Lenten Reflections Week 6 2022

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Church of the Resurrection

Bryanston

Lenten Reflections 2022

Come back to me with all your heart.

WEEK SIX – Holy Week

SUNDAY 10 APRIL

Scripture:                  Philippians 2: 1 – 11

Reflection:  

There is no other time in our Liturgical Year when we are called to imitate Jesus more intensly than during Holy Week which begins today. St. Paul says “In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus.”  The Church invites us to unite ourselves with Jesus through the events of Holy Week and, more importantly, to be like him.  “He did not cling to his equality with God, but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave and became as we are, … even to accepting death on a cross.”

How great is our God!  This is what he did for us!  Holy Week provides an opportunity for us to do something for him – and in the process, for ourselves as well.  Today we join the crowds who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, shouting “Hossana in the highest, blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest.”  I often wonder how many of these same people were among the crowd in the courtyard of the praetorium on Good Friday shouting “crucify him, crucify him!”

Lent has given us an opportunity to experience genuine repentance in order that we may enter into a timer of renewal at Easter.  Whether you have grasped this opportunity or not over the past five weeks, take full advantage of what is being offered now, this Holy Week.  Let it be a spiritual week for you.

Join Jesus and the apostles at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. Experience with a newness of spirit the institution of the Holy Eucharist.  “Take and eat, this is my Body, take and drink, this is my Blood.”  Then watch Jesus wash the feet of his apostle. “If I your Lord and master can wash your feet, so too should you wash one another’s feet.”  Then after Mass, spend time at the Altar of Repose, your opportunity to keep watch with Jesus.

Walk the journey to Calvary with Jesus at Stations of the Cross on Good Friday and allow yourself to be Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus to carry his cross, Veronica wiping the face of Jesus, and the women of Jerusalem weeping for Jesus.  Then stand at the foot of the cross with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, at the Veneration of the Cross Service.  Receive the Holy Eucharist – the Body broken for you and the Blood poured out for you.

Holy Saturday is a quiet and reflective day for Christians.  We allow ourselves to be still as we prepare for the Lord’s resurrecrion celebrated so powerfully at the Easter Vigil Mass.  This is your opportunity to renew your Baptismal Promises and to experience the renewal of faith which Lent has prepared you for.

Practical Suggestion:  

This week we sing the hymn “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”  Where will you be?

Prayer:  

Father, let me walk with Jesus this week, to enter into his passion, suffering, death and resurrection so that through this Paschal Mystery I may be renewed in my faith.  Amen.

Listen to and vatch this video clip:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2C34Lp6WDY

MONDAY 11 APRIL

Scripture:                  John 12: 1 – 11

Reflection:   

Mary, the sister of Lazarus, did something so wonderful for Jesus – she anointed his feet with very costly ointment.  She did this out of love for Jesus and probably in gratiude for raising Lazarus from the dead.

Acts of love are always so very powerful.  They warm our hearts when we do them, and when we are recipients of such love.  It is one of the most wonderful experiences in life.

Judas, however, could not see this and neither could he comprehend Mary’s act of love.  All he could think about was how much the ointment cost.   Why is it that some people are so negative, unwilling to see an act of love and kindness and to be glad in it.    Some find it difficult to see goodness even when it is staring at them in the face.

Are you a negative person?  Are you always finding fault with people and their acts of kindness?  Are you always criticizing the actions of others?  It is very easy to fall into the trap of negativity.  It sucks us in and we spiral into a depth of darkness, finding it difficult, if not impossible to see all that is good in life and in the actions of others.  Judas was in a dark place and this darkness made it difficult for him to recognise in Mary’s actions a depth of love and care.  This darkness would lead him to betray Jesus for thirthy silver coins and eventually to his death by his own hand.  We have to show compassion to Judas.  His darkness was overwhelming and led to his despicable actions.

Jesus has come to turn the darkness before us into light (cf. Isaiah 42:16).  Mary’s act of love is a shining light in comparison to the dark events that unfolded this week.  But God conquered the darkness, even the darkness of death and raised his Son Jesus from the dead.  We have to keep reminding ourselves of this as we go through the events of the Lord’s passion and death.

While we live we must grasp every opportunity to imitate Mary’s act of love and kindness in the hope and confidence that God will always turn the darkness into light and that ultimately even the darkness of death will give way to the bright promise of immortality!

Practical Suggestion:   

In what way or ways can you imitate Mary’s act of love and kindness this Holy Week?  

Prayer: 

Father, change whatever darkness and negativity that lies within me into light and goodness.  May I always be open to see the good in others and their acts of kindness and always rejoice in the immense goodness, love and generosity in our world.  Amen. 

