LITURGY NOTES FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
Fifth Sunday of Lent
April 2, 2017
Suggested formula for recognition of Indigenous people and their land
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand
We pay our respects to them for their care of the land
May we walk gently and respectfully upon the land.
I acknowledge the living culture of the ……..people,
the traditional custodians of the land we stand on,
and pay tribute to the unique role they play in the life of this region.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we are now gathered,
(the ……) and recognise that it continues to be sacred to them.
We hail them: as guardians of the earth and of all things that grow and breed in the soil; as trustees of the waters – [the seas, the streams and rivers, the ponds and the lakes] - and the rich variety of life in those waters.
We thank them for passing this heritage to every people since the Dreamtime.
We acknowledge the wrongs done to them by newcomers to this land and we seek to be partners with them in righting these wrongs and in living together in peace and harmony.
Reading I Ez 37:12-14
Reading II Rom 8:8-11
Responsorial Psalm Ps 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
from a world of death. Jesus, have mercy.
God of Life,
you showed your glory to humanity
by sending Jesus your Son
to confound the powers of death.
Call us forth from our tombs
Change our self-centredness into self-giving,
break the bonds which hold us,
so that we embrace the world you have given
by working to transform the darkness of pain
in the life and joy of Easter.
Prayer over the Gifts
God of Life,
as Jesus offers himself
through our sharing in his body and blood
may we too offer ourselves with him
to bear the burdens of our sisters and brothers
Prayer after Communion
God of Life,
Jesus reassures us
that he is the resurrection and the life
and that we have fullness of life
when we believe in him.
May his body and blood nourish
and make us grow day by day
that we may live his life to the full
through our commitment
to releasing people from their burdens.
Introduction: Let us pray to the God of Life who calls us to freedom and new life. The response: You are our resurrection and life.
· From the tomb of self-sufficiency, may we admit our need for God and for one another, we pray: You are our resurrection and life.
· From the tomb of self-preoccupation, may our eyes be opened to the needs of others around us – especially the most vulnerable, we pray: You are our resurrection and life.
· From the tomb that results only in violence and conflict, may we work to be peace in our lives and seek it in our wider world, we pray: You are our resurrection and life.
· From the tombs of the dead in violence and conflict, we pray for the people of Libya, Ivory Coast, Bahrain and other places of the Middle East that are engulfed in violence, we pray: You are our resurrection and life.
· From the tomb of excessive busyness, may we take time to think, listen and to pray, we pray: You are our resurrection and life.
· From the tomb of self-imposed obligations, may we free ourselves from the unimportant, the fleeting and the material and allow ourselves to experience the essential, the eternal and the spiritual, we pray: You are our resurrection and life.
· From the tomb of apathy and ignorance, may we be awakened and sensitive to the plight of the poor and all that oppresses, we pray: You are our resurrection and life.
· From the tomb of melancholy and despair, may we recognise and appreciate the blessings of that come our way every day, we pray: You are our resurrection and life.
· From the tomb of hopelessness and scepticism, may we be free from the shackles of undue anxiety knowing that we belong to God, we pray: You are our resurrection and life.
· From the tomb of unfounded fears, may we be freed from all unnecessary concerns and find new courage and freedom, we pray: You are our resurrection and life.
· From the tomb of the darkness of violence, may peace come among the nations, within our families and communities, and within our, we pray: You are our resurrection and life.
· From the tomb of injustice, may a fair distribution of goods and opportunities come to people so that they can live lives to the full and have for their children’s, we pray: You are our resurrection and life.
Concluding Prayer:God of Life, hear the prayers of your people so that they can be liberated from the many tombs that bind them.
Prayer for World Peace Jane Goodall
(This prayer can easily be used as a form of prayers of the faithful. I have made the suggested breaks in the prayer if they are helpful)
We pray to the great Spiritual Power in which
we live and move and have our being.
We pray that we may at all times
keep our minds open to new ideas and shun dogma;
that we may grow in our understanding of the nature of all living beings
and our connectedness with the natural world;
that we may become ever more filled with
generosity of spirit and true compassion and love for all life;
that we may strive to heal the hurts that we have inflicted on nature
and control our greed for material things, knowing that
our actions are harming our natural world and the future of our children;
that we may value each and every human being
for who he is, for who she is,
reaching to the spirit that is within,
knowing the power of each individual to change the world.
We pray for social justice,
for the alleviation of the crippling poverty
that condemns millions of people around the world
to lives of misery - hungry, sick, and utterly without hope.
