2015 Lent Reflection – Friday 13 March

13 March Lent reflec 2

FRIDAY 13 MARCH 2015

Mark 12:28-34

Reflection

The Gospel of today according to Mark takes us to the heart of our Christian life.It sifts through all the verses in the first five books of the Bible and identifies two verses which encapsulate the Christian way of life. One verse is from Deuteronomy 6,5 and the other verse is from Leviticus 19,18. From these two verses we get the greatest commandment taught and exemplified in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ namely: Love God with all your heart, soul and might and love your neighbour as yourself. It is so refreshing to be guided by what is essential for our moral life rather than to be inundated by all kinds of rules and demands which only confuse us. The same is true about our prayer life.The Bible is full of different kinds of prayers which can be quite confusing.But Jesus taught us the greatest prayer, the Prayer of all prayers namely the Our Father.
In this way we are able to remain focused and clear about our calling and prayer life.

It may seem strange to view the love of God and neighbour as a commandment. A commandment is usually understood as an imposition, a rule, which is forced on us demanding our obedience. Yet to love someone presumes freedom. It is not possible to force someone to love. So why call it a commandment? The best way to understand this is to remember that we are talking about our divine calling through which God is offering us Eternal Life. If we want to enjoy Eternal Life in the Reign of God then we have no other option but to freely choose the one and only Way which God has provided for us in the Kingdom of God, namely the Christ way of loving God and neighbour. Yes, we cannot be forced to love but neither can we enjoy Eternal Life without love. There is no other way in the Kingdom of God. God cannot force us to love but at the same time God cannot grant us Eternal Life unless we do love. In this sense it is the greatest commandment.

Of course such a commandment would be impossible for us to keep if we were not first loved by God. And this is what is so liberating about the greatest commandment namely that it is our loving response to the Saving God who loved us first and gave us a share in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Practical Suggestions

  • Prepare for next Sunday’s Mass with your family by reflecting together on the Gospel reading John 3,14 -21 “For God so loved the world…” and consider how the love of God and neighbour is expressed in your lives and how this could be improved.
  • As we are now half way through the period of Lent,review and renew the decisions that were taken at the beginning of Lent.
  • Make use of the special Lenten practices in the parish especially making use of the opportunity for confession and receiving the grace of reconcilaition in the Sacrament of Penance.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for showing us and teaching us the greatest commandment which is essential for the Kingdom of Eternal Life.
Holy Spirit, enlighten our hearts and minds and help us to experience more deeply your Divine Love so that we can be more faithful to the greatest commandment of loving God above all and our neighbour as ourselves.
Heavenly Father,thank you for your unconditional love and mercy towards us.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

Tzaneen

 

 

+Bishop Joaõ Rodrigues
Diocese of Tzaneen

 

 

2015 Lent Reflection – Thursday 12 March

12 March Lent Reflec 2

THURSDAY 12 MARCH 2015

Jeremiah 7:23-28

Reflection

“They did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.” I wonder how many could join this lamentation about a prophet’s experience and arrive at God’s conclusion: “truth has vanished.”

Such people should be found among those who are looking for a way forward for humankind, genuine “progressives”. I think about people who relish the social teaching of the Church, who rejoice having principles giving direction towards equality and justice. It gives a vision that is, however, often neglected, even rejected and contrasted by a disheartening reality.

Such people may well be appalled by ever clever spin-doctors that understand well to sell wrong for right. They may feel robust solidarity challenged by those who dwell in denial, e.g. of xenophobia. They see inequality still increasing when extractive political and economic practices powered by corruption leave little about the concern for the common good and serve the enrichment of a considerable minority. They may endure being ridiculed for suggesting with the principle of the universal destination of goods that disproportionately affluent people could part from most of their wealth and use it for creatively investing in the poor. They may understand that the principle of subsidiarity requires proper education to enable people to take initiative and do on their own what they can do; pain-stricken they fear that present disruptions in the educational system further jeopardize competent participation of the poor. While some lip-service may be rendered to these italicized principles, the lamentable impression remains that many pursuing their own ends don’t incline their ear.

Exactly for this reason it needs people with integrity that live their baptismal offices: as priests offering themselves for Christ’s justice, as prophets raising undeterred their informed voice and as king/queen involving themselves. When renewing baptismal promises at Easter we might well like to include and renew our commitment to living these baptismal offices of priest, prophet and king.

Practical Suggestions

While some more ideas may emerge:

  • Discover in the social doctrine of the Church a template for a refreshingly new society with a rejuvenated spirituality.
  • Converse with your family, friends, in your Small Christian Community or sodality about closed ears, how to resist frustration and to stay committed.
  • Rejoice in following Christ the priest, who did not sacrifice others but himself, through your commitment and love.
  • Seek involvement in all sorts of school and hospital bodies, in traditional gatherings, trade unions, political parties, at work … and make your own prophetic convictions heard.
  • Make use of your gifts, your talents and your treasure and participate in ruling by casting an intelligent vote, questioning deputies in their constituencies, and if you invested money ask questions at shareholders’ meetings and insist on just wages and a healthy working environment.

