In the Gospel of Matthew 6:2, Matthew says when you give alms, do not blow a horn before you in synagogues and in the streets like hypocrites looking for applause. In giving alms you are not to let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.
We should be silent about our deeds and not boast about them and God, our loving father who knows will repay us. Receiving blessed ashes is an admission that we are sinners in need of constant conversion and also sinners whom God loves so very much.
We realize that prayer tends to improve our relationship with God; also tends to make our will better to hear His voice. Almsgiving helps us to share with others who are in need. Fasting and self-denial will make this day holy.
Psalm 51:3-6, 12-13, 14, 17
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Thursday after Ash Wednesday
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse,
Choose Life.... [Deuteronomy 30.19]
Commercialism and greed play a large part in our world today. It is not a perfect world by any means and families with several children are limited as to things they can have. To get to see places of interest, we had to camp our way. The rule was no eating in restaurants no matter what.
Our family was used to being limited in their desires and learned to live this way. We were camping in the Black Hills and it was usual to watch all the campers roll in. This particular evening, we were all at the swimming pool and in came a gorgeous bus camper. It was beautiful and we all watched them drive in. Well, the first three children came out with their mother, then the father pushing a wheelchair with about a 15-year-old crippled boy. We knew immediately that was probably the only way they could travel. Nobody said a word but I'm sure our kids little minds were working a hundred miles an hour. Our hearts went out to the boy and the parents, their children as well. It was very quiet and no one said a word.
Only the Lord knows why these crosses are carried. There is much inequity in the world and we must make the best of what we have and be happy for others who have more. As the saying goes, To those who are given much, much is expected. We must learn to live the Lord's way, and we will be repaid one hundred fold.
Deuteronomy 30: 15-20
Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
Friday after Ash Wednesday
As I reflect upon Isaiah 58: 1-9, I am reminded of my childhood growing up in poverty. Fasting was a way of life at times, not by choice, but by circumstance. We relied on food staples provided to us by the Welfare system. This was supplemented by food baskets that we received periodically from church groups and social agencies. As an adult I have made it an important part of my life to work on behalf of those who live in poverty, are homeless or work for wages that do not even meet the poverty level.
These social justice issues are important to me and stem from the experiences in my youth and the charity and compassion shown to my family by others. I will never forget it and will always do what I can to provide assistance to those in need. I will continue to do all that I can to assist people in need.
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6,18-19
Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Little Things Count
If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted, then light shall rise for you in the darkness. [Isaiah 58:10]
We cannot disregard those who are hungry of afflicted. We cannot simply cast ourselves on God's mercy and make no effort toward reforming our lives. We must think of people less fortunate than we are. I have taken this reading literally. Each Christmas I make loaves of banana nut bread and take them to elderly and ill in the neighborhood. This is such a small gesture but they are so grateful. They can't thank me enough.
Lord Jesus, help me to live according to your spirit in all things.
Week One Sunday
Has the world changed in the last two centuries. True enough, we live in a violent world. Perhaps we have perfected the ways we can hurt and torture other human beings. But really the world has not changed all that much Adam an Eve in the garden had all they needed to make them happy. There was only one tree that God told them to leave alone. Why did they have to go there.
Temptation seems to infect all of humanity. There is always one more thing that I need that will be satisfying. Am I concerned whether it affects others for good or for ill? I rarely think of that. How it affects me is the all important thing. Jesus was tempted too. The Devil asked him to use his power for his own benefit. That's the real temptation isn't it.
Jesus help me to see things from your perspective. To put others needs before my own. During this Lenten Journey I ask your guidance, help me to see with a broader vision help me to go beyond my self-centeredness so that I can act as you would have me act.
Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 17
Romans 5:12-19 or 5: 12, 17-19
Lent week 1 - Monday
And the King will say to them in reply, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
Jesus is speaking to the people about the last judgment. When we see or hear of someone in need whether it be for food , education or shelter we should recognize His presence in that person and respond generously just as He would if Jesus himself appeared as the needy person. The lesson we might learn is that the Lord is among us now asking us to see and meet the needs of those here and now just as Jesus reached out to sick, the lonely and poor during his earthly life. Then as he promised, we will enter our eternal home to rejoice with Him forever.
Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18
Psalm 19:8,9 10, 15
Lent week 1 Tuesday
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth John 7:23
A person came into my life by way of an introduction with a warm smile and a friendly greeting. It was so well received that it turned the friendship into a gift likened to that of a pearl. As the days passed I started to notice the morning sunrise, the setting of the sun in the west and the beautiful birds flying around the blue sky. I see the face of God in the blooming flowers everywhere. Then I feel the warmth of his love all around me. I listen to beautiful music played and songs so meaningful sun, you hear his voice. What a wonderful gift of friendship that can touch the soul. I feel my Lord's arms around me and his eternal friendship is mine.
