Leviticus 19:1-2, 11-18; Matthew 25:31-46
The Least among Us
This much we knew. That God finds us in solitude, sacraments, the beauty of nature, old friends, the support of family, when cynicism gives way to solidarity and action. Familiar or drab surroundings can break into color. An ordinary day can yield awareness and gratitude. I step out the door and realize that I’m alive and how much it matters to be here.
Psalm 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15
As I prayed my way through today’s readings, I was struck at the very beginning of the Gospel passage. Jesus was not alone in the desert. He was filled with the Holy Spirit! How cool is that? Jesus was not alone, nor are we alone on our journeys. Next, I read that Jesus didn’t eat for 40 days, he was hungry. He was empty. In fact, are we not also invited to empty ourselves, decrease our ego, become hungry, so we can more fully be filled with the Holy Spirit? If we can let go of our ego selves and let the Spirit fill us, then, when we are tempted we are better able to respond from a place of the divine, represented in the Gospel by Jesus responding with scripture. I believe this is the basic call of the Lenten Season invitation to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It is an invitation to let go of ourselves, our egos, just a little bit more to make room for God. It is an invitation to remember and reconnect with who and whose we really are at our core as children of God.
Isaiah 58:1-9; Matthew 9:14-15
What a great reminder for the beginning of Lent. According to today’s first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, there is a right way and a wrong way to fast. It’s a wonderful and challenging passage that has applications far beyond this one religious act (fasting). As Isaiah puts it here, the right way to fast is really a way to be genuinely religious and, for the Christian, adequately to imitate Christ.
First, how NOT to fast -- that would be to be so focused on ourselves that we can’t really see beyond ourselves. Isaiah’s words excoriate those who (allegedly) fast and yet “drive all your laborers,” and let their fasting end in “quarreling and fighting, striking with a wicked claw.”
Isaiah 58:9b-14; Luke 5:27-32
There he goes again, upsetting the order of things. Jesus had been very busy healing the sick, forgiving sins and irritating the Pharisees. They were the ones that were hung up on order and structure, particularly since they were the ones at the top of the order. When Jesus came along, they were no longer the ones at the center of attention---the ones to whom others looked to for guidance and authority. Now the ones at the center of attention were the sinners. . . . tax collectors and crooks, the very dregs of society. Jesus had just encountered Levi, known in the community as a despised tax collector. Those in that profession were known for their scandalous practices, extorting money from the poor, skimming off the top and giving the rest to the Romans. And to everyone’s amazement Jesus chose to go to dinner at Levi’s house. . . a party big enough that they were spread throughout the courtyard. It was a party of crooks and sinners, in plain view of everyone. The Pharisees, who had not been invited to the party, loitered around the periphery, complaining about Jesus eating and drinking with the dregs of society, the very ones they took great pains to stay away from.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Luke 9:22-25
“Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” -- Luke 9
In two paragraphs, today’s Gospel gives us a summary of the life of following Jesus. It will not always be easy and it requires living in a different way than others in the world.
Christian history is filled with people who sacrificed their lives for their faith, but for most of us, “losing our life” does not mean physical dying as we try to live out this life as followers of Jesus. The way most of us “lose our life” is much less dramatic, much less memorable, much more … everyday. How area we being asked to give ourselves away in the here and now?
Joel 2:12-18; 2 Corinthians 5:20—6:2; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
The purpose of Lent is to draw us closer to the Lord Jesus by thinking and meditating and praying about that part of His life that brought Him to death and then to the Resurrection. Truly all of his life was this same journey, but there are aspects of His life that are stronger in the journey.
One of those aspects is His preaching of conversion to all. By conversion, we do not need to think of changing from a life of sin to a better life. We do need to think of changing the heart so that it truly seeks God and not just religious practice.
On the 23rd February 2019, our Generalate generously hosted an Assembly of 53 religious men and women from different Congregations, known as the Association of Africans and Malagasies at the Service of Generalates in Rome (AMSG). Both Sr. Honorata Lyimo and Sr. Liberata Niyongira are members of AMSG.
In the middle of February, at the Generalate of the Felician Sisters in Rome, Polish Sisters, priests and brothers, serving in the general governments of their Congregations in Rome, had their first annual meeting. These meetings have a long-standing tradition and serve in building unity among the members, through exchanging experiences, sharing faith and mutual help. They were initiated by Fr. Jan Korycki SAC, and to this day they are very popular. From the very beginning, the focus of the meetings was on integration and formation. They take place twice a year, usually during special gatherings and celebrations of the Church and National events.
During the first week of February 2019, the Mission Commission held their 2nd meeting at the Generalate of the Pallottine Missionary Sisters in Rome. The goal of the meeting was to animate and reawaken the mission spirit in the members of our Congregation, as well as to examine the situation in the provinces, regions and delegators in order to respond to their needs, especially to help our young missions.
Holiness: A Path Travelled Together
As Founder of the Union of Catholic Apostolate, St. Vincent Pallotti received the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to invite EVERYONE “who has zeal for the glory of God and has love and compassion for the spiritual salvation of his neighbour.”
It is with deep gratitude to Pope St. John XXIII that religious congregations and other institutes of consecrated life were called to return to their original charism, and therefore to the inspiration of their founders, to renew within themselves the gift of the Holy Spirit that had been given to them through their founders. For me, Vincent Pallotti became alive with a message that moved into the very heart of humanity as it restored the spirit of the first Christians, all of whom were called to make Jesus known by the very fact that they accepted him as Lord and Saviour.