Saturday of the fifth week of Lent, 2023

    April 1, 2023

    Today we read in Ezekiel about the hope of God’s plan to return all His scattered children, provide protection, multiply them, dwell with them forever, and make with them a covenant of peace. In stark contrast, the plot to kill Jesus is revealed in John’s Gospel in the meeting of the chief priests and the Pharisees. The image of God’s arms embracing His children and gathering them to Himself is overwhelming to imagine, yet it is horrifically and beautifully laid bare in Christ’s passion and death at the hands of those who feared His presence and the effects it could have on their lives.

    Fear of the unknown can make us do strange things, even in the best of circumstances. Fear of reaching out to that person who hurt us, or fear of someone who looks or speaks differently than us can cause us to act out of pride and not love. As Catholic Charities, we have the unique privilege of embracing others in hope and charity rather than fear to provide a space to bring together those who are marginalized. We participate with God in gathering His children to Him through our life-giving programs and provide an example to others in the community to follow.

    Today, let us reflect on the privilege of being able to advocate, love, and empower those we serve. And may we embrace the weight of Holy Week with the knowledge of God’s assurance that no matter the distance, He loved us to His death and, as the Good Shepherd, will always seek to find us even in our fearful moments.

    Cindy Self is the Director of Volunteers for Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans. Since becoming Catholic through RCIA 30 years ago, she has been active in many aspects of parish life. She founded the Garden of Holy Innocents, a memorial garden for pregnancy and infant loss at Divine Mercy parish after experiencing her own losses. For 25 years and counting, she is the wedding coordinator at the parish as well.

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