Tag Archives: National Catholic Reporter

REFLECTION: Transform violence, hate into peace by responding with love

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Have you ever wondered why we as a church celebrate Jesus Christ as king? There was a time in his public life when his followers wanted to make a king and he went and hid himself. He did not want to be a king. Even in today’s Gospel, before Pilate he doesn’t totally disavow his being a king, but he does make it clear that his kingship does not come from this world. In other words, it’s not like any kingship we’ve ever heard of or known about. Why wouldn’t we have made a feast day like Jesus the Good Shepherd? Christ the Shepherd? Or maybe Christ the healer? Christ the teacher? But instead we have chosen to make a feast Christ the King.

Perhaps the explanation for that is twofold, I think. One, it was done at a time, 1925, when Pope Pius XI was negotiating with the leaders of the country of Italy, which had just been reunited. All of the parts of Italy had been brought together under Garibaldi, a military person, and the papal state had been taken away from the pope. No longer was he a civil ruler. All of the territory of Italy that belonged to the pope as a civil kingdom was gone. But then, finally, the pope had gone into hiding in a sense. Living as a prisoner in the Vatican palace, but then Pius XI began to negotiate in finding a treaty with Mussolini that established what we now called the papal state, Vatican City. Pius then in 1925, a couple of years before that happened, did establish this feast. It seems almost like he was trying to say it’s right for the pope to have a kingdom, so he made Jesus a king.

But, it does seem very anomalous because Jesus seemed not to want to be a king. Maybe the second reason Pius XI did this was because the way Jesus understood kingship was almost too challenging for us. He understood kingship as the one who serves. If you want to be first in my kingdom, he told James and John, the disciples who were looking for the first place, you must become the slave of all. Everything is reversed in the kind of kingdom that Jesus said does not come from this world. It’s the reign of God. The reign of dynamic love, not power and might.

To read the entire article, click here.

REFLECTION: Demand changes to structured injustice

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

On a weekend when the parish family is being asked, as you are today, to sign pledge cards for the coming year indicating your support of the parish and its service to the members, but also all of its outreach programs, it would be a real temptation, and maybe you would expect that I and any of the priests preaching this weekend would really focus on that poor widow, giving from her very need while others give from their abundance, make everybody feel guilty if you don’t really give a lot.

But actually, that probably isn’t the main point of today’s Gospel lesson. It’s important to listen to the first part, which provides the context from within which Jesus sights the example of the widow. The context shows us Jesus preaching harshly against those who exploit the widow, the orphan, and the poor. “Beware of those teachers of the law, the very teachers, the religious leaders who enjoy walking around in long robes being greeted in the marketplace and who like to occupy reserved seats in the synagogue, the first places at banquets.”

They like to be given a lot of attention, the religious leaders. Jesus said, “They even devour the widows’ and the orphans’ goods while they make a show of their long prayers, calling attention to themselves.” “Devour the widows and the orphan’s goods,” they exploit them, do injustice to them. Here Jesus is reminding us that it’s important, yes, to reach out to the poor in the context of this Gospel lesson and the Scriptures during the time of Jesus and the time of the chosen people. The Scriptures highlight the widow and the orphan — the most vulnerable people in that society.

They had no means to support themselves and they were dependent upon the charity of other people. But not only are they not being provided with charity, Jesus points out they’re being exploited, used. In our own time (this is really the important message of this Gospel) we should be listening to what our church teaching has been telling us through our Catholic social teaching.

To read the entire article, click here.

REFLECTION: Enter into the reign of God – change your lives

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Our second lesson proclaimed how the Word of God is like a double-edged sword; it enters deeply and cuts deeply. Surely as we hear that Gospel lesson today, it must seem like that to all of us. How hard it is to hear God’s Word, to accept it, and to follow it. In fact, we might, like the disciples, think it’s impossible, but Jesus reassures us, “Yes, it is impossible for us alone, but with God everything is possible.”

