March 1, 2017
Joel 2:12-18, 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
“Return to me with your whole heart.” Joel 2:12
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” Matthew 6:1
by Sr. Anne McCarthy, OSB
This year, my mantra for Ash Wednesday comes from LeBron James who led the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team and a whole community to be “All In,” all together, all the way to the championship. The connection to Joel’s demand is clear: the community—elders, children, infants at the breast, bridegroom and bride, priests and ministers, everyone—are to return to God “All In,” with their whole hearts.
The connection to Jesus’s challenge in Matthew is more obscure until we ask, “Who exactly is able to give alms with trumpets blazing?” The answer is: only the wealthy. Which means, in Jesus’s time, that the almsgivers were Roman rulers, Roman soldiers, or the tiny group of Jewish elite who colluded with the Romans. Giving alms in secret and refusing hypocritical, public, religious charades were Jesus’s game plan for dismantling the violent oppressive system. Jesus was “All In” in a whole new way. He traded applause and accolades for real relationships and concern for people in vulnerable situations.
What does an “All In,” full-hearted community look like? I had a glimpse of one at a gathering of global nonviolent practitioners hosted by Pax Christi International and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace last April. We reflected, prayed, and dialogued about nonviolence.
The messages from around the globe at this conference were stark and clear. A Dominican sister from Iraq, a young woman who volunteered in Palestine, a Jesuit from Colombia, the peace community in South Sudan, and those resisting US military expansion on Jeju Island, Korea, all begged, “Choose nonviolence now!” The groundbreaking final statement of the gathering called for an encyclical on nonviolence, rejected the just war theory, embraced Gospel nonviolence, and committed to education and action towards these ends. The full-hearted, passionate, love-based, nonviolent revolution begins here and now on Ash Wednesday 2017. Are you “All In”?
Write the following statement five times in your journal: “This Lent the nonviolent revolution begins with __________ in my life.” Then, quickly fill in the blanks with a different word for each. Choose one of the statements and reflect on it more deeply. How will this statement change your life this Lent?
Is there an image, a story, or a poem that speaks to you of a community totally engaged in the love-based, nonviolent revolution? What is it? Share it with others today and post it on your mirror to remind you of your nonviolent journey this Lent.
Reflection taken from PCUSA’s “Reconciliation with Justice: Reflections for Lent 2017.” Get all of the Lenten reflections here.