Feb. 28: Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Il Guercino, Study for the Prophet Jeremiah, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1626

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Jeremiah 7:23-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Gospel: Luke 11:14-23

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “They did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward (NRSV, Jeremiah 7:24).”

Let us pray.

Father, in every situation you are our future. Your Word is given to us to be our guide on the journey. Jesus said of himself: I am the way and the truth and the life. In every moment the Word challenges us to move forward through the present towards you. Yet so often, Father, not only do we refuse to advance but, under the sway of the sin of the world and our own selfishness, we actually turn our backs on you, as if it were possible to remove ourselves from your presence, you who are in all things.

Your Word, Father, is always there to guide us if only we would listen to him as he speaks at the depth of our being. There are among us, those more sensitive than the rest of us, however, who do listen and understand with greater clarity. They, Father, are your prophets, who then do their best to interpret the Word for us. So often we reject them. Instead of listening, we stone them, we banish them from our midst, we put them to death.

Father, may we give up our sinful ways that we may look always towards you. May we not only listen more faithfully to your Word ever present to guide and challenge us on our journey, but may we also be more open to those among us, our sisters and brothers, who are your prophets. Because they are more sensitive and responsive, they have so much to teach us. May your prophets make us more open to the Word and may they help to guide us on our journey to you.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feb. 27: Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Philippe de Champagne, Moses Presenting the Tablets of the Law, Milwaukee Art Museum, 1648

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Jeremiah 18:18-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 31:5-6, 14, 15-16
Gospel: Matthew 20:17-28

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill (NRSV, Mt 5:17).”

Let us pray.

Father, in experiencing his resurrection, the apostles recognized that Jesus, the Word made flesh, is the fulfillment of all things. Nothing has been abolished. Nothing has been wiped away. All has come to completion.

Father, through the Word always present to every human being, you have taught us from the beginning that as we say “yes” to you in faith we share your life, united with you, Father, in the Spirit. Bringing to consciousness what has been revealed to us at the depth of our being, however, has been a gradual process. We are blinded principally by the sin of the world, the sum total of the evil that humanity has done, and by our own selfish desires. We have the common experience of being distracted from our pilgrimage of grace by the sins that we commit.

The first time in memory that the people became aware of you, Father, as God for us, was as you led us out of slavery in Egypt to freedom. Once across the sea, there in the Sinai desert, in a mountain storm, it all became so much clearer than ever before. We realized then that you are really one God, not many; that you are somehow one with us; that you love us and want us to love you and one another. In calling us out of slavery, we sensed that there was a special destiny to which you were summoning us. We pondered on all of this and spoke of it as best we could. Our union with you, Father, we reasoned, had to be something like an agreement, the Law, a covenant made between you and us with provisions like a treaty governing how we were to live one with the other. The destiny had to be a land of our own in which we could live in freedom. But how to deal with sin, with our failure to keep the covenant? Payment had to be made, in the form of gifts, of animal sacrifices, of incense and first fruits offered to appease you.

And so, Lord, we continued on our pilgrimage across the desert and into the land. But things were never right. Somehow there had to be a better understanding.

In Jesus came fulfillment. In his resurrection we realized that we are not united to you, Father, by an agreement, by the Law, but by your Holy Spirit that you pour out upon us through your Word. The destiny is not the land at all but everlasting life with you in the world to come, a life that begins even here on earth. Our union with you then is a union of shared life. And the commandments? They were not given once and for all from Mt. Sinai but they are written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit that we may grow in our understanding of how we are to love you, Father, and one another, as we grow in the very life that you share with us, growth possible at every moment.

Father, thank you for your gift of the Spirit who brings us your life and thank you for the Word, made flesh in our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the Spirit comes and through whom we move towards you.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feb. 24: Third Sunday of Lent, Year A

George Richmond, Christ and the Woman of Samaria, The Tate Gallery, London, 1828

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Exodus 17:3-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Second Reading: Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
Gospel: John 4:5-42 or 4:5-15, 19-26, 39, 40-42

“The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life (NRSV, Jn 4:14b).”