Lent week 1 Wednesday
There are several important things to note in today's first reading from the prophet Jonah. This is the second time that God gave specific directions to Jonah, the prophet who tried to sail away from the mission to announce the need for the citizens of Nineveh to repent. According to the story, Jonah is an Israelite prophet preaching to a pagan people, who actually listen to what he has to say after but a single day's walk through the city. Everyone, including the king and his nobles and all the animals, fast, put on sackcloth and repent of their evil ways! And God shows mercy on a pagan city.
Here are the lessons to be learned: First, each of us has a call from God who is relentless until we answer. Second, sometimes we are sent by God to foreigners, those with whom we do not socialize. Third, God's word is effective; it changes people's minds. And fourth, God is interested in all people-no matter what their religion, race or sex may be. During Lent, we learn from Jonah that when we cooperate with God, the Holy One makes our work fruitful. Both Jonah and the people of Nineveh repent or change their minds.
Lent week 1 Thursday
We are amazed at the confidence with which Jesus speaks. Ask and you will receive; knock and the door will be opened; seek and you will find! I am sure all of us have had enough experiences of asking the Lord for something and not receiving what we really asked for, or knocking at the door of something and not being opened for us, or seeking something and not finding. These experiences can disappoint and discourage us. Jesus is giving us an insight as to the spirit with which we may pray or ask or seek.
In fact Jesus gives us two important attitudes for our life of prayer. First of all we need to trust that God knows what we truly need. Will he not give us then? Can we believe this? Secondly, God also reminds us what we need to be really praying for. We need to pray to help us do His will. True happiness is doing God's Will and being faithful to Him. God is faithful even when we are unfaithful.
Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all else will be added to you.
Esther: C:12, 14-16, 23-25
Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 7-8
Lent week 1 -- Friday
Matthew 5:24: A call to reconciliation
Would you be able to travel 300 miles in a lawn mower to put things right with a brother you have not spoken in many years? That's what Alvin Straight, a 73- year-old man, does in the movie The Straight Story. Having lost his driver's license and detesting bus trips, he rides his lawn mower to Wisconsin to mend things with his dying brother. He decides to end hatred and choose reconciliation.
As I watched the movie, I thought of the many broken relationships that are so common among people and how important it is to break down the walls of anger that separate us from another human beings. This is exactly what Jesus addresses when he said: "First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." (Mt 5:24). He is calls us to reflect on the importance of reconciliation, especially those with whom we hold grudges. Jesus urges us to become good and humble reconcilers and help to build the great family of the children of God. Do you have a friend, a relative, a neighbor, a co-worker, a brother or sister in Christ with whom you need to make things right? This time of Lent is the appropriate moment to go straight to that person and look for reconciliation.
Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-7a, 7bc-8
Lent Week 1 -- Saturday
God's First offer of Love
Be careful to observe the statutes and decrees of the law; observe these with all your heart and all your soul and you will be a people sacred to the Lord, your God, as he promised.
We were created by God and given a free will. However he does want us to keep the commandments. We may be bewildered at times, but we do have a choice and God wants us to accept His will. God asks us to love our enemies as well as our friends for we are all his children and he makes the sun shine on the evil and the good. He likewise, sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Psalm 119:1-2, 4-8
Lent Week 2 - Sunday
"...and led them up a high mountain"
I'll never forget my visit to the Holy Land. Our group of priests left the Jordan River area and slowly the mountain came into view. The bus came to the spot where we huddled into vintage Mercedes station wagons and up we went for the final assent. Right away it was clear the drivers were in a hurry and knew the curves and just how close to the side they were supposed to go. No ride for the faint of heart ! Coming out of the car at the top began to place myself with Jesus and his disciples on this mountain. Near the church, I could see the verdant plains below, the quietness, the breeze and the late morning sun were preparing me to celebrate the Mass together around the altar of the Transfiguration with the beautiful mosaics of it in the background. What a difference a little distance can make to see things in a new way. Just a little distance is what I needed to catch a glimpse of myself, my God and all of life around me. Coming down the mountain was a jolt back into the everyday world, but the transfiguration brought a new appreciation of "how good it was to be there."
Open my eyes, O God, to see you in new ways !
Psalm 33:4-5,18-19,20, 22
2 Timothy 1:8b-10
Lent Week 2 - Monday
God Himself is the Judge! Come let us adore!
Do not judge, and you will not be judged? [Luke 6:36]
The Church has always recognized that we are called to avoid judgment of other persons and names certain actions wrong.
As I look back, and even now, I find myself judging others by their faults, which I may think are wrong. Or I don't like something about the person. Who am I to judge?
I especially remember one time when I judged a person I didn't know but heard rumors about her and because of what I heard ignored her when I saw her. One day I found I had to work with her in a group. I did, and as I got to know her we became good friends. She is a wonderful person and I learned from her. During this time I also realized that I committed the same act she did and had completely forgotten about it and here I judged a person wrongly for the same thing I did. How often do we do this ?
God asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive offenses and to give without counting the cost, as God himself has done.
