March 15, 2015: Fourth Sunday of Lent
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
The Christian ideal will always be a summons to overcome suspicion, habitual mistrust, fear of losing our privacy, all the defensive attitudes which today’s world imposes on us. Many try to escape from others and take refuge in the comfort of their privacy or in a small circle of close friends, renouncing the realism of the social aspect of the Gospel. For just as some people want a purely spiritual Christ, without flesh and without the cross, they also want their interpersonal relationships provided by sophisticated equipment, by screens and systems which can be turned on and off on command. Meanwhile, the Gospel tells us constantly to run the risk of a face-to-face encounter with others, with their physical presence which challenges us, with their pain and their pleas, with their joy which infects us in our close and continuous interaction. True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from reconciliation with others. The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned us to the revolution of tenderness.(88)
Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis
First Reading: 2ndChronicles 36:14-16, 19-23
Psalm: 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10
Gospel: John 3:14-21
(Mass for the second scrutiny, Cycle A readings are used)
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”,26 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:
In the present text we can see the importance of moral values, founded on the natural law written on every human conscience; every human conscience is hence obliged to recognize and respect this law. Humanity today seeks greater justice in dealing with the vast phenomenon of globalization; it
has a keen concern for ecology and a correct management of public affairs; it senses the need to safeguard national consciences, without losing sight however of the path of law and the awareness of the unity of the human family. The world of work, profoundly changed by the advances of modern technology, reveals extraordinary levels of quality, but unfortunately it must also acknowledge new forms of instability, exploitation and even slavery within the very societies that are considered affluent. In different areas of the planet the level of well-being continues to grow, but there is also a dangerous increase in the numbers of those who are becoming poor, and, for various reasons, the gap between less developed and rich countries is widening. The free market, an economic process with positive aspects, is nonetheless showing its limitations. On the other hand, the preferential love for the poor represents a fundamental choice for the Church, and she proposes it to all people of good will.
It is thus apparent that the Church cannot fail to make her voice heard concerning the “new things” (res novae) typical of the modern age, because it belongs to her to invite all people to do all they can to bring about an authentic civilization oriented ever more towards integral human development in solidarity. (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)
In the desert of the Lenten journey, amidst the parchness of searching for deeper depths of understanding God’s love for us, joy percolates in the marrow of our existence. For God does not desire us to wallow in despair. He seeks to reconcile the human race to Himself in wonderful ways (Collect). So today, at the mid-point of Lent, we celebrate Laetare Sunday as a reminder that even when we were dead in our transgressions, through grace He brought us to life with Christ—immeasurable riches to savor on our faith journey and envision for our eternal gift God has prepared in advance. To give us joy, a promise we journey in, a promise we affirm by our actions, a promise we praise in our gestures of thanksgiving. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. To deny ourselves this joy, we live in condemnation not orchestrated by God, but of our own choosing. Lack in the belief of His grace, induces condemnation to separate us from the freedom of salvation to mock the messengers of God, despise His warnings and scoff at His prophets. Embrace, don’t shun, that you are a handiwork of God, His creation, celebrate joyfully as you live the truth to live in the light, so your works maybe clearly seen as done in God.
Individual Reflection: Ephesians 2:4-10
Read an article by the new bishop of San Diego:
Family Reflection: John 3:14-21
As a family, reflect on being light in the world. Each day, for one week, spend fifteen minutes in conversation about this topic.
Lord help us to always seek the light of your Father, our Father. Let our tongues proclaim the joy we have experienced in salvation, the freedom to depart from the burden of our transgressions to focus our works in service to God. Grant us the courage to follow the prophets of the Law and the prophets of today, so we do not avoid challenges of indifference and injustice. For we know God loved us so much that He gave us You, His only Son, so that we will not suffer condemnation, but have eternal life. Jesus, In your name we pray, 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
By Barb Born, March 6, 2015 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.