We pray for the children who are starving,
who are condemned to homelessness, slave labor, and prostitution,
and especially for those forced to fight, to kill and torture
even members of their own family.
We pray for the victims of violence and war,
for those wounded in body and for those wounded in mind.
We pray for the multitudes of refugees, forced from their homes to alien places
through war or through the utter destruction of their environment.
We pray for suffering animals everywhere,
for an end to the pain caused by scientific experimentation,
intensive farming, fur farming, shooting, trapping,
training for entertainment, abusive pet owners,
and all other forms of exploitation
such as overloading and overworking pack animals,
bull fighting, badger baiting, dog and cock fighting and so many more.
We pray for an end to cruelty,
whether to humans or other animals,
for an end to bullying, and torture in all its forms.
We pray that we may learn the peace that comes with forgiving
and the strength we gain in loving;
that we may learn to take nothing for granted in this life;
that we may learn to see and understand with our hearts;
that we may learn to rejoice in our being.
We pray for these things with humility;
We pray because of the hope that is within us,
and because of a faith in the ultimate triumph of the human spirit;
We pray because of our love for Creation, and because of our trust in God.
We pray, above all, for peace throughout the world
April 7 Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Rwandan Genocide
April 8 Holocaust Memorial Day
April 9 Palm Sunday March and Rally – Please come and bring your friends. Banners welcome.
April 10Signing of the treaty banning biological warfare by 120 nations in 1972
April 11Pope John Xlll’s encyclical Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth)
To wash the feet of a brother or a sister in Christ, to allow someone to wash our feet, is a sign that together we want to follow Jesus, to take the downward path, to find Jesus' presence in the poor and the week. Is it not a sign that we too want to live a heart-to-heart relationship with others, to meet them as a person and a friend, and to live in communion with them?
Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practice them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator.
Vatican Council ll Gaudium Et Spes, 27
There is a growing awareness of the sublime dignity of human persons, who stand above all things and whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. They ought, therefore, to have ready access to all that is necessary for living a genuinely human life: for example, food, clothing, housing ... the right to education, and work...
Second Vatican Council ll Gaudium Et Spes, 26
We incarnate the duty of hearing the cry of the poor when we are deeply moved by the suffering of others. Let us listen to what God’s word teaches us about mercy, and allow that word to resound in the life of the Church.
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 193
Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards, especially for the poor, and causes millions of premature deaths.
Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 20
Let us not leave in our wake a swath of destruction and death…
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 215
Everything is interconnected, and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity.
Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 240
Every now and then I think about my own death, and I think about my own funeral. ... Every now and then I ask myself, 'What is it that I want said?' I'd like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King Jr., tried to love somebody.
Martin Luther King Jr., from his sermon The Drum Major Instinct
The power of nonviolence is not circumstance-specific. It is as applicable to the problems that confront us now, as to problems that confronted generations in the past. It is not a medicine or a solution so much as a healing process. It is the active spiritual immune system of humanity.
Marianne Williamson, from The Healing of America
Who feeds the world? My answer is very different to that given by most people. It is women and small farmers working with biodiversity who are the primary food providers in the Third World, and contrary to the dominant assumption, their biodiversity based small farms are more productive than industrial monocultures.
There is need for awareness that the mountains and rivers and all living things, the sky and its sun and moon and clouds all constitute a healing, sustaining sacred presence for humans which they need as much for their psychic integrity as for their physical nourishment.
The circumstances of our lives are another medium of God’s communication with us. God opens some doors and closes others.... Through the wisdom of our bodies, God tells us to slow down or reorder our priorities. The happy coincidences and frustrating impasses of daily life are laden with messages. Patient listening and the grace of the Spirit are the decoding devices of prayer. It is a good habit to ask, What is God saying to me in this situation? Listening to our lives is part of prayer.
Marjorie J. Thompson, Soul Feast
God’s love sets me free to enter into community with other people—even when the community is a very limited one and is not the total communion that my heart desires. Only when I live in communion with God can I live in a community that is not perfect. Only then can I love the other person and create a space in which we might be quite distant or very close, but we can still allow something new to be born—a child, friendship, joy, community, a space where strangers and guests can be received.
Henri Nouwen, Lecture at Scarritt-Bennett Center
Jesus had a remarkable way of being a friend to every person he met. We sense in him the ability to welcome the stranger, to find the hidden gift in those others called sinners, to strengthen the ability of the loving to love more. He loved some by confronting them with the ways in which they were unloving and exploitative of others. He challenged the hypocritical in those who made it their right to judge others with constant reminders that we not only must not but cannot judge another He found important ways to invite all to discover and cherish the lovable in themselves.
