March 18, 2018: Fifth Sunday of Lent
Catholic Social Teaching: Care for Creation
The principle of the universal destination of goods also applies naturally to water, considered in the Sacred Scriptures as a symbol of purification (cf. Ps 51:4; Jn 13:8) and of life (cf. Jn 3:5; Gal 3:27). “As a gift from God, water is a vital element essential to survival; thus, everyone has a right to it”. Satisfying the needs of all, especially of those who live in poverty, must guide the use of water and the services connected with it. Inadequate access to safe drinking water affects the well-being of a huge number of people and is often the cause of disease, suffering, conflicts, poverty and even death. For a suitable solution to this problem, it “must be set in context in order to establish moral criteria based precisely on the value of life and the respect for the rights and dignity of all human beings”. (484) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
Readings Cycle B
First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm: 51: 3-4, 12-13, 134-15
Second Reading: Hebrews 5:7-9
Gospel: John 12:20-33
Cycle A readings may replace the Cycle B readings for this Sunday. Cycle A readings are used at liturgies with the third scrutiny for those preparing for baptism at the Easter Vigil.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The desire to embrace his Father’s plan of redeeming love inspired Jesus’ whole life, for his redemptive passion was the very reason for his Incarnation. And so he asked, “And what shallI say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.” And again, “Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?” From the cross, just before “It is finished”, he said, “I thirst.” (607) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
Those who recognize their own poverty before God, regardless of their situation in life, receive particular attention from him: when the poor man seeks, the Lord answers; when he cries out, the Lord listens. The divine promises are addressed to the poor: they will be heirs to the Covenant between God and his people. God’s saving intervention will come about through a new David (cf. Ezek 34:22-31), who like King David — only more so — will be defender of the poor and promoter of justice; he will establish a new covenant and will write a new law in the hearts of believers (cf. Jer 31:31-34).
When sought or accepted with a religious attitude, poverty opens one to recognizing and accepting the order of creation. In this perspective, the “rich man” is the one who places his trust in his possessions rather than in God, he is the man who makes himself strong by the works of his own hands and trusts only in his own strength. Poverty takes on the status of a moral value when it becomes an attitude of humble availability and openness to God, of trust in him. This attitude makes it possible for people to recognize the relativity of economic goods and to treat them as divine gifts to be administered and shared, because God is the first owner of all goods. (324)
The precepts of the sabbatical and jubilee years constitute a kind of social doctrine in miniature. They show how the principles of justice and social solidarity are inspired by the gratuitousness of the salvific event wrought by God, and that they do not have a merely corrective value for practices dominated by selfish interests and objectives, but must rather become, as a prophecy of the future, the normative points of reference to which every generation in Israel must conform if it wishes to be faithful to its God.
These principles become the focus of the Prophets’ preaching, which seeks to internalize them. God’s Spirit, poured into the human heart — the Prophets proclaim — will make these same sentiments of justice and solidarity, which reside in the Lord’s heart, take root in you (cf. Jer 31:33 and Ezek 36:26-27). Then God’s will, articulated in the Decalogue given on Sinai, will be able to take root creatively in man’s innermost being. This process of internalization gives rise to greater depth and realism in social action, making possible the progressive universalization of attitudes of justice and solidarity, which the people of the Covenant are called to have towards all men and women of every people and nation. (25)
See Catholic Social Teaching theme for the week and Family Reflection action
When — concerning areas or realities that involve fundamental ethical duties — legislative or political choices contrary to Christian principles and values are proposed or made, the Magisterium teaches that “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political programme or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals. In cases where it is not possible to avoid the implementation of such political programmes or to block or abrogate such laws, the Magisterium teaches that a parliamentary representative, whose personal absolute opposition to these programmes or laws is clear and known to all, may legitimately support proposals aimed at limiting the damage caused by such programmes or laws and at diminishing their negative effects on the level of culture and public morality. In this regard, a typical example of such a case would be a law permitting abortion. The representative’s vote, in any case, cannot be interpreted as support of an unjust law but only as a contribution to reducing the negative consequences of a legislative provision, the responsibility for which lies entirely with those who have brought it into being.
