Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fifth Sunday of Lent Reflection - Forty Days with the Four Pillars

"Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit."
John 12:20-33
By Laura Castro, Catholic Volunteer Network Staff and Former Cap Corps Midwest Volunteer

In today’s reading, Jesus reveals his death to his disciples knowing they soon would be welcomed and celebrated in Jerusalem. He sets up his teaching with a metaphor: “just as a grain of wheat must die to produce fruit, we must die to ourselves to encounter the fruit of eternal life.” This teaching stretches us to live for something beyond this world, a place we only know through our faith. We can relate to Jesus’ humanity because we see how he might have found doubt in this invitation when he says, “I am troubled now.” He understands the heaviness of what lies before him, yet he follows this moment of confusion with an affirmation of his purpose in the world and ends the teaching with hope. The reading shows the complexity of Jesus and his faithfulness to God and humanity.

As Jesus reminds the people of his death, do we remain hopeful? What in our lives makes this difficult? What inspires us to be hopeful? Through our service and ministry – how have we found hope in the darkest places?

Focus on the Four Pillars:

Spirituality: When speaking to the youth, Pope Francis stated, “Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad!” he said. “Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person,” he said. “We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders.”

Social Justice: Catholics have essential beliefs and teachings around social justice that give us direction to encounter Christ in all people and all creation. The seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching can be implemented in your daily life. Visit Catholic Apostolate Center’s Catholic Social Teaching resources page for more information: www.catholicapostolatecenter.org/catholic-social-teaching.html

Simple Living: Living simply has its challenges, especially in a consumer-centric society. You may feel daunted by the idea of adopting practices of simple living and making a lasting commitment to this new lifestyle. Don’t let those worries prevent you from giving it a try today. View this Lenten season as a way to experiment with new forms of simple living – and once you’ve tried it, decide which practices you want to maintain for the long haul. Also, remember that integrating some practices of consuming less are forms of solidarity with those who are living in poverty.

Community: Robert Greenleaf said “The servant leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.” How are you utilizing your leadership positions to lift up your community?

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This reflection is part of our Lenten series - download the entire reflection guide here.