It’s important for us to listen deeply to this Word of God today and see how it might enter into our being. Even if it cuts deeply but transforms us, it will be worth it. One of the first things I think about when I reflect on that incident in the Gospel is how the young man went away sad. He was so hopeful when he ran up to Jesus. He thought he would get the answer to what he had to do to gain everlasting life.

6-A2768Then he finds out he’s already been living the answer — keep the commandments. But then Jesus looks upon him with love and tells him, “Go sell what you have, give it to the poor, and then come and follow me.” The young man, as I said, went away sad, but I also think how sad it must have been for Jesus. This young man probably looked like he would have been an amazing disciple to join those other disciples. Jesus had looked upon him and loved him and he walked away.

How sad it was for Jesus. The same challenge, of course, is being given to us this evening. Are we going to walk away and make Jesus sad or will we try to listen, accept what Jesus says and follow him? Probably the most important reason why we find this passage difficult is that, to some extent, we misunderstand and so did the young man misunderstand that Jesus wasn’t saying, “You won’t get to heaven.” He’d already assured him, “You’ve kept the commandments. You’ll get to heaven.” But Jesus is saying, “There’s more right now. You can enter into the reign of God now.”

To read the entire article, click here.

ON THE LINE: October 2015 edition features regional retreats, local actions, and PCUSA members in the news

Compiled by Johnny Zokovitch

Each month, “On The Line” features news items and announcements from around the nation featuring Pax Christi members, local groups, regions and partners.

PAX CHRISTI LOCAL AND REGIONAL GROUPS INSTRUMENTAL IN SUPPORT FOR IRAN DEAL: (from Tom Webb, PC-Northern California) Pax Christi Northern California has selected Lorrain Taylor founder of “1000 Mothers Against Violence” to receive their Peacemaker Award. Taylor will be given the award at Pax Christi Northern California’s regional assembly on Saturday, October 17th at St. Elizabeth’s High School in Oakland’s Fruitvale District. Besides presenting Taylor with the Peacemaker Award, assembly events will include an opening keynote panel featuring Sr. Megan Rice, Rivera Sun and Elizabeth Murray. Sr. Megan was recently released from prison after serving a 2 ½ year sentence for illegally entering the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Sun is an author and a nonviolence trainer for Pace Bene. Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Office for the Near East on the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career with the CIA. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) and the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, WA. Speakers will address topics  including the Bay Area housing crisis, human trafficking, accompanying immigrants, Pope Francis’ recent ecological encyclical “Laudato Si”, nuclear abolition, restorative justice, Ceasefire Oakland, root causes of Central American immigration, conscience and national service and the nonviolence movement.

Bishop Sullivan Chapter of Pax Christi of Norfolk, Va. presented Prof. Robert Watson of Hampton University speaking on the history of slavery at Virginia Wesleyan University.

The Bishop Sullivan Pax Christi in Norfolk presented Prof. Robert Watson (right) of Hampton University speaking on the history of slavery at Virginia Wesleyan Univ.

PAX CHRISTI MEMPHIS PRESENT BISHOP WITH STATEMENT ON IRAN DEAL, NUCLEAR THREAT: (from Paul Crum, PC-Memphis) On Sept. 28 Fr. Al Kirk and Jerry Bettice met with Bishop Terry Steib to discuss PC-Memphis’s concern about the Iran deal and Catholic teaching on the possession of nuclear weapons and the threat they pose to our world. This meeting was a follow-up to the letter sent to the bishop after the August meeting in which we featured the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb attacks on Japan. The bishop asked for a written statement that expresses the concerns and possibilities put forth in the meeting. At the Oct. 13th meeting of PC Memphis, Bettice will present a draft of the document for feedback with a view of presenting a more complete view of what we hope he can do in conveying Catholic teaching to the local church of the diocese of Memphis.

Pax Christi Florida held their state assembly in Tampa and protested drone warfare outside MacDill Air Force Base as a kick-off action for the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions.