Let us pray.

Father, Water symbolizes chaos and destruction but also life. Your holy people, in telling our story, have always associated water with critical moments in that history. The foundation event which we remember as awakening us to an awareness as your people is identified with the passage through the sea and deliverance from slavery to political freedom. Subsequently the passage through the Jordan would mean freedom from the sinfulness and rebellion that characterized the forty years of wandering in the desert.

Events of earlier times were later remembered as being associated with water. Your creation through your spoken Word, Father, was in the Spirit acting upon the great watery chaos and bringing out of it order and life. When the sinfulness of humanity undid that order and all returned to the watery chaos out of which you had brought it, Father,you guided the good man Noah and his family through the devastation of the flood and gave us a new world.

Despite your ongoing presence in the world through your Word and the constant generous offer of life in the Spirit, humanity continued to succumb to the sin of the world and its own selfish desires. John the Baptist summoned your people, Father, down to the Jordan to pass through it once again to leave their sinful selves in the desert and to accept forgiveness of sin. Jesus, the Word made flesh, began his public ministry by being immersed in the Jordan by John and being anointed by your Holy Spirit.

It is in baptism finally that we who believe identify with Jesus in his crucifixion and resurrection, going down to death with him and rising to new life.

In the end, Father, Jesus himself is the true water that springs up to eternal life. It is through the Word that we accept divine life in the Spirit that brings us a share, Father, in everything that you are. May we drink deeply from that well now and in every moment to come.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feb. 22: Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, Apostle

Pietro Vannucci, called il Perugino, Christ Giving the Keys to Peter (detail), Cappella Sistina, The Vatican, 1482

Readings for Mass
First Reading: First Peter 5:1-4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it (NRSV, Mt 16:18).”

Let us pray.

Father, thank you for so many gifts. First of all, I am grateful for the gift of life, not only physical life for this world, but a share in your own divine life for the world to come. You give me this life even from my mother’s womb. Through the Word always present to me, even in my sinfulness, I have the opportunity in every moment of embracing in the Holy Spirit forgiveness and further growth in your life.

I am thankful also that the Word, ever pressing in upon me challenging me to further increase in the Spirit, has come into the world in the flesh in Jesus Christ, that his presence has been made manifest in the body. Now we have seen with our eyes the glory to which you call us.

I am thankful as well for the gift of your Church, the body of Christ, your holy people, Father, which is the ongoing sacrament of your presence in the world, the visible gathering of all who believe in the Lord Jesus and look forward to life in the world to come. In the Church, we ritually and effectively celebrate the one saving act that is your very being, making present in tangible ways the great mystery of creation and sanctification, in every moment available to all, which otherwise we would only experience in the depth of our being and in other ways hidden and not made manifest.

Father, may I and all of your daughters and sons live lives worthy of your great gifts to us.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feb. 21: Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Masaccio: The Trinity with Mary and John, Santa Maria Novella, Florence, 1425-28

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

Thus says the Lord: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals. . . Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord (NRSV, 17:5a,7).

Let us pray.

Father, your prophet Jeremiah, long before Jesus, had warned us never to put our trust in one another but only in you. Jesus repeated this warning. Only you, Father, and your coming kingdom, are what finally matter in all of human existence. Everything else, chosen apart from you and your kingdom, is distraction and can only bring confusion and destruction into our lives. Jesus warned the rich young man, who was committed to following the Law, that, because of the rule of riches over his life, it would be better for him if he were to sell all that he had and give everything to the poor. And, Jesus warned that it is not just material things but even loved ones who reap disorder for us. The would-be disciple only wanted first to bury his father before following Jesus. “Let the dead bury the dead,” Jesus responded.

