Reflections for the Second week of Lent.
Monday: Daniel 9:4-10
“O Lord, God great and to be feared, we have sinned against you”. What is remarkable about this reading from the prophet Daniel is its honesty. This book of the Bible was written when the people of Israel were in exile in Babylon. They had been deported form the Promised Land, and now they were in a land far away. The reading reflects of God’s faithfulness and the in faithfulness of the people. God had not budged from His promises to be the God of Israel; but the people had reneged on their part of the bargain. He remains faithful to us no matter how far we move from Him. In Christ we come face to face with the loving heart of God. How have I been unfaithful to God? This Lent how can I return to Him.
Gospel: Luke 6:36-38
“The amount you measure out will be the amount you give back.” God offers us everything, he holds nothing back. He has given us this wonderful world, he gives us family and friends. We have been given reason and intelligence to know each other, and faith to know God. He cannot be out done in his generosity. No matter how much we think we give to God, it is as nothing compared to the love he has given to us. How do we know this? By gazing on the body of his Son, our Lord Jesus, on the Cross. We know that God is love; but what proves it? “God so loved the world that he sent his only son, so that all who believe in him may have eternal life. How is this Lent different than other ones? What have we given back to God? “Give and there will be gifts for you…for the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.
Tuesday: Isaiah 1:10. 16-20
“Come let us talk this over, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” The prophet gives us a beautiful image of forgiveness. He uses exact opposites: scarlet and snow white. The reading also swings; God’s anger condemns Sodom and Gomorrah, and then in an instant calls them back. God does not want us to live far from him; he wants to be close. With God there is always a second, third, forth, infinite number of chances. All we need to do is be honest with God and trust.
Gospel. Matthew 23: 1-12
Jesus invites us to live the lives we proclaim to live. He calls His followers to imitate the rulers of Israel by what they say, but not what they do. It is very easy to declare ourselves Christian in name and at the same time live far from Christ by our way of life. Lent gives you and me a time to look at our lives, to examine the areas that are not in accordance with Jesus at make amends. He says that we are to call none father, teacher or rabbi. Christ must be our true point of reference. Anyone who teaches him or herself before Christ is an imposter.
Wednesday:Jeremiah 18: 18-20
Despite his warnings of doom, the people do not listen. Jeremiah spent his ministry teaching the people of Israel, that if they did not change their ways, if they refused to following the teaching of God and trust in Him alone, they would taken from the Land. The rulers preferred to listen to the false prophets who declared all was well. Sometimes we prefer to block our ears to the truth, because it can be uncomfortable. It is easier to listen to the ‘voice of the word’ that tells us we can do anything we like. Lent brings us closer to God, who in Christ has given us the authentic model of life. If more had listened to the voice of Jesus in the past, both in society and the Church, would we have avoided many of the crises we find ourselves in?
Gospel: Matthew 20: 17-28
James and John were asked could they drink the cup that Jesus was about to drink and be baptised with the baptism he was to receive? Already the Cross looms large in our Lenten journey. It is inevitable that if we genuinely follow Jesus we will receive persecutions. This does not always mean martyrdom and suffering in a bodily sense, but it could mean suffering ridicule, enduring insults and shame for declaring yourself for Christ. Would you ever speak up for Church if were being unjustly attacked? Not all criticism is wrong, but some is. It requires courage to publicly declare yourself for Christ. Are you willing to drink the cup?
Thursday Jeremiah 17: 5-10
One of the psalms says, “Put no trust in princes and a vain hope for safety is the horse.” The people of Israel at the time of Jeremiah were faced with a choice. They were threatened with invasion and sought to create allies. The Prophet declared that only by trusting in God could they resist the enemy. The leaders preferred to put their trust in their allies, not God, and were defeated. God cares for us. We must constantly trust in His love for His children.
Luke 16: 19-31
If the brothers of the rich man will not listen to Moses and the prophets, will they even listen to someone back from the dead? The conversation across the great divide is remarkable. The rich man beseeches Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his brothers about the dreadful place that awaits them. Abraham tells him they have all they need in the Word of God to avoid it. We often look for great signs and wonders, miracles and visions. The Word of God has spoken once and for all in Jesus. He has given us all we need to be happy in this world and the next. But He has come back from the dead. He lives forever and has sent us His Holy Spirit. If we listen to Jesus, if we follow Him and are part of His family in baptism, we will not go astray. If we do, all we have to do is come back to Him and ask for help and forgiveness.
Friday: The Annunciation:Isaiah 7:10-14. 8:10
Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus revels the Father and sends the Holy Spirit. In Christ we have the perfect sign of God’s love; not a vision or a myth – but the only Son of the Father nailed to a cross.
Hebrews 10: 4-10
Hebrews was written as a sermon to the Jews in Rome. It is filled with references to sacrifice. The Old Law demanded sacrifices for the forgiveness of sin. Day after day, animals were offered in sacrifice for sin. Jesus’ death on the Cross is the prefect sacrifice for every sin that was ever committed. He paid the price for sin in His own blood. Every time we come to Mass we remember and partake in His sacrifice on the Cross. We are present at Calvary in mystical way.
Gospel: Luke 1: 26-38
Jesus was born of Mary, God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God. He is the Son of God and the Son of Mary. Nine months from today we will celebrate His birth, in a few weeks we will celebrate His death and Resurrection. The same Jesus we adore in the stable at Bethlehem we will kneel before in sorrow on Good Friday. By His wounds we have been healed.
Saturday Micah 1:14-15. 18-20
Micah tells us that God’s presence is our strength. He reminds God of the wonders He did in the past when he turned His anger away from the people. He paints a picture of meadows and forests, a place of rest. God always forgives our sins and givers us the promise of a new start. Journeying through Lent we have an opportunity to prepare for our new life by penance.
Gospel: Luke 15: 1-3.11-32.
The prodigal son is a familiar story. The young man loses everything given to him by his father and is still welcomed home. The older brother cannot bring himself to forgive his brother for sinning. We can easily point the finger and judge. We pray for God to bless and heal us, and we so easily pour scorn on others. We can be at one and the same time both brothers. Christ calls us to forgive and to have the strength to be forgiven. To receive forgiveness can be as difficult as forgiving; both are a gift from God.