PC Florida held their state assembly in Tampa & protested drone warfare outside MacDill Air Force Base during the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions.

PCUSA NATIONAL COUNCIL MEMBER FEATURED IN “THE CATHOLIC PRIEST IN KENTUCKY’S COAL COUNTRY” ARTICLE: (from Al Jazeera-America) Like most Americans, I suspect, I was not very familiar with Appalachian Kentucky. But travel just a short distance outside Lexington’s lovely bluegrass, and you find yourself in very different surroundings. Eastern Kentucky isn’t the barren wasteland you might have imagined. Yes, strip mining has changed the landscape in some of the world’s oldest mountains. Still, there is striking beauty, from the rocky trails to the gentle falls and small hidden ponds. Along the way to all these great spots are small communities, like Stanton, Kentucky. That’s where we found Father John Rausch. At 70, Rausch is an unassuming man, living with a cat in a simple house with a new wooden rail on the front steps he’s quite proud of. Why did he have it put in? The guy who was delivering his casket to the house misjudged the distance and took a chunk out…. Read more at http://paxchristiusa.org/2015/10/04/care-for-creation-the-catholic-priest-in-kentuckys-coal-country/

Prayer vigil at the Cathedral in Los Angeles as the closing event of Campaign for Nonviolence and Pax Christi Los Angeles and Pax Christi Southern California’s support of Pope Francis’s call for end to nuclear weapons.

Prayer vigil at the Cathedral in Los Angeles as the closing event of Campaign for Nonviolence and Pax Christi Los Angeles and Pax Christi Southern California’s support of Pope Francis’s call for end to nuclear weapons.

PAX CHRISTI SILVER CITY (NV) HOLDS GATHERING IN HONOR OF POPE FRANCIS: (from the Silver City Sun-News) An ecumenical sunrise gathering was held from 6:45 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27 at La Capilla in Silver City in honor of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. The event included prayer, song and silent reflection… Pax Christi of Silver City hosted the sunrise gathering at La Capilla, which included local interfaith participation from the St. Francis Newman Center Parish, the Silver City Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, the Silver City United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, the Friends Meeting (Quakers), and the Silver City Zen Center… Read more at http://www.scsun-news.com/story/news/2015/09/24/sunrise-gathering-honor-pope-francis/72752640/

PAX CHRISTI MAINE CO-COORDINATOR PENS OP-ED ON POPE FRANCIS’ ENCYCLICAL: (by Mary Ellen Quinn in the Bangor Daily News) “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” This question is posed by Pope Francis in his encyclical, “Laudato Si’ — On Care of Our Common Home,” released in June. “Laudato Si” has engaged people around the world in dialogue. Its content is compelling and far-reaching. The title, which comes from the words of St. Francis of Assisi in his “Canticle of the Creatures,” is translated as “Praise be to you,” referring to the creator of life. In Catholic tradition, an encyclical is an important teaching on moral topics; however, Pope Francis has made it known that he is addressing this encyclical not solely to Catholics but to “everyone who lives on the planet.” The spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics will soon be visiting the United States with stops in Washington, D.C.; New York City; and Philadelphia. Pope Francis will address the urgent issues he raises in the encyclical with President Barack Obama and with member nations at the United Nations… Read the entire article at https://bangordailynews.com/2015/09/16/opinion/contributors/pope-francis-connects-dots-linking-war-poverty-climate-crisis-violence/

Upcoming or Ongoing Events:

Oct. 14: National Day of Action for Global Climate Change

Oct. 16-18: Pax Christi Michigan Annual Retreat with Gail Presbey, Ph.D., Roscommon, MI

Oct. 16-20: Peace Alliance conference in Washington, D.C.

