Sunday 12 March
Scripture John 4: 5 – 42
In His humility Jesus engages a Samaritan woman at a well. The Jews believed that Samaritans could not have access to God and being Jewish, the Lord indicates clearly that He does not care about social standing. The beggar living under a bridge is as loved by Him as much as any saint ever was.
God the Son has a very special place in His Sacred Heart for women and the struggles they have in a world dominated by men. He nevertheless questions the Samaritan woman to make her realise that she was trying to quench a need deep within her with earthly solutions – married five times and now with a sixth man!!
Like us, she had an inner need for eternal life and Jesus awakened her mind and heart to this need. We often have needs that we do not feel . Someone else alerts us to these needs because we are being weighed down. What the Redeemer does is not to make us feel that the need has been satisfied but to know it has been.
His offer of living water was an offer for her to access God and, in doing so, she recognised Him as the Messiah – long awaited in Israel. We must be inspired by her excitement in discovering Him and by being the first person ever to evangelise: she spread the Good News about Him and many came to believe that He was in fact the Saviour of the world.
He also awakened in His disciples their deep need to “ harvest” souls and, by doing so, to reap their own reward of eternal life – a life Christ won for us at Easter. The calling to a religious life is a perfect example of this.
Our ordinary everyday lives and routines aided by the temptations we experience push our need for eternal life and the life God wants us to live, deep into the recesses of our inner being. During Lent we must allow the light of Christ to shine into our depths and bring this need into the fullness of our hearts.
Merciful God, awaken in us the knowledge that we are made in Your image – an image that deeply draws us towards You and life eternal. Amen
Monday 13 March
Scripture: 2 Kings 5:1 – 15
Today’s Old Testament reading is a story about the healing of Naaman, a powerful commander of the Syrian army, who was afflicted with leprosy.
Naaman’s story highlights the power of faith and humility. Despite his high status and reputation, Naaman was willing to listen to the advice of a lowly Israelite slave girl who suggested that he seek out the prophet Elisha for healing. Naaman was also willing (eventually) to follow Elisha’s instructions, even when they seemed unconventional and too simplistic. He obediently washed himself in the Jordan River seven times, as Elisha had instructed, and was healed of his leprosy.
Naaman’s story also highlights the importance of obedience and repentance. Naaman was a powerful and successful military commander, but he was also a sinner who needed to repent and turn towards God. His healing was not just physical but also spiritual, as he recognized the power and sovereignty of the God of Israel.
Naaman’s story also highlights the power of God’s grace and mercy. He was a foreigner and an enemy of Israel, yet God showed him mercy and healed him. God’s grace is available to all people, regardless of their background or circumstances.
May we take these lessons from Naaman to heart as we journey towards Easter and seek to deepen our relationship with God.
Reflect on the following questions: Am I willing to repent of my sins and turn towards God? Am I willing to be humble and follow God’s plan, even when it is difficult or goes against my own desires? Am I willing to accept God’s grace and mercy in my life? Am I willing to extend that grace and mercy to others, even those who may be different from me or who have wronged me?
Heavenly Father, I thank You for loving me. I thank You for sending Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to the world to save and to set me free. I trust in Your power and grace that sustain and restore me.
Loving Father, touch me now with Your healing hands, for I believe that Your will is for me to be well in mind, body, soul and spirit. Cover me with the Most Precious Blood of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, from the top of my head to the soles of my feet.
Cast out anything that should not be in me. Root out any unhealthy and abnormal cells. Open any blocked arteries or veins and rebuild and replenish any damaged areas. Remove all inflammation and cleanse any infection by the power of Jesus’ Precious Blood.
Let the fire of Your healing love pass through my entire body to heal and make new any diseased areas so that my body will function the way You created it to function.
Touch also my mind and my emotion, even the deepest recesses of my heart. Saturate my entire being with Your presence, love, joy, and peace and draw me ever closer to You every moment of my life.
