Lenten Reflection – Week 3

SUNDAY 15 MARCH

Scripture: John 4: 5 – 42

Reflection

The long Gospel (John 4:5-42) of Jesus’ meeting the woman at the well speaks of water and faith. Jesus reaches out to the woman. He begins the life-giving conversation which will end not only in her own belief in God, but also in many others coming to believe. The gospel describes how a Samaritan woman went to draw water from the village well. She sees Jesus sitting beside it. He asks her for a drink. She wonders why he should speak of her since Jews and Samaritans were traditional enemies. It shocks the woman that Jesus would talk to her because she is Samaritan, she is a woman, and she is an outcast even among the other Samaritan women. Yet this is the one Jesus invites to believe in him and to spread the faith to other women, other Samaritans and other people.

Jesus asks for water. He invites the Samaritan woman to a relationship with God by making his own need known to her. Jesus then invites her to receive the living (flowing) water which He offers. She thinks that Jesus is talking about another source of drinking water that is not as deep as Jacob’s well. She wants this flowing water so she does not have to keep coming on her own to draw water. Jesus is speaking of a spiritual water that gives spiritual life.

He is offering her the gift of faith. It is only as the conversation develops that she becomes aware of the other dimension of Jesus’ promise of living water. Jesus, on the spiritual level, thirsts for her soul. He gives her the living water so she can go home without her buckets and face her own people.

The Samaritan becomes a proclaimer of this faith-full relationship. Her past does not hinder her from being a messenger of Good News. She has a story to tell. We all have a story to share with other people. We all have stories that can bring other people into a relationship with God. As a result, others come to Jesus and ask him to stay and share His gifts with them. This season of Lent invites us to go back to our families and friends and tell them what God has done for you.

Practical Suggestion

Go back to the story of the Samaritan woman and Jesus and try to catch a word or phrase from the reading which you will carry with you this week.

Prayer

Lord Jesus help me to accept each moment as it comes to me with faith and trust. Help me to seek you not in far-off places but most especially in your presence in the Holy Eucharist. Above all help me to be grateful for all that God has done for me. Amen

MONDAY 16 MARCH

Scripture: 2 Kings 5: 1 – 15
“Wash and be clean”

Reflection

We are now well on our way to becoming “HOLY” – into the third week of our journey from “Repentance to Renewal” – “Wash and be clean” as we know that God wants this of us. To increase in ourselves to be true disciples of Jesus.

Last Monday, Jesus gave us His sound advice on how to do it! We know that Jesus doesn’t stand on ‘airs and graces’ and tells it ‘as it is’ – simple but true. That is how Elisha, the prophet, gave healing advice to the leper Naaman. No fancy cures, no fanfare, just plain and simple “wash and be clean.”

In today’s Scripture, we read about Naaman who was a warrior, well respected as a great man not only by the people, but also by his king. He was prepared to take advice from a captured maid-servant and was prepared to visit the prophet Elisha, an Israelite. But, when told to wash in the Jordan river he became indignant at such a seemingly futile suggestion. Surely there should be a more dramatic healing, or at least something more challenging to do! No, that is not God’s way. Jesus says; “your Father sees all that is done in secret”.

We have this special time in the year to concentrate our efforts at repentance and getting rid of all our impurities. We know them as sins that have built up over time, and even though we may have celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the past, sometimes there are those sins and failings that hang on to us and we can’t let them go!

Now is the time to place ourselves into the presence of God, who knows all that we do (in secret) and share with Him all of our concerns and worries. Naaman didn’t realise the simplicity of God’s nature who, with water cleanses us and, most of all, gives us LIFE! He was cleared of his leprosy just as God wants us to be healed and cleaned of our sins. Let Him into your heart so that he can.

Practical Suggestion

Offer your time to God in simple Prayer. Look for the opportunity to find Jesus in your daily life.

Prayer

Father I cherish the Love that you have for me. Help me to respond to you by following your way especially by being loving and kind to others. Amen

TUESDAY 17 MARCH

Feast of St. Patrick

Scripture Matthew 18: 21 – 35

Reflection

Every day on radio and on TV we hear about some poor individual who has been caught in a scam. Today, because of the high cost of living, many are trying to improve their lifestyle in any possible way. They invest in an attractive venture, hoping that it will make them rich.

