It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.

Author Unknown

Sunday, February 24, 2008

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT


So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."

John 4: 5-7

Water is a powerful sign; that's why it's used in Baptism, symbolizing our entry into the life and death of Jesus.

Our Lenten readings today relate to Baptism. We hear a story from Exodus, where the people complain because they have run out of water. God, through Moses, responds with a life-giving stream of water.
From John's Gospel we have the drama of Jesus and the woman at the well. The early Church used this story in its Lenten liturgy.

The woman at the well represents a believer who reluctantly comes to faith. She needs Jesus, his insights into her life, and his promise of "living water," to slowly win her over.

The next three Sundays offer us three of the “sign” stories from John’s Gospel. He records the meetings between Jesus and a variety of people
Like the woman, they are meeting the one who will be like a living spring, welling up inside them - God willing, for the rest of their lives.

But isn't that the way it is for most of us? We need time to be convinced; we face contradictions and faulty choices in our lives. Nevertheless we thirst for what God offers us.


St. John presented one of the most memorable narratives in his gospel: the Samaritan woman at the well. At it’s heart, these verses speak of self-revelation. The woman showed herself to be immoral, but that did not stop Jesus from revealing himself to her. In doing so, he offered her the Spirit, the living water that wells up into eternal life.

Our Lenten journey may find us thirsty for living water.
Let's listen closely to the Lord's invitation
.

‘On Ya’- ma

Saturday, February 16, 2008

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT


After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.

Matthew 17: 1-2



Peter’s reaction to seeing Jesus transfigured was to do something, build something. But God tells him and us, “This is my son. Listen to him.” In a culture where what we do is valued above who we are, listening to God is sadly neglected.

The Gospel for the Second Sunday in Lent is always the Transfiguration. It offers us a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel - the Resurrection - and further ahead the Ascension


Lent is one of the earliest practices of our faith. In the early days of Christianity, Lent was a time of preparation for those who would be baptized at the Easter vigil, which was then a common practice. At that time the holy season lasted three or four days, but by the fourth century, Christians were observing Lent for 40 days. As we "journey" through this Lent, let’s recall our baptismal commitment and let it reflect in our words and deeds and even in our faces at times

Water is one of the most precious resources on our planet.
Without it, life could not have begun.
Without it life could not continue.
We have perhaps lost our sense of reverence -and dependence on water - but for many people in the world, water remains infinitely precious.
It is because water is life-giving and because we are so dependant on it, that it takes such a prominent place in our Vigil celebrations - our celebration of the new life of Easter

The word Lent comes from the Middle English word for “spring.” Spring, of course, brings thoughts of renewal, rebirth and radiance. Like the season’s forsythias, it is the era in which our lives engage in the flowering of our souls

Whether you celebrate Lent by giving up gossip or practicing more prayer, remember to fine-tune your awareness of the omnipresence of God who permeates all that you do

This week, I will pray about the “clutter” of excess doing; about busy-ness, stress, and workaholism.

At certain moments in life, I may feel that there are too many things needing to be done and not enough time to complete them. Yet all that such a thought does is add to my feelings of urgency. So I stop, take a deep breath, and remind myself that the spirit of God is within me and in the midst of each and every assignment, responsibility, and event in my life


‘On Ya’ - ma

Saturday, February 09, 2008

First Sunday of Lent

Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil.

Matthew 4:1


FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT


Lent is the imitation of Jesus when He fasted for forty days (Mt 4:2). This fasting was part of Jesus' battle to overcome the temptations of the devil.

One of the main purposes of Lent is to overcome all temptations and doubts about the Father's love for us, His children. It is best to fight this battle now and not to wait for death, fear, tragedy, or pain to challenge our faith in our Father's love. Accept your Father's love this Lent.

Our Christian identity is a choice we affirmed (or which was affirmed for us) at our Baptism. But we must re-affirm that choice again and again in the face of temptation.
It's fitting that the temptation scene in the Gospel is set in the desert. In the Bible, the desert is often a place of testing, of choices. The season of Lent is like a "spiritual desert" where we hope to rediscover our identification with Christ, leading to a renewal of Baptism at Easter. Let our choices this Lent be directed by the example of Jesus in the face of temptation


Lent is a journey whose destination is the renewal of our baptismal promises on Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. Our baptismal promises are the greatest decision a person can make. They are a matter of everlasting life or damnation. To make this greatest decision of our lives or to deepen this commitment (if we have already made it) is the destination of Lent.

This Sunday is the worldwide rite of election where the millions who elect to join the Church by being baptized into Christ on Easter are accepted by the Church.


If the only meaning of life was food, clothes or work, how meaningless it would be. Lent is a wonderful time to remind myself that God’s presence is what gives life meaning. I begin Lent by starting a “give away” box and praying about what I have that could be used by someone in need.


