This fourth installment of the Lenten Retreat focuses on the humiliation and shame associated with being stripped of dignity. As the Lord experiences some of the most painful aspects of mental anguish, we take comfort that he redeems it with His saving love.
This well known passage from the Gospel of John reminds us that it was out of love for sinful humanity that God sent Jesus Christ for our salvation. May we humbly acknowledge the darkness within our hearts and turn to the one who longs to make us whole.
While spending time with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus’ response to the scribes and pharisees offers us hope. The Lord’s willingness to bring healing and forgiveness to those in need reveals Christ’s longing for our redemption as well. May we follow the example of Levi and respond to the Lord’s call.
This feast day fosters both personal piety and a communal connection within the Church to Jesus Christ, our savior, redeemer, brother and friend. The Lord offers his heart for the salvation of the world as he gives his life on the Cross. May the love in his heart fill up what is lacking in ours!
(Note: there are many choices for today; this link offers a few options.)
Today we pray for all who have died, sometimes still grieving their loss, and sometimes smiling as their memory warms our hearts. What’s more, our prayers are part of the communion we share in Jesus Christ, and we offer them for those who have gone before us…that they might meet us one day in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let the perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen
How many times throughout our lives have we made the sign of the Cross? Stop and think: at Mass; meal prayers; morning & evening prayers; special gatherings; and moments of blessing and grace. This simple action, which we teach to children at an early age, invokes a connection with the passion of Jesus.
We adorn our homes with the Cross. A crucifix is a common gift to a new home; they are placed in bedrooms and common areas as a reminder that Jesus is the source of our help and strength.
We adorn ourselves with the Cross in many ways: a crucifix on a chain; a cross in our pocket; earrings; rings; bracelets; and all the extra cards, bookmarks, figurines, and miscellaneous items that remind us that Jesus died on a Cross.
The Paschal Mystery – the death and resurrection of Christ – speaks to the heart of our faith. Out of love for us God sent Jesus, who gave his life on the Cross that we might have eternal life. Through his suffering and death, we recognize that God has made a pathway possible that we might all journey through this life to the gates of Heaven.
The Cross teaches us many lessons:
* Life is difficult, and at times painful
* Weakness and sin are part of our experience
* God identifies with our pain
* God dies that we might have life
At the core of our teaching the Cross stands as the testament of God’s love for us. On one hand the Cross is an embarrassment – after all, why would God (all powerful, all knowing, supreme) choose to be humiliated? Does that not mean that God is weak? Why could God not take away our sins in a way that showed majesty and splendor?
Yet on the other hand, the Cross is a statement that God meets us where we are in life. In our weakness, in our humiliation, in our low moments of doubt and sin God comes to us. Jesus, like us in every way but sin, understands our pain because through his Cross he shares in the suffering of the world. He knows us, and loves us even more.
Every time we make the sign of the Cross may we recall what the Lord endured for us. May the Cross be our strength as we trust in God’s love, and may we seek to follow that love as we journey through this life toward the world to come.
Both the 1st Reading and the Gospel detail stories of rejection: Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers for 20 pieces of silver and Jesus explains how the tenants kill the vineyard owner’s son. Yet in both cases the reality of rejection is transformed and redeemed by God’s grace. May we face our moments of rejection with the power of our faith in Christ, that God will work in our lives to bring about good.
We enter into the great season of Lent with classic readings about temptation, sin and God’s grace:
1st Reading – The temptation of Adam & Eve
Psalm – “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”
2nd Reading – The sin of Adam is redeemed by Christ
Gospel – The devil tempts Jesus…and fails
First, let me be perfectly clear: Temptation is a part of the landscape of human life. From the time of our first parents at the dawn of creation, humanity has experienced temptation. We can wish all we want, but the fact remains that we are constantly facing great and small temptations throughout the course of our lives.
What’s more, we have all experienced times when temptation has led us to sin. Being tempted is one thing; falling into sin is another. For once sin is a part of our lives, our souls are wounded in a way that requires God’s grace to cleanse and heal.
This awareness of temptation and sin can easily lead us to a state of despair. We can fall into the trap that says “Well, you messed up. What’s the point now? You might as well just give up.” Admittedly, the devil would like nothing better than to let us think that there is no hope…that we are lost and without strength to find our way out of the messes of life.
Yet we start our Lent with hope. Yes, we acknowledge that temptation and sin are real, but we take comfort that this is why Jesus Christ came – to break the bondage of sin, restore our relationships with God and one another, and lead us into eternal life. The Lord knew about temptation first hand, yet not only did he triumph over Satan’s testing, but he freed us through his death and resurrection.
In our moments of temptation and sin may we run to the Cross of Christ! As we encounter our own trials may we trust that the Lord stands ready to offer us help and strength – both to face what comes before us this day, and to heal us in our moments of need.