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Lectionary Reflections: Fourth Sunday in Lent [b] March 15, 2015

Engaging Faith | Thu, Mar 5, 2015

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Fourth Sunday in Lent [b]

March 15, 2015

Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern

Fourth Sunday in Lent [b]

March 15, 2015

Readings

2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23

Ephesians 2:4-10

John 3:14-21

[Some Catholic communities may opt to use the alternate A-cycle readings if they are celebrating the Scrutinies with the RCIA.]

Calendar

March 17: St. Patrick’s Day

March 19: St. Joseph’s Day

March 20: Spring Equinox

March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination http://www.un.org/en/events/racialdiscriminationday/

March 22: World Water Day http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/

 

Quotes

 

…despite the profession of good intentions, the value of the person, of human dignity and human rights is seriously threatened by the widespread tendency to have recourse exclusively to the criteria of utility, profit and material possessions…

 

Benedict XVI, 1 January 2012

 

Yes, even today the Lord hears the cry of the multitudes longing for joy, peace, and love.  As in every age, they feel abandoned.  Yet, even in the desolation of misery, loneliness, violence and hunger that indiscriminately afflict children, adults, and the elderly, God does not allow darkness to prevail. 

 

Benedict XVI, 2006 Lenten Message

 

Faced with the tragic situation of persistent poverty which afflicts so many people in our world, how can we fail to see that the quest for profit at any cost and the lack of effective, responsible concern for the common good have concentrated immense resources in the hands of a few while the rest of humanity suffers in poverty and neglect?

 

John Paul II, 2003 Lenten Message

 

…conversion is a lifelong process. And, it is not undertaken alone. It occurs with the support of the whole believing community, through baptism, common prayer, and our daily efforts, large and small, on behalf of justice. As a Church, we must be people after God's own heart, bonded by the Spirit, sustaining one another in love, setting our hearts on God's kingdom, committing ourselves to solidarity with those who suffer, working for peace and justice, acting as a sign of Christ's love and justice in the world.

 

US Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, 24

 

If we are too attached to riches, we are not free. We are slaves.

 

Pope Francis @Pontifex 5 March 2015

 

Thoughts for Your Consideration

 

The scriptures today emphasize redemption and salvation, even in the midst of human sinfulness.

·         The book of Chronicles summarizes the history of turning away from God and then talks of the rebuilding – even of the temple. In an amazing way, after the experience of sin and injustice, after the experience of destruction and exile, there comes a return from exile and a rebuilding of the temple.

·         Ephesians uses the images of death and being brought back to life by grace.

·         The gospel of John uses the images of light and darkness. God does not want us to perish but have life.

 

The sin of the world - social sin – can cause us to be discouraged.  The problems and divisions of our society and world seem do much to deal with. Injustice abounds. It seems our contemporary history of failure in following God’s way is not unlike the history described in Chronicles.  Without focusing on blame, examples abound.

·         Despite improvements in our economy after the great recession, unemployment is still high and wages are still low for many people.

·         Homelessness continues. (On a given night it is estimated that over a half million people are homeless.)

·         Over two billion people in our world live on less than two dollars a day.  A billion people live with chronic hunger. Many others enjoy tremendous wealth and privilege.  Inequality abounds.

·         Many children in our world have access to very minimal education. In the US some children enjoy excellent education and others attend ineffective, under-funded schools. Even in a wealthy nation like the United States, maybe 25% of our children experience poverty.

·         Immigrants and refugees seek something better as they risk death in crossing the Mediterranean or taking dangerous trips through Mexico to reach the US.

·         The nations of the world spend trillions on weapons.

·         We witness violence in the world and feel that we don’t know how to stop it. Our media reports about terror in “ISIS,” Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, parts of Africa and so many other places.

·         Political leaders operate without transparency. Political expedience and ideology have dominated decision making. 

·         In the United States political divisions abound.  Negative campaigning abounds.  Important issues are not always discussed. The congress cannot get things done in a timely way.

 

The gospel reminds us that God desires that we “might not perish but might have eternal life.” Ephesians reminds us that there is a salvation that comes by grace. At this point in human history we are called to open ourselves once again to this grace so that we can rebuild a world of social justice and nonviolence, a world of light not darkness, a world of life not death. Now is a time for rebuilding a world of justice and peace.

 

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

 

In what ways do economic problems affect you and your family?

How do they affect people that you know?

How does your faith speak to you about these realities?

 

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What things in public life most upset or discourage you?

How do you bring these evils to your prayer?

How to you respond to these evils in your action?

 

Story

 

The Seven Blunders of the World is a list that Mohandas Gandhi gave to his grandson Arun Gandhi on their final day together, shortly before his assassination.

    Wealth without work

    Pleasure without conscience

    Knowledge without character

    Commerce without morality

    Science without humanity

    Worship without sacrifice

    Politics without principle

 

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Robert Louis Stevenson tells a story of growing up in Scotland around the turn of the century.  His family lived on a hillside, outside of a little town.  Each evening he would sit in his family’s kitchen, look down on the town and watch the lamplighter light each of the town’s street lamps.  He would say “Look, other, there is a man who punches holes in the darkness.”

 

From Peacemaking: Day by Day, Volume II

 

Actions - Links

 

The Quakers

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian service. They invite people to participate in their online advocacy.  http://www.afsc.org/

 

Catholic Relief Services

“Catholic Relief Services’ University Engagement invites Catholic colleges and universities as well as Catholic organizations on other campuses to partner with CRS through education, prayer and action activities and to join in solidarity with the global poor.”  http://university.crs.org/

 

Jesuit Conference Joins Faith-Based Call of Justice & Compassion for Incarcerated

http://ignatiansolidarity.net/blog/2015/03/03/jesuit-conference-joins-faith-based-call-of-justice-compassion-for-incarcerated/

 

Ocean Conservancy

Researchers found that 17 billion pounds of plastic spew into the ocean from all over the world. Consider taking action at: https://secure.oceanconservancy.org/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=0462E0F20738E6B4ABA57D6AA52C1884.app261b?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=924&s_src=15WAXAXXXX&subsrc=15ATFE

 

“Crazy Facts”

 

From the The 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress

https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2014-AHAR-Part1.pdf

 

·         In January 2014, 578,424 people were homeless on a given night. Most (69 percent) were staying in residential programs for homeless people, and the rest (31 percent) were found in unsheltered locations.

·         Nearly one-quarter of all homeless people were children under the age of 18 (23 percent or 135,701). Ten percent (or 58,601) were between the ages of 18 and 24, and 66 percent (or 384,122) were 25 years or older.

 

Prayers of Intercession

 

Response: May we all share eternal life with one another.

For the homeless and the hungry, we pray…

For the unemployed and underemployed, we pray…

For the two billion people who live on less than two dollars a day, we pray…

For all those who are worried and anxious about their material needs, we pray…

For people without access to healthy water and sanitation, we pray…

For people caught up in the wars and violence in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa, and all the other places, we pray…

For refugees and immigrants, we pray…

For those who are incarcerated, we pray…

For those who have positions of leadership and responsibility in our troubled times, we pray…

For those who generously share their goodness and love in the midst of all the troubles and injustice, we pray…

 

Prayers

 

God of Compassion,

You let your rain fall on the just and the unjust.

Expand and deepen our hearts so that we may love as You love,

even those among us who have caused the greatest pain by taking life.

For there is in our land a great cry for vengeance

as we fill up death rows and kill the killers in the name of justice, in the name of peace.

Jesus, our brother, You suffered execution at the hands of the state

but you did no let hatred overcome you.

Help us to reach out to victims of violence

so that our enduring love may help them heal.

Holy Spirit of God, You strengthen us in the struggle for justice.

Help us to work tirelessly for the abolition of stat-sanctioned death

and to renew our society in its very heart so that violence will be no more.

Amen.

 

Helen Prejean, CSJ

(Prayer cards available from The Pax Christi Store at www.paxchristiusa.org)

 

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O loving God, help us to be masters of the weapons that threaten to master us. Help us to use science for peace and plenty, not for war and destruction. …Save us from the compulsion to follow our adversaries in all that we most hate, confirming them in their hatred and suspicion of us.  Resolve our inner contradictions, which now grow beyond belief and beyond bearing… Grant light, grant strength and patience to all who work for peace; grant us prudence in proportion to our power, wisdom in proportion to our science, humanness in proportion to our wealth and might. And bless our earnest will to help all races and peoples to travel, in friendship with us, along the road to justice, liberty and lasting peace.

 

 

Thomas Merton, Non Violent Alternative

Images

http://money.cnn.com/2014/01/21/news/pope-speech-davos/

http://blog.littleflower.org/st-therese-daily-devotional/poor-outcast/

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