March 26, 2023 — Fifth Sunday of Lent

Solidarity Sunday

Readings: Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45 Or John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45

I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own soil.

Ezekiel 37:14

Let us shine the light of faith

This Solidarity Sunday, we are called to Stand for the Land through a joint expression of faith and almsgiving. Today’s first reading (Ezekiel 37:12-14) alludes to this theme through a powerful description of God’s words to Ezekiel: “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own soil.” The preceding verses describe God breathing life into the Valley of Bones―a miraculous resurrection of the army of Israel. How fitting that, in today’s reading, the Lord is asking His people to stand for the land.

In the verses prior to God’s message of hope and restoration, the risen army first expresses collective dejection, saying, “our hope is lost, we are cut off completely (Ezekial 37:11).” For many environmental defenders in the Global South who are standing for the rights of their communities, a similar response would seem reasonable. How is hope to be found in rural communities experiencing violence, environmental disasters and displacement stemming from the actions of powerful industries and governments?

For many, the foundations of that hope can be found in Pope Francis’ reflection that “As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling.” Pope Francis also describes the tremendous hope offered by God, “the light that illuminates the darkness, even if it does not dissolve it” and reminds us that “a spark of divine light is within each of us.” These thoughts are, in part, what motivated Development and Peace – Caritas Canada’s five-year orientation to Create Hope.

One way in which this hope finds expression is through international solidarity. This includes recognizing the interconnectedness of our human family and acting to support those in need around the world. For instance, we work in partnership with CEHPRODEC, a Honduran organization that accompanies Indigenous communities and rights defenders; raises awareness about ecological and economic issues; resists unjust laws and policies; and has even helped to sensitize Canadians to the inadequacies of their own corporate laws.

In this example, we can see international solidarity―between Hondurans and Canadians―breathing life into communities that care for creation. One can imagine Víctor Vásquez, a falsely imprisoned Honduran land defender who was released through CEHPRODEC’s assistance, as a modern expression of God’s calling for the Israelites to rise up, resist despair and defend their land and communities.

Today’s Gospel reading contains the second most famous resurrection in the Bible―that of Lazarus. Christ’s words just before the miracle, offer the most profound testament of hope: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.” Those who saw Lazarus emerging from the tomb must have felt both radical hope and profound disbelief. Witnessing those in the Global South who, despite threats to their lives and wellbeing, continue to fight for God’s creation, can ignite similar feelings of surprise and optimism.

This Solidarity Sunday, we are invited to reflect on the profound hope and transformative nature of our faith. Let us shine the light of that faith onto the darkest peripheries of our world. May we be open to God’s desire to breath His spirit into us, so that we can plant our feet firmly and stand for the land.

Author: Jeremy Laurie, animator for British Columbia and Yukon, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada

March 19, 2023 — Fourth Sunday of Lent

Readings: 1 Samuel 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A; Psalm 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41 or John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

But the LORD said to Samuel, “…, for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7

Acting collectively to defend the land

In today’s readings from 1 Samuel, Ephesians, and John’s Gospel, we are challenged to see in new ways. As David is anointed instead of his older brothers, we are told that God does not judge based on the appearance of a person, but rather he sees into the heart. Jesus heals the blind man and with his new sight he is unrecognizable to those who had known him before. “I am the [same] man,” he is forced to assert. In Ephesians, we find the powerful contrast between dark and light representing death and life, truth and error. To see by the light of God is to be a witness to the truth and to recognize the difference between the forces of life and death.

This Lent at Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada, we are reflecting on the significance of standing for the land. What does it look like to Stand for the land? What would it mean to see with the eyes of the poor who depend on the land, and must defend it?

At Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada, we challenge ourselves to practice solidarity rather than charity. Charity, in the sense often meant today, of giving to those we pity, falls short of its deeper meaning: caritas, which means love. We are called to love, to see by the light of the Lord and so see to the heart, not merely appearances. Therefore, we express love not through paternalistic, one-sided giving. God’s love is properly expressed through solidarity, meaning to think and act in terms of community.

Community is a web of relationship and mutual recognition wherein members lift one another up when they fall and challenge each other to improve when they miss a mark. It is incumbent upon us as a global solidarity movement to join in community with our partners and learn where we too can grow.