And Father, fill me with Your Holy Spirit and empower me to do Your works so that my life will bring glory and honour to Your Holy Name. I ask this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tuesday 14 March
Scripture: Psalm 24: 4 – 6, 7a – 9
At the start of Lent, we made resolutions and set goals which are meant to draw us closer to God. Some Catholics draw up a list of things which they will or won’t do during this special season so that it may be a time of spiritual growth and renewal., During this third week of Lent, however, we may face times and occasions of failure as we succumb to repeated temptations. We experience guilt and may even regard ourselves as failures. When we struggle to keep our Lenten resolutions, we may grow disheartened and be tempted to give up and abandon them.
In such moments of difficulty, we turn to God and with the psalmist we say, Remember your compassion, O Lord, and your merciful love. The Holy Scriptures constantly repeat the theme of compassion and mercy.
What is compassion? “It’s an attribute by which someone sees the suffering of another and experiences true empathy for them. This empathy, in turn, leads the person to reach out and share in the other’s suffering, helping them to endure whatever they are going through.” When we feel like our Lenten journey is not going according to plan, and we feel like we have hit rock bottom, let us not forget that God sees our challenges and he reaches out. Because of God’s compassion and merciful love, we can always restart our Lenten journey.
Today the psalmist prays and petitions God to remember him in his compassion and merciful love. Similarly, we put our hearts and minds at ease by offloading our worries and challenges onto God whom we know loves cares for us, who enters into our suffering with us. God’s compassion and merciful loves helps us overcome our failings and temptations.
When God shows us compassion and merciful love, he expects us to do likewise to our fellow brothers and sisters. This third week of lent don’t forget to do an act of kindness. Be generous with your time, talent, and treasure.
Father, your merciful love endures forever. Forgive my many weaknesses, sins, and failures. Help me to rise each time I fall and strengthen me to continue my Lenten journey and my journey to eternal life. Amen. Amen.
Wednesday 15 March
Scripture: Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5 – 9
When they come to know all of these laws, they will exclaim, ‘No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation.’
There are different ways of looking at laws that govern our lives. We can view them as restrictive and as robbing us of our freedom, or we can choose to see them as creating some kind of order in what would otherwise be total chaos!
God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments, not to restrict them, but to be an instruction book on how to be fully human and fully alive! If Israel accepted and embraced God’s law and and lived it, that would make Israel a great nation, one that would be an example to be followed by others!
Moses, in his last interaction with the Israelites, tells them to guard against forgetting these things. He says to them, “tell them to your children and your children’s children.” These laws were meant to be passed down and observed from one generation to the next.
That is how it was when ‘Christianity’ began. What has happened since? Would anyone describe us as wise, understanding, and prudent? If not, why not? Are we sharing the message of our faith with our children and our children’s children?
What role did your parents play in helping you come to faith and to grow in faith? Are you doing the same for your children and/or grandchildren?
Gracious God, make us good parents, good children, good disciples, and show us how to lead those closest to us to love and revere You as our Father, Creator and Saviour. Amen.
Thursday 16 March
Scripture: Jeremiah 7: 23 – 28
“O that today you would listen to His voice. Harden not your hearts. “This is taken from Psalm 95:7-8.
On the second Sunday of Lent we heard the Gospel of the Transfiguration of Jesus when God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son… Listen to Him.” Matthew 17:5. By and large Jesus’ message had fallen upon deaf ears, much the same way as Jeremiah’s message from God had been ignored by the people of his time. They refused to listen to him in exactly the same manner as they had declined to listen to any of the other prophets whom God had sent.
In our busy, noisy world we are constantly being bombarded with messages, if not from the constant stream of adverts on TV, then from the endless adverts on social media. Each one vying for our attention. We have grown accustomed to switching off from the persistent intrusions or, at best, we have learnt to hear them but to ignore them.
Hearing is not the same as listening. Just because you’re hearing something doesn’t necessarily mean that you are listening. True listening involves concentrating on what we are hearing and internalizing it to make sense of it. In other words, take the message you are hearing to heart so that you can discern whether or not it is relevant to you and your situation.
The heart is considered one of the crucial organs for survival in the body, but it also plays another important role. It is where we “hear” the voice of God speaking to us. For this reason, the Psalmist reminds us to not harden our hearts because a hardened heart is not open to receiving God’s messages. It is all a matter of the heart. This is confirmed in Psalm 119: 10 – 11 “With all my heart I seek you … In my heart I treasure your promise.”
