Fifth Sunday of Lent

March 29, 2020

March 29, 2020

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March 29, 2020

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Krista

Krista

Chincilla

Chincilla

When I was in college, I participated in an immersion experience to Kingston, Jamaica. Our group consisted of 12 students and staff from the United States. As a part of the immersion experience, our campus minister always encouraged us to “participate, not anticipate throughout the day,” so we really were not sure of what each day would hold for us. One morning, we piled into our trusty (though crammed) white, 12-passenger car. Peter, our fierceless Jamaican leader, drove us to our destination. We immediately rolled our windows down and the warm Jamaican breeze kind of kept us cool.

The scenery drastically changed as we travelled further away from the former convent where we were staying for the week. The roads became more uneven. Crumpled wrappers, napkins, plastic bottles, and other pieces of trash littered the streets. Thin, stray dogs breathed heavily as they lay on the sidewalks, too hot to move. Children chased each other through alleys, their tummies poked out of their too-small shirts and their bare feet smacked the hot pavement. Adults sat, finding a bit of refuge in the shade provided by discolored buildings covered in faded graffiti, and they watched us as we drove by. The poverty was startling and it shook me.

This was not my first encounter with poverty: I had spent the majority of my time in college learning about problematic social structures, oppression, and “band-aid” attempts to fix deep-seated issues. Poverty manifested itself differently in my then-home of Los Angeles, but as we zipped through Kingston, I could picture injustices like the seemingly endless rows of tents on Skid Row.

I found myself uttering a phrase that echoed Martha and Mary’s lamentation to Jesus in today’s Gospel: “Lord, if you had been here...” the scene we just drove past would look different. Out of the depths I cried to the Lord; “hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication.”

My prayer was interrupted as we arrived at our destination for the morning: one of Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s missions. We walked into a large, baby blue room filled with plastic folding tables and matching baby blue chairs. Elderly women living in the home sat in most of the chairs and hushed conversations could be heard throughout the room. One of the Jamaican volunteers ushered us to join the women, so we sat. I wandered through the room and sat next to Ms. Virginia, a 103-year-old woman, and we made polite and kind of awkward conversation. I wondered what I could possibly share with someone who had been on the earth for 103 years.

Not long after we sat down, another Jamaican volunteer skipped into the room with bowls of sliced oranges as she exclaimed, “let’s sing songs to Jesus!” The elderly women clapped and cheered. Ms. Virginia grabbed onto my hand and I noticed her hot pink nail polish. She helped me clap along to their songs of praise to God. Ms. Virginia’s soft lips kissed the back of my hand and raised it high above her head. We laughed as we snacked on cold, juicy oranges, and Ms. Virginia shared pieces of her story with me--stories of abandonment and hardship, perseverance and faith. When it was time to go, she wrapped her thin, frail arms around me. “Thank you for being here today. I love you,” she told me with glistening eyes and a toothless grin.  

I felt deeply unsettled as we drove back through the uneven roads to the former convent where we were staying for the week. Crumpled wrappers, napkins, plastic bottles, and other pieces of trash littered the streets. Thin, stray dogs breathed heavily as they lay on the sidewalks, too hot to move. Children chased each other through alleys, their tummies poked out of their too-small shirts and their bare feet smacked the pavement. Adults sat, finding a bit of refuge in the shade provided by discolored buildings covered in faded graffiti, and they watched us as we drove by.

In the unrelenting fight for justice, I sometimes find myself wondering, “Lord, if only you had been here…” and it’s easy for me to stop there. But the next part of this gospel passage holds so much guidance for us. That day in Kingston, Jamaica, Ms. Virginia and my community of 12 companions walked with me as I began to unpack that next part of today’s passage: “When Jesus saw Mary weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,” he was moved and deeply troubled. “And Jesus wept.”

So, from Martha, Mary, and their grieving community, we learn to ask a few important questions: first, do we recognize Jesus weeping with us? From there, where do we take that grief? We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ, so when we cry out “Lord, if only you had been here...,” well, is he not already present within us, calling us to act?  

Now, we must reflect on what that action might be.

After weeping with the community, Jesus goes to Lazarus’s tomb and he “cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, ‘Untie him and let him go.’”

