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Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

During Lent, we are called to examine all the ways in which we are just like the Jews in the passage from John. Jesus tells them that they belong to what is below. In so many ways, so do we. When we imagine that we don’t need to care for the poor because they’re just lazy or otherwise unworthy and, therefore, deserve what they get, we belong to what is below. When we don’t reach out to the homeless because we figure they must have some addiction that is of their own making and, therefore, are not our problem, we belong to what is below. When our hearts go cold to the plight of refugees or immigrants because we think they pose some threat to us, we belong to what is below. Whenever we take satisfaction in the idea that we are better than others or that what we have been blessed with is owing to our merit rather than God’s generosity and grace, we belong to what is below. Or, conversely, when we (like the children of Israel) complain that God’s gifts to us are not good enough, we belong to what is below. And whenever we reject God’s gift of forgiveness by continuing to beat ourselves up for sins God no longer even remembers, we belong to what is below.

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Today's Responsorial Psalm (Ps 23) says, "Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side…". This is a comforting reminder that God is with us, in death or the worst of life's circumstances. It also reminds us that God's protection and comfort is not limited to life circumstances. God is with us in the very deepest parts of our hearts and souls—even in the shadowy corners we try and keep hidden.  

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

There are many things that threaten our spiritual life.  We can become overly scrupulous – convinced that every little thing is the gravest of sins – or we can have a dull conscience that doesn’t convict us of anything.  We can put undue emphasis on material goods or on spiritual goods to the detriment of the other.  And the list goes on for a long time.  I think one the greatest threats we face is for Christ to become lackluster.

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Have you noticed that devotion puts others on the defensive, even if it is devotion for God?  In today's world, when secular people see religion as something not rational, it is easy for devotion to feel threatening.  Regular attendance at worship or reading scripture is threatening for some.  Indeed, even other Christians can feel threatened if they think someone else is trying to be a better Christian than them.  Fasting, attendance at daily mass, praying at other times than table grace, protesting against unjust wages or the death penalty, trying to practice the church's teachings on marriage and family, using clean speech - all these and more become things that put others on the defensive (and not coincidentally, become the subject for a great many arguments online and offline).

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

We see in today’s readings an ebb and flow of relationships.  In Exodus, we see the Lord disown the Israelites, when he says to Moses, “Go down to your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt…”  Moses was only God’s chosen spokesman. He didn’t bring anyone out of Egypt; God brought the ten plagues, parted the Red Sea, and led the people by pillars of fire and smoke.  But the Lord has been rejected by the people, and accepts that rejection by assigning them to Moses.  But Moses dares to correct the Lord, responding, “Why should wrath blaze up against your own people?”

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Recently archaeologists unearthed the “Cylinder of Cyrus”.  This artifact is an ancient Persian treasure.  This artifact also tells us by what is written upon it that Cyrus, though conqueror, was a benevolent King.  On the “Cylinder”, an edict stated, (paraphrase) as your King I want you to know peace.  You are no longer slaves and you are free to worship the religion of your ancestors.

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Change is not easy. At least for me it isn’t. And yet, we all know change can be good. I recently left the place I had worked for the past two years to venture out into somewhat new territory in my work as a counselor.  This decision involved a process of discernment and of goodbyes and letting go so that I could embrace something new. I wasn’t ready last year, although I considered it, pondered it, prayed about it, and even struggled with it. It seems that when I was ready and God was ready, certain things fell into place. It was still somewhat of a risk for me, but one that I sensed God was a part of; so, although still challenging, it also brought peace. Although not nearly as significant a change as suddenly being able to walk, I share this recent experience as a way to relate to today’s gospel story.

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Scripture Readings

Sometimes I hear God’s voice in the most unexpected places.  Recently when watching the Disney movie “Aladdin” the classic scene of Aladdin holding out his hand and asking Jasmine, “Do you trust me?” struck me as wonderful illustration of how God reaches out His Hand and asks us this same question.  Are we willing to leave our fears and worries behind and accept God’s invitation to live in the freedom and joy that He promises?

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.