TUESDAY 12 APRIL

Scripture:                  John 13:  21 – 33;  36 – 38

“I tell you solemnly, one of you will betray me”

Reflection:

God is LOVE!  It has taken us centuries to finally hear those words coming from the Church – which so often in the past has perpetuated the image of a God who is aloof, remote, stern and swift to punish wrong-doing.

The question is – do we believe those words?  Do we accept that the overriding image of God that Jesus presented was one of a loving, compassionate and forgiving Father?

To say ‘I love you’ to another person is an ultimate act of trust – it is to open yourself to rejection or ridicule; it is to open yourself to possibly having your ‘heart’ broken; it is to open yourself to possible betrayal!

‘Betrayal’ is such an ugly word.  It leaves its ‘victims’ shattered – trust and faith are destroyed, emotions are in turmoil, and the ability to think rationally is seriously at risk.

Can we begin to imagine how Jesus felt as He looked around the table at His twelve closest companions – and knew, in actual fact, that not just one, but all were going to ‘betray’ Him or let Him down when He needed them most?  How sad He must have been, and yet He would go on to forgive them, as He does us, and use them as His instruments of evangelization!

Let us not ‘betray’ Him in these remaining few days of Lent!

Practical suggestion:

Reflect on the ways, however small, by which you have ‘betrayed’ Jesus.  Ask for forgiveness for these failures and resolve to be a ‘faithful’ disciple in the future.

Prayer:

Father, help me to understand the implications of loving, and also to understand the many ways my love deteriorates into ‘betrayal’ or broken promises.  Amen.

WEDNESDAY 13 APRIL

Scripture                   Matthew 26: 14 – 25

Reflection

The Jewish scribes and elders of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish court system) hoped to bring a charge against Jesus under Roman law.  This law was very specific that the person to be charged be carefully identified.  At the time of the Passover thousands of people thronged into Jerusalem and our Lord did not have any special physical traits.  It was necessary that someone who knew Him identified Him so that the Temple guards could secure His arrest. Hence the role for Judas.

Judas never called Jesus by any other name but Rabbi which simply means teacher. In Scripture he is always the last mentioned in the list of Apostles and he never had a strong, personal relationship with Jesus.  He simply had the wrong view of God. He was on the sidelines of the intense ministry of Jesus the Christ.

He was a man of greed and had a deep desire for money and one who would steal from others.  He was the treasurer of the Common Fund (used to buy supplies for the ministry of Jesus) and dipped into that till.  His outburst at the cost of the perfume, with which Mary anointed the feet of her Lord, gave away his inner weakness and flaw of character.  When he realised that Jesus would not become an earthly king, from whose kingship those close to Him would have benefitted financially, Satan moved in and tempted him to betray the Son of God for a good sum of money.  He was instrumental in the death of the beloved Messiah.

All being said and done, we learn one thing from Judas: to betray God is a serious wrong.  More serious though, is unlike Peter who also betrayed his Master, Judas never sought forgiveness.  The heaviness of this sin played on his mind and without the repenting, he denied himself receiving the mercy of God. Peter wept bitterly, was forgiven and became our first Pope. Judas took his own life.

Practical Suggestion

Judas demonstrates to us the danger and anguish of not repenting and the heaviness of heart that accompanies this.  Always seek the forgiveness of God won for us by what will happen in two days time by the Son of God.

Prayer

Holy Spirit you are the Lord and Giver of life. Fill our hearts with the fire of your love so that we will repent and ask for forgiveness of our sins.  Amen

HOLY THURSDAY 14 APRIL

Scripture:                  John 13: 1 – 15

Reflection

Holy Thursday commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood. It forms the first part of the Triduum.  The imagery conveyed during this liturgy is very powerful and if you have not participated in the Holy Thursday Mass, you have missed out on an incredible experience!

In Biblical times, most people walked barefoot or wore very simple sandals.  On their return home, a servant would be assigned to wash the dirt off their feet.  This menial task was assigned to the lowliest of the household servants, but it would have been a welcome relief for travellers to sit down and have their feet bathed. 

Feet washing was seen as a symbol of great humility and service.  Jesus took a basin of water and began to wash His disciples’ feet. They did not understand the significance of Jesus’ actions until He explained that they in turn were to follow His example of service and love and wash one another’s feet.

Here we see that Jesus washed away the impurities on their feet but in a day’s time His sacrifice would make it possible to wash away the impurities and blemishes of sin and restore all of God’s children to intimate fellowship the Father. 

Although Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray Him, He still washed his feet along with the other disciples.  Judas had become disillusioned with Jesus because the Zealots were convinced that Israel’s messiah would be a great warrior who would restore the Kingdom of Israel to the Jews.  Jesus was demonstrating the great power of service, but for Judas it would have been seen as a demonstration of great weakness. Jesus knew what was in Judas’ heart but that did not cause Him to discriminate against Judas in any way.

