2016 Lent Reflection-Week 5


Saturday 19 March 2016


Luke 2:41-51(See how worried your father and I have been looking for you)

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of St Joseph the husband of Mary the Mother of God.The Gospel passage relates the story of the holy family’s journey to celebrate the Passover and Jesus remaining in the temple without informing his parents causing Mary and Joseph much worry and concern. The joy of finding Jesus after three days of searching filled them with joy.One of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. This solemnity reminds us of the Church’s focus on the family and the responsibility of parents in loving and caring for their children given to them as gifts from God. St Joseph is held up to us as a model and example of what it means to be a loving and faithful husband and father. St Joseph devoted his life to serving and protecting his family. Joseph’s ministry as guardian and protector speaks to us today with the challenges facing family life. What was wonderful to see in the life of St Joseph was his bringing together the spiritual and the human. Joseph’s faithful obedience to God and his warm and caring ways for his family. It is not easy raising a family nowadays. St Joseph’s life manifests how he strove to be close to God and hear his voice. The other Gospel passages tell us of these. The time Mary was to bear the child Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit and Joseph decided to divorce Mary informally so save her publicity. Joseph listened to the voice of the angel’ Joseph son of David,do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.’Joseph as protector of his family fled with them into Egypt when Herod wanted to destroy the new born infant king. Joseph walked and talked with God,and sought wisdom and light in the challenges and difficulties he encountered. We look to him as the perfect example of discipleship and fatherhood. To husbands and fathers today together with your wife and children look to St Joseph for strength and courage. As the season of Lent draws to a close hopefully families have reflected on their lives together. That fathers,mothers and children have affirmed what is good in the family and that where there are areas of growth needed they have decided to make the change. Where there is need for reconciliation it has been persued.

Prayer: We give thanks and praise to the Father for St Joseph and his example of being a loving husband to Mary and father to Jesus. May St Joseph pray for all families as they open their lives to listening to the voice of God and walk in his ways as loving and caring families.Amen

+ Bishop Peter Holiday — Diocese of Kroonstad

2016 Lent Reflection-Week 5


Monday 14 March 2016

This Lent I have grown in an appreciation of the God whose name is MERCY. This has been a particular grace of this Jubilee Year of Mercy. The scripture readings read year after year in this time of grace have spoken to me in a new way of the God of Mercy.

Today’s gospel presents Jesus, the Face of the Merciful Father. Even the men of the gospel story could not refute or deny the message: they chose to walk away one by one, beginning with the eldest among them.

The first reading also presents the image of Jesus, the face of the Father of Mercy, portrayed in a pre-eminent way in the young man who had wisdom enough to discern that Susanna was innocent.

              “The Lord heard her cry … and aroused the holy spirit of a young lad named Daniel …”

The Holy Spirit arouses in us that most humanising of virtues which makes us like God: Mercy.

It is my prayer that on this Monday the Lord give us through his Holy Spirit the wisdom to discern what is for God’s glory, even for his greater glory, to practise mercy; to be more like our heavenly Master, Jesus, the incarnate face of the Merciful God.

“You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.” (Prayer of Pope Francis.)




+Bishop Edward Risi OMI
Diocese of Keimoes-Upington



2016 Lent Reflection-Week 4


 Thursday 10 March 2016

Is Jesus a genuine Prophet of God?

These very works which I am doing bear me witness that the Father has sent me. John 5,36

Is Jesus a real Prophet, someone whom God really sent to this world, revealing the truth in order to make it possible for people to receive Eternal Life as promised by God, or is Jesus an imposter, who pretended to be what he in fact was not, deceiving God’s people with magical tricks and false teachings?

Everyone who encountered Jesus had to decide for themselves whether Jesus was genuine or false. In today’s Gospel reflection we see how Jesus tried to convince his adversaries that he was indeed genuine, reminding them that John the Baptist, who was recognised as a real prophet, also affirmed this. Furthermore Jesus pointed out that the “works” themselves which he performed were clearly works of God and not some magical tricks and therefore confirmed that his teachings were from God. Finally Jesus referred to the Hebrew Scriptures in general and in particular to Moses who “wrote about me.” This refers to the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures called the Torah in which the well-known prophecy of the offspring of the woman is mentioned (Genesis 3:15), the redeemer who will crush the head of Satan. In spite of all this evidence, his adversaries did not believe in him and continued to look for a way to kill him.

