Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Representing Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, Maryknoll Sisters, and Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Fifth Sunday of Lent and Gospel Nonviolence

Fifth Sunday of Lent

“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”
John 11:25

Download the PDF version of our 2017 Lenten Reflection Guide: A Journey with Gospel Nonviolence

We rise in love with peace  

The Gospel reading invites us to reflect upon what it means to call Jesus the resurrection and the life. We hear that Lazarus, a good friend of Jesus, is dying. Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, send word to Jesus, asking him to come to Bethany to heal Lazarus. 

But Jesus stays in Jerusalem, where tensions are rising. Large crowds respond to Jesus’ preaching by pressuring him to announce himself as the Messiah. Jesus tells them to look at his works as evidence. Those who don’t believe him attempt to stone him for blasphemy. Jewish leaders are observing all of this and growing hostile toward Jesus. 

Then Lazarus dies. When Jesus comes a few days later, Martha says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus replies “Your brother will rise.” Martha says, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus tells her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 

Jesus goes to Lazarus’ tomb where he prays and calls Lazarus out. It is a miracle. Jesus shows his power over death.

In the photograph above, two boys carrying water walk down a road next to an African Union military camp for “internally displaced people” near the town of Jowhar, Somalia in 2013. Fighting between clans had displaced more than 12,000 people there and some had sought safe shelter at the camp. 

Bishop Giorgio Bertin, Apostolic Administrator of Mogadishu, Somalia, and Bishop of Djibouti, the country on Somalia’s northeastern border, told participants at the Nonviolence and Just Peace conference in Rome in 2016 that “Somalia has become a land of violence.”

“I had been living in Somalia, and in particular in Mogadishu, from 1978 to 1991,” Bishop Bertin said. “The country was ‘peaceful’ though under a severe form of dictatorship. During the last years of the 1980’s political power became increasingly concentrated in the clan of the ruler at that time. This prompted the birth of different ‘liberation movements’ practically all with some sort of clan affiliation. When civil war broke out in 1990 the country went to pieces.” 

Violence has left Somalia a failed state. War between clans has resulted in a million Somali refugees in neighboring countries, and 1.2 million internally displaced. Only one church remains intact and Bishop Bertin describes celebrating Mass there as “very dangerous.”

“Even if work has to be done silently,” Bishop Bertin said, “it is better to be here than not be here at all.”

“Our actions as Church are as Caritas,” Bishop Bertin said. The Catholic relief and development agency assists journalists to organize themselves and learn about human rights; produces “road shows” promoting nonviolence entitled “Put down the gun, take the pen,” and organizes interfaith prayer meetings. They also produce radio programs on Catholic social teaching and invite experts on conflict resolution to meetings among political and clan leaders.

By promoting nonviolence, Bishop Bertin says “we are sowing the seed of the Gospel among the people.”

Questions for Reflection

Recall a time when you have offered and received kindness with a person who would consider you “the other.” How did it feel in the moment? 

What do you see in the experience now?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Keep us from being preoccupied with worldly goods at the expense of justice. 

"Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth." Help us not to be ruthless with one another, and to eliminate violence around us. 

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Let us not be impatient under our own burdens and unconcerned about the burdens of others. 

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be filled." Make us thirst for you and spread your love in our lives and in society. 

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." Grant that we may be quick to forgive and slow to condemn.

"Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." Free us from our senses and desires, and fix our eyes on you.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." Help us to make peace in our families, in our country, and in the world.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice, for the kingdom of heaven in theirs." Make us willing to suffer for the sake of right rather than to practice injustice; and do not let us discriminate against our neighbors and oppress and persecute them. Amen

Fast

Pope Francis says in his World Day of Peace message that Jesus offers the Beatitudes as a “manual” for peacemaking. Take time for meditation on the Beatitudes. You may want to use this guide from the Archdiocese of Melbourne. http://bit.ly/BlessedAreYouMeditations 

Action

Name an opportunity you have in your church or community to be a peacemaker. 

Sign up for the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns listserv, to receive our newsletter and action alerts about issues of peace and justice. www.maryknollogc.org 

Follow the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative https://www.facebook.com/nonviolencejustpeace

A Maryknoll Missioner says…

“The church isn’t a place; it’s a way of being together. So even though we’re in a Nuer tribe area of the U.N. camp, we intentionally invited Shilluk and Dinka tribes from other areas of the camp, especially the youth, to come here. It’s a place where diverse people come to become one people, worshipping God together. Every time we gather on Sunday for worship, we are a family of God, not divided by tribe, at peace with each other.” 
– FATHER MICHAEL BASSANO, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, while on mission at U.N. base in Malakal, South Sudan.