In Honduras, we partner with Fundación ERIC-Radio Progreso. This fascinating grassroots Jesuit organization is dedicated to strengthening Hondurans’ understanding and democratic acumen, and to mobilizing them to struggle against forces that have historically plagued their country with violence and corruption. Its media work, which reaches hundreds of thousands, can be fraught with danger, as community journalist Sonia Pérez recently discovered.

Radio Progreso’s former head, Fr. Ismael Moreno, notes that although much was hoped for from Prime Minister Xiomara Castro because she was elected on a progressive platform, true power remains in the hands of powerful economic interests that are backed by sections of the judiciary. He encourages Hondurans to press for justice and institutional change; to question the co-optation of the state by the elite; and to forge a social movement to nourish what he calls the country’s “incipient democracy.”

This is an example of how our partners see deeply. Seeing by the light of the Lord is to see past the appearance of things; and the love of Christ is a love which heals our blindness and opens our eyes to the light. Organizations like Fundación ERIC-Radio Progreso can help us to live out our calling. Supporting their work is crucial not only for land defence in Honduras, but also for us to learn from poor people in Honduras how democracies are entangled with the owners of economic power. This is true in Canada as well as Honduras. Solidarity challenges us to recognize these international connections and to act collectively to defend the land.

In Ephesians, Paul exhorts us to expose the works of darkness. To make them visible in the light. To us residents of the privileged Global North, these works may at times be hidden; but in solidarity, in heeding the witness of our partners, they become visible, and it becomes possible to act and foster life, as against the forces of death.

Author: Kiegan Irish, animator for Eastern and Northern Ontario, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada

March 12, 2023 — Third Sunday of Lent

Readings: Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42 or John 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42

But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.

John 4:35

Let’s Stand for the Land

On this 3rd Sunday of Lent, the Gospel recounts the story about a conversation between a man (Jesus) and a Samaritan woman at a place that is important to the citizens of Samaria in Palestine. It is the well, an indispensable place that provides the water needed by a community. A place of life, of meetings and of fruitfulness.

In the Bible, the Word of God, there is water everywhere. There is a special place for water in the life of Jesus. In the encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus tells her that he is the source of living water. Many Old Testament stories speak of the importance of the well. It is, among other things, a propitious place for marriages. Jacob and Rachel, Moses and Zipporah, and Isaac and Rebekah all met near wells.

Just as in the time of Jesus, wells today are still important, especially for rural communities in the Global South. And just like wells, land and territory constitute vital elements for a community. People use land to build a shelter or a house to raise and watch their children grow. They use land to sow seeds in a field and harvest food after some months of hard work. To speak of territory and land means speaking of the bonds of life, of knowledge, and of alliances and traditions that the members of a community create with their territories and lands over years and generations. It is also a means of telling and transmitting their individual and communal stories.

It can thus be said that the territory is a kind of treasure. A treasure that deserves to be defended at all costs. That is why communities mobilize to protect their native territories or the territories that have been legally recognized as theirs. For the Asociación Campesina de Antioquia (ACA, Peasant Association of Antioquia), a Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada partner in Colombia, defending the territory means: “To continue to live, respecting the land and cultivating food whilst dignifying memory, defending life and building other possible relationships with the territory and within communities; all while valuing the diversity of stories and learning that coexist in the vast and complex territory.”

As we can see, the concept of territory goes beyond geographical space. It includes all the diverse relationships through which people and communities appropriate, use and interact with space.

Thanks to your donations, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada is supporting ACA, which supports peasant communities in defending their territories and waters.

“ … but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.
The water that I will give will become in them a spring of watergushing up to eternal life.”
(John 4:14)

For the peasants (campesinos) in Colombia, water is life. Like Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, the campesinos gather around their water, weave bonds, unite to celebrate and protect it and to defend their right to live with dignity in their territory. Let us show solidarity and stand with communities that protect their territories and waters, two sources of life that sustain the survival of human beings and biodiversity for present and future generations.

