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SJ-Seal

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Daily Reflections


Today we enter into Holy Week. The week is made holy by its celebration of Jesus' gift of himself to us and for us. Wednesday, we remember his betrayal. Thursday is a celebration of the gift of the Eucharist and a reflection on the example of service Jesus gives to us. Friday is "Good" because we truly remember how much he loved us - even with his death on the cross. Saturday we are without a liturgy and are awaiting the nighttime celebration of the Resurrection, which is his and is now ours. And, so, we begin this week with the reading of the whole Passion story - this year, it is Matthew's version. (On Friday, we'll read John's version.)

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion


Today’s reading sets the stage for the week, but also reminds us of the beauty and depth of God’s love. Such irony in Caiaphis saying Jesus needed to die to save all of us as that is what he actually did. He died to save us. Let’s heed the words of our wise doctor and not take this moment for granted. In the week ahead we can choose to stress about Easter dinner or we can walk with Jesus through his most beautiful awful. Let’s walk alongside him and be reminded of his profound love for us. Let’s let the passion of what has been done for us wash over us and help us find our own resurrection. 

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

 


During these last days in Lent, we who are Christians must turn to the Cross for hope.  It is there that we see the image of our God who will suffer for and with us.  An image of a God who does not shore up the hegemony of violence but brings mercy for all by placing his own life on the line.  If your image of God gives you no hope in this world it is important to pray to know the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jesus.  Don’t let cultural stereotypes of bolts of lightning striking you down.  Don’t let images of a God who condemns stand in your way of coming to the Cross and seeing the truth of “Love Alone” stretched between heaven and earth.  

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Could this be our moment?  The time to renew God’s final covenant?  Can we move away from war and violence?  Can we create societies where all people have the opportunity to thrive?   Often, I am called a dreamer, but right now we have some unexpected opportunities and I am hoping we will use this time to come together and work to create God’s kingdom in our communities and the world.  As followers of Jesus we know there is a better way.  Following Jesus’ example will take lots of prayer and courage, but isn’t that what Lent is about? 

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent


Jesus in the Gospel speaks to us with a simple formula. “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Christ is certainly talking about a salvific message further on in the passage. Much of His message is also for us in our daily life. As I reflect and consider the Gospel, the answer is always the same. Keep Christ centered and put my faith in Him. We may seem to be in the middle of a burning furnace now but with our reliance on Christ at the center our lives, we will be in the only place we need to be to ride out these times of uncertainty.

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent


Brothers and sisters, people of faith around the world. Let us continue to pray for the end of this global pandemic and prepare in hope for the dawn that is to come. For this to impact so many countries during this time of Lent, this time of darkness, of preparation, of sacrifice does not go unnoticed. This time feels dark. And, as a Christian, I believe that Easter will come. That light, hope, and love will win out. That eventually, this darkness will pass. I continue to pray, to cry out to God.

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent


During this most unusual Lenten season as our world faces the unknowns associated with the pandemic, I am grateful to be reminded of the gentle and purposeful presence of Jesus.  I pray to know that I am not facing any challenge alone.  I ask God to show me ways I can be a calming and supportive presence for someone, especially in these times when I cannot be physically present.  I pray for curiosity to be able to see multiple perspectives of a situation and to not leap to a quick judgement.  And I pray for spiritual, mental, emotional and physical healing for our global community.

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent


Jesus calls us out of dark, death-dealing tombs and into the healing, holy light of his love.  It might be hard to hear the voice of Jesus in these fearful times over the voices of dark spirits that tempt us to panic and isolate and keep the tomb’s stone right where it is.  In a recent interview, Pope Francis provides a simple way to step into the light:

“We must rediscover the concreteness of little things, small gestures of attention we can offer those close to us, our family, our friends...We must understand that in small things lies our treasure.  These gestures of tenderness, affection, compassion are minimal and tend to be lost in the anonymity of everyday life, but they are nonetheless decisive, important.”

Fifth Sunday of Lent


How many times do we react to things without understanding the whole situation? Would the Pharisees have believed in Jesus if they'd realized he was born in Bethlehem? Or should his words have been enough, should faith have been enough? Two weeks ago in the Sunday gospel Jesus told the Samaritan woman that He was the Christ, and she believed him. And without questioning his birthplace. We don't know the big picture. We don't know all the details, or what God has in store for us. Sometimes we react without realizing what God knows, what is truly for the best. And often like the Pharisees we don't recognize God when He is in our midst, and we don't have faith enough. Doesn't God tell us every day that ultimately, everything will be all right? And don't we everyday not have faith and disbelieve that.