Paula Ripple, Called to Be Friends
Tell the universe
Tell the universe what you've done
Out in the desert with your smoking gun
Looks like you've been having too much fun
Tell the universe what you've done
Tell the universe what you took
While the heavens trembled and the mountains shook
All those lives not worth a second look
Tell the universe what you took
You've been projecting your shit at the world
Self-hatred tarted up as payback time
You can self destruct-that's your right
But keep it to yourself if you don't mind
Tell the universe where you've been
With your bloodstained shoes and your dunce's grin
Got to identify next of kin
Tell the universe where you've been
[Tell the Universe is a collaborative effort between Bruce Cockburn, Julie Wolf, Ben Riley and Steve Lucas. [Comments by Bruce Cockburn about this song, by date: December 5, 2003: ’This is aimed at all the Bushes, Rumsfelds and Saddams ...all those people that think there's not enough pain around.’ February 29, 2004:’I confess I was thinking about a certain world 'leader' when we wrote [see above note about collaboration] this song.’]
‘In the gospel according to Luke, Jesus began his public life by reading a passage from Isaiah that introduced his ministry and the mission of every parish. The parish must proclaim the transcendent message of the gospel and help: bring 'good news to the poor' in a society where millions lack the necessities of life; bring 'liberty to captives' when so many are enslaved by poverty, addiction, ignorance, discrimination, violence, or disabling conditions; bring 'new sight to the blind' in a culture where the excessive pursuit of power or pleasure can spiritually blind us to the dignity and rights of others; and 'set the downtrodden free' in communities where crime, racism, family disintegration, and economic and moral forces leave people without real hope (cf. Lk 4:18).
U.S. Bishops, Communities of Salt and Light
Pius XI . . .'taught what the supreme criterion in economic matters ought not to be. It must not be the special interests of individuals or groups, nor unregulated competition, economic despotism, national prestige or imperialism, nor any other aim of this sort. On the contrary, all forms of economic enterprise must be governed by the principles of social justice and charity.'
John XXIII, Mater and Magistra, 38-39
A time comes when silence is betrayal. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, people do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought, within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world.
Martin Luther King Jr.
‘There is a growing awareness of the sublime dignity of human persons, who stand above all things and whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. They ought, therefore, to have ready access to all that is necessary for living a genuinely human life: for example, food, clothing, housing, . . . the right to education, and work . . . ‘
The Church and the Modern World, #26
Life, especially human life, belongs to God; whoever attacks human life attacks God's very self.
The Gospel of Life (Donders translation), #9
In Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, we are shown that the last word in human existence is not death but God's victory over death. Divine love, manifested in its fullness in the paschal mystery, overcomes death and sin, which is its cause (cf. Rom 5: 12).
John Paul II, General Audience, April 19, 2000
Love and Justice
Love and Justice are not in competition or conflict. Justice is love structured in society. Love without a passionate commitment to justice is an underdeveloped, deformed type of Christianity.
Peace is possible
Peace is possible, peace is a duty,
peace is a prime responsibility of everyone!
May the dawn of the third millennium see the coming
of a new era in which respect for every man and woman
and fraternal solidarity among peoples will,
with God’s help,
overcome the culture of hatred,
John Paul II, ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Message, Easter 1999
The responsibility for war rests not only with those who directly cause war, but also with those who do not do everything in their power to prevent it.
Pope John Paul II, Catholic Relief Services: the Beginning Years by Eileen Egan (NY: Catholic Relief Services, 1988), pp. 155-156
Prayer for Peace
If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbours.
If there is to be peace between neighbours,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.
Christ moves among the pots and pans
Teresa of Avila
We live in a country that is addicted to incarceration as a tool for social control. As it stands now justice systems are extremely expensive, do not rehabilitate but in fact make the people that experience them worse and have no evidence based correlatives to reducing crime. Yet with that track record they continue to thrive, prosper and are seen as an appropriate response to children in trouble with the law. Only an addict would see that as an okay result.
War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.
John F. Kennedy
Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
Haile Selassie, last Emperor of Ethiopia
The hottest places in hell are reserved for
those who in a period of moral crisis
maintain their neutrality.
Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.
[Man] is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for ‘the universal brotherhood of man’ - with his mouth.
It is by uniting their own sufferings for the sake of truth and freedom to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross that human beings are able to accomplish the miracle of peace and are in a position to discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives in to evil and the violence which, under the illusion of fighting evil, only makes it worse.
