Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem on a colt was not as a conquering king, but as a man of peace. He knew he was headed for a collision with the powerful Roman empire – a collision that would cost his life and change history forever. Yet he remained committed to seeing his mission to the end.
Jesus came to share good news and offer the people a choice:
- Will you be my disciple or my executioner?
- Will you follow me or betray me?
Jesus saw and knew all the flawed humanity that surrounded him. . . as he sees the flawed humanity of each of us. Jesus saw it, forgave it, and gave his blessing to all as he clopped along the dusty road toward his confrontation with power, his time of trial, his abandonment, his death.
There is a place inside of us where each and every one of us is being touched and held unconditionally in love by God. Jesus’ executioners acted in a darkness that came from never having had that experience. Let us spend time during this Holy Week reflecting on the quality of our discipleship.
-Adapted from reflections by Christine Sine and Fr. Ronald Rolheiser
Fifth Sunday of Lent
The Gospel for the fifth Sunday of Lent features the death and resurrection of Lazarus. After receiving word that Lazarus was dying, Jesus seemingly delayed his arrival on purpose. When Jesus finally arrived at the house, Mary confronts him with the question, “Where have you been?” She is asking the universal, timeless question about God’s seeming absence in the face of suffering.
Where is God when innocent people suffer?
Where was God during the holocaust?
Where is God when anyone’s loved one dies?
After entering into their helplessness and suffering, exemplified by his weeping, Jesus then raises Lazarus from the dead. Jesus assures Martha and Mary that Lazarus will live in a deeper way. The God we believe in doesn’t always intervene and rescue us from suffering and death but God always redeems our suffering afterwards.
This story in John’s Gospel exemplifies the relationship between Jesus and his Father. The Father does not save Jesus from death on the cross even when he is jeered and mocked there. Instead the Father allows him to die on the cross and then raises him up afterwards.
Sometimes the only answer to the question of suffering and evil is the one Jesus gave to Mary and Martha – shared helplessness, shared distress, and shared tears, with no attempt to try to explain God’s seeming absence, but rather trusting that, because God is all-loving and all-powerful, in the end all will be well and our pain will someday be redeemed in God’s embrace.
-Adapted from writings of Ronald Rohlheiser, OMI
Fourth Sunday of Lent
The Gospel for the fourth Sunday of Lent addresses Jesus healing the man born blind. It warns us that those who pretend to see the truth are often blind, while those who acknowledge their blindness are given clear vision.
We are challenged to look honestly at our own attitudes and behaviors. We need to avoid the attitude of the Pharisees who often judged people incorrectly.
Do we see a terrorist in every member of a particular religion?
Do we see people who are addicted to drugs as outcasts and sinners?
Do we fail to see God at work in our lives because He has shown us no miracles?
We all have blind-spots that Jesus wants to heal. We need to ask Jesus to remove from us the root causes of our blindness, namely, self-centeredness, greed, anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, addiction to evil habits and hardness of heart that anesthetizes us to the enormous suffering in the world around us.
When Jesus asked another blind man, Bartimaeus, what he wanted, his honest and heartfelt prayer was, ‘Lord, let me see gain.’ May this be our prayer, too, as we continue our journey through Lent.
-Adapted from reflections by Michael Moore, OMI, and Rev. Anthony Kadavil
Third Sunday of Lent
The Gospel for the third Sunday of Lent draws us to the Samaritan woman who makes her way to the well at a time when no one is usually there. At the shock of encountering what seems like a suspicious stranger, she resolves to do what she knows best: “hide her mind and harden her heart.”
As Jesus meets the woman, He is not afraid to admit, “I’m thirsty,” suggesting that thirst makes friends of us all. He eventually lets her know that “God is not on the mountaintop, but in your thirst!”
Lent isn’t really about us! If we only focus on our own sin, it becomes about us and is an exercise in self-absorption. But when we change our focus to God, we learn who we really are. Not who we WANT to be, but who we are: imperfect, crabby, selfish, and utterly lovable in God’s eyes. It is not a message we can hear with our brains. It’s one in which Jesus asks us to open our hearts.
-Adapted from Lenten reflections by Richard Rohr, OFM, and Maureen McCann Waldron
Second Sunday of Lent
The Gospel for the second Sunday of Lent is the story of the Transfiguration. In the midst of our complex contemporary world, it invites us to be free enough to see things in a new way.
It is offered as a sign of great hope making it possible to:
- See the presence of God in Jesus and our neighbor
- Let go of racism, consumerism, control and violence
- Let go of our blindness and selfishness
- To solve international problems without war
- To see the world as a global community and all people as our brothers and sisters
Lent invites us to deeper intimacy with God. That leads us to changing, transfiguring because we are so loved.
-Adapted from Center of Concern
First Sunday of Lent
The three temptations of Christ are universal expressions of the desire to have, to do, to be.
The temptation to be relevant (change stones to bread) is the self that can do things, prove things, build things.
The temptation to be spectacular (throw oneself down from the tower) is the pressure to do something that wins applause.
The temptation to be powerful (kingdoms of this world) is the desire to manipulate or control people rather than to love them.
We ask you, Lord, to lead us not into temptation and guide us into the pathways of justice, peace, and love during these Lenten days.
-Excerpt from “In the Name of Jesus” by Henri Nouwen