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

 

 


Jesus, for the religious leaders of His time, was an inconvenience, a pain in the foot and a bother especially as He challenged His hearers. They centered their relationship with God around their receiving approval for their actions. Jesus basic message, “teaching” was about who they were in the eyes of the One Who sent Him and not who they were in their own eyes.

Simply then, Lent is not a time for self-improvement. Our actions will always flow from who we accept ourselves as being. His life, His death, His resurrection are all affirming, picturing and insisting on who He tells us, shows us, and leads us to the acceptance of who we are deeply and not betterly.

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent


So my Lenten journey brings awareness of my human imperfection to the forefront. I intentionally set time for prayer and reflection and to listen quietly with God at my side. It is a holy time for me. I need daily time with God. I find myself renewed and reenergized. The time resets my compass, directs me and stops my wandering. I am able to see the “Golden Calves” in my own life and my heart opens to a stronger and faithful relationship with God.

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent


Then we come to the Gospel, the Annunciation, wherein the surprising God fulfills the prophecy with the cooperation of a young Hebrew woman named Mary. Mary was certainly surprised, but not so much that she said no. She had some questions, but she heard, felt and saw enough to trust God, and the rest is history

To me, the lesson for us here is that God is full of the unexpected. We must not put God in a set, confining, constricting, limiting understanding that we have. God enjoys surprising us, so we must remain open to the wonders of the Lord and the marvels of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives.

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Jesus demonstrated his personal power to heal at a site that had been associated with healing for hundreds of years.  There was no ambivalence in Jesus’ simple command to rise and walk.  The Son of God was walking among those waiting to be cured, yet many continued to seek God or other gods elsewhere. I pray that we recognize that Jesus continues to walk with us. He mercifully helps us to heal physically and spiritually.  Jesus is the epitome of compassion and empathy.  He will never allow us to suffer alone.  Walk with Him.   

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent


A friend in Seattle and I have embarked on a Lenten exercise along these lines. During our weekly “phone coffee” conversations, we start by sharing our latest good news. This has made us aware of small things we were overlooking like funny texts from our kids or a sunny day in February. We had been drowning in bad news because we weren’t paying attention to the good news in our lives.

This is Laetare week. Rejoice in God’s people and creation. And don’t worry! God has our backs.  

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

 

 

Weekly Guide


On Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord we make our way into Holy Week. We read the gospel about Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, Paul's invitation to us to imitate Jesus who emptied himself, and the whole Passion, this year from Matthew's Gospel.

The next three days - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week - are the final days of Lent. The first readings are from the Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah. Though originally sung about Israel, God's servant, and perhaps a specific servant, they clearly spoke to the early Christian community about Jesus and his mission.

The First Four Days of Holy Week


We can discover areas that are still resistant to God's grace. We can ask for help to practice new ways of being free, or new ways of loving. We can find ways to make financial sacrifices to give to the poor this week.

Each night this week, we can give thanks. The closer we get to celebrating Holy Week and the events that brought us our salvation, each of us can express our gratitude, realizing this was all for me.

The Fifth Week of Lent

 

 

 


If we have developed the habit of naming a desire the first thing each morning, and carrying on a conversation with our Lord in the brief background moments of the day, we are already comfortable with letting the Word or the Season interact with the concrete events of the week. This way of finding intimacy with our Lord, through our daily interaction - even in a very busy life - is so appropriate for the Fifth Week of Lent.

The Fifth Week of Lent

 

 


If we are celebrating the Scrutinies with the RCIA candidates and catechumens, this is a wonderful time to pray for them as well, for their protection from the evil one in the last days of their journey.

The Fifth Week of Lent

 

 

 

 

 

 


If I experience myself somewhat "at war" with myself, then these are very important days to keep deliberately asking our Lord to help me. It is also a great time to begin to prepare to renew the baptismal promises at Easter. We can reject the unloving choices we've made, all that is unjust, dishonest, disrespectful and violent. We want to refuse to be mastered by an empty promises. Declaring our desire for freedom is a great preparation to receive this great gift.

The Fifth Week of Lent

 


There is another spirit that is fighting just as hard to distract us, discourage us, and prevent us from being open and attentive to God's gifts. The closer we get to the mystery of our Lord's passion, death and resurrection for us, the more we can experience struggle.