This week do something which indicates you believe that you live not by bread alone but by the word of God revealed to us in the Bible. Read each day's Gospel passage


If we take the time to be quiet and rid ourselves of all the clutter that occupies space in our minds, we can reflect on the daily Bible readings and realize God's presence in our lives.
'On Ya' - ma

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

ASH WEDNESDAY

Lent is above all a time of prayer, for withdrawing a little from the hustle and bustle of daily life to be alone with God.

Vincent Twomey



A Lenten Reflection

Give up complaining----focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism----become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments----think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry----trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement----be full of hope.
Give up bitterness----turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred----return good for evil.
Give up negativism----be positive.
Give up anger----be more patient.
Give up pettiness----become mature.
Give up gloom----enjoy the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy----pray for trust.
Give up gossiping----control your tongue.
Give up sin----turn to virtue.
Give up giving up----hang in there!
Unknown


Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return


The emphasis on Ash Wednesday is that this life is a pilgrimage. We are here today and gone tomorrow

We must plan. We must carry out our responsibilities. We must try to assure a certain security for our families. We must, in this day, take care of health care needs and so on. But Lent reminds us that we should do all of these things while giving primacy to the place of the soul, primacy to the spiritual, primacy to the reality that at literally any moment we can be facing Almighty God for all eternity

Lent originated in the very earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter when converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism, and the faithful deepened their commitment to Christ. By observing the forty days of Lent, the individual Christian imitates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days

The readings for each Sunday in Lent have been chosen by the Church to relate to the journey of faith each of us undertakes, to our basic baptismal call to be part of Christ. Some of the selections, from the Gospel of John, for example, have been used for centuries to recall the meaning of Baptism. For people about to be baptized, these Scripture passages take on a powerful meaning indeed. Those who are already baptized, are still on a journey. Our faith must be renewed, our baptismal promises affirmed


Father in heaven, the light of your truth bestows sight to the darkness of sinful eyes May this season of repentance bring us the blessing of your forgiveness and the gift of your light.

Amen.

"On Ya' - ma


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 6th





Make sure you don't pray or fast or give to the poor, just so others will see you. If you just show off, you will not receive a reward from your Father in heaven.

Matthew 6:1

It's Lent again. The time of self denial. The time to pray more, fast, and give to others. Those statements almost have the sound of drudgery. The little child in all of us cries out, "Do I have to?!"
We might feel some reluctance to "celebrate" Lent, for the season means a change in daily routine. But, instead of changing routine, we might consider changing its focus. Turn away from the self and see the wider picture. That's what Jesus recommended when he addressed prayer, fasting, and almsgiving

The forty days of Lent help us to prepare for Easter, the greatest Sunday of all! Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and lasts five and a half weeks

On Ash Wednesday services a priest, deacon, or other minister will make the Sign of the Cross on a our foreheads with ashes. And we will hear words like “Repent and believe the Good News.” The ashes remind us that we will die one day. The message we hear encourages us to trust God. He cares for us now. And he will care for us after we die.


The Gospel for the First Sunday in Lent is always the Temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

Jesus had embarked on a kind of retreat - a time apart from the world in which to discern what God wanted Him to do - what God wanted Him to be. He uses one of the classic spiritual disciplines of fasting to help to focus His prayer - taking it to such lengths that, after 40 days, He would have been physically very weak and, it would seem, very susceptible to temptation
With each temptation, Jesus gets stronger until in the end He dismisses Satan from Him - Jesus is the one in command of the situation - Jesus is in command of Himself


On the five Sundays in Lent, we hear about the temptations Jesus endured (First Sunday of Lent), how he showed his friends his glory (Second Sunday in Lent), and the journey he took to Jerusalem. These Sundays lead us step by step to the most important week in the Church year: Holy Week


The sadness of Holy Week ends with the joy of Easter. Jesus is risen from the dead! He is alive! He will never die again! Because he lives forever, we will live forever with him!


Each Lent, we enter a spiritual wilderness. It is meant to be a challenging time - a time to develop a spiritual maturity. We live in an age when the importance of having our needs met is recognised - but as Christians, we sometimes have to remember that, ultimately, our needs can only be fulfilled by God.


Lent is a time to ask ourselves a simple question. Why do we act as Christians? If our answer gravitates more towards ourselves than others, it is time to reassess our motivation. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are only means to an end. We practice them to open ourselves up to God and the needs of others. So, during Lent, we should focus on relationship, not on reputation. When we sincerely seek God's will and the good of others, reputation will follow, for good or ill.

Lent is a time for self reflection and for action. Lent is not a time to merely "give up something." It is a season to do something. For others. And for God.
It is a time to focus the heart


'On Ya' - ma