Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, June 12, 2016

"I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me." -- Galatians 2:20

“I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” — Galatians 2:20

 

June 12, Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13

      Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 7, 11

      2) Galatians 2:16, 19-21

      Gospel: Luke 7:36-8:3 or Luke 7:36-50

 

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

This Wednesday, Bettina will spend two hours volunteering at her community’s free clinic, which offers a range of medical services for the working poor. She’s not a medical volunteer but goes to the clinic every Wednesday to greet and take information from clients and potential clients to determine or confirm their eligibility for services.

She’s aware that her tasks are minimal and that her annual monetary donation to the clinic is far more valuable than her service, but she has continued her weekly stint for years simply because she loves the free clinic for how it makes a significant difference in individuals’ lives — including hers.

She loves seeing the staff and volunteer nurses, doctors, dentists and pharmacists treat the patients with respect and genuine concern. She loves observing the easy, familiar relationship that various clinic personnel have with patients who have depended on them for years. Bettina’s love of the clinic is personal.

Many years ago, she was a patient there. Struggling financially and psychologically while trying to put herself through college, she depended on the free clinic for her regular medication for depression. The clinic literally was her salvation for two years.

Our Scriptures for this weekend speak about God’s saving mercy. The Gospel tells how a person’s gratitude for being saved by Jesus’ mercy produces a deep and lasting love. A woman anointing Jesus’ feet after bathing them with her tears was lifted out of a life bound by sin. Now her love for him was sealed.

Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees that a personal experience of love and mercy begets a greater response of love and mercy than a lesser relationship. Bettina’s love and commitment to the free clinic grew out of her experience of mercy. Once lost in the darkness of depression, she was lifted free to have a productive future. Her gratitude to God and the people at the free clinic who do God’s work of compassion and healing is boundless and is shown in her actions.

While many people appreciate the valuable contributions the clinic and its volunteers make in the community, Bettina and others who’ve experienced its saving graces firsthand respond with true abiding love.

QUESTIONS:

When have you directly experienced Jesus’ mercy? How has that experience affected your relationship with him?

Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, June 5, 2016

"The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother." -- Luke 7:15

“The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.” — Luke 7:15

 

June 5, Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) 1 Kings 17:17-24

      Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13

      2) Galatians 1:11-14a, 15ac, 16a, 17, 19

      Gospel: Luke 7:11-17

 

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

Across the decades since I came into the church in 1974, I have seen many instances where God was at work in the world. I’ve seen healings and many more instances of God bringing about good results in situations for which there was no reasonable hope.

But there are abuses of the belief in miracles. The worst I ever heard about came through a friend who was teaching in East Texas. While there, she heard of the death of an infant for whom a Pentecostal church had prayed fervently. At the funeral, it was reported, the pastor lifted the lifeless infant in the air and declared, “This is lack of faith!”

That horrible moment must have caused some in the community to question their authentic faith in and love of God. The preacher’s arrogance and self-righteousness confused “faith” with human will as he suggested the people’s prayers weren’t good enough to save the infant.

Today’s readings hold the antidote to such flawed thinking by pointing out that God, not human strength, has miraculous power.

In the passage from Kings, the prophet Elijah cries out to God to restore life to the only son of the widow who was providing him shelter. Elijah, in service to God, pleaded the widow’s case and her son was saved — not by Elijah’s action, but by God’s.

When Elijah restored the child to his mother, she responded. “Now indeed I know that you are a man of God. The word of the Lord comes truly from your mouth.”

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is “moved with pity” when he witnesses a mother, also a widow, who has lost her son. He steps forward, touches the coffin and says, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” He is restored to life and to his mother.

The crowd, witnessing these events cries out, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst,” and “God has visited his people.”

God was glorified in action in the first case by the faith-filled holy man, Elijah, and in the second by the acts of Jesus, the God-man. The people were not looking to the strength of their prayers but to their faith that a loving God would act. God acted and love of him increased.

QUESTION:

Have you ever witnessed what you believe was a miracle?

Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, May 29, 2016

"Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people." -- Luke 9:13

“Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.” — Luke 9:13

 

May 29, Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) Genesis 14:18-20

      Psalm 110:1-4

      2) 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

      Gospel: Luke 9:11b-17

 

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

One day, just after starting my first job on a parish staff, I went searching for paper stock and wandered into the wrong supply closet, where I stumbled onto the church’s stash of sacramental wine.

I know it’s not really a “stash,” but to me, a recent convert at the time, it seemed like it. I stood staring at several stacks of common corrugated cardboard boxes that contained large bottles of wine — ordered from a wholesale distributor. But I knew the bottles’ secret.

My initial reaction was that I’d exposed them, opened the door on them before they became the blood of Christ. It was like unwittingly finding Superman’s Clark Kent clothes.

This week’s readings recall the covenant of Christ’s body and blood, transformed from ordinary bread and wine and given for our nourishment and salvation. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul recollects Jesus establishing that covenant at the Last Supper.

But the Gospel story of the multiplication of loaves and fish emphasizes the infinite supply of the Lord’s offering. We witness on the mountainside Jesus beginning with a small amount of bread and feeding thousands of his hungry followers. When all were satisfied, there was plenty available for whoever would come later.

The message is that an endless supply line will continue everywhere and forever, as long as people come seeking Jesus.

Since the Last Supper, Christians have provided bread and wine from sources in their own communities throughout the world and throughout the centuries — from vineyards and wheat fields to casks, jars and ovens to bottles and boxes to storehouses and closets.

From there, they are brought to altars, where they are consecrated as Jesus’ body and blood to nourish and save the faithful again and again.

I found one tiny store of ordinary wine in an appropriately unremarkable closet in a church office building. But as I received it in Communion the next Sunday, it was not the same, and neither was I.

QUESTIONS:

What goes through your mind during Mass at the moment of the consecration? How do you relate the changed substance of bread and wine with a change in you?

Insights into Vatican II from St. John XXIII’s secretary

Cardinal Loris Capovilla, St. John XXIII’s secretary and the oldest member of College of Cardinals, has died at the age of 100.

Four years ago we interviewed then-Archbishop Capovilla, who shared his insights on the Second Vatican Council and his memories of the future saint.

 

 

We also spoke to Archbishop Capovilla about St. John XXIII’s hometown of Sotto il Monte, near Bergamo, where the saint’s secretary died May 26.

 

Investors pushing ExxonMobil to respond to climate change

Faith-based investors will ask ExxonMobil to change some of its corporate practices to better address climate change during the company’s annual general meeting in Dallas today.

(CNS/Gustavo Amador, EPA)

(CNS/Gustavo Amador, EPA)

Working through the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and advocacy groups, the shareholders have introduced a series of resolutions meant to change how the world’s largest publicly traded energy company responds to global warming.

Dominican Sister Patricia Daly, executive director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, said the resolution that her group of 34 institutional investors has introduced seeks a “moral response” from the company through a policy acknowledging the need to limit global average temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Speaking during a teleconference with reporters May 23, Sister Patricia said the resolution, like others pertaining to climate change, “have always been grounded in justice and good business.”

Six resolutions related to global warming are on the agenda for the meeting in Dallas. In a letter to shareholders, a company official has called for their rejection, saying the firm has long addressed global warming concerns.

The company had tried to remove the resolutions from the annual meeting agenda; however, the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled in March that shareholders must be allowed to vote.

While efforts such as the one from the investment coalition have been soundly defeated in the past, this year’s proposals come as ExxonMobil is under scrutiny for its long-standing policy of failing to publicly acknowledge how climate change was impacting its operations.

Seventeen state attorneys general are investigating ExxonMobil and other energy producers for fraud in concealing the impact of climate change on the world.

Another resolution proposed by Capuchin Father Michael H. Crosby, executive director of the Wisconsin/Iowa/Minnesota Coalition for Responsible Investment, asks that the ExxonMobil board of directors nominate at least one candidate with expertise in climate change and environmental matters.

Father Crosby explained during the teleconference that the resolution was introduced because the company “won’t give us access to board members.” He said that by having an environmental expert on the board, the company would be better able to managing the risk of climate change to its business model.

This year’s annual meeting will give Exxon Mobil “a chance to restore the public trust,” Father Crosby said.

Company spokesman Alan T. Jeffers told The New York Times in mid-May that ExxonMobil welcomed discussions with shareholders to help them understand that the firm sees the risks of climate change and that it is working on technology to lower carbon emissions.

UPDATE: None of the resolutions related to global warming and climate change were approved by ExxonMobil shareholders May 25.

The ICCR said in a press release afterward that the collective votes in favor of eight climate-related proposals “sent a clear message that shareholders are dissatisfied” with how the company is “managing climate risks, responding to the moral imperative and political reality of the 2-degree Celsius target, and aligning lobbyist activities and trade association memberships with its stated positions on climate change.”

The resolution submitted by Sister Daly on acknowledging the 2-degree Celsius target received support from 18.5 percent of shareholders.

Sister Patricia in the statement challenged a claim from CEO Rex Tillerman that ExxonMobil’s energy outlook is aligned with the climate change agreement reached in Paris in December, saying it was “misleading at best.”

“What the world needs and what shareholders demanded today is for ExxonMobil to acknowledge the  2-degree Celsius target and to begin to move their business sin that direction.”

A push also was made at Chevron’s shareholder meeting in San Ramon, California, Wednesday, where a similar shareholder  resolution received more than 41 percent support. Another proposal from the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia called on the company to report assessing the impact of hydraulic fracturing — fracking —  to produce natural gas on communities and water supplies. It received 31 percent support.

Sister Nora Nash, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis and a fracking expert, said in the ICCR statement the vote was encouraging and that efforts to press Chevron for greater disclosure will continue.

“Standing with Pope Francis we are shaping ‘the future of our planet.'” she said.

 

Bishop treads the boards in high school musical

Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Orange, California, says his cameo role as a gambler, dapperly dressed in a striped suit and fedora, in the final theater production of the season for Santa Margarita Catholic High School brought back memories.

Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Orange, Calif., makes cameo appearance in Catholic high school musical. (Photo/Orange County Catholic)

Bishop Kevin W. Vann of Orange, Calif., center, makes cameo appearance in Catholic high school musical. (Photo/Orange County Catholic)

His brief stint in the school’s performance of  the hit Broadway musical “Guys and Dolls” last month reminded him, he said, of when he portrayed the story’s Nicely Nicely Johnson in a community theater version of the  musical when he was a pastor in the Midwest.

“Thanks to all of them, after a couple of more serious months of ministry and decisions, I found that I still could sing, laugh, and yes, even still dance a few steps, even at now nearly 65 years old! I had played the role of Nicely Nicely Johnson in an abridged version of that musical when I was a pastor back in Decatur, Illinois,” Bishop Vann told the diocesan newspaper, the Orange County Catholic. “So my time with the Santa Margarita production of that musical helped me to connect with that important time in my life and ministry!”

The story in the Orange County Catholic about his performance includes a video clip. The Orange County Register, the daily paper, covered it too.

“What was most impressive to me in that month of singing and practicing and performing,” Bishop Vann said, “was the hard work, dedication and the faith of our young people in the cast and crew! I truly enjoyed being with them, and ‘hanging with them,’ perhaps more than they know, and they made me, and all of us proud.”

 

 

 

Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, May 22, 2016

"Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth." -- John 16:13

“Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” — John 16:13

 

May 22, The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) Proverbs 8:22-31

      Psalm 8:4-9

      2) Romans 5:1-5

      Gospel: John 16:12-15

 

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

One of my favorite memories from my years as a youth minister was teaching the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults adapted for youth. There was always such an interesting group of teens who either needed to catch up on their sacraments of initiation or, once in a while, there was a teen who wanted to become Catholic totally on his or her own initiative.

A story that sticks in my memory comes from three sisters from a blended family. They were each around 13 years old. They had never been to church before and they knew nothing about God, the Bible, the Catholic Church or what we believed.

They had heard of God, but they understood God as being only what we would call God the Father. When I was teaching them the sign of the cross, they wanted to know who the Son and the Holy Spirit were. I said the Son is Jesus and together with the Father and the Holy Spirit this is God.

The looks on their faces were priceless. They argued that God was God, so Jesus cannot be God, too. They had no idea what to do with the Holy Spirit. We went round and round, with me using every analogy I could think of to try to get these teens to understand how three separate persons could share one divinity and together be the triune God.

It took the better part of our next four classes for them to just begin to grasp the concept that most Christians learn from an early age. I had the same feelings that Jesus expressed in this Sunday’s Gospel, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.”

Whether one is a teenager who knows nothing about God or holds a doctorate in theology, there is always more to know about God, and especially the mystery of the Holy Trinity. But as I tried to explain to those three sisters, it is not important that we totally understand every mystery. Faith is the bridge that begins where our knowledge ends and connects us to the heights of the truth.

QUESTIONS:

How would you explain the Trinity to someone who had never heard of it? What is a mystery of the Catholic faith that you would love to know more about?

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