Fifth Sunday in Lent

Engaging Faith | Mon, Mar 23, 2009

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Fifth Sunday in Lent

March 29, 2009


Jeremiah 31:31-34

Hebrews 5:7-9

John 12:20-33


March 22-28: "Cover the Uninsured Week"

March 28: Earth Hour: 8:30 to 9:30 pm 

March 31: Cesar Chavez Day

April 4: 42nd anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Beyond Vietnam" speech


April 5: Palm Sunday


The grace of God has appeared to all. Jesus - the face of the "God who saves," did not show himself only for a certain few, but for everyone. ... he came for all: Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, those near and those far away, believers and non-believers... for everyone.

Benedict XVI, December 25, 2008

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

Whenever the integral development of the person and the protection of his fundamental rights are hindered or denied, whenever countless people are forced to endure intolerable injustices and inequalities, how can we hope that the good of peace will be realized?

Benedict XVI, 1 January 2006

Violence and injustice in the form of massive poverty, sexism, racism, and war destroy the lives of millions of human beings who die before their time.  The radical transformation of crushing structures and murderous situations does not happen automatically but only through human effort that through active nonviolent resistance struggles for justice and against suffering.

Elizabeth Johnson She Who Is 136

Above all, the cross is raised as a challenge to the natural rightness of male dominating rule. The crucified Jesus embodies the exact opposite of the patriarchal ideal of the powerful man, and shows the steep price to be paid in the struggle for liberation.

Elizabeth Johnson She Who Is 150

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, Centesium Annus, 25, 41

Thoughts for your consideration

The gospel invites us to reflect on suffering in the world. 

Jesus is troubled as he is about to face his passion and death.

We too may be troubled by the suffering, injustice, war and violence experienced in our world.  We too may be troubled by the losses and pain brought on by the current economic recession.  We too may be troubled by the financial problems and misdeeds that have unfolded in our country over the last few years and how costly they are to average people and especially to people on the lowest end of our economic ladder.

We too may also be troubled by the cost of responding to all this suffering - the cost of acting up for justice.  We may be frustrated by the size of the problems and the difficulty of figuring out what to do.  We may be disturbed by the frustration of our failures to do something to fix it all. 

We too must live out the mystery of the grain of wheat which must die before it produces much fruit.  We too are called to respond to what troubles our world community.

Jesus affirms that his suffering and death will lead to life and salvation. Jesus is free enough to let go of his life and thus live it to the full.  Jesus is free enough to stand up for what is right even in the face of opposition. 

Jesus wants us to be liberated as well.

Jeremiah reminds us that God wants to set us free and put a new spirit of life and power into our hearts -- something that cannot be legislated - that cannot be imposed. With this spirit we can act freely and courageously in our world as followers of Jesus - as men and women of peace and nonviolence - as men and women dedicated to justice. 

We can challenge the values that need to be challenged. 

We can speak up with hope for something more. 

We can continue the salvific work of Jesus Christ.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you experienced suffering in your life? 

In any way was it redemptive?


How are you frustrated by or outraged by the financial problems and scandals unfolding each day?  How are you frustrated by the dilemma of what to do and how to make it right?

Actions - Links

Global Warming

Earth Hour is an annual effort to get people to turn off their lights for one hour at 8:30pm on March 28.  Find out more at  "This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world's first global election, between Earth and global warming."


"In a letter dated March 19, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), urged President Obama to designate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for a period of 18 months."  For a copy of Cardinal George's letter to President Obama, go to .

Health Insurance

March 22-28 is "Cover the Uninsured Week"   For info, go to   or to

"Affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right. With an estimated 47 million Americans lacking health care coverage, it is also an urgent national priority. Reform of the nation's health care system needs to be rooted in values that respect human dignity, protect human life, and meet the needs of the poor and uninsured, especially born and unborn children, pregnant women, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations."

U.S. Catholic Bishops, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, no. 80 (2007)

"Crazy Facts" 
The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that "More than eight in ten of the non-elderly uninsured (82.8 percent) live in families where the head of the family works."  They also report: "One in five uninsured workers (22.4 percent) are employed in firms with 500 or more employees."
Prayers of Intercession

Response: Have mercy on us, O God.

For those suffering from violence and injustice, we pray...

For those who are weighted down by poverty, we pray....

For those who want to work and have no prospects of work, we pray....

For those who are oppressed by racism, sexism, and other types of discrimination, we pray.....

For those who worried being able to provide for their children and loved ones, we pray.....

For those who are our political leaders and struggle to address our problems, we pray....

For those who have a bounty of resources and yet are not able to share what they have with those in need, we pray.....

Prayer - Meditation

Prayer of Nonviolence   by John Dear, SJ

God of Nonviolence,

Thank you for the gift of your love and your peace.

Give me the grace to live the life of Gospel nonviolence

that I might be a faithful follower of the nonviolent Jesus.

Send the Holy Spirit of nonviolence upon me that I will love everyone,

from my neighbor to my enemies,

that I may see you in everyone, and know everyone as my sister and


and never hurt or fear anyone again.

Make me an instrument of your peace,

that I might give my life in the struggle for justice and disarmament;

that I may work for the abolition of war, poverty and nuclear weapons;

that I may always respond with love and never retaliate with violence;

that I may accept suffering in the struggle of justice and never inflict

suffering or death on others;

that I my live more simply, in solidarity with the world's poor,

that I may defend the poor and resist systemic injustice and

institutionalized violence,

that I may always choose life and resist the forces of death.

Guide me on the Way of nonviolence.

Help me to speak the truth of peace, to practice boundless compassion,

to radiate unconditional love, to forgive everyone who ever hurt me, to

embody your nonviolence, to walk with you in contemplative peace, to be

your beloved servant and friend.

Disarm my heart, and I shall be your instrument to disarm other hearts

and the world. Lead me, God of nonviolence, with the whole human family,

into your nonviolent reign of justice and peace where there is no more

war, no more injustice, no more poverty, no more nuclear weapons, no

more violence.

I ask this in the name of the nonviolent Jesus, our brother and our peace.  Amen.

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