The Fifth Week of Lent

 

 

 

 


This is the last full week of Lent. We can feel the conflict and struggle developing in the readings. As we read about the drama that surrounded Jesus' last days on earth and reflect upon its meaning, we experience how the drama that is going in our own hearts is more intense the closer we get to the end of Lent. The Spirit of the Lord is really trying to help us be more open and more free, to receive the graces our Lord wants to offer us.

The Fifth Week of Lent

 

 


The Fifth Sunday of Lent brings us closer toward the Passion and death of Jesus. This is the third and final week of Scrutinies in our parishes for those in the RCIA program. In John's Gospel, we hear the story of the raising of Lazarus. Jesus is not there when his dear friend, Lazarus dies, but after meeting with Lazarus' grief-stricken sisters and himself weeping, he stands at the door of the tomb. "Lazarus, come out!" Jesus commands. The man who had been dead came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with strips of burial cloth, and a cloth covered his face. Jesus then told the people, "Untie him and let him go."

The Fifth Week of Lent

 

 

 

 

 


This week, let us give thanks to the Lord who deeply desires our greater freedom and joy. As we go to bed each night. let us thank the Lord for what we saw that day and renew our desires for the next day of grace.

The Fourth Week of Lent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


It is a time of grace when we can experience moments of "recognition," or self-understanding. It isn't grace to "beat up on" ourselves. It is grace to feel grateful to the Lord for showing us obstacles to the life he is offering us. It is grace to feel our spirits lighten as we feel drawn to greater freedom and peace. It is incredible grace when we are drawn to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The Fourth Week of Lent

 

 

 


Jesus say his opponents do not want to come to him for life. Unafraid of them, Jesus goes to Jerusalem for a feast and openly tells people that he has come from God. They did not arrest him then, "for his hour had not yet come." Thinking they know where Jesus is from (in both senses: where he lived now and his origin in heaven), his enemies insist that prophets don't come from where Jesus is from.

The Fourth Week of Lent

 


For example, we can ask for the grace to examine our consciences more thoroughly. We could try a different approach to facing any resistance we might have to the Lord's working in us. We might not commit the big sins, but we may not have examined what we fail to do. Who am I failing to love, to forgive, to be generous to? With whom am I withholding affection, care, reconciliation? Where can I live more honestly, with more integrity? How might I proactively change patterns of escape with patterns of care for others?

The Fourth Week of Lent

 

 


Even if it hasn't been easy to get really engaged with Lent so far, we can still make a beginning, even now. The key is openness and desire. If we can feel any attraction, any sign that the Lord is possibly drawing us, then the Lord can work with us - no matter what resistance or fear we might also be experiencing. All we have to do is act out of these desires and simply ask the Lord for the grace to help us be more honest and more open to what he is offering us.

The Fourth Week of Lent

 


The readings this week make it very clear that Jesus faced opposition that couldn't accept who he is. We see that Jesus comes to lay down his life that we might live. So, this week of Lent is an important time for us to ask ourselves if there are any parts of our hearts, any of our patterns, that oppose Jesus and his desire to give us life. This kind of honesty can transform our lives. It can allow the grace of God to bring reconciliation and healing we might not have imagined.

The Fourth Week of Lent

 

 

Pope Francis


When we recognize that we are in sin…we must go and ask the Lord for forgiveness. This is the first step that we must take. Then we [should ask ourselves], ‘How did I fall into this? How did this process begin in my soul? How did it grow? Who have I infected? In the end, how did I justify myself in order to fall?’ ”

Before concluding his homily, the Pope recalled that Jesus’ life “is always an example that what happened to Jesus will also happen to us”. His final prayer was directed to the Holy Spirit.

Pope at Mass: the fight against temptation

 


In his prayer intention for Friday, during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis remembered those who are already focusing on the issues that will arise after the Covid-19 pandemic, including poverty, unemployment, and hunger. “We pray for all the people who help today, but also think of tomorrow, to help us all”, he said.

On this Passion Friday, which commemorates Mary's sorrows, Pope Francis dedicated his homily to Our Lady of Sorrows. Today, he said, “it will do us good to think about Our Lady's Sorrows and to thank her because she accepted to be a Mother.”

Pope prays for those helping to solve problems caused by Covid-19

The Lord, he reminded the faithful, always remembers His Covenant, and never forgets His people.