Prayer

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Aliwal

 

 

+Bishop Michael Wüstenberg
Bishop of Aliwal

 

 

2015 Lent Reflection – Wednesday 11 March

11 March Lent Reflec 2

WEDNESDAY 11 MARCH 2015

Deuteronomy 4:1,5-9 and Matthew 5: 17-19

The Broadway Musical “Fiddler on the Roof” opened unforgettably with the song “Tradition”. The story centers on the villagers of Anatevka facing the problem of how to continue their traditions in a fast-changing world. It is not a new problem: in the first reading from Deuteronomy the People of God are encouraged to listen to and respect the norms and rules of God – this they are told, will lead to their being respected as a wise and intelligent people. They must not forget these values, rather they must teach them to their children.

It is so easy to “forget”: here’s an unholy trinity of ways in which we lose this memory of the great things that have been handed on to us:

  1. We can reject the things of the past – and say that only what is modern has any value
  2. We can neglect for example, the values of the Gospel: the seed sown is choked by the weeds – we are easily distracted, “there are more important things needing our attention!”
  3. We can leave the “handing on” to others. “Teach them to your children and to your children’s children” says Deuteronomy but do we not too often abandon our children to TV, the internet, the media or celebrities…?!

Tradition is a deeply human process by which we hand on what is true and beautiful: human and religious values which enable us as human beings – in space and time – to grow, to advance and to develop. And oh yes we can slide back and down! – history has too many terrible stories that testify to this.

It is no surprise then that the Lord Jesus, the Teacher, the Way and the Light of the World, tells us in today’s Gospel that “whoever obeys them (the least important of these commandments) and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Practical Suggestions:

  • Pray for a deep respect for your elders; a truly listening ear to their voices.
  • Read again the 1st reading of today from the Book of Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5-9
  • Ask what you can hand on to your children, to the youth of the Parish.

Prayer:

Lord of yesterday, today and tomorrow, teach us to hold on to all that is of value; all that is beautiful and true. May we live by what is enduringly beautiful and true, may we be the best of teachers of the values of your Kingdom.

Dundee

 

 

+Bishop Thomas Graham Rose
Diocese of Dundee

2015 Lent Reflection – Tuesday 10 March

10 March lent reflec 2

TUESDAY 10 MARCH 2015

Daniel 3: 25,34 – 43

In the heart of the fire…

Azariah stood in the heart of the fire and began to pray… He offered a heartfelt prayer from the depths of his heart to a God who he knew could save him.

Is it not true that some of our most sincere prayers are offered when we are facing difficult periods in our life? Is it not also true that during the most difficult periods in our life we find ourselves very disciplined in our prayer – praying often for our well-being and for deliverance from that which is threatening to destroy us. Isn’t it a pity that we wait for the fires of life to threaten before we enter into a meaningful and life-giving relationship with God? And then sadly, once the smoke has disappeared we resort to our old ways!

During this season of Lent, let us commit ourselves to a regular and meaningful prayer life. Let us not wait for the fires to threaten, but already in the ordinary events of life let us turn to God our refuge and our strength – praying for the grace to remain constant and faithful in our prayer.

Practical Suggestion:

Today, pray the Our Father… sincerely asking forgiveness for our own sins and the grace to forgive those who have sinned against us.

Prayer: Psalm 24

Lord, make me know your ways. Lord, teach me your paths. Make me walk in your truth, and teach me; for you are God my Saviour. Amen

2015 Lent Reflection – Saturday 7 March

6th march lent reflec 2

SATURDAY 7 MARCH 2015

Luke 15:11-12

Reflection:
This is one of those dearly loved parables of Jesus. Another would be the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine behind and goes off in search of the lost one. And of course, the parable with the refrain: “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.”

Jesus addressed this parable to his Jewish audience and the lesson was very clear: “My son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” God’s mercy and forgiveness brings the sinner back from death to life.

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression …? He does not retain his anger forever because he delights in mercy.” (First reading: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20)

Today a Christian audience is listening to this parable and the message is just as challenging for us: Can you be like your heavenly Father, so beautifully portrayed in this parable? We run the risk of being like the elder brother: unforgiving and bitter, unable to forgive that one whom we have condemned to death forever because we can’t forgive. Can you be like the Saviour who prayed “Father forgive them they know not what they do”?