Faced with the many situations involving fundamental and indispensable moral duties, it must be remembered that Christian witness is to be considered a fundamental obligation that can even lead to the sacrificing of one’s life, to martyrdom in the name of love and human dignity The history of the past twenty centuries, as well as that of the last century, is filled with martyrs for Christian truth, witnesses to the faith, hope and love founded on the Gospel. Martyrdom is the witness of one who has been personally conformed to Jesus crucified, expressed in the supreme form of shedding one’s blood according to the teaching of the Gospel: if “a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies … it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). (570)
Covenants written on paper, etched in stone may appear as impressive documents, articulating decrees, signifying stipulations and rights. But how easily they can become nullified, torn into shreds, cracked with the blow of a hammer into unintelligible phrases. God gave it a try with stone tablets after graciously leading the chosen people out of the land of Egypt, but the people did not respect the covenant. Instead they mocked the Divine design with whining, preoccupation with personal needs. To counter the lacking bonds of a written covenant, God transformed the covenant experience to a personal heartfelt expression. Something that could not be taught to the letter of the law rendering only light or dark dichotomies, but expressing the tenderness of mercy opening hearts to see God’s desire of accompaniment for His people. A covenant not based on intellectual philosophizing grasped by the learned few, but open to all people from the least to the greatest to know the Lord. A covenant manifest in Jesus to move beyond the baptism of repentance harkened by John to the baptism of forgiveness where sin is remembered no more to render a clean heart. What will we do with the compassion shown to us by God? How will we express the joy of salvation that can only be written upon our heart? No longer are we slaves to the covenant of the law, unattainable in the foibles of human weakness, but servants. Dyeing to selfish desires, leaving behind temporary pleasure in understanding the eternal design rooted in a loving Creator who asks us to produce much fruit in believing the purpose of life is greater than our finite action. A realization of understanding God harkens us to engage in the world by the spirit of multiplication. For as we give what God has written on our hearts that blessing flows to others which they share exponentially. Following Jesus means not just in rhetorical exclamations but serving by acting on what has been written on our hearts, for He desire to draw not just a few or the pious, but everyone to Himself.
Individual Reflection: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Plan on hosting the Catholic Climate Covenant video on plastic pollution at your parish. What steps can you take personally and at your parish to minimize plastic pollution?
Family Reflection: Psalm 52:3-4, 12-13, 14-15
Learn about World Water Day on March 22nd. How can you share this information with your parish and take steps to address some of these concerns?
Prayer to Address the Sin of Racism from USCCB
We pray for healing to address
The persistent sin of racism
Which rejects the full humanity
Of some of your children,
And the talents and potential You have given.
We pray for the grace to recognize
The systems that do not support
The dignity of every person,
That do not promote respect
For those who are seen as other,
Who bear the legacy of centuries
Of discrimination, fear, and violence.
We pray for graced structures
So children of color in Flint, and all children,
Have access to clean water and health care.
We pray for graced structures
So children of color in Mississippi, and all children,
Have quality education that will allow them to develop their gifts.
We pray for graced structures
So children of color in Camden, and all children,
Have homes where families can live in dignity and security.
We pray for graced structures
So children of color in Chicago, and all children,
Can grow up without fear, without the sound of gunshots.
Lord of all, we ask you to hear and answer our prayers.
Give us eyes to see how the past
Has shaped the complex present,
And to perceive how we must create
A new way forward,
With a new sense of community
That embraces and celebrates
The rich diversity of all,
That helps us live out your call to reject
The sin of racism, the stain of hate,
And to seek a compassionate solidarity
Supported by Your grace and Your love.
We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
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 13, 2018 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.