For Sunday, May 13, 2012
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
1 John 4:7-10
On Monday, Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, released a letter on behalf of the USCCB. In his role as chairman of the bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Blaire addressed the proposed reconciliation package for the 2013 federal budget. As Congress returned from its spring recess a few weeks ago, House Republicans began to look for ways to trim the 2013 budget.
At the same time, Catholics bishops have been making their views known through Bishop Blaire and through diocesan communications. Proposals to cut aid programs for the poor were deemed unacceptable by Bishop Blaire and his committee. In his letter he writes: "A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons; it requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly."
Bishop Blaire lists three moral criteria established by Catholic bishops about the federal budget. The first one is: "Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity."
Applying that criterion to the proposed cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Bishop Blaire says, "No poor family that receives food assistance would be unaffected, constituting a direct threat to their human dignity."
The bishops also take on proposed alterations to the Child Tax Credit and cuts to the Social Services Block Grant. In all of this, the bishops recognize the need to cut the federal deficit. But they also emphasize that deficit reduction must protect and not undermine the needs of poor and vulnerable people.
The command to love one another that Jesus gives to his disciples in this Sunday's Gospel can encompass many things. It certainly encompasses care for the poor and vulnerable. The criteria that the bishops establish in assessing the federal budget are ultimately rooted in Jesus' command to love one another. Bishop Blaire directly challenges the proposed cuts stating that they fail the basic moral test protecting and not undermining the needs of poor and vulnerable families.
Since it is Mother's Day weekend, there will be a large focus on the love that a mother gives to her children. Families will celebrate in a host of ways. But many mothers also sacrifice so much for their children. Out of love, they gave up many things so that their offspring—who in their infancy and childhood were poor and vulnerable—could grow strong into adulthood. This kind of maternal love is one of the great things we celebrate on Mother's Day.
With Bishop Blaire's letter in hand, we might challenge those who sit in the pews this weekend to consider what they would be willing to sacrifice so that the essential programs that protect the lives and dignity of poor and vulnerable families can be sustained. Loving one another must be more than pious words. It is a command of the Lord, inviting us to lay down our lives.
Good and loving God,
your Son laid down his life for the salvation of the world.
May we, who are baptized in his name,
be ever true to our calling
and follow his command to love one another
as he has loved us, even to the end.
May our faithful service on earth
find fulfillment in the everlasting joys of heaven.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
forever and ever.
LETTER FROM BISHOP BLAIRE
You can read (and download to reprint and distribute to parishioners) Bishop Blaire's full letter to the members of the House of Representatives on the USCCB website. You'll find it at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/reconciliation-letter-to-house-2012-05-08.pdf. You might encourage parish members to use the information in Bishop Blaire's letter to contact their own member of Congress.
ELECTION SEASON GUIDELINES
With primaries winding down and political conventions on the horizon, the USCCB is encouraging pastors and parishes to be aware of the Dos and Don'ts during election season. Failure to observe certain specific guidelines could result in severe penalties to a congregation. For more information, see the guidelines at: http://usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/dos-and-donts-guidelines-during-election-season.cfm.
CATHOLIC COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN—May 19–20
Many dioceses will take up the annual collection for the Catholic Communication Campaign the weekend of May 19–20. Resources are available from the USCCB on their website at http://usccb.org/catholic-giving/opportunities-for-giving/catholic-communication-campaign/collection/index.cfm. Parishes that use the publishing services of Liturgical Publications Inc can find these resources on the LPi Art & Media Portal with the keywords "Catholic Communication Campaign."
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