Psalm 79:8,9,11& 13
Lent Week 2 - Tuesday
Isaiah portrays God giving specific instructions in today's first reading. Isaiah's directions are especially appropriate for us during this second week of Lent as we continue our preparation to renew our baptismal promises during the Easter Vigil and on Easter Sunday and be washed clean. We scarlet-colored sinners are commanded to make biblical justice our aim. Those we have wronged through gossip, anger, stealing, etc., need to be redressed; we owe that to them. We owe prayer for and help to the children in orphanages, in rehabilitation houses and state-run foster care programs. The poor, especially widows, deserve our concern in their loneliness, old age and nursing homes. According to Isaiah, through our practice of biblical justice, God will turn our red-face embarrassment into white-as-snow or white-as-wool joy. Throughout the Bible, God has a special concern for those who are left behind.
Lent offers us the opportunity to be sure that we are doing our part to leave no one behind. We have received God's commands; now let us enact them through our practice of biblical justice.
Lent Week 2 - Wednesday
Jesus said Whoever wants to be more important in your group shall make themselves your servant.
Mark says that it was James and John who asked Jesus for important posts in his kingdom [10:37]. But Matthew puts the blame on the mother. But the cover-up is transparent in the text when you check the original, "Jesus said to the brothers, you (plural) do not know what you are asking. Can you (plural) drink the cup that I am about to drink?' They answered, "We can." Jesus was speaking to them not their mother. Furthermore, the others were angry with the two brothers. Jesus measures greatness differently from the way modern society does. Society measures greatness in terms of wealth, influence and position. Jesus considers such things as irrelevant. Jesus measures greatness in terms of quality of one's service to others. Whose measure of greatness do I tend to follow - Society's or Jesus'? How comfortable am I measuring another's greatness in this manner? Why?
Psalm 31:5-6, 14, 15-16
Lent Week 2 - Thursday
"There was a rich man dressed in purple garments and there was a poor man "(Lazarus) Luke 16:19-20
Here we are again listening to the word of God telling us of the importance of reaching out to our fellow man with mercy and forgiveness. The rich man had all the food shelter and physical needs anyone could need or want. He selfishly guarded his possessions and failed to share with those in need -- in the person of Lazarus.
God so lavishly gives us himself and provides us with more than we can use. When we share is love, his concern for others we are blessed. When we lack concern and care for others we are not Christian in the true meaning of that calling. During Lent, let us decide to become more of the needs of others.
Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
Lent Week 2 - Friday
It seems to me people today aren't very much different than the folks in today's Readings. Greed, jealousy, envy and materialism weaves its nasty threads through them. Whether it be plotting against one's brother as in the story of Joseph (Genesis) or the horror of murder to attain treasures and wealth in the parable Jesus told in Matthew's Gospel.
Even in the midst of all this messiness, God is present and promises to be with us. My hope then becomes my Faith in action. Human nature may seem the same, but God's Son, Jesus, took on this same nature for human redemption. Am I ready to follow Him, even if it means to die to what the world continues to perpetuate, to walk the road to Calvary? Are you?
Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a
Psalm 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21
Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
Lent Week 2 - Saturday
Justice - Ethics - Righteousness: great life-themes these, but we'll completely miss the point if we try to read them into today's Liturgy of the Word, especially Luke's Gospel, the parable of the Prodigal Son. I know from first-hand experience. For much of my life I was perplexed by this parable, having been taught to strive for and cherish justice, ethics, and righteousness in my life. I identified with the older son in the parable, and missed the point. It's not about justice, it's about mercy, God's relentless mercy and forgiveness. Now, I look back at my life and see both the countless blessings from God, and missed opportunities on my part, so it's easy to identify with the prodigal son in the parable. God, the Alpha and the Omega, extends boundless mercy to us repentant sinners, chooses to have short term memory of our sins, and like the Prophet Micah points out "persists not in anger forever but delights in clemency." The season of Lent is a good time for reflection, repentance, conversion, and reconciliation with God and with each other.
Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Lent Week 3 - Sunday
For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles ...1 Corinthians 1:22-23
Which one of us does not have trials? Perhaps we feel sorry for ourselves or complain to God about our lot in life? Which one of us doesn't want a miracle to take away all our troubles, worries and sleepless nights? And who among us doesn't wish God would just send us instant solutions to all the problems and dilemmas we face? We just want all of the "bad stuff" to go away, right away.
To add to our frustration and impatience, the world tricks us into believing we have all the answers, control, power and wisdom we need, but Christ's message is clear. He is to be our model. We are to unite our "crosses" to His and trust in Him to lead us straight to our Heavenly Father.
The question really is---What will we chose, the deception and false hope of this world or Jesus Christ, our model and Savior?
Lord Jesus, may we realize our dependence on you and humbly ask for Your power and wisdom to rule our lives.
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
Lent Week 3 - Monday
The story of Naaman, the Syrian strikes me as one of those very human encounters. My prayer is often like that. I have been taught that God can fix anything. He can solve all of my problems. He will do something dramatic and everything will be alright. I'm going to leave it in God's hands. What?... He wants me to do something something so ordinary as taking a bath? or fasting or alms giving or taking time to be alone with Him? Is it possible that I missed something?
