Lenten Reflections From A Father Who Keeps His Promises

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By: Scott Hahn. Wishlist Wishlist. Write a Review. Advanced Search Links. Product Close-up This product is not available for expedited shipping. Add To Cart. Paperback Book. Beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Divine Mercy Sunday, each day's reading is designed to deepen the Lenten experience by offering: A meaningful reflection A daily Scripture verse A prayer for each day A personal question. Related Products. Scott Hahn. Paula Huston. Mother Mary Francis. Have a question about this product? Ask us here. Ask a Question What would you like to know about this product?

Connect With Us. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say? Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Has no one condemned you? Go, and from now on do not sin any more. In this reading, we see Jesus put in a very awkward position.

The scribes and Pharisees tell him what the law of Moses says about adultery and then ask him what they should do. Their goal here is to discredit him; wherein if he says they should stone her he would be a hypocrite, but if he says to release her, he is going against the established law. At first, he does not even acknowledge their presence. Instead "Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger". They must keep asking him before he decided to answer their question. I imagine in some ways it is like when a child keeps asking "why? Jesus breaks his silence by basically telling them to do the impossible.

They know that there is no one without sin. Today, there is a lot of information spread across various platforms and people sharing their lives on social media. It can be very easy to get swept up in our own ideals that we quickly pass judgment when we see something we disagree with. Someone we've never met could post something we don't like on Facebook and the next thing we know is we have drawn a caricature that is far from who they really are.

No matter what some has done; committed adultery, theft, or lied about why they missed class, we must remember that we all carry sins. Following the example of Jesus in this reading, we are to show love and mercy to every. As we continue to move through the Lenten season, let us not forget that we are all Gods' children and to love one another. Yet I, like a trusting lamb led to slaughter, had not realized that they were hatching plots against me: "Let us destroy the tree in its vigor; let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will be spoken no more.

I feel the lesson that Jeremiah teaches us is still relevant today. In a world where social media and relationships are a major part of our everyday lives, we can sometimes mistake people for friends who are truly against us. In my own life I have allowed people into my life that truly was not looking out for my best interest. One such experience was during my 9 th grade year of high school.

I was so happy, I had finally found myself a group of friends. At first, I would just skip a class here and there, but eventually I found myself skipping at least one class each day. Because of skipping class, my grades began to fall, so I decided to stop. Since I stopped skipping class, they decided to no longer be my friends, calling me lame. I was hurt, I had lost my friends since I chose my grades over them. I had foolishly thought they were my friends, unknowingly they never really cared for me.

Eventually they got ISS for constantly skipping their classes, and I ended up meeting a group of people that I can truly call my friends. Jeremiah allows for us to look back on our lives and remember when we may have compromised ourselves for the sake of acceptance. I hope that you all have a wonderful day and I wish you all a happy Lenten. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. The LORD confronts the evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth. When the just cry out, the LORD hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. Many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all the LORD delivers him. He watches over all his bones; not one of them shall be broken. The LORD redeems the lives of his servants; no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him. However, this one is more like Him speaking to us. He tells us not to worry about the struggle that we have in our daily lives, not to worry about what is going to happen here on Earth.

He tells us that He is always going to be there taking care of all of us, that none of His faithful people will be condemned. That expression refers to the moment that the Roman soldiers went close to Jesus to break His legs so that He would die quicker, but they noticed He was already dead.

Although Jesus suffer a lot none of his bones were broken. The Lord will love every one of His children. He will confront the evildoers by telling them they should not focus so much on their earthly lives: they should look up to the Lord. Thus, He will take away their distress and bring comfort to them. He will save the ones who suffer in the world. All the troubles of the man who is honest, humble and hard worker shall be gone as the Lord delivers him out of them. The Lord God knows us in the deepest and finest ways. God watches over the basis of our lives, our minds, our souls, our bones: He will not let them be broken.

He wants you close to Him. He will bring life to those who refuge in Him. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people. Our fathers made a calf in Horeb and adored a molten image; They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock. They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt, Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham, terrible things at the Red Sea. Then he spoke of exterminating them, but Moses, his chosen one, Withstood him in the breach to turn back his destructive wrath. The Responsorial Psalm today encourages us to seek repentance in the mist of our sins.

There are times we have made other things a priority over our faith life, idolized worldly things, and forgotten all the God has done for us. However, it is important for us to remember all the good He has done for us. All of our blessings, lessons learned, and triumphs come from above. As a second semester senior, I sometimes find myself concerned with my anxieties about the future, overloaded with shifts at my job, swamped with school work, and stressed balancing friends, family, organizations, and a faith life.

