Beatitudes: A Road Map for Christian Life

Reflection for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Director of Advocacy, Sr. Maria Orlandini, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our February 11th newsletter

Having lived for years in the Southwest of the United States, I can certainly resonate with the image of a barren bush in the desert and lifeless waste that the prophet Jeremiah wanted to convey in this week’s first reading about someone whose heart turns away from the Lord. Indeed Jeremiah wants to stress that there is no life away from the Lord, period!

For this reason the image of a tree planted beside the water is so refreshing: what is better than being next to a stream when you are hot and tired? The one whose hope is the Lord is like a tree planted besides the waters: in the year of drought it shows no distress, it fears not the heat when it comes.

So, who am I, a barren bush or a green tree? As a disciple of Jesus and follower of Francis and Clare, how do I make sure that I keep near to a stream? How do I keep alive in Christ? Lucky for us we do not have to guess or search far for the answer. The Gospel this week is our road map, the way we have to make sure that we are following Jesus’s teaching, that is, the way of The Beatitudes. They are really the only way we have as Christians to be sure we are bearers of that name. A recent homily given by Pope Francis in the morning liturgy at Casa Santa Marta may help our reflection. These are his thoughts reflecting on the newness of the message of Jesus.

Pope Francis tells us that we may believe we are good Catholics, but in fact we may not be behaving as good Christians. The real way of life of the Christian is the one shown by the Beatitudes. To be good Christians we need to assume a new behavior, a new style of life, the Christian style that can only be found in the Beatitudes. To understand what is the Christian style of life, it may be useful to understand first which are the attitudes that ARE NOT Christian. He mentions three: being accusers, being of the world, being selfish or indifferent.

The accuser is the believer who always looks for ways to accuse someone. Nothing that others do is good enough. Accusers think they are promoters of justice, but in fact just always look at something to complain about in the other, not realizing that this is also the style of the devil whom the Bible calls “the great accuser”. This way of being in relation to others is not new; it was also present in the time of Jesus who reprimanded: Instead of looking at the straw in someone else’s eye, why don’t you look at the plank in yours! And again: those who have no sin, throw the first stone. Living constantly accusing others, looking only for weaknesses in the other, is not the way of a Christian, is not living in the spirit of the Beatitudes.

So it is for those who live with a worldly attitude: those who live in vanity, pride, attached to money, and believing themselves to be self-sufficient. This attitude ruins many people, especially in today’s world, and is contrary to the way of life shown in the Beatitudes. Humility is the Christian way of life.

The third attitude is the one of egoism, of indifference. Pope Francis admonishes that while I may believe I am a good Catholic, I do my thing and do not worry about others problems. I do not worry about wars, sicknesses, people who suffer, even my neighbor. It is the hypocrisy that Jesus points out to the doctors of the law.

The style of the Christian, of the Beatitudes, is meekness, humility, patience in suffering, love of justice, strength in bearing persecutions, non-judgment of others. If you want to know the Christian style, it is all spelled out in the Beatitudes, concludes Pope Francis.

SO, let us look deep in our hearts: do I live the Beatitudes or do I live as an accuser, or being of the world, or indifferent to what is around me?

Sr. Maria Orlandini, OSF
FAN Director of Advocacy

Published in: on February 12, 2019 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  

A State of the Union address for the poor and vulnerable

By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose column is published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.

My fellow Americans and fellow citizens of the world, the greatness of a nation is not measured by its military or economic power, but to the degree it is willing to help the poor and vulnerable.

Tragically, however, to a very significant extent the United States continues to ignore the poor and vulnerable.

Since the 1973 legalization of abortion in the U.S., approximately 60 million unborn babies have been brutally dismembered and killed through this barbaric practice. A civilized society does not kill babies.

And so tonight I urge the Congress to completely defund Planned Parenthood – the nation’s largest abortion provider – and to move quickly in passing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting full protection to every human being from conception to natural death.

Over 40 million Americans live below the poverty level – including 13 million children. Many impoverished families have at least one adult working full time for very low wages.

