30 April 2017
Reflections for Lent

Reflections on Readings for Weekdays of Lent

As we come to mass each day during lent, we are given the opportunity to feed from the word of God in the Readings and from the Body of Christ in our Holy Communion. Our reflections on these Readings  are intended to help us relate what we read to our personal lives. Ideally, we hope that some time during the day you will be able to take a few minutes to reflect on the Readings of the day.The brief commentaries are being prepared by the priests of the Parish, and each week the notes will be from a different priest. Our notes are offered as an aid to prayer and reflection, and not as scripture commentaries. We hope you will find them helpful.

Seán Heaney P.P.      Shane Crombie C.C.     Patrick Donnelly C.C.

Monday Week 1

A Reading from the Book of Leviticus: 19: 1—2, 11—18.

“ Be holy, for I, the Lord your God am holy”  This Reading outlines many of the areas in which we can fall short of the sprit of the Commandments.: we must not steal, defraud workers, disrespect the dumb or the blind.  We must not give unjust verdicts, slander others, bear grudges or exact any kind of vengeance.  In short we must loves our neighbours as ourselves.

Gospel: A Reading from Gospel of Matthew 25: 31—46.                                                      This Gospel Parable of the sheep and the goats backs up the message of the first Reading.  When we come to be judged the criteria by which we will be judged are all listed:  Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and prisoners.  If we do these things In our lives we will in fact live out the spirit of the passage of Leviticus, and we will be rewarded with the greeting: “Come you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared since the foundation of the world.”  The only truly important question for us at the end of our lives is the question: Did you truly love your neighbour?“  We must reflect that only in living the Commandments can we truly love our neighbour.  There is no escaping this reality.  If we can live the Commandments and love our neighbour , then the reward will be very great.  If we live our lives in this spirit we can have true hope and joy.

Tuesday Week 1.

A Reading from the Prophet Isaiah: 55: 10—11.

Through Isaiah, God assures us that the word he sends among us not return to him empty.  It bears a rich harvest in the lives of all who believe in his Word (Jesus Christ) and follow him faithfully.  In embracing Faith in Jesus Christ we are responding to the coming of the Word among us.    We have reason to rejoice in the great mystery we celebrate each day in the Angelus:  “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”.

Gospel

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew. 6: 7—15

This is the Gospel of the Our Father—the response of Jesus when his disciples asked him to teach them to pray.  At the beginning of Lent there can be no more important prayer in our lives.  As it is set out by St. Matthew, the passage repeats a second time the call of Jesus to forgive: “Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.”  Lent is the time of Reconciliation—reconciliation not only with our heavenly Father through the Sacrament of Penance, but also reconciliation with one another through forgiving them and seeking their forgiveness.

Wednesday Week 1.

A Reading from the Prophet Jonah.  3: 1—10.

We know that Jonah tried to escape his assignment to preach repentance to the wicked city of Nineveh.  The story of the shipwreck which led to his three days in the belly of the whale is well known to many of us.  The follow-up is less well known.  Jonah  did not attempt to shirk his duty a second time.  He preached a stark message: “Only forty days and Nineveh is going to be destroyed”  The response of the Ninevites, from the king down to the lowliest  citizen was absolute.  Everybody and every living creature was to fast in order to avert catastrophe.  The response was successful, because God relented and did not destroy their city.  Penance undertaken sincerely worked for them, and will work for us too.

Gospel

A Reading from the  Gospel according to Matthew. 6: 7—15.

“This is a wicked generation; it is asking for a sign”  Jesus confronts the Jewish leaders who have challenged him to show a sign that he is truly the Messiah.  He tells them that the only sign they will be given is the sign of Jonah.  This refers to the three days Jonah spent in the belly of the whale, which will be replicated by the three days of Jesus in the tomb before his Resurrection.  Jesus is telling his listeners that belief in Him as the Messiah is not to come through signs, but through faith.  In another episode in the Gospel he tells of Lazarus and the rich man, who pleaded with Abraham to send messengers to his brothers to warn them to change their ways.  What he is saying is that we have enough signs to tell us that He is the Messiah; what we need is Faith , rather than signs and wonders.