Author: Nicolas Kalgora, animator for New Brunswick, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada

March 5, 2023 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Readings: Genesis 12:1-4A; Psalm 33: 4-5, 18-19, 20, 22; 2 Timothy 1: 8B-10; Matthew 17: 1-9

You are social poets, because you have the ability and the courage to create hope where there appears to be only waste and exclusion…. I am convinced that your dedication is above all a proclamation of hope. Seeing you reminds me that we are not condemned to repeat or to build a future based on exclusion and inequality, rejection or indifference; where the culture of privilege is an invisible and insurmountable power; and where being exploited and abused are common methods of survival. No! You know how to proclaim this very well. Thank you.

Pope Francis, message to the 4th World Meeting of Popular Movements, October 16, 2021

Creating Hope

Today’s readings show us men who courageously left their lives behind, answering the Voice from the heavens that called them to a new life, a new way of being, a new nation, a new world order. They left everything they knew and dedicated their lives to the mission God gave them, to build a community based on the principles of love and dignity.

Am I as willing as Abram, Paul, Timothy, Peter, James and John to reorient my life in such service? Am I ready to leave behind comforts, habits and even worldviews to abide by that voice? Am I ready to really love my neighbours―all of them―the way Jesus taught?

“This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”

Jesus’s example is not always easy. He served with compassion, healing, feeding and including wherever he went. He also confronted injustice, disrupting an exploitative temple market, challenging the system of prejudiced punishment and, ultimately, freeing the whole of humanity from death.

For me, following Jesus requires not only that I serve those around me, sharing whatever I can to help my sisters and brothers in their immediate needs, but also that I work to address the global systems that create or perpetuate poverty and exclusion. This means questioning my participation in systems that use exploitative labour, that deny land rights and that put money, rather than people, at the center of concern. It means refusing to endorse abusive systems with forms of charity that reinforce power imbalances. It means building alternatives that support the dignity of individuals, families and communities, by ensuring they are in control of their own development and that we change the laws and policies that have denied their rights and dignity.

To be like Jesus and the prophets in these readings, we have to be ready to leave behind what we have known to build a new nation, a new world order, founded on the love and compassion to which we are called.

This can seem daunting, but we are Christians! Our hope is our confidence in the path laid out, in Jesus’s example and his teachings, and in the Holy Spirit’s help as we follow that path.

“Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”

Lent is a time to return to this hope. To simplify, reduce or do away with all the things that distract from this hope. As we prepare for Easter, we are sent to live the Gospel by our lives…. We are sent to Create Hope.

To Create Hope is to share the love and truth we have received.

To Create Hope is to orient our lives to the service of humanity in compassion and justice.

To Create Hope is to witness to the work of the Holy Spirit in communities that are actively building that new world order where all can live in dignity.

To Create Hope is to foster alternative social, economic and political models that promote dignity, compassion and inclusion.

To Create Hope is to invite others into this vision, this community, this action of building this kingdom, “on Earth as it is in heaven.”

Join us! In the coming weeks, these reflections will share the work of our partners. Learn with us and act with us so that together we can Create Hope for our families, our communities and our world.

Author: Kathleen Cross, Project Lead for Strategic Planning, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada

February 26, 2023 — 1st Sunday of Lent

Readings: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7a; Psalm 50 (51): 3-4, 5-6ab, 12-13, 14.17; Romans 5:12, 17-19; Matthew 4:1-11

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

Return to the Sources

In facing the challenges—and even the chaos—of life, Lent is a gift. It is a time of looking back and contemplation that allows a return to sources and preparation for renewal. It is a beautiful invitation to get back to the essentials and offer the best of oneself. It is also a call to penance, to prayer and to sharing.

On this first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel invites us to reflect on our own spiritual life and our calling to follow Jesus. We discover how Jesus resisted temptations in the desert while fasting for forty days and forty nights.

“Hunger is a good discipline,” Ernest Hemingway wrote. In the past, fasting was practiced to cope with waning winter reserves. Jesus followed the Holy Spirit into the desert to test his faith. Fasting also has therapeutic virtues. The body gets rid of the superfluous to make room for the essential. If fasting first sharpens— then calms—the senses, above all else it clears and strengthens the spirit.

Fasting and the desert also predispose us to silence and prepare us for prayer in order to (re)establish a sincere dialogue with the Creator in the silence of our hearts. If silence is golden, it is because it is rare and therefore precious. It is in silence that we can hear the song of the Earth and the cry of her children. It is in its eloquence that the answer to our questions is often revealed to us.

