of those who increase their wealth at the price of others safety and security, I think of Psalm 33: 16-19

The king is not saved by his great army; 
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a vain hope for victory,
and its great might cannot save.

Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
to deliver their soul from death,
and keep them alive in famine.

We are our brother's keeper and the stewards of God's creation for generations until the Lord comes again.  We are to love our brothers and sisters, share our bounty and gifts for the common good of all. No one accomplishes anything in this life without the Lord God.

Deacon Don

Saturday, September 17, 2011

One Day in the Vineyard of the Lord

What God is greater than our God? 
Who has greater love for his people than our God?
What can surpass the promise of salvation our God makes to us?
The Apostle Paul reminds us that:
“No eye has seen
Nor ear heard
Nor human heart conceived,
What God has prepared for those who love him”

What greater gift can we expect from God than Eternal Life in Heaven with Him?

God’s gift is for all his children, not just for a select few.  God shares his gift of Eternal Life with all; it’s not first come – first served in the kingdom of heaven.
He does not abide by “winner take all or the “race goes to the swift and strong.”
God says:
-       “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.”
-       “Only the righteous shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

Whether we’re a life-long “cradle Catholic” or a newly initiated member of the flock – we each have an equal measure of God’s love and equal share in His Kingdom.

God’s love and God’s justice are revealed in today’s Gospel.  Matthew uses the workers in the vineyard to demonstrate God’s equal love and justice for all his children.
Those who are called last to work in the vineyard are like those among us who are the least of His children. 

When the master asked those workers why they stood idle all day, they replied, “Because no one has hired us.” 
Those workers are like the ones who are always picked last to be on the team.
They are the un-chosen – the unwanted, - the disenfranchised, - the weak, - the voiceless, - those without power or influence – they are the least of God’s children:
Our brothers and sisters among us who lack opportunity or access – these last
But they, like we, - are children of the one loving God.  They too are equal inheritors in the promise of God’s Kingdom.

God’s justice is not man’s sense of justice.  God’s justice is equal shares to all who love Him.  He says to all his people:
-       “Come into the land of milk and honey.”
-       “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”

God’s love is infinite – unending - , there is enough for all.  There is no need of jealousy or fear, - no competition for resources, - no need to push and shove for a place in line.
All will be served, - all will receive; - all will be filled with the good things God promises to His people who love Him.

Through the prophet Isaiah God reminds us:
“All you who are thirsty,
Come to the waters and drink!
You who have no money,
Come, receive grain and eat;
Come without paying and without cost,
Drink wine and milk!

As we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are all called to love God – and neighbor - as we love ourselves. This is God’s love.  A complete love – a love for the other, - that puts their needs with our own, - that works for the common good of all and shares God’s gifts with all his children.

God’s justice – is a Redistributive Justice: – a Justice that cares for and shares with - all His children, His gifts of this world.

Catholic Social Justice teaches a “Preferential Option for the Poor.” This preferential option for the poor calls us:
  • To consider first the least of our brothers and sister in Christ in all things, especially in the gifts of His creation,
  • To set a place at the table and invite the least to the common meal of brotherhood,
  • To give the least a voice in decisions affecting their destiny for the common good of all people
  • To treat our least brothers and sisters with dignity and respect - as we would treat ourselves
For our Lord Jesus, - in whom we all profess our faith and belief, - does not suggest that we care for the poor, - but preaches and teaches us God’s love for the poor, - the outcast, - the disenfranchised, - the weak and – the helpless – the widow and orphan.
And - that we are measured on how we treat these least of God’s children - in how well we love God.

He calls all his children to come into his Kingdom of heaven through gates of love. 
God’s justice is his love for each of us
-       those who are called to work in his vineyard first and
-       those who are called last. 
We are each His beloved children – equal inheritors in His Kingdom of Eternal Life.       

Deacon Don
(c) 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"I am offended!"

During last night's GOP debate a question was asked of Rep. Ron Paul, - what do you tell a guy who is sick, goes into a coma and doesn't have health insurance? Who pays for his coverage? "Are you saying society should just let him die?" "Yeah!" shouted several members of the audience.

