Archive for January, 2015

OLM Partners Gathering January 18,2015

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

At the OLM’s Partners meeting on January 18th, 2015, there was an introduction to the workbook “Living With Limits, Living Well” presented by one of the four co-Authors, Anne-Marie Jackson, also of the Jesuit Forum.  Anne-Marie had worked for many years with Development & Peace and is now currently the Director of the Jesuit Forum.

This workbook was developed over time because it was felt by the authors that there was a need for resource material to increase awareness that social justice, poverty and the environment are all inter-related.  The theme is based on Scripture; that there is enough food for everyone; that we ought to only take what we need; and that we should try  to be environmentally responsible.  Presentations of this resource book have been made to High Schools, Religious Communities and at the University of Toronto where the book has been described as “living simply”.  A challenge remains to increase distribution of the book, with the hope that it will be made available for use in group discussions in all High Schools and Parishes.

It was decided by the Partners present that we meet again on Feb. 15th and begin working with this guide. By listening to each other and sharing our insights we hope to create awareness, energy and actions that will help each of us become partners with our planet.

 Inez Fernandes, olm Partner

 

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World Day 2015 of Migrants and Refugees

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES 2015 (1)

Parable of The Baptism of Jesus

Friday, January 16th, 2015

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The Baptism of Our Lord

 A reflection by Fr. Dave Warren, SFM, on Isaiah 55.1-11, 1 John 5.1-9 and Mark 1.7-11

There’s an unusual organization in the Greater Toronto Area known as the Toronto Polar Bear Club. Each year on January 1, the members of the club put on their bathing suits and run into Lake Ontario. This year 564 men and women “took the plunge.” The temperature was –29 º with the wind chill. These brave souls raised over $77,000 in pledges for Habitat for Humanity.

At some point in our lives, we all “take the plunge.” At some point in our lives, we all leave our “comfort zone.” We leave our “comfort zone” when we do something new.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus “takes the plunge.” He presents himself to John the Baptist to be baptized. Why did He do it? Why did Jesus submit to baptism?

It was a scandal to the early Christians that Jesus, who was the Son of God, would submit to John the Baptist. It was a scandal that Jesus who was sinless would submit to baptism at all. And so, why did He do it? Why did Jesus submit to baptism?

Jesus submitted to baptism as an act of repentance. It was not an act of repentance for His own personal sins. It was an act of repentance for the sins of society. It was the admission that He belonged to a sinful society and a decision to opt for a different kind of society.

Palestine in the first century was a society based on wealth, respect, and power. Wealth: a small number of wealthy landowners controlled most of the wealth. Respect: the priests and the religious teachers received respect; those who didn’t observe the details of the Law of Moses were despised as “sinners.” Power: the Romans ruled Palestine with the collaboration of the Temple priests and the noble families.

Jesus opted out of a life defined by wealth, social status, and power. He left “civilization” behind and went out into the wilderness to meet John the Baptist. There’s nothing wrong with civilization. There’s nothing wrong with education and medical care! Civilization does have its benefits. (One of the benefits of civilization is heated homes.) But civilization is a thin veneer. Under the surface of “civilization” there is a lot of violence. There is greed, competition, and domination over people – and most of it is perfectly legal!

When Jesus went out into the wilderness, He left behind the values of His world and plunged into a new world. And when “Jesus took the plunge,” the Spirit of God descended upon Him. The Spirit did not descend upon Jesus to make Him feel good; the Spirit descended upon Jesus to empower Him to change humanity. In the power of the Spirit, Jesus began His work of changing humanity.

On the day of His baptism, Jesus “took the plunge.” On the day of our baptism, we too “took the plunge.” On the day of our baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon us. Our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Charismatic Movement speak of being “baptized in the Spirit.” “Baptism in the Spirit” is a gift. It’s a powerful emotional experience. But baptism is not about rapture; baptism is about rupture. If we do experience rapture, well and good. But the rapture is for the sake of the rupture. Baptism is about a break with life as life is defined by the world around us.

On the day of our baptism we “took the plunge.” On the day of our baptism the Holy Spirit descended upon us. He descended upon us – as He descended upon Jesus – not to make us feel good, but to make us agents of change in the world.

Some say it can’t be done. They say that you can’t change people. Well, God begs to differ. The baptism of Jesus is the end of the old humanity and the beginning of a new humanity. The baptism of Jesus is a new creation. At the first creation the Spirit hovered over the waters. Now at the second creation, the Spirit appears over the waters of the River Jordan. After creating Adam and Eve, God saw that that humanity was very good. Now at the second creation, God says that He is well pleased. The baptism of Jesus is the beginning of a new humanity.

The old humanity lives by acquisition, competition, and the exploitation of others. The new humanity lives instead by cooperation, by sharing, and by service to others. As John says in today’s second reading, the new humanity lives by love.

Some say it can’t be done. They say that you can’t change people. Well, God begs to differ. John also says in today’s second reading, “Whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith” (1 John 5.4). The world is not invincible; there is an alternative: the world can be changed. (The most powerful weapon in the world’s arsenal is the idea that there is no alternative. The most powerful weapon in the world’s arsenal is hopelessness.)

Victory belongs to those who believe. We are the people who believe that the baptism of Jesus is the beginning of a new humanity.

There’s an unusual organization in the Greater Toronto Area known as the Christian Church. They have a strange initiation ritual which involves the shock of getting wet. They are willing to step outside their “comfort zone.”

 by ,sfm

Thoughts for Global Peace during 2015

Monday, January 5th, 2015

 

I Declare World Peace

  It is another New Year and, as happens, most of us step back and take stock of the world around us and how we might interact differently – more positively – with our family and friends.  At this time, world leaders and those made famous in sport and entertainment are given a platform to make known their New Year’s Wishes. Invariably, the wish for World Peace is always first on people’s list as a common desire among our leaders and those in the media’s eye.

Why have we not found peace?  The reasons are many and complex. However, for sake of argument, let us agree that greed and lust for power are key elements of conflict and that Religious faith has been used for centuries as a cloak for these drivers of war.  Think only of the Crusades, the “Troubles in Ireland, or the Sunni-Shiite problems in the Middle East. In the face of a world seemingly ever at war, driven by religious fervour, what can you and I do to help bring peace? Seek to understand one and others faith and question leadership regarding political activity hidden beneath the guise of faith.

 To understand another’s faith we must open our ears, eyes and hearts to that individual. Study their religious text and discuss their faith with them – to be sure, you will find that the vast majority of people do not hold the radical beliefs of those on today’s battlefields of terrorism.  Encourage your friends of all faiths to challenge and question their religious leaders, if they find them recruiting the dispossessed as soldiers for “religious” warfare.  To try and understand the basis of another’s faith and to question authority using religion as a cloak to incite war are two very real ways in which we can contribute to World Peace today.

 To foster World Peace may we work in cooperation with love and understanding for each other as we enjoy a Happy New Year.

Contributed by TJ Flynn