Taking advantage of this time to recognize our shortcoming and renounce sin, we would be better prepared to talk to God, to pray to Him and to ask Him in all humility: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit” (Ps 51:12).

Sharing is an opportunity to welcome, appreciate and fulfill what is just and good. “… so one man’s [Jesus’s] act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.” (Rom 5:18). We can also live simply so that others might simply live. Just as a single candle is enough to light up the night, every hand extended, and every loaf shared contribute to the survival of others.

At Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada, we believe that every person has value and that every gesture counts, even the smallest one. It is our duty to defend the rights and dignity of anyone who is deprived of them. And then, doesn’t the salvation of one person—as well as his or her survival—depend upon the salvation of every person? More than just Christian charity, this is what we call human solidarity.

This Lent, let’s Stand for the Land and its children who defend it and depend upon it. Our mission is to seize every opportunity to do Good: to invest our time, our money and our talents for the benefit of she or he who comes, of our neighbour in need.

Today’s readings help us to understand not only the importance of resisting temptations and being faithful to our spiritual calling, but also the importance of being faithful witnesses of God’s love and justice in the world.

Let us remember that every child, woman and man who is full has, somewhere in the world, a sister or brother who is hungry, cold, and thirsty—for justice.

By Philippe Lafortune, animator for Central and Southern Quebec, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada

Significant environmental successes for our campaign

Our People and Planet First campaign has been paving the way for corporate accountability measures to be put in place through mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD) legislation. Over the last couple of months, we have reached many milestones in our quest to prevent Canadian companies from abusing human rights and the environment around the world!

Below, you will find some of our most notable campaign moments:

  1. On March 29, 2022, two private members’ bills (Bill C-262 & Bill C-263) were introduced and tabled in the House of Commons by the MPs Peter Julian and Heather McPherson.
  2. Our campaign petition has received 14,335 signatures, and members have held 23 meetings with local MPs to mobilize them into supporting the legislation.
  3. The petition was presented in the House of Commons by MPs Soraya Martinez Ferrada of Hochelaga, Que., and Mike Morrice of Kitchener Centre, Ont.
  4.  The Honorable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, met with some of our members. Given his portfolio, mandate and experience as an activist advocating for the fight against the climate crisis and the development of clean technologies, his support for our campaign is significant!
  5. Through the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, a submission was made to the Minister of Labour’s supply chain consultation. It highlights the importance of accountability and due diligence measures, in addition to outlining a blueprint for the Government of Canada to use in enacting such a law.

Encouraging as our campaign outcomes have been so far, there is still much work that remains to be done! For mHREDD legislation to be enacted, the following process is required:

  1. Tabling and first reading in the House of Commons (done on March 29, 2022)
  2. Second reading and vote in the House of Commons (expected in 8-12 months)
  3. Consideration in committee to review the text of the bill and to approve or modify it
  4. Third reading and vote in the House of Commons

Then, it would follow these same steps in the Senate.

Now, you are probably wondering what you can do. Keep advocating, sharing and signing the petition! We have only come this far because of our members’ commitment to putting people and the planet first and engaging their communities and MPs. We can therefore be certain that in no time, mHREDD laws will be in place to hold Canadian companies operating abroad accountable for their actions.

Here is an overview in pictures of our People and Planet First campaign:

Membre Roger Bélisle Montréal

Feliz Navidad from Canadian kids to Honduran heroes!

By Dean Dettloff, Animator for Central Ontario

In December 2020, two Lenca Indigenous land defenders, Víctor Vásquez and José Santos Vigil Girón, were unjustly imprisoned in Honduras, based on unfounded complaints from local businessmen. Víctor’s story anchored our People and Planet First campaign last fall.

Thanks to skilled legal defence spearheaded by Development and Peace’s partner CEHPRODEC and strong local and international advocacy around their case, Víctor and José were released on October 15, 2021. At that time, Víctor said, “In this prison, I did not feel alone. I felt strong because of the warmth and support of all my brothers and sisters at the national and international level.” But Víctor and José still await trial, and their legal battle is far from over. Maintaining public and international support is crucial to the Lenca people’s defence of their activists, land and sovereignty.

