Mar 28 2012

Lenten reflection: Seeing Jesus in those living in poverty

Scott Wasserman with CFCAEvery Wednesday throughout Lent we will post a reflection on the upcoming Sunday readings. We hope these help you on your own Lenten journey. This week’s reflection was written by Scott Wasserman, chair of the CFCA governing board.

Suppose you knew for certain that someone was planning to kill you tomorrow. How would you prepare tonight?

Would you flee as far as you could travel as fast as you can? Would you hide where you could never be found?

Would you stock up on weapons, train how to use them, and recruit a bevy of friends to fight for you and protect you?

Flight and fight are natural responses to a threat. However, there is nothing particularly human about them. Rodents and reptiles do the same.

In the Passion account in the readings for Palm Sunday, Jesus knew for certain that unspeakable forces were conspiring to kill him. He knew they had infiltrated even his 12 closest disciples.

In the face of certain enmity and violence, he chose neither flight nor fight. He chose a third way, the uniquely human way of nonviolent love for enemies.

When you imagine how you would respond to a death threat, you probably do not think of hosting a dinner party for your friends and enemies. Yet that is what Jesus did.

CFCA sponsor child Yesica in Guatemala receiving communion

Yesica, second from right, receives communion during a Mass celebration in Guatemala. Yesica is a child sponsored through CFCA.

Instead of running away or preparing to fight, he freely accepted his death by sharing bread and wine ñ his body and blood ñ with the friends who would deny and betray him.

Every disciple who attended his Last Supper would prove to be his “enemy” that night, in the sense that they were all sinners in need of his grace and mercy.

The disciples slept and ignored his agony. Peter denied him. Judas betrayed him.

You can use the example of Jesus’ disciples to examine your conscience in how you relate to Christ in the poor.

Have you “slept” in ignorance of the real struggles of families living in poverty? Have you “denied,” like Peter, that you are even associated with the poor in one human family?

Have you “betrayed,” like Judas, Christ in the poor by benefiting from their exploitation in the production of the goods you buy?

After you examine your conscience, the readings this Palm Sunday offer good news.

Regardless of how far you may have ignored, denied or betrayed families living in poverty, Jesus in the poor invites you to his supper anyway. Jesus even dips bread with those who betray him most.

CFCA sponsorship offers a trustworthy means to reach across the divide that separates you from a family living in poverty.

Your sponsorship is a revolutionary act that is fundamentally different from traditional charity. A friendship made through Hope for a Family deeply recognizes the humanity on both ends and offers hope for the kinds of human connections that can heal our world.

The empire tries to turn friends into enemies. As Jesus demonstrates this Palm Sunday, “enemies” sharing themselves in communion with each other is the only way for life and love to triumph over death and violence.

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