March 22, 2015: Fifth Sunday of Lent
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
…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) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm: 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15
Second Reading: Hebrews 5:7-9
Gospel: John 12:20-33
Masses with Third Scrutiny use Cycle A readings
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 shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.”4and 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)
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)
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” (Jn12:24). (570)
Transformation, a conversion, to perform a new task, have a new attitude, live a new way. A newness infused with energy to continually unfold the transformation process. Like a grain of wheat by itself could be just a swirl of pasta, a few crumbs of bread. But dried, planted, watered and nourished in fertile soil it would experience the transformation to become a bountiful plant, where one grain of wheat can produce eight or more heads, with over forty seeds per head. An exponential growth of over three hundred times.
For our faith journey, we only experience transformation when we too die to ourselves and allow ourselves nurtured by the Word and Eucharist to take root in our source, God. Like the wheat plant with a root system reaching downward to thirty feet, we need to be deeply rooted in our faith. Like the diversity of wheat, 150 common varieties and thirty thousand varieties in total, we must embrace the diversity in the Church, gender, ethnicity, age, worship preferences, ministry focus and vocations in life. For they all put down deep roots and take from God’s nurturing bounty. For this is where Jesus is, with the Father, the source of a bountiful harvest guided by the movement of the Holy Spirit. Even when separated from the earth—lifted up on the cross—He wanted us not to forget the love he nurtures us in. For His open arms on the cross welcome us to a loving embrace. To be His servants, we must take that love, let it take root, experience the transformation and grow in service to others. Only then, in this process of transformation, will the Lord place His law within us and write it upon our hearts. So we shall be His people and the evidence will not need to be taught, but it will be known in deeds to take precedent over sin, as God’s forgiveness allows transformation where sin is remembered no more.
Individual Reflection: Psalm 51:3-4, 112-13, 14-15
Next Sunday when your parish distributes palms, ask if the palms were harvested so people received a living wage and if they were grown in sustainable, eco-friendly conditions. If not share with your liturgical leaders about eco-palms that they might consider using next Palm Sunday.
Family Reflection: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Talk about celebrating the diversity of liturgies during Holy Week. Defer from business and your normal routine and take the time to absorb the breath and richness of this sacred time as a family.
Pray for people receiving the Sacraments this Easter season. May they experience grace and blessings as they join the sacramental life of the Church.
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.
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born, March 12, 2015 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.