This conflict between worldly people and Jesus remains with us even today. The Catholic Church continues to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Saviour of all humankind, calling people to faith and conversion in order to receive the gift of Eternal Life through perseverance in the grace of God. But the world is full of worldly people who have other beliefs and other interests and values which are in conflict with Jesus Christ. They will even look for all kinds of reasons to discredit Jesus and to try and convince the world that the Catholic Church teaches a false religion. One thing is clear however, and that is that the spiritual blessings Catholics enjoy through their faith in Jesus as proclaimed by the Church are so wonderful and so real that throughout the ages many Catholics have even accepted to be killed rather than give up their faith in Jesus. And this is true even in our own time and place. The beatification of Blessed Benedict Daswa whom the Church recognises as a genuine martyr of Christ testifies to this reality.

People can debate as much as they wish concerning the question of the authenticity of Jesus and his message. But it is only when we personally experience the actual blessings of faith in Jesus that we realise how true Jesus really is. Yes, Jesus is indeed a real Prophet, someone whom God really sent to this world, revealing the Truth in order to make it possible for people of every place and time to receive Eternal Life as promised by God

Do I waste a lot of time debating about Jesus and religion with worldly people or do I get on with my vocation by personally witnessing to a blessed life of faith in Jesus Christ through loving service where there are genuine human needs?

Lord Jesus, you are so wonderful and merciful and have made our lives full of purpose and love. Help us to remain faithful to you through our loving service of the needy so that the blessings we enjoy during this season of Lent may attract others who are far from you and help them to believe and experience your grace and blessings for themselves. Amen.



+Bishop Joaõ Rodrigues
Diocese of Tzaneen

2016 Lent Reflection-Week 4


Wednesday 09 March 2016

We have probably all experienced at some time in our life a feeling which is mirrored in the words of the First Reading today, from the prophet Isaiah: “For Zion was saying, ‘The Lord has abandoned me, the Lord has forgotten me…..’”

There are indeed moments, even perhaps lengthy periods, when all of us touch into a depth of feeling alone, unable to cope with a tragic loss or serious problem, experiencing an emptiness within which makes us feel we have no resources to take the next step. Sometimes we might feel close to despair.

It is at such times that our God of mercy and compassion wants to speak a personal word to us which God spoke through the prophet….. “Does a woman forget her baby at the breast, or fail to cherish the child of her womb? Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you.” This word of God speaks to us of who God really is, of who God wants to be for us at every moment and in every experience of life….but especially those experiences which can threaten to break our fragile spirit.

It was this God Jesus came to reveal to the people of his time. In the Gospel reading today, Jesus said to the people: “My Father goes on working, and so do I.” Just as God spoke to the people through the prophets in ancient times, so Jesus spoke and was present to the people of his time in the reality of their lives, and responded to the deep yearnings of their heart.

Jesus became incarnate in the real world of people’s darkness and struggles, and throughout his life and ministry he opened doors of hope, new beginnings and indeed new life for them. The invitation from Jesus to all of us today is that he needs, he wants to become incarnate again in life as it is today for all of us. But he chooses to become incarnate through us, through ordinary, real people like us, through the ordinary responses we can all make which can become moments of grace, healing and hope when they are done with Jesus, and in his power.

As Jesus reached out and became present to people in their different experiences of darkness and suffering, so Jesus sends each of us to reach out and be present to people at moments when they feel very low. And it does not require extraordinary responses; Jesus will inspire in us the way to listen empathetically, and to touch people’s heart and spirit through our care, compassion, and understanding.

This is what our church communities need to be so that all of us, including ourselves when we feel lost and abandoned, will find that God’s word is true: “Does a woman forget her baby at the breast, or fail to cherish the child of her womb? Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you”.

Let us pray during this Lenten season that each of us, and our own parish communities, will continue to make real this word of God, and be this presence of healing, promise and hope.

