Second Sunday of Lent
Sunday 12th March
SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN:
Voices of Suffering and Hope
ACN has a long history of practical and pastoral support for the Church in Sudan, where life is very difficult, following thirty years of civil war. When South Sudan was created as a new nation in 2011, a mass migration of Christian refugees fleeing to the south faced big problems – no homes, jobs, schools or security. Christians left in the north lost their Sudanese citizenship and their rights.
In Sudan, being a Christian means being under constant pressure to convert, but Christians have a strong faith and are prepared to stand up for their beliefs, regardless of the consequences.
On 25th May 2014, Meriam Ibrahim, 27 years, was sentenced to death for apostasy – the rejection of her Muslim faith. Her father’s relatives said she should have been brought up a Muslim and also accused her of adultery for marrying a Christian. In reality, she was always a Christian, having been baptised shortly after her birth. Her Muslim father left the family when she was a toddler and she was raised by her mother – an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. At the time of sentencing, Meriam was eight months pregnant with her second child.
Chained to the wall in a cramped and filthy prison, tremendous pressure was put on her to renounce her Christian faith. She later said,
“I had my trust in God. My faith was the only weapon that I had in these confrontations with Imams and Muslim scholars, because that’s what I believe.”
Even when giving birth in the cell her warders still refused to remove her ankle restraints. Following a global outcry, Meriam was freed after 18 months in Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison and Pope Francis met her to acknowledge her courage and faithfulness.
South Sudan: The Green Cathedral
Your parish fundraising for SURVIVAL PACKS could also help refugee Christians in Sudan and South Sudan
Second Sunday of Lent, Sunday 12th March
This Lent, please pray for the safety of the Christian community in Sudan and South Sudan that they will be courageous in their witness to Christ. #DontGiveUpOnThem
The Lord is with thee…
Mary, you were completely open to God’s love and received his favour from your conception: pray for those who need God’s favour today especially those suffering violence and starvation in Sudan and South Sudan
The Lord is with thee…
Mary, intercede to Jesus that he will change hearts of those whose desire for power and wealth causes famine, war, and enforced conversions
Blessed art thou among women…
Bless all the women who have been forced to marry extremists, given birth in prison and those whose children have died. Help all the women suffering in Sudan today, as they struggle to feed their families
And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus…
May your motherly heart protect all children born today and may we all be bearers of Jesus in our lives
Holy Mary, Mother of God…
Be a mother for all who are lost
Pray for us sinners now…
That this Lent, we might take seriously the call to love others, by feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked and visiting those in prison
And at the hour of our death…
We pray for an end to the premature deaths caused by sin and that all will know God’s love in this life and at the final judgement hear the words of the King of Kings: ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25: 34)
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.”
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)
The Gospel tells us to trust in God and to abandon ourselves to the will of the Father. We know that God cares about the intimate details of our lives and his love for us means that we are more precious to him that we can imagine; which doesn’t even compare to the love we have for our own families. Despite knowing about God’s love we feel sometimes that our life is hard. We all know suffering, loss and disappointment. Sometimes we feel that getting through the day in one piece is an achievement. We do our best but we often fail to be the people we want to be. We desire to trust in God’s love for us and bring that love to others, but the reality of juggling the pressures of life means our good intentions go no further. Into this tension, we hear about the suffering of others; Christians dying for their faith, genocide, and, as in South Sudan; three million people uprooted because of civil war, drought, hyper inflation and now a famine which may leave up to 5 million people starving to death.
What are we to do? How can we answer God’s call to “share with the hungry” and care for the “least of these my brethren” when living our own lives is challenge enough?
We know that “[i]n the end, all that will matter is what we have done for Christ and our neighbor. We will not be asked how much money we made, how many awards we won, how famous we became, how many discoveries we made, how many achievements we accomplished, how much we enjoyed ourselves, or how many people we had working under us. We will be asked one question: “What did you do for me in your neighbor?” Christ teaches us repeatedly in the Gospels by word and example that the secret to happiness in this life and the life to come is self-giving, self-forgetful love, serving the spiritual and material needs of our brothers and sisters, through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ. Only self-giving – the mark of authentic love – counteracts the epidemic of self-centredness, self-indulgence, and self-sufficiency that has scourged the human family ever since the fall.” (Fr. John Bartunek The Better Part.)
Today I make a decision to invite the Holy Spirit into my life. Holy Spirit, I need you to help me become selfless. I cannot do this alone. I want to serve others, but I need your love and power in my life. As a member of the Body of Christ, I have a mission in this life and now I beg you Lord, to enable me discover it. God you who know all things, I give you all the details of my own life and now pray for your help for all who suffer. Let me not see my part in building up your body on earth as a chore – but as a life-giving chance to serve you in others. Help me Mary, Mother of the Church, in my resolve to allow God to live in me. May I have the grace to give the time, energy and commitment to the most important relationship in my life; the one I have with God. May I become ‘full of grace’ and therefore able to truly love and serve you in the way you have called me to.
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”