All too often these desperate people see their money going straight down the drain, leaving them with a major headache and an empty pocket all because they trusted without fully investigating all the pros and cons on offer. Strangely enough, with all the theft and dishonesty in the world today, we still find people who will trust others in these attractive schemes and are ‘taken for a ride’.

Today’s Gospel reminds us of this problem, when it tells of a man who owed his master a great deal. When he pleaded for time to repay, his master cancelled the debt! Later, this very same man, refuses to be as generous to a colleague of his. In fact he had him thrown into prison until he should pay his debt – an impossibility!

Remember the Lord’s command to “love one another as I have loved you”?
Following this train of thought, the burning question for us today and every day is, “What can I do to show my love for my neighbour just as God shows me his love”? It has to be that we must be as generous with one another as God is with us – especially in forgiving the sins of others as we have been forgiven by God. Do we not pray this every day in the Lord’s Prayer?

Our sins are always forgiven as long as we are sincere in our confession. God goes out of His way to help prepare us for Everlasting Life, a life which is far more important than the life we lead on earth. He calls on us to love and forgive our neighbours, just as we are loved and forgiven by Him.

What a wonderful world this could be if we were as generous as our God is with us. He doesn’t promise a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. In fact Jesus never promised material and financial prosperity to his followers. He did, however, promise a generous forgiveness of our sins and failings.

Practical Suggestion

Take full advantage of God’s generous love by going to Confession this Lent.
Experience the wonderful way in which he heals, reconciles and forgives. Invite someone who hasn’t been to Confession for a long time to go with you. After you receive forgiveness enabling you to make a fresh start, a new beginning, be sure to be equally merciful and forgiving towards others who have sinned against you.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, strengthen me in my weakness. Help me to be as merciful and as forgiving as you are. Amen.

WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH

Scripture Matthew 5: 17 – 19

Reflection

You may remember the Gospel on the Second Sunday of Lent; the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. The vision that Peter, James and John saw, was of the transfigured Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah. Moses represents the Law and Elijah the Prophets. God the Father gave his Son the assurance that he was indeed the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets.

This is exactly what Jesus reminds his disciples about today; that he has come, not to abolish the law, but to fulfil the Law and the Prophets. There was, however, something very different to the way Jesus both followed and applied the Law and the Prophets. He did it with love, mercy and compassion. He had accused the religious leaders of laying heavy burdens on people’s shoulders and doing nothing to help them. He, on the other hand, never put the law before a person. Their needs always came first: consider the man he healed on the sabbath, or the mercy he showed to the woman caught in adultery.

The Church (remember we are the Church) is tasked with the mission and responsibility to do the same. There are still religious leaders today who place burdens on people’s shoulders, who make almost impossible demands of and do very little for people. This is not the way we should be or behave.

When we have taken the time to come to know Jesus, to really know Jesus through the Gospels, Personal Prayer and our encounter with him in the Holy Eucharist, then our understanding of the Law and the Prophets takes on a whole new meaning. Many Christians are quick to quote the laws of the Old Testament but they lack the love that Jesus asks of all his followers. In fact, did he not summarise the commandments into a single, simple, yet profound command: to love God and our neighbour as we love ourselves. This is exactly what he did! Now we must do the same.

Practical Suggestion

Ask yourself today: Am I a legalistic person, always quoting and following the absolute letter of the law because it is the law? Or have I chosen Jesus’ way of love, mercy and compassion? Once you have your answer, decide on what you can do to increase your imitation of the Lord’s love, mercy and compassion – not as a legalistic requirement but from the very depths of your being. It may require real metanoia!

Prayer

Change my heart O God. May I be like Jesus in everything I say and do. Amen.

THURSDAY 19 MARCH

FEAST OF ST JOSEPH

Scripture Luke 2: 41 – 51

Reflection

Joseph is described in Matthew’s gospel as ‘a righteous man’. What does that mean? He was a man who ‘kept the law’ and did what he knew to be the right thing according to his understanding of his faith.

None of the Gospels record a single word uttered by Joseph. It is his actions that speak volumes, and reveal to us why he was the man chosen by God to be the earthly father of Jesus.

