Theme 1: What keeps us apart?
- identify and analyze examples of prejudice
- suggest ways that they could respond with compassion to situations of injustice
- demonstrate an understanding of how responding with com- passion leads to peace
- Christian justice is rooted in love. It is based not only on fairness, but also on mercy and compassion.
- Compassion is the ability to feel and act with and for another. It is not pity.
- Respect for the human person considers the other “another self.” It presupposes respect for the fundamental rights that flow from the dignity intrinsic to the person. (CCC #1944)
- Peace is the fruit of justice.
- “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5.6).
Theme 2: How much is enough?
- identify social justice issues
- perceive the challenge of God’s preferential option for the poor
- use the preferential option for the poor as the criterion for analyzing social injustice issues
- acknowledge that the love of God for all people demands justice
- “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5.10).
- “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6.20).
- As Christians we are called to see that a wide variety of issues are issues of justice: for example, poverty, unjust labour practices, immigration, refugees, ecology, unemployment, consumer justice, land use.
- Christian justice challenges individuals and society to work for the kingdom of God. Promoting justice is not an option for Christians – it is an integral part of our mission.
- The Church informs our judgment of social justice issues.
- Christians are called to respond to God’s love by making changes to address injustice in the world.
- The preferential option for the poor colours the Christian understanding of justice.
Theme 3: How can the earth survive?
- define justice in terms of respect for the integrity and balance of creation
- explain how justice is a demand of natural law
- evaluate their lifestyle in terms of its ecological impact
- identify the correlation between their relationship with God and their relationship with others and the earth
- “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5.5).
- Justice is both a demand and an outcome of natural law.
- The earth is ultimately a common heritage, the fruits of which are for the benefit of all.
- Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyle.
- Contact with nature has deep restorative power that can impart peace and serenity.
- The commitment of believers to a healthy environment for everyone stems directly from their belief in God the creator.
- Humanity’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of one’s neighbour, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation (CCC # 2415).
Who do I want to be with?
- explore and express the qualities of relationships they want to have
- name how they want others to “be with them”
- know that each person has been created with the freedom to shape his or her own relationships
- repeat and explain the Beatitudes
- identify ways that the Beatitudes help us understand the Christian attitude toward being with others
- articulate the Christian call to take on the attitude of Christ
- We are created with the freedom to shape our own relationships and to determine what kind of persons we will be with others.
- We are called to make God manifest by acting in conformity with our creation “in the image and likeness of God.” (CCC #2085)
- Our relationship with Jesus calls us to be of the “same mind” with Jesus, looking out for the interests and well-being of others with compassion and love. (Philippians 2.1-11)
- The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes describe for us the paths that lead to the kingdom of heaven. The grace of the Holy Spirit helps us to travel these paths. (CCC #1724)
- The Beatitudes outline a distinctly Christian attitude toward being with others
- The Beatitudes
- kingdom of heaven
- the Ten Commandments
Virtually all climate scientist are making it plain that the time for drastic action on the environment is now, and they caution that it may already be too late to stop some of the change. Some people reject the scientific consensus and say we need more time to study the problem. Pope Francis says that attempts to discredit calls for radical change come from the same forces that keep the world from addressing the issue of global poverty. Poverty has many faces – neglect of nature leads to neglect of humanity. He urges us not to continue our blindnesss but begin to reach out in love and compassion to the poor.
Who and where are the poor where I live?
God of creation, break the hardness of my heart so that I may hear the cries of the poor and then do more to work on their behalf.
Jesus told this parable of the Good Samaritan in response to the question, “What must I do to inherit everlasting life?” (Luke 10:25)
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite1, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan2, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; hen he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii3 and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.” Which of these three, do you think proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers? He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:30-37)
1. Levites were Jews who performed duties in the Temple.
2. Samaritans were people from Samaria; most Jews looked down on them.
3. A unit of money.
Explain the message of this parable.
Tibetan Buddhists have a visualization practice called tonglen. This is a way of awakening the compassion that lies within all people, as well as a way of overcoming the fear of suffering.
Try practicing tonglen yourself. Think of a person with a specific problem like sickness, greed, or meanness. Try to pick a person you don’t especially like. Close your eyes. Imagine that you are lifting this problem out of his or her body and taking it into your own body, where it is destroyed.
How did your attempt at tonglen feel? Do you think that practicing it often would change your attitude to the person you chose? Explain.
Everyone wants to be happy, but according to Buddhism, there is no such thing as individual happiness. Because all people are interconnected, the happiness of one person depends on the happiness of all people. In order to be happy, all people must develop positive attitudes toward all other people and sentient beings. One way to do this is through the Four Immeasurables.
The Four Immeasurables are four positive states of mind. They are call immeasurable both because they are directed toward an immeasurable number of other beings and because the amount of good karma they create is immeasurable.
The Four Immearusables are loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity.
Loving-kindness is the wish that all sentient beings should be happy – not just the people we like, but all people and animals.
Compassion is the wish for all sentient beings to be free from suffering.
Appreciative joy involves rejoicing in the happiness of others, not just our own happiness.
Equanimity calls for regarding all sentient beings as our equals.
How do you think developing the Four Immeasurables can contribute to happiness? Explain.
Many religions use teaching stories. This story is sometimes used to teach about Hinduism.
A yogi was sitting by a river when he saw a scorpion fall into the water. The yogi scooped the scorpion up in his hand. The scorpion promptly stung him.
A minute later, the scorpion fell into the river again. Again, the yogi rescued it. And again, the scorpion stung the yogi.
For a third time, the scorpion fell into the river. And for a third time the yogi moved to rescue it. But another man had watched the whole thing, and stopped him. “Why do you keep rescuing the scorpion?” he asked. “The ungrateful creature keeps stinging you. Why don’t you just let it drown?”
The yogi answered, “It is the nature of a scorpion to sting. It is the nature of a yogi to show compassion.” And he scooped the scorpion out of the water again.
What idea do you think the story is trying to present?