We are easily distracted at Mass, so it is very good to prepare for Mass by reading the Daily Mass Readings beforehand. (Living with Christ is an excellent Catholic App.) We are then more familiar with the readings when they are proclaimed during the Liturgy of the Word and more likely to listen with our heart to the message that God has for us.
Father, never let my heart become hardened by the troubles and challenges of this life. Help me to be a good listener and to take time out to meditate on Your Word. Grant me the wisdom and understanding to know what message Your Word has for me. Amen.
Friday 17 March
Penitential Day of Fast and Abstinence
Scripture: Mark 12: 28 – 34
What does it mean to love God and our neighbour? For many, the word ‘love’ conjures up images of warm feelings, romance, and wonderful emotions. The love that Jesus speaks about is very different. He taught us everything we need to know about true love. The love he speaks of is self-sacrificing, generous, unending; not a temporary feeling or attraction. Because of God’s love for the world, we know love is also undeserving and often unreciprocated. His love is abundant, generous and given freely.
The ancient Greeks had anywhere between four and eight different words for love, depending on the circumstances: Storge: affection, Philia or Phileo: friendship, Eros: sexual, erotic, Agape: unconditional, divine, selfless, Ludus: flirtatious, playful, casual, uncommitted, Pragma: committed, long-standing, Philautia: self-love, Mania: obsessive, possessive, addictive, dependent. Which of these, do you think, Jesus was using in the context of today’s Gospel?
Married couples, parents, priests and Religious know all about agape, giving of oneself for the benefit of the other or others, without expecting anything in return. This, Jesus says, is the way we are to love God and our neighbour. This love transcends any feelings or emotions.
Not only did Jesus speak about love, he also lived it, and ultimately offered himself by his self-sacrificing love on the cross. Now he calls us to imitate him in every aspect of our lives. Our almsgiving during Lent is more than a duty or obligation. When we enter into the spirit of this Lenten season we become generous in our almsgiving out of love (agape).
St. Teresa of Kolkata encourages us to do little things with great love. Each day provides many opportunities for us to do precisely this, and when we make a point of doing this it becomes a natural and integral part of our lives; a beautiful attitude which is integrated into our personality. It’s worth the effort!
Let today be your beginning of ‘do little things with great love’ in your effort to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” and to “love your neighbour as yourself.”
Father, your Son Jesus calls us to reach into the depths of our beings so that we can make real the abundance of love you have poured into our hears and our lives. Help me to love you with all my heart and to love others in the imitation of your generous love. Amen.
Saturday 18 March
Scripture: Luke 18: 9 – 14
It is not uncommon to hear people who have chosen not to go to church, or those who have abandoned the practice of their faith, refer to churchgoers as hypocrites. “He goes to church on Sundays but look at how he behaves!”
Pope Francis says the Church is like “a field hospital” that must care for the sick, even when our actions incite envy and hatred in others.
We go to church and gather with others not because we are perfect, without fault and sin, but because we realise and recognise our many imperfections, weaknesses and sinfulness. We gather in church because we need Jesus in our lives and want to be strengthened by him to do good and to be better.
Jesus presents his disciples with two very different attitudes: that of the Pharisee and of the tax-collector. Perhaps we can decide which of these two we are more like. The liturgy of Mass begins, immediately after the Greeting with the Penitential Rite. It is an invitation to call to mind our sins and to acknowledge that we have sinned “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” We strike our breast just as the tax-collector did.
The attitude of the tax-collector in Jesus’ parable is one of humility, repentance and sincerity. The Pharisee is proud, boastful and judgmental. We most certainly do not go to church to boast or to show God how good we are or have been. The Church is a gathering of sinners, all trying to do better in our lives and all in need of what Jesus offers us at Mass. Lent is a reminder of this and a call to sincerity and humility. Only then can we be truly Ransomed, Healed, Restored and Forgiven.
When you go to Mass this weekend make a point of being focused on the words you pray during the Penitential Rite, pray them with real humility and sincerity.
Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. Amen.