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Daily Reflections for Lent

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
Sunday, April 2
David M. McCarthy, Ph.D.
Interim Associate Provost

 

Sarah Laughs and Mary Cries

 

“Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” -John 11:40

 

When Sarah, wife of Abraham and progenitrix of the people of God, overhears that she will conceive and bear a son, she laughs (Genesis 18:12). She is older than your grandmother. Grandma McCarthy would certainly laugh: In terms of the body and the natural course of things, bearing a child would be impossible. In terms of her life-course and expectations for her final years and days, what would she do with son anyway? What good would a son do her now? But we know from the story of Abraham and Sarah that Isaac, their son, will be born and will live for the glory of God—that a people will be dedicated to God as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). Sarah’s scoffing (laughing) turns to joy.

 

The raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45) follows the same pattern. When Jesus receives word that Lazarus is near death, He takes His time. When He arrives too late, Mary is frustrated and distraught, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). Jesus, too, wept. Because of the loss and pain, Mary and Martha (and we as well) are likely to miss the point of raising Lazarus from the dead: not only does Jesus overcome natural limits of death, but also He presents a clear sign that God is liberating and gathering the people of God (1 Peter 2:1-5). New life for Lazarus will bring great joy for him and his sisters, but his release from death is not for him in the same way that Sarah’s son Isaac is not, strictly speaking, for her, but for the glory of God. When Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb, when tells those gathered, “Untie him and let him go” (John 11:44), Lazarus’s life becomes a sign for the world of God’s promise of salvation. He is a sign to us, about who we are called to be.

 

God, our Father, in the name of Jesus Christ and with Your life-giving Spirit, we pray that when we experience the joy of Easter, we give thanks that we and our new lives (like Lazarus’s) have become signs of God’s redemption for the world. Amen.

 

Ezek 37: 12-14    Ps 130: 1-2. 3-4. 5-6. 7-8   Rom 8:8-11      Jn 11:1-45

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
Saturday, April 1
Katherine Lowe
Class of 2018   
                                                                                           

Not-So-Innocent Justice

 

God is a shield above me saving the upright of heart. God is a just judge,
powerful and patient, not exercising anger every day. -Psalm 7:11-12


 

The overwhelming theme of today’s readings is that of justice. Jeremiah trusts God to bring justice to those who plot against him, the Psalm sings of the Justice of God, and in the Gospel, Nicodemus scolds the Pharisees for their unjust prejudice against Christ. Sometimes it is difficult to discern justice from pettiness. Many of us try to be present for God in our daily lives, so we expect Him to fight our little grievances for us. A teacher gives a bad grade, a parent or a friend takes their frustration out on you, a person you trust lets you down again, and you wish God would come down and make them pay for the pain they’ve caused you. We can become patient in the worst way possible, willing to serve God if He will punish our enemies in a fulfillment of our own grudge matches. This is not God’s justice. God came for all and continues to love those who hurt us as much as He loves us. Lent is a time to reflect on the mercy and justice of redemption offered to all who are willing to take it. The Savior has come for you and your neighbor. Let us not become consumed with our own little sufferings and forget the suffering He endured for all mankind. The justice we seek is not for us to determine, since  we all have failed to be just, like the Pharisees in the gospel who ask, “Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing” (Jn 7:51). Trust in God and the importance of sincere forgiveness in His Justice. Through growing to truly love your neighbor and the mercy they deserve this Lent, we can grow closer to God Himself.

 

God, the true source of Justice and Mercy, help me trust in Your Will. Amen.