Action:
“At least let us say to the Lord: “Lord, I am angry with this person, with that person. I pray to you for him and for her. To pray for a person with whom I am irritated is a beautiful step forward in love, and an act of evangelisation. Let us do it today. …”
(Pope Francis: The Joy of the Gospel #101)

Prayer:
Father, I praise and thank you for not treating me as my sins deserve, nor repaying me according to my faults. Give me your Holy Spirit so that I too can forgive those who hurt me and so walk a new path with them in peace.

Kiemoes-Upington

 

 

+Bishop Edward Risi OMI
Diocese of Keimoes-Upington

 

 

2015 Lent Reflection – Friday 6 March

6th March Lent Reflec 2

FRIDAY 6 MARCH 2015

Matthew 21 : 33 – 46

Reflection:
God, The owner, has planted a vineyard, that is our beautiful South Africa. God had surrounded our country with seas, has put a marvelous sky over it and land boundaries to define it. God has filled our country with mountains, rivers, valleys, hills, fields, grass lands, deserts, parks, forests, flowers, precious minerals, wild and domestic animals, birds and fish. The owner has entrusted this land to us, the tenants, to nurture it and develop it.

But as we look at it we see it ravaged by underground and open cast mines, tossic and dusty mine dumps, piles of rubbish, air pollution, acid water, dirty rivers and dams and soil erosion. In our history we have despised, persecuted and murdered each other. Many of our people who struggled for justice and freedom during apartheid were detained, tortured and killed.

When finally we achieved the longed yearned freedom in 1994, we continued and continue to maltreat this land of ours and its people. We still experience destruction of the environment, great wealth and object misery, hunger, children leaving school prematurely, unemployment, violence, rapes, killings, drugs and alcohol addiction, lack of basic services, destructive service delivery demonstrations and strikes, xenophobic attach, corruption, lying, stealing and moral depravity of all kinds. People of different political parties or factions within the same party kill each other in their hunger for power and wealth. Honest people are sidelined and morally or physically eliminated.

We may dispair at all these evils and ask ourselves: “We, the tenants, do we deserve this land? Jesus today’s Gospel saying comes as a warning: “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him at the proper time.”

We Christian look at this hopeless situation with eyes of faith. We discover that among all these tenants there are still many good and faithful ones: wives and husbands, fathers and mothers, women and men, young and old, lay people, religious, pastors, priests and bishops, who humbly serve one another and others, who strive for the betterment of families, schools, hospitals, businesses, communities, churches and society as a whole. They patiently and persistently work for justice, peace, human dignity; they respect, nurture and develop our environment and the life of all, especially of the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society. At times they are appreciated, other times they are misunderstood or even persecuted. But they never give up.

These are “The stone which the builders rejected, the have become the cornerstones of the future of this land. This is the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it.” We thank God for them and because of them we look with hope to the future of South Africa.

Practical Suggestions:
During this Lenten season dispose of rubbish in a proper way. Clean up rubbish you find in your neighborhood or wherever you are.

Avoid making disparaging remarks about people of other races, cultures, languages and social status.

Support your community and parish initiatives that aim at nurturing the environment and promote reconciliation, justice and peace.

Help one unemployed person find work. Supply food to a poor person or family.

Prayer:
O Lord, give us, South Africans, the gift of being your good tenants in this beautiful country of ours. Help us to be committed keepers and developers of our rich land and of all its peoples.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Witbank

 

 

+Bishop Guiseppe (Joe) Sandri MCCJ
Diocese of Witbank

 

 

2015 Lent Reflection – Thursday 5 March

5 March Lent Reflec 2

THURSDAY 5 MARCH 2015

Neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead… Luke 16:19-31

We are all familiar with the story of Lazarus and the rich man. There are so many element to this teaching of Jesus, and for the most part we tend to focus only on the rich man’s neglect to help the poor man Lazarus. And yes, with so many poor people around us today this element of the Gospel should challenge us deeply – especially with regards to our almsgiving in the season of Lent.

(Just a note on the side, one of the primary reasons for establishing the Bishops Lenten Appeal was to provide a means for the faithful to fulfil the almsgiving component which is central to the Lenten Season – so the next time you see the little purple envelope, think of the many poor people who will benefit from your helping with your donation.)

Back to the gospel. The element of the story that I will like to highlight today is the ending – the rich man, out of concern for his family, pleads with Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth so that he may warn them to change their ways. Abraham rightly says that they have had all the warning and teaching necessary for them to change. “Aaaahhh”, the rich man says: “But if someone should come back from the dead, then they will change.”

Abraham says, don’t fool yourself brother, if they have not listened to the teaching that is already available to them – they will NOT be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.

Well friends, what will it take to convince us to change our ways? We have not only had the teaching of Moses and the Prophets, we have also had the teaching of Jesus. And more than that we have witnessed his resurrection, his coming back from the dead…What are we still waiting for? He’s second coming many be too late!

Prayer:
Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner. Help me to change my ugly ways, TODAY.

