Isaiah prophesies a glorious new creation in the Reading for Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent. God promises to an exiled people restoration in their homeland. Back in Jerusalem, there will be no more crying and weeping. “Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create; for I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight; I will rejoice in Jerusalem and exult in my people” (Isaiah 65: 18). God makes things new. This is Jesus’ good news of God’s forgiveness. How can God help you start over?
In the Reading for Friday of the Second Week of Lent, Joseph’s brothers plot to kill him. ” ‘Here comes that master dreamer! Come on, let us kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns here; we could say that a wild beast devoured him. We shall then see what comes of his dreams’ ” (Genesis 37: 19). Joseph infuriated his brothers with his coat of many colors and with his dreams. He dreamed they would one day all honor him. Enraged by jealously, they plotted to kill him. Fortunately they changed their minds. God had a dream that Joseph would one day save the People of Israel from famine. God has a dream for us too. Jesus proclaimed this reign of God. Jesus was a master dreamer whose loving self-sacrifice began the fulfillment of God’s promises to feed the hungry, free the oppressed, give sight to the blind, heal the sick, end violence, and restore peace and harmony in the world. How do you help the dream of God’s reign become a reality?
Jesus tells the story of Lazarus and the rich man in the Gospel for Thursday of the Second Week of Lent. Poor Lazarus, who begs for food at the door of the rich man, dies and goes to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man, who refused Lazarus even his table scraps, dies and goes to his torment. The rich man pleads with Abraham to warn his living relatives to care for the poor and avoid his fate. ” ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead’ ” (Luke 16: 30-31). Christian disciples care for the needy. They share what they have for love of Christ. They do not need a warning from beyond the grave. How can God help you be generous to those in physical or spiritual need?
In the Reading for Tuesday of the Second week of Lent, Isaiah prophesies repentance. “Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow” (Isaiah 1: 16-17). God wants Lenten practices done with clean hands. Observe Lent for the right reasons. Fast, pray and give alms out of love. Fast in solidarity with those who are suffering from spiritual or physical hunger. Pray for enemies. Donate time and money to relieve the poor. What help from God do you need this Lent to wash your hands for acts of love?
In the Gospel for Monday of the Second Week of Lent, Jesus preaches about generosity. He tells his disciples to share their possessions with those in need. As God is generous with them, so must they be with others. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6: 36). Jesus wants us to give generously to those in need without expecting anything in return. When have you shared your possessions because it was the loving thing to do?
In the Gospel for Friday of the First Week of Lent, Jesus preaches about the will of God. “… whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment …” (Matthew 5: 22). God desires more than the avoidance of killing. God knows how anger begets violence. God wants us to respond to anger with love. Feelings are facts. Christian disciples can choose how to react. With God’s grace, they can respond to anger with more anger or with more love for those who have hurt them. For what anger do you need God’s healing love?
Jesus teaches the Our Father in the Gospel for Tuesday of the First Week of Lent. Jesus is an exemplary model of forgiveness. He told his disciples to pray for forgiveness. “… forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us …” (Matthew 6: 12). He forgave sinners. He even forgave those who executed him. Forgiveness is essential to Christian discipleship. I am learning forgiveness from my sons. I ask for forgiveness whenever I hurt them. How do you experience God’s loving forgiveness?
In the Gospel for Monday of the First Week of Lent, Jesus promises everlasting life for those who do loving acts of kindness. The disciples wonder when they had ever been kind to him. Jesus says to them, ” ‘… whatever you did for one of these least brothers [sisters] of mine, you did for me’ ” (Matthew 25: 40). Disciples care for those in need. Parents feed hungry children. Neighbors visit the home bound. Parishes welcome newcomers. Communities clothe and shelter the homeless. What loving acts of kindness are you doing for those in need?
Isaiah prophesies about true fasting 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). What good is fasting for fasting’s sake? God wants selfless acts of loving kindness for those in need. What acts of loving kindness are you doing this Lent?
Moses urges fidelity to God in the Reading for Thursday after Ash Wednesday. “Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him” (Deuteronomy 30: 19b). Moses reassures the Israelites that God keeps promises. They are on the threshold of the Promised Land! God expects their steadfast loyalty to God’s way of life. What choices give you life?