July 9, 2013
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Who is your neighbor?     

Our readings for the 15th Sunday of ordinary time offer some interesting questions, and present us with some difficult choices. St. Bonaventure teaches us that we make a difference by what and how we choose. This happens in two ways; what we become as a result of our choices and, just as important, what the world becomes because of our choices. Are we choosing to imitate God? What does it mean to imitate God? 

Again drawing from Bonaventure, Sister Ilia Delia described it so beautifully when she said "by imitating Christ one becomes expressed likeness of Christ through a transformation in Grace. That is, the human person becomes the sacrament of God." As Paul says in Galatians: "Christ is living in me." Bonaventure believed that to imitate Christ is to live in compassionate love or, as Sister Ilia describes it, "as being willing to suffer or die for one's neighbor. "

In the first reading from Deuteronomy: 30, Moses says to the people: "If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God." If we are to heed the voice of God we must first be open to hearing the voice of God and willing to take the time to listen to the voice of God. We need to ask ourselves the question: "Are we hearing the voice of God or are we filtering it so that we only hear what justifies our own wants and views?"  

I was recently confronted by a person who said we should stop calling ourselves Franciscans because we are not following the teachings of St. Francis. I asked the man to explain and he replied that St. Francis would never have supported immigration reform or health care for all. I am certain that the man was genuine and truly believed what he said. But I would have to ask whose voice is he listening to, certainty not God's nor the teachings of St. Francis. 

The last sentence of the reading from Deuteronomy states: "No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out." We do not have to search very far the voice of God is already in our hearts, we just have to stop and listen to it. Bonaventure believed that each soul contains a divine light which illuminates the truth.

In the Gospel Jesus is asked the question: "and who is my neighbor?" When asked this question we often give the expected answer of the whole world is our neighbor. But that takes on a whole different meaning when we think about the question in light of Bonaventure's teaching that to imitate Christ is to be willing to suffer and die for one's neighbor. For most of us, our definition of who my neighbor is becomes very small when put in Bonaventure's terms. How many of us our willing to suffer and die for a starving child in a third world? Most of us don't even want to pay a few pennies more in taxes so that hungry children in this country can have access to food stamps and not go hungry. Is your neighbor the sick, hungry, the immigrant, the not yet born child? 

In the very beginning of the Bible Cain asks God a very simple question: "Am I my brother's keeper?" We know God's answer. Throughout the stories in the Bible and the entire history of our civilization we keep asking the very same question over and over. Even during the last presidential election the question was suggested by one of the candidates when he stated that this election is about the individual good vs. the good of the community. I guess we keeping hoping that at some point God will say "I was only kidding; you are not your brother's keeper. You only need to be concerned about your own individual needs, wants and salvation. You are not responsible for your neighbor." I don't know about you, but my heart tells me that God will never say that. 
 
So, if I want to imitate Christ and believe, as it says in our second reading, "and in him all things hold together," than I need to be willing to suffer and die for all my neighbors. And as St. Francis taught us, all of God's beautiful and wondrous creation is our neighbor. 

Peace and All Good.

Patrick Carolan
Executive Director

Suggested Petitions:
May we be aware of the needs of all of our neighbors, those geographically near us and and our neighbors of the world, Let us pray...

May we strive to imitate Christ in all we do and say, Let us pray...

ACTION ALERT: Immigration Reform Faces the House!  

Just last week, the Senate passed immigration reform with a robustly bipartisan 68-32 vote, and now the big question is what the House will do. So far, House Committees have approved five bills, none of which create a path to citizenship, and all of which contain provisions that would negatively impact our community members. For more information visit the Interfaith Immigration Coalition website.

On Wednesday, July 10, House Republicans will convene a special meeting to determine their position and strategy on immigration reform. Since Republicans make up a majority of the House of Representatives, this meeting will have a profound influence on the future of immigration reform. On the eve of this meeting, ALL Representatives need to hear from people of faith. Raise your voices and tell your Representative to focus on legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship and reunites families. Make your call, and ask your friends, neighbors, congregation members, etc. to join you in calling and visiting your Representative's local office, which should be close to where you live.

FAN urges you to call 1-866-940-2439 to be connected with your Representatives. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 or find your Representative's direct line and email information here. Feel free to use this sample script:

"I am from [City, State, Congregation], and I urge the Representative to support immigration reform that creates a path to citizenship and reunites families.  As a person of faith, I urge the Representative to OPPOSE bills like the SAFE Act, Border Security Results Act, Agricultural Guestworker Act, and SKILLS Visas Act. These are not real reforms to our immigration system. We need immigration reform that creates a path to citizenship and reunites separated families." 
 
Franciscan Ecology: Defending our Sister Mother Earth    
Br. Keith Warner, OFM
 
Franciscan Action Network and Franciscan Earth Corps is pleased to be hosting environmental scientist and author Br. Keith Warner, OFM, as he discusses "Franciscan Ecology as Love in Action." Br. Keith is one of the leading Franciscan voices on ecological justice and connecting Franciscan spirituality with defending our sister mother earth. 

The event will be held July 30, 2013 from 6 to 8 p.m. at San Damiano Hall at St. Francis of Assisi Friary, 135 West 31st Street, New York, N.Y.
 
For more information contact Franciscan Earth Corps program manager Rhett Engelking.
 

Reflecting on Torture Awareness Month  

 
On June 25, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture co-hosted an event in Washington, D.C., featuring Mr. Juan Mendez, the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture. The 2013 theme was "Healing a Culture of Torture," encompassing the need to reflect, pray and act in light of the deep physical and spiritual harm caused by torture. Our own Sr. Marie Lucey attended a Survivors Vigil and wrote a heartfelt reflection, which we encourage that you can find on our blog. We continue to work with NRCAT and pray for the healing of those that have experienced any type of torture.

Franciscan Climate Campaign Webinar Update  
 
Hot off President Obama's speech, our summer webinar is entitled "Finding Hope and Finding Tools." We will hear expert analysis about Obama's plans, provide some of the best resources for raising awareness on climate change, and delve into the spirituality of hope amidst a turbulent outlook.

Franciscan Climate Campaign Webinar
Thursday, July 11, 2013
4 to 5 p.m. EDT

Dynamics in climate change politics are changing, and we'll explore what the policies proposed by the president mean and, very importantly, how you can engage your community with resources for awareness-raising. As always, we will integrate Franciscan spirituality into our work, this time highlighting how we remain grounded in hope in uncertain times.

To reserve your seat for the webinar, click here!

Collect Prayer:

O God, who show the light of your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path,
give all who for the faith they profess
are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honor.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Mission Statement

Inspired by the Gospel of Jesus, and the example of saints Francis and Clare, the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) is a collective Franciscan voice seeking to transform U.S. public policy related to peacemaking, care for creation, poverty, and human rights.

 

 
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