In the Reading for Friday of the Fifth Week in Lent, Jeremiah prays to God for deliverance from his detractors. Feeling trapped by those seeking vengeance against him, Jeremiah professes faith in God’s protection. I can relate to Jeremiah. I sometimes feel surrounded by life’s troubles. I struggle to avoid discouragement. The Lord is with me too. Through Christ Jesus, God stands with me against adversity. How is God with you in troubled times?
In the Psalm for Thursday of the Fifth Week in Lent, the psalmist urges reliance on God who is ever faithful. Psalm 105 gives praise for all the wonderful things God has done for the people. My confidence relies on my experiences of God’s past mercies. God was was with me when I proposed to my wife, my sons were born, my mother died, my wife lost her job, and at many other times. I trust God is taking care of me now as before. I can face today’s struggles and enjoy today’s blessings knowing God is with me as always. How has God cared for you?
In the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, Gabriel tells Mary she is pregnant with Jesus Seeing that Mary is troubled, the Angel reassures her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1: 30). By virtue of my Baptism, I too “give birth to Christ”. Christ is present in my loving self-sacrifices for others. I am often reluctant to be Christ for others. I feel unworthy. I lack the confidence. I am afraid of being hurt. Then I imagine God saying, “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with me”. What reassurances do you need from God?
Jesus confirms his relationship with God in the Gospel for Friday of the Fourth Week in Lent. “I know him, because I am from him” (John 7: 29). Jesus is the image of the God. An encounter with Jesus is an encounter with our God of unconditional love. We meet Jesus in the sacraments, the Bible, and one another, especially the least among us. We are the image of Christ. What’s your image?
In the Gospel for Thursday of the Fourth Week in Lent, Jesus acknowledges the testimony of John the Baptist as true. “He [John] was a burning and shining lamp” (John 5: 35). John the Baptist spoke God’s message. Jesus shares the Good News of God’s merciful love. Jesus charge us to do likewise. My Christian witness shines more brightly when done more for God and less for me. Loving others for my benefit dims my witness. Loving others for their benefit brightens my witness. How do others see Jesus in you?
In the Gospel for Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Lent, Jesus asks the man crippled for thirty eight years, “Do you want to be well?” (John 5: 6). Since he cannot get into the healing pool of Bethesda by himself, Jesus cures him. Jesus asks me the same question, “Do you want to be well?”. I yearn for the spiritual health only Jesus can give. Like the crippled man, I need help. Christ is healing me for unconditional love. How can Christ heal you?
In the alternate Gospel for the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Joseph and Mary find Jesus in the Temple. Jesus is talking with the teachers. He impresses the rabbis with the depth of his understanding. “All who heard him were astounded” (Luke 2: 47). Jesus still astounds me. Through Christ, I see the glory of God revealed everyday. God’s love suprises me with a daffodil or robin, a kiss or a hug, a struggle endured or a pain healed. How does Jesus astound you?
In the Reading for Friday of the Third Week in Lent, Hosea tells wayward Israel to come back to God. He reminds them of God’s love for them and of their dependence on God. God is like a cypress tree without which Israel cannot bear any fruit. God blesses Israel with all good things. I have matured in my appreciation for the fragility of life. I realize how much God sustains me in my every breath. Having struggled with moral frailty, I am more aware of my dependence on the grace of God even for the good things I do. Grafted into the life of God through Christ the vine, I do bear fruit. How do you bear fruit?
In the Reading for Wednesday of the Third Week in Lent, Moses instructs the people to rely on God. God cares about them. God gave them the commandments. God is close to them. I forget how close God is. God is as close as my breath. Throught Christ, God is as close as my wife, children, co-workers, or anyone I encounter during the day. God is close by waiting for me to notice. How close are you to God?
Daniel asks for God’s mercy in the Reading for Tuesday of the Third Week in Lent. In Babylon far from the Jerusalem Temple, Daniel and the people cannot offer animal sacrifices. Instead their supplication is following God unreservedly. Following God with our whole heart is the sacrifice God wants. Christ is our model. What is your heart’s desire?