Reflection for April 3, 2022 – Fifth Sunday of Lent

Solidarity Sunday

Readings: Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalms 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6; Philippians 3:8-14; John 8:1-11

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? — (Isaiah 43:19)

The Lightning bolt of solidarity

A subtle theme emerges through our readings on this Solidarity Sunday: God’s deliverance of people from danger to celebration. Isaiah recalls the parting of the Red Sea, swallowing the army of Pharoah. “I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert,” God says (Isaiah 43:19). The psalmist celebrates the return of captives, saying “May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy” (Psalm 126:5). In the Gospel, we witness Jesus cleverly saving a woman accused of adultery from being stoned, giving her the liberating words, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” (John 8:11)

From the dramatic miracle of Exodus saving a people who had been enslaved by the Egyptians, to Jesus’s wisdom saving a single woman from violence, our readings give us the image of a God of solidarity, one who sides with the oppressed and makes a way for them, even when it feels impossible.

The Scriptures are full of stories like these, where God transforms a moment of turbulence and uncertainty into a moment of liberation. But this transformation is never a one-way process, as though humans were passive playthings on God’s cosmic chessboard. God does not teleport the Israelites away from Egypt, but works with Moses; Jesus does not hypnotize the crowd laying a trap for him, but offers them an opportunity to consider their own consciences. We are invited to participate in solidarity—with God, with each other, and with the planet—on the path to liberation.

I like to think of this participation as a lightning bolt. When we see lightning, we often imagine that it erupts from the roiling clouds above to strike the ground below. Yet, the reality is much more interesting. As water particles bump around in the clouds, they create invisible negative charges at the bottom of the clouds. Since opposites attract, positive charges on the ground rise to meet the negative charges in the clouds. When the two charges meet, an electrical current flashes in an instant, producing the bolts of lightning that we are most familiar with. Remarkably, while this whole process begins with the gathering energy up above, the visible flash of lightning actually crackles up from the ground!

Solidarity is like that. As God’s desire for justice churns in the heavens, our individual desires for justice stack on top of each other below, attracted to what the Spirit is doing. When the divine and human charges connect, a streak of light allows us to see, however briefly, our whole world in a new way.

It is only through our collective action that we can create enough energy on the ground for something remarkable to occur. On this Solidarity Sunday, Development and Peace invites you to participate in our global movement for solidarity. A single donation may not feel as powerful as lightning. But a multitude of donations, a multitude of positive charges, can change the horizon.

Like the charges accumulating in the clouds, God’s desire for justice is not always visible, but it is nevertheless a constant, intensifying and attracting force. “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” God says in Isaiah. This Lent, let us perceive and gather to meet what new thing God is doing in these dangerous times. As God’s justice springs forth, may it find a people charged and ready to meet it, responding with a lightning bolt of solidarity.

Dean Dettloff, Animator for Central Ontario, Development and Peace – Caritas Canada

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