Tag Archives: Lent

Word by Word


As we walk along and lean more and more on God and less and less on human consolation we discover we are never alone.

When we truly give thanks to God for the human consolation that comes our way we discover just how many angels and saints God has placed along the path.

Everyone and everything is originally from God.

He is the only true creator, at the beginning, and at the end of the day.

If we love only Him we love everyone and everything.

Evil is the denial of such undeniable truth.

Evil is the denial of God’s supreme creativity.

Evil is the absence of good.

And shadows and darkness need spaces and voids in order to exist.

Jesus came to cast providential light.

For as the sun rises toward “straight above” the length of negativity surely disappears.

And at perfect high noon darkness does not stand a chance.

For Jesus was raised up upon the crisscrossed tree of life.

Good squelching evil for all the world to see.

———

The foot of that Cross still remains.

The closer we get the brighter the day.

Spaces and voids fill with pure light.

Absence disappears.

Evil is cast into hell.

For what God creates He intends for good.

———

Will we then live good lives?

Will we allow our absences to be filled with genuine goodness?

Will we speak life?

Will we help build the kingdom?

Let us do so.

One stone at a time.

One flickering light at a time.

One Eucharistic encounter at a time.

———

Let us live “on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

For when we do,

Stones become bread,

Water becomes wine,

And bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.

———

Lord Jesus, cover us with Your Blood.

Let us hug the foot of Your Cross.

Let us adore Your feet nailed to the trunk of the tree.

Let us get so close that not even a speck of darkness can get in between.

Let us truly ask this in Your Holy and Perfect Name.

Amen.


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—Howard Hain

http://www.HowardHain.com

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Tuesday, 3rd week of Lent

Peter’s question about forgiveness in today’s gospel ( “How many times must I forgive my brother?”) isn’t just his question. He’s asking the question for all of us.

Measure your forgiveness by God’s forgiveness, Jesus says to Peter. It’s beyond measure, and he gives Peter and all of us a story of two servants. Both are involved in a money operation gone wrong. As we know money brings out the worst in people.

There’s a big difference in the money owed. The first servant owes ten thousand talents, a huge sum, and in a unexpected display of mercy, his master forgives the entire debt.

After being forgiven so much, however, that servant sends off to debtors prison another servant who owes him a few denarii, a small sum. The ten thousand talents his master has forgiven him would be worth about 10 million denarii. Big difference!

The story isn’t our only teacher, however.  God’s unmeasurable forgiveness finds its greatest expression in the passion and death of Jesus: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” he cries out from the cross. He pleads, not for one, or a few, but for the whole world. Jesus reveals the mercy of God beyond measure.

We’re called to measure our forgiveness of others against his.

Thursday, 2nd Week of Lent

Lent 1


Readings
The rich man In Jesus’ parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is so absorbed in himself and his “good” life that he sees nothing else, not the poor man at his door nor his own inevitable death. Other parts of scripture, like Psalm 49, point to the same blindness: “In his riches, man lacks wisdom; he is like the beasts that are destroyed.”

The warning is not just for the rich, however. The same psalm calls for “people both high and low, rich and poor alike” to listen. A small store of talents and gifts can be just as absorbing and make us just as shortsighted as a great store of riches. The parable is not just a warning to the rich. We can be absorbed in a small room. Whether we have much or little, we have to see the poor at our gate.

We also have to see a life beyond this one as our destiny; what we do and how we live here will count there. There will be a judgment.

But Jesus‘ parable offers another reminder. God has given us a sign in his resurrection from the dead that we have been called to share in his risen life. A great gift has been given. Like the sign of Jonah, some will not believe it, but Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, places this joyful mystery before us again.

May God give us grace to believe in it.

Lord, I see only so far, I live for the day

my vision is all on what’s before me,

Give me eyes to seek your kingdom

and desires to have it come.

Wednesday, 1st Week of Lent

Jonah, Roman Catacombs


Luke 11,29-32

The Sign of Jonah.

Jonah, starting out, wasn’t much of a sign. He was a frightened man fleeing the task God gave him–to preach repentance to the great city of Nineveh. He didn’t believe it could be done. He couldn’t stop the sailors who thought he cursed their ship from throwing him overboard. He would have been finished if the whale didn’t swallow him and vomit him onto the shore at Nineveh.

An arrival like that was a sign to the Ninevites. Someone who came from the belly of a whale? The Ninevites listened to Jonah and begged for God’s forgiveness.

In Jesus, a greater than Jonah is here. He came announcing death, and then resurrection from the belly of the earth. That’s his great word, his message of hope, his sign of love for us. He proclaims it to the world. Like the people of Nineveh the world must hear it.

Paintings and sculptures of the story of Jonah, like the above, often appear in the early Christian catacombs of Rome as signs of hope for those swallowed up by death. The story of Jonah should also enlarge our hope and our prayers. God entrusts us with a great mission and a great vision. We need to accept it, for ourselves and for our world.

Lord,
I believe in the sign
that lifted you up and that blesses us,
the sign of your Cross.
You bring resurrection and life to the world,.
Help us believe in what is beyond anything we know..
Amen.

The Prayer of Jesus in the Garden

Mount Olives 3


Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, the gospels say. Early in Matthew’ gospel Jesus brings his disciples up onto a mountain–a traditional place to draw close to God– and taught them how to pray. High places, mountains are holy places in the Bible. 

Jesus taught the prayer we call the “Our Father” or the “Lord’s Prayer” on a mountain. (Matthew 6, 9-13) The prayer has deep roots in the Jewish prayer tradition. Its concern is that God’s kingdom come.

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus teaches prayer to his disciples “in a certain place”, on the plain, in the course of his ministry. (Luke 11, 2-4) They see him praying regularly and ask him to teach them, as John the Baptist taught his disciples.  In answer, he offers a shorter, probably more primitive version of the prayer found in Matthew. Again, its concern is that God’s kingdom come:

“When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.” (Luke 11,2-4)

Mark, Matthew, Luke present Jesus praying in the garden before his Passion, but this time the disciples, instead of asking for his instruction, are sleeping. 

They’re sleeping because the flesh is weak, Mark says.

They’re sleeping because they can’t keep their eyes open, Matthew says.

They’re sleeping because of grief, Luke says.

Stay awake and pray, Jesus tells them, because it’s a time of testing.

They face the weakness of the flesh, and Jesus faces it as well. He faces death by crucifixion, a frightening trial, but he doesn’t wave it away in stoic resignation or depend on his own power. “Not my will, but your will be done,” he prays. He accepts the consequences of his mission, the limits of human power, the vulnerability of human nature, the “form of a slave.” He depends on God and the promises his kingdom will come.

From Jesus in the garden we learn how to pray when trials come. He kneels on the ground, Luke says, and humbly looks beyond himself to his Father, “Abba”, who hears him.

He falls to the ground, Mark says, trusting in his Father’s strength and not his own. His prayer is troubled and distressed; for an hour’s time he pleads for help. . 

“He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.” Luke says. Then, an angel come to strengthen him as a result of his prayer. The cup of suffering isn’t taken away; he will drink from it, but he will not be destroyed by it. God will raise him up.

We ask him to teach us pray as he did. We ask him to pray with us in our trials. God’s kingdom will come.

Lent and Easter

It takes time to believe. The disciples of Jesus needed time to believe in him and understand the meaning of his life, death and resurrection. So did the man in today’s gospel from Mark who asks help in his unbelief. So do we.

Where are we now?

Since the Christmas season we have been reading from Mark’s Gospel and his ministry in Galilee, which ends in Chapter 9. Then, he begins his journey to Jerusalem where he says he will die and rise again.  

What does Mark’s gospel tell us he has accomplished so far? His disciples still do not understand him, Peter certainly doesn’t. (Mark 8, 27-33) Despite miracles and his inspired teaching,  his own family and hometown turn away from him. (Mark 3,1-5;  6, 1-6) Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem come to Galilee to dismiss and condemn him.( Mark 7,1-15)

Yet, Jesus goes on to Jerusalem, with his disciples and–with all of us.

We end our reading of Mark’s Gospel at chapter 9 to begin the lenten season on Ash Wednesday. The lenten season’s readings and feasts takes us, like his disciples, from Galilee to Jerusalem.

Will this lent and Easter turn more people to join him?  Maybe. But the world we live in is a lot like Galilee.

Still, like the disciples who first followed him there, we’re going up to Jerusalem.

Thursday after Ash Wednesday

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Want to know more about the Passion of Jesus, a mystery that tells us about the mysteries of our own lives? Follow the commentaries of Donald Senior, CP. 

Want to know more about the Stations of the Cross? Look into the history of this devotion and some examples of it.