Oct. 17: PC Northern California assembly, “Creative Nonviolence: Peacemaking in the 21st Century,” with Sr. Megan Rice, Rivera Sun and Elizabeth Murray, among others in Oakland. Contact oaklandcatholicworker@yahoo.com for more info

Oct. 24: NCR Conference in Illinois

Oct. 24: South Dakota Pax Christi Peace Conference in Watertown, “Dorothy Day – A Discipleship for Today,” for more info contact sisterskandm@mediacombb.net

Nov. 5-7: Fellowship of Reconciliation Centennial events in NY

Nov. 6-7: “Black Lives Matter: Race, Poverty and Violence Symposium” at Xavier University in New Orleans

Nov. 13-15: Retreat with PCUSA Ambassador of Peace John Dear at Kirkridge in Pennsylvania

Nov. 14: Pax Christi Massachusetts retreat with Sr. Helen Prejean at St. Susanna Parish, Dedham, MA; contact Pat Ferrone at patferrone@rcn.com for info

Nov. 20: Pax Christi USA gathering at the SOA in Columbus, GA. Stay tuned for more info. We have a room reserved for 6pm, Friday eve at the Columbus Convention Center.

Nov. 20-22: SOA vigil and action, Columbus, GA

Nov. 29: Global Climate March

Nov. 29: Advent begins


PC International Co-President Marie Dennis was featured on PBS’s The News Hour for a story on Pope Francis … Fran Quigley of Pax Christi Indianapolis wrote this article in NCR explaining why Catholics must help bring down barriers blocking billions from lifesaving medicine … Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace Tonie Malone gave the annual peace lecture at the Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought on Oct. 3 on Pope Francis’ new encyclical …  With other community organizations, PC Casper (WY) celebrated the International Day of Peace with a Peace Pole planting, reflection and meditation, yoga, walking the new labyrinth, kids activities and music … Pax Christi Florida lost one of its co-founders last month, Tom UmlaufPax Christi Illinois member Adrienne Alexander was featured in this article in Chicago Magazine on the Catholic Church and its commitment to labor issues … Pax Christi Maine co-coordinator Mary Ellen Quinn was quoted in this article about a march to end violence in Bangor … Pax Christi Santa Fe (NM) co-hosted a climate vigil at the Santa Fe cathedral during Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. … Pax Christi Orange County (CA) joined other community organizations in a walk to the Orange County Jail for peace, dignity and justice as an act of solidarity with Pope Francis’ visit to a Philadelphia jail while in the U.S. … Pax Christi Northeastern Pennsylvania, with the Misericordia University Campus Ministry Program, is sponsoring a presentation by Martha Hennessy, Dorothy Day’s granddaughter on October 21. She’s also scheduled to present at the University of Scranton and Marywood University … Pax Christi USA member Dan Ebener has co-authored a new book, Strategic Planning: An Interactive Process for Leaders, now available at this website … Read Blue Water (MI) Pax Christi member Michael McCarthy’s blog on faith and justice in our world … Pax Christi International’s October 2015 newsletter is online … See more local and regional updates in the Summer 2015 edition of The Peace Current

REFLECTION: Our parishes would thrive if we stand up and be leaders

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

As always, we try to listen to our Scripture lessons at our Sunday liturgy within the context of what is happening in the world around us. Of course this past week, all our news media have been just overwhelmed by the coverage of Pope Francis and his trip to the United States. There have been millions of people flocking to see him. We’ve watched the crowds on television. We’ve listened to what the pope has to say and it’s been an overwhelming experience, I think, for most Catholics probably here in this country and especially for those who’ve had the opportunity to be where the pope has been in Washington and New York and Philadelphia.

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio washes feet of shelter residents during 2008 Mass at church in Buenos AiresAs we listen to our Scripture lesson in the light of what Pope Francis has been doing, I think there’s a couple of things we should especially notice. The first is very obvious — his outreach to the poor. When he spoke before the Congress, one of his main points was calling upon the people of the United States through their elected leaders to reach out to the poor, and in this case, especially the immigrants in our country who are flocking to our shores and whom many people want to push away and get rid of.

