Lent 2023


Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent: God Brings the Children Back

STM's staff will share an image and reflect on it each Saturday. Today, Sr. Jenn writes about a mural in Guatemala painted by children at the CEIPA school for working kids.

CEIPA school mural

In the first reading today, we hear:

Thus says the Lord GOD: I will take the children of Israel from among the nations
to which they have come, and gather them from all sides to bring them back to their land” (Ezekiel 37:21-28).

Throughout our time in Guatemala, we heard stories of displacement. Families are displaced from their rural homes and forced to move to the cities in hopes if better job opportunities. Children are displaced from Honduras into Guatemala and from Guatemala into Mexico and from Mexico into the United States, trying to secure work and better lives for their families. The Mayan people were displaced by Spanish conquistadors and their Mexican counterparts. The land where they prayed and lived is sacred and churches have been built on the spaces considered holy. Peoples were and are extinguished. Cultures wiped away. Hopes vanquished. Dreams forgotten. Families surviving massacres from outsiders and from their own government. People disappeared, but not forgotten. The stories were difficult and no one escapes complicity in the situations of sorrow, as the United States and Western Europe were causal in the suffering.

God’s promise to bring the children back is a dream for many. Children are learning the traditions of their ancestors, while practicing Catholicism. They are working long hours and attending school with hope of a better future. Young adults are telling the stories of their past, of the violence, of the heartbreak, so that others become aware and it doesn’t happen again. Hope allows us to believe that each child will have a space, land, culture, food, shelter, safety and freedom. In time, and with each of us working to make it happen, the end of God’s promise in Ezekiel will become true:

“I will make with them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD, who make Israel holy, when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.”

Sr. Jenn Schaaf, O.P., D.Min.

Sr. Jenn Schaaf, O.P., D.Min.

Sr. Jenn is Assistant Chaplain at Saint Thomas More: The Catholic Chapel & Center at Yale University