Therefore, I urge the Congress to pass legislation raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.00 an hour.

Over 27 million Americans do not have health insurance. To remedy this ill, I ask Congress to make Medicare available to every person residing in the U.S.

The famous Trappist monk Thomas Merton said, “The God of peace is never glorified by human violence.” Yet, many in the U.S. and world glorify violence instead of God.

Gun homicide rates are far higher in the U.S. than in any other high-income country. Therefore, I call upon the Congress to pass universal gun registration and background check legislation.

Terrorism is being fueled by the countless deaths of innocent civilians caused in many instances by the ongoing wars America continues to fight; as well the presence of U.S. military forces in many countries where such forces are often viewed as supporting American corporate interests like oil.
Tonight I put before my fellow citizens a far better response to terrorism than flexing military muscles and waging war. Instead, let us undertake the highly moral and good-will creating cause of the total elimination of global poverty and hunger by 2025.

Therefore, I urge Congress to annually transfer $100 billion dollars from the astronomical $700 billion military budget to be used for this life-saving endeavor.

And I am issuing an executive order halting all sales and gifts of weapons abroad, the closing of the 800 military bases around the world, and the complete withdrawal of all U.S. forces worldwide.

Also, I have instructed our ambassador to the United Nations to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which is designed to eliminate all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth. And I urge the Senate to quickly ratify it.

Desperate people fleeing violence and poverty are at our southern border begging for help. As Pope Francis teaches, let us build bridges instead of walls. Congress needs to pass just, comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year.

Nearly all climate scientists agree that the catastrophic dangers of global warming are caused overwhelmingly by human use of oil, coal and gas.

Therefore, I urge Congress to pass a Green New Deal bill designed to move America toward totally clean energy – provided by wind, solar and geothermal renewable sources.

Let us ask God for the courage to move from nationalism to global solidarity, from militarism to multi-lateral disarmament, and from greed to an equitable sharing of the world’s resources.

God bless America and all the people on planet Earth!

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

Published in: on February 7, 2019 at 10:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Here I Am Lord

Reflection for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Executive Director, Patrick Carolan

This reflection was originally posted in our February 4th newsletter

We often think that the term ordinary means something that’s not very special, it is just kind of ‘run of the mill’. Because of this, people sometimes think that the period in our liturgical calendar known as Ordinary Time refers to a period in the Church that is unimportant. In fact the word “ordinary” comes from the Latin word “ordo” which means “order.” Ordinary Time is the time to reflect more deeply on the life of Jesus and what it means to follow him.

Our first reading this Sunday is from Isaiah 6. In it Isaiah says: “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips;” Isaiah goes on to say: “He touched my mouth with it, and said, ‘See, now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.’” Isaiah was symbolically purified of sin in preparation for his mission as God’s prophet. The reading ends with: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ “Here I am, I said; send me!”

One of my favorite Christian songs is Here I am Lord, written by Dan Schutte. He wrote it over 30 years ago in response to a request to have a new piece of music ready for the ordination of some new deacons. Some of the lines in the song are:
“Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord If You lead me
I will hold Your people in my heart.”

People sometimes spend a great deal of time discerning the question, what is God calling me to do? Yet by our Baptismal Rite we are all called to be “priests, prophets, and kings.” I think some folks take that too literally. Presidents Trump’s press secretary Sarah Sanders recently said that God chose Mr. Trump to be President. Others like Rev. Franklin Graham have made the same claim. Of course in 2015, when the presidential campaign started, Gov. Rick Perry from Texas had a large group of Christian ministers who proclaimed that God had chosen him to be president. Sarah Sanders’ father, Mike Huckabee also claimed that God had ordained him to be president.

I am pretty sure that when Isaiah said “Here I am Lord send me” that is not what he meant. Being the first, the best, the highest in the land is not what the prophet Isaiah envisioned. That’s not even the most important phrase of the song, in my opinion. The key phrase in the song is the last one, which gives us the direction: “I will hold Your people in my heart.” Perhaps, instead of discerning what God is calling us to do, maybe we should consider how we hold God’s people in our hearts.

