The First Week of Lent
As we begin the first week of Lent, the scripture readings tell us about sin, offenses, temptations, Satan, etc. These words can make us feel down, sad or perhaps, hopeless. These are all appropriatefeelings but Lent is much more than that. Lent, which means springtime, is a time to reflect on things that we may have been able to do better (darkness) with the hope that light will shine through us.
In the responsorial Psalm for the first Sunday of Lent, we pray, “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” We are blessed because we have a God who is always merciful, who loves us unconditionally and who is always there for us.
When did I feel the mercy and forgiveness of God in my life?
Were there times when I could have chosen better words to say or maybe acted differently toward someone? Did I ask for their forgiveness?
Did I speak with God and ask for mercy and forgiveness? If yes, did I feel the ‘hug of God?’
We are reminded in Romans 5:15-16 that we receive grace from God. Grace is a gift freely given to us by God.
Am I aware of the different graces that I receive from God?
What are some of the gifts that I have received?
The Second Week of Lent
My reflection on the first two readings for the Second Sunday of Lent made me think of the immigration crisis that we are facing in our world. In the reading from Genesis (12:1-4A), we read, “Go forth from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you.” Today, people are leaving their homelands for many reasons. Unfortunately, they are not always feeling welcomed into the land to which they go. To me, God is reminding us that we are all sisters and brothers. We are not nationalities or color, we are simply, the family of God. God is saying that the nation will become great and that the people will be blessed by God.
Reflection: Our world is in chaos. There are so many shootings, needless wars, climates are changing, wildfires, earthquakes, etc.
- Do you think the chaos might be happening because humanity cannot live in peace?
- you think things might change if we were more accepting and welcoming of each other?
- Do you think that nature is being effected by the chaos?
In the reading from 2 Timothy (1:8b), we are told that as Beloved to God, we should bear our share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God. Again, my thoughts went to immigration. Our immigrant sisters and brothers are bearing great hardship. They are leaving their homelands, perhaps they are leaving family, being separated from their children. There are so many scenarios that are taking place. But, we are also being asked to share in the hardship.
- How am I bearing the hardship of immigration?
- What does the Gospel call me to do?
- Do I pray for immigrants?
In Genesis 12:3b, we are told that that ‘the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.’
Throughout Lent, reflect on how you are a blessing to others.
Third Week of Lent
The readings for Sunday of the Third Week of Lent, draws our attention to three words, ‘thirst, water and rock.’ There is certainly a connection between thirst and water. But, rock??? A rock is simply an inanimate object that is solid.
In the reading from Ezekiel, the people are angry at Moses and ask him why he had them leave Egypt. They question him and say, “Was it just to have us die here of thirst?’ As we read further on in Ezekiel, Moses goes before the Lord and says, “The people are angry with me. They think I called them here to die. What should I do?” The Lord answered and said, “Go stand in front of the people and hold the staff with which you struck the river. I will be standing in front of you on the ROCK of Horeb. Strike the rock and the water will flow from it. The people will drink the water from the rock.
The Gospel acclamation is taken from the Gospel of John (4:42, 15). It reads, “Give me living water that I may never thirst again.” The Gospel (John 4:5-42) is about Jesus’ encounter with the woman of Samaria or the woman at the well. Jesus asked the woman for a drink. She had many concerns about his asking. First of all, Jesus was a Jew and she was a Samaritan. Another concern was that Jesus did not have a bucket and the well was very deep. Jesus explained to the woman at the well that the water that he spoke of was not the water in the well. Rather, he spoke of living water, the water that people thirst for and once they receive it, they will not thirst again. I don’t think the woman fully understood what was happening in the moment but she did say to Jesus, “Please give me this water so I may never thirst again and then I will not have to return to the well.”
Reflect on the symbols of thirst, water and rock. What is the symbolism of the rock? Write about a time(s) that these words touched your heart.
In the 2nd reading, Romans 5:5b, we read, “The love of God has been poured out into our hearts.” The idea of pouring brings us back to water. Do I see God’s love being poured into my heart? Do I see the love of God being poured from my heart to others?
Can I make a special effort this Lent to witness to the living water that lives in me? Can I reach out to someone that needs help or someone I haven’t spoken with for a while?
The Fourth Week of Lent
John 9: Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
As he went along, he saw a man born blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’
After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”. So, the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
it or not, this blind man and I just may have something in common. Jesus’ miracle restored this blind man’s sight and the skilled hands of a surgical ophthalmologist recently removed my cataracts. Now, I too, can see. Quite amazingly, I had no idea how blurred my sight was. Just this morning I spotted our resident cardinal breakfasting at our backyard feeder, his feathers a brilliant red. I had no idea what I had been missing. If I could ask this now sighted blind man one question it would be this. “Did you have any idea what you were missing?”
The Church teaches us in this gospel that Jesus’ concern was not just for physical sight, but spiritual sight as well. And when we are gifted with this spiritual sight, we become amazed by the beauty surrounding us. We can truly see.
Pope Francis, in his Encyclical Laudato Si’ asks that we become “protectors of God’s handiwork”. We are asked to care for our common home. God’s gift of spiritual sight as well as physical sight enables us to do this.
Here’s a challenge for us all:
- What are some specific things we can do continuing this Lenten season so that we live a Laudato Si’ Lent?
The Fifth Week of Lent
As Cabrini Lay Missionaries (CLM), we were asked to choose on which date we would like to share a reflection during the Lenten season. For some reason, I found out that the Gospel for the week that I chose was the powerful story about Jesus bringing back the life of Lazarus.
As I read and re-read it, I remembered when some of my family members died tragically…it caused so much pain…pain that was indescribable and unbearable. It validated how I was feeling, that there was hope. When I read the story about Jesus calling for Lazarus to come out from the tomb, I knew that I have to give permission to free myself from the tomb of pain.
When Jesus asked the people to roll back the rock, light came into the tomb. That’s exactly how I felt over time when Ireleased myself from the pain. Of course, the pain will never leave because it is a part of my scar. But I will not allow it to be a wound forever. This experience unfolded only when I started to entrust myself into the grace of our merciful God.
With this Lenten season, I think we are the Marthas and the Marys who journey in entrusting our dependence to God with faith and trust.