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Today’s news dispatch: Nov. 5, 2015

Pope’s Morning Homily: Christians Can’t Be Cliquey

At Casa Santa Marta, Francis Warns Against Exclusive Attitudes of the Pharisees

Christians shouldn’t be cliquey, says Pope Francis, who in today’s morning Mass warned against the Pharisees’ tendency to exclude others.

Vatican Radio reported on the Pope’s homily at the Casa Santa Marta, which he drew from today’s readings from St. Paul and the Gospel of Luke.

In the Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul exhorts us not to judge and not to despise our brothers, because, the Pope said, this leads to excluding them from “our little group,” to being selective, “and this is not Christian.” Christ, in fact, “with His sacrifice on Calvary” unites and includes “all men in salvation.” In the Gospel, publicans and sinners draw near to Jesus – “that is, the excluded, all those that were outside,” – and “the Pharisees and the scribes complained”:

“The attitude of the Scribes and the Pharisees is the same, they exclude. [They say,] ‘We are the perfect, we follow the law. These people are sinners, they are publicans’; and the attitude of Jesus is to include. There are two paths in life: the path of exclusion of persons from our community and the path of inclusion. The first can be little but is the root of all wars: all calamities, all wars, begin with an exclusion. One is excluded from the international community, but also from families, from friends – How many fights there are! – and the path that makes us see Jesus and teaches us Jesus is quite another, it is contrary to the other: to include.”

“It is not easy to include people,” Pope Francis said, “because there is resistance, there is that selective attitude.” For this reason, Jesus tells two parables: the parable of the lost sheep, and the parable of the woman and the lost coin. Both the shepherd and the woman will do anything to find what they have lost, and when they find it, they are full of joy:

“They are full of joy because they have found what was lost and they go to their neighbours, their friends, because they are so happy: ‘I found, I included.’ This is the ‘including’ of God, against the exclusion of those who judge, who drive away people, persons: ‘No, no to this, no to that, no to that…’; and a little of circle of friends is created, which is their environment. It is a dialectic between exclusion and inclusion. God has included us all in salvation, all! This is the beginning. We with our weaknesses, with our sins, with our envy, jealousies, we all have this attitude of excluding which – as I said – can end in wars.”

Jesus, the Pope said, acts like His Father, Who sent Him to save us; “He seeks to include us,” “to be a family.”

“We think a little bit, and at least – at least! – we do our little part, we never judge: ‘But this one has acted in this way…’ But God knows: it is his life, but I don’t exclude him from my heart, from my prayer, from my greeting, from my smile, and if the occasion arises I say a good word to him. Never excluding, we have no right! And how Paul finishes the Letter: ‘We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God . . .  then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.’ If I exclude I will one day stand before the judgment seat of God, I will have to give an account of myself to God. Let us ask the grace of being men and women who always include, always, always! in the measure of healthy prudence, but always. Not closing the doors to anyone, always with an open heart: ‘It pleases me, it displeases me,’ but the heart is open. May the Lord grant us this grace.”

Daily reading provided by the US bishops’ conference:

Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 488

Reading 1 ROM 14:7-12

Brothers and sisters:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
Why then do you judge your brother or sister?
Or you, why do you look down on your brother or sister?
For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God;
for it is written:

As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bend before me,
and every tongue shall give praise to God.

So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.

Responsorial Psalm PS 27:1BCDE, 4, 13-14

R. (13) I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

Alleluia MT 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 15:1-10

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 
So Jesus addressed this parable to them.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ 
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”

Pope Francis: Shared Martyrdom Is ‘Deeper and Stronger’ Than Differences Among Denominations

Asks Today’s Martyrs to ‘Help Us Understand That All the Baptized Are Members of the Same Body of Christ’

As witness to Christ to the point of death has become a shared experience for Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, Protestants, Evangelicals and Pentecostals, this “communio martyrum” is a sign that is “deeper and stronger” than the differences dividing the denominations, says Pope Francis.

The Pope said this in a message to Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, released today on the occasion of the Global Christian Forum Consultation, which concluded Wednesday in Tirana, Albania.

“I think with great sadness of the escalating discrimination and persecution against Christians in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and elsewhere throughout the world,” the Pope said. “Your gathering shows that, as Christians, we are not indifferent to our suffering brothers and sisters.”

The Holy Father observed: “In various parts of the world, the witness to Christ, even to the shedding of blood, has become a shared experience of Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, Protestants, Evangelicals and Pentecostals, which is deeper and stronger than the differences which still separate our Churches and Ecclesial Communities.

“The communio martyrum is the greatest sign of our journeying together. At the same time, your gathering will give voice to the victims of such injustice and violence, and seek to show the path that will lead the human family out of this tragic situation.”

The Pope assured the group of his spiritual closeness and voiced his prayer that the “martyrs of today, belonging to many Christian traditions, help us to understand that all the baptised are members of the same Body of Christ, his Church.”

“Let us see this profound truth as a call to persevere on our ecumenical journey towards full and visible communion, growing more and more in love and mutual understanding,” the Pope said.

