Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

February 3, 2019: Power of the Word

From Sandra Rooney


Just a month ago, Pope Francis, speaking to diplomats at the Vatican, lamented the aggressive, warlike talk and isolationism that has emerged in the U.S. and European countries where populist governments have come to power. He noted that the League of Nations, formed after WWI, failed largely because countries were not willing to work together. He said he saw the same attitudes today threatening major international organizations and he urged European countries to remain united in the face of “temptation to erect new curtains.”


The Pope’s remarks hit a nerve, especially in Italy, where the populist government, along with many other European countries, has been cracking down on immigration. One example making news headlines has been the plight of migrants stranded on Sea-Watch 3, a rescue ship owned and run by a small German charity, which had rescued the migrants from their flimsy rubber dinghy back in December. Because of the hard line being taken against migrants, the rescue boat had been denied safe harbour for over two weeks as weather conditions worsened, forcing the 32 migrants below deck, where they crowded into a single small bunk room designed for only eight people.


Last June, Italy’s right-wing interior minister Matteo Salvini ordered his country’s ports closed to migrants rescued outside the maritime border and ordered the Coast Guard not to take part in rescues. This action emboldened neighbouring Malta and other countries to take similar actions. A number of Italian bishops and cardinals have urged the authorities to allow the migrants to dock in Italy, even offering to take them into their parishes. Francis himself appealed to European leaders to “show some concrete solidarity.”


After 19 days at sea, the migrants were allowed to be brought ashore, but only after France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania and the Netherlands agreed to share responsibility for them. However, Joseph Muscat, the Maltese prime minister, said in a statement, “I reiterate, as I did before, that this case shall not act as a precedent.” And Mr. Salvini said he would refuse to authorize Italy’s involvement.


Explore…Luke 4:21–30

  • How do you think those who heard Jesus in the synagogue felt when Jesus began drawing great crowds to hear what he had to say?
  • Who is telling us things we might not want to hear?
  • When have you found yourself upset by something your pastor said? Why?
  • Where do you feel following Jesus might mean leaving your comfort zone, taking risks?
  • When has someone you respect challenged some long-held belief or cherished tradition?



Oh God, as we face troubling times and difficult circumstances at home and around the world, may our hearts and minds be open to hear the prophets of today and not turn away. May we respond to their challenges as they call us to faithfulness, even when that may mean leaving our comfort zones in order to reach out with compassion to those who are hurting. Amen


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