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Daily Reflections for Lent

Dr. Irene Wunderlich
Assistant Director Pastoral Field Education and Assessment

Let Jesus Lead

“Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to Him, ‘Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?’”
John 11:39-40
In John’s Gospel, we see another side to Martha than the one in the kitchen complaining. Martha recognizes that Jesus is the Messiah. Martha was a good friend of Jesus; He visited her home. She is comfortable enough to question Jesus in the middle of a miraculous event of the raising of Lazarus. When Jesus gave the order to remove the stone from the grave, she thought it necessary to remind Him that Lazarus, having been in the grave for four days, would be in a state of decomposition. While knowing Jesus is the Lord, Martha also feels compelled to take control. We can also be good friends of Jesus and invite Him into our hearts and life. Like Martha, we can also get in the way of Jesus working in our lives. It becomes a balance to partner with Jesus in ministry while letting Him take the lead.
Dear Lord, open our eyes to recognize You. Let us be still so that we hear Your voice so that we may follow Your lead. Amen.

Is 43:16-21, or Ez 37:12-14 Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6 Phil 3:8-14, or Rom 8:8-11
Jn 8:1-11, or Jn 11:1-45
Christina Wirth
Varsity Catholic FOCUS Missionary
Speak, Lord, For Your Servant Is Listening

“Some in the crowd who heard these words said, ‘This is truly the Prophet.’” John 7:40

How many people could you accurately identify if all you heard was their voice? I think about my family and how I could, with great certainty, identify all seven voices even if I was given no other clues. I’m sure you all could do this as well, and probably with many more people than just your family. How do we develop that ability? We spend time with them. We hear their voice often. We know the sound of their voice when they’re tired, happy, serious, upset, or just talking in a normal tone. Sometimes, even if we happen to be in a noisy room, the sound of a familiar voice rises above all of the distractions and catches our attention. Could you say that this is true about Jesus’ voice in your life? Do you know what it sounds like? Could you identify His voice amidst the busyness and noise? In the Gospel today, we hear the officers say about Jesus, “No man ever spoke like this man!” How is Jesus’ voice different from all the others? Spend five minutes today reading from one of the Gospels and stop to meditate on some of Jesus’ words. Ask Him to help you learn His voice so that you can recognize it whenever you hear it.

Jesus, there are so many voices calling out and trying to grab hold of our attention, but Your voice is different. Your voice is gentle yet Your words are full of power and authority. Please help us to learn what Your voice sounds like so that we might be able to hear You when you speak. Amen.

Jer 11:18-20 Ps 7:2-3, 9bc-10, 11-12 Jn 7:40-53
Thomas Baker
Class of 2018
The Obnoxious Truth

“Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us.” Wisdom 2:12

No one likes hearing that they are wrong. Today’s readings point out perhaps the hardest sin to overcome: pride. In the first reading from Wisdom, the wicked are speaking harmfully of the just one because he is critiquing and criticizing the wicked for their sinful ways. One of the words the wicked describe him as is “obnoxious,” which according to the Oxford dictionary, comes from the Latin meaning “exposed to harm.” But what particular aspect of the wicked is the just one exposing to harm? Their pride.

We as humans dislike being wrong. Even worse than that, we hate it when others tell us that we are wrong in what we did or said. I love to watch the TV show “Bar Rescue.” Bar expert Jon Taffer goes to bars which are failing and in huge debt. He helps them recover and become a new, better bar. My favorite part of the show is when he confronts the owners and workers of the bar, tells them that they are failing, and shows them the horrendous conditions that the bar is in which ranges anywhere from black mold and dead bugs in glasses, to rats roaming in the kitchen and fungus growing on the walls. People hate him for showing them their failures, yet these violations are the reason for their massive debt and failure! All that Jon is doing is exposing these owners the truth.

In much the same way, Jesus reveals to us the Truth. Many times, we hate what the Truth reveals, namely that we failed, sinned, and were wrong. Jesus exposes our pride to harm. But we don’t want to hear it. Instead of love, we often meet His truth with resentment. But, we need to remember God always calls us back to Himself to be made whole. In the sacrament of confession we can find an ocean of mercy and forgiveness to overcome our pride.

Abba, help us to accept the criticism and critique of others so that we may be made humble. Help us to constantly grow in love. Amen.

Wis 2:1a, 12-22 Ps 34:17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23 Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
Rebekah Hardy
Class of 2018

Believing Is Seeing

“But you have never heard His voice nor seen His form, and you do not have His word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the One whom He has sent. You search the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them: even they testify on My behalf.” John 5:31

In the Gospel reading today, Jesus is calling out the people for their blindness. They are too blinded by their presuppositions of the way that God should be making Himself known that they do not even notice He is walking among them. How often do we look for God in holy places where He is “supposed” to be and forget to look for Him within our hearts and in the people whom He has placed in our lives? Jesus is challenging us to really, deeply believe in Him. In order to do this, we need to know Him. If we know Jesus, we also know of His love and care for us and for every other individual in the world. Knowing and loving Jesus leads us to see Him firstly as he is present through the Eucharist and the scriptures at Mass. We also see Him as He is present in the hearts of others where He is waiting for us to discover Him. Let us always seek Jesus in the people and situations around us so that we may not be too blinded by our own ideas in seeing Him.

Lord, please help us to know You more perfectly so that our eyes may be opened to
love You in all of the ways that You make Yourself present to us in our daily lives. Amen.

Ex 32:7-14 Ps 106:19-20, 21-22, 23 Jn 5:31-47
Andrea Montanti
Class of 2018

Lean On Him When You’re Not Strong

“The LORD supports all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” Psalm 145:14

The first reading from today is about the liberation and restoration of Zion. Liberation can be defined as setting someone or something free from imprisonment and restoration can be defined as the act of returning something to its former condition. It is important to know that this liberation and restoration that Isaiah is referring to is not just in regards to Zion, but about each and every one of us. There is no doubt that we each have experienced times when we have felt alone. It is so easy to feel forgotten, unloved, and hopeless. We must remember that the Lord our God will never ever forget us. He yearns to bring us out of our darkness and restore us to life in Him. One of the verses that particularly struck me is from Psalm 145:14, “The LORD supports all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” We need the support of God; we cannot do anything on our own. Oftentimes it may feel like we need to bear our burdens on our own, but this is not the case. God wants to be with us all of the time, but He especially wants to be there when we are at our weakest point. It is in our weakness that God’s strength is made all the more apparent. Jesus Himself in today’s Gospel says, “I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the One who sent me.” Seek to do the will of God by leaning on Him for support. Let Him in and He will never leave your side.

Jesus, help us to realize that we need You. Help us to constantly rely on Your endless support and unfailing love, for with You we are everything and alone we are nothing. May we continue to actively seek Your will through the intercession of Your Blessed Mother. Amen.

Is 49:8-15 Ps 145: 8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18; Jn 5:17-30
DeAna Saint-Fort
Class of 2019

Steps To The Eternal Gate

“God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress. Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.” Psalm 46: 2-3, 5-6

In the Gospel today, Jesus reminds us that even in our darkest times, he will always cleanse us from all our sins, if we truly ask of it. Which brings me to ask the ultimate question, what can keep us from the presence of God? A lot of the times I think of the obvious, like being impatient or doing things that we know are wrong. When we read further into the gospel, we find that Jesus’ dramatic cleansing of the temple was seen by His disciples as a prophetic sign of God’s work which was meant to purify and restore the true worship and holiness that lies among each and every one of us. In other words, the temple, which was described in the reading, is seen as the dwelling place of God among His children. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, He has reconciled us to God and made us adopted sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, and He fills us with His Holy Spirit and makes us living temples of God. Do you recognize the indwelling presence of God within you through the gift and working of His Holy Spirit? The Lord Jesus wants to renew our minds and to purify our hearts most especially in the sacrament of reconciliation, so that we may offer God perfect worship and so that we may enjoy His presence both now and forever. During this time in Lent, ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with a holy desire and burning zeal for His holiness and glory to grow in you and transform the way you think, act, and live as a son or daughter of God.

Lord Jesus Christ, open wide the door of your Father’s house so that we may enter confidently in worship of Your Spirit and Truth. Help me, I beg, to draw near to Your throne of mercy with gratitude and joy. Amen.

Ez 47:1-9, 12 Ps 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9 Jn 5:1-16
Angela Marinelli
Class of 2017
The Armor Of Trust As The Foundation Of Our Joy

“Instead, shout for joy and be glad forever in what I am creating. Indeed, I am creating Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight.” Isaiah 65:18

“The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.” John 4:50

An immense joy fills our hearts when we can see and feel the ways in which God is working in our lives. These “God-incidences” are simply heartwarming and beautiful, right? Everybody’s heart is all warm and fuzzy and we just cannot contain how great it is to be Catholic! But how do we react when we are no longer receiving these consolations in prayer and through God’s holy Church? Is that joy diminished? Are we only joyful when we feel God’s presence? The foundation of our joy should not be a feeling. Our joy that Isaiah spoke of in the first reading for today, needs to be grounded in trust. Feelings are fleeting. Even the feeling of God’s love is fleeting. Many saints have spoken of these “dark nights of the soul” in which they lacked any or all of God’s consolations. Yet, it was infinitely more than possible for them to remain joyful when they were overwhelmed with sorrow. Why? They trusted Christ. The man in today’s Gospel at the time of asking Christ to heal his son, probably did not feel like Jesus was fulfilling His promise to him, but he still trusted His word. Looking at the situation: the man asked Jesus to heal his son. Jesus was miles away from this man’s son, and simply said “You may go; your son will live.” Instead of speculating at the lack of human logic of how Jesus could heal his physically ailed son who was also physically nowhere near Jesus at the time, yet the man believed. This man had no “signs and wonders” as evidence of Christ’s love for him or his son. At the time, he did not see or have the knowledge that his son was healed. Even before he discovered Christ fulfilled His promise, the man trusted Jesus instead of questioning His credibility. When we place our trust in the most truthful person who ever lived, we have a firm knowledge that He will fulfill His promises to us. Trust in Christ will keep us joyful through desolation and be the armor protecting us against despair.

Dear Jesus, with Mother Teresa’s intercession, fill our hearts with the joy of Your Love in the dark nights of our soul. Let us trust in You and be our armor against despair. Amen.

Is 65:17-21 Ps 30:2 and 4, 5-6, 11-12a and 13b Jn 4:43-54
Dr. Sean Lewis
Professor of English

All That We Have Is A Gift

“But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” Luke 15:32

“The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason” (T.S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral)

Today’s readings focus on forgiveness, and so much has been written on the parable of the Prodigal Son that one is tempted simply to let Jesus’ words speak for themselves. In this reflection, however, I would like us to turn our attention to the one character in these readings who does not ask for forgiveness: the elder son in the parable. It is natural for us to identify with the repentant son, but identifying with the elder son is also a fruitful exercise. For those of us striving to live the Christian life, it can be all too easy to fall into the attitude of the elder son: here I am, praying regularly, involved with the Church, routinely receiving the sacraments. How much better am I than those lax believers who do not practice the faith! As with most falsehoods, there is an element of truth in this attitude: God has called us to lives of conversion. He has “made us new creations” and “reconciled us to himself through Christ” (2 Cor 5:17), and we are called to live the Christian life without compromise. At the same time, if our religious practices lead us to treat those weaker in faith with the kind of scorn show by the elder brother, we must put aside these practices. As we hear throughout today’s readings, God is in control: “Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you” (Jos 5:9); “When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him” (Ps 34:6); “all this is from God” (2 Cor 5:18). The error of the elder brother was thinking that his holiness was solely a matter of his own actions, when, in reality, all of his virtues were ultimately gifts from God. As we continue our Lenten practice this week, let us ask God for the grace of humility, realizing more fully that we are the beneficiaries of His abundant mercies.
O Lord, make us truly grateful for all of the gifts You have given us, particularly those gifts we take for granted. Draw all of Your children to Yourself, Lord. Even those
whom we deem the least deserving of Your mercy, so we all may feast with You forever in Heaven. Amen

Jos 5:9a, 10-12, or 1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, or Ps 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6 2 Cor 5:17-21, Eph 5:8-14 Lk 15:1-3, 11-32, or Jn 9:1-41
Paul Miller
Class of 2016

Sacrifice Of The Heart

“My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humble heart, O God, You will not scorn.” Psalm 51:19

What is it about a gift from a loved one that warms the heart? For children, it is usually the gift itself, something they’ve been waiting to receive. As we mature, the object of affection might change, but the desire remains: we are waiting to receive.

In today’s Scripture readings, we hear once again what it is God is waiting to receive from us during this Lenten season. Our acts of penance and our gift of alms during Lent are not meant as scripted religious requirements, but rather, each act is an occasion by which we can offer our whole hearts humbly to God. This gift of sacrifice can be a real struggle, and we need God’s grace. We ought to pray that the Holy Spirit give us the grace to offer authentic hearts of love to God. When offering our hearts, we must recognize we are dependent upon God, that He gives us His grace. We should in return offer genuine, humble, and contrite hearts back to Him, in love. God is waiting to receive the gift He desires from us, the sacrifice of our whole heart, true and complete.

Lord Jesus, we offer to You today our whole heart in love and adoration. Help us to be a living sacrifice of love to You every day. Amen.

Hos 6:1-6 Ps 51:3-4, 18-19, 20-21ab Lk 18:9-14
Katlyn Freddino
Class of 2016

Who, Me?

“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’” Mark 12:31

In today’s gospel, Jesus reiterates the two most important command-ments: to love God above all, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Growing up, the second great commandment was taught to me by many people: my parents, teachers, priest, and family members. But it wasn’t until recently that I really heard what Jesus was saying.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” It seems simple: love your neighbor, be good to them, etc. But do you really love your neighbor as yourself? I know I fail often. I tend to compare myself with my neighbors and put them on a pedestal. I see their beauty, their talents, and their goodness. And then there’s me… broken, clumsy, and not good enough.

When Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, he’s not only telling us to love others, but to love ourselves, too. As humans, it’s hard to love perfectly. Our love is disproportionate and sometimes we get frustrated with ourselves because of this fact. But Jesus… He is God, and He is perfect, beautiful Love. When you look at yourself in the mirror, look through the lens of Christ. Everything that you criticize about yourself, Jesus sees, and He delights in you despite what you perceive. Will you too, delight in your beauty and worth despite your flaws?

Lord Jesus, You saw our imperfections as You were dying on the cross, and You deemed us worthy of Your love and suffering. Help us to see ourselves and our neighbor as You see us: beloved. Amen.

Hos 14:2-10 Ps 81:6c-8a, 8bc-9, 10-11ab, 14 and 17 Mk 12:28-34
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