Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Representing Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, Maryknoll Sisters, and Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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  • Altar in Palestine - R Rodrick Beiler
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First Sunday of Lent 2018

First Sunday of Lent cover

This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.
MARK 1:15

The first step takes courage

From our 2018 Lenten Reflection Guide: Embracing Jesus' Practice of Nonviolence

On the first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading each year is about Jesus’ temptation in the desert. The forty days that Jesus spent in the desert are a reference to the forty years that the Israelites wandered in the desert after being led from slavery in Egypt and the forty days and nights the prophet Elijah also traveled in the desert.

Lent is an opportunity for us to set aside forty days for a time of repentance, of giving up things that tie us to this world and looking instead to the life and teachings of Jesus.

In Mark’s Gospel, we hear that Jesus went into the desert immediately after his baptism, led by the Spirit. The desert marks the beginning of Jesus’ confrontation with evil. Our Lenten practices are a beginning for us as well, to shine light on whatever temptations we struggle to resist. This is no easy task; it requires courage.

In 1957, in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom, Martin Luther King Jr. described the six principles of nonviolence that he learned during the historic bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. The first principle is “Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.” It is active nonviolent resistance to evil. 

The courage to resist evil requires overcoming the fear of consequences one may incur while doing good:  contempt, disapproval, or even physical or emotional opposition. 

“We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension,” Dr. King wrote six years later in Letter from a Birmingham Jail. “We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. Injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience at the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”

An example of this principle occurred during the civil war in El Salvador, when campesinos moved back to their land after being displaced by the military. Many had been living in refugee camps and were simply tired of doing nothing, waiting for the war to end.

“Their action was completely nonviolent,” recalls Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International. “Thousands went back to their villages within a few months. They knew moving home was dangerous; it was an active war zone. They knew they could be killed. We saw their remarkable courage and determination but we also saw their faith, their willing entry into the suffering of the cross – even death.”

Questions for Reflection

Think of time of suffering in your life. What gave you courage to persevere?
How can you be a source of courage for others who are suffering?


Jesus, you renounced violence, loved everyone, practiced nonviolence, embodied peace, resisted injustice, and gave your life in perfect nonviolent love for humanity. God of peace, have mercy on us.

ALL: "God of peace, have mercy on us."

Jesus, you call us to renounce violence, love everyone, practice nonviolence, oppose war, dismantle nuclear weapons, resist injustice, embody peace and love our enemies. God of peace, have mercy on us.

ALL: "God of peace, have mercy on us."

Jesus, you are our Lord and Savior, our Brother and friend, our life, our hope, our peace. God of peace, have mercy on us.

ALL: "God of peace, have mercy on us."

God of peace, be with us now as we repent of our violence and hear your word of peace. Help us to become your holy people of Gospel nonviolence, that we might follow the nonviolent Jesus, love one another, love our enemies, reconcile with everyone, resist injustice and pursue a new world without war, poverty, nuclear weapons, global warming or violence, your reign of nonviolence in our midst. We ask this in the name of the nonviolent Jesus, our brother and our peace.

– Excerpt from “Prayer for International Nonviolence Day” by John Dear, published by the National Catholic Reporter on August 11, 2009.


Consider letting go of habits that prevent you from listening without being defensive and speaking without judgement.
Make time this week to read a meditation by the late Father Dean Brackley, S.J., called “Meeting the victim, falling in love” published in America Magazine in 2011.


Learn more about Maryknoll Lay Missioners tutoring program in El Salvador
Listen to Father Brackley teach about “Who is calling what from me?”   

A Maryknoll Missioners says ...

Larry Parr“I am finishing my ninth year in El Salvador living and working with youth in the small town. It has been such a blessing to able to accompany the youth in their journey for a better future. 

“The reality of the youth in El Salvador continues to be very difficult, as they struggle to go forward with few opportunities for education and employment. Many kids are dropping out of school in the 6th and 7th grade, and very few have the chance to go to the university. There is also a lot of violence and many youth are caught in the middle of a war between the gangs and the police/military.

“One of our projects is called “Tutoring Program Father Dean Brackley S.J.,” where we have 30 young people going to the Jesuit University, UCA, every Saturday to get tutoring and formation, so that they are able to compete for scholarships to the university. It has been amazing to see the looks on the faces of the students as they walk around the university. This program also helps with their self-esteem and reminds them that if they work hard they can achieve their dreams.”

– LARRY PARR, Maryknoll Lay Missioners
Pictured on right with students in El Salvador