The following notes may be helpful to homilists seeking to address issues of war and peace over the next few weeks.
SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Lectionary for Mass, no. 80
Is 43:18-19, 21-22, 24b-25 It is I who wipe out, for my own sake, your offenses.
2 Cor 1:18-22 Jesus was not yes and no, but yes has been in him.
Mk 2:1-12 The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.
REFLECTIONS: God gives us his assurance today that "In the desert I will make a way, in the wasteland, rivers." Standing before the threat of war abroad and increasingly dire warnings of terrorism at home we can be tempted to become paralyzed by our imaginings of all the horrors of war. The darkness of despair can make the future look like a vast wasteland and a parched desert. Yet even in the face of violence and conflict, God will not abandon us. Again and again he looks upon us in our misery and brings us the good news of salvation. We must never lose hope.
The Responsorial Psalm asks for God's healing (Lord, heal my soul, for I have sinned against you), a healing which begins in each one of our souls. It is our sin, our lust for violent revenge that is the true root of conflict, the true cause of war. Today Jesus heals the paralytic through the intercession of his friends. May God heal every human heart tempted by violence and hate and restore to us the Gospel of Peace.
FROM OUR HOLY FATHER: "May a more intense prayer rise from the hearts of all believers for the victims of terrorism, for their families so tragically stricken, for all the peoples who continue to be hurt and convulsed by terrorism and war. May the light of our prayer extend even to those who gravely offend God and man by these pitiless acts, that they may look into their hearts, see the evil of what they do, abandon all violent intentions, and seek forgiveness. In these troubled times, may the whole human family find true and lasting peace, born of the marriage of justice and mercy!" -Pope John Paul II, Lenten Message, 2003.
Your Spirit is at work
When understanding puts an end to strife,
When hatred is quenched by mercy,
And vengeance gives way to forgiveness.
-Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation II.
March 2nd EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Lectionary for Mass, no. 83
Hos 2:16b, 17b, 21-22 I will espouse you to me forever.
2 Cor 3:1b-6 You are a letter of Christ ministered by us.
Mk 2:18-22 The bridegroom is still with them.
REFLECTIONS: God is wedded to his people with an everlasting love. It is a love which is eternal and which proclaims justice, mercy and fidelity. The new wineskin of the Gospel of Life preaches mercy, forgiveness, and love for all. May that Gospel move our hearts in these days to seek the ways of peace together.
FROM OUR HOLY FATHER: "At this time of international concern, we all feel the need to turn to the Lord to implore the great gift of peace. As I pointed out in the Apostolic Letter, On the Most Holy Rosary, the grave challenges confronting the world at the start of this new millennium lead us to think that only an intervention from on high ... can give reason to hope for a brighter future' (n. 40). Many prayer initiatives are taking place these days all over the world. While I endorse them wholeheartedly, I invite all to take up the Rosary to ask the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary: "One cannot recite the Rosary without feeling caught up in a clear commitment to advancing peace" (same place, n. 6)." Pope John Paul II, Angelus address, February 9, 2003
In the midst of conflict and division,
We know it is you
Who turn our minds to thoughts of peace.
Your Spirit changes our hearts:
Enemies begin to speak to one another,
Those who are estranged join hands in friendship,
And nations seek the way of peace together.
-Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation II
9 SUN FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
Lectionary for Mass, no. 23
Gn 9:8-15 God"s covenant with Noah when he was delivered from the flood.
1 Pt 3:18-22 The waters of the flood prefigured baptism, which saves you now.
Mk 1:12-15 Jesus was tempted by Satan, and the angels ministered to him.
REFLECTIONS: The overwhelming destruction wrought by the great flood is one of the perduring literary images of western civilization. As we contemplate the destruction promised by war and acts of terrorism, we can be tempted to despair, unless we rest assured that God has already gathered us into the Ark, his Church. No waters of destruction, not even death, can destroy us, if we but trust in him and his wonderful care for us.
In the face of war we can often feel powerless or overcome with fear and doubt. Yet we are not powerless! For he who prayed for forty days in the desert has told us what to do: "repent and believe the good news!" Turn away from sin and remember the Gospel which has saved you, the Gospel which conquers all!
FROM OUR HOLY FATHER: "The efforts of Christians to promote justice, their commitment in defence of the powerless, their humanitarian work in providing bread for the hungry and their care for the sick by responding to every emergency and need, draw their strength from that sole and inexhaustible treasury of love which is the complete gift of Jesus to the Father. Believers are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, who, in perfect obedience to the will of the Father, emptied himself (cf. Phil 2:6 ff), and humbly gave himself to us in selfless and total love, even unto death on a cross. Calvary eloquently proclaims the message of the Blessed Trinity's love for human beings of all times and places." -Pope John Paul II, Lenten Message, 2003.
