Opening Song: “Be Not Afraid” by Bob Dufford, SJ or one of your choice.
Opening Prayer: Creator God, we come to the end of a year filled with grief and hope. A year when we were asked to be united, but sometimes felt more apart. It was a year in which the drumbeats of war and despair mingled with the calls for peace and hope. Help those who have lost loved ones to feel the love that surrounds them. Help all of us to live up to the call of Jesus, to be “prophets of love and servants of reconciliation.”
Reading 1: Isaiah 49: 8-13
Thus says God:
In a time of favor I answer you, on the day of salvation I help you,
To restore the land and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the ways they shall find pasture, on every bare height shall their pastures be.
They shall no longer hunger or thirst, nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them;
For God who pities them leads them and guides them beside springs of water.
I will cut a road through all my mountains, and make my highways level.
See, some shall come from afar, others from the north and the west,
and some from the land of Syrene.
Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth, break forth into song, you mountains.
For God comforts the people and shows mercy to the afflicted. The Word of the Lord.
Response: My vows to God I will pay in the presence of all the people.
I believed even when I said , “I am greatly afflicted;”
I said in my alarm “No one is dependable”
How shall I make a return to God for all the good done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of our God; (Response)
My vows to God I will pay in the presence of all the people.
Precious in the eyes of our God is the death of God’s faithful ones.
O God, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds. (Response)
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of God.
My vows to God I will pay in the presence of all the people,
In the courts of the house of God, in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Response:My vows to God I will pay in the presence of all the people. (Response)
Gospel: Luke 6: 27-38
“To you who hear me, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you and pray for those who maltreat you. When someone slaps you on one cheek, turn and give the other; when someone takes your coat, let them have your shirt as well. Give to all who beg from you. When someone takes what is yours, do not demand it back. Do to others what you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, how can you claim any credit? Sinners do as much. If you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what merit is there in it for you? Even sinners lend to sinners expecting to be repaid in full.
“Love your enemies and do good; lend without expecting repayment. Then will your recompense be great. You will rightly be called children of the Most High, since God is good to the ungrateful and the wicked.
“Be compassionate, as your God is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Pardon, and you shall be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over, will they pour into the fold of your garment. For the measure you measure will be measured back to you.” The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Silent Reflection: consider the following thoughts—
“You wonder why there are terrorists? What do you think these children will be in 10 years? Do you think they’ll join the Peace Corps?” Munther Haddadin, Jordanian minister of water, addressing the plight of Iraqi children from sanctions.
(Seattle Times 8/4/02)
At a conference on terrorism this year at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, former NATO commander Wesley Clark attributed much of the world terrorism problem to a struggle between the haves and have-nots.
"There is widespread resentment over the fact that the U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but consumes nearly 25 percent of its natural resources," Clark said.
(Chicago Tribune, 8/14/02)
“Our grief is not a cry for war.” A banner summing up the sentiments of some of the relatives of those killed on September 11. (visit their website: www.peacefultomorrows.org)
God make me an instrument of your peace.
(Where are the opportunities to be God’s instrument of peace?)
Where there is hatred let me sow love;
(How is hatred being manifested; how can I sow love?)
Where there is injury; pardon;
(How have I or someone I know been injured? Can I pardon the ones responsible? Do I need pardoning?)
Where there is doubt; faith;
(Wars, economic downturns, revenge...all this can lead to doubt. Can I show faith in the midst of all this?)
Where there is despair; hope;
( We have all felt despair, yet we are called to hope. Can I keep myself hope-filled in times of despair?)
Where there is darkness; light;
(One candle lit can dispell the darkness. Where can I light one candle of hope and peace? Can I get beyond the ethnic stereotyping and racism in my society?)
Where there is sadness, joy;
(What a paradox!! Yet we all know the joy of love and peace. Can I share this with those I meet, even when it is hard to get beyond the sadness.)
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
(The world is in need of consolation, can I be there?)
To be understood as to understand;
(Please help me listen more.)
To be loved as to love;
(This is so necessary during a time of hatred.)
For it is in giving that we receive;
(My time, my energy -- the more I give the more I get back)
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
(I need to be forgiven -- can I forgive?)
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
(Of what should I be afraid?) Amen.
Offering: Put on a piece of paper one commitment you are willing to make for the coming year based on the above reflection. Put it in a basket as an offering to God.
Closing Song: “Blest are They” by David Haas or your choice
-8th Day Center