De Aar


+Bishop Kevin Dowling C.Ss.R

Diocese of Rustenburg



2016 Lent Reflection-Week 4


Tuesday 08 March 2016

 Do We like Complaining?

“I have no one to put me into the pool.” -John 5:6

 How often do we really place our trust in the Lord? One of the legends associated with St. Francis tells of a vineyard near a church in the Rieti valley. Francis was staying there while being treated for eye problems. So many people came to visit him that the vineyard was trampled. The priest complained that he would not get the small yield of grapes on which he relied for his household wine each year. Francis assured him that he would harvest at least 20 loads, of grapes that year instead of the usual 13.

What’s more interesting than the miracle that Francis promised (and which did in fact occur) what Francis said to the priest: “Cease despairing don’t trouble anyone any more with your com­plaints. Have confidence in the Lord and in my words.”

How often do you trouble others with your complaints? Let today be different offer it up to the Lord and see how He rewards you. As St. Francis promised the priest an increase in his crop so the Lord promises us an increase in the inner peace that He will offer us.

Pray with St. Francis
Where there is Mercy and Prudence, there is neither Excess nor Harshness. Amen.


2016 Lent Reflection-Week 4


Monday 07 March 2016

Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe John 4: 48

St Francis denied the suggestions that he was a saint. He kept hidden the marks of the stigmata. He refuse to let people attribute miracles to him. He knew as Jesus did, as Jesus did, the human desire for signs and wonders, for the extraordinary and the marvellous.

We rejoice in the great things that Francis did during his lifetime and continues to do in the communion of saints. But those who spend time meditating on the words of Francis can also feel a twinge of regret for the hiddenness and humility he so valued during his lifetime. It serves as a reminder not to desire fame and fortune but to seek, as Francis did, only the grace of God.


Do you want people to see that you a man of God, or do you protect that image to allow God to respond to your signs and wonders?

Pray with St. Francis
All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made, and first my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and light you give to us through him. Amen.


2016 Lent Reflection-Week 4


Sunday 06 March 2016

1st Reading: Joshua 5:9, 10-12

The Lord   said to Joshua: “Today i have removed from you the disgrace of being slave in Egypt”.

When the Israelites arrived at Canaan the promised land, they were new people, free from slavery, now in the place of peace, freedom and new life. In a place they named Gilgai.

As a result they observed the Passover, they celebrated and thanked God. From that time onwards they ate food grown in Canaan.

The theme of moving from slavery of sin to freedom in the Lord can be observed in our three readings today. This movement is achieved through the loving mercy of God for us. God our father is always full of mercy.

In the Second Reading: 2 COR 5:17-21
Christ brought about reconciliation between God and humanity. The church’s task is to bring the benefits of this to the people. The church through the celebration of sacraments, fraternity, liturgy and charity helps us to experience the loving mercy of God the father.

Gospel (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32).
The parable of the prodigal son shows that God delights in showing mercy to repentant sinners. When we repent and with contrition turn away from our sinful ways and return to the Lord; there is always joy and celebration as we relate to self, others, cosmos and to our God.

The parable of the prodigal son is probably the best known and loved of all Jesus parables, Yet some maintain that it is an unfair story. They feel sorry for the elder son, convinced that he got a raw deal. They believe the younger son got away with murder. He should have been punished. He should have been taught a lesson.

The biggest discovery the younger son made was that he was loved in his sins. The father never stopped loving him. It does not do one much good to be loved in one’s goodness, but it is an extraordinary experience to be loved in one’s sinfulness. Such love is like rain falling in a dry season. This is what grace is about. Those who have experienced this kind of love know something about the heart of God. Like the Israelites experience of slavery to freedom in Canaan. God does not just forgive us; he loves us and lets us know it.

In this GOSPEL of the merciful father, we experience the challenge of mercy versus justice. Both attribute of mercy and justice belongs to God. Blessed are the merciful….Mt 6:7. Blessed are those who hunger for justice….Mt. 5:6.

Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution; justice without mercy is cruelty. Without justice, Mercy would be indifference to wrong. Without mercy, justice would be vindictive.

To conclude: we are called on this 4th Sunday of Lent to leave our wickedness ways and return to the Lord and then we shall experience his merciful love.

