PTA GENERAL ASSEMBLY MESSAGE
Theme: FAMILIANS, BEARERS OF HOPE AND JOY in the Year of thePoor
Focused Values: Simplicity of Lifestyle and Service
S. Mary Ignatius C. Aquino, OSB
THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL: EVANGELII
GAUDIUM - BY POPE FRANCIS
SOME CHALLENGES OF TODAY’S WORLD
1. No to an economy of exclusion and inequality
How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape. Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed.
2. No to the new idolatry of money
…Widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possession knows no limits. In this system, which tendsto devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
3. No to a financial system which rules rather than serves
“Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs.” Money must serve not rule.
…in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. “I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.” (Pope Francis)
4. No to the inequality which spawns violence
If every action has its consequences, an evil embedded in the structures of a society has a constant potential for disintegration and death. It is evil crystallized in unjust social structures. Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption. Inequality engenders a violence which recourse to arms that cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamoring for heightened security, even though we know that weapons and violence create new and more serious conflicts.
Some cultural challenges
The Catholic faith of many peoples is nowadays being challenged by the proliferation of new religious movements, some of which tend to fundamentalism while others seem to propose a spirituality without God. We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data-which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of moral values. The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. We, Christians, should remain steadfast in our intention to respect others, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2)
We are all missionary disciples Every Christian is challenged, here and now to be actively engaged in evangelization; anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus. The Samaritan woman became a missionary immediately after speaking with Jesus and many Samaritans come to believe in him “because of the woman’s testimony.”
Personalizing the Word
Whoever wants to preach must be the first to let the Word of God move him/her deeply and become incarnate in his/her daily life. Preaching is “communicating to others what one has contemplated.”
…we need to let ourselves be penetrated by that Word which will also penetrate others, for it is living and active Word, like a sword “which pierces to the division of the soul and spirit, of joints and marrow and discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) A true missionary knows that Jesus walks with him/her, speaks to him/her, breathes with him/her, works with him/her. In union with Jesus, we seek what he seeks and we love what he loves. In the end, what we are seeking is the glory of the Father. We know from experience that sometimes a task does not bring the satisfaction we seek, results are few and changes are slow and we are tempted to grow weary. It also happens that our hearts can tire of the struggle because in the end we are caught up in ourselves, in a careerism which thirsts for recognition, applause, rewards and status. In this case, we no longer grasp what we seek,the resurrection is not there. In this case, the Gospel, the most beautiful message that this world can offer, is buried under a pile of excuses.
Mary, Mother of Evangelization
With the Holy Spirit, Mary is always present in the midst of the people. She joined the disciples in praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14) and made possible the missionary outburst which took place at Pentecost. She is the Mother of the Church which evangelizes and let herself be guided by the Holy Spirit on a journey of faith towards a destiny of service and fruitfulness. There is a Marian “style” to the Church’s work of evangelization. Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. In her we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves.. Contemplating Mary, we realize that she who praised God for “bringing down the mighty from their thrones” and “sending the rich away empty” (Luke 1:52-53) is also the one who brings a homely warmth to our pursuit of justice. She is also the one who carefully keeps “all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk. 2:19). She constantly contemplates the mystery of God in our world, in human history and in our daily lives. At the foot of the cross, at the supreme hour of the new creation, Christ led us to Mary. Mary is the woman whose heart was pierced by a sword and who understands all pain. As a mother of all, she is a sign of hope for peoples suffering the birth pangs of justice. She is the missionary who draws near to us and accompanies us throughout life, opening our hearts to faith by her maternal love. As a true mother, she walks at our side, she shares our struggles and she constantly surrounds us with God’s love. As she did to Juan Diego, Mary offers him maternal comfort and love and whispers in his ear: “Let your heart not be troubled….Am I not here, who am your Mother?” As we journey on this school year, let us walk hand in hand and side by side, supporting one another’s endeavors and healing each other’s wounds so that together we may arrive at our final goal which is union with our Father, with His son, our Lord Jesus Christ, our Blessed Mother and with all the angels and saints in heaven.
THANK YOU and that in all things God may be glorified!