It is easy to be of service to those whom we love and care about.  It’s another story all together to offer our love and service to those who don’t like us or who we feel repulsed by.  This is the great challenge of our discipleship. 

Practical Suggestion:  

Make the effort to attend the Holy Thursday Mass of The Lord’s Supper and participate fully in the Easter Triduum of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. 

Prayer: 

Father, You have called us to a life of love and service to one another.  As we commence the final part of the solemn journey with Jesus to Calvary, strengthen us in our journey towards our own Easter and eternal life. Reveal to us the opportunities where we may be of service to others and give us the resolve to be good disciples and to be effective witnesses of our faith to others by our words and actions.  Amen

GOOD FRIDAY 15 APRIL

Scripture:                          Isaiah 52: 13 – 53: 12

Reflection:  “Yet he was pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins. On him lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed.” The 

prophet Isaiah in chapters 52 and 53 powerfully describes a mysterious figure that scholars have named the “Suffering Servant.” The Suffering Servant passage is an example of open Messianic prophecy and a typology of Jesus Christ.  Hence, the New Testament authors saw Jesus as fulfilling the role of the Suffering Servant. 

Today we commemorate Good Friday, the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus went through his suffering and death to bring us peace, healing, and salvation for our souls.  He underwent such suffering to reveal his love for us and he transformed the cross (instrument of torture) into a perfect instrument of love and mercy.  That is why today we are deep in meditation and reflection on this great mystery of our redemption.  Reflecting on today’s powerful event, Saint John Chysostom said, “As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.”  All these things that Jesus Christ accomplished through his death are for you.  If you believe in him!

If we truly wish to understand the power of the Lord’s passion, we should make it a personal affair.  It is easy to just say Jesus died to redeem the world. We might miss the connection between Jesus’ passion with our own lives. Jesus died for you to give you eternal life!  With God, we are not a number!  He knows us personally and intimately.  He knows us individually and wants us to know him. When Jesus died on the cross, your name was written on his heart and we were united with him: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his,” (Romans 6:5).  Jesus suffered and died so that we may have life and have it abundantly! 

Practical Suggestion

How are we expected to respond to the passion and death of Jesus? We respond with gratitude!  Such gratitude should move us to sincere repentance and conversion.  Spend time today in prayer and reflection on the love of Jesus for you. 

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you came to set us free from sin, doubt, fear, and ignorance. Your word brings life, truth, and healing to mind, heart, soul, and body.  May I live in the joy and freedom of your victory over sin and death. Amen.

HOLY SATURDAY 16 APRIL

Scripture:                       Romans 6: 3 – 11

Reflection: Throughout Lent we, individually and as a community, have been preparing ourselves to be born-again in Christ; to “Come back to me with all your

 heart.”  St Paul says in his epistle to the Romans that we, the faithful, enter into Christ’s death through our commitment to our faith – our Baptism – and also through our faith, we will be raised to a new life in Jesus Christ’s Resurrection.

Baptism in Paul’s time was done by complete immersion in water.  This immersion can be imaged as joining Christ in his death – the death of our sinful life – and then, on rising out of the water, being resurrected to a new life.  Through our Baptism, we are united in a very real way with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.  We become one with Christ. 

This unity of Christ demands of us a change in moral living – a new orientation toward God.  It does not make us permanently sinless but demands that we be continually intentional in living our lives loving God and loving our neighbour.   Living this new life may not be convenient.  Sometimes it has costs.  We might have to change habits and routines that take us away from our unity with Christ.  Our suffering is part of our participation in the death of Christ.  When we suffer in small or large ways, we share in the reality of the crucifixion.

Fortunately, our participation in the death of Christ is only possible through the presence of the Risen Christ. Our share in the suffering is only possible through our share in eternal life.  In other words, grace not only gives suffering meaning, but it also places our suffering into a much greater context.  Just as Easter gives Good Friday its meaning, so, too, does life in the Risen Christ give our bruised and painful journey through life real purpose.

Practical Suggestion

Are you ready to make – or renew – your commitment to a new way of living?  In your evening reflection ask yourself: What is it in my life that I would like to see ‘raised to a new life’? Perhaps intolerance of others, boredom with prayer, carelessness about the poor? Ask sincerely at prayer for what you really want to be ‘raised up’ from.

Prayer

Dear Lord, may I realise anew today what Your death and resurrection mean for me:  forgiveness, freedom, and the ability to walk with You through this fallen world into eternity.  May I always find my satisfaction in You and Your willingness to offer Yourself to me in Jesus’ Name.   Amen.

These Daily Reflections for Lent 2022 are written by Fr. Desmond Nair,  Irene Helsdon, George Cominos, Veronica Donnelly Fr. Wandile Cagwe, and Mike Montocchio.  Please acknowledge the authors when copying and distributing.  We wish you a fruitful and blessed Lenten Season as you respond to God’s call to come back to him with all your heart.

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