2015 Lent Reflection – Wednesday 4 March

4 march lent reflec 2

WEDNESDAY 4 MARCH 2015

Jeremiah 18: 18-20

But as for me, I trust in you Lord. Psalm 30:15

Divine-MercyLife can be so unfair at times. We find ourselves doing so much for other people and so often our efforts are not appreciated. Many times the very people we are trying to assist seem to be the ones who are plotting our downfall.

Sometimes their plotting may be in the form of direct obstacles that they place in our path at other times it is more subtly expressed in unrealistic expectations, lack of support, or an inability to understand our personal limitations or limited resources.

The prophet Jeremiah had a similar experience in his life… It can be very disheartening when our efforts are not appreciated, and even more discouraging when good is returned with evil. This could easily lead to despair – which often results in us abandoning what we know to be a good project – simply because we find that we cannot cope with the opposition any longer.

If this is our experience, then the words of the Psalmist offer us renewed hope and courage: …as for me, I trust in you Lord.

Practical Suggestion:
Bring before the Lord the areas in your life where you are taking strain… in the face of these struggles, say with faith and courage: …as for me, I TRUST in you Lord. It may be a good spiritual practice to find an image of the Divine Mercy and regularly pray the words: Jesus, I trust in YOU.

Prayer:
Lord God, you know my heart, you know the difficulties and challenges that I face in my work and in my family. Help me to turn to you every day for the strength that I need to continue on the path that you set before me. Jesus, I trust in YOU.

2015 Lent Reflection – Saturday 28 February

28 feb lent reflec 2

SATURDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2015

“But I say this to you!”

28th February is the anniversary of my ordination as Bishop of Kokstad. So, it has special memories, but even more special than the memories are the challenges, the most daunting being Jesus’ statement, which comes to mind when I remember that day: “But I say this to you: ‘Be perfect even as your heavenly Father is perfect’.”

My first reaction is always: “That’s not possible! Who can be as perfect as God?” But, on reflection, is Jesus speaking about being perfect as God is perfect, or does he mean being a perfect father, mother, sister, brother, just as God is a perfect Father to us?

Whichever way you find the Spirit leading you in your reflection and prayer during these days of Lent, make sure to keep in mind the perfection Jesus is focusing on. The perfection he is talking about concerns our relations with our neighbour, with our “enemy”, with the wicked, with the outcast, with the pagan, the unbeliever!

Jesus is challenging us, his Disciples – the Father’s beloved sons and daughters – to be towards all people just as God is to them. He is a Father who always acts out of love and compassion, and to all His children, but especially to those whom no body notices or cares for because they are on the margins of not just society, but of our love and concern!

Spiritual Exercise
Questions for meditation:
To whom does God want and need me to be a Father (Mother), Brother (Sister), Friend, Helper of last resort? How will I respond to this challenge during these days of Lent? How do I foresee Lent bringing about a renewal and rebirth of my faith, so that I am and act I the way that he is calling me to?

Prayer (from 2nd Sunday of Lent)
O God, who have commanded us to listen to your beloved Son, be pleased, we pray, to nourish us inwardly by your word, that with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold your glory.
Through Christ our Lord. AMEN.

Action
One week of Lent has already gone by, let me review the actions that have chosen to take in order to reach out anew to God, to my Brothers and Sisters, but especially to those on the margins of society!

Cardinal

 

 

+Cardinal Wilfred Napier OFM
Archdiocese of Durban

2015 Lent Reflection – Tuesday 3 March

3 march lent reflec 2

TUESDAY 3 MARCH 2015

The greatest among you must be your servant… Mt. 23:1-12

There is a beautiful hymn that comes to mind when I hear these words of Jesus. It goes like this:

O, Lord, all the world belongs to you, and you are always making all things new. What is wrong you forgive, and the NEW LIFE you bring, is what’s turning the world UPSIDE DOWN.

If we look at the world today and at many of the practices that have become common place, at attitudes that have become entrenched, at leadership styles and social norms… it is evident that our world needs to be turned upside down. And I am of the conviction that if we allow Jesus to turn our world upside down, he will actually be turning it right side up. For we have so strayed from the path that has been shown to us by our Lord.

Now, it is so easy for us to look at the world, government and others and identify where they need to change. But what about my own life. Where is it that I need to be turned upside down, so that I may actually, once again, be the right side up? What about my thoughts, my words, my actions… What about my work, my prayer, my leisure, my family life… do these need to be turned upside down by Jesus?

Lent is a time to allow ourselves to be re-orientated, we have often lost our bearings and have, each in our own way, allowed the excesses of modern times to distract us from the life giving teaching of Jesus.

Let Jesus, turn your world upside down TODAY.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for sending Jesus into my life… I pray today for the faith and the courage to listen to his teaching, so that indeed there may be a true change in my life. Amen

A man’s greatness lies in not how many people serve him, but rather in how many people he serves.