Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Building Peace with Justice

Building Peace with Justice is a brief, weekly bulletin reflection written by members of a Public Policy sub-committee of the Diocese of Rochester that links the Sunday readings to Catholic social teaching. Many parishes publish them as space allows.

For Sunday Bulletins on June 24
John the Baptist follows a long line of prophets like Jeremiah, sent by God to the Israelites whenever they strayed from the Covenant; when they would become so focused on their desires for wealth, power, and pleasure that they forgot to care for the orphans, widows and strangers among them. Prophets are always among us, but our ears aren’t always open to hear them.

In the early 1980s, author and priest, Henri Nouwen, returned from Latin America and began touring the United States, determined to awaken his audiences to the violence against the poor that was being funded by their tax dollars. He warned that if we continued to gather in the wealth of the world at the expense of the southern hemisphere, we would need to build walls to protect our wealth from the world’s poor.

Reflection: The walls now exist. Henri Nouwen might agree with those who say the walls along the border are immoral and ineffective. Is it possible that we have become so protective of our wealth and comfort that we, like the Israelites, are ignoring the widows, orphans and strangers? Who is my neighbor?

For Sunday Bulletins on July 1
“Busy” is the virtue of the twenty-first century. Ask ten people how they have been and six of them will reply, “Oh, busy.” We fill our days with work, our evenings and weekends with errands, housework and family activities, and collapse, exhausted, in front of the television or computer at night. Who has time to pray or even think?

In today’s readings, Elisha and the would-be follower of Jesus request time to tend to family responsibilities before answering the call to follow, not an unreasonable or particularly self-centered request. But they’re missing the immediacy of the call. Jesus is off to Jerusalem now and if Elisha returns home to wait until his parents die, he will miss his prophet apprenticeship. Work is good, but without time for prayer and reflection we operate on automatic pilot, moving from one demand to another, not ready to hear the call when it comes.