Lent calendar prayer and reflection for 13 March

Dennis at school in Zambia

Dennis, 17, saved up to send himself to school.

Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Give, and there will be gifts for you.

Luke 6:36-38

Jesus’ opening words: “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate” are a thread for the entire reading. He asks that while we pardon people, we should first aim not to condemn or judge – but to treat everyone fairly in the first place. Compassion and giving take precedence over our personal prejudice.

The passage brings to mind the ‘Golden Rule’ stated in Matthew’s Gospel (7:7-12) as “Treat others as you would like them to treat you.”

Meeting Dennis in Zambia

Dennis in Mbala was 13 when his father told him: “You’re a man now. I’m done with you.”  He was asked to leave his home as his family couldn’t support him.

He worked hard on a small plot of farmland planting seeds, harvesting the crop, nurturing chickens and pigs for sale. After a few years, he could afford to send himself to school despite this incredibly difficult start in life.

Dennis is inspirational – his will to succeed against huge odds is remarkable. He could have been a farmer like his father and made enough to get by, but he chose to save, to invest and to go without just so that he could go back to school and have a future.

I think what struck me amongst other things about Dennis was how kind and giving he is. His father rejected him and could have jeopardised his entire future. Dennis sees his education as a way to support his father when he gets older. So I asked him why he still feels kindly towards the man: “I know he doesn’t look after me, but he is still my father.”

Dennis shows me the meaning of compassion. He does not condemn his father for what he has done but he gives freely without holding back. This is a true gift of love.

Pray

God of all, rescue us from falling to that place of coldness where we begrudge others who have done wrong. Have mercy on us, and set our hearts on fire with your warm, compassionate love. Amen.    

Act 

How can you show compassion today? If you are tempted to be angry or unkind to someone, take a moment to breathe and remember Jesus’ words. You could even go the extra mile to help people like Dennis. Take a look at our fundraising guide and think about organising something like a group meal, cake sale or quiz over the next few weeks. Young people, use our A-Z of fishy fundraisers!

Download the fundraising guide

This reflection was written by Mark Chamberlain who works in CAFOD’s Communications team, and who recently visited communities in Zambia.

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