Weekly reflection for February 17, 2024 – 1st Sunday of Lent

Weekly reflection image - Lent 2024

Genesis 9:8-15 
1 Peter 3:18-22 
Mark 1:12-18 

I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. 
Genesis 9:11

A season of promise

By Jeremy Laurie, Animator for British Columbia and Yukon 

The Lenten season is a time full of promise. The promise of committing to our Lenten sacrifices. Our collective promise of generosity through almsgiving. And the ultimate promise of Christ’s death and resurrection. It’s fitting that the first Lenten reading this year describes one of God’s first promises to humanity: that there would never be another Great Flood. The Bible makes it clear that this exchange was more than a simple, contractual agreement. It was a covenant between God and His chosen people. 

In biblical and legal contexts, the term “covenant” is usually reserved for particularly important moments. In 1966, the United Nations adopted covenants Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Civil and Political Rights. Along with one of the most important documents in modern history, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they constitute the International Bill of Human Rights. While human covenants lack the permanence and certainty of God’s, these documents are important for securing fair treatment for all human beings. 

It seems appropriate that one year later, in 1967, the bishops of Canada created the international solidarity organization we now call Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada. Since then, the organization has made its own promise: to work towards a world of dignity, solidarity, justice and peace. A concern for human rights is an integral part of that commitment. 

Pope St. John Paul II reflected that “human rights stem from the inherent dignity and worth of the human person,” and that “even when man refuses it, the Heavenly Father’s love remains steadfast” as evinced by him sending “his Son Jesus to redeem every individual, restoring each one’s full human dignity.” For a human being to live a dignified life, certain fundamental needs must be met. These include a right to food, clothing, medicine, shelter and social services. 

Those rights are at the core of this year’s Share Lent campaign, Reaping our Rights. It highlights ways that Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada’s partners are ensuring that people’s basic rights and needs are secured. In Nigeria, our partner HOMEF (the Home of Mother Earth Foundation) is empowering thousands of people to respond to the devastation caused by international oil companies. In Indonesia, PAYOPAYO is equipping people of all ages with skills in agriculture, food security and natural resource management. In Bolivia, Fundación NUNA is helping Indigenous and peasant communities to work more sustainably and diversify their incomes. 

In his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis states, “When the dignity of the human person is respected, and his or her rights recognized and guaranteed, …the creativity of the human personality is released through actions that further the common good.” Our partners’ projects, explored throughout this Lenten campaign, are tangible expressions of that creativity. 

Like God’s covenant symbolized by the rainbow, or Christ’s ultimate sacrifice symbolized by the cross, let us be symbols of God’s mercy, justice and love in the world. In this season of promise, may we be inspired to act for what is right


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