Lord there are so many people I see every day, how often I miss seeing your presence in them. It would be so much easier if you rang a bell, or let the light flicker so that I would know that it is you. But would I always accept the fact that you are speaking to me when you challenge me to change my way of life. The people of your own day had trouble when you told them the truth. It was hard coming from someone they knew, especially when it didn’t exactly fit into their plan. Lord help me to take off the blinders that keep from accepting your direction. And help me also to be grateful for so many things that you do to take care of me, but I miss them because I thing they are so ordinary.
2 Kings 5:1-15
Psalm 42:2,3: 43:3,4
Lent Week 3 - Tuesday
Forgiveness is at the core of Faith
Jesus has asked us to forgive those who have sinned against us no matter what. If one is hurt it can become hatred so deep and revenge seems to be the answer but the only way to be at peace is to forgive whoever hurt us and we will find peace.
We must think of what Jesus suffered for us and he was innocent so who are we to hold so much hatred.
We must pray to overcome the hatred and the sins committed against us and we will have peace in our hearts
Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Lent Week 3 - Wednesday
You must be very careful not to forget the things you have seen God do for you. Keep reminding yourselves, and tell your children and grandchildren as well. (Deuteronomy 4:9)
Our God is a faithful arid loving God. A God whose covenant "I will be your God and you will be my people" remains intact, even when Israel didn't remain all that faithful.
As a parent, I have unconditional love for my children. God Is love, agape (1 John 4:8), pure self gift. Self gift in giving His Son Jesus to be crucified and die on a cross for my redemption and yours. How could I not want to know, love and serve God!
Staying in this intimate relationship, not rupturing it requires obedience. Jesus says in Mt. 5: 17-19 he has not come to "remove (the Law), but to fulfill them". He invites me to go deeper into their meaning, He challenges me to transformation, to find freedom and peace, through loving obedience and discipleship.
Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9
Psalm 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20
Lent Week 3 - Thursday
"Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you." (Jeremiah 7:23)
Lent is the season when the Church will ask the faithful to reflect on the condition of their souls. This is the time to review our life and see if we have allowed our hearts to become hardened to the word of the Lord, or if we have been open to listen to Him, and do his will. Lent is a special time for repentance and conversion.
As Christians who are seeking God's will in this season of Lent, our sacrifices, reflections, prayers and repentance are our answers to His call.
May this time of Lent be one where we experience the presence of God in a deep and meaningful way.
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Lent Week 3 - Friday
We are called from our birth to live in love with our Creator. We are called to be partners in a relationship with Jesus, who calls us to take care of each other. We have each been given many gifts in our lives. At different times in our life, we seem to be more appreciative than others. Lord, forgive me for those times when I seem to sleep through life, unaware of Your Presence.
In today's readings, we are called to return, to make a change, to journey down the road with a loving and grateful heart. As I flounder and am easily enticed down the wrong paths, the readings keep calling me back. I ask myself, Am I getting stronger? Over the years, am I learning anything? Or am I still riding on the fence rather that truly committing myself to follow the paths of the Lord? The years are going by. God is constant in His call for me to change. I have always thought I will do it tomorrow, but tomorrow is not a certainty.
Lent Week 3 - Saturday
May all Know God's Tenderness In their affliction, they shall look for me: come let us return to the Lord. For it he who has rent, but he will heal us; he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds. Hosea 6:1
We know God is tender and loving and we experience these qualities in numerous ways. If we tell his honestly that we are sorry for our sins, He forgives us and we again are a t peace. If we pray for people who are in need, the dear Lord answers our prayers and they receive help which changes their lives in a positive way.
God loves each one of us so much it is extremely sad to realize that not everyone is aware of His tenderness and goodness. So, since, we are starting the season of Lent, let us pray that the unbelievers will see the light and turn to God so He will heal them.
Also what an excellent time for each of us to pray for spirituality, do kind things and reach out to help others know the tenderness of God through the healing care for others.
Psalm 51:3-4, 18-21
Lent Week 4 - Sunday
During the Sunday readings this Lent, we hear of conversions. Conversion is centered on a personal encounter with Jesus.
In today's Gospel we hear of the curing of the man born blind. His personal encounter with Jesus teaches us that when we bring our inability to deal with a handicap whether it is physical, mental, social or spiritual, we can turn to the Lord and ask for healing and light. Jesus is the Light of the world. He wants us to come to him with our requests for healing, for understanding of Scripture because He loves us so much. He loves to be asked for whatever we need. Let us bring our needs to him for ourselves and those we love. Trust and confidence in God will be rewarded one hundredfold.
1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13
Lent Week 4 - Monday
Wiping Away, Unnecessary Tears
Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth.
We aren't meant to have "heaven on earth". Life is full of ups and downs but nowhere near comparable to Christ's dying on the cross for us miserable sinners.
Tears can be a source of cleansing from healthy sorrows. Having lost a husband and a son within two years and four months, crying was an everyday occurrence in my life.
