Lent Reflections

March 19

“Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:5-8)

Today’s readings focus on water. Moses’ followers thirst. They complain they would rather return to Egypt than die of thirst in the desert, so Moses asks God for help. God replies by telling Moses to strike a rock, from which water will flow. Moses does as he is told and strikes a stone. Sure enough, water flows out. The people’s faith is restored, if only temporarily. In this story, water is as much a spiritual symbol of God’s presence as it is physical nourishment.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells another story focusing on water. Jesus strikes up a conversation with a Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus asks the woman for a drink. She is confused about how to respond to him. She cannot understand why he would be asking her, a Samaritan woman, for water.

Jesus then speaks to the woman about living water, a water that when consumed, becomes a spring welling up inside to eternal life. He tells the woman for the water she seeks, she will need to drink again and again, because she will continue to become thirsty. She realizes who Jesus is based on what he is saying and goes off to tell others about him.

Paul’s letter to the Romans today pulls the water themes together and provides further context for what water means to us as Christians. Paul reminds us water is a powerful symbol. In baptism, water washes away our sins. The living water was given to us and poured out for us through Jesus and his sacrifice. We could not save ourselves – sinners – not ‘just’ persons, but ‘good’ persons. Jesus died for us willingly, though humanly. It is difficult to think about.

We all need water to survive. The Holy Spirit nourishes us beyond the physical sense. The good news for us is that through Jesus, we have already received God’s grace and His spiritual, living water. How will we ask God and the Holy Spirit to nourish us today? How will we ask Jesus to help us with our struggles and shortcomings this day?

 

March 20: Solemnity of Saint Joseph

In today’s Gospel, after discovering Mary was pregnant, prideful yet loving Joseph decides to quietly divorce Mary. His mind is changed with a visit from an angel of the Lord in a dream. The angel says, “Joseph, son of David, 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)

How often do we see signs of the Lord in our daily lives, in the people around us, on our walk in to work or in a quiet moment with ourselves? It takes faith to choose not to ignore these signs and consider for a moment God is trying to talk with us. Life is busy but as the head of my office says, all of us are busy — if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be doing your job. When you tell someone you’re busy, you’re telling them you don’t have time for them. This week, try to stop making excuses for how busy your life is and try to make time with the Lord. This is also a good time to ask yourself, “How is my Lenten journey going so far?” We’re a couple of weeks in, recommit to your Lenten sacrifices/goals. 

 

March 21

“Peter asked, ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.’” (Matthew 18: 21-23)

Jesus continues to explain the story of the king who forgave his servant’s massive debt to him. In turn, the servant does not repeat the loving example of forgiveness bestowed onto him but instead demands a much smaller amount be paid back. At times it feels like this is our society, our world, where one loving hand is met with fist. It’s hard to always see the goodness around us, especially when we ourselves don’t feel so “good.” On days like this, I remind myself that every day will be different and this is by design (thank God!). Offer your troubles and worries to God and keep looking for the silver lining—eventually, all of us will find it.

 

 

March 22

In today’s Gospel from Matthew, Jesus explains while some may see him as trying to change the law and take over, this is of no interest to him. Instead, his purpose is to fulfill God’s teachings of love, faith, discipline, compassion and respect. This is why we were given His commandments as a roadmap to guide our lives not to make it harder. God wants all of us to join him in the Kingdom of heaven. Sit with the Lord for 3-5 minutes today and check in with him on your own journey.

 

March 23

Jesus drives out a demon in a mute man in Luke’s gospel. The people are amazed but quickly demand a sign from heaven. Instead of appeasing the people with substantial evidence he makes them question their own faith and allegiances. The people are trying to find the crack in Jesus’s armor—how can they believe in something/someone they can’t see? The people try to create a division among Jesus and his followers. Jesus returns the questioning back on the people:

“Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” (Luke 11: 17-18)

Do you ever feel every idea or opinion you submit is ripped to shreds without fair discussion? That you are a team of one? That you just can’t seem to get ahead without someone pulling you back? Hang in there! Keep praying and keep asking God for guidance. I’ve found it’s the things I’ve had to work for the most that turned out the best.

 

March 24

“One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, ‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’
Jesus replied, ‘The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.’” (Mark 12: 28-31)

Jesus asks us to love the Lord fully, on good and bad days, with all of our understanding, strength and heart. I appreciate the simplicity of the Lord’s message to us. Love God 100% and treat others as you would treat yourself. When I started my job, I had to do a number of HR trainings and tests. As politically correct as corporate America tries to make our world, I had to laugh when I was being taught the “Platinum Rule”—treat others how you feel they want to be treated. In my eyes, it’s all the same. Treat others with respect, with the compassion of Christ and with understanding. Basically, be nice, God loves us all!

 

March 25

The Word of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us; and we saw his glory.

Today we celebrate the Annunciation of the Lord. In the readings of Isaiah we hear, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us!’” (Isaiah 7:14) Luke’s Gospel today details the archangel Gabriel visiting Mary prior to Jesus’s birth.

While these readings take us back to Christmas and the birth of Christ, it is important to recognize during Lent that Christ is with us on our journey through Lent. He is among us and was sent as a sign that the Lord is at work in the world.

 

March 26

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Today we hear the familiar story of Jesus helping the blind man to see. After being shunned by the Pharisees Jesus reveals himself to blind man and asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” To which the man replies, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

How has Christ revealed himself in our lives? In what ways are we blind that through Jesus we may see light?