The prophet patiently bears with his opponents in the Reading for Wednesday of Holy Week. “The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced” (Isaiah 50:7a). He relies on God when maltreated and rejected. With God’s help, Jesus overcame them to the point of death. We face maltreatment and rejection too. When innocently attacked, we tend to attack back. Yet violence begets more violence. Jesus responded to the violence of his executioners with love. How does Jesus help you love those who hurt you?
Jesus confronts his betrayers in the Gospel for Tuesday of Holy Week. “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (John 13:21). At supper with his disciples, Jesus acknowledges the betrayal of Judas and predicts that of Peter. Loving relationships are vulnerable to disappointments and betrayals. Friends lose interest. Spouses divorce. Siblings stop talking. Jesus loved even his betrayers. On the cross, he forgave his persecutors. Like Jesus, we must remain faithful to God’s love even when others are unfaithful to us. How does God help you deal with betrayals?
Isaiah announces restoration for Israel in the Reading for Monday of Holy Week. “I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6b-7). God extends a hand to comfort the exiled people and to lead them back home to freedom. Sometimes our lives feel like a confinement. Our prospects seem gloomy. The days are overcast with worry or grief. In Christ, God takes our hand and walks with us through the suffering to freedom from loneliness, despair, suffering, and even death. Where is God taking you?
Jeremiah asks God for help in the Reading for Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent. His enemies denounce him. He turns to God to save him from harm. “But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will … not triumph” (Jeremiah 20:11). Jeremiah is a model of faith. Rather than retaliate, he relies on God for justice. Jesus did the same on the cross. He forgave those who persecuted him. God gives us the strength love even our enemies. How is Christ with you in adversity?
Jesus acknowledges his intimate relationship with God in the Gospel for Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent. “I do know him and I keep his word” (John 8:55b). Because of their loving relationship, Jesus does God’s will. Jesus loves us as God loves him. Intimate relationships are like that. The love of spouses begets the love of children. The love of friends begets the love of more friends. The love of neighbors begets the love of other neighbors. Knowing Jesus intimately and lovingly begets our selfless love for others. How well do you know Jesus?
In the Reading for Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent, God saves Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the furnace. They refuse to denounce the God of Abraham. King Nebuchadnezzar sentences them to death. Miraculously they survive. The king makes an acclamation of faith. “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him …” (Daniel 3:95). We encounter dire circumstances too. We face unemployment, sickness, failed relationships, and even death. Christ is with us. He wants us to trust in God as he did on the cross. God rose him from the dead. How has God delivered you from distress?
Paul presents Abraham as a model for Christian faith in Reading 2 for the Solemnity of Saint Joseph. Abraham “believed, hoping against hope, that he would become the father of many nations, according to what was said, Thus shall your descendants be” (Romans 4:18). Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was barren. He still believed in God’s promise. He trusted in the power of God to do the impossible. God fulfilled the promise with the birth of Isaac. Like Abraham, we have plenty of reasons to despair. In Christ, God is still doing the impossible. Christ brings life from death, health from illness, peace from discord, love from selfishness, hope from despair. How does Christ inspire your hope?
Jesus speaks to the Pharisees in the Gospel for Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8: 12). Jesus remonstrates them for not recognizing him as sent from God. They judge by appearances blinded to the presence of God. Christ is our light. He is the presence of God in our midst. Following Christ’s light, we discover God in ourselves and others, especially the poor. By Baptism, we are Christ’s lights of love. How do you walk by the light of Christ?
The Psalm for Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent is a prayer of confidence in God’s care for the troubled. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves” (Psalm 34: 18). Everybody has troubles. People struggle with limited finances, broken relationships, illness, and other stresses. We have a God who knows human suffering. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. We have nothing to fear. How does God help you with your troubles?
In the Gospel for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent, Jesus acknowledges God as the source of his good works. “The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me” (John 5:36). I enjoy receiving compliments. I like to take the credit. Deep down I know the good I accomplish, I accomplish by the grace of God. In Baptism we are commissioned by Christ to love as God loves. We are on a mission from God, not on one of our own making. What has God sent you to do today?