After Jesus weeps with us, we must ask ourselves how Jesus is crying out to us “my dear, beloved friend, come out! Untie yourself.” What do we need to do to untie ourselves? What is it that keeps us bound? Maybe it’s a fear of the unknown or maybe the thought of leaving our comfort zone; maybe something else entirely. Once we liberate ourselves, we can then ask ourselves how we will accompany and advocate for those who are tied up in suffering.

“Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them...I will put my spirit in you that you may live.” Let us pray for the compassion to weep with our communities and for the strength to accompany each other out of the tomb.

Cuando estaba en la universidad, participe en un viaje de inmersión cultural en el pai ́s de Jamaica. Nuestro grupo consistía de 12 estudiantes y empleados estadounidenses. Como parte de esta experiencia, una de las li ́deres nos decía que deberíamos de “participar, en vez de anticipar el día,” de esta manera no tendríamos idea de lo que el di ́a nos ofreceri ́a. Una mañana, nos subimos -aunque algo apretados- a nuestro confiable vehi ́culo blanco de 12 pasajeros. Peter, nuestro líder jamaiquino feroz, nos llevó a nuestro destino. Inmediatamente bajamos las ventanas y la brisa calientita más o menos nos mantuvo frescos.

El paisaje cambiaba drásticamente conforme viajábamos más lejos del antiguo convento donde nos estábamos alojando esa semana. Las calles se volvieron más irregulares. Envoltorios de comida, servilletas, botellas de plástico, y ma ́s basura llenaban las calles. Perros callejeros delgados respiraban con dificultad, echados en la acera, sin poderse mover por el calor. Niños se perseguían entre los callejones, sus camisas demasiado pequen ̃as para sus cuerpos revelaban sus pancitas y sus pies descalzos golpeaban el pavimento caliente. Los adultos sentados en el poco refugio que encontraban en la sombra de edificios descolorados y cubiertos de graffiti nos observaban mientras pasábamos. La pobreza era sorprendente y me impresiono ́.

Este no fue mi primer encuentro con la pobreza: pase ́ la mayor parte de mis estudios universitarios aprendiendo sobre estructuras sociales problemáticas, la opresión, y soluciones momentarias para resolver los problemas profundos de la sociedad. La pobreza se manifestaba de manera diferente en mi hogar de ese tiempo en la ciudad Los Angeles, pero ese día cuando transitábamos por Kingston, podía ver en mi mente injusticias como las filas de carpas sin fin en Skid Row.

Me encontré rezando una frase que reflejaba el lamento de Marta y María a Jesús en el evangelio de hoy: “Señor, si hubieras estado aquí…” la escena que acabábamos de pasar seri ́a diferente. Desde lo mas profundo de mi ser rezé el salmo: “Señor, escucha mi clamor; que estén atentos tus oídos a mi voz suplicante.”

Mi rezo fue interrumpido porque por fin llegamos a nuestro destino de la mañana: un hogar de Santa Teresa. Entramos a un habitacio ́n grande, pintado de celeste y lleno de mezas y sillas de pla ́stico. Las sillas, como el cuarto, eran celestes. Señoras de edad mayor que vivían en el hogar estaban sentadas en las sillas y podíamos escuchar sus pla ́ticas silenciosas. Una de las voluntarias jamaiquinas nos invito ́ a que nos sentarnos con el grupo de señoras. Yo tom(e ) ́asiento  a la par de la Señora Virginia, una señora de 103 años, y platicamos un poco. Me pregunte a mí misma: ¿que podría compartir con alguien que ha vivido en este mundo por 103 años?

Pasaron uno minutos y otra voluntaria jamaiquina entro ́ a la habitacio ́n con platos hondos llenos de rodajas de naranja y exclamo: “¡cantemos canciones a Jesús!” Las señoras aplaudieron con mucho ánimo. La Señora Virginia tomo ́ mi mano y me di ́ cuenta que su esmalte de uñas era de un rosado intenso. Sin soltar de mi mano aplaudi ́a a las alabanzas a Dios. Sus labios suaves besaron mi mano y la lenvanto ́ sobre su cabeza al ritmo de un mini-baile. Nos reímos y comimos naranjas frías y jugosas en lo que la Señora Virginia comparti ́a anécdotas de su vida conmigo: historias de abandono y dificultad, de perseverancia y fe ́. Cuando llego ́ el tiempo de despedirnos, me envolvió en un gran abrazo con sus brazos delgaditos y frágiles. “Gracias por pasar tiempo conmigo. Te quiero,” me dijo con ojos llenos de brillo y una sonrisa sin dientes.

