Solidarity Sunday & Share Lent
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Development and Peace—Caritas Canada. Each season of Lent we are called to pray, fast and give alms. Since 1967, fifty years ago, Catholics have been giving their Lenten alms to what is well known as Share Lent. The first one collected $1.35 million, which was used to carry out projects in 32 countries. Over the years, these monies have supported the poorest of people on African, Asia, Latin America ad Middle East. Such generosity has grown to help support today 173 partners and 194 projects in 46 countries around the world. Think of the millions of people who have been fed, housed, empowered, given a voice to promote peace, to self-organize and the skills to develop their own lives and livelihoods over the years. This year’s focus is Women at the Heart of Change/Les Femmes au Coeur du Changement.
Because of D & P’s partnership approach, we as Canadians have come to know a lot about some of these people first-hand through solidarity visits. As visitors, such dedicated ordinary men and women have come to Canada and helped to educate us. We have learned and have benefitted greatly. Their striving for sovereignty, greater self-dignity and justice, as well as, ensuring to have their basic human needs met, are signs of faith being put into action. In some cases, they know that such goals will not be achieved fully in their life-time. As Jesus reminds us in the Gospel, “one sows and another reaps.” As well, Catholic Canadians, with their own resources and in their own time, have made trips to these other parts of the world to learn personally how solidarity is indeed a leaven to such long-term development.
All of this is possible because we live in the hope that progress is being made, that is what God can do by working through us to make God’s love, justice and peace real. St Paul reminds us “hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Rom 5:5-8). We read in the Gospel about the Samaritan woman who comes to the well to get water and she meets Jesus. He asks her for water. And the same time, He tells her that He is the source of living water and whoever drinks of this water will never thirst. He has lasting water (not a bucket) and she has a jar from which Jesus can drink. They are both in the need of the other at that moment. An encounter is had and a partnership is made.
So it is with us today. If Christ, the eternal source, is really nourishing us, then life will pour out from us. Our giving will never diminish. We will freely give, knowing he is our source, making our giving a sign of God’s providence and showing n the flesh the power of love: what happens when we are being loved and in love. We are moved to help so as to provide for others in need, and in turn, for them to know they are loved. Let our Lent be indeed a sharing of God’s love. Let it strengthen our mutual need for each other and in the end help us to be fashioned into one, a humanity that comes from God’s Spirit and Truth.