Pope John Paul II, Centesium Annus, #25
Christ crucified and risen, the Wisdom of God, manifests the truth that divine justice and renewing power leavens the world in a way different from the techniques of dominating violence. The victory of shalom is won not by the sword of the warrior god, but by the awesome power of compassionate love, in and through solidarity with those who suffer.
Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is, p. 159
Reflections on the readings
Today’s gospel proclaims the truth that Jesus is the lord of life. He has power to call us out of our tomb. We do not have to be physically dead in order to be raised up. We can be dead in the midst of life when we remain indifferent (‘globalisation of indifference’ as Pope Francis called it) to the plight of other people and unable to weep with them. Is this not like living in a tomb? Jesus’ voice calls us all away from making the tomb our natural habitat. It challenges us to take responsibility for our sister and brother who is also loved by Jesus. If we see someone buried alive we are invited to do as Jesus did, and calls us to do: call them, and help them go free., Pope Francis, in his first 2017 general audience, reflected on Christian hope by reflecting on the prophet Jeremiah’s reflection on Rachel's inconsolable sorrow and mourning for her children who ‘are no more,’ where she refused to be consoled to express ‘the depth of her pain and the bitterness of her weeping.’ Francis said that her weeping represents every mother and every person throughout history who cry over an ‘irreparable loss.’ There is a call for sensitivity in our case and the assurance that God does respond in a loving and gentle way with genuine ‘words of tears’. For Francis tears generate hope: ‘So often in our life, tears sow hope, they are seeds of hope.’ The Pope is aware as many of us that death seems to be our constant companion.
Today's readings are about dying and coming to life. Death takes many forms and so does life. Ezekiel addresses a people alive but as good as dead - a shattered and captive nation exiled in Babylon. Death was their companion. Death has been the constant companion in Iraq, Yemen, Palestine (Gaza) and Syria; by earthquakes and tsunamis. Death has been a companion of people who were sexually and physically abused as children living with their ‘secret’ until opened up. Death is a companion in hospices, our homes by domestic violence, our streets, human trafficking and slavery. Death is a companion when people are victims of human trafficking and slavery. There is injustice of all kinds. Death is a companion when gossip kills peoples’ reputations, devaluation, prejudice, negativity, meanness, ignorance, homophobia, racism, sexism, etc. There are people who have stopped living because they have stopped living because they have stopped being for others or caring for themselves. Jesus’ voice in the gospel calls us all away from making the tomb our natural habitat.
When a person we love dies we are very aware of the absence in our life. Somehow that absence, that hole, can overtake us. That hole or absence was seen in the lives Martha and Martha at Lazarus’ death. Martha’s cry is expressed by anyone whose child dies; a loved one has cancer; etc. Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. Jesus wept at Lazarus' death. What makes God weep? Jesus weeps over the death of a friend. We too have so many deaths to weep over: 100’s of 1000’s of deaths in the fighting in Syria; the millions at threat from drought and famine in Yemen, Sudan and Somalia; the countless refugees who have died trying to get to Europe on the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea; ongoing deaths in the violence in South Sudan; deaths from acts of terrorism all over the world even by those considered our allies; deaths from ethnic and racial fighting in countless places; deaths of those without adequate medical care; deaths of young people suicide; the many deaths of children who do not get adequate nutrition; deaths from the use of the death penalty; deaths of people who die alone and feel unloved; the living deaths and sometimes suicide of young people who live in closets to hide their sexual orientation; the deaths from all kinds of addiction; deaths from pollution and the use of toxic chemicals; and the death of our planet and so many species of plants and animals.
Can we not hear the Syrian mother’s cry as her child dies of starvation? Can we not hear the cry of the woman living detention whose husband has dosed himself in petrol and killed himself to protest his treatment by our government’s immigration and border force system? Can we not hear the cry of the parents whose child is locked up in the tomb of drug addiction? Can we not at least hear the cries of children held in our immigration detention centres?