Over the years, Father, I have been very puzzled by this aspect of Jesus’ preaching. Does it mean that nothing here in this world, not love of spouse, or offspring, or parents or friends, is of any worth? I found the answer, Lord, strangely enough, not in the writings of a theologian or a mystic, but in a fresco on the wall of a church in Florence, a fresco depicting you, Father, your crucified Son and the Holy Spirit, painted by Tommaso di Ser Giovanni, whom we know by his nickname, Masaccio. For the first time in the history of art, Masaccio organized all of the lines of a painting so that they converged on one point. One can find this focal point on the surface of the painting but to the eye it is behind the painting and all lines finally meet visually beyond the painting in the distance. Up until Masaccio, persons and objects in pictures tended to float free of one another without orderly relationship. In Masaccio’s painting all is ordered and in proper rapport because of its dependence on the focal point. It is the focal point that gives meaning to everything within the painting.

And so I realized it is with the kingdom of God. It is in choosing you, Father, and your kingdom above all else, by placing our final trust only in you, that everyone and everything within the world finally takes on its true value. Once all is related to you, Father, beyond this world, all is then related to everyone and everything else within the world as well. If the rich young man had ordered everything in his life towards you, Father, he could have used his riches effectively. Having once made your kingdom, Lord, the sole focus of his life, the would-be disciple would have had no choice but to bury his deceased father.

Father, may we always follow the urging of your prophet Jeremiah and of Jesus, the Word made flesh, that you may be the center and focus of everything we are and everything that do, the object of all our trust.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feb. 18: Monday of the Second Week of Lent

Johann Eck, Lesson in Forgiveness, Christenliche Ausslegung der Euangelienn, 16th century

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Daniel 9:4-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 79:8, 9, 11, 13
Gospel: Luke 6:36-38

Forgive, and you will be forgiven (NRSV, Lk 6:37b).

Let us pray.

Father, everything begins with you. In the order of being you are before the Word whom you beget and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from both you and the Word. We, your created daughters and sons, have received everything that we are from you through the Word. The life that we live is life in your Holy Spirit that is mediated to us through the Word. That life, as all life, has its origin in you.

Forgiveness too begins in you. When, seduced by the sin of the world and our own desires, we turn away from you, Father, to do evil; when we reject life in the Holy Spirit, always offered to us through the Word; you, Father, are, through the Word, ever present to us offering us forgiveness and new life. Every moment is for us the saving moment. It is impossible for us at any moment here in this world to put ourselves beyond the pale of grace and salvation.

Your forgiveness, Father, is freely given. It is the renewed gift of your own life, a second raft always offered, that catches us up once again in your own divine life of giving, receiving and sharing in love.

All of this is revealed to us through the Word at every moment in every place and time at the depth of our being and made manifest effectively for us in the same one act that is your being, Father, in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Christ, the Word made flesh.

Your forgiveness then has no price. It need only be accepted by us. But once truly accepted it has its marvelous effect. To accept forgiveness from you, Father, means that we also forgive ourselves for what we have done, task not possible without your divine grace. Forgiveness of self opens the way to forgiveness of those who have sinned against us, so that divine life, mediated to us through the Word, indeed the Word made flesh, is then passed on by us to others through participation in the one mediation of the Word. Divine life is giving, receiving and sharing in love, not only by Father, Word, and Spirit, but by all who accept your forgiveness, Lord, and take part in everything that you are.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feb. 17: Second Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Theophanes the Greek, The Transfiguration, The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, early 15th century

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Genesis 12:1-4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
Second Reading: Second Timothy 1:8-10
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white (NRSV, Mt 17:1-2).

Let us pray.

Father, as his disciples followed Jesus they were nevertheless not clear about who he was nor even sure of his message. So insecure were they that they easily abandoned him at the moment of his arrest. Peter would even publicly deny him. It was only in experiencing Jesus risen from the dead, Lord, that it all began to make sense to them. As their minds opened finally to understand that the message of the kingdom of God had to do, not with an earthly, but with an otherworldly reality, to which all are called, and that Jesus had himself entered into the fullness of that kingdom in his body; only then did they begin to rethink their previous understanding of who Jesus was. Surely, they now concluded, this Jesus, whom they had followed, was truly Messiah and Lord, your very Son. They should have realized it, they argued, by his very message and the power that went out from him, overcoming evil, forgiving sins and healing the sick. Indeed, your life and power, Father, were manifest in him. Of course, the disciples should have been ready for Jesus to pass through death and rise to new life. Had he not revealed himself in glory to Peter, James and John?

