Fifth Sunday in Lent

Engaging Faith | Mon, Mar 19, 2012

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary reflections for the fifth Sunday in Lent 2012.

Fifth Sunday in Lent [b]

March 25, 2012


Jeremiah 31:31-34
Hebrews 5:7-9
John 12:20-33


March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
March 22: World Water Day
March 24: Archbishop Oscar Romero's Assassination Anniversary
March 26: Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
March 31: Earth Hour: 8:30 to 9:30 pm  
March 31: Cesar Chavez Day
April 1: 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 inequalities and injustices created by our economic system.  We too may be troubled by the financial problems and misdeeds that have unfolded in our country 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.


"It is manifestly unjust that a privileged few accumulate excess goods/squander resources, while masses live in conditions of misery"   ~~ Pope John Paul II

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 political controversies of our day?  How are you frustrated by the power of wealth and large corporations?  How are you frustrated by the dilemma of what to do and how to make it right?


The Chinese Farmer

There is a Chinese story of an old farmer who had an old horse for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped into the hills and, when all the farmer's neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, 'Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?'

A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, 'Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?'

Then, when the farmer's son was attempted to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, 'Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?'

Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer's son with his broken leg they let him off. Now was that good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

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 31. “This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming.”

Election 2012: Catholics Vote for the Common Good

Computing for Justice: “World Community Grid brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power.”

“Crazy Facts” 

“Between 2007 and 2010, the share of children and working-age adults in the United States with employer-sponsored health insurance dropped 10 percentage points from 63.6 percent to 53.5 percent, according to a new national study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). The key factor driving the sharp decline was the enormous loss of employment during the Great Recession, which officially started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. The proportion of the population younger than 65 with no workers in the family spiked 10 percentage points between 2007 and 2010, from 21.6 percent to 31.6 percent. The decline in employer coverage disproportionately affected young adults, people with a high school education or less, and people employed in small firms.”

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 are 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

-- 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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