The statement is made that "time heals all wounds." I don't believe this. It's like an arrow to the heart that never goes away. It is hard for me to understand how Mary could follow Jesus on the way of the cross. To see Her Son humiliated and spit upon must have broken her heart, but she was filled with many graces and God the Father most surely helped her along. However, it was still Her Son who she had for 33 years and to ever give Him up in that fashion was so unfair. But where would we be today without the love of Jesus?
Sometimes I lie there at night and try to find solutions to problems and end up giving it all to Him. We just can't get along without our faith in God. We must persevere with love and sincerity in our hearts, and give glory and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 65: 17-21,
Psalm 30:2, 4,6, 11-13
Lent Week 4 Tuesday
Water, fresh and life giving!
"Lord, I don't have anyone to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up. I try to get in, but someone else always gets there first." (John 5:7)
Each time I walk to my room I pass a number of plants that I have lined near the window in the hallway. Sometimes I see them drooping, especially the tallest one. I know then it's time to bring on the water. Just a simple watering perks them right up!
I imagine God frequently sees our drooping spirits. Things have not gone all that well today, we are sapped of energy and strength, the day has been long. Sometimes I am like that crippled man lying near the pool waiting for someone to walk by and give me a refreshing drink. Will you notice my need and reach out to me like Jesus? Will you be the aqueduct that extends God's grace to my failing spirit? Just a smile might do it or perhaps an encouraging word.
Prayer and fasting are meant to get us in tune with the Lord but then there is almsgiving too that's meant to be a Lenten practice. Could it be that this is not just giving money but giving of oneself? God's Grace, like the water flowing from the temple reaches us through human hands.
Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12
Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
Lent Week 4 - Wednesday
Even should a mother forget, I will never forget you. Isaiah 49:15
Recently a mother stopped me after Mass to know that her son was dying of cancer. Letting go of her son was difficult enough, but she was also having a crisis of faith and belief. How could she believe in that God, who loves her so much, and who says I will never for get you and yet when from all human response it feels like God has abandoned her and her son. Where is God in this moment?
As difficult as it is, God is asking us to go deeper in faith. There are times when the mystery and immensity of God clash with our human perspectives. God as infinite, immense, incomprehensible (as St. Vincent Pallotti wrote) hits our finite, sequentially ordered and human world. It doesn't seem to make sense. In our pain we look to Jesus and the scene in the garden of Gethsemane stops us Jesus is comforted by and angel as He experiences His agony of faith in the garden. God has not spared His only begotten Son even as His human mind reached the edge of its final searching. He concluded that He must uphold His Father's will.
Pray the Lord's Prayer slowly and devoutly.
Psalm 106:19-20, 21-22, 23
Lent Week 4 - Thursday
In today's first reading from Exodus and the verses from Psalm 106, the Israelites abandon their faithful God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the One who led them out of bondage in Egypt, and turn to an idol made in the image of, as the psalmist says, a "grass-eating bull."
God's attitude is one of 'Enough! I don't need this!' and tells Moses to leave so that God's wrath may consume this stiff-necked people. But Moses intercedes for the people and implores God to relent, calling God's attention to the faithfulness of the Patriarchs, and the promises God made to them, so God relented in the threatened punishment on the people.
In today's Gospel, Jesus is exasperated with the unbelief of those who have heard the testimony of John the Baptist, and the teaching of Jesus. In our daily lives, sometimes we may reach a similar point of frustration and say "I don't need this"! Then, if we take some time to count our blessings, and realize that God sent Jesus, the Suffering Servant, to die for our sins that we may forgo the punishment we deserve, we know God's great love for each of us
Psalm 7:2-3, 9bc-10, 11-12
Lent Week 4 - Friday
Let us beset the just one because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings. (Wis. 2: 12a)
The Book of Wisdom was probably written about one hundred years before the coming of Christ. Yet today's first reading sounds amazingly close to a description of Jesus. It reminds us of the salvation that God had been planning for us from the beginning of time. The reading not only points to Jesus. It can also describe the life of anyone who follows Jesus. There are times that we may have to pay a price for our witness to Jesus. We are reminded today of the opposition that our faith in Jesus may bring us. Yes, we may find opposition when we follow Christ. Jesus himself did and if Ho did, so may we. As we follow Christ, even when it is difficult and challenging, well find that He works in us in many, perhaps even unexpected ways.
The gospel tells of the Jews who plot Jesus downfall. Today, as well, many reject Jesus. When we are the ones rejected because of our faith in Jesus, we may find ourselves resenting Jesus or resisting his influence or presence. We may find ourselves wishing Jesus would just go away and leave us alone. We lose touch, momentarily, with God's plan for us. Jesus has given us the potential, the possibility of being filled with His love and power. Let us remember our call and the goodness of God. We can carry on the good fight of faith confident that Jesus is still with us.
We are roughly midway in our journey through Lent. What is it that keeps us from giving greater witness to our faith in our daily lives?