As an animator, I have often shared Víctor’s situation, highlighting the importance of fundraising and building global solidarity here in Canada. The most rewarding sharing of this story has been among Catholic school students. Zooming into dozens of classrooms and clubs in the last six months, a consistent message kept coming through: these students want justice, and want to be part of getting it.

During our discussions about a campaign-based retreat, chaplain Andrew Selvam of the Iona Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga, Ont., wondered if his students could communicate directly with Víctor. Our programs officer Mary Durran relayed the idea to CEHPRODEC. They said they would welcome cards or letters of solidarity, which would continue to build public support. We settled on a grade 12 student retreat that would introduce solidarity as a core principle of Catholic Social Teaching, explain Víctor and José’s struggle and allow students to make Christmas cards for them.

Honduras 01 Víctor’s wife & children Femme et enfants de Víctor

Pandemic-slowed international mail and a busy coffee farming season meant the cards did not arrive in time for Christmas. Nonetheless, it was a joy to receive a photo of the Indigenous Council of Simpinula holding the cards in Honduras in early February. On a large white board they wrote, “Your messages were received with love and affection. Simpinula resists!”

While cards from kids in Ontario are unlikely to sway a judge in Honduras, they remind the Lenca people that they are not alone. And they remind us in Canada that we are not disconnected from struggles on the other side of the equator.

In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis tells us that solidarity means “thinking and acting in terms of community.” Development and Peace helps students to see themselves as part of a global community, knowing that we are all integrally connected. Alone, it is easy for those in power to write off, ignore or quietly dispose of people who resist injustice. Creating bonds of global solidarity shows that more and more people have their eyes on a person or issue, expecting justice.

During Advent, students prepared for the birth of Christ by sending warm messages of solidarity. Now, in Lent, as we enter into Christ’s suffering, we must continue looking for creative ways to express our solidarity with those whom the Salvadoran Jesuit Ignacio Ellacuria calls “crucified peoples.” We must put people and the planet first; refuse the lies of big businesses that would bulldoze ancestral lands; and stand with those who, like Jesus, resist unjust imperial powers, even at the cost of freedom.

¡Simpinula resiste! ¡Nosotros estamos contigo!

Reflection for April 10, 2022 – Sixth Sunday of Lent

Readings: Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalms 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24; Philippians 2:6-11 and 2:8-9; Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do yGo into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’ou not perceive it?’ — (Luke 19:30-31)

What might the Lord need from us?

One of the most telling images we have of Jesus Christ from the Gospels is that of movement. From town to town, setting to setting and scene to scene, he moves fearlessly, weaving his story with those of the women and men he serves. We see him forge a dynamic relationship of peace with his people, not just in giving to them but also in being fed, housed, anointed and celebrated by them. On Palm Sunday, he humbly requests the use of a donkey, so that he can arrive as the King of Peace. Today, we are still his people, and he is still our humble teacher, coming to us on a donated donkey.

Peace means to be in right relationship with God, with each other, and with all of Creation. Jesus died to make things right with God on our behalf. He taught us how to prioritize love, mercy and compassion for all persons, regardless of their background, religion, health or wealth. This is what a reconciled relationship with God can bring to our lives. Jesus not only builds that relationship but also calls us to live in that new relationship; to feel ourselves move into this new reality with our whole being.

Srey Packly[1], of the Province of Kampong Thom in Cambodia, can show us how to move forward in building right relationships! In 2016, she joined a community fisheries program put in place by Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada’s partner, Development and Partnership in Action (DPA). There, Packly, who comes from a long line of fisherfolk, developed the knowledge and skills needed to keep the fisheries stock in the river strong. Her community’s relationship with the fish extends to the health of the river and river ecosystem. Packly and her people look after the aquatic plants in the river, which helps keep the river clean and healthy for the fish. Her community also uses this now thriving and properly cared for river to irrigate their crops, making their daily food sources more resistant to the effects of climate change. Every day, we see the cycle of life and right relationships moving in Packly’s community; from river, to farmland, to village and back again in harmony.

