Fifth Week of Lent: When We Become Agents of Restoration
“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25)
Our Lenten journey is a call to celebrate this reality — this seeming paradox — that we must “die” to produce much fruit, that we must lose our life to preserve it. In his encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis talks about this process as that which “open[s] us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile.”
“I invite everyone to renewed hope, for hope speaks to us of something deeply rooted in every human heart, independently of our circumstances and historical conditioning. Hope speaks to us of a thirst, an aspiration, a longing for a life of fulfillment, a desire to achieve great things, things that fill our heart and lift our spirit to lofty realities like truth, goodness and beauty, justice, and love… Hope is bold; it can look beyond personal convenience, the petty securities and compensations which limit our horizon, and it can open us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile. Let us continue, then, to advance along the paths of hope" (Fratelli Tutti 55).
This “renewed hope” of which Pope Francis speaks becomes a reality when we die to our desire for vengeance and open ourselves to the transformative power of Christ. As we are transformed and restored, we can transform and restore others.
Video: Precious Blood Center’s Peacemaking Circle (Time 2:08)
You are invited to view the video below from Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Chicago, Illinois to see “agents of restoration” in action.
Reflection and Sharing
How does the circle process help to honor human dignity when harm has happened?
Where could you see circles or other restorative practices being meaningful or transformative in your life or ministry?
Restorative Justice and Catholic Social Teaching: Call to Family, Community, and Participation
We encounter God in our interactions with one another. Each person has a right and a duty to participate in society and holds a responsibility to work with others for the common good and well-being of all — especially the poor and vulnerable. Restorative justice invites people to share their stories in their own terms and hear others’ stories with respect, together seeking a shared narrative of what happened, why, and how best to move forward.
Incarceration removes a person from society. Often, victimization can have a similar effect. A restorative approach seeks ways to limit isolation and find healing in communion with one another.
Reflection and Sharing
As we look toward Holy Week and Easter, what brings you hope?
How do you feel called to be an agent of transformation through restorative justice?
Closing Prayer: Fourfold Franciscan Blessing
May God bless you with a restless discomfort
about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships,
so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for
justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer
from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may
reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that
you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able,
with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.
And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator,
Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Savior,
and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you
and remain with you, this day and forevermore.
With Holy Week ahead, view the video, “West Side Stories: 14 Stations” (Time 34:55) — a modern Way of the Cross created by young people at St. Agatha Catholic Parish in Chicago, Illinois in the light of restorative justice.
Restorative Justice in Light of the Lenten Gospels is a weekly Lenten series that follows along with Catholic Mobilizing Network's faith formation guide, Harm, Healing, and Human Dignity: A Catholic Encounter with Restorative Justice (Liturgical Press, 2019).