Francis is saying, “No, these are the poor. They’re coming here because they need assistance. They’re fleeing violence. They’re fleeing economic oppression. They’re coming out of a desperate need.” In fact, Francis makes it very concrete. One day this week when he was in Washington, he had lunch. Most of the time on a trip like this you would expect people invited to that lunch would be the mayor and the civic leaders, the church leaders and the wealthy — the important people.

Not with Francis — he invites the poor. And what I like about it, too, he doesn’t stand behind a counter and hand out the food and serve them in that way. That would be notable and good, but he sits down with them and engages with them. He shows them he enjoys their company. He wants them to feel welcome with him as the symbol of the church. He’s acting like Jesus who spent most of his time with the poor, drawing them in, having them follow him.

To read this entire article, click here.

REFLECTION: We must reach out in service to the most vulnerable

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

You may recall in last Sunday’s Gospel, we also heard Jesus talking about his coming torture and execution, then Peter telling Jesus, “No, that doesn’t have to happen.” And Jesus telling Peter, “Get behind me you Satan because you’re speaking in human terms not according to God’s way.” Now Jesus tells him again about his passion and death, although in the meantime other things had been happening.

He had gone up to the Mount of Tabor and was transfigured before three of the disciples, experienced God’s amazing love in a very profound way. Then he had gone on and they were traveling along and curing people, teaching and so on. Then in today’s Gospel, once more he tells them what’s going to happen to him. I can imagine Jesus must have been getting a little bit frustrated because, again, even though he made it very plain what was going to happen to him, they did not want to hear it.

They did not want to really know who Jesus was and what was going to happen to him, how he was going to make the reign of God happen, not through power, might and military force, but through suffering and responding to hatred and violence with love — an amazing way to overcome evil, only by responding with love. In today’s passage, Jesus makes that love not just something that happened to him at the end of his life when he poured forth his love on those killing him on the cross, but by his constant service to others, always reaching out to the poor and the most vulnerable, healing, teaching and exhorting and praising and comforting.

The disciples are thinking (as Peter had as we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel) that Jesus, because he was this wonderworker, he had such a huge following. They could overthrow the Roman Empire. They could set the Jewish people free, rebuild their temple and make it the source of worship without any hindrance from the Romans again. But that wasn’t the way. Jesus calls them to a life of service, “If you want to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me in serving others.”

To read this entire article, click here.

REFLECTION: Do not inflict suffering, but instead accept suffering

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

In the Gospel lesson this morning, it seems to me that we come to a point where Mark is revealing to us that Jesus had come to a very decisive moment in his life. This is maybe two thirds of the way through his public life where he had gathered disciples around him, where he had begun to preach and teach, do wonderful works of mercy and love. But all the time he was evidently trying to determine exactly what God was asking of him.

Michael O’Brien: Christ’s Temptations in the Desert

Michael O’Brien: Christ’s Temptations in the Desert

Remember, Jesus is fully human so he is learning as he goes along. I have a sense that when Jesus challenges the disciples (as he does today and challenges all of us about following him), he has come to this point after much reflection. We’re all familiar with the beginning of the public life of Jesus where he goes off into the desert and fasts for 40 days and 40 nights, and then afterwards he’s tempted. Do you remember the temptation?

First, it’s to accumulate all the wealth you can get, turn stones into bread, and then to become a wonderworker and draw attention to yourself, drop yourself on the pinnacle of the temple and let God’s angels hold you up. But then finally, Satan says, “Worship me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the earth.” It’s a temptation to power, domination, and violence. Jesus says, “Be gone, Satan.” But then in the Gospel where that account is recorded we’re told, “Satan left for a time.”

So Jesus, evidently, was tempted again and again to those very things — to wealth, greed, power, violence, and domination. I have a sense that he must have done much reflecting on the Word of God, which we’re all called to do. For example, in chapter 55 of the Book of Isaiah, “Seek God while God may be found. Call to God while God is near; turn to God for God will have mercy. For our God is generous and forgiving. ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts; my ways are not your ways. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts above your thoughts.’ ”

To read this entire article, click here.