March 11, 2018: Fourth Sunday of Lent
Catholic Social Teaching: Call to Family, Community and Participation
Read about the interrelated elements inherent in family, community and participation:
Readings Cycle B
First Reading: 2nd Chronicles 36:14-16-19-23
Psalm: 137 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10
Gospel: John 3:14-21
Cycle A readings may replace the Cycle B readings for this Sunday. Cycle A readings are used at liturgies with the second scrutiny for those preparing for baptism at the Easter Vigil.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act. Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed is contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason. Even in human relations it is not contrary to our dignity to believe what other persons tell us about themselves and their intentions, or to trust their promises (for example, when a man and a woman marry) to share a communion of life with one another. If this is so, still less is it contrary to our dignity to “yield by faith the full submission of. . . intellect and will to God who reveals”, and to share in an interior communion with him. (154) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
To the people of our time, her travelling companions, the Church also offers her social doctrine. In fact, when the Church “fulfils her mission of proclaiming the Gospel, she bears witness to man, in the name of Christ, to his dignity and his vocation to the communion of persons. She teaches him the demands of justice and peace in conformity with divine wisdom”. This doctrine has its own profound unity, which flows from Faith in a whole and complete salvation, from Hope in a fullness of justice, and from Love which makes all mankind truly brothers and sisters in Christ: it is the expression of God’s love for the world, which he so loved “that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16). The new law of love embraces the entire human family and knows no limits, since the proclamation of the salvation wrought by Christ extends “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). (3)
With her social doctrine not only does the Church not stray from her mission but she is rigorously faithful to it. The redemption wrought by Christ and entrusted to the saving mission of the Church is certainly of the supernatural order. This dimension is not a delimitation of salvation but rather an integral expression of it. The supernatural is not to be understood as an entity or a place that begins where the natural ends, but as the raising of the natural to a higher plane. In this way nothing of the created or the human order is foreign to or excluded from the supernatural or theological order of faith and grace, rather it is found within it, taken on and elevated by it. “In Jesus Christ the visible world which God created for man (cf. Gen 1:26-30) — the world that, when sin entered, ‘was subjected to futility’ (Rom 8:20; cf. Rom 8:19-22) — recovers again its original link with the divine source of Wisdom and Love. Indeed, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son’ (Jn 3:16). As this link was broken in the man Adam, so in the Man Christ it was reforged (cf. Rom 5:12-21)”. (64)
The apex of biblical teaching on work is the commandment of the Sabbath rest. For man, bound as he is to the necessity of work, this rest opens to the prospect of a fuller freedom, that of the eternal Sabbath (cf. Heb 4:9-10). Rest gives men and women the possibility to remember and experience anew God’s work, from Creation to Redemption, to recognize themselves as his work (cf. Eph 2:10), and to give thanks for their lives and for their subsistence to him who is their author.
The memory and the experience of the Sabbath constitute a barrier against becoming slaves to work, whether voluntarily or by force, and against every kind of exploitation, hidden or evident. In fact, the Sabbath rest, besides making it possible for people to participate in the worship of God, was instituted in defence of the poor. Its function is also that of freeing people from the antisocial degeneration of human work. The Sabbath rest can even last a year; this entails the expropriation of the fruits of the earth on behalf of the poor and the suspension of the property rights of landowners: “For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild beasts may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard” (Ex 23:10-11). This custom responds to a profound intuition: the accumulation of goods by some can sometimes cause others to be deprived of goods. (258)
God never leaves us, Jesus never abandons us, the Holy Spirit never ceases to guide us. We turn our backs, tip toe away thinking God won’t miss us. We leave the Church thinking we are leaving Christ behind. We put on spiritual tunnel vision glasses to limit our range of vision open to the dynamic guidance of the Holy Spirit. Who left the picture? It wasn’t God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit, but us ! And our displeasure with the status we find ourselves in leads us to blame God, make Him our scapegoat, when it is us, our actions, thoughts, desires that renders us into the Babylon’s of our lives. Exiled from holy environs, wrought from indifference, captive to our desires. For Jesus did not come to condemn us, but offering salvation for the world. With our lack of belief, we condemn ourselves. God’s gift of His only Son resounds His love for the world, not a persona of anonymity, animosity or control. To separate ourselves from that love only causes us to weep, with the root cause of being separates from God, no longer able to exude joyous melodies of praise and thanksgiving, as silenced tongues prevail.
And we even separate ourselves from God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit when we fail to grasp the deep richness of our faith. Do we treat the communion line like a continuous loop from one Sunday to the next? Putting one foot in front of the other to received the Lord each liturgy, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Does our focus on the holy exchange with an air of self-scantificaltion separate us from realizing sacramental grace is not just about me and my status with the Trinity, but what we do it after the sacred exchange. Do we realize faith calls us to break free of the continuous loop for a path lacking familiarity, charted by the Holy Spirit to share the gift we receive, not hoard it with the zeal of scrupulosity? When will our parishes stop aiding, fostering the mentality of the continuous loop and offer encourage and support meaningful ways to stop demeaning abuse of theology abetting, encouraging, prioritizing individual holiness? Faith calls us to come together and be sent forth. Not just sent forth to come back next week with a weeklong vacuum from faithful engagement in the world? A hypocrisy evident by so many people abandoning faith for they see with clarity that faith proclaimed and practiced lacks Gospel calls for service, justice, equality and peace. Who will be bold to break rank with the continuous loop, proclaim in action a Gospel agenda to model the dynamics, the meaning of the Eucharist’s transformative power and shatter the comfort zone of the continuous loop idolatry? A process of coming into the light out of the darkness to live the truth with works clearly seen as done in God.
Individual Reflection: John 3:14-21
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is Laetare Sunday during the austerity of Lent. A day of celebration as Easter draws near. How will you spend the day in anticipation of Easter?
Family Reflection: Psalm 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
In areas that celebrate Day Light Savings turn your clock ahead one hour before going to bed on Saturday evening March 10th.
Make CRS Lenten prayer eggs and distribute them at your parish this week as a sign of global solidarity during Lent:
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born March 5, 2018 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.