Thursday Week 1

A Reading from the Book of Esther. 4: 1—17

Queen Esther was a Jewess in exile who was chosen by king Ahasuerus to be his queen.  His chief minister, Haman, was determined to eliminate the Jews from the kingdom.  It is to this backdrop that Esther prays the prayer that is this reading for today.  Above all this is a prayer of trust in God’s goodness and God’s care for all of us, even when we are in distress in our lives.  “…….come to my help, for I am alone and have no one but you, Lord”. Absolute trust in God  brought peace and security to the life of Esther.  It will do likewise for us.

Gospel

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew. 7:: 7—12.

This  Gospel asks us to reflect on God’s goodness, and urges us to pray constantly for our needs.  The Father in heaven, who loves us, will surely gives us good things, if only we ask him.  Trust in God’s love and God’s care for us is a recurring theme in all that Jesus said.  When sorrow or what we regard as failure comes our way, we find it hard to trust in God’s goodness.  We must  constantly remind ourselves that the ability to trust God at all times is the bedrock of our faith.  An afterthought in this Gospel tells us to treat others as we would like them to treat us: this is the true meaning of the whole of the Gospel.

Friday week 1

A Reading from the Prophet Ezekiel.  18: 21—28.

God speaks to his people through the prophet Ezekiel to remind them that if the just man turns away from the Lord and commits sin, all his good deeds will be forgotten  and he will die in the spiritual sense.  If the sinner renounces his sins and turns back to the Lord, all his sins will be forgiven and he will live a new life.   According to Ezekiel what the Lord most wants to see in our lives is integrity.  It is a word which occurs frequently in the Old Testament, and demands that we be what we profess to be.  Honesty, justice, truth, respect for others, care for those in any need are all part of the makeup of integrity.  The Jewish mindset in the time of Ezekiel was that the sinner could find no way back to God, and the just man was sure of keeping God’s favour at all times.  It is this false belief that Ezekiel sets out to correct.

Gospel:  Matthew 5: 20—26.

This Gospel passage is one of the most challenging of all Christ’s teachings.  Not only is it wrong to kill another: even to be angry with another is sinful and wrong.  When Jesus says to us that we cannot come to the altar to worship unless we are first reconciled with each other, he challenges all our ideas of how we regard our neighbour.  After two thousand years of preaching the Good News, this is one little segment which has not struck home for so many of us.  Our failure in this area is surely reflected in the increase of violence in our country at this time, and the countless murders that  are committed for petty reasons.  All these actions are far removed from the spirit that Christ preaches.  What is asked of me is that I do my best to live at peace with my neighbour, and if I do have a difference  with another, it is time now to make a start.  Reconciliation sometimes is a slow process, and the first move is often the hardest.  I must pray harder for the grace to forgive others, and for the grace to make the first move in being reconciled.

Saturday Week 1.

A Reading from the Book of Deuteronomy.  26: 16—19

“You have today made this declaration about the Lord, that he will be your God, but only if you follow his ways, keep his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and listen to his voice.  And the Lord has today made this declaration about you: that you will be his very own people as he promised you, but only if you keep all his commandments;”  Moses tells us that we become part of the family of God’s people when we commit ourselves to keeping his laws and his commandments.  It is in Baptism of course that we are full accepted into the Body of Christ ,the Church, but our membership of that Body compels us to keep the commandments of the Lord.  We thank God for his gift of Faith, and pray that we will be faithful to him throughout our lives..

Gospel: Matthew 5: 43—48.

'You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  The Jews believed in hatred of enemies, and lived  accordingly.  Jesus would not accept that we are entitled to hate others.  Often of course we  loosely say that we “hate” somebody who thwarts our favourite sports star, or team, or pop star, and so on.  But we don’t seriously and truly hate these such people.  If we do , we have a serious problem.  We have the same problem if we truly hate others for any reason whatsoever.  This passage follows on from what we read about forgiveness yesterday.  Our real problem is that we are often comfortable with our hatreds and our grudges, and Jesus  clearly challenges us to let go of all these emotions and feelings.  We should pray again for the Faith that will enable us to overcome hatred in our lives, and live in respect  and love for everybody.  This message is tough, but there is nowhere to hide from it.