Lent calendar prayer and reflection for 11 March
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way, you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest alike.
I initially tried Jesus’ words as a spiritual exercise. I sat and thought of a challenging situation I’d been involved in with someone. I visualised them as best I could, their actions and how they look… and then I wished love upon them. Genuine, warm love that I might feel when I see a family member again, or when I meet up with my best friends.
It was difficult just because I’d not done anything like it before, but incredibly rewarding. I felt happier and understood the person more. It also made me consider how lucky I was to not have ‘enemies’ and to not be persecuted. It also made me think about the idea of ‘love’ and what it means to ‘love’.
So I read the words again and thought Jesus’ words are a call to love unconditionally – even to go so far as to love my enemies. To truly love is to love without hope of reward. To love perfectly is to be indiscriminate as in this brilliant metaphor – the sun rises and rain falls on all.
Meeting Sister Yvonne in Zambia
When I first met Sister Yvonne in Zambia, I was immediately struck by her warmth, happiness and good humour. I was tired when we first met. We’d had an early start – just before sunrise – she came smiling to meet us. It was a long, tough road journey. Sister Yvonne welcomed us with a warm smile and gave us tea.
I’m normally not good for much at those points, but I couldn’t help but smile when she spoke. There was so much good humour and kindness. As opposed to meeting someone who I was going to work with, I felt like I’d met up with an old, wonderful friend again. I left our first meeting smiling and happy to have met her.
I walked with Sister Yvonne into a school that helps children who are orphans. Orphan children in that remote part of Zambia live very difficult lives, they often live in poverty to start with and then struggle to finish their education and so work in basic jobs earning little. With this, there is quite a lot of stigma and prejudice.
Treating others with kindness and love
I watched Sister Yvonne joking with the children and talking with them. She treated them in the same way she treated me – with kindness and humour and love. I could also see that they were pleased to see her and very happy to be in her company.
I asked her about how she views the world because I was so curious about the warmth and love that she seems to radiate. She told me that the way she believes everyone is ‘good’ because we are created by God. Sister Yvonne saw me in the same light that she saw someone with HIV, or someone who was a dangerous gangster in San Salvador where she had worked, or someone with severe disabilities. She loves indiscriminately, without thought of ‘friend’ or ‘enemy’ – just that we are all inherently ‘good’.
Lord, let everyone face each new day with joy and expectation. Let my concern for those working with me, be a sign of your concern, God, Servant and Carer of all. Amen.
Watch our film below with Sister Yvonne from Zambia, and be inspired to bring God’s goodness out to the world. Please donate or fundraise to our Lent Appeal if you haven’t already.
This reflection was written by Mark Chamberlain who works in CAFOD’s Communications team, and who recently visited communities in Zambia. The prayer was written by Sister Bridgetta Rooney.