 

Jer 11: 18-20       Ps 7: 2-3, 9bc-10, 11-12        Jn 7:40-53

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
Friday, March 31
John Bilenki
Class of 2017

For The Glory of His Name

 

“And look, He is speaking openly, and they say nothing to Him.
Could the authorities have realized that He is the Messiah?” - John 7:26

 

In the first reading from the book of Wisdom, the wicked say of the Son of God, “[He] boasts that God is His Father. If the righteous One is the Son of God, God will help Him and deliver Him from the hand of His foe. Let us put Him to the test that we may have proof of His gentleness and try His patience” (Wis 2:16, 18-19). Christ’s perseverance in His passion and death, which we are quickly approaching in this Lenten season, is a response to this taunt from the wicked. He says to some skeptical inhabitants of Jerusalem in the Gospel today, “You know Me, and I also know where I am from. I did not come on My own, but the One who sent me, whom you do not know, is true” (John 7:28).  Jesus models for us the great grace of humility and simplicity of spirit that flow from His relationship with God the Father; this relationship allows Him to admit that “I know Myself to be nothing more than a Son of God, and My life is lived for the glory of His name.” Christ’s faithfulness and perseverance in carrying His cross model for us that God will be faithful to us whenever we undergo trials or sufferings.

 

Have you been faithful to God? Go before Him in prayer today remembering that you are His child. You are beloved in His sight. Beg His mercy for your shortcomings, but also, ask (seriously, ask!) for the grace of humility and simplicity of spirit that you, too, might say with Christ: “I know myself to be nothing more than a child of God, and my life is lived for the glory of His name.” Continue to bear your cross along as Jesus did on the journey to Calvary, for “[u]nless there is a Good Friday in your life there can be no Easter Sunday” (Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen). He loves you. Amen.

 

Wis 2: 1a, 12-22   Ps 34: 17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23   Jn 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
Thursday, March 30
Zachary Robinson
Sem. Class of 2021

 

Bad Trades

 

“They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock.”  -Psalm 106:20

 

Today’s first reading is just the first example among many of Israel’s idolatries after their freedom from Egypt. Seriously, read in the Old Testament about the worshiping of the golden calf. Moses has been up on Mount Sinai with God for forty days (cf. Ex 24:18), and the splitting of the Red Sea (cf. Ex 14:21-22), supernatural fire, smoke, and lightning (cf. Ex 19:16-19), and gratuitous manna, quail (cf. Ex 16:9-15), and water from a rock (cf. Ex 17:1-7) are all last month’s news. Apparently, the testimony of God’s works wasn’t powerful enough to convince them that God is faithful. Now they want to make their own god (cf. Ex 32:1 ), to swap the love of the Father for a shiny heifer. That, brothers and sisters in Christ, is a bad trade.

 

Appropriately, we aren’t so different. The golden calf was the cool thing of the month for the Israelites, and we have our own flashy idols to pay attention to rather than God: the next smart watch, pop stars with new singles, what shoes will be in style this year, the NFL draft. The problem with all of these trends is the same: they are all bad trades.

 

In fact, there’s only one good trade: Forsake the world, and make Jesus Christ the center of your life. Jesus is adamantly telling us in the Gospel that He is still performing works to testify to the Father’s love for us. “But you do not want to come to me to have life,” he says, reading our selfishness (Jn 5:40). Is this true in your heart? If you aren’t convinced that Jesus is the trade you’re looking for, try this challenge for one week: start looking for His works. I promise you’ll find them. God testifies to His love with His works.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, don’t let me exchange the glory of Your love for an idol that is a reflection of my forgetfulness.  Father, show me Your works, testify to Your love for me.  Amen.

 

Ex 32:7-14          Ps 106:19-20,21-22, 23                  Jn 5:31-47

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT                                                                                    Wednesday, March 29
Pille Snydstrup
Class of 2017

 

Have Faith in God Always

 

“The Lord is trustworthy in all His words, and loving in all His works.  The Lord supports all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.”  -Psalm 145:13-14

 

Throughout our lives, we may have gone through difficult times and lost our faith. We may have even given up at times, but we are reminded that God is always with us to help us get back on the right path.

 

The movie Soul Surfer demonstrates how, when we are knocked down, it can be challenging to get back up. The main character, Bethany Hamilton, went through a traumatic event in her life, losing her arm. She became very angry and did not understand how God could let something so devastating happen to her. She asked her youth group leader, “How can this be God’s plan for me?” She gave up things she liked doing before and lost her faith. It was very hard for her to accept this new reality, but she realized that something good must come out of this tragedy. One day Bethany believed that if she had faith, she could continue doing what she loved the most, surfing. Slowly, she was able to overcome this difficult time in her life by having faith and trusting God again.

 

I connected with this movie because there have been times in my life where I have lost faith, and it felt like I had no support at times. I had to remind myself that God was always with me and He would help me when I needed extra support.

 

                Lord, help us see that You are always present, especially during times that I most need You. Amen.

 

Is 49:8-15            Ps 145:8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18           Jn 5:17-30

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
Tuesday, March 28
Matthew K. Minerd
Philosophy Adjunct (Frederick Campus)
 

Heal My Crippled Soul

 

“Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk." - John 5:8

 

Human nature limps. Frailest among all intellectual beings, spiritual  at our root, yet needing the body for the full perfection of what we are,  it is not surprising that humans limp along. We limp for more profound reasons than this. We limp because we have had something supernatural torn from the very substance of our soul. Born into the state of original sin and forever in the darkness cast by the actual sins that we (and all, save Christ and Mary) have committed since the time of the Fall, we limp along in darkness like prodigal children incurvatus in se, curved in upon ourselves. Though our natures were certainly not undone by the Fall, we nonetheless are prodigal children and cripples; we still need to be healed. We are broken beggars.

 

We will never realize the profound riches of the waters of baptism if we do not realize our need for grace, at once gratia sanans and gratia elevans, grace that heals and grace that elevates.  Grace, the very indwelling of the Holy Trinity, is needed so that we may once again live the life for which we were created, the supernatural bliss of seeing God face-to-face, and  the self-sacrificing life of Divine Love in the midst of this world’s great tears and small joys. 

 

The Thomists of yore tell us that without grace, even our natural virtues are unstable and incapable of their full plenitude of activity. They can be true virtues, but, they limp along weakly.  To be what we are to be as humans, we must first live a Life that is Divine. One understands thus the true and full meaning of Isaiah’s vision: “And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit  every month because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

 

Like the cripple, I come before You, O Lord, and beseech You that, in Your generous mercy,
I may be granted the healing power of Your grace, not only that I may be healed of my sins but,
even more, that I may delight in Your intimate life,  both here and hereafter. Amen.

 

Ez 47:1-9, 12      Ps 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9                           Jn 5:1-16

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
Monday, March 27
Vicente Garcia
Class of 2017

 

I believe In. . . What Now?

 

“Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.”  The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way.” -John 4:48-50

 

At every Sunday Mass, we Christians renew our faith by reciting the Nicene Creed. Have you ever caught yourself going through the motions? “I believe in one God . . . I believe in our Lord, Jesus Christ . . . I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church . . . ” I believe in . . . What now? What am I doing reciting all of these things, do I believe in them? What is believing? The Catechism teaches us that believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace (CCC 155). Such belief characterizes true faith, which gives and receives at the same time. One gives assent not only to divine truth but to receiving His grace to guide that person to a deeper understanding of divine truth, life in Him. Believing is what drives us to bring the truth, Jesus Christ, into the journey of our lives. Of course, there are many truths in life that ultimately point to the Truth, and we will not understand everything in our lifetime.

 

In the Gospel, Jesus said to the crowd, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe,” to which the official said, “Yes, but seriously, please save my son.” Then Jesus says,” Go; your son will live.” And the man did as Jesus said and returned home, believing in Jesus, but having no idea whether or not his son was healed. The passage reveals that at the same moment Jesus had said those words, the official’s son was healed. This demonstrates that the act of going and believing that Jesus will do what He says He will do is what allows miracles to happen, rather than withholding belief in Jesus until He performs a miracle that is clear and obvious.

 

Mother Mary, your “Yes” to receiving Jesus into yourself was the ultimate act of faith and brought salvation to God’s people. We pray humbly through your intercession that God might grant us the grace this day to say yes to Jesus in our lives as you did, and as the man in today’s Gospel. We pray as the father with the possessed son prayed, “I believe; help my unbelief.” Amen.

 

Is 65:17-21          Ps 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12a, 13b            Jn 4:43-54

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