This Sunday, we can reflect on how we can move forward in right relationship with Jesus, with our sisters and brothers, and with all Creation. In our visits (virtual or in person), in sharing (fairly sourced, ideally) coffee or tea, in offering what we have and asking for what we need, we can share our stories, receive others’ teachings, and continue to deepen our awareness of our neighbour as we journey together. Let us choose this day to look back on all the ways our Lord has led us over these past 40 days (or 40 years!) into ever deeper relationship with Him, with His community and with the natural world. How might He be calling us to act, to speak and to witness for peace in these relationships as we move forward today?

One way you may be called to move forward in peace is to sign up for the Development and Peace newsletter (scroll down to the bottom of our website’s homepage). This is a great way to learn about how our partners act in their communities for peace and how you can participate in the movement for peace here in Canada. You could also become a Development and Peace member and extend your action for peace beyond the annual Share Lent collection to year-round engagement. This could mean building the mission of peace into your monthly budget, praying for our partners’ success and participating in our many activities throughout the year.

However you feel called to deepen or continue your gift this year, I hope you feel the spirit of harmony moving through Development and Peace, its partner organizations like DPA and the lives of inspiring women like Srey Packly.

The Lord needs us now. Let’s keep walking with him.

Missed your Share Lent gift this year? It’s never too late to make a difference.

[1] In Khmer names, the patronym is followed by the given name.

Michael Leblanc, Animator for Saskatchewan and Keewatin-Le Pas, Development and Peace – Caritas Canada

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

Reflection for March 27, 2022 – Fourth Sunday of Lent

Readings: Joshua 5:9A, 10-12; Psalms 34: 2-3,4-5,6-7; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15:18; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found. — (Luke 15:32)

Establishing a reconciled, inclusive community of peace, justice and love

Today’s Gospel recounts the parable of the prodigal son. Luke tells us of a family of two brothers and their father. The younger brother decides he wants to spread his wings and move away from the family. He asks his father for his share of what would, in time, be his inheritance to fund the life he wishes to live. He travels and, through questionable life choices, squanders his inheritance and becomes destitute. He looks back with remorse on the life he left with his father and older brother and thinks how much better off he would be if he returned to them.

He then journeys home, seeking comfort and peace with his father and older brother. The father, standing near his home, sees his younger son approaching from a distance. Without hesitation or question, he welcomes him home with open arms. The father feels such joy in having his youngest son home again that he wants to celebrate and gives directions for a feast to be prepared in his honour.

The older son has difficulty in accepting how his father takes his brother back without question and honours him with a celebration. The father in this story is like God, our Father. He is merciful, and his love knows no end. He shows to both of his sons that his love is enduring and remains present for them, particularly in times of repentance.

The father is building a family that shows mercy to each member. He ensures that there is a place for each member to be appreciated, listened to and supported. Such a family is a community, if you will, that provides a safe place for members to work together in support of each other while providing for the common good of all. Each member brings different offerings of knowledge and resources that help the community achieve what is best for all. There may be times when some can bring more to the table than others, but in the end, all collectively contribute to the well being of the community. Communities built on connectedness and consideration for others’ needs can become safe and healthy environments for their members to live in together.

Today, some wonderful examples of such connected, considerate communities can be found in Honduras. With rapid growth in the country’s mining industry, people have suffered under increased social violence and poverty. To address these issues, Development and Peace has partnered with Caritas Choluteca. They work with community and Indigenous leaders to keep their areas free of extraction projects. Caritas Choluteca trains and accompanies these leaders and supports their advocacy for policies that respect human rights.

How do we support those in our families or communities to ensure that they are included, respected and treated fairly? Have we shown mercy and forgiveness as God, our Father has taught us? What can we do here at home to help those in Honduras and other countries that suffer from their human rights being disrespected by Canadian companies?

Join Development and Peace in its advocacy for a human rights and environmental due diligence (HREDD) law. This law would force Canadian companies to conduct due diligence, by ensuring that the rights of people in foreign countries where they operate are not impacted on by their business practices. Should Canadian companies fail to put proper protocols in place, those who are affected by their neglect will be able to seek justice in Canadian courts.

Sign our petition that calls for the Canadian government to enact HREDD legislation. Spread the word and help us collect more signatures! Our action in solidarity can lead us towards a reconciled community of peace, justice and love for all.

Patricia Walsh-Warren, Animator for Newfoundland and Labrador, Development and Peace – Caritas Canada