Wisdom 2:la, 12-22
Psalm 34: 17-18,19-2021,23
John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
Lent Week 4 - Saturday
Prayer in time of Confusion
Confusion very often is mind blowing as we all know. We often believe we are alone in our confusion; however Jeremiah was confronted with much confusion even in his time. He was upset with God for letting arrogant people oppress their neighbors.
God warned him that his neighbors were plotting against him. Jeremiah angrily demanded that God bring them to justice. The dialogue between Jeremiah was confusing because Jeremiah was confused. He was very disturbed that his prayers were not effective, but God conversed with him regardless as he does with each of us.
So may I suggest that we offer our prayers to the Lord, our God with sincerity and love and we sill be rewarded because God is good, kind and loves each of us so very much.
Psalm 145:8-9, 13-14, 17-18
Lent Week 5 - Sunday
Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people. [Ezekiel 37:13]
Does the Lord have to prove to us that he can open our graves? I think not. If we just have faith in God, who will need proof. Let's face it we are all going to die someday. Our Lord was ready to leave this earth and be in God's glory. I hope so! I know in my own family it was hard to say goodbye to a loved one. We must remember that God has a plan for all of us whether young or old, rich or poor. That day will come when we meet our Lord face to face. That will be the best time in our heavenly life.
Ezekiel 37: 12-14
Romans 8: 8-11
John 11: 1-45
Lent Week 5 - Monday
This story of the woman caught in adultery is one of the most powerful stories in the entire New Testament. Imagine the humiliation to which this woman was subjected to! She was surrounded by the accusing finger of the authorities, and a jeering crowd ready to cast the stones at her. And Jesus at the background! The truth is that the stones have already been cast at her soul, at her heart, at her dignity and respect! She was already dead morally if not physically!
But Jesus brought her hack to life and dignity. Neither do I condemn you, go, and sin no more These were words of new life to her. Jesus can bring us back to life and dignity. Do we have the courage and humility to face Jesus and acknowledge our sinfulness? We will hear him say as well, Son, daughter, neither do I condemn you, go, sin no more. This story also brings to light the death we bring about in people's lives by our accusations and condemnations. We have the power to bring life and death to people. What do we choose?
Judge not, and you will not be judged
condemn not, and you will not be condemned.
Be merciful as your heavenly father is merciful
Lent Week 5 Tuesday
"When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He" [John 8:28]
Jesus had told the Pharisees that He was going away -- to a place they could not go - because of their sin. He was completing the work His Father had given Him. He had taught the people of the Father's Love for all of the people, but not everyone believed Jesus. How important is our faith!
When things go well it's easy to trust, but when trials and troubles come our way, perhaps we fail to ask God's help and pray with trust that God will hear us as we persevere in childlike dependence on our heavenly Father.
Jesus death on the cross won for us all we will ever need. He was "lifted up" for each and all of us.
Psalm 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21
Lent Week 5 - Wednesday
Truth sets us free from fear
the truth will set you free. [John 8:32]
In the world we live in, everyone seems to believe he or she has the ultimate truth. Individuals, nations, religions, and secular movements fight for the truth they think they possess, often refusing even to listen to the truth the other side stands for. This results in meaningless bickering. Bickering, however, is a sign of someone who is not yet free within himself or herself. We bicker because we are afraid. But why are we afraid?
The root of our fear is the possibility that the truth we believe in might be rejected by others. That is frightening because what gives us a sense of security is a greater number of people than ourselves acknowledging what we believe to be true. When others seem to deny the truth we believe in, our personal worlds come tumbling down. This means that the truth we believe in has, unfortunately, not made us truly free. The truth we believe in had been fabricated by ourselves to give us a sense of meaning and purpose. But truth is not something to be fabricated for our convenience. Truth is God, the ultimate reality. That is why Jesus confidently claimed that he is the way, the truth and the life. A person set free from the untruth by the Word of God is free from fear. A true disciple of Christ is free in this manner.
When the truth we believe in exhorts us to be hateful, violent, selfish, and divisive, we can be sure what we hold is not the truth. When the rejection of the truth we believe in makes us unhappy, it is time for us to turn towards Christ and obey his teaching. When we do that, we will know the truth. When we accept that truth, we become free. As free people, we no more live in kingdoms we have built for ourselves, rather we live in the Kingdom of God where truth reigns supreme. As members of this kingdom, we are truly free. We do not take it as a personal affront when others reject the truth that has set us free, because we know that whether others accept this truth or not, this is the only truth there is.
Lead us from the unreal to the real
Lead us from darkness into light
Lead us from death to immortality
Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
Daniel 3:52- 56
Lent Week 5 - Thursday
Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. In Genesis 17:17 Abraham, who was a hundred years old "fell on his face and laughed" when God told him he was to have a son. This laughter was interpreted by Jews as joy that he had seen the beginning of the "messianic day", that is, the messiah would one day be born of his line.