Me senti ́ bien inquieta cuando regresamos por las calles irregulares. Envoltorios de comida, servilletas, botellas de plástico, y ma ́s basura llenaban las calles. Perros callejeros delgados respiraban con dificultad, echados en la acera, sin poderse mover por el calor. Niños se perseguían entre los callejones, sus camisas demasiado pequen ̃as para sus cuerpos revelaban sus pancitas y sus pies descalzos golpeaban el pavimento caliente. Los adultos sentados en el poco refugio que encontraban en la sombra de edificios descolorados y cubiertos de graffiti nos observaban mientras pasábamos.

En el esfuerzo implacable contra injusticias, a veces pienso, “Señor, si tan solo hubieras estado aquí…” y se me facilita parar allí. Pero la próxima parte del evangelio nos sirve de gui ́a. Ese día en Kingston, Jamaica, la Señora Virginia y mi comunidad de 12 compañeros caminaron conmigo en lo que empezé a entender esa próxima parte del evangelio: “Jesús, al ver a María llorar y al ver llorar a los judíos que la acompañaban, se conmovió hasta lo mas profundo.” Y Jesús se puso a llorar.

Entonces, de Marta, María y la comunidad en duelo, aprendemos a hacernos unas preguntas importantes: primero, ¿reconocemos que Jesús llora con nosotros? Y de allí ¿hacia donde llevamos ese dolor? Como cristianos sabemos que deberíamos de vivir como las manos y los pies de Cristo. Entonces, cuando clamamos desde el abismo “Señor, si hubieras estado aquí…” pues, ¿no es cierto que El ya esta presente entre nosotros, llamándonos a actuar?

Ahora tenemos que reflexionar en que podría ser esa acción.

Después de que llora con la comunidad, Jesús va a la cueva de Lázaro y “gritó con voz potente: ‘¡Lázaro, sal de allí!’ Y salió el muerto, atado con vendas de las manos y los pies, y la cara envuelta en un sudario. Jesús les dijo: ‘Desátenlo, para que pueda andar.’”

Después de que Jesús llora con nosotros, nos tenemos que preguntar cómo es que nos grita con voz potente: “mi querido amigo, ¡sal de allí! Desátate.” ¿Qué es lo que tenemos que hacer para desatarnos? ¿Qué es lo que nos tiene atados? Tal vez es miedo de lo desconocido o tal vez el saber que vamos a salir de donde nos sentimos cómodos; tal vez algo totalmente diferente. Después de que nos liberemos individualmente podemos preguntarnos como vamos a acompañar y defender a los que están atados en sufrimiento.

“Esto dice el Señor Dios: ‘Pueblo mío, yo mismo abriré sus sepulcros, los hare ́ salir de ellos…les infundiré mi espíritu y vivirán.’” Pidamos que Dios nos bendiga con la compasión para llorar con nuestras comunidades y por la fuerza que necesitamos para acompañarnos fuera de la tumba.

First Reading

Ez 37:12-14

PSALM

Ps 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

Second Reading

Rom 8:8-11

GOSPEL

Jn 11:1-45
Read texts at usccb.org

Krista Chinchilla

Krista Chinchilla

Krista Chinchilla serves as the Campus Minister for Catholic Social Concerns and Service at Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana. In this role, she oversees service and immersion opportunities for undergraduate students. These experiences include domestic and international Alternative Breaks, weekly service opportunities, and communal days of service, all rooted in Catholic Social Teaching. Her favorite part of serving at Marian has been accompanying students in engaging issues of justice and learning about advocacy.

She earned an MA in Theology and Ministry from the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College and a BA in Theology and Psychology from Loyola Marymount University. Her Jesuit education has greatly influenced her passion for justice and her love for theology.

Krista was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala and raised in Southern California, two places that have significantly shaped her understanding of community. She is grateful for her family, who were the first to teach her about the importance of welcoming all to a table where bread is to be broken in unity.

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LENT 2020: Reflecting Together Online Course

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