For Missionary in Brazil, His Boat Is a Vital Tool for Evangelization

Some communities only visited by a priest 10 times a year 

This report is contributed by Rodrigo Arantes of Aid to the Church in Need.

* * *

“You have to get used to the distances,” the missionary says. That was one of the first lessons that Father Pedro Paulo Schewior had to learn when—20 years ago, after leaving his native Poland—he first came to Tefe, a town in the Amazon region of Brazil. In practical terms, this means the priests spends days on end traveling by boat visiting the various far-flung Catholic communities in Amazonia.

His boat, the Zé Bezerra—recently repaired and spruced up to make it faster—is indeed a vital tool for his missionary work spreading the Gospel among native people. For example, there is the ‘parish’ of San Antonio de Ipapucu, which has become a model of community life: inspired by example of the Apostles, the people help one another in their work on the plantations, above all when a workers falls ill. There is also a community orchard, plus collectives for every type of work. 

Father Schewior can only be present there to say Mass about 10 times a year; hence lay catechists have a crucial role beyond formation of the people—they organize Liturgies of the Word on priestless Sundays. Raimundo Menezes, the “pastoral animator” for the region, emphasizes the importance of these liturgical celebrations for the strengthening of the community: “In order to remain alive and active, a Catholic community has to celebrate the liturgy,” he told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

Life, in any case, is not easy for these locals, for whom the arrival of the priest is a great consolation and cause for joy. “The life of these people is not exactly idyllic,” despite the gorgeous natural setting, said the missionary. 

Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN) www.acnmalta.org (Malta)

Myanmar Cardinal: ‘Voting Is a Sacred Right’

Troubled nation heds to the polls Sunday for first time in decades

Myanmar will hold its first general election in 25 years on Sunday, a stepping-stone in its five-year process of opening up. 

This statement on the election by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, was obtained by Aid to the Church in Need.

The cardinal urges the people to vote, saying that voting is a “sacred right,” and that “going to the voting booth is a pilgrimage of hope.”

Here is the statement:

My Fellow Country Men and Women, Greetings to all of you, as you wait for the pivotal moment in Myanmar history!  

The nation has waited for decades.  After many false dawns, my dear people, we have our first free elections. 93 parties, 5800 party candidates, 3000 independent candidates. The quest for democracy is in full flow in Myanmar today! 

I applaud the sagacity of our Leaders in their vision of democracy.  I congratulate the law enforcing officers for their efforts to make this election a success.  Fringe elements and merchants of hatred are out in the open, trying to sully the good name of our nation.  Eschewing electoral violence is a hard challenge and I am glad our Law Enforcing authorities are rising up to the challenge.

I pray for courage to the Election Commission. Its work so far has been commendable.  But the last lap needs extra vigilance.  Kindly make this election a transparent process ensuring free and fair voting of the poor and the marginalized.  Election Commission’s conduct would be watched with deep interest by the international community.  Apprehensions thrown on postal votes and embassy votes are an area of concern that I am sure the Election Commission will address with professional neutrality.  People want a peaceful Election.

Voting is a sacred right. 

Through voting people determine their future. Going to the voting booth is a pilgrimage of hope.  Let all of us, undertake this pilgrimage. Please go to the booth. Our destiny is in the ballot box. Democracy, for the people, by the people and of the people has forged great nations’ history.  Myanmar waited for this moment for ages.

Today is our date with that destiny.  Together we stand or together we fall. Ballot boxes will determine our future.  God has blessed this nation with treasures above the ground and below the ground. More than any treasures we have the best treasures of human fellowship, a rainbow nation of 135 tribes and major religions. We need peace today!

A fair election will bring peace and prosperity to this nation; to all of us.  This pristine land in history can regain its historic glory.  And to fulfill that great dream, let my country men and women, vote without fear or favour.  

God bless this great nation!

Children of Christian Couple Burned to Death in Pakistan 1 Year Ago Are ‘Happy and Safe’

NGO caring for children of Shama and Shahzad Masih, seeking justice

It was alreaday a year ago that a Christian couple and their unborn baby was burned alive in Pakistan by a group of Muslim extremists that accused them of blasphemy.

On Nov. 4, 2014, Shama and Shahzad Masih and their child were burned to death in a brick kiln in Punjab province.

Today, according to the Fides news agency, their older children are being cared for by the Cecil Chaudhry & Iris Foundation, an NGO which promotes projects for the most marginalized groups in Pakistan.

The president of the foundation, Michelle Chaudhry, told Fides: “Shama and Shahzad are in our hearts; two innocent lives lost due to extreme bigotry in our society. The fanatics not only burned two precious lives in the furnace; they burned humanity, they burned the principles of Islam, and burned Jinnah’s Pakistan and no monetary compensation can make up for such an extreme act of violence.”

The Foundation calls for justice for Shama and Shehzad, expressing the hope that the perpetrators of the murder are brought to justice.

The Cecil Chaudhry & Iris Foundation has taken on the responsibility to ensure education to the three older children of the couple: “We wanted to bring a change for the better in the lives of these children. Today it gives us great pleasure to see these children happy, safe and engaged in school activities.”

 

 

 

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