Joseph did not abandon Mary to a horrific fate when he found out that she was pregnant before they lived together as husband and wife. The journey to Bethlehem for the census could not have been easy with him having to travel across inhospitable territory with a heavily pregnant wife. Then there was the lack of suitable accommodation which led to Jesus having to be born in a stable.
All this must have troubled Joseph greatly. The subsequent flight into Egypt to keep Jesus safe was a treacherous journey into a foreign country – the country of his forefathers’ slavery. About twelve years later he ‘loses’ Jesus in Jerusalem, and must have suffered great anguish during the three days it took to find him.

Truly a ‘superman’! A man of true worth and integrity; a man who was there in ‘the best of times and the worst of times’; who lived what he believed to be right, and whose actions were instrumental in bringing ‘the light of God’ into the world. It is this same light that invites each of us to evaluate our own lives and actions – to renew our commitment to taking the ‘light’ further.

Practical Suggestion

We are almost halfway through Lent. Evaluate your ‘actions’ up to now. What do my actions say or proclaim to others? Decide how you can improve on this in the coming weeks, especially looking at the example and faith of Joseph.

Prayer

Lord, in choosing Joseph, You chose a man of true fidelity and faith. Like him, may my actions reflect Your presence in my life, so that others may be drawn to Your light. Amen.

FRIDAY 20 MARCH

Scripture: Mark: 12:28-34

Reflection

The Jews had over six hundred rules, regulations and laws. It was a common practice at that time to try and condense them into a more user-friendly set. But there was little agreement amongst the scholars and priests. This exceptional scribe, who had bought into the wisdom of Jesus by appreciating His skill in the Scriptures, knows He will have the answer and merely wants to hear it. So do we!!

Our Lord quotes Deuteronomy 6: 4-5 and Leviticus 19: 18 to give the concise version. It emphasises that God is sovereign and is in charge of all humanity. It stresses that we must first love God. The second emerges from our love for God and not the other way around!

This command to love God and neighbour (even hostile ones) is not a suggestion, recommendation or advice. It is a Christian imperative. We may very well ask how we can be commanded to love as this sounds quite difficult. In the same way that God’s love is one of immense energy with the capacity to change people and things (creation is but an expression of this energy), this command tells us to direct whatever energy we have to the purpose of fulfilling the directive. We do not have to feel this love as we do with filial, friendly or spousal love where we get something out of it, perhaps emotional happiness. No, this is a love of sacrifice where we expect nothing in return, but rest assured, the joy and peace that comes from its pursuit will permeate our entire being.

Practical Suggestion

Without a drastic change in your life, work on tweaking what you do and say and think each day to comply with these divine instructions.

Prayer

Father give me the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit to love as Jesus did. Amen.

SATURDAY 21 MARCH

Scripture: Luke 18: 9-14

Reflection

Humility is often seen as a weakness. Some even believe that unless you are arrogant and pushy, you won’t make it in life. Jesus had a completely different take on humility and in many instances in the gospels we find Him admonishing the arrogance of certain people.

Today Jesus highlights the difference in the content of the Prayers of the self-righteous and arrogant Pharisee and a humble and contrite tax collector. Tax collectors at the time of Jesus were despised because of their corrupt wheeling and dealing while the Pharisees prided themselves as being “holier than thou”.

Often, we feel the inclination to try to justify our sins or to attempt to categorise them into big sins and little sins. Sin is sin. Some sins have more serious consequences or repercussions than others, but they are still sins, and all sins need to be confessed.

It’s not particularly easy nor is it at all comfortable to sit down and examine our life and admit where we have sinned. It takes a huge amount of humility and honesty to admit that we are sinners. It’s even more difficult to confess our sins, but if we are serious about repentance and the desire to move forward in order to achieve renewal, we have to bravely acknowledge those areas in our life where we have transgressed. It’s only once we have come to God in sincere humility and confessed our sins that we can say we have truly repented.

Practical Suggestion

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is freely available to us. We don’t need to wait for the Penitential Service to take advantage of the opportunity to repent and be healed. Check the times of confession and make the decision to be cleansed of all sin as you continue your journey through the second half of Lent.

Prayer

Father, have mercy on me a sinner. Help me identify those areas in my life where I need your healing and forgiveness. Give me an attitude of honesty and sincere humility. Amen