Rep. Ron Paul responded that this was more-or-less the root choice of a free society.

As a Catholic, as a Christian - I AM OFFENDED!

Is this the point to which our Christian society has sunk?
Is this the reaction of a people made in the image of a loving God?
Are we not a people of a loving God - living the two greatest commandments Jesus gave us - To love God above all things and to love one another as we love ourselves?
Is this how we (and especially those who shouted "Yeah!") would want to be treated (or untreated, in this case)!
I think not! I think if the question had been posited, "If your (mother, father, wife, child) had no insurance and was in a coma, what would you want done for them?" The answer would have been a lot different.

I am also offended that none of the persons on the podium was outraged by the audience's response. That there was no moral courage among them to protest this outburst and stand up for Life. As an after thought Gov. Perry did say that his party was the party of life, but it was too little, too late - hollow in its sincerity.

I pity those persons and pray that the Spirit comes upon them to change their stony hearts into hearts filled with the love of God and that they heed the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ.

"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." 
                                                                                      - John 10:10b

Deacon Don

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Catholic Social Justice - God's Creation

This is the day the Lord has made
Let us rejoice and be glad.
                                                                         Psalm 118:24

We are stewards of God’s creation, the earth.  We are given dominion over the land and the beasts to care for and use, maintaining it for future generations.  The earth is not ours to keep, but to care for.  It is where God placed his children out of love for us all.  He provided the earth for our needs and asks us to keep it for all His children.

Wisely using the resources of the earth and keeping them renewable for future generations is our charge from God.  He gave us this place to live, to raise our families and to greet each other in love and friendship as brothers and sisters.  This is our awesome responsibility, one where we humans everywhere must work together to accomplish.  If we fail to act to save our resources and restore our environment we fail the future of the human race.  What good is it to profit today just to lose it all tomorrow?

Exploitation and waste of our resources in any one place on the earth harms the whole balance of nature and has long-range effects on the earth’s environment.  If we are to be good stewards of the earth we must act in cooperation with our brothers and sisters to ensure the vitality and longevity of God’s creation.  We are called to act both locally and globally to protect the earth’s resources and the living environment of all people.  It is our task to ensure that we wisely use the resources available to us today and discover ways of maintaining those resources for future generations.

1In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth2 and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters—
24 Then God said: Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: tame animals, crawling things, and every kind of wild animal. And so it happened:25God made every kind of wild animal, every kind of tame animal, and every kind of thing that crawls on the ground. God saw that it was good.26l Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.

Deacon Don

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Catholic Social Justice - Preferential Option for the Poor

Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.22And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”23But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”24 But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”2526He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”27She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.”28 Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Matthew 15: 21-28

“The principle of the universal destination of goods requires that the poor, marginalized and in all cases those whose living conditions interfere with their proper growth should be the focus of particular concern.”  “This is an option, or a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity, to which the whole tradition of the Church bears witness. It affects the life of each Christian inasmuch as he or she seeks to imitate the life of Christ, but it applies equally to our social responsibilities and hence to our manner of living, and to the logical decisions to be made concerning the ownership of goods.”*

A society is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members.  How does the community share it bounty with those in most urgent need?  Do the poor get preferential treatment and access or do they receive the  “leavings of the table” of the more fortunate?
The poor have an urgent moral need that exceeds the needs of the rest of the community because of their desperate situation.  For example, it is more urgent to zone and build good, safe and affordable housing for the homeless, poor and disaffected who live in squalor -- unable to realize their dignity and potential than it is zone and build more shopping malls.  Their need is more urgent and exceeds the need for convenient access to shopping.
The plight of the poor should reside in the conscience of the community.  The community must work to not only satisfy the immediate needs of the poor, but also alleviate the root causes of their poverty and allow them a true voice in the decisions of the community.
Decisions of public policy should be viewed from the perspective of the poor and how it affects their plight.  It is the community’s responsibility to work for the poor, thereby working for the common good of all the community.

Deacon Don