February 22, 2015: First Sunday of Lent
Catholic Social Teaching: Rights and Responsibilities
“The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities–to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.” Catholic Social Teaching Themes, USCCB
First Reading: Genesis 9:8-15
Psalm: 25: 4-5. 6-7, 8-9
Second Reading: 1st Peter 3:18-22
Gospel: Mark 1:12-15
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The evangelists indicate the salvific meaning of this mysterious event: Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation. Jesus fulfils Israel’s vocation perfectly: in contrast to those who had once provoked God during forty years in the desert, Christ reveals himself as God’s Servant, totally obedient to the divine will. In this, Jesus is the devil’s conqueror: he “binds the strong man” to take back his plunder. Jesus’ victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of his filial love for the Father. (539) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the First Sunday of Lent, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
The universal destination of goods requires a common effort to obtain for every person and for all peoples the conditions necessary for integral development, so that everyone can contribute to making a more humane world, “in which each individual can give and receive, and in which the progress of some will no longer be an obstacle to the development of others, nor a pretext for their enslavement”. This principle corresponds to the call made unceasingly by the Gospel to people and societies of all times, tempted as they always are by the desire to possess, temptations which the Lord Jesus chose to undergo (cf. Mk 1:12-13; Mt4:1-11; Lk 4:1-13) in order to teach us how to overcome them with his grace. (175)
The Church, the community of those who have been brought together by the Risen Christ and who have set out to follow him, is “the sign and the safeguard of the transcendent dimension of the human person”. She is “in Christ a kind of sacrament — a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men”. Her mission is that of proclaiming and communicating the salvation wrought in Jesus Christ, which he calls “the Kingdom of God” (Mk 1:15), that is, communion with God and among men. The goal of salvation, the Kingdom of God embraces all people and is fully realized beyond history, in God. The Church has received “the mission of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God, and she is, on earth, the seed and the beginning of that Kingdom”. (49)
Following the destruction wrought by the flood, God’s covenant with Noah (cf. Gen 9:1-17), and in him with all of humanity, shows that God wants to maintain for the human community the blessing of fertility, the task of subduing creation and the absolute dignity and inviolability of human life that had characterized the first creation. This is God’s desire despite the fact that, with sin, the decadence of violence and injustice, which was punished by the flood, had entered creation. The Book of Genesis presents with admiration the diversity of peoples, the result of God’s creative activity (cf. Gen 10:1-32). At the same time, it denounces man’s refusal to accept his condition as creature with the episode of the Tower of Babel (cf. Gen 11,1-9). In the divine plan, all peoples had “one language and the same words” (cf. Gen 11:1), but humanity became divided, turning its back on the Creator (cf. Gen 11:4). (429)
Man and woman are in relationship with others above all as those to whom the lives of others have been entrusted. “For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning, … I will require it … of man [and] of every man’s brother” (Gen 9:5), God tells Noah after the flood. In this perspective, the relationship with God requires that the life of man be considered sacred and inviolable. The fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex20:13; Deut 5:17), has validity because God alone is Lord of life and death. The respect owed to the inviolability and integrity of physical life finds its climax in the positive commandment: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev 19:18), by which Jesus enjoins the obligation to tend to the needs of one’s neighbour (cf. Mt 22:37-40; Mk 12:29-31;Lk 10:27-28). (112)
The deserts of our lives lead us to make a choice from our God infused free will to wander into temptation or in the harsh austerity remove the clutter clouding our acuity of God, so we freely trek to life giving sources. The bubbling spring creates an oasis of rest from our travels, unlike the never reachable mirage inherent in temptation. A desert where life is present if we only slow down and look. What looks like prickly, dehydrated sagebrush provides shelter for birds and reptiles. What element along our desert journey appears stark, useless to conventional wisdom, but gives us life, purpose, fulfillment? Kangaroo mice burrow in the desert soil. Sheltered from the extremes of temperature, winds and predators, they find security. On your desert journey, where do you find security?
The desert builds humility, for we realize within ourselves we do not possess the resources to survive—in the physical and spiritual deserts of our lives. The process, in both prerogatives, teaches us humility. The Lord desires not that we parish in the deserts of our lives for He is good and upright to show us the way. A process of realizing we cannot sustain ourselves, but life is a collective process with the Divine and collaboration with humanity. Only in that humbleness is justice understood and sought. Lives of arrogance and indifference, lacking a desert experience, fail to grasp the Lord’s pronouncement of justice. In the parchness, seeing what is lacking to nurture life at the oasis, truth unfolds like a palm faun, far from the clutter of superfluous externalities.
Deserts maybe a place of solitude. A place of beauty. A place of adaptation of our ways and heart. But a desert is also a place to share, to proclaim the kingdom of God is not beyond our reach—but close at hand if we do not wander into temptation in the desert.
Individual Reflection Psalm 25: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
How has humbleness lead you to quest for justice?
Family Reflection: Mark 1:12-15
If you live near the desert take a trek and explore. If not, take a virtual reality tour on-line. Some websites to visit:
Joshua Tree National Park
Coachella Valley Preserve
Red Rock State Park
Recite the Our Father in a reflective posture, especially pondering the words, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
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, February 11, 2015 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.