Lectionary Reflections: Fourth Sunday of Lent [c] March 10, 2013

Engaging Faith | Mon, Mar 4, 2013

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Fourth Sunday of Lent

     Joshua 5:9a, 10-12
     2 Corinthians 5:17-21
     Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

March 10: Daylight Savings Time begins in the U.S. & Canada
March 12: Anniversary of the Death of Anne Frank (1945)
March 17: Feast of Saint Patrick


God “… has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation.”
1 Corinthians 5

“In view of the risks which humanity is facing in our time, all Catholics in every part of the world have a duty to proclaim and embody ever more fully the 'Gospel of Peace.’”
Pope Benedict XVI, Jan. 1, 2007

“God is Love which saves, a loving Father who wants to see his children look upon one another as brothers and sisters, working responsibly to place their various talents at the service of the common good of the human family.”
Pope Benedict XVI, Jan. 1, 2007

“We cannot be frightened by the magnitude and complexity of these problems. We must not be discouraged. In the midst of this struggle, it is inevitable that we become aware of greed, laziness, and envy. No utopia is possible on this earth; but as believers in the redemptive love of God and as those who have experienced God's forgiving mercy, we know that God's providence is not and will not be lacking to us today.”
U.S. Bishops, “Economic Justice for All,” 364

“Daily human events clearly evidence how much forgiveness and reconciliation are undeniably needed for bringing about a real, personal, and social renewal. This is valid in interpersonal relations but also among communities as well as nations. … The only way to peace is forgiveness. To accept and give forgiveness makes possible a new quality of rapport between people, interrupting the spiral of hatred and revenge and breaks the chains of evil which bind the heart of rivals. …To love the one who offends you disarms the adversary and is able to transform a battlefield into a place of supportive cooperation. … The Christian must make peace even when feeling as the victim of one who has unjustly offended and struck. … In our times, forgiveness appears more and more as a necessary dimensi
on for an authentic social renewal and for the strengthening of peace in the world.”
Pope John Paul II, Lent 2001

Thoughts for your consideration

The second reading reminds us that we have been called to a “ministry of reconciliation.”

The gospel makes the “forgiveness experience” concrete in a wonderful story.

The process of reconciliation is sometimes a long journey. Consider the years it took for the people of Israel to get to where they are in the first reading – eating the yield of their own land.
The reconciliation process between the peoples of the Middle East has been going on for countless generations and has still not been completed today. After centuries of slavery in the United States, the healing process between races continues to this day. However, just because it takes a long time does not mean we should not move forward.  (In fact, because it takes so long, we must not waste any more time and get into action for reconciliation as soon as we can.)

The father in the gospel story wants his son back. The father waits a long time. The son eventually comes back.  All is forgiven. There is a celebration. But, the story does not end there. There is still need for healing in the family. The father desires to bring in the elder son as well. His plan is “all inclusive” – to bring the whole family together. It is not easy.

Forgiveness is possible because the father does not get stuck on blame and judgment. This is not to say he has not been pained by the actions of his younger son. However, he moves beyond all that. He is pained by the attitude of the older son, but still he goes out to invite him in to the family celebration.

The word of God invites us to apply this story not only to our interpersonal relationships, but to relationships between communities of people – political groups, nations, ethnic groups, racial groups, rival factions, people who are different than ourselves. It is not easy. However, it is possible with the grace of God. God passionately desires it. God passionately calls us to keep working to heal relationships and put an end to war and violence. The task is important. It is time to get started without delay.

Recent divisions in the church and various scandals and failures in church leadership have made us more aware than ever that forgiveness, reconciliation and healing also are needed in the church.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

Where do you need the grace to forgive? 
Give examples not only in the world of your interpersonal relationships,
but in the communities of which are a part.


What would forgiveness look like on the international level?
What would forgiveness look like on the level of ethnic or racial groups?


What kind of healing and reconciliation do we need in our church?

It is the custom among Catholics to confess their sins to a priest and receive absolution from him as a sign of God’s forgiveness. Now all too often there is the danger that penitents will use this as a sort of guarantee, a certificate that will protect them from divine retribution, thereby placing more trust in the absolution of the priest than in the mercy of God. This is what Perugini, an Italian painter of the Middle Ages, was tempted to do when he was dying. He decided that he would not go to confession if, in his fear, he was seeking to save his skin. That would be a sacrilege and an insult to God. His wife, who knew nothing of the man’s inner disposition, once asked him if he did not fear to die unconfessed. Perugini replied: “Look at it this way, my dear: My profession is to paint and I have excelled as a painter. God’s profession is to forgive and if he is good at his profession as I have been at mine, I see no reason to be afraid.”

Actions and Links

Africa Action
“Africa Action is the oldest organization in the United States working on African affairs. Today, in partnership with activists and civil society organizations throughout the United States and in Africa, Africa Action is working to change U.S. foreign policy and the policies of international institutions in order to support African struggles for peace and development.”
Go to their web site at

Oxfam: Behind the Brands
Ten biggest food and beverage companies failing millions of people who grow their ingredients - See more at: or at

“Crazy Facts”

“In 2012, about 20% of federal outlays—not counting interest payments on the debt—were for national defense. The $716 billion that America spent on its armed forces probably accounted for about 40% of world military spending. That’s far more than any other country and about five times as much as China, which has the second largest military budget.”

“In December the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) released a survey that found roughly one in 12 American households, or some 17 million adults, are “unbanked,” meaning they lack a current or savings account. The survey also found that one in every five American households is “underbanked,” meaning that they have a bank account but also rely on alternative services—typically, high-cost products such as payday loans, check-cashing services, non-bank money orders or pawn shops.”
Prayers of Intercession

Response:  Loving God, lead us on the road to peace.

For an end to the war and violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, we pray….

For an effective peace plan between peoples of Israel and Palestine, we pray….

For peace within our nation and an end to urban violence and gang conflicts, we pray….

For healing and reconciliation in all families that are divided by conflict, we pray….

For an end to domestic violence and help for all who need the courage and strength to move out of abusive situations, we pray….

For an end to the economic inequality which divides the people of the world, we pray….

For all those who are discouraged as they seek to act for justice and liberation for all, we pray….

For healing and reconciliation in all of our communities and especially in our church, we pray….

The following is from the prayer for peace site found at /

The prayer can be found at in many languages.

Copyright © 2013, Center of Concern