“Jesus cried out in a loud voice again, and gave up his spirit.”
- Matthew 27: 50
On this last Sunday of Lent, we hear two gospel passages with contrasting tones and images. The first is the joyous procession of Jesus into Jerusalem, where he is hailed by a large crowd. The second is the painful narrative of Jesus’s betrayal and crucifixion.
In this final week, we are invited to sit in the tension between the Kingdom of God that is present to us already and that which is yet to come. We feel the joy of the Palm Sunday procession and wait for Easter, knowing the end of the story already: that God has triumphed over sin and death. Yet we wait and work for the coming of God’s Kingdom in a broken world.
In hearing the passion story, we can reflect on the still-present realities of sin, suffering, and injustice in our world, including the harm done to our planet. We recall all those who, following the example of Jesus, give over their lives to witness to a better world or to the coming Kingdom of God.
Today we witness the death and suffering of people who dare to speak out in defense of their land rights or fragile ecosystems. They often confront economic interests such as mining and agriculture that supply products that end up in our homes in the global North. The human rights organization, Global Witness, found that in 2018, more than three “environmental or land defenders” were murdered each week. The Philippines is the deadliest place to be a defender.
Maryknoll Sister Marvie Misolas writes, “the readings [for Palm Sunday] remind me of the story of a farmer leader with whom I collaborated on a seedling production project outside of the city of Manila, in the Philippines. Her husband had been killed by powerful politicians and yet she continued to speak out for justice. She receives numerous death threats from landlords she and other farmers accused in lawsuits of land-grabbing. Despite the danger and fear she and her family experienced, she chooses to continue to defend her communities’ rights to the land. Her struggle is connected to the struggle of Jesus, to bring new life.”
In Christ’s resurrection he “reconciles all things to himself,” proclaiming the renewal of all creation in the Kingdom of God (Col 1: 19). As Christians, we are called to witness to that Kingdom and work to build it daily through following in the footsteps of Jesus.
“The Season of Lent enables us to perceive the new creation that God is bringing about in each of us and in our world,” writes Father Ray Finch, Superior General of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. “It helps open our eyes and hearts to the Spirit turning the world upside down.” As we prepare for the joy of Easter next week, let us give thanks for the steps we have taken in our journey toward ecological conversion and for the ways God’s new creation is already emerging in our world. Let us pray for the grace to continue on this journey.
Questions for Reflection
- This Lent, what have you learned about your relationship with God, with the earth, and with others?
- How will you continue your journey of ecological conversion?
Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love. Praise be to you!
Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!
Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love and accompany creation as it groans in travail. You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love, teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak, and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light, help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!
- A prayer for the earth from Laudato Si’
This week, decrease your fossil fuel use by trying out cleaner methods of transportation, including walking, biking, carpooling, and using public transportation. Natural gas, oil and other fossil fuels used for transportation contribute greatly to greenhouse gas buildup in the atmosphere.
Join the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), a coalition of Catholic groups committed to ecological justice.
Maryknoll Missioner Experience
“Among the signs of the times, I call to mind these recent messages: the United Nations as an international body announced that we have only a decade to go back to pre-industrial emissions levels to reverse the catastrophes that are caused by climate change. We also have the Church teachings in Laudato Si’ inviting us to ecological conversion, to change our ways towards nature, God’s creation. Indigenous peoples have been gifted with the wisdom to care for the Earth; we need to learn from them how to save ourselves from hurting millions.
[The prophet Isaiah promises] that ‘the redeemed shall walk’ in God’s highway and the ransomed of God shall return to Zion singing with joy. Pope Francis invites us to ecological conversion, to have compassionate care for the Earth, to heal the world so that the Earth community will be whole. Admitting that most of these calamities are caused by human activity, let us initiate action so that we can all be redeemed and enter God’s highway.”
- Sister Teresa Dagdag, Maryknoll Sisters*
*Thank you to Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns for allowing us to share their Lenten Guide at springfieldop.org
Photo credit: Palm Sunday: Top image of outdoor cross in the public domain and available at http://bit.ly/crossmountain. Image of man farming by staff of Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns.