Sunday, February 27, 2022

Prayer for Peace in the Ukraine


For the past week we have been inundated by the news of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.  It has been difficult to watch the gut wrenching views of women guiding their children across the border to Poland leaving their homes and husbands and fathers behind.  Many are staying to fight and defend their homeland.  Watching the reports, I was touched by a man who owned and apartment building with empty apartments.  Apparently, he drove three hours to the border to offer shelter to those in need.  What an incredible show of compassion and the desire to help.  This is only one of many outreaches that have taken place.

Right now, it seems that the one thing we can do is pray for the people of the Ukraine.  May we storm Heaven with prayer so that the hearts of those supporting this invasion will be changed and the violence will end.  Pope Francis has called for a day of prayer and fasting on Ash Wednesday for the people of the Ukraine.  Let us take time to pray fervently along with Pope Francis and the world for an end to this.  May the people of the Ukraine know our support and prayer that they may once again be able to live in peace and harmony.

Prayer for Peace in the Ukraine

O Prince of Peace,

Once more we hear the guns of war,

Once more we see the faces

Of frightened children.


We pray for the people of Ukraine,

That they may be granted peace;

We pray for the people of Russia,

That they may demand peace;

We pray for our country,

That we may be a positive part

Of peacemaking in this world.


O Prince of Peace,

Lead us from this dark time

To a deeper understanding

Of the global human family,

So all may break bread together

In the secure embrace of peace.  Amen

Jane Deren, Ph.D.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

World Day of Social Justice


Today we celebrate World Day of Social Justice.  World Day of Social Justice is celebrated on the 20th of February every year since 2009 as promoted by the United Nations Organization (UNO).  The United Nations Organization website states the theme of World Day of Social Justice 2022 as, “Achieving Social Justice through Formal Employment.”  The theme focuses that employment resources and opportunities play the utmost role in reducing poverty and inequality.

Social Justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within a nation and/or among nations.  The principles of Social Justice are upheld to promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous people and migrants. Promoting development and human dignity through Social Justice is the core value of the UN.

World Day of Social Justice is not a public holiday rather a global observance. The leaders at the World Summit agreed that social development means social justice, solidarity, harmony and equality within and among nations. Every country indeed takes social justice, equality, and equity as its fundamental values, but the governments are required to create solid frameworks to achieve “society for all” levels so that social justice will be promoted at local, national, regional, and global levels. Creating equal opportunities for job seekers, allowing equitable distribution of income, and offering greater access to resources via equality and equity became the flagship slogan of the world leaders.

The purpose of the day is to raise your voice against social injustice and to promote social justice throughout the world. The objective of the day is to bring the various communities globally closer and together that can help to eliminate poverty, physical and gender discrimination, racism, religious discrimination, illiteracy, and biases, etc. If societies of the planet become pure from the mentioned curses, only then a diverse global culture can emerge where everyone has equal opportunities, and everyone has acceptance for others.

This day is very much aligned with today’s Gospel.  Jesus is calling us to a deeper level of love. Jesus reminds us that the human heart was made to give. The best way to honor what God has created in us is to learn and to accept, forgive, and love ourselves as much as we forgive and love others.

The Gospel tells us that all the commandments are based on the love of God and the love of neighbor. We are called to love unconditionally as God does. We learn about sharing, forgiving, and loving through the experiences of our families. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples and us about how to love everyone even those who are not our family and friends. Jesus says, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Let us use this day to lift our voices for social justice for all.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Jesus stood on a level place where a crowd of his disciples and a large crowd of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coast of Tyre and Sidon were gathered. Raising his eyes toward his disciples, he said, “Blessed are you poor because yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungering now because you will be filled. Blessed are you who are weeping now because you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, exclude you, insult you, and throw out your name as evil because of the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for your reward will be great in heaven. This is how people treated the prophets.” – Luke 6.17, 20-22
Today's gospel reading is the beginning of what is often called the Sermon on the Plain. We find a parallel to this passage in Matthew 5:1-7,11 which is called the Sermon on the Mount. As these titles suggest, there are differences and similarities between these gospel readings.
The world that Jesus envisions redefines poverty and abundance. He invites us to leave the world of abundance and invites us to enter the world of justice, to care for and lift up those who are poor, hungering, and weeping now. Our true inheritance from Jesus is a world in which we gather every person in, where we honor all, and waste no one or nothing.
I was on a retreat one summer and the theme of the retreat was the Beatitudes.  I remember that the retreat director kept referring to them as Be-Attitudes – attitudes of being.  It was an interesting idea to spend time reflecting on.  Every time I hear this gospel, I always recall that retreat with great fondness.  In the beatitudes Jesus envisions everyday life transformed. He challenges us to remake our world, to live out the promise of his love through re-thinking how we understand security, comfort, charity, and justice. He challenges us to leave the world of complacency.  In embracing this new life, we need to have hope and trust in God’s strength and abiding love.  We are called to be open to God’s grace and reshape our priorities.
Take some time to think about what concrete actions can you do this week to live the Beatitudes as Be-Attitudes – attitudes of being.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time


While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.  He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.  Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.  After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”  Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”  When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.  They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them.  They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking.  When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”  For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”  When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.  Luke 5: 1-11

In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus calls us in faith, to “go into the deep.” This is a challenge for us to broaden our vision in order to see beyond the limits of our horizons to see how God travels with us in the deep and unfamiliar events of our lives.

The Gospel passage tells of the disciples in the boat fishing. They caught nothing. Jesus challenged them to cast their nets further than they usually fish. Despite telling Jesus that they have been fishing all night and that they were tired, they followed Jesus' request and caught more fish than they could handle.

Jesus’ appearances to his disciples were his commitment that he will never abandon them or us. It seems as if at the moment we are ready to give up, Jesus steps in and a miracle takes place. The result is that we are amazed and astonished by what has been done for us.

God is a God of surprises who calls us to put our trust in him in order who see from a different perspective God’s love and mercy in our lives. Jesus comes to us at our deepest moments of need. He encourages us with the simple request, “Be not afraid.”

We are all being called to be disciples. Even in our fear and doubts, God encourages us to serve the kingdom. Jesus sees in us what we may not see in ourselves. Each time we say “yes” to God and really put it into practice, we encourage someone to step out in faith.  Let us take some time to embrace the call to discipleship and let Christ shine in our hearts and lead us to light.