Holy Father’s Prayer of Intention: may
Let us pray that those in charge of finance will work with governments to regulate the financial sphere and protect citizens from its dangers.
The story of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke chapter 16 may appear distant to us due to its graphic description of dogs licking the sores of Lazarus. Today, we live in a world in which we do not encounter abject poverty or if we do, we have become desensitized to it. We may recognize the problem, but we feel that the problem is too big for us to solve.
Global prosperity in terms of material wealth is the highest it has ever been in the history of humanity. Technological advances and global trade have created the wealthiest society in terms of cumulative wealth of nations. We have wealth in the stock market, we have comfortable homes, we have a wide choice of food in our kitchens, we have sleek gadgets that entertain us, and we have nice cars to take us around town. Life in the 21st century is a blessing from God.
However, inequality between the rich and the poor has been rising rapidly for the past several decades. More recently, the working-class and middle-class have been squeezed by the economic uncertainties brought by COVID-19, while the upper-class has largely been unaffected. Over the long-term future, technology is forecast to eliminate numerous jobs for the working-class which will further preclude them from participating in the economy. The environment is suffering from our over consumption of resources and lax attitude toward keeping our land, air, and water clean.
At this critical time, we reflect on our role as stewards of God’s creation and as messengers of the kingdom of God. How is God inviting us to live the Gospel message that exhorts us to care for the least among us? How can we model our lives on the lives of the early Christians, who distributed goods fairly among all? How can we be prophetic voices that inspire positive changes in our political and financial systems?
Daniel Mascarenhas, SJ – Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (United States)
Holy Father’s Prayer of Intention: april
We pray for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis.
The first chapter of the book of Genesis tells us that humanity was created “in the image of God” (Gen 1:26-27). This phrase still echoes with fundamental importance for our world today, because the image of God in us is our source of human dignity. While we would hope that thousands of years after these verses were written for us, the human family might have established a greater mutual respect for what it means to be free and responsible creatures, still today many people have their most fundamental rights denied them.
These fundamental rights – to life, to food and water, to shelter, to education, to religious freedom, among others – flow from being made in God’s image and cannot be denied to any member of our human family. Thankfully, many people’s consciences are touched when they see or learn of the injustices suffered by others; and they put themselves into action. Often, those who stand with the oppressed run serious risks themselves, because they courageously point out the faults in a leader’s or a society’s practices. To speak the truth about God and human dignity in a dictatorship, an authoritarian regime, or even a democracy without a solid moral foundation often means having the wheels of political, social, or even military power turned against you.
Some of these situations seem “far from home”; yet, there are also denials of fundamental rights present in our lives. Any such denial touches us all because of our common humanity. As we pray for those who take risks to help others secure their fundamental rights, let us too be willing to add our energy and voice to assure respect for God’s image in each of our brothers and sisters.
Fr. Andrij Hlabse SJ belongs to the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, one of twenty-four Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. He is studying Patristics and Eastern Christian theology at the Pontifical Oriental Institute (Rome)