Patrick Carolan
FAN Executive Director

Published in: on February 5, 2019 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Challenged to Follow Jesus

Reflection for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our January 28th newsletter

In this week’s Gospel, St Luke tells what happens when Jesus offered challenging words to the people of Nazareth about their relationships with other human beings. The people become so uncomfortable and “filled with rage” that they try to “hurl him off the cliff.” While Jesus’ teachings often bring us comfort, they should always challenge us. How do we react when the Gospel not only challenges but contradicts our ideas about ourselves or about others? What do our readings say to us today, on this first Sunday in February when we in the United States celebrate Black History Month?

In their recent pastoral against racism, Open Wide Our Hearts, The Enduring Call to Love, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops state that “Racism occurs because a person ignores the fundamental truth that, all humans …are equally made in the image of God. When this truth is ignored, the consequence is prejudice and fear of the other, and—all too often—hatred.” When we automatically dismiss any person or group of people, scapegoat any person or group, create boundaries between ourselves and any other human being, treat any person as if they are inferior to us, what do we say to God?

It does not matter how many prayers we “say,” how many religious services we “attend’; while he walked this earth Jesus did not teach us how to worship him, but Jesus taught us how to follow him. This is what made the people in Nazareth so angry. We cannot “rejoice with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:7) when we assume the worst about any person or when we act out of a sense of superiority or control over another. These readings impel us to question: Does prejudice, racism, or “othering” define our relationship with any other human being? If the Gospel does not challenge us to examine and reorder our relationships with each other, we are not listening.

The readings also assure us though that God is with us on every step of our journey, especially during those times when we find it challenging to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. “For I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.” (Jer. 1:19) Jeremiah felt the presence of God when called to be a prophet to Israel. Saint Luke tells of when Jesus knew that same presence when he was rejected by his neighbors in Nazareth. (Lk. 4:30)

Jesus always took action to challenge the injustice of his time. The Bishop’s recent pastoral states “racism comes in the form of the sin of omission, when individuals, communities, and even churches remain silent and fail to act against racial injustice when it is encountered.” The call to speak out and take action has been the core to the mission and history of the Franciscan Action Network for the past 10 years.

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Member

Published in: on January 29, 2019 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  

The Word and the Body

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, David Seitz, OFS

This reflection was originally posted in our January 20th newsletter

The readings for this Sunday have what may seem at first an odd relationship. In the first reading, Ezra the priest assembles the people of God after they return to Jerusalem from exile and reads to them from morning until night the scroll of the commandments of the Lord, interpreting it for the people’s understanding. He ends by proclaiming “Do not be sad, and do not weep for today is holy to the Lord your God…for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.”

Psalm 19 is a hymn proclaiming that the law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, full of wisdom, right, clear, enlightening, enduring forever, true, and just.

The passage from Luke in the Gospel tells the story of Jesus, returning to his home in Nazareth, opening the scroll and reads from the prophet Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Then Jesus tells those assembled, “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” If you continue to read in Luke, this story ends with the people being convicted for their hardness of heart and in vs. 29 “Rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.”

So far, our readings have focused on the Word of God being read and taught to the people and show how powerful that Word can be as evidenced by the reaction of those who rose up in fury after being convicted in their hearts by the power of the Word.

The Church seems to have thrown a curve ball at us in the 2nd reading from Corinthians. In chapter 12, St. Paul gives us the great teaching on the Body of Christ. “As a body has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” He goes on to teach that the body is incomplete if any of the parts are missing and he teaches “but that the parts may have the same concern for one another…”

How do we reconcile these two seemingly different themes in the readings? The Word and the Body. Let’s look to the prologue of the Gospel of John for an answer. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus is the Word; the Word that was proclaimed by Ezra the priest; the Word that is exalted in Psalm 19; the Word that was fulfilled in their hearing as Jesus read from the scroll. Jesus, being the Word of God made flesh, comes with the power of the Word as we see by the effect on the people he encounters throughout his ministry. He comes with power and conviction. He brings healing, conversion, hardness of heart and controversy.

