Witnessing Forgiveness

“Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom Luke 22:14 – 23:56

   Reflection by Debbie Northern, Maryknoll Lay Missioners Staff

     Palm Sunday always seems like a roller coaster of emotions for me.  We wave palms and have a  procession after hearing how Jesus was given a hero’s welcome in Jerusalem and a few minutes later we are hearing about his death in the Gospel!  Serving in mission can also take us on that type of emotional roller coaster.  We celebrate with the people joyful moments such as births and graduations, as well as accompanying them through the sad times of death, and dealing with injustices.  

Serving in El Salvador for eight years, I was witness to the terrible violence and insecurity that the Salvadoran people face daily.  When the NGO for whom I was working did a survey, it was discovered that the teenagers and young adults in our programs feared death from the violence in the country, not contracting HIV or AIDS, which was our focus.  In fact, that fear was realized when one of the young adults who was involved in our theatre group was killed by a gang member.  At a memorial Mass at our office, his father prayed for the young man who had killed his son and forgave him.  I hope that if anything so horrible happened to me or a loved one, I could have the strength to forgive.  This act of forgiveness reminded me of Jesus´ forgiveness of those who crucified him and for his compassion for the other people being crucified with him.  

Loving God, 

As we listen to the Gospel message today, give us the 
courage to confront unjust structures with words and 
actions.  Thank You for giving us brave witnesses such as 
Dorothy Day, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Dr. Martin Luther
 King, Jr., and, of course, Jesus, to teach us how to confront 
injustice without resorting to violence ourselves.  Also help us
 to forgive those who have hurt us; to see their pain and fear,
 too.  We thank you for the opportunity to share our joys and 
sorrows with others and to be part of a world community of 
sisters and brothers.  Let us not despair, but realize that 
you are with us always.  

Focus on: Social Justice

Also in today´s Gospel we hear about Pontius Pilate´s dilemma in trying to deal with an injustice.  He knew Jesus was innocent but bowed to political pressure.  How often do we do the same?  It is far easier to wash our hands of the consequences than take a stand against unjust structures.  What injustices do we witness and how can we work for justice?  Do we choose to remain ignorant of the root causes of injustice instead of listening to people’s experiences and finding out more about issues?
Service Suggestion:

There are many groups working around the world for justice and peace.  Find out if there is a Pax Christi, Amnesty International, or Bread for the World group near you.  What are the local organizations working for justice and peace?  Read more about issues that are impacting our world to hear the side of the story that is not in the mainstream media such as the book Enrique’s Journey that tells the story of a young man trying to get to the U.S. from Central America to find his mother.

This reflection is part of our Lenten Series – Download the Lenten Guide Here

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