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Weekly Bulletin - 7 April 2019

Fifth Sunday of LENT

The readings today draw us into a sense of rejuvenation and realignment with our baptismal call to participate in building the reign of God in our own time. In the first reading the prophet Isaiah tells us that God is doing a "new deed" amongst us, reminding us of God's constancy in doing great things for us. In the response to the psalm we acknowledge that the "Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy." It is this joy and sense of purpose that frames the Project Compassion story this week.

We first met Salma as a very young mother; she was part of the Safe Motherhood program in Bangladesh, in 2013. Now in 2019, she is the mother of two young children. Prior to the introduction of the Safe Motherhood Program, young mothers like Salma struggled with a lack of support, and the overwhelming cost to visit doctors a long way from home. Many of the doctors encouraged these young mothers to have operations to give birth and this was in most cases unnecessary, frightening and prohibitively expensive.

When the program began in 2013, this was a "new deed" in the lives of young families in rural Bangladesh. The training given to village and rural midwives has resulted in a most significant reduction in maternal deaths and other birth related complications. There has been a significant decrease in domestic violence due to inclusion of fathers in raising awareness of the shared nature of parenthood. Newborn infants are now less likely to be underweight in the early days of life and the improved nutrition of mothers during pregnancy is resulting in better health for both baby and mother.

The generosity of Caritas donors around Australia is giving life to what could only have been a dream to young women like Salma and so many others like her. Salma herself says about our donors "I want to tell them a big thank you for helping Caritas to train the midwives who help us so much and teach us what is important for our pregnancy and delivery for breastfeeding our babies...please help train more women from poor areas like ours."

The actions of Jesus in the gospel today point to a liberating kindness where there is a suspension of the old ways of judgment and condemnation at the hands of power. Salma and her community have witnessed this liberating kindness in the changed arena of safe childbirth. The kindness and generosity of Caritas donors in Australia have contributed to liberation from fear and exploitation around the sanctity of safe childbirth and confident parenting.

How can we continue the work of God's liberating kindness and life-giving compassion?

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