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Daily Reflections for Lent

PALM SUNDAY THE PASSION OF THE LORD
Kelsey Kierce, C '16

 

"Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross."
Phil 2:7-8

 

This passage comes from St. Paul's letter to the Philippians. St. Paul wrote this letter while sitting in prison awaiting the possibility of death. Scholars believe in this passage Paul is quoting an early Christian hymn with which the Philippians would have been familiar. This hymn calls on the Philippians to imitate Christ, and today the hymn is calling on us to imitate Him.

 

Now, I know when most people gear up for Palm Sunday all they are thinking about is standing for the longest gospel reading ever-the Passion account. However, if we really let the readings of this day sink in we will rediscover the amazing love that Christ has for us. Christ, in all his Divine glory, came down to Earth and became human. He became one with us to show us how to live and how to love others as He loves us. As if this wasn't enough, He then died for our sins so that we may live in eternity with Him forever.

 

On this Palm Sunday, let us reflect on the humility that Christ exemplifies. Let us humble ourselves and become obedient to Him, who deserved none of what He suffered yet did so out of love for us.

 

Lord, thank You for doing such an unfathomable deed for someone as undeserving as me. Help me in humility to serve those around me. During this Holy week, empty me so that I may be filled with only You. Amen.

Is 50: 4-7, Ps 22: 8-9, 17-20, 23-24, Phil 2: 6-11; Mt 26: 14-27:66

SATURDAY 5TH WEEK
John Bilenki, C ‘17

 

"Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation."
John 11:47-48

 

In our Gospel passage from John today, we find the chief priests and Pharisees distressed, uneasy, and fearful after hearing of the miracles performed by the son of the carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth. They fear if He attracts more disciples who wish to share in His ministry and proclaim His teachings, then they will lose everything to the Romans - their Temple, power, riches, etc. They are attached to their success. They could never let go of all their hard work. The chief priests and Pharisees permitting a man who works on the Sabbath and eats with sinners endangers them greatly. But, think about it. What if they had allowed Him to continue preaching or perhaps even had submitted themselves to Him? The rest of the story would be much different.

 

How often do we find ourselves in distress like the chief priests and the Pharisees? How often do we hear the voice of the Lord in our hearts, calling us by name to be His disciples and to accept His will for our lives, and yet, reject it because we are afraid to let go of our personal gain and what we think is in our best interest? How often do we become angry or frustrated with God when things don’t go the way we planned?

 

Personally, I very often find myself distressed and struggling to accept the Lord’s call. I have such an attachment to what I have, to the plan which I envision is best. Christ offers us true fulfillment and happiness, but I’m afraid of letting Him take control. Also, I fear the uncertainty that comes with putting full trust in God.

 

But, if we make the effort, if we pray each day, if we trust in His help and protection, Christ will not fail us; He will lead us to joy and fulfillment. As we continue the journey with Christ to Calvary this Lent, let us take up our cross with Him. The Lord will never abandon us. With Him, our burden is light.

 

Don’t worry! He’s got it all under control.

 

Lord Jesus, grant us the courage to be witnesses to our Faith. Grant us the strength to surrender ourselves totally to You. Take our worry. Grant us peace in the uncertainty the future holds. Increase and ground our faith and trust, for it is in You and You alone we find true joy and fulfillment. Amen.

Ez 37: 21-28, Jer 31: 1-13; Jn 11: 45-56

FRIDAY 5TH WEEK
Jennifer Leavy, C ‘17

 

"The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

 

During this time of Lent, as we put the Lord first in our hearts through prayer and sacrifice, we should not overlook the crucial role God plays in all our lives-our “rock.” When our lives are full of trouble, we should never struggle with them on our own. God will always be there for us, and we should always turn to him in our time of need. At some point in our lives we have mistaken rainfall for a hurricane, and wondered why it could ever happen to us or how we could ever survive. But we must always remember, especially in times of fear or sadness, that God is our home, our safe haven where peace and comfort awaits us. His vast love for us is the foundation, walls, and ceiling of the house that can never be destroyed or taken away from us. He is the beacon that shines through the storm and calls us towards salvation. Because of this, we can find strength and safety in God’s love. But God’s love isn’t just a place of shelter and refuge. It is also a “shield,” a “horn,” something we can use to defend ourselves against sin and whatever “storms” life can throw at us. God’s love isn’t just a consolation, but a means of purifying oneself. It is an opportunity to grow in our love of God, not just during this time of Lent, but all throughout the year.

 

Father, help me to trust in Your love for me, so I may find the strength to endure life’s burdens by seeking refuge with You. Amen.

Jer 20: 10-13, Ps 18: 2-7; Jn 10: 31-42

THURSDAY 5TH WEEK
Christian Winkle, C '16

 

Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come"
Genesis 17:9

 

Because God loves us, He wants to grant us many graces. When God created a covenant with Abraham, He pledged His love and faithfulness to His Chosen People. But a covenant is even more than a contract and there is an expectation on both parties making a covenant. Can you imagine someone literally giving everything they had to you? Words would not be able to describe how thankful you would be for the gift. Much the same could then be said about our Lord, who has given us everything. God was not only faithful to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Chosen People, He became one with humanity as a descendant of David. He suffered and died for us, literally giving everything for our salvation. God has been faithful to the covenant He made with us. How will we respond?

 

Will we imitate His love for us in how we love our brothers and sisters around us? We can't earn our way to Heaven and God doesn't need our love, but He invites us to love Him back, especially through love for our neighbor. Our prayers, acts of kindness, and charity are the ways we communicate our thanks to God, and by communicating with Him in this way we can grow in our relationship with Him.

 

Lord, help me to serve You with all the gifts that You have given me. Draw me ever closer to You. Amen.

Gn 17: 3-9, Ps 105: 4-9; Jn 8: 51-59

WEDNESDAY 5TH WEEK
Brian Vogelgesang, C ‘16

 

Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples"
John 8:31

 

While reading this passage from the Gospel of St. John the message, “love me (Jesus)” kept reoccurring to me. It is by Jesus we are set free from the bondage of sin and it is this Christ-like love that sin is destroyed. But one of the biggest struggles I find in life is loving everyone as Christ calls us to. This is one of the hardest things for me to do. Some-one once said to me the only way to learn to love is to embrace the ones who are the hardest for you to love. We can see this in the example of Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She embraced the people who are looked down upon by society and finds Jesus in them. We must always find a way, through God’s Grace to love because by this we come outside of ourselves and are set free from pride, the root of all sin. I find myself pondering the mysteries of the sacraments? Yes, they are the way that we receive God’s graces but if we only keep these graces to ourselves then our faith is dead along with our ability to love.

 

So through this Lenten season, offer to God a brief moment to ponder how you view and use the sacraments to love the least among you. Do you find yourself adventuring outside of the Chapel to act in a Christ-like way? Do you cherish the gifts of the sacraments by pouring out God’s love to others, no matter what they do or say? We should always live in Christ, and love as Christ as if He is in front of us, for we could be entertaining angels in disguise.

 

God, I offer myself to You to build with me and to do with me as You Will. Relieve me of the bondage of myself so I may better do Your Will. Strengthen me in my difficulties to bear witness to those I would help, of Your Power, Your Love, and Your Way of Life. May I do Your Will always. Amen.

Dn 3: 14-20, 91-92, 95, Dn 3: 52:-56; Jn 8:31-42

TUESDAY 5TH WEEK
Kathryn Zagrobelny, C ‘14

 

"For if you do not believe that I AM, You will die in your sins."
John 8:24

 

I don’t know about you, but if I had to wander around the desert for years and years without knowing where I was going, I’d freak out. I freak out over plenty of smaller things. In today’s first reading, the Israelites have been in the desert for a long time and no end is in sight. No wonder they begin complaining! But while we understand their reaction, we shouldn’t imitate them. The Israelites didn’t trust that God would lead them safely out of the desert. They thought they were going to die. God punishes His people for their lack of trust, but when they repent and lift up their problems, He helps them and (literally) saves their lives.

 

Lent gives us the same chance to repent and ask the Lord to save us. The Psalm invites us to offer our needs and vulnerabilities to God because He will take care of them. Anything we bring to Him, He takes from us and helps us with. We just have to trust Him. The Gospel also reminds us of this. At the beginning, Jesus foreshadows His upcoming death by telling the Pharisees He is leaving. If they don’t trust He is who He says He is, they will not be able to find Him again. Jesus tells the Pharisees if they don’t believe in Him, they will die. He isn’t just talking about earthly death, but He means they won’t experience the joys of new life in heaven. They, like us, need to trust that Jesus comes to us from God, our Father. He says Himself He does nothing on His own, everything He does is from His Father. As his followers, we must imitate His -trusting in God and giving Him everything.

 

Lord, I trust in You, strengthen my trust. Amen.

Nm 21: 4-9, Ps 102: 2-3, 16-21; Jn 8: 21-30

TUESDAY 3RD WEEK
Teã Schuetz, C ‘16

 

"But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; as though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks, or thousands of fat lambs, so let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame. And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you."
Daniel 3:39-41

 

Just as the people Azariah is referring to in the passage above offer their contrite and trusting hearts to God and ask God to receive them in His mercy as a sacrifice, so we are called to do. Nothing we can do will make us deserving of His mercy, but surely there is something we could sacrifice out of love for God. But what worldly thing do we have that we can “give up” that will ever be enough to repay the one who humbly became flesh and dwelt among us only to die so that we might have life? Well…what is more worldly than sin? How unfit a gift for the King of Glory and yet, Christ desires us to give our sins to Him so He can heal us.

 

How wholly sacrificial is our God who desires nothing more than for us to kneel before Him with our bruised and battered, but contrite, hearts, just so He can heal them. Nothing more than for us to wrap up all of our mistakes and human weakness, tie them together with a bow, and present them to Him, just so He can lighten our burden by adding them to the weight He carried on His own shoulders on the road to Calvary. And in the process of doing so, we receive grace to better know, love, and serve God and our neighbors.

 

Grace is a gift, but we can only receive as much grace as we are open to receive. Just as in the famous painting of Christ knocking on the door without a doorknob, He will wait patiently for us to invite Him into our hearts. So this Lent, let’s invite Him in and allow Him to bathe us in grace so that He can change our hearts and we can follow God unreservedly.

 

Lord, my heart has been worn down by sin. Help me to humbly and sincerely offer it up to You so I may accept the grace You have in store for me. Replace my heart with Yours so I may sacrifice my life for others as You have sacrificed Your life for mine. Amen.

Dn 3: 25,34-43, Ps 25: 4-9; Mt 18: 21-35

5TH SUNDAY OF LENT
Ellen Klein, FOCUS Missionary

 

"I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
John 11:25-26

 

What is life? What does it mean to have a full life? We are all physically alive. We breathe, eat, sleep, study and move. We all have life. Jesus also had a life on this earth, but what does He mean when He says in today’s Gospel, “I am the resurrection and the life?” Jesus does not only have a life, but He says He actually is Life. Therefore, unlike some may think, Jesus did not come to just teach or to try to turn bad people into good people. He came to make dead people alive! He came to pull us out of sin, to give us life once again. In order to truly live life the way we were made to live, we need to follow Jesus. He is Life. All He did, and all He is, leads to life. Even His death led to life! In the same way, Jesus can transform our sin into new life if we accept Him. Oftentimes we confuse “life” with “fun” or “pleasure” when the truth is Life is Jesus Christ. No doubt Jesus wants us to have fun, but He also shows us there is more to true happiness than simply fun. He shows us that there is great meaning behind everything that we do, especially our sufferings and sacrifices. After all, His suffering and death was necessary for His Resurrection. When we unite our sufferings to Jesus’ suffering on the cross, we too will experience the gift of new life. We will die and rise again with Him! Do not be afraid to give your life to Jesus because in turn, He will give you something even greater: new life, eternal life! In today’s Gospel, after Jesus tells Mary He is the “resurrection and the life,” He asks her “Do you believe this?” Do you believe that Jesus can bring you to life? Do you believe He can change your life? He is waiting for you to respond. He will always wait for you. All you have to do is let Him in.

 

Get Jesus. Get a life.

 

Jesus, thank You for the many gifts You have given me. Thank You for creating me and giving me life. Jesus, please take my life and all that I am. I desire to give it all to You. Show me Your will for my life and help me to trust in Your plans always. I love you. Amen.

Ws 2: 1, 12-22; Ps 34: 17-21,23; Jn 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30.

SATURDAY 4TH WEEK
Alexis Rojas, C ‘17

 

"O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge."
Psalm 7: 1

 

When we face difficulties in life, it is easy to blame God or ask why He would let such things happen to us. We are quick to blame and often turn away from Him. However, this should not be the case. The moments we when feel most discouraged and when we are struggling most, should be the times we turn to Him. When we feel as if the world is on our shoulders, we must trust in God’s plan and know He will never give us more than we can handle. We all go through hardships and we should not get angry at God or blame Him. Struggling is simply part of life and we must accept it. It is easier to deal with the trials and pains of our lives when we trust He will always be there for us.

 

Lord, I pray You grant me the courage to fully trust in You. May I always turn to You in times of need and know You will always be there guiding me and granting me comfort. Amen.

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

FRIDAY 4TH WEEK
Jenna Lewis, FOCUS Missionary

 

"For their wickedness blinded them, and they did not know the secret purposes of God."
Wisdom 2:22

 

Do we really know Jesus deep in our hearts or do we just passively accept a knowledge that never surpasses our minds? Do we find ourselves critiquing God, blaming Him for events in our lives, testing Him, or constantly trying to prove His existence? Belief takes going beyond the practicalities of our minds and what we can see. It takes going into the depths of our souls. It takes a trust and faith in something unseen. Ultimately, it takes an encounter.

 

Do you relate to the feeling God is inconveniencing you or He is opposing your actions, or even that following Him would be an uncomfortable way of life? Some of these negative feelings can keep us from drawing closer to God’s loving embrace. Let us not get hung up on these feelings. We must take the time to recognize where we stray and bring those sins to the foot of the cross to be transformed.

 

For Jesus promises He is near to the brokenhearted, He will respond to our cry, and He will deliver even the most afflicted. For He loves us dearly. Let us allow ourselves to experience His embrace. Let us not get caught up in the logistics of faith or the crosses we bear. Let us allow Jesus to move our hearts deeply, to go beyond the testing of our mind.

 

What is it going to take for you to let Him in… to transform your heart?

 

Jesus help me to be at peace, to quiet myself enough to accept You deep in my being. Help me to identify the things that are holding me back from truly feeling Your loving presence. Amen.

Ws 2: 1, 12-22, Ps 34: 17-21, 23; Jn 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30

 
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