Engaging Faith | Tue, Mar 9, 2010
Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 14, 2010 [Laetare Sunday]
Joshua 5:9a, 10-12
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
March 13: Pax Christi, an international Catholic peace organization, founded in France in 1945
March 14: Daylight Savings Time begins in the U.S. & Canada
March 17: Feast of Saint Patrick
March 19: Feast of Saint Joseph
March 19 & 20: anniversary of the beginning of the War in Iraq
March 20: First Day of Spring
March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/racial/
Quotes 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, 1 January 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, 1 January 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.”US 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 co-operation. … 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 dimension for an authentic social renewal and for the strengthening of peace in the world.
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 work to heal relationships and but an end to war and violence. The task is important. It is time to get started without delay.
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?
Actions - Links
Africa Action“Africa Action is the oldest organization in the U.S. 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 http://www.africaaction.org . Right now they are campaigning for arms control in Sudan as one of the most necessary conditions to ending the conflict in Sudan, especially at the April 11th, elections approach. You can take action by e-mail at http://www.capwiz.com/africaaction/issues/alert/?alertid=14729841
Violence Against Women
According to the National Violence Against Women Survey (completed through grants from the National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control) in the United States, one out of every four American women will experience violence by an intimate partner sometime during their lifetime. One out of every six women will experience rape during their lifetime.
In the Iraq War
The war has been going on for seven years. http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ reports that the number of documented civilian deaths from violence since the war started seven years ago is between 95,568 and 104,266.
http://www.icasualties.org/ provides these tables about “Coalition Military Fatalities.”
Iraq Coalition Military Fatalities Afghanistan Coalition Military Fatalities By Year
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 who 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….