March 17, 2013 Fifth Sunday in Lent
This Gospel reading has to be one of our favorite as it is the foundation of the teachings of Jesus, and the grace of God’s forgiveness for our sins and shortcomings.
How often in our society do we judge and condemn others? You simply pick up the newspaper, and the headlines scream Guilty, person held without bail. As a society, we quickly jump to conclusions – we have tried and convicted the person – the jury of popular opinion. Yet, if we take a minute to really reflect, and place ourselves in the other person’s shoes, I know that we would pray for compassion and a just trial.
Who has not made a mistake, whether out of poor judgment or extreme emotional distress. Yet it seems that we expect God to forgive us, but forgiving others in the way that Jesus forgives us day in and day out is an entirely different matter. We attend Mass every week, and prayer the “Our Father”…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”
But do we really forgive as Jesus forgives us?
The Wasielewski Family
Isaiah 49: 8-15 (All of today’s readings can be found here.)
Sometimes we are so involved in our own problems that we cannot see beyond them. Our struggles become our only reality and nothing else seems to exist. Today’s scripture from Isaiah is like this. The first part of the scripture relates all the ways that God will help and comfort his people. He promises to restore their land, provide for their needs, free the prisoners, and bring into the light those in darkness. He even says he will cut a road through the mountains and make the highways level to ease their journey.
The people respond by saying “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” It is almost as if they were not listening, or perhaps could not believe the promises the Lord had just made to them. They are mired in their own problems and have lost hope. God’s response is one of such gentleness and affection that it must awaken them from their negative reality.
“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”
What a beautiful maternal image of God. God is so often portrayed as our father that we may overlook this maternal image. Like a mother, God is tender, comforting and merciful. God is always with us, will never forsake us, is always on our side and wants only the best for us. How blessed we are to have a God who loves us unconditionally!
Filed under Lent, Lent 2013
In 1990, I went on a pilgrimage* as a means of thanksgiving for something that had happened. One day, I was part of a small group attempting to climb a path strewn with rocks, on a very, very hot day.
Someone decided, quite sincerely as I recall, that they should go up on their knees, an idea that lasted about sixty seconds. Others were known for doing it, so this person thought it was possible desirable even. I must admit, I agreed, but I was not going to try it.
A discussion of this practice began as we stopped to rest; it was a very hot day as I recall. Our guide, who had led people up and down this path many times, very gently asked why any of us thought we should do this. A few answers sprung up, most of them saying that we thought that God wanted us to make sacrifices. She shook her head, I recall thinking that her large blue eyes looked like seas of compassion, and she said that maybe we shouldn’t always be deciding what God wants. She went on to say that what if God wanted us to go home and forgive the person we had the greatest grudge against, rather than climb rocks on our knees?
Our small group fell silent. Who wanted to do that?
Can’t we climb rocks on our knees, please? I’ll have the rocky road, please!
Today’s first reading delivered me back to that rocky path in an instant, as I read Continue reading
I noticed something remarkable the other day. The Old Testament Mass readings for Monday and Tuesday, the two days immediately before Lent, together make up the Creation story from Genesis. (Gen 1:1–31; and 2:1–3) I do not know whether this is what happens every year or whether this year is unique. What makes this fact remarkable? Well, the first reading at the Easter Vigil is the very same Creation story. Therefore, the seven weeks of Lent are set between two tellings of the seven days of Creation.
The liturgical readings for Lent form, in effect, the life and teachings of Jesus, the Word of God. This is the same Word of whom John said:
“All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be.” (Jn 1:3)
So if the Genesis story represents the all-powerful God, the Lenten liturgical readings tell us that that same all-powerful God lived in the same world as we do, and suffered the same pains as we do, and finally died for us, and for Continue reading
(Originally published at The Times Union.)
What is it about Ash Wednesday? What calls so many people into church? Is it the desire to show off our marked foreheads? If so, that runs in contradiction to today’s Gospel.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
But I got my ashes, shouldn’t people know? I mean, how can they not know?
I thought that I was announcing the Good News via the smudge on my forehead! Hey! Look! I went to church today and I am sorry for my sins! Can’t you see that? Continue reading