This lenten season, I have attempted to take a step back, a breath of air, to remember that God is ever present. Although, it can be challenging to recognize where God is in times of difficulty, I need to recall that He has gotten me this far, and He will continue to get me to graduation and beyond. Through my reflection on this psalm, I am reminded and challenged once again to pause, remember, and seek repentance this Lenten season. Thus says the LORD: In a time of favor I answer you, on the day of salvation I help you; and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, To restore the land and allot the desolate heritages, Saying to the prisoners: Come out!

To those in darkness: Show yourselves! Along the ways they shall find pasture, on every bare height shall their pastures be. They shall not hunger or thirst, nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them; For he who pities them leads them and guides them beside springs of water. I will cut a road through all my mountains, and make my highways level. See, some shall come from afar, others from the north and the west, and some from the land of Syene. Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth, break forth into song, you mountains.

For the LORD comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted. Even should she forget, I will never forget you. As Memphians, Americans, and citizens of our world, we struggle with the weight of our complex and multivalent histories. Much suffering exists in this passage, including imprisonment, hunger, thirst, and darkness. However, we are promised freedom, pastures, water and light as a result of the covenant, if we can uphold our end of the agreement.

Grateful for recently moving to a new home, I can get caught up in the fears and anxieties of daily life; as I sinner I too often join those in Zion who say "The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me. There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.

One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be well? Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, "It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.

After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, "Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath. This man has been ill for thirty-eight years and never lost the faith that one day he might get into the pool before everyone else and be cured. Jesus knew that he has been ill for a long time and had pity on him.

With this gospel and remembering we are in Lent, we are invited to walk with this ill man. Today, we are invited to grow in faith, to trust more in the Lord and let Him guide the way. The ill man did not complain about his situation, he was not frustrated at not being able to get into the pool. When Jesus asked him if he wanted to be well, he simply explained to Jesus why he could not get into the pool even though he really wanted to, never losing his faith.

This should also be our approach to difficult situations. Our hope, our faith, has to be in Jesus and He will never let us down. The ill man had faith in Jesus and was cured, even after thirty-eight years. Let us ask to be cured too.

Cured from our vices, bad habits, laziness, angriness, anxiety, selfishness, and everything else that prevents us from getting to close to God and loving other people. It requires patience, faith, and prayer. Today, let us do everything we can to be cured, to be free from any diseases, just as the ill man from the gospel, and become free sons and daughters of God. Thus says the LORD: Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind.

Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create; For I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight; I will rejoice in Jerusalem and exult in my people. No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there, or the sound of crying; No longer shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not round out his full lifetime; He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years, and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed.

They shall live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant. The season of Lent begins with crosses of ash traced on our foreheads, apt reminders of our need to truly repent and come back to Christ. To me, this practice is deeply meaningful. It seems to clear away the fog and motivates me to seek out where I stand in the mazelike complexities of daily life. Once I am found, the ashes tell me where I need to place myself: in the crucified hands of Christ. Moments in which I seem to know this so clearly are poignant.

I always try to cling to them like a rope, reminding me to allow myself to change during Lent, to grow at least a little bit closer to God than I was before. Despite this moment of clarity, with the middle of Lent often comes a sense of confusion. However, a slight error slips out here. Lent is not about me doing well with myself but allowing God to do well with me.

Isaiah speaks of God creating a new heaven and a new earth, in which all will be blessed with a full life, a home, and a fruitful vineyard. Christians recognize the beginning of this joyful new creation in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lent reawakens us to the reality that out of the old ashes comes new life, encouraging us to step out of our old ways in the direction of a truly holy, happy life. Joy, I believe, is what waits for me at the end of this path. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.

When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.

I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.

Reflections for the IV Sunday of Lent

Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.

But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf. 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. I remember the first time I heard this parable in elementary school—that the hungry prodigal son, who had moved to a distant land, longed to eat from the food of the swine that he tended, stood out to me in childhood perhaps some sort of implicit connection as a Memphian between swine and barbecue.

The parable stresses reconciliation—if a profligate can return to his father for forgiveness, then forgiveness is attainable for anyone. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, which Catholics are encouraged to seek regularly, but especially during Lent, can seem daunting. We rationalize that we can seek reconciliation on our own, that a sacrament is not necessary for reconciliation, or that we will create our own penance, our own atonement. Are these avoidance strategies to escape the discomfort of reconciliation?

