It is truly an age of disbelief. Respect for the values of human life has plummeted. Christians who declare their belief in the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth - a teaching that upholds the dignity and rights of the human person, protects the poor and the excluded and offers shelter to refugees and the homeless - is at an all-time low.
Faith in serving one's suffering neighbour as a Good Samaritan, binding up the wounds of the stranger, reaching out to feed the hungry, working for peace and justice is lost in a world of materialism. Our prosperous world of money and power, wealth and possessions has created a generation of people that appears to be more interested in self-satisfaction and glorification, absorbed with themselves, isolated by technology, gadgets and games from loving, serving human interaction. The selfie world is here with the Internet of things.
Society so often seems to retreat into silence and inaction rather than take an open stand for the victims of exploitation, child abuse and exploitation. Few march for peace and against racism and war. Where are the cries of those who believe in the love of neighbour and service to the oppressed and the exploited poor?
There are still some brave and courageous Christians sacrificing themselves but they are mostly unsupported and are voices crying in the wilderness. Pope Francis strives to revive the faith of Jesus, which is lived out through commitment to the needs of the oppressed and a true option to live and work for social and evangelical justice and truth. We are in challenging times for our beliefs and values and we face great evils.
In Syria horrendous barrel bombs continue to be dropped on civilians and opposition rebel groups are supported by a coalition of western nations even if children live in fear. Terrorists in Europe have turned to extremist ideologies in anger and hatred and commit atrocities against civilians without mercy.
From the carnage of the Middle East, millions of homeless and hungry displaced people are shunned by most of Europe. These helpless families have nowhere to hide and encourage their children to run away in the hope of survival in a friendly country. These refugees then find their way blocked by barbed-wire fences and often become victims of abuse, trafficking and slavery as a recent report has documented and revealed.
The UK has voted itself out of the unity of Europe, a unity that brought peace, economic progress and development. The European Union, though far from perfect, is a system of limited democratic shared governance that seeks to share the wealth of the richer nations with the poorer nations of the union. A slim majority voted to leave but still want the benefits of the common market but not the obligations. It would seem that they voted to close their doors against the refugees and those fleeing torture, hunger and violence.
Acccording to the charity Oxfam as reported by The Guardian Newspaper the wealthiest countries in the world (the US, China, Japan, Germany, France and the UK) which together make up 56.6% of global GDP, between them host just 2.1 million refugees or 8.9% of the world's total. The super rich, 1% of the world's population, control 60 percent of global wealth and yet they offer assistance to only 9% of the refugees in the world. The report says, "Of these 2.1 million people, roughly a third is hosted by Germany (736,740), while the remaining 1.4 million are split between the other five countries. The UK hosts 168,937 refugees, a figure Oxfam GB chief executive Mark Goldring has called shameful," the Guardian reports. That is less than one percent of all the refugees in the world.
In contrast, more than half of the world's refugees - almost 12 million people - live in Jordan, Turkey, Palestine, Pakistan, Lebanon and South Africa, despite the fact that these places make up less than two percent of the world's economy.
So, it is the poor, mostly Muslim countries who are helping the poor. If we think we are going to gain eternal life without passing the test that Jesus of Nazareth gives- to end hunger, release innocent prisoners, clothe the naked and feed the hungry (Matthew 25) and work for justice and love of neighbour- we are mistaken. What greater way is there to live than to live for others and not for self.
Fr. Shay Cullen
Pope Francis Mission Intention for September
"That by participating in the Sacraments and meditating on Scripture, Christians may become more aware of their mission to evangelize." Let us Pray.
The Mass consists of two parts-the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In the first, we hear about God's love and in the second we receive that love in the flesh as Jesus offers himself to the Father for the salvation of all and then gives us his Body and Blood. We are finally sent forth to live the Mass in our daily lives. Our sharing of the love we have received is evangelization.
Jesus was so passionately in love with humanity that he suffered and died for us. Through Word and Sacrament we now share in his passion and offer ourselves with him for the good of others. Pope Francis said: "Mission is a passion for Jesus and at the same time a passion for his people. When we pray before Jesus crucified, we see the depth of his love which gives us dignity and sustains us. At the same time, we realize that the love flowing from Jesus' pierced heart expands to embrace the People of God and all humanity. We realize once more that he wants to make use of us to draw closer to his beloved people."
The Pope went on to say that "all the faithful are called to live their baptismal commitment to the fullest, in accordance with the personal situation of each." In baptism we were joined to the Body of Christ. The Eucharist strengthens our life in Christ so that we can go forth and be his living witnesses wherever we are.
We pray this month that we may not only receive the love that Jesus gives us in Word and Sacrament, but also give that love to a world that is looking for true love but unaware of where it can be found. We know, and we don't want to keep the answer to ourselves!
Luke 24: 13-35 "Were not our hearts burning within us…?"
Pope Francis General Intention for September
"That each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at its centre." Let us Pray.
Made in the image of God and redeemed by the Son of God, each person is sacred. The individual ought, then, to be at the centre of society which in turn protects and fosters the dignity of each of us.
From this reality arises "the common good" which the Catechism tells us "concerns the life of all" and consists in "what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on." Because human beings are social by nature, "the good of each individual is necessarily related to the common good, which in turn can be defined only in reference to the human person."
Unfortunately the world does not operate in this way. In many places the power, wealth, and comfort of some come before the common good and the sanctity of human life. Addressing this situation in his Exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Pope Francis wrote: "The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies."
He went on to say that only openness to God will bring about the necessary change: "It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education, and healthcare. Why not turn to God and ask him to inspire their plans? I am firmly convinced that openness to the transcendent can bring about a new political and economic mind-set which would help to break down the wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society."
Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love God and to love one's neighbour. We pray with Pope Francis that all may live that commandment by placing God's beloved creature, the human person, at the centre and work for the common good of all.
Genesis 1: 27 God created us in the image of himself.
Institute Intention for September
"That the celebration of their XX General Chapter may lead the Comboni Missionary Sisters to listen to the Spirit of God in humility and hope and set out upon new and courageous pathways of mission." Lord hear us.
Prayer of the Month
O God, whose will it is that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, look upon your abundant harvest and be pleased to send workers to gather it, that the Gospel may be preached to all creation and that your people, gathered by the word of life and sustained by the power of the Sacraments, may advance in the path of salvation and love. Amen.
--from the Roman Missal