By rejecting the devil's temptations,
Christ has taught us,
To rid ourselves of the hidden corruption of evil,
And to share his paschal meal in purity of heart
-Preface for the First Sunday of Lent..
March 16th SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
Lectionary for Mass, no. 26
Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18 The sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith.
Rom 8:31b-34 God did not spare his own Son.
Mk 9:2-10 This is my beloved Son.
REFLECTIONS: Jesus is revealed to us today as the Son of God, who has come into the world to rescue us from the power of sin and death, that we might dwell forever in his own wonderful light. God, our heavenly Father, sent his only-begotten Son into the world that through his sacrifice on the cross we might know eternal life. We are called to make many sacrifices in these trying days. Are we, like Abraham, willing to make whatever sacrifices God asks of us for the cause of righteousness and truth? Are we, brothers and sisters of Jesus, willing to love others in the same way he loved us?
FROM OUR HOLY FATHER: "In the present circumstances, how can we speak of justice and forgiveness as the source and condition of peace? We can and we must, no matter how difficult this may be; a difficulty which often comes from thinking that justice and forgiveness are irreconcilable. But forgiveness is the opposite of resentment and revenge, not of justice. In fact, true peace is "the work of justice" (Is 32:17)." pope John Paul II, Message of World Day of Peace, January 1, 2002.
Protect us from what could harm us
And lead us to what will save us.
Help us always,
For without you we are bound to fail.
-Collect for Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent.
March 23rd THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
Lectionary for Mass, no.29
Ex 20:1-17 The law was given through Moses.
1 Cor 1:22-25 We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to many,
but to those who are called, the wisdom of God.
Jn 2:13-25 Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
REFLECTIONS: Today we hear the ten commandments, the demand from God that we cling to the truth. In Jesus we know the truth which is experienced by many as a stumbling block to their intentions and as utter foolishness. In days of violence and hate, let us never fear to cling to the Lord and to the cause of truth and righteousness. For the truth will set us free!
FROM OUR HOLY FATHER: "True peace therefore is the fruit of justice, that moral virtue and legal guarantee which ensures full respect for rights and responsibilities, and the just distribution of benefits and burdens. But because human justice is always fragile and imperfect, subject as it is to the limitations and egoism of individuals and groups, it must include and, as it were, be completed by the forgiveness which heals and rebuilds troubled human relations from their foundations. This is true in circumstances great and small, at the personal level or on a wider, even international scale. Forgiveness is in no way opposed to justice, as if to forgive meant to overlook the need to right the wrong done. It is rather the fullness of justice, leading to that tranquility of order which is much more than a fragile and temporary cessation of hostilities, involving as it does the deepest healing of the wounds which fester in human hearts. Justice and forgiveness are both essential to such healing." pope John Paul II, Message of World Day of Peace, January 1, 2002.
When we are discouraged by our weakness,
Give us confidence in your love.
-Collect for the Third Sunday of Lent.
March 30th FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
Lectionary for Mass, no. 32
2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23 The wrath and the mercy of the Lord are revealed
in the exile and liberation of his people.
Eph 2:4-10 Though dead in your transgressions, by grace you have been saved.
Jn 3:14-21 God sent his Son so that the world might be saved through him.
REFLECTIONS: How do we find eternal life? Through death. How do we find peace? Through justice. How do we find joy? Through mercy. The cross of Christ must be at the center of our lives and must govern our every thought, word, and deed. For it is only in the cross that we find salvation, only by the cross that we will be healed.
FROM OUR HOLY FATHER: "Prayer for peace is not an afterthought to the work of peace. It is of the very essence of building the peace of order, justice, and freedom. To pray for peace is to open the human heart to the inroads of God's power to renew all things. With the life-giving force of his grace, God can create openings for peace where only obstacles and closures are apparent; he can strengthen and enlarge the solidarity of the human family in spite of our endless history of division and conflict. To pray for peace is to pray for justice, for a right-ordering of relations within and among nations and peoples. It is to pray for freedom, especially for the religious freedom that is a basic human and civil right of every individual. To pray for peace is to seek God's forgiveness, and to implore the courage to forgive those who have trespassed against us." pope John Paul II, Message of World Day of Peace, January 1, 2002.
Look with love upon your people,
The love which our Lord Jesus Christ showed us
When he delivered himself to evil men
And suffered the agony of the cross.
-Solemn Blessing, Fourth Sunday of Lent