Fifth Sunday of Lent

Engaging Faith | Mon, Mar 22, 2010

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Fifth Sunday of Lent

March 21, 2010




Isaiah 43:16-21

Philippians 3:8-14

John 8:1-11



March 20: First Day of Spring

March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 22: World Water Day 

March 24: 30th anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero's Assassination

March 25: Feast of the Annunciation

March 27: Earth Hour (8:30pm local time)

March 28: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

March 29: start of Passover at sunset




In the New Testament, Jesus consistently reached out to those on the fringes of society, those without power or authority, those with no one to speak on their behalf. He taught that all women and men are individuals worthy of respect and dignity.

US Bishops, When I Call for Help, 10


In proclaiming the liberation of Israel, God's word proclaims the liberation of all people from slavery.

US Bishops, Brothers and Sisters Are Us


In every age the true and perennial "newness of things" comes from the infinite power of God, who says: "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev 21:5). These words refer to the fulfillment of history, when Christ "delivers the Kingdom to God the Father ... that God may be everything to everyone" (1 Cor 15:24,28). But the Christian well knows that the newness which we await in its fullness at the Lord's second coming has been present since the creation of the world, and in a special way since the time when God became man in Jesus Christ and brought about a "new creation" with him and through him (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15).

John Paul II, Centesimus Annus


Christ's way of acting, the Gospel of his words and deeds, is a consistent protest against whatever offends the dignity of women.

John Paul II


“The world is complex and this may often tempt us to seek simple and self-centered solutions; but as a community of disciples we are called to a new hope and to a new vision that we must live without fear and without oversimplification.”

US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, 326


Thoughts for your consideration


Sometimes we hear people say: “It is hopeless and difficult and it cannot be done. It will always be that way. Things cannot change.”  They might be referring to something in their personal life or they might be referring to something in their place of business or church or government or world.


Isaiah says that change and growth can happen. Something new can take place.

     Remember not the events of the past,

     the things of long ago consider not;

     see, I am doing something new!

     Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

     In the desert I make a way,

     in the wasteland, rivers.


In the same spirit of great optimism, Paul is “forgetting what lies behind” and “straining forward to what lies ahead,” continuing his “pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus.”


As you have become aware of your past, do you find yourself feeling hopeless or do you find yourself ready to keep going forward, confident in God? As you become more aware of the “sin of the world,” are you overcome by hopelessness or are you ready to keep running forward in the power of Jesus Christ?


Are world powers always going to solve their disputes through war and the threat of war?

Will there always be such grave economic inequality between rich and poor?

Will 20% of US children always live in poverty?

Will corporations always seem to have more power and rights than average people?

Will developing countries always be so poor?

Will minorities in the US, always seem to get second-rate schools?

Will women always be denied equal rights with men?

Will the US ever be able to offer universal health care?

Will the bankers always seem to get what they want from government?


Using the image of the gospel, will men in authority always want to throw stones at people they call sinners? Can a “sinner” ever be allowed to get a fresh start? Can we allow a new way of living with each other? 



The gospel story of the “woman caught in adultery” offers us an opportunity to reflect on the treatment of women in our society and our church.  Like the group in the gospel, we sometimes judge women and men by different standards.  Sometimes women are not offered equal opportunities or pay.  Sometimes women are denied the same legal rights as men.  Sometimes women are victims of domestic violence or victims of human trafficking.  John Paul II wrote: “Christ's way of acting, the Gospel of his words and deeds, is a consistent protest against whatever offends the dignity of women.”  How does Jesus in today’s gospel challenge us?


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

What is the hardest sin for you to forgive?  When have you publicly condemned others?




Where in our world have your seen people treated as the woman in the gospel?

Where in our world have you seen women unfairly treated or discriminated against?


Actions - Links


Environmental Justice

NRDC (The Natural Resources Defense Council) is an environmental action organization working to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and to ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things.  One can take action on various issues at    Tell Congress to help end mountaintop removal mining and protect the Appalachian Mountains by going to


Women with AIDS

According to Africa Action, “AIDS is the leading cause of death for African-American women aged 25 to 34. Globally, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age.” You can ask President Obama to support a small tax on financial transactions in order to address these concerns by going to


Earth Hour

Every year “on Earth Hour hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour.”  This year earth hour starts on Saturday, March 27, at 8:30pm local time. Get info at



“Crazy Facts”


The following are from

·         “Wars today affect civilians most, since they are civil wars, guerrilla actions and ethnic disputes over territory or government. 3 out of 4 fatalities of war are women and children.”

  • “855,000,000 people in the world are illiterate. 70% of them are female. Two-thirds of the world's children who receive less than four years of education are girls.”


Ten Facts on Women and HIV/AIDS from Africa Action

   1. Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in the United States.

   2. In the USA, African American and Hispanic women account for 80 percent of AIDS cases, even though they represent less than one fourth of all women.

   3. AIDS is the leading cause of death for African-American women aged 25 to 34. Globally, HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age.

   4. In 2007 Sub-Saharan Africa had 12 million women living with HIV and AIDS, compared to about 8.3 million men.

   5. UNAIDS have estimated that around three quarters of all women with HIV live in Sub-Saharan Africa. The whole of the developing world accounts for 98 percent of HIV positive women.

   6. Biologically women are twice more likely to become infected with HIV through unprotected heterosexual intercourse than men.

   7. UNAIDS say that at the end of 2007 there were an estimated 2 million children (under 15 years) living with HIV, most of whom were infected by their mothers.

   8. In 2006, prevention of mother to child transmission [PMCT] drugs reached only 3 in 10 of HIV - infected pregnant women in Eastern and Southern Africa, and only 1 in 10 in West and Central Africa

   9. In 2008, around 430,000 children under 15 became infected with HIV, mainly through mother to child transmission. 90% of MTCT infections occur in Africa

  10. A comprehensive course of treatment can cut the risk of MTCT to below 2%

Prayers of Intercession


Response: God of justice, help us to do something new.

For an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and all the many wars around our world, we pray…..

For an end to all economic injustice and the gross inequality between rich and poor, we pray….

For all our children, especially the 20% of US children who live in poverty, we pray…..

For all the people of our world who do not have access to decent and affordable health care, we pray….

For all the women of our world, that they will be given equal rights and enjoy their full dignity as human beings, we pray….

For the people of Haiti and Chile as they struggle to rebuild after their earthquakes, we pray….

For all of us, that we not “throw stones” at each other, but seek to understand and support each other as we to create a world of justice and mercy, we pray….





God, I believe that you can do new things.  Help my unbelief!

I believe that you can help us to make a way in the desert. Help my unbelief.

I believe that you want to create rivers through the wasteland. Help my unbelief.

I believe that we are not stuck to just repeat the evils of the past.  Help my unbelief.

I believe that I can do things that I was not able to do before.  Help my unbelief.

I believe that I might be able to forgive my enemy.  Help my unbelief.

I believe that peace among nations is possible.  Help my unbelief.

I believe that we can overcome the ways of violence. Help my unbelief.

I believe that we can eliminate hunger and poverty.  Help my unbelief

I believe that we can overcome racism. Help my unbelief.

I believe that we can create homes for everyone.  Help my unbelief.

I believe that we can finally drop the stones of condemnation. Help my unbelief.

I believe that we will have a new heaven and a new earth. Help my unbelief.

God, I believe that together we can do new things.  Help my unbelief! Amen.