Engaging Faith | Mon, Mar 30, 2015
April 3, 2015
Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern
April 3, 2015
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross.
Pope Francis, March 19, 2013
It is by uniting his own sufferings for the sake of truth and freedom to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross that a human person is able to accomplish the miracle of peace and is in a position to discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives in to evil and the violence which, under the illusion of fighting evil, only makes it worse…A human person is alienated if he refuses to transcend himself and to live the experience of self-giving and of the formation of an authentic human community oriented towards his final destiny, which is God.
John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 25, 41
There is in our history a barbarous excess of suffering, a violence and destructiveness so intense in quality and extensive in scope that it can only be named genuine evil…Radical suffering afflicts millions of people the world over in intense and oppressive ways…A God who is not in some way affected by such pain is not really worthy of human love and praise…Wisdom participates in the suffering of the world and overcomes, inconceivably, from within through the power of love…the mystery of God is here in solidarity with those who suffer…Against the background of the history of human injustice and suffering, the suffering God is the most productive and critical symbol for it cannot be uttered without human beings hearing the challenge to solidarity and hope.
Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is
We must make haste. Too many people are suffering. While some make progress, others stand still or move backwards; and the gap between them is widening.
Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 29
We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us that there is nothing we can do in the face of violence, injustice and sin.
Pope Francis on Twitter @Pontifex, 24 Mar 2013
Thoughts for Your Consideration
The suffering of Jesus is connected with the suffering of the world and its people – people of all times and places – especially the poor and powerless.
This suffering continues today
in any situation where people experience injustice
in the violence that continues in the Middle East, Syria, Afghanistan, and part of Africa
in the ongoing difficulties between people of Palestine and Israel
in the extreme poverty in places like Haiti or nations in Sub-Saharan Africa
in the more than one billion people in the world who go to bed hungry
in the experience of those who are denied human rights or are unjustly imprisoned
in those who have been tortured by our government or other governments
in the lives of all those who experience racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination
in the experience of those who have been abused by others or even by people in the church
in the “suffering” of planet earth as it feels the effect of the human abuse of the environment
in the lives of forced migrants (refugees, migrant workers, the undocumented)
in the lives of victims of human trafficking
in the experience of those who have endured sexual abuse, harassment or even rape
in the experience of indigenous peoples at home and abroad
in the experience of anyone who has lost family members in acts of war and violence
in the suffering experienced by individual people and families in abusive relationships
in the experience of those who are sick and cannot afford medical care
in the pain of those who experience homelessness
in the frustration of those who cannot find jobs
in children who are denied an adequate education
in the frustration of those who cannot find work at a just wage or who work for low wages
in the elderly who have been “abandoned”
The list goes on and on.
The events of Good Friday call us not simply into a sorrow about something that happened 2000 years ago, but into a deeper awareness of life today with its struggles and sorrows. “Christ continues to suffer today.”
Our Good Friday experience calls us into a deeper desire to work for an end to injustice and suffering. God is in solidarity with us. We are called to a deep solidarity with our God and a deep solidarity with each other. In solidarity, Jesus “became the source of eternal salvation.” Through such solidarity we will experience resurrection.
Good Friday & the Suffering of Our Environment
As we reflect on the suffering and death of Jesus, we may find ourselves reflecting on the suffering and dying of so many people throughout the world. We may also want to reflect on the suffering and dying of our planet and its environment. Countless species are going extinct because of human activity and misuse. Our air and water have been polluted. Our soils have been depleted. Our atmosphere is being changed and the planet’s climate is changing.
In his message for peace on January 1, 2010, Pope Benedict addressed environmental issues. He wrote:
Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of “environmental refugees,” people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement? Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources? All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human rights, such as the right to life, food, health and development.
Sad to say, it is all too evident that large numbers of people in different countries and areas of our planet are experiencing increased hardship because of the negligence or refusal of many others to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment.
It is important to acknowledge that among the causes of the present ecological crisis is the historical responsibility of the industrialized countries…This means that technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency.
It is becoming more and more evident that the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our life-style and the prevailing models of consumption and production, which are often unsustainable from a social, environmental and even economic point of view…Education for peace must increasingly begin with far-reaching decisions on the part of individuals, families, communities and states. We are all responsible for the protection and care of the environment.
If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.
As we contemplate Jesus on the cross, we contemplate our world and its suffering and struggle. We contemplate the effects of sin on our relationships with one another and on our planet. Jesus wants to free us from our sins. Jesus wants us to open our eyes and see what is happening. Jesus calls us to repentance, renewal, and a new way of living.
In his homily at his installation, Pope Francis also voiced concern for the environment:
The vocation of being a “protector”…means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live…It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!
Three Reminders of Social Teaching from John’s Passion Story
Jesus said to Peter: “Put your sword into its scabbard.”
Catholic Social Teaching is committed to peace, reconciliation and nonviolence.
It is absolutely necessary that international conflicts should not be settled by war, but that other methods better befitting human nature should be found. Let a strategy of non-violence be fostered also, and let conscientious objection be recognized and regulated by law in each nation.
1971 Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World
In all of his suffering, as in all of his life and ministry, Jesus refused to defend himself with force or with violence. He endured violence and cruelty so that God’s love might be fully manifest and the world might be reconciled to the One from whom it had become estranged. Even at his death, Jesus cried for forgiveness for those who were executioners: “Father, forgive them”
US Bishops, The Challenge of Peace
Jesus answered the high priest: “I have spoken publicly to the world.”
