In the Reading for Thursday of the Second Week in Lent, God asks for sincere hearts. “Blessed is the [one] who trusts in the LORD” (Jeremiah 17:7). One who trusts God does God’s will. Doing God’s will is loving others. Loving others for God’s sake reflects a sincere heart. Professing faith in God without love is insincere. The greater the trust the greater the love. Trust in our loved ones inspires more love for them Trust in God inspires love for all God’s family. How much do you trust God?
Jesus teaches the crowd about humility in the Gospel for Tuesday of the Second Week in Lent. “The greatest among you must be your servant” (Matthew 23:11). God wants loving service. Humility is making what God wants a priority, not what we want. How do you serve others?
Jesus teaches his disciples about mercy in the Gospel for Monday of the Second Week in Lent. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). They show mercy by avoiding judgements and condemnations; by forgiving; by giving generously. How are you merciful to others?
The First Reading for the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter offers advice to leaders in the early Christian community. “Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly” (1 Peter 5: 3). By Baptism each of us is charged with the care of the communities in which we live and work. Christ want us to follow his example of self giving for the sake of others. He expects us to watch over with tender loving care our families, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and church and civic communities. How are you tending to your flock?
Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray in the Gospel for Thursday of the First Week in Lent. “If you then … know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him” Matthew 7:11). Parents are generous with their children. Friends are generous with one another. If God is even more generous, we are truly blessed. Like a good parent or friend, God wants to help. What do you ask of God?
Jonah preaches conversion to the city of Nineveh in the Reading for Wednesday of the First Week in Lent. “When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out” (Jonah 3:10). Jonah is surprised by the conversion of the city of Nineveh. He is amazed by God’s mercy. God surprises me too. Especially when people I never expect do incredible acts of loving kindness: a gossiper who visits the neighborhood widows, a homeless man who prays for starving children in East Africa, a stroke patient who thanks the hospital workers for their care. God’s shows mercy to everyone, including me. For what do you need God’s mercy?
In the Gospel for Tuesday of the First Week in Lent, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray the Our Father. Jesus begins with the appropriate attitude for prayer. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). The Our Father is a prayer for the dispositions of a Christian disciple: profession of the God’s reign, acknowledgment of God’s mercy, surrender to God’s will, trust in God’s providence, forgiveness of one’s enemies, and others. What are your dispositions of discipleship?
In the Gospel for Monday of the First Week of Lent, Jesus describes the final judgement. God judges between those who feed the hungry, satisfy the thirsty, visit the imprisoned, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and care for the sick … and those who do not. “Whatever you did for one of these least … of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25: 40). Jesus identifies care for the needy with love of him. Whoever loves Jesus performs these acts of merciful kindness. How do you love Jesus?
God explains how to fast in the Reading for Friday after Ash Wednesday. “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own” (Isaiah 58:6-7). Lent is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These devotions give glory to God, not ourselves. Genuine prayer, fasting, and almsgiving deepen our love for God and for others. They make a difference to those in need of our help. How does your Lenten fasting help those in need?
In the Gospel for Thursday after Ash Wednesday, Jesus teaches his disciples about denying themselves, taking up their daily crosses, and following him. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:24). Jesus warns us about preoccupation with ourselves. Undue self interest leads to an unhappy life. It harms our loving relationships. Selfless love nurtures them. God is the source of real and lasting happiness. God is love. We find happiness only in giving of ourselves in love for others. In what way(s) do you give of yourself for another?