Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Quantum physics, pictures from Mars, and a better understanding that we are all stardust have connected everyone and everything. Having emerged from billions of years of evolution, we human beings are becoming more conscious of our connection. We realize we are becoming one Whole. The driving force of evolution is love.
As we get closer to Holy Week, the gospel readings sometime show the close connection between God the Father and God the Son. Today’s gospel, for example, states, “The Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for what he does, the Son will do also.” The Trinity is community, the life-giving, love-giving Source from which all else flows. Some refer to the Trinity as the Divine Dance. All creation is invited to join the dance. Had Jesus not taught us about the Trinity or said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” we would never have been able to imagine such Community, such Creativity, such Love. Let us adore in awe. Let us also be a connector today, extending the divine love to others.
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
How did Jesus manage to do it all? He fed crowds, cured the multitudes, gave up sleep, delivered long discourses, and more. What was the power within him? It was his ever-present relationship with his Father. Son of the Father was his identity. His experience of his Father, his Abba, grounded Jesus, giving him his purpose and energy.
Being a son or daughter of the Father is our identity, too. We need to deepen this relationship by turning to the Father in every need, turning to the Father in gratitude, turning to the Father even when we feel abandoned but acknowledging we are held by the Father’s loving embrace. Rooted in our relationship to the Father, we can trust. And in the trust we feel the energy to keep up.
Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
A distraught father begged Jesus, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus replied, “You may go; your son will live.” The power of Jesus’ word and the faith of the father combined in an immediate healing discovered the next day when “the father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’”
God has shared the gift of healing with all of us. Are we using that gift? Certainly, we have all prayed for the sick and injured. Such prayer is often at a distance by necessity or by hesitancy. Could you draw closer to the person, touch the person, and pray for a cure? Your combination of faith and courage may result in the desired healing. After all, we continue the work of Jesus Christ through the power of the Spirit, the “sweet anointing from above.”
Fourth Sunday of Lent
In today’s Gospel we read that God did not send his Son to condemn the world, “but that the world might be saved through him.” Jesus assures Nicodemus that rather than destroying, God gives life, reconciles, forgives, unites. God comes as light and invites us into the light. God is fullness, creativity, love, beauty. Let us rejoice on this “Rejoice Sunday,” Laetare Sunday from the first Latin words of the Entrance Antiphon: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her. Be joyful, all who were in mourning; exult and be satisfied at her consoling breast” (Isa 66:10-11).
Nicodemus may have visited Jesus at night because he was embarrassed. Sometimes we feel embarrassed by our lack of knowledge of Scripture or our images of a punishing God or a God who doesn’t answer our prayers. Put aside your embarrassment and have a heart-to-heart talk with Jesus. Be assured that “Whoever believes in him will not be condemned.”
Saturday of the Third Week of Lent
Pope Francis in his apostolic letter on Saint Joseph writes: “Joseph found happiness not in mere self-sacrifice but in self-gift. In him we never see frustration but only trust. His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust.” During Lent we are accustomed to self-sacrifice. We give up favorite foods or certain pleasures. Self-gift requires much more. Instead of figuratively placing candy and social media on the altar, we place our very selves. We say, in effect, “Here I am. Do with me as you will” in much the same way that Mary at the Annunciation and Joseph after his dreams said “Do whatever you want with me, God. You can have all of me.” Becoming the parents of Jesus certainly entailed no little self-sacrifice as they sacrificed their security, their plans, their homes, their reputations. We honor Joseph and Mary on their special feasts (March 19 and 25 respectively) for their complete self-gift. May our Lenten self-sacrifices prepare us to become self-gift.
Friday of the Third Week of Lent
When you read the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee in the Temple, can’t you just hear the dialogue? “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity!” Hear the words drip with false humility and supercilious prayer. Imagine the scene on stage and notice how the audience shows amusement. The laugh, though, may be on them, on us. How easy it is to be the Pharisee in real life. Of course, we would never say how much better we are than everyone else. But we surely can think it—perhaps way too many times.
O God, as I abstain from meat today, help me to abstain from proud thoughts.
Thursday of the Third Week of Lent
As a teacher there are certain lessons I loved to teach. With my podium on wheels, I loved to teach progressive tense verbs. I’d tell my students that I drive (present tense) a Ford. They didn’t seem impressed until I said, “I am driving (present progressive tense) my podium.” Then I’d push my podium through the aisles, driving it and bumping into desks, pretending to see a police car in my rearview mirror, and getting a ticket. Driving, bumping, seeing, getting—all verbs that are part of the process.
-ing verbs are extremely important to deepen our spiritual lives. We can’t just say “I pray” or “I help my neighbor.” What are you doing? How active are you in performing the works of mercy? How involved are you in your church or neighborhood? How much attention are you giving to prayer?
Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent
Athletes and coaches look hopefully for more opportunities to compete this season. No matter the size of the spectator crowd, they will be ready to play. Early in the season it’s important to remember success breeds success. Gallup research behind Strengthfinders has proven that best results stem from focusing on strengths. While Lent is a time to remove our weaknesses, it is also a time to capitalize on our strengths. Your strengths are given by God to make a positive impact on your areas of influence whether your influence is the person sitting next to you in the living room or populations thousands of miles away in corporate contacts and contracts. Take a moment to reflect on your God-given virtues and talents. You’ve used them for success. Spring in again with those virtues and talents and make Lent a winning season.
Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
If we are privileged to have gainful employment, we are very blessed. (Did you thank God today as you left for work?) Creation was not finished billions of years ago; rather it’s still happening as Teilhard de Chardin writes: “We serve to complete it [creation], even by the humblest work of our hands.” Along with prayer and fasting, working to our best is another way to observe Lent. Work isn’t secular; it’s sacred. Work isn’t profane; it’s profound. Work doesn’t have to be a hardship; it can be holiness. Over one-third of our day is spent in work of some kind. Don’t miss the opportunities work provides to grow in holiness.
Monday of the Third Week of Lent
A basic law of the psychological and spiritual life is that energy follows attention. In today’s gospel passage the people in the synagogue paid close attention to Jesus’ words. Infuriated by his references, they put their energy into driving him out of town with the intent to destroy him, but “he passed through the midst of them and went away.” Today let’s focus our attention on our resilience. It’s been a year since the stay-at-home orders have been in place. Let’s restore our enthusiasm to do anything for God and neighbor. Chardin described how effective such attention can be when he wrote: “If you focus on giving and receiving love, your thinking will change for the better. If you focus on thinking good thoughts, your heart will grow more loving. The heart and mind are always interacting in concert.” Attend to giving and receiving love today. Check thoughts that are only coping; turn your thoughts to hoping.