Fifteen to twenty centuries later Jesus said, "Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day." After all those questions about his identity, this is his clear statement that he is the Messiah, the promised one. It brings to a head all the questions about his identity in the preceding passages. His statement was not lost on his hearers, who took up stones to kill him for blasphemy.
Before Abraham was, "I am", not "I was". This was "a moment out of time," to use T.S. Elliot's phrase. Ordinary grammar buckles under the strain, past, present, and future tenses fuse into one. Many centuries later Julian of Norwich would say, mysteriously, "I saw God in a point."
Do I believe in Jesus and keep his word? Or do I question Jesus just like the Jews and the Pharisees?
Psalm 105:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Lent Week 5 - Friday
Boy, I sure have felt the strong emotions invoked by the prophet Jeremiah. I have cared deeply for folks and they've let me down, betrayed me and even family has left me. These are human emotions. I sometimes find it hard to feel God's presence and wonder if God too has let me down. I find that if I can voice this to God and then be in that silent (sometimes even angry) time, letting God be God, at some time God will work the Potter wheel and the cold lump of clay I am starts to shape into a new creation at potter God's hands. This process can be painful and slow.
Sure I'm scared, I imagine Jesus was scared, lonely and feeling betrayed when His own people stoned him and he was being set up to be put to death. Next week we are called to enter into the Passion of Jesus Christ.
It is risky to journey with Jesus. If you truly commit yourself to this journey, as a follower of Jesus you will be called to daily dying and rising until your physical body dies and you return to the One who first loved you into being. What is your response this Holy Week when Jesus request "Remain here and keep watch with me" (Mt. 26:38b)? Will you risk becoming new in the silence of remaining with Jesus?
Psalm 18:2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 7
Lent Week 5 - Saturday
The prophet Ezekiel speaks about hope in today's first reading. The united kingdom of David split in two following the reign of his son Solomon. It didn't take long for the surrounding nations to conquer the nation of Israel in the north and then the kingdom of Judah in the south. Thus the children of Israel were scattered among the nations as captives of war. Ezekiel's hope is that God will bring back the people and unite them again into one nation. That hope is contingent upon their repentance, their turning away from idolatry and apostasy. Like other biblical writers, Ezekiel presumes that the Israelites have punished themselves for their sins; that is, God has permitted the nations to destroy their kingdoms because they were not faithful to the covenant. Once they change their minds and repent, then God will bring them home and unite them as one.
This Lent has been our season of repentance. It's not that God left or moved; it's that we turned away and have been turning back. Our divisiveness is our own doing. The Lord calls us back to be one. We believe that Jesus accomplished that through his death and resurrection and we share in it every time we celebrate the Eucharist and become who we already are-the Body of Christ. Applied to us, Ezekiel's hope is that we remain one body.
2 Sam 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16
Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29
Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22
Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a
Holy Week - Palm Sunday
"Then Judas, his betrayer, spoke: "Surely It Is not I, Rabbi? Jesus answered, "It is you who have said it." Matthew 26:25
I suppose it requires the formation of a Christian conscience and a degree of maturity to recognize that...."there but for the grace of God go I." Born in the slate of original sin and as Ash Wednesday reminded us, of ourselves we are but dust, all our other accomplishments are simply 'gifts of God'. In the light of these truths what price can we put on our Baptism, Confession, and in our training in the faith, penance and self-denial? Our teachers recognized that our lives were going to be filled with temptation; that we have an inclination to evil that we must overcome if we are to live virtuous lives and save our souls.
And what price can we put on the inestimable gift of the Holy Eucharist. The three synoptic gospels all begin the Passion with Its institution. It is part of the Passion. It occupies the central place in the life of every Christian. We learn from Christ to offer ourselves....to praise reverence and serve God for His own greater glory. Sweet mystery of life, that we are loved by an Infinite Being.
Matthew 21: 1-11,
Isaiah 50: 4-7
Philippians 2: 6-11
Matthew 26: 27-66
Holy Week - Monday
The Joy of having the presence of Jesus in the humble home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha was so wonderful. Mary washed the feet of Jesus with the precious oil, a sign of loving honor. She dried His feet with her hair.
It was the very best she could do for he special friend, her God. Judas, the traitor didn't have the love for Jesus that Mary had because he had plans to betray Jesus. He had tainted, selfish reasoning that made him think that the money worth of the oil should have been spent on far more worthy causes like feeding the hungry, lame blind , the elderly and numerous other causes.
How was our reasoning planned for this season of Lent. Were we able to give and do the very best we could. Our best friend who lived and died for us deserves so much love that nothing we could do would equal his love for us. Forty days seems like a long time, but if everything is done with genuine heart so much can be gained to bring salvation closer to us. Little sacrifices can make salvation closer at hand under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 27:1, 2, 3, 13-14
Holy Week - Tuesday
In today's reading, we are called from the moment of our conception to be God's instrument of unity. In our own church community, it is very hard to work towards unity. It is much more interesting to gossip when you think you have the inside scoop on something. There may be the feeling of some pleasure in spreading the word, usually negative, about someone, but doing so is not building up community. It leaves the community wounded and scarred.