Reconciliation can be awkward—surely the Prodigal Son felt awkward as he walked to his father in humility. I imagine his face looked like the awkward emoji the one with clinched teeth. In my experience, the more awkward and discomforted you feel before confession, the more meaningful the experience is in hindsight.

For non-Catholics and for Catholics , we can experience discomfort in a different way—perhaps through talking to estranged friends or family members. And reward yourself afterwards. Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income. In this reading there are two characters, a Pharisee and a tax collector. They were entering the temple to pray.

The temple was the ultimate place to worship God and be able to speak to God. It was the holiest of places. In this time the Pharisees were highly regarded. In contrast, the tax collector was poorly thought of as his job was to collect taxes for the Roman Empire, that had conquered the Jews. The tax collector was truly considered the lowest of citizens. We recognize that you have a perceived good guy and a bad guy entering the temple to pray.

The Pharisee believes he is extraordinary. The tax collector humbled himself, so he will be joyful. This Gospel challenged me to think about how I pray. But when have I said to God as the tax collector, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner. I also thought about how I give of my resources. Do I give freely, privately and humbly to others, or do I enjoy being recognized, thanked and acknowledged? When I volunteer with those less fortunate than me, do I judge myself above others? Take with you words, and return to the LORD; Say to him, "Forgive all iniquity, and receive what is good, that we may render as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.

Assyria will not save us, nor shall we have horses to mount; We shall say no more, 'Our god,' to the work of our hands; for in you the orphan finds compassion. I will be like the dew for Israel: he shall blossom like the lily; He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots. His splendor shall be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar. Again they shall dwell in his shade and raise grain; They shall blossom like the vine, and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. What more has he to do with idols? I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.

Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the LORD, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them. In the first reading for today, we hear the prophetic voice reminding us to turn from iniquity, renounce idolatry, and return to God. We too are reminded of the two great commandments, love of God and love of neighbor. There is no easy escape by horseback.

The chickens of idolatry have come home to roost, so to speak; whatever you are facing, the only way out is through. God forgives their misguided and misplaced efforts, their confusion and iniquity, their neglect of the orphan in their midst, and offers healing and love given freely like the dew. And then what happens?


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My favorite part: a series of ecological images taken from the natural and agricultural worlds. Israel forgiven and loved will blossom like the lily, and put down roots and shoots. Israel will be as beautiful as the olive tree, and will smell nice, too. The people will live in the shade and grow food for themselves, grain and grapes with which to make good wine and bread.

They return to God and blossom like the flowers and the vine, grow roots and shoots like the trees. Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper. But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed. They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me. From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day, I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets. Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed; they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.

When you speak all these words to them, they will not listen to you either; when you call to them, they will not answer you. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech. A simple word, but one that the Israelites had struggled with since their initial meeting with God. The entire Bible is the story of us humans running from God and his patient pursuit of us.

Our diligent obedience to God is a right response to all that He has done for us, so what causes us to run away in the first place? Why do we stiffen our necks and not listen? Of course, there are different answers for different people. Whether it be pride or guilt, shame, mistrust or whatever the reason for our hiding, disobedience, and avoidance of God, it breaks His heart.

Time and time again we walk away, turning our backs to God, yet he patiently and graciously allows us to return to him. He loved us enough to establish an eternal covenant with us. But this gift that we receive is not free. In fact, it was the costliest gift ever given. Blood had to be shed, and only perfect blood would do. May we be obedient, pursuing Godliness, rather than our own hearts desires. Jesus said to his disciples: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.

I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.

But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. In my life, I am often challenged in my faith. He was telling me that He came to show that following the laws of God are possible and must be done to enter the Kingdom of Heaven with Him.

I struggle with this a lot, both in my personal life, and with how I treat my relationships with others. We are often under the scrutiny of others and our numbers are falling because we have not upheld the law that God told us to follow. I see this gospel as a call-to-action for my fellow Christians. Like Jesus said, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.

We must be ready for Him by following this law and helping lead others to Him through our words and actions.

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Peter approached Jesus and asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times? That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.

When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, 'Pay back what you owe. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?

So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart. To say the least, it is more than a difficult situation for him. Jesus talks of a servant who has to repay his master of a debt he owed in order for him, his wife, and his children to be kept out of being sold into slavery. The servant asks the master to be patient with him and that he will repay him.

The master taking pity on him, cancels all of his debt and lets him go. Later on, the servant encounters a fellow servant who owes him a debt and forcefully demands him to pay it back. The fellow servant asks him to be patient with him and that he would pay him back. Refusing his offer, the servant has his fellow servant thrown into prison.

The master heard of the outrage and calls upon the servant to hold him accountable for being unmerciful and impatient to his fellow servant unlike how he, the master, was forgiving and patient to him. Without knowing it, we can encounter this very situation in our everyday lives. It also reminds us of how forgiving the Lord is in our lives; therefore, we are called to forgive one another and show compassion towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Something important to remember is that if we do not establish these acts of kindness within ourselves, there is no way to spread them onto others. The secret is to remember how patient and forgiving God is with us, so that we can unconditionally love others through being patient and forgiving. The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary.

And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.

Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God. May it be done to me according to your word. It was a surprising encounter Luke Scripture tells us that the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.

I picture Mary as sewing quietly and dropping her sewing when the angel startles her. I believe Gabriel may have knelt. The angel tells Mary not to fear. He then says she has found favor with God. Gabriel explains that she will conceive in her womb and bear a son and will name him Jesus. This son will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.

He will be given the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and there will be no end to his kingdom vv. I picture Mary as stunned. Perhaps while she processes what the angel has just said, she paces the small room. Gabriel rises but remains silent, letting her think.

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She turns and addresses the angel with a technical question. Gabriel explains that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and the power of the Most High will overshadow her. Her elderly relative Elizabeth has conceived a son and will no longer be called barren! Gabriel smiles as he courteously awaits her answer.

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It is a classic reply. It connotes both great trust in God and great personal courage. The phrase provides a model for today. We likewise can respond to an invitation from God to serve in some part of his plan. Go back and read the scripture accounts of Mary, Abraham, Samuel, and David. The Bible records many adventures—and plenty of opportunities to trust! Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed.

Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. He taught many classes about dialogue and ministry and the importance of respecting the other. When someone is sharing something with you, you have to tread lightly and respectfully. And what you have to say is beautiful because it is a part of who you are, and who you are is beautiful. Before God delivered his message to Moses, He told him to take off his sandals.

He was entering Holy Ground, a Holy conversation. I can only imagine what it felt like to hear a voice in a burning bush. Just completely in awe and wonder. The Lord is kind and merciful. He pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, he crowns you with kindness and compassion.

He will not always chide, nor does he keep his wrath forever. Not according to our sins does he deal with us, nor does he requite us according to our crimes. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us.

How easy it is to wake up every day, to proceed throughout our morning routines and day-long work responsibilities, without truly stopping to consider all the blessings given to us by God. Rarely do we pause to think about how amazing it is that all of our iniquities are forgiven. These sins, these iniquities, are those small discretions that every one of us commit each day: passing judgment on our neighbor, gossiping at the copy machine, lacking contentment for all that we have.

These are the crimes that can lead to destruction. Thus, this particular Psalm is a beautiful reminder for us all to extend the kindness that the Lord extends to us, each and every day, to those around us. Remember the marvels the Lord has done. When the LORD called down a famine on the land and ruined the crop that sustained them, He sent a man before them, Joseph, sold as a slave.

They had weighed him down with fetters, and he was bound with chains, Till his prediction came to pass and the word of the LORD proved him true. The king sent and released him, the ruler of the peoples set him free. He made him lord of his house and ruler of all his possessions.

Saturday, April 20

Psalm is a poetic retelling of the story of how Joseph was sold in to slavery but was able, with the help of the Lord, to rise to a position of power in Egypt. Why do we retell stories? Why do we read poems and sing songs of events long past? I think one answer to these questions is that by retelling these stories we can be comforted when we face challenges in our own lives. These stories give us hope because the God of Joseph is our same God today. During this season of Lent what concerns do you have? What trials have you undergone or are currently enduring?

Reflect on how the story of Joseph may give you hope or encourage you in some way. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, But stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.

More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds. As Christians and children of God, we are called to love, know, and worship Him. God made us to love him unconditionally and to know him profoundly just like he knows us.

He made this land for us to enjoy it and finish his work here on earth. God wants you to trust in him and for you to give up all your worries and doubts in his hands.

God wants to be your father, your best friend, and your brother. He wants you to lean your head on his shoulders and depend on him. God is your shade when the days get tiring and hot. When you cannot bare the days anymore and the only thing you want to do is rest and feel a nice and calm breeze. God is your shade where you can go to find refuge and where you can find peace and love. Whenever you feel that void in your heart, that is God telling you to go straight to his arms. That is your human nature telling you that you need God in your heart. The number one thing that will make you truly happy is getting to know God and all the sacrifices he has made for you.

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day. He said to her, "What do you wish? Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink? But Jesus summoned them and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt.