When we reflect on St. Paul’s teaching on the body of Christ, of which we are “individually parts of it”, can we even imagine that we, by nature of being joined to the body of Christ, our head, come with power and conviction? Can we comprehend that WE, You and I, as the body of Christ, can claim to be, in a sense, the Word of God made flesh? Do we bring healing, conversion, hardness of heart and controversy? Are we a Word that is perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, full of wisdom, right, clear, enlightening, enduring forever, true, and just, as in Psalm 19?

This is our calling as Christians. We are commanded by Jesus to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (MT 25:19-20)

This is what the Franciscan Action Network strives to do each day. We bring the Word to our nation’s leaders through advocacy, through public presentation, and while reaching across both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill, even partnering with other religious denominations and secular organizations to advocate on our core issues that we can agree are important to help proclaim “liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord”. We bring the Word with power, because by our action and advocacy, we cause people to react and be convicted of heart, either towards conversion or at times hardness of heart. That is what Jesus encountered in his ministry. Can we expect those proclaiming the Word today to experience anything different? Sisters and Brothers, we are one body, living in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not of this world, as Jesus told Pilate at his trial. Our Kingdom knows now Earthly borders. We are the Body of Christ, in the Kingdom of God striving to bring justice to all who are “individually parts of it” regardless of the Earthly borders that may be in place. Won’t you please help FAN proclaim the Word?

David Seitz, OFS
FAN Board Member

Published in: on January 22, 2019 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  

For Whom Will You Not Be Silent?

Reflection for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our January 14th newsletter

Isaiah cries: “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet. . .” While contemplative silence is needed in this noisy world, there are times when remaining silent can be a betrayal. In our time, Dietrich Bonhoeffer agreed: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

In a new biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, author David Blight quotes Douglass in 1893, at the beginning of the Jim Crow and lynching period: “We have one weapon unimpaired and it is that weapon of speech, and not to use it. . .is treason to the oppressed.”

Recently, with the opening of the 116th Congress on January 2nd, over 100 women were sworn in, the most in our history though still not a number equal to men. Many women acknowledged their debt of gratitude to women on whose shoulders they stood, 100 years after women in the U.S. won the right to vote. If the suffragettes and their male supporters had not spoken out, marched, and demanded the legitimate right of women as members of a free society, if they had waited for men in power to introduce the 19th Amendment, when would all of us women reading this reflection been “given” the right to vote? We might also ask ourselves when will women in the church, the People of God we love and in which we have done heavy lifting for many years, when will our voices be included in decision-making at all levels?

In this week’s Gospel, the Wedding at Cana, it is Jesus, of course, who changes water to fine wine, but Mary is in command. John first notes that she was there, and, by the way, Jesus and his disciples were also invited. It is Mary who notices that the wine was running out, and simply tells Jesus, “They have no wine.” At first, this does not seem important to Jesus, but he has been obedient to his mother for enough years to respect her wisdom and understanding, so he does as she requests. As a wife and mother, Mary understands that what may have appeared not significant enough for a miracle could have been a humiliating disaster for a couple on their wedding day. So she did not remain silent.

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on January 15, 2019 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Yes, Immigration Is “A crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul,” But Not in the Way Trump Thinks

By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose column is published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network. His original post on Pax Christi can be found here.

Blaming huge numbers of violent killings, assaults, sex crimes and drug overdoses on undocumented immigrants, President Donald Trump in his first prime-time speech from the Oval Office (Jan. 8) said, “This is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul,” and insisted that Congress provide $5.7 billion for a wall extension along the U.S.-Mexico border.

President Trump’s words are absolutely correct: “This is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.” But how he applies these words are absolutely incorrect.

There is indeed a humanitarian crisis. But not a READ MORE

Published in: on January 14, 2019 at 10:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Expectation or Exasperation?


Reflection for the Baptism of the Lord by FAN Board President, Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our January 7th newsletter

“The people were filled with expectation…” With this opening line from our gospel we may want to pause and ask ourselves, are we living today in expectation? What does expectation look like? What does our faith call forth from us? Are we truly immersed in Christ or are we simply holding membership in a religious faith tradition?

I remember, some years ago, seeing a co-worker’s screen saver which said, “Jesus is coming, look busy!” It seemed funny to me at the time but now it makes me wonder if our ‘busyness’, our constant frenetic activity is really dulling our senses, diminishing our attentiveness and weakening our capacity for compassion and empathy. Do we live with a sense of hope and expectation of living Christ more deeply? Or do we live with deepening exasperation from the pressures of life? Many experience frustration with government, church leaders, and others who seem to be more interested in their own personal gain and status rather than the needs of the people and the common good of all.

We know that it was not until 313 AD and Constantine’s Edict of Milan that Christianity was accepted and benevolently recognized within the Roman Empire. Prior to this dramatic Constantinian shift, Christians were persecuted. For the earlier persecuted Christian community adult baptism was the common practice because seeking baptism meant truly immersing one’s life into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It meant putting one’s life on the line in the belief that the teachings of Jesus and the fulfillment of the Reign of God was at hand. This anticipation and expectation spurred on the believers to totally embrace Christ in their witness and in service of the gospel.

The readings for this Sunday are truly a testimony to the witness and service of John the Baptist and of Jesus. Their witness emboldened the early Christians to live their baptism with determination and expectation of making the Reign of God visible and vibrant even in the midst of suffering persecution and injustice at the hands of the Roman government. So, what about us today?

We, sharing in the same baptism, are called to embrace the prophetic mission and witness of the gospel. We are called to proclaim and to prepare the way so that all people might come to know the Christ, who is our Justice, in those who, in fleeing persecution in their home countries, seek refuge for themselves and their children and are only greeted with suspicion, detainment and deportation. We are called to work for justice and healing in our church and our world where lives and families have suffered the pain and agony of abuse, racism, hatred, and violence.

As we gather to celebrate this feast, let us recall our own baptism, whether we were infants, young children or adults. The baptism we received is a dying to self and a rising in Christ. Our baptism calls us to be immersed in Christ and made one with all our sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ.

May our baptism reflect the expectation and anticipation that drives out the darkness of anxiety, fear and hatred. Let us immerse ourselves in the Spirit and live our baptismal call and work to establish justice, peace and goodness for all people!

Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN President

Published in: on January 8, 2019 at 9:46 am  Leave a Comment  

When the ‘Word Became Flesh’

Reflection for the Epiphany of the Lord by FAN executive director, Patrick Carolan

This reflection was originally posted in our December 31st newsletter

Last week we celebrated the Incarnation, the moment when the “Word Became Flesh.” Through our rituals, prayers and festivals, our sharing of gifts, and enjoying family, friends, and food we honor the joyous occasion. I remember the anticipation I felt as a child waking up with my brothers on Christmas morning and waiting for my parents to wake so we could open our presents. My wife is Italian every Christmas Eve we would celebrate with a dinner of seven fishes. We would cook all day and in the evening have 25-30 folks over to feast. For many, the celebration of the Incarnation could and should be the most joyous time of the year. The incarnation changed everything. Even in our Gospel reading in the story of the Magi traveling to see the baby, we hear about the joy they experienced when first encountering the baby Jesus. It says: “They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage.”

During this time of joy and celebration do we stop and ask why? Why did the incarnation happen? As a child I was taught that Jesus came to save us from our sins. Most of this theology this comes from the 11th century bishop and theologian, St Anselm. In his book Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became a Man), Anselm argued that the crucifixion of Jesus was necessary to atone for man’s fall or original sin. He said that it was necessary for the atonement to take place in order to satisfy the justice of God. This argument would suggest that the incarnation happened only so that Jesus could be crucified so as to pay our debt. As Anselm puts it: “Divine justice demands restitution for sin but human beings are incapable of providing it, as all the actions of men are already obligated to the furtherance of God’s glory.” This is sometimes referred to as the ‘satisfaction theory of atonement.’ A theory that Jesus suffered and died on the cross as a substitute for human sin satisfying God’s justifiable wrath against humankind’s transgression.

