2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21
We don’t know much about Nicodemus, but we’re told one tasty detail that gives a clue as to how Nicodemus may have felt when he went on his own spiritual quest. He went looking for Jesus at night. This suggests that he went in secret; he went knowing that there was some level of risk, knowing that there would likely be consequences to this encounter. I imagine he could literally feel his heart pounding in anticipation and dread as he went looking for Jesus that night.
▪ On the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the 25th World Day for Consecrated Life was celebrated in the Church. Here in Rome, Pope Francis presided over the Eucharistic Celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica, void of the signs and joyful faces that illuminated it in previous years, yet nonetheless expressing the fruitful gratitude that characterizes the life of the religious. In his homily, the Pope invited all men and women religious to be patient and courageous in order to keep advancing, exploring new paths, and responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
In September 2017, I came to Rome to work as a secretary in the Curia of the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation in Sant’ Anselmo on the Aventine. Since the partial integration into the community of monks was not as easy as it had sounded in preliminary discussions, I soon began to look for other contacts in the city. I knew already both the Pallottine Fathers and the Pallottine Missionary Sisters from translation assignments and, Sr. Maria Landsberger had even been to my home monastery in Dinklage for a few vacation days.
Formation Program for the newly Professed Sisters
The five newly professed Sisters of the International Novitiate/Tanzania (8 December 2020) had the privilege of an extra three-month program after their Profession on December 7th, 2020. It was organised in Poli Singisi/ Arusha/ Tanzania by the General Council and guided by Sr. Liberata Niyongira and Sr. Honorata Lyimo, our General Councilors. This was to cover some topics which were not taught during the Preparation Course due to Covid -19 pandemic, which limited the movements of their Novice Mistress who was forced to stay in Rwanda for several weeks as the borders were closed. The Sisters needs were met through the planned program which included different courses about community life and intercultural living, commitment and the evangelical counsels, discovery of true freedom and discernment, history of the Congregation, New Testament and images of God, Church and Missiology, self-knowledge and emotional management. Deeping the Our Way of Life (Constitution) brought a sense of belonging and living the charism as consecrated women.
Hosea 6:1-6; Luke 18:9-14
Today’s readings talk about asking for forgiveness and mercy, and of redemption. David begs for forgiveness; Hosea discusses incredible generosity and grace for forgiveness; the Gospel refers to sin and cleansing. We have the theme here of repentance and knowledge, and of grace given.
Hosea 14:2-10; Mark 12:28-34
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
With all your soul,
With all your mind,
And with all your strength.”
In my busy multi-tasking life, how frequently do I do the above?
Do I let other worldly concerns prioritize my energy?
Jeremiah 7:23-28; Luke 11:14-23
They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me. Jer7
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Ps. 95
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. Lk 11
It is about the midpoint of Lent. We are half way through the time we have to take advantage of this great season of grace. It seems appropriate to reflect upon this gospel today.
Jesus is again in an encounter of liberation. Jesus frees something from within this man and he is able to speak. The people are amazed. But some of the people cry "foul." They throw up arguments, deflecting accusations. They caricature Jesus, and so create doubts and divisions.
Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9; Matthew 5:17-19
"However, take care and be earnestly on your guard
not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen,
nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,
but teach them to your children and to your children's children."
What is Moses saying here (through the words of the Deuteronomist)? What have we seen? What are we to remember? What are we to teach to our children's children? We are to recall how this great God came down to bring our forebears out of slavery in Egypt. We are to recall the God who "made us his own" when we were nobodies. We are to recall God's victory over the slave masters who went down to defeat. God has won the day! God will win the day! We will remember that day at the Easter Vigil this year.
Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Psalms 25:4-5ab, 6 and 7bc, 8-9
Mercy, to me, is the juxtaposition of today’s readings. This is particularly true in the Gospel when Christ tells us exactly how often we should forgive: “number beyond counting.” He continues with the story of the unforgiving servant as a contrast. The result was the servant, who showed no mercy, was handed over to torturers. In Azariah we are taught to rely on God’s mercy and we will not be put to shame or abandoned.
2 Kings 5:1-15; Luke 4:24-30
Exotic things, things that are “out of the ordinary” almost always have an appeal for us. By the very fact that they are unfamiliar, they catch our eye and draw our interest. By contrast, the “ordinary” often passes by unnoticed; everyday things fail to attract.
This truth of our human nature has a great impact when it comes to discovering God at work in our lives and in our world. We know that God can be present in some extraordinary events and circumstances; but what we often fail to acknowledge is that God habitually chooses the ordinary as the place of his activity.
Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; John 2:13-15
Many people would have discovered internet shopping in the past year or, even if one were to go out to the supermarket in person, goods can be obtained without any exchange of cash or words – just the click of buttons or the tap of a card, and the transaction is complete. But this impersonal manner of shopping would have been foreign to my grandmother. As a child I would go with her to the wet market near our home in Kuala Lumpur, and I watched her interrogate the stall holders about their produce and their prices. She would choose the vegetables she wanted, inspecting each item for optimal freshness; select the chicken she wanted, which would be prepared in front of us; and she would haggle over the price before she handed over the notes and coins. The market, therefore, was a place where I clearly saw things being exchanged, and you were expected to bargain for the best price, engaging in the ‘art of the deal’.