“He only forgets in one case, when He forgives sins. After forgiving He loses his memory, He doesn't remember those sins. In other cases, God doesn't forget. His faithfulness is memory. His faithfulness to His people. His faithfulness to Abraham is the memory of the promise He made,” said the Pope. 

Pope prays for the homeless and those who suffer out of sight

 


“A Christian isn't someone who can just show their baptismal certificate. A certificate of baptism is just a piece of paper. You are a Christian if you say ‘yes’ to the election of the Lord, if you follow the promise that the Lord has made to you and if you live the Covenant with God. This is the Christian life,” he said.

Pope prays for the homeless and those who suffer out of sight

 

 

 


“The core of the prophecy is that Jesus made Himself sin for us. He did not sin; He made Himself sin. As St. Peter says in his letter, ‘He bore all of our sins in Himself.’ And so, when we gaze on the crucifix, we think about the Lord who suffers, and all of that is true. But let's stop a moment in order to arrive at the center of that truth. ‘At this moment you seem to be the greatest sinner! You made yourself sin.’ He took upon himself all of our sins…."

Jesus bore all our sins

 


“Let’s look to the Lord, who does justice, but who is extremely merciful… May each one of us, seeing how Jesus acted in these cases, entrust ourselves to God's mercy and pray, trusting in God's mercy, asking forgiveness, because God ‘guides me along the right path. He is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness’ the valley of sin, ‘no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.”

‘We pray for those who remain in fear’

“May our joint fight against the pandemic bring everyone to recognize the great need to reinforce brotherly and sisterly bonds as members of one human family”, the Pope said.

"In particular, may it inspire a renewed commitment to overcome rivalries among leaders of nations and those parties involved. Conflicts are not resolved through war.”

Antagonism and differences, Pope Francis underlined, “must be overcome through dialogue and a constructive search for peace.”

Pope appeals for global ceasefire amid Covid pandemic

“Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea. From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace. Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts. You ask us not to be afraid. Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: ‘Do not be afraid’ (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, ‘cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us’ (cf. 1Pet 5:7).”

‘God turns everything to our good’

 

 


Jesus’ cross, said Pope Francis, is the anchor that has saved us, the rudder that has redeemed us, and our hope, because “by His cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from His redeeming love.”

“In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things,” he said, “let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: He is risen and is living by our side.”

So we embrace His cross in the hardships of the present time, and make room in our hearts “for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring.”

“Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.”

‘God turns everything to our good’

“In these days there's so much suffering. There's a lot of fear.”

“The fear of the elderly who are alone in nursing homes, or hospitals, or in their own homes, and don't know what will happen. The fear of those who don’t have regular jobs and are thinking about how to feed their children. They foresee they may go hungry. The fear of many civil servants. At this moment they're working to keep society functioning and they might get sick. There’s also the fear, the fears, of each one of us. Each one knows what their own fears are. We pray to the Lord that He might help us to trust, and to tolerate and conquer these fears.”

“May the Lord help us conquer our fear”

Pope Francis stressed the connection between the Annunciation and the “Gospel of Life”. Today, we must explain this “in the context of a pandemic that threatens human life”

The Gospel of Life is at the heart of Jesus' message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as "good news" to the people of every age and culture.

We are called to live the fullness of life

The Pope concludes by asking the Church, “on this day in particular, but also in the ordinary pastoral life of our communities” to “continue to promote vocations”. 

He says, “may she touch the hearts of the faithful and enable each of them to discover with gratitude God’s call in their lives, to find courage to say ‘yes’ to God, to overcome all weariness through faith in Christ, and to make of their lives a song of praise for God, for their brothers and sisters, and for the whole world”.

Pope's message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations

 


The Pope then concluded his homily reflecting on what we are all experiencing in these days.

“Faith, perseverance and courage. In these days, it's necessary to pray more. Imagine if we were to pray like this. With faith – that the Lord can intervene; with perseverance and with courage. The Lord never deludes. He makes us wait. He takes His time. But he never deludes. Faith, perseverance and courage.”

Pope Francis prays for families facing financial problems

 


Pope Francis also addresses the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic for our future. The current crisis will help to remind us “once and for all, that humanity is a single community”, he says. It will teach us that “universal kinship” is important and critical. We should think about it like a “post-war” phenomenon, he says: “It will no longer be ‘them’. It will be ‘us’. Because we can only come out of this situation together”. Pope Francis concludes saying: “We will need to look even more closely at our roots: our grandparents, the elderly”. We will need “to build true kinship amongst us".

COVID-19 teaches us we are one human community

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