Friday, 24 February 2017

Praying with the Pope: February Intentions

February may be almost over, but it's not too late, during these last few days leading into Lent, to add the Holy Father's prayer intentions to your own.

Starting this year, Pope Francis has presented a prepared prayer intention each month. I thought it would be a cool thing, and a way to spread awareness of what the Pope wants us to pray for, if I blogged about his intentions each month.

For February, Pope Francis asks that the faithful pray for the afflicted -- "that all those who are afflicted, especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized, may find welcome and comfort in our communities."

I feel like the Holy Father shared this intention with us at a very apt time. While politicians speak of building walls and take drastic action to keep people out -- marginalized, poor people who, often, live lives of danger and suffering -- we as Catholics, and all Christians in general, are called to be Jesus' hands in a hurting world.

It amazes me how quickly Christians can jump on board with some of U.S. President Donald Trump's more controversial decisions. I totally get why many faithful voted for Trump, and I'm not arguing that they did wrong (nor am I revealing which way I would have voted -- I'm Canadian, so it's a moot point), but it's one thing to vote for someone because they are the lesser of two bad choices -- it's wholly another to accept his decisions as good and true and anything even remotely resembling the way Jesus would want us to live our lives.

Here are a few Bible verses that remind us just how important it is not just to treat fellow believers with dignity and love, but to extend that to everybody in the world:

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? ... James 2:1-13

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ... Hebrews 13:1-25

And being even more specific, while we remember Pope Francis' monthly intention, let's take a look at these verses:

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. Leviticus 19:33-34

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Deuteronomy 10:18-19

Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. Exodus 23:9

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 25:25-36
The Bible makes it pretty clear: as Christians, our job is not to build walls and keep out foreigners and refugees. Our job is to welcome them with open arms, with love and brotherhood and respect and dignity, and in doing so, sharing with them the light and love of Christ.

The world we live in can be a really frustrating place, especially for those of us who live simple lives, who have our own worries and duties and things that keep us busy every day. But one of the most powerful things we can do is pray! I pray, along with Pope Francis, that everyone in the world -- especially those who hold powerful political positions -- will come to know and act upon God's word.

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