Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tony Magliano

Making a Difference

“You are the light of the world.”

Don’t take my word for it, that’s Gospel truth from Jesus himself (Mt 5:14). And it’s a tall order, indeed.

Now, on the other hand, in John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” Now that at first glance makes far more sense. After all, Jesus – God in the flesh – is obviously “the light of the world.”

But then, Jesus assuredly adds, “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12).

And so the light that you and I are to be to the world – which sounds like a daunting task – is the light of Christ and not our own. We don’t need to fret over how we are to somehow enlighten the world; our task is to faithfully follow Jesus, and in the process his light shines as a beacon through us.

To deeply experience Jesus’ loving, joyful, peaceful presence and to radiate that transforming presence out into the world requires us to be very open, to surrender to the will of God. This narrow path needs from us a deepening trust in the risen Lord, and a life filled with prayer and good works.

A very wise Christian principle, often attributed to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, urges us to “Pray as if everything depends on God, work as if everything depends on you.”

But in today’s complex world, attempting to really do all the good you can, sincerely trying to make the absolute best difference, often requires us to get at the root-causes of injustice.

Because only by systematically addressing the root-causes of humanity’s ills can we fully be the light of Christ and transform the world.

Make no mistake about it; disciples of Jesus are called to transform the world!

In their 1971 document titled “Justice in the World,” the international Catholic Synod of Bishops prophetically declared: “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.”

And so let us ask, and honestly seek the answers to these questions: Why are so many people poor, vulnerable and powerless? Why is the sacredness of unborn and born human life often treated with such total disrespect? Why is our earth-home so polluted and dangerously warming? Why are so many families dysfunctional? Why are countless people hungry in a world of plenty? Why are the multitudes morally numb to the ongoing mass-murder of war? And why are millions of people so accepting of all this darkness?

It seems like our culture is drugged.

The famous peace activist, Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan, issues this warning: Beware! Beware! Or the culture will swallow you whole. It’s easy to be swallowed whole and drowned by our culture. It is a kind of narcotic.

We need to place our culture into detoxification. We need the true and lasting euphoria of the Gospel. We need to walk in the footsteps of Jesus; thus walking in solidarity with peoples of all nations, co-creating with God a morally just and peaceful world for all people, everywhere.

By inviting the risen Christ ever more deeply into our lives, we can indeed be “the light of the world,” radiating his transforming love upon our often misled culture and hurting planet.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist.

Making a Difference 

maglianoIn his strong identification with the poor and vulnerable, Jesus makes it perfectly clear that when we meet the needs of these least brothers and sisters, we are ultimately serving him. And when we – as individuals, churches, states and nations – do not adequately meet the needs of the downtrodden, we have failed to do good to Jesus (Matt. 25:31-46).

With so many countless fellow human beings needlessly suffering, Jesus’ own suffering continues on to this very day – in them and with them.

The First Station of the Cross: Jesus is homeless.

Hundreds of thousands of women, men and children in the U.S. have no place to call home. Often exposed to the harsh elements, they are literally living on our streets. We often see them, and yet we fail to see Jesus in them.

The Second Station: Jesus is a stranger and not welcomed.

Tens of thousands of children fleeing to the United States from Central American drug gangs are being deported back to the violence. Millions of undocumented United States workers who are denied legal protection are forced to live in the shadows of society.

And millions of other human beings running for their lives from terrorists’ death threats are often confined to inhumane refugee camps. We fail to see Jesus in them.

The Third Station: Jesus is poor.

Over 895 million fellow human beings throughout the world barely exist in extreme poverty, struggling to survive without adequate and safe water, food, sanitation, health care, education, employment and housing. We are not fully committed to quickly meeting their needs. We fail to see Jesus in them.

The Fourth Station: Jesus is aborted.

Millions of unborn human beings erroneously classified by abortion proponents as “parts of a woman’s body” or “blobs of protoplasm” or simply “products of conception” are murdered by means of legalized abortion in many countries throughout the world.

Like other vulnerable people, the unborn are often victims of what Pope Francis calls a “throw-away culture.” We fail to see Jesus in them.

The Fifth Station: Jesus is euthanized.

Growing numbers of people who are cruelly seen as a burden – often as a result of serious illness – are persuaded to take their own lives with the assistance of a physician (physician-assisted suicide). Instead of providing adequate psychiatric, palliative and hospice care, society is increasingly choosing this more subtle form of euthanasia to kill various people who are hurting. We fail to see Jesus in them.

The Sixth Station: Jesus is brutalized by war.

In over two dozen countries, wars and armed conflicts are destroying virtually everyone and everything in their path. So-called developed nations like the United States, United Kingdom and Israel are fueling these bloody conflicts through arms sales and weapon grants. Countless war-torn innocent children, women and men continue to be maimed and murdered. We fail to see Jesus in them.

In Catholic tradition there are 14 Stations of the Cross. I have listed here six modern versions of them. But sadly, many more could easily be added. For suffering throughout our fragile planet is monumental.

Jesus is urgently calling us to see him in our suffering brothers and sisters.

Lent is the perfect time for individuals and nations to begin fasting from what Pope Francis calls a “globalization of indifference,” and to begin feasting in the ways of Jesus: nonviolence, forgiveness, solidarity, social justice and active compassionate love for all those who suffer.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching and has spoken from California to Maryland. He can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

maglianoMaking a Difference

For the sake of our salvation, we need to pay serious attention to and act with purpose on what Jesus teaches here in Matthew’s Gospel: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.

Nov. 2-8 is National Vocation Awareness Week. This week is an opportunity to focus our attention on vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life in our parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford. It is a time to educate, to inform, to pray and to invite our young men and women to consider discerning a vocation in the church.

Smith Fr.Anthony-new“How do I know if I have a vocation?” This is a question very often asked by men and women as they begin discerning a call to the priesthood or religious life.

The word “if” does not belong in the question. The question should be, “What is my vocation?” When we hear the word “vocation,” we so often think of a special calling to the priesthood or religious life, but everyone has a vocation in life. The mission in our life is to know and live our vocation.

demarco halfI received a telephone call from some business agency that wanted to reimburse me for a charge made some time ago on my credit card. His explanation for the reimbursement was hazy at best. When he began asking me questions such as my date of birth, my mother’s maiden name, and so on, my suspicion grew with each query. I refused to cooperate with his request that I divulge such personal information. After hanging up the receiver, I noticed that his phone number was not registered on my "call display" window.