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Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Scripture has a way of throwing in clever quips that go over our heads sometimes because of familiarity.  That doesn’t cheapen Christ’s words.  For as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Joyce tell us, “Many a true word is spoken in jest.”  So what 2000 year old joke are we missing today?  I think if we look to our two figures in the Gospel we will find it. 

Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

I've said it before, and I'll say it again now: the "Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Will Never Hurt Me" rhyme is wrong, wrong, wrong.  Words are important and we know this. People have anxiety about public speaking in part, I think, because we know the power of words to hurt, heal, unify, divide, and so on.  

Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

In today's first reading I am drawn to the statement, "This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people." The Lord tells us to listen to his voice.  While this sounds easy, it is often challenging to hear God's voice, in order to listen. Amid all of the noise of our lives, we must discern the Lord's voice.  We can not expect to naturally and organically just hear his voice. We need to carve out time and space in which we are intentionally listening for the Lord's voice. We can hear his voice when we engage in daily prayer, when we spend time with the scriptures and when we create daily, intentional times of silence.   

Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

A few weeks ago I was having a discussion with a family who were very aware of the fragility of life.  While we were talking about God’s will, we waded into a discussion with one of the family who was unsure of their salvation.  Their fear centered on being good enough to be loved by God.  I nodded in the direction of their children and asked if they were perfect.  Between the children and their parents they all agreed that they were flawed.  The question then became did this parent love their children in spite of their faults.  Of course the answer was “yes.”  If our love is unconditional for our children, even more so is God’s love for us. 

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

We live in a culture steeped in the logic of retributive justice. That is the idea that justice consists in punishing someone who does something wrong. Feature-length films, cable television shows, even some (at least to me) shocking bumper stickers and T-shirts push a hard, mean, and often violent message that goes something like this: Mess with me and you are going to pay big time; and, by the way, I’m going to enjoy making you pay.

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Scripture Readings

        Every one of us understands what it means to love another human being. We know the joys as well as the sacrifices of love. And when you deeply love another person, you don't consider the cost, you do not consider it a choice—you just pull out all the stops!  At times it seems irrational and mysterious and, at times, downright foolish. But deep down we feel…we know… it sounds like love.

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

Post modern, Post industrial, Post cereal... we are surrounded by so many 'post' labels. One that is striking to me is the idea of a post Christian society. Many are familiar with Christianity, but or society is not necessarily Christian. The parable of the prodigal son spoke to me in regard to that reality. The parable speaks to the idea and our call to hospitality.

Friday of the Second Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Today's gospel reading (Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46) has some similarity to the show "Undercover Boss." The CEO or manager of a company goes undercover and does several of the grunt jobs available in his or her company. At the end of the show, the CEOs reveal themselves to the workers they've met, and either reward them (in really big ways) for their good work, or fire them for the poor work they did. The CEO is a bit like the vineyard owner, granting rewards or punishments for the tenants and laborers. Audiences find the show compelling, and sometimes even funny. After all, they're in on the joke: they know who the boss is!

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

You’ve probably heard the saying something like, “people see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.” I think there’s some truth to that, at least when we are in a closed or resistant frame of mind, or maybe in denial about something. Our perceptions can be influenced by what we believe to be true (or not true). Unfortunately, this can result in “blind spots” or a sort of selective hearing. This can be true in our spiritual lives as well. Today’s gospel reading (Luke 16:19-31), the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, provides us with a good example of just this sort of thing on two different levels.

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

In Lumen Gentium, a document from Vatican II, we learn that the people of God by virtue of their Baptism share in Christ’s office of priest, prophet and king. This sharing means we too are called through grace to be faithful disciples who imitate Christ.  In thinking of these three roles, do we see ourselves as priest, prophet and king?  Would I dare think of myself as a prophet?  Do I embrace my ministry as priest or prophet with joy, or is it more like resentment?  Often our response is like Jeremiah, “Oh Lord, I am too young to do that.”  Or like Jonah, “No Lord, your crazy if you think I’ll do that,” and then we run the other way.  Sometimes we are like today’s disciples, “Sure we can drink the same cup Lord;” all the while failing to realize that Jesus means to lay down his life.

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Scripture Readings

Although not a husband or father myself, I have been blessed with the experiences of my own father, married to my mother for more than 50 years, and my own husband, father of our three children. Growing up, my parents not only raised my two sisters and I, but also frequently foster-parented other children in need of a temporary safe home. As most people know, although a blessing, each of these roles is demanding. Whether or not we have personal experience in these roles, I think we can all benefit from the example and life of St. Joseph, husband of Mary and foster-father of Jesus, whom the Church celebrates and remembers today. 

Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

How well do we know the Old Testament? Honestly. Are we familiar with it? Do we have a sense of the character of it. This question has come to mind twice now this week.

Monday of the Second Week in Lent

Scripture Readings

I enjoy baking various breads, cakes and muffins. One thing I have learned, from both instruction and experience, is the importance of carefully measuring ingredients.  The flour used in a recipe should be spooned into the measuring cup, not scooped from the container. Once full, it is important to level off the top to provide the exact amount that is required. Fortunately, God does not measure His mercy or compassion in this way. Jesus describes God’s measuring as being so abundant that it “poured” onto our laps.  Jesus calls us to be like God- abundant and overflowing with mercy and compassion for others.

Friday of the First Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

How does fasting help us live better in other parts of our lives? That's a question many of us have this time of year, when the stomach/soul connection doesn't particularly seem self-evident. I am reminded, though, of a Friday in Lent at the parish I attended when I lived in Virginia. I remember getting into a long, drawn-out argument about Catholic social teaching, money and poverty with a fellow member of the Body of Christ. Oh, we made each other angry, time and time again.

Thursday of the First Week in Lent

Scripture Readings

Today’s readings reiterate to us the power of prayer. We hear of Esther who begs the Lord to come to her rescue. In the psalm we sing “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.” And finally, in the Gospel, Matthew reminds us that what we are to seek and to knock and then the Lord will respond. We cannot escape the message that God answers our prayers!

Have you ever been talking to someone and then you can very clearly tell they have stopped listening? How do you react? Often I think this leads us to shut down - to stop talking to them – why waste our breath? When I think of this example I wonder, which person am I? 

I think many of us feel like we are the person talking and God is the one who has stopped listening, so we start to tell God less and then eventually shut God out completely. But I wonder – could it be the other way around? Could it be that God is the one trying to talk to us and we are the ones who have stopped listening? The big difference here is that God does not get defensive and frustrated and stop talking to us. God instead continues to share Himself with us, revealing God’s nature to us, moment by moment, and we are the ones who have to take action and begin to listen again.  

I would like to hope that we can all think of at least one, and hopefully many, examples of when God answered a prayer for us. Think of some of those times today. Pray about them. Thank God for them.  And then reflect on this - when we know that God is listening, why then do we find it so hard to commit to daily prayer? Why then is it a challenge to carve out that time to purposefully talk with God? 

It may be that we are too busy, perhaps we don’t want to hear the answer that God has for us or perhaps it is like we had talked about at the recent marriage retreat – perhaps we have fallen out of knowing with God. When we are not intentionally committing time to get to know God better, we are not seeing who God truly is, and we therefor lose sight of God’s work in our lives or perhaps can’t hear His voice at all anymore.  

Today and throughout this Lent, recommit yourself to prayer. Take part in the discipleship challenge.  Go to adoration. Go on a retreat. Intentionally make time to talk to God! And at the same time, be prepared to listen for God’s answer – not a passive hearing of what God has to say, but an active listening. And finally – thank God. Thank God for always listening, even those times where we have stopped talking.     

- Amanda Grimm 

Wednesday of the First Week in Lent

Scripture Readings

How often in making a decision do we seek a sign?  Discerning a choice, especially between two seemingly good things, can be difficult.  Sometimes we get a push toward the choice by the word of a friend, or a verse of Scripture that keeps appearing in our prayer.  At other times we seek a sign, and fail to recognize the one that we have been given.

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

I love the Our Father, and there is so much to love in it.

Monday of the First Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

How do you expect your day to go? Do you already know who you will spend your day with? Have you already checked off in your mind which encounters you look forward to and which you will try to avoid? It's human to think this way. Neatly anticipating interactions gives us a certain amount of security. But what if we were surprised? What if we put on the mind of Christ—truly—and went on about our day with no preconceptions. What if we saw Jesus in every single person we meet today?

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Scripture Readings

It is Lent.  We are getting deeper into a season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  During this time it is easy to get distracted by what we aren’t doing.  There are habits, foods, or drinks from which we are fasting and that is good.  However, sometimes I don’t think we explore enough prepositions.  Not only are there the things from which I fast, there are things for which I fast.  This broader view can be summarized to include fasting for prayer, fasting for charity, and fasting for obedience. 

Friday after Ash Wednesday

Scripture Readings

When I was on a contemplative retreat a few years ago, I had a conversation with one of the monks about contemplation and the spiritual life. At that time, I had in mind that contemplation was supposed to be about attaining greater and greater spiritual heights. I supposed that I would find God and fall in love with God more and more through my own silent prayer and my time spent thinking about God.