3 April, 2020

Praise the Lord, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!

~ Jeremiah 20:13 ~

Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 18; John 10:31-42

Today the readings are full of challenges for us as Christians. The way of the world, the way of power, of wealth, and of influence, is presented as being in opposition to the way of God. God breaks into our world to disturb the status quo. We see Jesus in the Gospels really upsetting the Jewish people and their leaders. Jesus is just as challenging today. The Gospel values of radical generosity of myself to others and God is in direct competition with the message of affluent self-care that bombards us.

 

However, there are parts of our culture that resonate with the Gospel message. A part of our culture that speaks to me of the innate goodness of the Gospels is the values of Ubuntu. A colleague defined Ubuntu for me: “Ubuntu is not a theoretical word, it is a practical word and it comes to be only in the moment in which all the parties participate in its creation.”

 

Each of us encounters the temptation to become corrupt regularly. It may not be the “big” corruption of stealing millions, or taking bribes. It may only be in small things, using work supplies at home, not paying for my water or electricity, and not paying taxes. Yet, whether it is by presenting shoddy work, not caring for the client in front of me, or taking a bribe, we rob something from our common humanity when we behave unethically.

 

Pope Francis speaks directly “to those who either perpetrate or participate in corruption.” He invites to “conversion even more fervently to those whose behaviour distances them from the grace of God”. He poignantly shows us how damaging corruption is, calling it “a festering wound that cries out to heaven for vengeance because it threatens the very foundations of personal and social life. Corruption prevents us from looking to the future with hope, because its tyrannical greed shatters the plans of the weak and tramples upon the poorest of the poor. It is an evil that embeds itself into the actions of everyday life and spreads causing great public scandal.” (Misericordiae Vultus 19)

 

Lord,

 

We ask for your grace to help all of us who are caught in perpetrating or participating in corrupt actions.

 

Grant us the grace of courage and integrity to stop being corrupt, and give us the humility to turn again and seek your forgiveness and merciful love.

 

We pray also for all those whose lives have been damaged by corruption, that your love may console and sustain them.

 

Amen.

 

Catholic Parliamentary

Liaison Office

Jesuit Institute
South Africa

This reflection has been adapted from Have Mercy, O Lord! Daily Reflections for Lent by Grant Tungay SJ, Russell Pollitt SJ, Annemarie Paulin-Campbell, Puleng Matsaneng, Anthony Egan SJ and Frances Correia, & published by the Jesuit Institute South Africa in 2016.

Reflection prepared by

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Whilst working at the Institute, Matthew managed the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and was involved in the Spirituality work, completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and the Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and was also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa. He is currently the Director of Communications for the Jesuits in Southern Africa, based in Lusaka, Zambia.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
See more from Matthew Charlesworth SJ

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