A few hundred years later, St.Bonaventure argued that Jesus’ arrival can’t be limited to his role in saving creation from sin because God’s decision to become incarnate precedes creation itself. Another Franciscan theologian, Blessed John Duns Scotus said, “The Incarnation of the Son of God is the very reason for the whole Creation. To think that God would have given up such a task had Adam not sinned would be quite unreasonable! I say, therefore, that the fall was not the cause of Christ’s predestination and that if no one had fallen, neither the angel nor man in this hypothesis Christ would still have been predestined in the same way.”

During this time we often hear about the true meaning of Christmas. Religious leaders will talk about how we have lost the true meaning of Christmas. Maybe we should take some time and reflect on what truly is the Incarnation. What changed the moment the “Word became Flesh?”

Peace and All Good.

Patrick Carolan
FAN Executive Director

Published in: on January 1, 2019 at 11:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Reflections on Pope Francis’ 2019 World Day of Peace message

Tony Magliano

By Tony Magliano

As the saying goes, “Politics and religion don’t mix.” Although this cliché is espoused by many, you will not hear it from Pope Francis.

On the contrary, the leader of the Catholic Church firmly teaches that our Gospel-based faith has a wealth of wisdom to offer the often corrupt world of politics. And that it is our duty to strive to infuse that wisdom into the body politic.

As exhibit “A,” consider the Holy Father’s Jan. 1 World Day of Peace message – appropriately titled “Good politics is at the service of peace.”

Peace “is like a delicate flower struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence,” the pope writes. “Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction.”

This is so true. As one of many sad examples, consider how often political officials allow and even authorize the oppression of minority groups like the Rohingya in Myanmar, and now in Bangladesh (see: https://bbc.in/2KPgZ7Q, https://bit.ly/2RPcE4a).

And consider that many political leaders in governments throughout the world, including democracies, largely ignore the marginalized poor – in effect exiling them to the fringes of society, and even leaving millions of them to die every year (see: https://borgenproject.org/15-world-hunger-statistics/).

Among the “political vices” the pope cites are “xenophobia, racism, lack of concern for the natural environment, the plundering of natural resources for the sake of quick profit and contempt for those forced into exile.” All of which bring to mind recent dire environmental warnings from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (see: https://on.natgeo.com/2C4uv2j), the National Climate Assessment (see: https://bit.ly/2DFvfvO), and the often cold-hearted political response to suffering migrants (see: https://bbc.in/2yZnCMD).

Here the pontiff’s words are equally strong, “Political addresses that tend to blame every evil on migrants and to deprive the poor of hope are unacceptable. Rather, there is a need to reaffirm that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background.”

Pope Francis then challenges the immoral tragedy of war and fear. He says, “Peace can never be reduced solely to a balance between power and fear.” And adds that the proliferation of arms is “contrary to morality and the search for true peace” (see: https://bit.ly/2BqRelc).

And he condemns “forms of nationalism that call into question the fraternity of which our globalized world has such great need.”

In the world – political and otherwise – where self-centered egos often dominate, Pope Francis calls our attention to the humble corrective teaching of Jesus: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Francis then challengingly calls us to be creative peacemakers: “Today more than ever, our societies need ‘artisans of peace’ who can be messengers and authentic witnesses of God the Father, who wills the good and happiness of the human family.”

And to that Pope Francis encouragingly adds, “Everyone can contribute his or her stone to help build the common home.” With open hearts and minds to God, let each of us ask ourself: What is my stone? And how can I best use it to build our common home?

And then consider a New Year’s resolution worth keeping: Read “Good politics is at the service of peace” and prayerfully strive to put it into practice (see: https://bit.ly/2CmIobS).

[Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.]

Published in: on December 27, 2018 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment