March 26, 2017: Fourth Sunday of Lent
Catholic Social Teaching: Rights and Responsibilities
From USCCB Website:
The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities–to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
▪ Leviticus 25:35 When someone is reduced to poverty, we have an obligation to help.
▪ Ruth 2:2-23 Boaz cares for Ruth, a widow and a foreigner, giving her far more than the law requires.
▪ Tobit 4:5-11 Give from what you have received and do not turn away from the poor.
▪ Proverbs 31:8-9 Open your mouth to speak on behalf of those in need.
▪ Isaiah 1:16-17 Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
▪ Jeremiah 22: 13-16 A legitimate government upholds the rights of the poor and vulnerable.
▪ Jeremiah 29:4-7 Seek the welfare of the city, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
▪ Matthew 25: 31-46 Just as you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.
▪ Luke 16:19-31 The rich man has a responsibility to care for Lazarus.
▪ Acts 4:32-35 There was not a needy person among them.
▪ 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 God’s gifts are given to be shared.
▪ James 2:14-18 Faith without works is dead.
Underlying the principle of the common good is respect for the human person as such, endowed with basic and inalienable rights ordered to his or her integral development. It has also to do with the overall welfare of society and the development of a variety of intermediate groups, applying the principle of subsidiarity. Outstanding among those groups is the family, as the basic cell of society. Finally, the common good calls for social peace, the stability and security provided by a certain order which cannot be achieved without particular concern for distributive justice; whenever this is violated, violence always ensues. Society as a whole, and the state in particular, are obliged to defend and promote the common good. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si’. . . ], no. 157)
Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this in turn affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. . . . Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si. . . ‘], no. 25)
A link has often been noted between claims to a “right to excess”, and even to transgression and vice, within affluent societies, and the lack of food, drinkable water, basic instruction and elementary health care in areas of the underdeveloped world and on the outskirts of large metropolitan centers. The link consists in this: individual rights, when detached from a framework of duties which grants them their full meaning, can run wild, leading to an escalation of demands which is effectively unlimited and indiscriminate. (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth, [Caritas in Veritate. . . ], no. 43)
The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights-for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination. (St. John Paul II, On the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful [Christifideles Laici. . . ], no. 38)
We must speak of man’s rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of ill health; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood. (St. John XXIII, Peace on Earth [Pacem in Terris. . . ], no. 11)
In human society one man’s natural right gives rise to a corresponding duty in other men; the duty, that is, of recognizing and respecting that right. Every basic human right draws its authoritative force from the natural law, which confers it and attaches to it its respective duty. Hence, to claim one’s rights and ignore one’s duties, or only half fulfill them, is like building a house with one hand and tearing it down with the other. (St. John XXIII, Peace on Earth [Pacem in Terris. . . ], no. 30)
As for the State . . . It has also the duty to protect the rights of all its people, and particularly of its weaker members, the workers, women and children. It can never be right for the State to shirk its obligation of working actively for the betterment of the condition of the workingman. (St. John XXIII, Christianity and Social Progress (Mater et Magistra, no. 20)
First Reading: 1st Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
Psalm: 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5-6
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14
Gospel: John 9:1-41
Catechism of the Catholic Church
When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood”, but from “my Father who is in heaven”.24 Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.'” (153) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Cycle A
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
1st Samuel 16:1-13
The prototype of the king chosen by Yahweh is David, whose humble origins are a favourite topic of the biblical account (cf. 1 Sam 16:1-13). David is the recipient of the promise (cf. 2 Sam 7:13-16; Ps 89:2-38, 132:11-18), which places him at the beginning of a special kingly tradition, the “messianic” tradition. Notwithstanding all the sins and infidelities of David and his successors, this tradition culminates in Jesus Christ, who is par excellence “Yahweh’s anointed” (that is, “the Lord’s consecrated one”, cf. 1 Sam 2:35, 24:7,11, 26:9,16; Ex 30:22-32), the son of David (cf. Mt 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38; Rom 1:3).
The failure of kingship on the historical level does not lead to the disappearance of the ideal of a king who, in fidelity to Yahweh, will govern with wisdom and act in justice. This hope reappears time and again in the Psalms (cf. Ps 2, 18, 20, 21, 72). In the messianic oracles, the figure of a king endowed with the Lord’s Spirit, full of wisdom and capable of rendering justice to the poor, is awaited in eschatological times (cf. Is 11:2-5; Jer 23:5-6). As true shepherd of the people of Israel (cf. Ezek 34:23-24, 37:24), he will bring peace to the nations (cf. Zech 9:9-10). In Wisdom Literature, the king is presented as the one who renders just judgments and abhors iniquity (cf. Prov 16:12), who judges the poor with equity (cf. Prov 29:14) and is a friend to those with a pure heart (cf. Prov 22:11). There is a gradual unfolding of the proclamation of what the Gospels and other New Testament writings see fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, the definitive incarnation of what the Old Testament foretold about the figure of the king. (378)
1st Samuel 16:12-13
At the beginning of its history, the people of Israel are unlike other peoples in that they have no king, for they recognize the dominion of Yahweh alone. It is God who intervenes on Israel’s behalf through charismatic individuals, as recorded in the Book of Judges. The people approach the last of these individuals, Samuel, prophet and judge, to ask for a king (cf. 1 Sam 8:5; 10:18-19). Samuel warns the Israelites about the consequences of a despotic exercise of kingship (cf. 1 Sam 8:11-18). However, the authority of the king can also be experienced as a gift of Yahweh who comes to the assistance of his people (cf. 1 Sam 9:16). In the end, Saul is anointed king (cf. 1 Sam 10:1-2). These events show the tension that brought Israel to understand kingship in a different way than it was understood by neighbouring peoples. The king, chosen by Yahweh (cf. Dt 17:15; 1 Sam 9:16) and consecrated by him (cf. 1 Sam 16:12-13), is seen as God’s son (cf. Ps 2:7) and is to make God’s dominion and plan of salvation visible (cf. Ps 72). The king, then, is to be the defender of the weak and the guarantor of justice for the people. The denunciations of the prophets focus precisely on the kings’ failure to fulfil these functions (cf. 1 Kg 21; Is 10:1-4; Am 2:6-8, 8:4-8; Mic 3:1-4). (377)
Grace gives us the tools of our Shepherd. The Lord’s rod and staff gives us courage, fortitude to dispel darkness, the resolve to proclaim prophetic messages, in the face of hinging faith on ritualistic, legalistic analysis mired in guilt and unworthiness. If anything the light shines brighter during Sabbath service moments, for the focus weaves the Divine into exclamations of life. A vivid reminder of the gift of faith by calling us into a trusting relationship with our Shepherd means we fear no evil.
Accepting the grace spiritually and sacramentally, our blindness disappears. What we saw becomes what we have seen to a new threshold of acuity grasping insights unfathomable, unimaginable, unrealistic before our eyes were proverbially washed. Physical eyes infused with compassion, pausing to absorb details instead of superficial glances overlooking humanity in a hurry. Breaking open stony hearts, for gentleness, softness thru the eyes of our hearts imparting mercy in emulation of the boundless mercy of God. Slowing mindful eyes puts the brakes on rushing.
Who helped the blind man to the pool of Siloam? Who helps us get to our pool of Siloam? Who can we help get to their pool of Siloam? Removing personal, communal and societal blindness requires a collaborative effort. Acknowledgment of Divine anointment leading us to ponder the root causes of blindness, address their impediments, educate about that reality and act hopefully to be shepherds for each other. A path of exposing darkness and bringing light into the world, where we awake from slumbering sleep walking thru life to doing good deeds. Illuminating God’s love, moving beyond the consequences of supporting goodness instead of harboring the need to remain in the power structure’s fold. Thrown out of the status quo is the ultimate removal of our blindness for we see the puny nature of structural inequities and their limitations to Gospel precepts. Moving away from judging by appearance to focusing on actions, gives leadership that the spirit of the Lord rushes upon. As David was not standing in que waiting to be appointed but doing his task of shepherding among the sheep, so may we too focus upon our actions of service to the good of humanity instead of waiting for accolades, titles and acknowledgment.
Individual Reflection: Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Look at the beauty of John August Swanson’s Psalm 23 serigraph:
Family Reflection: John 9:1-41
Check out the Lenten Catholic Climate Covenant calendar…what actions can your family take to better care for creation as your blindness to environmental degradation is removed from the eyes of your mind and heart:
Slowly pray the words of Psalm 23
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born March 14, 2017 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.