Martha asks Jesus ‘Where were you when I needed you?’ It is a powerful image: God in Jesus stands outside the tomb and weeps. He calls us to participate in liberating one another from our tombs. People in situations of neglect, disadvantage, conflict, dying of preventable diseases might challenge the ‘first world: ‘Jesus, if your spirit had been present in Christians, then my brother/sister would not have died’. We are assured that we are not alone. Though we acknowledge our pain, raise questions, express disappointment in God, and stare at the grave we are told that in our most vulnerable moments, God in Jesus stands with us at the grave and promises life. When Jesus says that he is the resurrection and the life, he is saying that no darkness, no tomb, no suffering is so dark, for him and for God. Nothing is beyond God’s power - not sin, violence, injustice, disbelief, evil and death itself. Paul in his letter to the Romans says: ‘Nothing can separate us from the love of God.’ But if Jesus weeps, does he not also weep when religious people fail to respect life and human dignity? or at the lifelessness and lack of passion in peoples’ hearts to bring about a better world? or at the continued disrespect shown to our First Peoples? or at executions that still take place in Iran, China, USA, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan or Korea? or at our selectivity in promoting life in some areas and not others? or at the inhumane and deadening punishment we inflict on people in prison? or at insensitivity and indifference to the treatment seeking asylum? or at the hurt inflicted on people who are different to us [people of other faiths and cultures, gay and lesbian people, people with different intellectual and physical capacities?
The ‘dry bones’ story in the first reading illustrates God’s desire for us to not just have life, but to have it fully and passionately. We are called into life (authenticity) and liveliness (passion). It occurs through our attention to the ‘bodies’ of others through service, compassion, risk taking.
Israel’s exile to Babylon was a grave war crime where she became ‘no people’. The ‘dry bones’ has its parallels today as has been outlined earlier. Will those bones ever be put back together? Will they ever come together in unity through peace and reconciliation, through mutual respect of peoples’ difference? When Lazarus comes forth still enshrouded in the clothes of a dead man, Jesus addresses the community/us: ‘Unbind him; let him go free’.
We have a part to play in helping one another be unbound and emerge into the light of new life. We saw this image last week in the healing of man born blind. We saw it in the woman at the well, as she took her rightful position in her community.
John 11 is midpoint and the focus of the gospel. Everything leads to it, and everything that follows is seen in light of Jesus' words: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’. It is the heart of our belief. As stated earlier, nothing is beyond God’s power - not sin, violence, injustice, disbelief, evil and death itself. The Lazarus and the dry bones stories focus on those who struggle to live and believe whilst surrounded by death and need to hear and respond to the call to ‘Come out!’ from darkness into light; death into life, unfreedom into freedom.
Fullness of life exists when our lives are shaped by love: when centred on the world/creation and not ourselves; when we give joy to all whom we touch; when we work at peace building - with self, others and God; when our patience, acceptance and kindness go beyond our kind to those who are different, when we listen to people and help them find their voices to speak their truth to those who think they are the decision makers.
We are not just isolated bodies but part of a community. God's life-giving power is shown when we are closest to our simple humanity, when connected to others; to their ache of longing, to their cherishing tenderness, to their anguish. Jesus says to us: ‘Untie him and let him go free.’ It is the community of believers that frees and turns us in the direction of new life. What depth of faithful love is necessary to bring life out of the decomposing corpse of my life, my country, world and church? When the ‘corpse’ seems to have rotted away, we ask if these bones can still live?
Like Jesus, we are sent to stand at the tombs and call one another from them, untie and set the other free. The gospel is about life by building relationships and a better and transformed world for all. Often we hold ourselves and others captive by our fears and self-image and by the way others define and name us. We imprison people by our judgments, prejudices, fear and isolation. Jesus needs us to remove the stone that blocks people from coming to life. We have the power to unbind one another and free each other and love another into life. Soon Jesus will give us the Easter message of freedom. 'If you bind one another, they will be bound, if you free them, they will be set free.' We hold the key that will unlock the door.
Lent calls to us: ‘Let's start over. Let's be born again’... and creation renews itself. 'I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.' And the story of the dry bones is that God does not stop trying to put us together, to bring us together.
Hearing the Word and receiving Christ's Spirit gives us a new vision of life and transformed world: appreciation of life and creation with its wonders; commitment to life-giving words and actions; promoting the beauty and diversity of peoples and cultures; to notice those who are frail and unprotected; uncared for; struggling in poverty, mental illness, loneliness, vilified, unjustly treated, etc.
When God’s Spirit comes upon us we must ‘come out’ – be people who seek life for others as for ourselves: speak and build peace. Jesus says: ‘Lazarus come out.’ Jesus says to those around him: ‘Untie him and let him go.’ Our world needs a voice that will invite us out of our tombs and into freedom: freedom from the culture of violence, death, racism, discrimination, debt, revenge, and blindness to the needs of others. It also needs our voices that invite our sisters and brothers out of their tombs. We are challenged not to shy away from the sacrifices and struggles that arise as we work for life and justice in our world.