There can be no contradiction between divine mercy and justice, but only harmony. Mercy and truth have met each other; justice and peace have kissed (Psalm 84:11).





+Bishop Valentine Seane

Diocese of Gaborone

2016 Lent Reflection-Week 3


FRIDAY 4 March 2016

(Hosea 14: 2-10; Mark 12: 28-34)

‘Israel, come back to the Lord your God’; ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.

Can we hear the intense longing in God’s invitation – come back to me, I will heal your disloyalty. I will make Israel, (you) bloom like a lily. Through Hosea we hear again and again that it is God who hears our prayer, cares for us and in whom we are fruitful. In God nothing is impossible; all we need to do is to respond. The kind of response needed is made very clear in the dialogue between Jesus and one of the scribes. ‘Love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength and love your neighbour as yourself. Unfortunately ‘love’ has gone through the mill so much so that the depth of it, the beauty of it, the power of it, is often lost.

However, the Gospel is filled with examples of what it really means -going beyond ourselves, to rise above our own needs, to stretch out to someone, to risk discomfort, to give our time and energy and ultimately to give ourselves to another. Yet, we cannot give what we do not have. Unless we treat ourselves with respect, with love and honour, giving ourselves the care we need to live holistically we cannot love in the way Jesus asks of us. The self-emptying comes as we gaze on the One who knows the meaning of ‘Kenosis’ – that outpouring that comes from being one with the God of all creation – the very God who longingly calls us to return home – the place and the space where true joy, life and peace is found in abundance. We need only one word: ‘Yes’, I come”

Imagine God before you, feel the longing as He invites you to return – maybe after some failure, or having turned from Him – you will find and experience His loving mercy.

De Aar



+Bishop Adam Musialek SCJ
Diocese of De Aar




2016 Lent Reflection-Week 3


Wednesday 02 March 2016

Making Room for the Spirit

And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” -Galatians 4:6

Prayer is so important…. To ask the Lord: “Lord, help me, give me counsel; what must I do now?” And through prayer we make space so that the Spirit may come and help us in that moment, that he may counsel us on what we must do….

In intimacy with God and in listening to his word, little by little we put aside our own way of thinking­ which is most often dictated by our closures, by our prejudice, and by our ambitions-and we learn instead to ask the Lord: what is your desire? What is your will? What pleases you? In this way a deep, almost connatural harmony in the Spirit grows and develops within us and we experience how true are the words of Jesus reported in the Gospel of Matthew: “… Do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak but the spirit of your Father speaking through you” (10: 19-20). It is the Spirit who counsels us, but we have to make room for the Spirit.

Audience, May 7, 2014

What is my relationship with the Holy Spirit? Am I con­scious of the Spirit’s presence and activity in my life?

Spirit of God, continue to fill me with your gifts, espe­cially the gift of prayer.

Lent with Pope Francis, Daily Reflections and Prayers (Pauline Publication)


2016 Lent Reflection-Week 3


Tuesday 01 March 2016 

Come to the Light
For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light-Ephesians 5:8

Our lives are sometimes similar to that of the blind man who opened himself to the light, who opened himself to God, who opened himself to his grace. Sometimes, unfortunately, they are similar to that of the doctors of the law: from the height of our pride we judge others, and even the Lord! … We must repent of this; eliminate these behaviours in order to journey well along the way of holiness….

Let us ask ourselves about the state of our own heart:

Do I have an open heart or a closed heart? It is opened or closed to God? Open or closed to my neighbour? To some degree we are always closed, which comes from original sin, from mistakes, from errors. We need not be afraid! Let us open ourselves to the light of the Lord; he awaits us always to enable us to see better, to give us more light, to forgive us. Let us not forget this! Let us entrust this Lenten journey to the Virgin Mary, so that we too, like the blind man who was healed by the grace of Christ, may “come to the light:’ go forward toward the light and be reborn to new life.

Angelus, March 30, 2014

How is God inviting me to spiritual renewal and rebirth?

Lord, at times I fear what you may ask or expect of me. Give me the grace to surrender to your love as Mary did.

Lent with Pope Francis, Daily Reflections and Prayers (Pauline Publication)