But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Then, as only Jesus can, he humbles and reminds his followers of their purpose. Born with cerebral palsy, one of the hardest parts growing up was finding acceptance amongst my peers — and myself. I faced feelings of doubt, despair, anger, resentment, and loneliness.

Some of which still linger today. If I am healed, I promise to do this; or if you help me find myself, I will remain loyal.

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As a community, how often do we find ourselves making unreasonable demands of others without a complete understanding of external factors? How often do we offer ourselves in loyalty to others; however, when times get tough we dessert one another in fear? How often do the uncertainties of our present and future overwhelm our perceptions of others and ourselves? May we also be inspired to truly serve our neighbor in sacrificial love throughout these forty days and beyond. Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.

Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. 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.

Joseph, and being named Joseph, it holds special significance to me in my life. Being named Joseph, I have always had a special bond with St. Joseph and starting at a young age I would look up to him. I am continuously inspired and in admiration for his initial response to the situation he found himself in. Instead of exposing her to shame or making a public display of Mary, Joseph decides to divorce her quietly. I am challenged in reading this because so often in my own life, I am faced with situations where I feel justified in my response and that I can put shame and blame on the other.

Then with what seems to be an almost instantaneous response, he believes the angel and does as he is told. I mean this would be a lot to take in. I pray that I might find the same courage and faith to accept the things in my life that I am called to. What is the Lord calling us to in our daily lives that we find difficult to understand or believe?

How can we respond to others with the same kindness and understanding as St. We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws. We have not obeyed your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land. Justice, O Lord, is on your side; we are shamefaced even to this day: we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, and all Israel, near and far, in all the countries to which you have scattered them because of their treachery toward you.

O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers, for having sinned against you. But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness! Yet we rebelled against you and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God, to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets. When I first read this reading, it immediately struck a chord with me. There have been so many times during my life with Christ that I feel like I have departed from God, disappointed Him, or rebelled from His teachings.

I am so lucky and so thankful that we serve a compassionate, forgiving, and almighty God. Every day, when I look at His creations, I am reminded that I serve a God who loves me in all of my ways and all of my forms, whether I feel like I deserve it or not. I feel honored when someone comes to me and asks me to testify my experience and relationship with God, to help strengthen their own. That is the work of our great and awesome God. When I begin to live my life as a service to Him, everything begins to fall into place. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.

Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah"--not knowing what he said.

As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. The Gospel reveals the tension of the humanity of Jesus and his suffering in his first announcement of the passion.

The tension is evident in this situation. Jesus had a close encounter with the two iconic people in the bible, Moses and Elijah. The disciples Peter, John, and James try to participate in that situation praying with Jesus. May we look at this situation as an invitation to participate in the glory of Jesus. An invitation to have the experience and to go to the mountain and pray with Jesus in a personal experience. In our lives it is the same.

We need to move ourselves and make the trip with Jesus and stay with Him. Recognizing this legacy and our history, we are invited to recognize him in his glory and our participation in his Resurrection. But we need to be awake because some time we are tired or with many distractions. Having the expectation and being vigilant to recognize the presence of Jesus in every person, in the poor, in those people stripped of dignity. Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. The oft quoted passage "love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" has always had a thunderous effect on me.

Challenging our own feelings of hatefulness and that of others with the power of love and prayer seems gratifyingly simple, even if difficult to always put in practice. When reading the entire passage, verses , it seems to me that Jesus's call for universal love intends to make us work hard for the perfection he demands of us. In fact, this passage asks us to practice overcoming our prejudices on the page and in real time as we read.

For instance, it surprises me that Jesus compares paltry forms of love to the customs of tax collectors and pagans. Does he then discriminate against these perceived outsiders even as he claims that our love should be inclusive of all? This seems to be the case, but in calling out tax collectors and pagans as "enemies," he identifies for his audience the very people who deserve their unreserved love. Yet, the subtlety of Jesus's lesson has only just begun. His final injunction to "be perfect" guides us back to earlier in the passage to locate the equivalent of that perfection: "[to] be children of your heavenly Father.

Lenten Pastoral Message 2018

But it's at this point, in returning to this section, that Jesus's words and structure become transformative and inclusive. While he promises "that you may be children of your heavenly Father" if you pray for those who are "bad," the sentence continues with a quick but significant turn, saying "for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust.

If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand? Let your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication. But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered. I trust in the LORD; my soul trusts in his word. My soul waits for the LORD more than sentinels wait for the dawn. For with the LORD is kindness and with him is plenteous redemption; And he will redeem Israel from all their iniquities. Psalm is called a Song of Ascents, one of fifteen psalms with this superscription.