Lent, Nonviolence

Lent 2018: Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent, February 18 – The first step takes courage

From the Maryknoll Office for Global Concern’s 2018 Lenten Reflection Guide: Embracing Jesus’ Practice of Nonviolence

Genesis 9:8-15 | 1 Peter 3:18-22 | Mark 1:12-15

ashwednesdayclip

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.n 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.

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.”…

Click here for the rest of this reflection, questions, a prayer, suggestions for fasting and action, and more.

* Image of Arizona desert courtesy of No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, http://forms.nomoredeaths.org/en/. Used with permission. Image of Larry Parr in El Salvador courtesy of the Maryknoll Lay Missioners http://bit.ly/2B5D7So.
Lent, Nonviolence, Peace Spirituality

Lent 2018: Reflection for Ash Wednesday – An invitation to a new path

From the Maryknoll Office for Global Concern’s 2018 Lenten Reflection Guide: Embracing Jesus’ Practice of Nonviolence

ashwednesdayclip

Joel 2:12-18 | 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 | Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you. (Matthew 6:17-18)

We begin the season of Lent with the same Scripture readings each year, in which Jesus teaches about almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. We often share with family and friends what we are “giving up” for the next forty days to give ourselves more time  and clarity for God. Many children choose to fast from chocolate. Some brave adults pick coffee.

More than a change in habits, Lent calls Christians to a radical and lasting turning of hearts – a conversion. The traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are to be part of the Christian life during every season, but during the season of Lent, we are invited to renew our commitment and start afresh.

The journey of Lent can be difficult – a time of repentance, of giving up things that tie us to this world and looking instead to the life and teachings of Jesus. But when we courageously examine within, name what is broken within us, turn away from it, and turn toward what is truly good, we will find ourselves living the fullness of life that God wants for each of us.

The life and teachings of Jesus help us understand what the fullness of life looks like: love, inclusion, forgiveness, mercy, sacrifice – and nonviolence. We invite you to spend the six weeks of Lent reflecting on Scripture and the six principles of nonviolence as defined by Dr. Martin Luther King. Each week, this guide offers suggestions for prayer, fasting, and action as well as stories from Maryknoll Missioners in communities on the margins around the world…

Click here for the rest of this reflection, questions, a prayer, suggestions for fasting and action, and more.

Advent

ADVENT 2016: A reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 18

by Catherine Heinhold
returned Maryknoll lay missioner

Isaiah 7:10-14 | Romans 1:1-7 | Matthew 1:18-24

adv4

Advent is a season of waiting – waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled. As people of faith, we believe that God will be faithful. We know from experience, however, that this does not mean we will not encounter difficulty, defeat, and suffering. So what does God’s faithfulness actually mean?

The people in today’s readings find themselves in difficult situations. Ahaz, the king of Judah, under pressure of attack from would-be allies, found himself tempted to rely on an earthly power (Assyria). Isaiah relays the word of the Lord, that Ahaz should trust in God’s faithfulness, and that he may even ask for a sign from the Lord. Ahaz does not want a sign, but God, through Isaiah, gives him one anyway – that a young woman would conceive, bear a son, and name him Emmanuel. Today’s reading ends here, but the story continues: Ahaz refuses to trust in the Lord and instead trusts in Assyria, placing his kingdom under subjugation. So then what happened to God’s promise of faithfulness?

In today’s Gospel reading, Joseph also finds himself in a sticky situation. When Mary’s pregnancy is discovered, he believes that the right thing to do under Mosaic law is to divorce her. He wants to do the right thing, but he does not want Mary to suffer. We can imagine his anguish at the situation. Like Ahaz, Joseph receives a message from God, this time from an angel in a dream who explains the situation and promises that the child to be born will save the people from their sins. Matthew connects this message to the message Isaiah gave to Ahaz – a promise given that in fact has not been broken (despite Ahaz’s lack of faith), and is about to be fulfilled in a new and more complete way. And the promise is this: God with us. Emmanuel. Not God-who-will-fix-every-difficulty-and-prevent-all-suffering-right-now. God who will be with us, who will live with us, who will rejoice with us, who will suffer and die with us. This is God’s solidarity with God’s people…

Click here to read the rest of this reflection on the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns website.

____________

This reflections was prepared by Catherine Heinhold, a returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner, for the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns Advent reflections series.