Sometimes it seams like we can find more ways to divide ourselves than we can to unite ourselves. God prefers unity and calls us to be servants of unity. Unity can be achieved is we just step out and take the initiative to make it clear that our goal should be unity. During this Holy Week, let us surrender to Jesus our reluctance and hesitancy, and reach our boldly to meet someone new and build the unity God seeks for us
Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4a, 5ab-6ab, 15 and 17
John 13:21-33, 36-38
Holy Week - Wednesday
On this last full day of Lent, we are reminded of the gifts that God has bestowed upon us - hearing and speaking. Each of us must treat these gifts with great respect and reverence.
It is important to LISTEN to the beauty of all sounds that surround us in nature - the songbirds, the rain falling or the wind blowing. All of these, and more, are gifts from God. We must also do everything we can to hear and LISTEN when we are speaking with others. This is the ultimate sign of respect towards others and is the best way to spread love and kindness.
My wish is that we can all put these two gifts into practice in all parts of the world to truly have a chance to achieve true harmony and Peace on Earth.
Psalm 69:8-10, 21-22, 31 & 33-34
Holy Week - Thursday
What does it mean to share a meal? A meal can be simply a functional affair or a social occasion. We can sit down to eat and then get on with the rest of our day; or we can prepare a meal with great care in love and respect for those present. A family dinner creates Community: everyone gathers round the table and exchanges stories, news and hopes. Today we celebrate a shared meal. In a special way we remember and celebrate a meal given to us so that we may share life.
For a good Jew, the Paschal feast was an important part of his life. It was the most significant social and religious occasion of the year. When Jesus sat down with his friends in the upper room on this special night He knew that, in addition to remembering the great events of Israels history, this was the last meal He would share with his friends before he died.
As He took the bread and wine into his hands on this night, the great act of Redemption was nearing completion. The sacrifice of the New Law was about to replace the Old. Jesus was about to offer Himself to God as both the priest and the victim to win our salvation.
Since then the Eucharist has been a central, living reality for us as Christians. We gather each Sunday to live again the wonder of Christ's self-giving on our behalf. It is so easy to lose this sense of wonder and gratitude. The Church reminds us tonight of the mystery of the first Eucharist and invites us to live that meal again with wonder and gratitude.
The bread is his Body given completely. The wine is his Blood poured out to the last drop. He loved his own in the world, and he loved them to the end. [Gospel]
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 -18
1 Corinthians 11:23-24
Holy Week - Good Friday
"It is Finished father, into your hands
I commend my spirit."
Lord, we pray for the grace to come to the end of our lives as Jesus came to the end of his, knowing that everything we had to do has now been completed, that what has been written about us in the scriptures has been perfectly fulfilled, so that we can say, "It is accomplished", bow our heads and give peacefully back to you the spirit you breathed into us.
Jesus, you have been faithful to your word. You could stand before Pilate as he clearly says, Behold the Man and not feel any need to respond. You did what your Father asked of you. Faithful to your mission of bringing good news and hope to a world too intent on personal gain. You showed us that it is possible to give up everything in this world for another, for us. Perhaps one of the reasons why you died was that it was only by leaving that you could help your disciples. If you stayed they (we) would have continued to be too dependent on you for everything.
Would we take responsibility for our own life of faith if you were always there pulling us along. What must have been Peter's thoughts when your glance met his and the cock crowed. You took responsibility for me and I often don't want to let others know that I even know you. Help me with your grace to take responsibility for all that you have given me to do.
Is 52:13, 53:12
Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Holy Saturday Easter Vigil
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulcher. [Mathew 28:1]
The women had some to pay their last respects to the teacher who had changed their lives. What a surprise they had!
An earthquake, an angel, an empty tomb! They were the first ones to be told of the resurrection of Jesus! Joyful yet a bit frightened to carry the message to the apostles they hurried to share the good news.
There are times in our lives when darkness and uncertainty seem to weigh us down. Yet, with the grace of God we continue to hope and trust that God will see us through and eventually bring light into our lives.
Christ has died, Christ is Risen Christ will come again we pray at Mass. Our hope is once again restored through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Let's celebrate the great Joy of Easter.
Geneses 1:1-2:2 or Gen 1:1, 26-31a
Psalm 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 13-14, 24, 35
Ex 15:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 17-18
Freedom from Life Sapping Bonds
Lent is a time for deep reflection on our weaknesses and praying for the grace to correct them and show our Love for Jesus. It is also a time for fasting and reaching out to others especially those who are troubled and lonely and making them feel you are their friend.
In anger we often hold grudges which not only hurt the receivers but tend to harden our hearts and are harmful to our welfare.
But when Lent is over we can experience the great feeling of having discarded our unhappy thoughts and actions and feel truly free and filled with the love of our Lord, Jesus Christ and the people with whom we have had contact. For this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good for his mercy endures forever. Let the house of Israel say, His mercy endures forever.
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Luke 24: 13-35
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