Lent

3rd Sunday of Lent – Year C

 “Strong is His love for us” – we could say that this phrase from the responsorial psalm sums up the message of today’s Mass readings.Our God is a ‘consuming fire’ who “forgives all our guilt” and “heals our ills” (Ps 102).  He is “compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.”In the Gospel Jesus explains in the parable of the fig tree which did not bear fruit that he is always prepared to give us a second chance, to give us more time, in the hope that we will repent of our sins and failures.  “Give it (ie the fig tree) one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it – it may bear fruit next year!” (Gospel – Lk 13:1-9).It is the same God who appeared to Moses while he went about his daily work of tending the flock and spoke to him from the burning bush.  Moses was standing on “holy ground” without knowing it!  God reveals His name as I AM.  When we live in the present we live in the PRESENCE of our God who knows all about the plight of His people and their desires for freedom.  As God sent Moses to the people of Israel to be His mouth-piece and His instrument in freeing them from their bondage, so today He needs each of us to tell others of the love, compassion and forgiveness of our God.  We need not be afraid to open to Him for He will surpass all our expectations and dreams with the abundance of His love – “Strong is His love for us!”“Only where God is seen does life truly begin.  Only when we […]

1st Sunday of Lent – Another Reflection

Having set for myself a headline for Lent “It is your face, O Lord, that I seek, hide not your face” – it is encouraging to find that Jesus in today’s gospel gives me inspiring texts to guide me on my way. His responses to the devil can become ours. Indeed each of these quotes are taken from the book of Deuteronomy, that story of the people of Israel’s forty years wanderings through the desert to the promised land – a blue print of our struggles too on our journey home to our Father’s house. ‘Man does not live on bread alone’ – Though immersed in, and in need of many material and tangible things to sustain us in life, yet our faith tells us that this is not our real life, no, our real life is the faith we have in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us. …’but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ First and foremost, the Word, with a capital ‘W’’, Jesus Christ, was breathed forth by the Father, to become man eventually, to suffer and die and be our Saviour. It is only through, with and in Him that we can return to the Father. Because of our love and faith in Jesus, the words of Scripture, ‘the revealed love letter’, as it has been described, came to enlighten and lead us home. ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve Him alone.’ “Exalt the Lord in your praises as high as you may – still he surpasses you. Exert all your strength when you exalt Him, do not grow tired, you will never come to an end. We […]

By |February 19th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

First Sunday of Lent – Reflection on Deuteronomy

In today’s First reading at Mass, taken from the Book of Deuteronomy, we are presented with the prayer of the Jewish man to God on presenting to Him the first-fruits of all the Lord had given to him. In a few short – actually long! – sentences, he summarises all the Lord has done for him since the call of Abraham, through the formation and election of Israel; her persecution at the hands of the Egyptians; to her deliverance and after wandering in the desert, at last, entering into and taking possession of the land given to her by God. (That was a fairly good imitation of the long sentences!!)And this is the First Sunday of Lent; that time of year again – already – when we know we would like to make a concerted effort to be cleansed of everything that separates us from God; prevents us from living as He invites us to, in Jesus. And with all our good intentions, for most of us, we’ll have fallen by the end of the first week, if we haven’t fallen already.What can we do that would seem worthwhile and a real expression to God of our love for Him and our gratitude for His mercy and unfailing nearness: for the wonder of His love?In this prayer, I would dare to suggest, is a very profitable and healthy undertaking; one that may not seem to be much – but in this age of dismissal of God as a necessary ‘element’ of our lives – maybe after all, it would be well worth considering. An act of faith in this Year of Faith.Two Big Words!Acknowledgement and Thanksgiving‘He brought us here and gave us this land, […]

By |February 17th, 2013|Liturgy|0 Comments

Palm Sunday

During the past week as I reflected on St Mark’s Passion narrative,(Ch 14 &15) which we heard at Mass this morning, my attention was drawn to the woman who broke the jar of ointment and poured it out on Jesus’ head – a very good symbol of our monastic contemplative way of life. St Mark tells us that she broke the jar and poured out the precious ointment while the disciples murmured and criticised her action as being wholly foolish and wasteful: “why this waste? Ointment like this could be sold and the money given to the poor! And they were angry with her.” We hear similar comments regarding our way of life: “why waste your life away within an enclosure apparently doing nothing while there is so much need in our modern world.” However Jesus praised the woman’s action saying: “leave her alone ……. You have the poor with you always …she has done what was in her power to do ….. wherever the Good News is proclaimed what she has done will be told also in remembrance of her.”Jesus and the woman were looking at life from a different perspective, both understood each other, they had a deep contemplative vision which penetrated beyond the external appearances to the heart – in a word they were seeing from God’s point of view. Later in chapter 14 Jesus is present at another meal when he will take bread saying: “take it, this is my Body” and he will take the cup saying: “this is my Blood which is poured out for you”.The woman breaks the jar and does ‘what was in her power to do’ – she gives […]

5th Sunday of Lent

The Gospel passage we read at Mass today from St. John, is very full and pregnant with food for thought and reflection as we approach the holiest week of the year. As I reflected on the text I could see glimpses of the entire life of Jesus from the beginning of his public ministry, his death, Resurrection and glorification – a text that can surely help us ‘come to know the Lord’ and put us in touch with what is happening at this stage in his life.The pilgrims are arriving in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, including some Greek converts who want to “see Jesus”. This is the desire in the heart of all of us. “I would like to see Jesus”. Jesus responds as He always does throughout the Gospels, and very pointedly in St. John’s Gospel, which always has many layers and levels of meaning, e.g. in response to “where do you dwell?”, Jesus says “come and see”. In response to John the Baptist’s disciples’ questions – “are you the one who is to come or are we to look for someone else”? Jesus’ replies “go and tell John all you see and hear – the blind see, the deaf hear – lepers are cleansed and happy the one who does not lose faith in Me”. Here in our text today Jesus’ reply was “Now the hour has come” the kairos time of God for the ‘Son to be glorified’ is at hand. His words or his reply to the questions are never direct, but they are authenticating who He is.“I tell you most solemnly unless a wheat grain falls on the ground […]

3rd Sunday of Lent

Towards the end of today’s Gospel passage (Jn 2.35) , St. John shares with us the empathy he has with Jesus. He tells us: “many believed in Jesus’ name when they saw the signs he gave – but he knew them all and did not trust himself to them – he could tell what a person had in him” – or as another translation puts it …”Jesus would not give them his confidence; he had knowledge of them all, and did not need assurances about any one, because he could read all hearts”. (R.Knox).Among those referred to in this passage, there were obviously some who were enthused about Jesus and his miracles but it seems there was no real depth to their enthusiasm; among the crowd too, would no doubt have been some of the hypocrites who so often tried to catch Jesus out in what he said and did during his ministry. How Jesus detested hypocrisy; with sinners he was always so compassionate and forgiving, but hypocrisy brought forth strong condemnations from him. How dear the quality of sincerity is to Jesus is highlighted in his words to Nathanael (Jn.1:45-51) – ‘behold an Israelite in whom there is no guile’–a beautiful compliment which utterly amazed Nathanael; truly Jesus could read his heart, as he can read all hearts, and that can be a source of great consolation because it means he so well understands our weaknesses.There is not one of us who would wish to be included in the group in whom Jesus had no confidence, no trust – yet many of us realise when we reflect on our lives that we have failed his confidence, his trust, perhaps many […]

Lent Week 2 – Monday

A few words on to-day’s Gospel – Lk 6:36-38:It opens with the words: “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.’ Perhaps the most important words in this passage are: ‘as your Father’. God is our Father! As the Christmas Preface puts it: “the wonder of our making is only surpassed by the wonder of our coming to life in Christ” (old translation) – i.e. by our Baptism we are inserted right into the heart of the Blessed Trinity – into the family and inner life of God. We are sons and daughters of God the Father, sisters and brothers of Jesus, the Son of God and we have the Holy Spirit living in our spirit- thus making us cry out ‘Abba, father’ and to proclaim Jesus as Lord. So that is why Jesus can ask us to have the beautiful attitude He annunciates in this Gospel passage – being compassionate, not judging, not condemning, granting pardon and giving. These attitudes do not come naturally to us – they must be desired and prayed for, cultivated and practised – then the light of Christ will shine forth in our life and actions and so glorify our Father in heaven.

2nd Sunday of Lent – The Face of Christ

This morning’s Gospel account of the Transfiguration is so rich and full in ideas and teaching (as is every event in the life of Christ) that it is difficult to pick one out for reflection. We all know the story so well – Jesus becoming radiant – aglow – transfigured in the presence of the three chosen Apostles, Peter, James and John – then Moses and Elijah appeared in glory also and were talking with Jesus about his ‘passing’ which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem.There is one little detail I want to say a few words on – “His face shone like the sun” this is in the account given by Matthew and Luke not in Mark from which today’s account is taken. I have been struck very, very often by the number of times the word ‘face’ comes into the Psalms, the Hymns etc. in the Liturgy, e.g. “how long will you hide your face from me?” “I will behold your face in righteousness” and in Psalm 26 “Of you my heart has spoken, seek his face” – “It is your face, O Lord, that I seek, hide not your face” – “Turn your face against my sins” – and Psalm 41 – The Psalmist longs to stand once more in the Temple, to appear before God’s face – “when can I enter and see the face of God?” Ps.69 – “Hide not your face from me” – “I diligently seek your face”.The face or countenance is so important a part of every person. We know we cannot see the Face of God. In Exodus 33.20 the Lord says to Moses: “You cannot see My Face, […]

1st Sunday of Lent – Desert Experience

In this morning’s Gospel St Mark tells us that “the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert and he remained there and was put to the test by Satan” (Mk 2:12f)– a very stark picture at first glance!Immediately before this passage we read about Jesus’ Baptism when He, the sinless One, took on the burden of our sins and was baptised by John. The heavens were opened and the Spirit descended on him and the voice from heaven declared: “You are my Son, the Beloved, my favour rests on you.” Strengthened in the conviction of being the Beloved of the Father, at once the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert…..In the Old Testament the desert symbolised both the place of testing and the place of intimacy with God. We read in the Book of Deuteronomy: “Remember the long road by which the Lord led you for forty years, to humble you, to test you and know your inmost heart – whether you would keep his commandments or not …learn that the Lord was training you as a man trains his child.”For the Old Testament prophets the desert symbolised the place of intimacy with the Lord as we read in the Prophet Hosea: “I am going to seduce her and lead her into the desert and speak to her heart …there she will respond to me”. Hosea continues: “when that day comes I shall make a treaty for them with the wild animals …and I will let them sleep secure.” (2:21) and there follows these beautiful lines: “I shall betroth you to myself foreverI shall betroth you in faithfulness and loveAnd you will come to know the Lord.”For me these lines throw […]

By |February 26th, 2012|Liturgy|0 Comments

Lent and Vocation Discernment

A few thoughts for the beginning of Lent.I have always found Lent to be a very fruitful time for Vocation Discernment. I think it was because since I was a small child the high point of Easter for me was Holy Saturday night when, having intensely lived all that God had done for us in Christ (during the Triduum) I renewed my Baptismal Promises. I think part of the attraction was that it was a real, public, solemn, formal commitment to God that I could make before I was old enough to make my First Communion. So I always saw Lent as a time to prepare to make this re-commitment. To examine my life and see where I was failing to live as a Christian; to give more time to God (prayer, ‘holy’ reading, daily Mass etc.) and also to do things for others – Jesus said “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me”. This meant that my renewal of Baptismal Promises would not be just words but something I was living. Lent showed that I was serious about what I was saying, and of course it was meant to expand out to the rest of the year. But it is good to have that set time to stop and take track and re-centre my life on God.I think this ‘way of doing Lent’ really helped my Discernment during the years when I was discerning my Vocation. Since every Lent was a preparation for a solemn re-commitment and inherant in that commitment was my determination to do God’s will, whatever it was. So not only was I […]

By |February 23rd, 2012|Vocations|1 Comment