April 6, 2014: Fifth Sunday of Lent
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
“…A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members of society are faring…” Themes from Catholic Social Teaching, USCCB
First Reading: Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm: 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Second Reading: Romans 8:8-11
Gospel: John 11:1-45
Catechism of the Catholic Church
“And you were buried with him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raise him from the dead…If you have been raised with Christ seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” (1002)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Fifth Sunday of Lent , Cycle A
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
Romans Chapter 8
The salvation offered in its fullness to men in Jesus Christ by God the Father’s initiative, and brought about and transmitted by the work of the Holy Spirit, is salvation for all people and of the whole person: it is universal and integral salvation. It concerns the human person in all his dimensions: personal and social, spiritual and corporeal, historical and transcendent. It begins to be made a reality already in history, because what is created is good and willed by God, and because the Son of God became one of us. Its completion, however, is in the future, when we shall be called, together with all creation (cf. Rom 8), to share in Christ’s resurrection and in the eternal communion of life with the Father in the joy of the Holy Spirit. This outlook shows quite clearly the error and deception of purely immanentistic visions of the meaning of history and in humanity’s claims to self-salvation. (38)
In her social doctrine the Church offers above all an integral vision of man and a complete understanding of his personal and social dimensions. Christian anthropology reveals the inviolable dignity of every person and places the realities of work, economics and politics into an original perspective that sheds light on authentic human values while at the same time inspiring and sustaining the task of Christian witness in the varied areas of personal, cultural and social life. Thanks to the “first fruits of the Spirit” (Rom 8:23), Christians become “capable of discharging the new law of love (cf. Rom 8:1-11). Through this Spirit, who is ‘the pledge of our inheritance’ (Eph 1:14), the whole man is renewed from within, even to the achievement of ‘the redemption of the body’ (Rom 8:23)”. In this sense the Church’s social doctrine shows how the moral basis of all social action consists in the human development of the person and identifies the norm for social action corresponding to humanity’s true good and as efforts aimed at creating the conditions that will allow every person to satisfy his integral vocation.
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Last week, the Gospel featured the man born blind. The crowd was intrigued, debate heightened and they tagged along to Bethany. Two miles, maybe an hour’s walk from Jerusalem, in the footsteps of Jesus, they mingled with acquaintances and consoled Martha and Mary. They saw Jesus weep, with an intense love for a friend entombed behind a stone. But some naysayers in the crowd rooted a question in philosophical myopicness. They snuffed out belief in resurrection, with preponderance to “what ifs”. Perturbed in anger over the presence of a lack of belief, Jesus sought action to take away the stone. But doubts remained, the smell of decaying hope, rotting trust that might be unmasked, all etching away at the sweetness of belief unfolding God’s glory. Again, as Jesus had started his ministry with a question, the concluding journey asked yet one more. Enough people believed to take away the stone. They affirmed belief with their energy and skills and let the prayers of Jesus’ intercession with the Father bring more to belief.
If we spend our time on “what ifs” to die with the gloom of naysayers, what time remains for hope? What time will we have to act as believers, with compassion to take away the stone from those isolated in society—the mentally ill, elderly, undocumented, anyone that lost or has never had a voice—to help offer resurrection? And if “what ifs” consume us, our hearts will miss the questions Jesus asks us and the prayers he offers, to negate the Spirit that gives us life. When we belong to Him, cease to live for ourselves to leave behind the iniquities of “what ifs”, our souls trust in the word of the Lord.
Individual Reflection: John 11:1-45
List five “what if” that roam your thoughts. How can you prayerfully move beyond them to focus on acting in belief and hope to offer “resurrection” in your neighborhood?
Family Reflection: Romans 8:8-11
Let each family member share how “The Spirit of God” dwells in them and share a symbol that represents the Spirit.
God gives us eyes to see your unfolding glory. Keep our feet on the path to follow your Son. Make our hands always ready to move stones impeding justice. Help our hearts to deeply ponder questions of faith. Let our souls relish in resurrection, as we die to iniquities and mercy abounds. Thank you for the gift of faith, belief beyond words, hope to transform, that we may live. In Jesus’ dear name 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.
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites