For Sunday, July 8, 2012
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Announced in October, and awarded on December 10, the Nobel Peace Prize is one of the premier international awards. The laureate typically gives an address in which he or she reflects on the meaning of the prize and condition of peace in the world at that time. It is a day of pomp and ceremony as the royal family of Norway, along with parliamentarians and distinguished guests, listens to the speech and congratulates the winner.
The award ceremony for the 2012 prize is still five months away. But on June 16, the royal family and assembled guests listened to the Nobel Lecture of prizewinner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who was named a Nobel Laureate in 1991. The twenty-one-year hiatus between the awarding of the prize and the Nobel Lecture was due to Ms. Suu Kyi's time under house arrest in Myanmar. In many ways she has been a modern day example of a prophet without honor in her own land.
Of course, many of the Burmese people cherished Ms. Suu Kyi. But there was little opportunity for them to show it. The military rulers of the country did not allow for free elections, and Ms. Suu Kyi and her party were banned. Myanmar became increasingly isolated as a country, cut off because of the sanctions that were imposed in response to the military's suspension of rights.
Restricted to her house and garden for years, Ms. Suu Kyi admitted in her address that she sometimes felt cut off from the world and forgotten. In her Nobel Lecture she said that the awarding of the prize, "had made me real once again; it had drawn me back into the wider human community." Having experienced so much isolation, she asked "the world not to forget other prisoners of conscience, both in Myanmar and around the world, other refugees, others in need, who may be suffering twice over from oppression and from the larger world's 'compassion fatigue.'"
The unity of the human family and value of simple kindness were also themes she touched upon in her lecture. "Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me that there could never be enough of it in the world." Kindness, she said, "can change the lives of people."
Jesus was also a prophet without honor in his own land. This weekend's Gospel relates his experience in his native place where everyone knew who he was. The townspeople presumed that they had figured him out, and because of their lack of faith he could not perform any mighty deeds in that place.
In some ways, the situation of the townspeople in relation to Jesus may be our own. Sometimes we settle into our own version of thinking that we know all about who Jesus is. We come to a certain accommodation with our faith, believing that we have it all figured out. We don't let the true heart of the Gospel, Christ's message of love, touch every aspect of our lives.
Prophecy is never an easy thing to deal with. Liberals in the church would say that they are prophets when they challenge the thinking on immigration, while conservatives might lift up the contraceptive mandate or the laws permitting abortion that require prophetic action on the part of believers. The fact is that the Gospel is of a whole cloth. Those who might be pegged as conservatives need to examine their views on things like immigration and health care, while those who are thought of as liberals need to take seriously the church's teaching on human sexuality. The prophetic voice of Christ, with his call to love—simple kindness, as Aung San Suu Kyi would say it—applies to all of us.
This weekend (even if we are still on vacation) the Gospel presents a challenge for us to think about our faith deeply, maybe even to stir it up a little bit, and to reconsider how it speaks to positions we may have grown comfortable with over time.
Accepting the prophetic word is never easy, but if we let it speak to us, we will find that we will be guided by Christ.
through the Gospel your Son speaks to your people
and teaches us the way to life.
Give us the wisdom to follow his teaching,
and the insight to be heedful of his commands.
Help us to live fully the faith that is your gift to us.
We ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
YEAR OF FAITH
Pope Benedict has announced a "Year of Faith" beginning on October 11, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The USCCB has already begun posting resources on its website. You can find these items, which will help in your parish planning, at: http://usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/year-of-faith/index.cfm.
THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH—E-BOOK VERSION
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has been released as an e-Book by the USCCB. This new, easy-to-navigate version offers quick search capabilities, preview windows, and easy links to follow up on topics. Share the link in your parish bulletin, school and religious education flyers, and monthly newsletter. You'll find this excellent resource at: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm.
The Catholic Near East Welfare Association (known throughout the Middle East as the Pontifical Mission) supports Christians in discreet ways in very challenging situations. Invite parish members to learn more and to make a contribution by visiting: www.cnewa.us.
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