Catholic Social Teaching encourages political and economic processes that are “transparent” so that all people can fully participate in their human and political rights.
Is this not the time for all to work together for a new constitutional organization of the human family, truly capable of ensuring peace and harmony between peoples, as well as their integral development?…It means continuing and deepening processes already in place to meet the almost universal demand for participatory ways of exercising political authority, even international political authority, and for transparency and accountability at every level of public life.
John Paul II, World Day of Peace, 1 January 2003
Jesus said to Pilate: “For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”
Catholic Social Teaching invites the whole world and its institutions to speak the truth whether it is through a free and truthful press, open and honest government, or the courageous speaking up about situations of injustice.
The fundamental moral requirement of all communication is respect for and service of the truth. Freedom to seek and speak what is true is essential to human communication, not only in relation to facts and information but also, and especially, regarding the nature and destiny of the human person, regarding society and the common good, regarding our relationship with God.
John Paul II, World Communications Day, 1 June 2003
Questions for Reflection in Your Faith Sharing Group
Who is experiencing the passion today?
Share your list with others in the group.
After you share your lists, make them the focus of your prayer.
How is our planet experiencing the passion?
How is the passion playing out in the suffering of the earth?
Actions – Links
The Innocence Project is “a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.” http://www.innocenceproject.org/
On March 20, 2015, Pope Francis wrote a letter to the President of the International Commission against the Death Penalty. He wrote “Today the death penalty is inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed.”
“The most violent country on the planet isn’t halfway across the globe; it is a 2.5 hour flight from Houston. Most U.S. citizens are at best dimly aware of the bloodshed that is the defining feature of present-day Honduras. Last summer, 2014, Honduran children surfaced on the southern U.S. border by the tens of thousands, prompting a Texas congressman to decry this ‘invasion of our nation.’ Likewise, protesters in California met the young immigrants with angry slogans like ‘return to sender!’ But did protesters have any understanding of the situation these youth were escaping? The violence they’d be thrown back into if they were indeed ‘returned to sender’?” La Voz del Pueblo is an 18-minute documentary that explores the difficult and violent Honduran reality through the perspective of journalists at the Jesuit-run radio station, Radio Progreso. See it at http://ignatiansolidarity.net/la-voz-del-pueblo/
“With nearly 2.4 million people incarcerated, the United States is home to the world’s highest incarceration rate. In total, 7 million people are under some form of correctional supervision, and a disproportionate number of these are people of color. With many policies driven by a desire to punish rather than knowledge of what improves community safety, and politics and profit playing an increasing role, the criminal justice system costs too much, doesn’t work, and isn’t fair.” http://www.justicepolicy.org/research/category/35
There are over 3000 people on death row in the United States. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/death-row-inmates-state-and-size-death-row-year#year
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Lord, have mercy on us.
We remember the people of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Israel, Africa, and other places caught up in war and violence.
We remember people living in extreme poverty in places like Haiti or the nations in Sub-Saharan Africa.
We remember those who have lost jobs and homes.
We remember the more than millions of people who go to bed hungry today.
We remember those who are in prison today.
We remember those who have lost family members in acts of war and violence.
We remember refugees, migrant workers, the undocumented, and people trafficked for the profit of others.
We remember the “suffering” of our planet as it feels the effect of human abuse and overuse.
We remember people and families “trapped” in abusive relationships.
We remember people who have endured sexual abuse and even rape.
We remember all the children who have experienced abuse and violence.
We remember all those who suffer injustice in any way.
Teach me your Way, O Lord
Lord, Teach me your way of treating others – sinners, children, Pharisees, Pilates and Herods, and also John the Baptists.
Teach me your way of eating and drinking, and how to act when I'm tired from work and need rest.
Teach me compassion for the suffering, the poor, the blind, and the lame. You who shed tears, show me how to live my deepest emotions. Above all, I want to learn how you endured your Cross.
Teach me your way of looking at people: the way you glanced at Peter after his denial, the way you touched the heart of the rich young man and the hearts of your disciples.
I would like to meet you as you really are, since you change those who really know you. If only I could hear you speak as when you spoke in the synagogue of Capernaum or on the Mount of Beatitudes!
Give me grace to live my life, within and without, the way you lived your life, O Lord.
Pedro Arrupe, SJ
Jesus was free.
Sure, they arrested him, but Jesus was free!
Sure, they yelled “Crucify Him!” but Jesus was free!
Sure, they put him to death, but Jesus was free!
Jesus was aware.
Aware of people, aware of sin, aware of injustice!
Aware of love, aware of compassion, aware of life!
Jesus was in touch with the truth.
The truth about life, relationship, courage, and liberation!
The truth about social sin, injustice, poverty, and violence!
The truth about nonviolence, faith, hope, and love!
Jesus was free and alive and in love!!!
Jesus, share with me your spirit of freedom.
Bless me with the freedom to be aware
Aware of your presence everywhere
Aware of your compassionate love for the entire world and its creatures
Aware of sin and injustice, of violence and oppression
Aware of propaganda, racism, and all untruth
Aware of the possibilities for a new heaven and a new earth
Aware of the possibilities for an active nonviolence and a loving witness for justice
Aware of the possibilities for relationship and joy.
Bless me with the freedom to act
To act without fear
To act out of a deep relationship in prayer
To act for what is right and good
To act for justice and peace
To act in solidarity with others
To act in solidarity with you
Jesus, bless me with the freedom to be alive as a child of God.
Find images connected to the Stations of the Cross at: http://www.foodforthepoor.org/prayer/stations/