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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories: Salvation, Liberation – God’s Message of Care & Compassion

I have seen the misery of my people.... I have heard their cry.... I know their suffering,...

and I have come down to deliver them.... (Exodus 3:7-8)

The Book of Exodus in the Old Testament relates the story of God saving his people Israel from slavery in Egypt. It is a story of liberation, of freedom. In the little piece of the Book of Exodus that we hear today, we have the call of Moses, who would be God’s instrument in liberating Israel from its slavery. (Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15)

What we hear today is what we are all about as God’s People, as Church. The message we hear in the Gospels and the Good News we are called upon to share is what Jesus has handed on to us. It is the message of God’s care and compassion for all humanity – a message of liberation for all. In the Gospel of this 3rd Sunday in Lent (Luke 13:1-9) the figure of the gardener reveals this message of compassionate care for the weak and the vulnerable.

The work of the Christian is the work of liberation. We are about freeing those in bondage of injustice and oppression. We are about caring for the wounded and the suffering. We are about showing compassion to the sick and the suffering. We are about lifting the burdens of the poor and the powerless. We are to be a people of the liberation – for all.

The Catholic Christian Church in Canada reaches out to touch our world with the Good News of liberating love in many ways. One of these touches is through the Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and its international partner, Caritas. All over the globe the resources of Development and Peace and Caritas are used to care for those facing the burdens of poverty and injustice. In a few weeks, on the 5th Sunday of Lent, as a Christian community, we will be called upon to stand in solidarity with these most burdened peoples of our world.

This Sunday we focus on God’s call to all of us. The words of The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, from Vatican II speak to our hearts over the next few Sundays of Lent:

We are at a moment in history when the development of economic life could diminish social inequalities if that development were guided and coordinated in a reasonable and human way. Yet all too often it serves only to intensify the inequalities. In some places it even results in a decline of the social status of the weak and in contempt for the poor. While an enormous mass of people lack the absolute necessities of life, some, even in less advanced countries, live with great wealth. Luxury and misery rub shoulders.

Like Moses, we are called to bring the message of freedom, justice and peace to all God’s people. Like Jesus, we are to follow the caring gardener we hear of in Luke’s Gospel. He diligently tends the garden, that it might be nurtured to bear much fruit. This is the message of the care and compassion of God’s reign among us. It is a message this Lent that sees us called to reach out to the people of Ukraine, facing the hardships and burdens of war. May they be blessed with peace.

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