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Daily Reflections for Lent

Rev. Fr. John Trigilio, Jr., PhD, ThD
Seminary Professor

The City Of Kings

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” Philippians 2:10

Palm Sunday is a day of irony. Jesus enters Jerusalem, the city of Kings and where the Temple of the Lord had been built. He is greeted with triumphant cheers just as King David and King Solomon were received after a major victory in battle. “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 19:38), shouts the crowd as they throw palm branches beneath His feet. Yet, in less than week, on Good Friday, the same multitude that heralded Him as King will now turn and say, “crucify Him” and “we have no King but Caesar.”

Like palm leaves that soon dry out, the faith of the populace quickly fades and they act like a fair weather, fickle friend. When Jesus fed 5,000 with the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the people wanted to carry Him off and make Him king. He was like the genie in the bottle; like the goose that laid the golden egg.

Christ’s Kingdom was not of this world, however. It is a Kingdom of love and peace; of light and truth. He wears not a crown of gold, but a crown of thorns. He sits not on throne bedecked with jewels, rather he is nailed to the wooden throne of the Cross.

St. Paul says every knee must bend at the name of Jesus. One kneels before another as an act of submission. Lucifer refused to kneel before the dominion of the Savior and he and his horde were cast into hell. Adam and Eve refused to submit to the rule of Divine Will and they were thrown out of Paradise. Jesus, however, fought the cosmic war of good vs. evil when He conquered Satan by surrendering His own life for our souls. If we kneel before the Lord and pledge our obedience, respect and our undying love, He will reign in our hearts and be the Savior and Redeemer we desperately need. He asks we take up our cross and follow Him daily. If we listen and do what He says, we will follow Him to Calvary to die, but also follow Him out of the tomb to eternal life.
Come Lord Jesus and rule in our hearts and our homes that we may serve You faithfully by following Your command to love God and love our neighbor at all times and in all ways. Amen.

Lk 19:28-40, and Is 50:4-7 Ps 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24 Phil 2:6-11
Lk 22:14—23:56
Phil Breckler
FOCUS Missionary

Called To Deeper Faith

“…Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21

Joseph, how confused you must have been when the angel of the Lord delivered this message to you. Though you did not fully comprehend the significance of the message you put your faith and trust in the Lord and obeyed His command. This was the same faith held by your ancestor David as he made an eternal covenant with the God of Abraham. Because of this faith, God promised David that one of his descendants would sit upon the throne of kingship for all time. How little did David and Joseph understand God’s designs? Despite their lack of understanding, they offered their lives up to Him with such incredible faith. How many times during each day of our lives do we not understand God’s designs for us? Yet He is always there watching over us as our loving Father guiding us home to Him. In the same way that David and Joseph prepared the world for the coming of Jesus, we must prepare to welcome Christ into our own hearts as we await His resurrection at Easter. We must share in that same faith of trusting in God even when His plans are too big for us to understand. Through faith will come joy, peace, and salvation. It is through faith that we shall see Christ.

Dear St. Joseph, help us to have a heart of faith; to not be afraid of whatever challenges lie before us. Instead, help us to fix our eyes on the resurrected Jesus, the eternal King who conquers all sin and death. Amen.

2 Sam 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16 Ps 89: 2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29 Rom 4;13, 16-18, 22
Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a
Kari Pelzel
FOCUS Missionary
Do You Really Believe?

“I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone Me?” John 10:32

“The LORD is with me, like a mighty champion” Jeramiah 20:11

The Jewish authorities were troubled by Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God and accused Him of blaspheming against God. What they couldn’t see was that Jesus was an answer to their prayers sent from God Himself. They perceived that Jesus was acting apart from God, but He is God. We might want to scold the Jewish authorities for their disbelief in Jesus, but how many times have you yourself doubted in God’s goodness, not trusted in God’s plans for your life, and not seen how God was answering your prayers? I know many times I have failed to understand what God was doing with my life, and failed to trust Him. Sometimes it was hard to believe that God cared about my life and I doubted His goodness. It actually seemed “ok” to not trust Him even though I still “believed” in Him. But if I wasn’t trusting Him, was I actually believing in Him? No, I wasn’t trusting or believing in His love and goodness, and wasn’t believing in His words when He said, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope”(Jer 29:11). I acted similarly to the Jewish authorities who picked up stones to throw at Jesus! So I challenge you this Lent, whenever the devil feeds you lies about yourself, and God’s goodness and plans for you, go to the chapel or a quiet place. Ask Jesus to speak truth to your heart and strengthen your belief in His goodness, love, and mercy. Listen to what Jesus speaks to your heart and do all God is asking of you, no matter how hard it may seem. I used to see suffering as a lack of God’s love, but Jesus didn’t come so we didn’t have to suffer, but rather to show us how to suffer and be with us through our suffering so we can be purified, become like Christ and enter Heaven where there will be no more suffering. Trust Jesus, BELIEVE, and remind yourself when it gets hard to carry your cross, “The LORD is with me, like a mighty champion.”
Lord, if it’s not Your will, let it slip through our grasp and give us the peace not to
worry about it. Lord helps us believe, and strengthen our faith. Amen.

Jer 20:10-13 Ps 18:2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 7 Jn 10:31-42
Kathryn Tombs
Class of 2018

Called To Faith

“He remembers forever His covenant which He made binding for a thousand generations…” Psalm 105: 8

In today’s first reading, Abram is chosen by God to be “the father of a host of nations.” He is promised descendants, honor, land, and the friendship and care of a God who will be the God of His people. But this package deal has one small clause: “On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages” (Gen 17:9).

Reading this clause is like reading the fine print on a product we are about to buy, although the clause is not hidden and in small obscured letters. But, it does seem like Abram’s conditions pale in comparison to what God is offering him in exchange. Perhaps Abram paused to think, “Wait, what’s the catch here? This is amazing! All I have to do is keep a covenant for all of this? No problem!” But history tells us that keeping the covenant was not as easy as it seemed. It is not as if God was trying to deceive Abram, but perhaps Abram and his descendants did not understand the weight that their side of the covenant carried. Abram may have thought that God was calling him to “less” than what our Lord was, in actuality, calling him to. He was calling Abram to faith and faith is no small commitment.

In today’s Gospel, God reaffirms the promises He made to Abram in the person of Christ Jesus, the living fulfillment of the covenant; but, there are those who do not understand. This new covenant is practically bold, italicized, and underlined - God has sent His Only Begotten Son! How can the people gathered not see that the One they have awaited stands right before their eyes? Why will they not give themselves to God as He has given Himself so completely to them?
Again, we see that faith is no light decision. But, why is it so hard to give oneself to God? What keeps the people from trusting Him?
Imagine yourself as Abraham and his descendants, to whom God has promised everything if only they remain faithful. Then look through the eyes of the Jews, who have the promise to Abraham made manifest right before their very eyes in the person of Christ Jesus. We are in the season of Lent 2016 and we are still called to faith. Have you read the fine print? Have you seen what’s in bold? Do you believe?

Lord God, as we reflect not only on the life and works of Your Son, but on the entire history from which we come, we ask You to help us see You right before us. Help us to keep Your covenant, to remain faithful, and to be worthy of the promises made to Abraham as fulfilled in the person of Christ Jesus, Your Son. Amen.

Gen 17:3-9 Ps 105:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 Jn 8:51-59
Karen Close
Class of 2016

Is Sin Blocking Our Path To The Lord? Do We Put Him First?

“Blessed are You, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.” Daniel 3:52

As believers in Christ, we are called to follow Him and put Him first, before everything and everyone. Sometimes, this can be difficult to do, especially in the midst of a society that values worldly desires and can be full of temptations. These temptations can come in all forms and types, from overindulging in food or alcohol, to procrastinating on a paper by binge watching Netflix. However, it is entirely possible to sidestep these traps, with God’s help and stay on the path that leads to Him. We are blessed enough have a God who loves us so immensely that, in times when we fail, He gives us the opportunity to receive forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to remain in His word in both what we say and do. If we do so, then we will truly be His disciples and will discern His truth. And, as scripture goes, the truth will set you free. But free from what, exactly? Well, in the Gospel today, Jesus claims that “everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). Sin traps us and keeps our focus on anything but God. This can be seen in the first reading in which three companions of Daniel: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, refuse to worship the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had built. As punishment, they all are cast into a white hot furnace, but remain unscathed because of their faith and sacrifice. In our everyday lives, the “golden statue” can represent anything that we worship before God, such as material items, celebrities, or even our-selves. If we cling to our possessions, we may forget that the true gift our soul needs is not the newest iPhone or car, but Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. If we idolize people, we may forget that God’s plan for us is not conforming to celebrities’ ideals, fantasies, and false desires. If we idolize ourselves, we may forget that pride and self-love are the root of all sin and causes us to turn away from God. Are you willing to have the same courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego for your faith?

Lord, help us to see and follow the path that leads to You, and only You. Help us to reject sin and not fall for its deathly trap. Amen.

Dn 3:14-20, 91-92,95 Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56 Jn 8:31-42
Louis Lawrence
Class of 2018

Do Not Doubt; Have Faith And Trust In The Lord

“Heeding the plea of the lowly, not scorning their prayer…the Lord looked down from His holy heights, from heaven He beheld earth.” Psalm 102: 18, 20

Reflecting on today’s readings, the central theme is the importance of having patience, trust, and faith in our Lord. As human beings, it is both easy and normal to let our emotions get the better of us. Unfortunately sometimes, either consciously or not, we might find ourselves so exasperated by difficult situations that we lash out at God. As we read in Numbers, despite being led out of slavery, the Israelites too, found their patience worn from their rough journey. As a result, they protested against God and Moses for allowing them to endure such conditions. For punishment God sent the venomous serpents, but once the Israelites realized their sin and asked for forgiveness, God commanded Moses to erect the bronze serpent. Then, if bitten, the people could look to the statue, with faith in God, and be healed.

It is important for us as humans to remember that no matter what difficulties or struggles come into our lives, God never sends us burdens that we cannot overcome. This does not mean however, that we can survive without His help. We must remain faithful and prayerful, as the Psalm reading suggests, and call upon God when we need help: “Lord hear my prayer, let my cry come to you…turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly” (Ps 102: 2-3). We must also remember that God’s “time” does not always fit within the timeframe that we would like our prayers to be answered. Thus, we should ask for patience and keep in mind the verses referenced at the beginning of this reflection.
Jesus Christ is present with us at every moment and we must have faith in His power and will. With His help we can conquer any obstacle in our path. We need to have faith in Him just as He had in His Father, which He spoke of in the Gospel: “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me” (John 8:28). From this more people came to believe in Him, and so we too, continue to grow in faith and trust in Him ourselves.

Lord Jesus Christ, help us to remain faithful and trusting in You, and Your will. Help us to remember that Your will and Your timing is perfection, and that we must seek it and obey it. Amen.

Nm 21: 4-9 Ps 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21 Jn 8: 21-30
Lindsay Diggs
Class of 2018

A Light In The Dark

“Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12

Today’s Gospel is all about a bold declaration. In this day and age, with virtually everyone having the ability to publicly speak their mind, people often make outrageous claims. With this ability and these claims being the norm, many of us are quick to dismiss these people and what they’re saying. But what if someone were to declare, just as Christ did, that they are “the light of the world,” “Truth,” or the “Son of God?” Would we believe them? Would you believe them? It seems so outlandish and yet, as Christians, we believe this is the truth and choose to embrace Christ’s light and follow Him. The Pharisees questioned and doubted Jesus, as they so often did, and told Him that as He testified on His own behalf His claims could not be verified.

“Even if I do testify on my own behalf, my testimony can be verified, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by appearances, but I do not judge anyone. And even if I should judge, my judgment is valid, because I am not alone, but it is I and the Father who sent me. Even in your law it is written that the testimony of two men can be verified. I testify on my behalf and so does the Father who sent me” (Jn 8:14-18). Christ’s identity as God is evident to Himself. He doesn’t need further testimony because He knows all and speaks the truth and yet He still provides further testimony as He and God the Father, are one God, yet separate persons. Upon asking who His father is, Jesus tells the Pharisees they know neither Him nor His Father because if they knew one, they would know the other. Christ loves, accepts, and forgives. He didn’t become Man to condemn humanity, but rather to love us where we are spiritually and ask us to move forward with His grace. Everyone must make the choice to accept or reject His light; those who choose to follow Him will step out of the darkness and walk amongst Him in the light.
Dear God, give us the strength to embrace You and Your Son fully in our life and
remember that, so long as we do, we will never walk alone. Help us to be a light to those around us just as You are to the world. Amen.

Dn 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62, or Dn 13:41c-62 Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6 Jn 8:12-20
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