Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 48—First century Christians proclaimed that the world was not meant for alienation but for unity. The good news of unity was directed to the separated and the alienated. God aches at the disunity in the world. I want you to reflect on what kinds of things keep us at odds. Such factors include, at least, pride—of place and of accomplishments—greed for stuff and for power, fear, and misunderstanding. As I thought about this, it occurred to me that most obviously, fear is on the list as an agent of slavery and as an agent of separation. And surely in Jesus ‘ministry, everybody with whom he had to do—the well-off and the outcasts—everybody had an agenda of fears that immobilized and alienated. And it is not different now, is it?
One vote. That's what it took to defeat the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline bill. Of course, this controversial issue is not going away.
Is anyone communicating with facts? Those who support the pipeline continue in mantra-like form to proclaim that the pipeline is good for the economy. Is it really? The Courier-Journal reported that the creation of the pipeline would only produce 35 permanent jobs, another report indicated a maximum of 50 jobs. The pipe used in the pipeline would be produced in India, not in the U.S. The oil would go to other countries.
As I was listening to music this morning, a song came on with heavy lyrics about the cross. I clicked ahead, saying to myself, "This is almost Advent – they'll be time for that during Lent." However, for many, this will not be a season of joy:
"I admit, this is the time of year I used to love. Snuggling with my boys under blankets on the couch while we watched holiday movies, baking gingerbread cookies, and hoping for snow. Now, I approach this time of year with a level of dread."
"It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our life time only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work." (Excerpt from "A Future Not Our Own" by Bishop Ken Untener)
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 47 & 48—Whereas the Jesus texts were much more about freedom, Paul reflects much on unity. The central text of most of our current thinking about shalom is in Ephesians. Paul [or his disciples] writes. Remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of two, thus making peace (Ephesians 2:12-15).
Recently I received word that a former co-worker from Chicago died. As tributes arrived, I was moved by one that described his devotion to the homeless. He was always prepared to meet homeless men and women on the street, giving them hats and gloves. In Chicago winters they are vital! He also carried $5 McDonalds gift cards, perhaps providing the only food for the day.
He made eye contact! I say that because that often does not happen with many people. It is easy, on a busy day, to walk on by. Perhaps the most important response is to make eye contact, even if we don’t give a donation. Unfortunately, the homeless are not disappearing; in fact, 610,042 people experience homelessness on any given day in the United States. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 23% of the homeless population are children.
Each year for the past 50-60 years, as hunters head to Kansas for the opening of Pheasant Season on the second Saturday of November, other cars head to the Great Bend Dominican Motherhouse for our Annual Mission Bazaar. Throughout the year across the country Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace, many of their family members, and friends work on colorful and creative handmade items to be sold there to benefit our Daughter Congregation--the Nigerian Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine, and their missions, as well as to assist persons in need among us here at home.
This past week, the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) held its Convocation in Chicago where this professional organization for Vocation Ministers began 25 years ago. Happy Jubilee, NRVC! The Transfiguration of Jesus was echoed in the convocation theme: It Is Good that We Are Here. Rise and Have No Fear!
Dominicans were very much 'there' sharing the fruits of their contemplation. Dominican Sisters of Peace attended along with Dominicans of Adrian, Amityville, Blauvelt, Mission San Jose, Sinsinawa, Sparkill, Springfield and St. Albert Province of Dominican Friars.
Brueggemann, Peace: pp. 46&47—The unity theme is not as prominent in Jesus’ teaching as that of freedom, but it is there:
"I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd" - John 10:15-16
"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself" - John 12:32
Israeli foreign policy under its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been taking a tragic trajectory leading to moral decline and diplomatic isolation for the State and Jewish people. This is recognized currently by 106 senior Israeli security personnel who call upon him to initiate a diplomatic process based upon a regional framework for peace with Palestinians. Millions of Palestinians kept under Israeli military occupation for 60 years dehumanizes both peoples. Exclusionary apartheid laws, segregated roads and housing developments plus land confiscations, home demolitions, control of water and financial monies create resentment, anger, and the hopeless of violence for the Palestinians of Gaza and West Bank. Superiority, contempt, self-righteousness and loss of humanity afflict Israelis as they live in isolation from non-Jews in their country.