Engaging Faith | Mon, Mar 25, 2013
Easter Vigil – Holy Saturday
Baruch 3:9-15, 32--4:4
Ezekiel 36:16-17a, 18-28
Let us ask the Father of mercies to enable us to live fully the faith graciously bestowed upon us on the day of our Baptism and to bear witness to it freely, joyfully and courageously. This will be the best service we can offer to the cause of Christian unity, a service of hope for a world still torn by divisions, conflicts and rivalries.
Pope Francis, March 20, 2013
Christ is looking for men and women who will help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love.
Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi Message, Easter 2009
It would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity. To ask catechumens: "Do you wish to receive Baptism?" means at the same time to ask them: "Do you wish to become holy?" It means to set before them the radical nature of the Sermon on the Mount.”
John Paul II, Novo Millennio Inuente
Rising from the waters of the Baptismal font, every Christian hears again the voice that was once heard on the banks of the Jordan River: "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."
John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation on the Vocation of the Laity, Christifideles Laici
Lord, show us that love is stronger than hatred, that love is stronger than death. Descend into the darkness and the abyss of our modern age, and take by the hand those who await you. Bring them to the light!
Benedict XVI, Easter Vigil 2007
To the leaders of nations, may Easter bring light and strength, so that economic and financial activity may finally be driven by the criteria of truth, justice and fraternal aid. May the saving power of Christ’s resurrection fill all of humanity, so that it may overcome the multiple tragic expressions of a “culture of death” which are becoming increasingly widespread, so as to build a future of love and truth in which every human life is respected and welcomed.
Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi Message, Easter 2010
Thoughts for your consideration
Easter Resurrection is about power, liberation and freedom, but not the power of dominating control or of manipulating others. It is not about the power of a large corporation or bank. It is not control by military force or the use of torture or the manipulation of the mass media or the triumph of money. It is not the power of the media or political insiders. Rather it is the power of non-violent, active, generous love and solidarity. It is the power that comes from a faith rooted in the great story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The readings at the Easter vigil highlight the great story of God working in our world over a long period of time for our liberation and life. This great story of liberation continues today even in the midst of our human frailties.
In the baptismal promises, the catechumens (and the entire community in their renewal of baptism promises) renounce sin and all those ideologies and ways of thinking that are contrary to the way of Jesus. They (we) renounce values that are taken for granted by or imbedded in parts of our culture – racism, materialism, consumerism, sexism, militarism, wealth, political power, etc. This renunciation is a source of freedom and new life for all of us and for the whole world. From the death and resurrection of Jesus flows a challenging vision that changes and challenges the social fabric of the whole world.
As we leave our liturgical celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus, we hope to be living in a new way. We hope to be alive in the spirit of Christ, the Christ who shared our life, spoke up for the oppressed, healed the sick, fed the hungry, and even risked death. It is this spirit that we hope to share with our world.
If Easter is about freedom, these humorous stories might be an interesting starting point for our reflections:
A man escaped jail by digging a hole from his jail cell to the outside world. When finally his work was done, he emerged in the middle of a preschool playground.
"I'm free, I'm free!" he shouted.
"So what," said a little girl. "I'm four."
See also the story of the Old Prisoner from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Old_Prisoner_%28The_Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame%29
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What are some of the ways of thinking and acting in our 21st century culture that are contrary to the values and spirit of Jesus? [When you renounce sin, what are you renouncing?]
If the Resurrection means freedom and new life, how are you experiencing this freedom and liberation today?
Actions – Links
USCCB's Environmental Justice Program calls Catholics to a deeper respect for God’s creation and engages parishes in activities that deal with environmental problems, particularly as they affect the poor. http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environmen...
Also check out http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/
USCCB’S Justice for Immigrants campaign is designed “to unite and mobilize a growing network of Catholic institutions, individuals, and other persons of good faith in support of a broad legalization program and comprehensive immigration reform.” http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org
Send an “electronic postcard” to your representatives at their online action center.
USCCB and Catholic Relief Services are trying to address issues of global poverty. Get involved at their web site: http://www.confrontglobalpoverty.org/
Out of Reach Housing
“Finding a decent, affordable apartment is a challenge for all renters, but the poorest households are the most likely to be locked out of the market entirely. For every 100 extremely low income renter households, there are just 30 affordable and available units. Only a sliver of the rental market remains affordable and available to the lowest income households. The level of investment in new affordable housing units today is insufficient to meet the demand. Although nearly a third (29%) of renter households live below poverty, and a quarter of renters have extremely low incomes, most newly constructed units are for high income households, while older units are being swiftly upgraded to serve a higher income market.”
Get data for your state at http://nlihc.org/oor/2013/
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Risen Jesus, bless us with newness of life.
For an end to the violence, terrorism, and war that divides and pains our world, we pray….
For an end to all the racism and discrimination that oppresses people in our world, we pray….
For an end to the materialism and consumerism which distorts our values and harms our environment, we pray….
For the sick who are denied quality health care, we pray….
For an end to hunger and all poverty, we pray….
For equal opportunities for employment at a living wage for all, we pray….
For a new spirit of justice and peace for all God’s people, we pray….
For a new spirit of hope and joy as we work to create a welcoming community, we pray….
Let there be an end to the chain of hatred and terrorism,
which threatens the orderly development of the human family.
May God grant that we be free
from the peril of a tragic clash
between cultures and religions.
May faith and love of God
make the followers of every religion
courageous builders of understanding and forgiveness,
patient weavers of a fruitful inter-religious dialogue,
capable of inaugurating a new era of justice and peace.
John Paul II, Urbi et Orbi Message Easter, 2003
God of the universe, God of our hearts.
We thank you for the gift of Jesus, whose resurrection we celebrate this month. We thank you for the model he was to us while on earth - a model of wisdom, loving kindness, and mercifulness. We thank you for his fierce compassion for humankind.
We ask that we will be mindful of Jesus' example as we engage with others, whether they are powerful or powerless. We ask that we remember to pray for our enemies and to bless those who mock, criticize, and persecute us.
We pray for peace for this world. We ask you to breathe peace into those areas of profound generational conflict. Breathe your deep peace like an emergency medic breathes air into endangered lungs. Resuscitate hope for peace into the people living in these lands. Breathe hope for peace into us as well.
We thank you for the gift of presenting these requests, these concerns, before you. We are grateful that you bend your ear, your heart, toward us. We are confident that you hear our prayers and will act on them.
We praise and bless your holy name, Amen.
Resuscitating Hope by June Mears Driedger
Copyright © 2013, Center of Concern