Isaiah 1:10, 16-20; Matthew 23:1-12
Lent is a season for listening, as it is a time of renewing and re-greening one’s interior life. Six weeks is a long time to have one’s ear cocked for the slightest whisper or the loudest sound which suggests that God is afoot in your life and in your relationships. One of the central challenges of Lent is discerning and identifying the voice of God in the cacophonous sounds and competing slogans that surround each of us.
Daniel 9:4b-10; Luke 6:36-38
Today’s gospel is from St. Luke’s “sermon on the plain” a parallel to St. Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. In these sermons, or collections of Jesus’ sayings, the Lord summarizes how he wants his followers to live their lives. The beatitudes contained in both these collections of sayings set the standard for discipleship, service of God, and love of the neighbor.
Genesis 12:1-4;2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9
Fear. For almost everyone of us, it is a part of life, maybe a gnawing uneasiness, maybe a denied memory, maybe even a panic that paralyzes. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of risk, fear of looking foolish, fear of forgiving and fear of being forgiven, fear of speaking out and fear of standing silent--there are probably as many fears as there are possible human actions. What each of them has in common is a basic lack of trust in God's faithful love and endless generosity.
Deuteronomy 26:16-19; Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus challenges us in today’s Gospel to strive for the perfection of the children of God, which is to love as God loves – to love all, even our enemies. As I prayed with this scripture, I found myself thinking, “But, I don’t have any enemies.” I am not a diplomat, nor have I been in a gang, and I have escaped any family feuds. Then, I realized that in many ways, I have created enemies by the barriers I place between others and myself. Sometimes these barriers represent my insecurities about my abilities, my fear of rejection, or my desire to safeguard my reputation.
Ezekiel 18:21-28; Matthew 5:20-26
I’m always a little taken aback when I read scripture readings like today…. The reading from Ezekiel seems so harsh and scary and yet the message is clear, “do what is right and just.” I am reminded of my need to pay attention to what God has told us and not to confuse civil law with God’s law(s). I thought about the death penalty when reading Ezekiel and how imposing this civil law defies God’s call for allowing people, who have committed grave acts of violence, to come to accept responsibility for their actions; to ask for forgiveness and then to choose to live according to God’s laws.
Jesus asks us to pray, “Ask … Seek … Knock …” There is a persistence in this request of Jesus. But we frankly reflect on the distraction that many times we have prayed and our prayers do not seem to be answered!
Firstly, sometimes our prayers are answered by a heavenly reason as a “NO!” Reflect on what parents need to do when adolescents ask for permission for something that the parents know will not be good for them. Perhaps God is answering our prayers with a ‘no’ in that same sense.
“We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This year the Lord grants us, once again, a favourable time to prepare to celebrate with renewed hearts the great mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the cornerstone of our personal and communal Christian life. We must continually return to this mystery in mind and heart, for it will continue to grow within us in the measure that we are open to its spiritual power and respond with freedom and generosity.
Jonah 3:1-10; Luke 11:29-32
"When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do them; he did not carry it out." -- Jonah 3 10.
What an extraordinary sentence! It did not hit me until I had read the passage from Jonah six or seven times. Then it stopped me cold.
God . . . repented!
I have never, ever thought of God repentant. I always associated repentance with one in need of God's forgiveness and grace. The notion of God considering his love for the Ninevites, their response to Jonah and deciding that no, after all, he would not punish them somehow brings me closer to the Lord.
Isaiah 55:10-11; Matthew 6:7-15
The Lord’s Prayer is a practical “how to” of living in Love. This Love, who is God, is continually poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. If we remain receptive to Love and let it permeate our being it will radiate out from us and overflow to others. Then this Love who is God can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. The essence of all of Jesus’ teaching and how he asks us to pray is to be receivers and transmitters of Love.
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.