Father, from the very beginning, the divine life that you give eternally to your Word shone out through the life of the Word made flesh. We rehearse the story of the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain but Jesus was truly transfigured in every moment of his life. Your life, Father, given to Jesus was always manifest in him. Father, you share that same life with all of us who are ready to accept it and grow in it. May we say “yes” to you that the same power that filled Jesus and went out from him to help others may also fill us and go out from us that we too may stand against all evil in the world and come to the assistance of our sisters and brothers in need. Father, enlivened and empowered by you, may we too lead transfigured lives.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feb. 16: Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Love and the Pilgrim,The Tate Gallery, London, 1896-97

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Deuteronomy 26:16-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8
Gospel: Matthew 5:43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (NRSV, Mt 5:43-44).”

Let us pray.

Father, it was as you led us out of slavery in Egypt that we realized for the first time how you are God and we are your people. We learned then of the great care you have for us and how you want us to care for one another. It was at Mount Sinai, as our deliverance continued that we focused our attention on how you would have us live. We continued on our journey after Mount Sinai convinced that we were your covenanted people bound to you by the Law. The Law found expression in precepts to guide our lives, precepts attributed to you.

As we continued on from Mount Sinai we came to understand ourselves as a pilgrim people journeying towards the land of promise. We looked into our past and recognized that the journey had begun long before even with our father Abraham as he left his home in Mesopotamia, surely even before him, right from the beginning. Then your son Jesus, the Word made flesh, awakened in us the understanding which the Word has always taught us in the depth of our being, if hitherto unacknowledged, that we are on pilgrimage not towards the land at all but towards you, Father, to the fullness of the eternal life that you share with us. It is our very nature to be a people on pilgrimage, even from this world into the world to come.

All along this journey, Father, through your Word you teach us. You teach us once and for all in every moment but that teaching becomes ever more real for us as we move forward on our journey. There are certain moments that seemed privileged for our understanding, moments such as at Mt. Sinai or when Jesus taught us on the holy mountain, but every single moment contains within it the possibility of real growth. It is as we grow in your life that we grow in our grasp of what you require of us.

Just as our pilgrimage is everlasting our realization of the meaning of love is continually challenged to increase. No one understanding of love is final as there is always the possibility of growth in comprehension.

If we mistakenly conclude, Lord, that we have finally reached the open clearing of definitive knowledge, that we have at last the answers that we seek, the clearing inevitably becomes obscured in darkness and we are caught in the brambles of confusion and error. It is then that Love herself who is your Holy Spirit, prompted by your ever-present Word, beckons us forward, offering us her hand to help us on our continuing pilgrimage.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Feb. 15: Friday of the First Week of Lent

Roger van der Weyden: The Archangel Michael, from the Altarpiece of the Last Judgment (detail), Hôtel-Dieu, Beaune, 1443-46

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Ezekiel 18:21-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26

But if the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die. None of the transgressions that they have committed shall be remembered against them (NRSV, Ez 18:21-22a).

Let us pray.

Father, so many Christians look to the future to a judgment in which all of one’s life will be placed on the balance and the good weighed against the evil that one has done. In the late Middle Ages there was a popular artistic representation found all through Europe with the Archangel Michael holding the scales and demons and angels struggling for the souls of the deceased.

But as I read the gospels, Father, I find there a Jesus who announces true forgiveness of sins, a forgiveness which involves a wiping away of the past and a really new beginning. Even the prophet Ezekiel tells us that, as we repent and choose to do that which is good, the past drops away forgotten. We are, Lord, what we make ourselves to be in the moment in response to your gift of forgiveness and new life.

As we accept forgiveness and begin anew we shall always be mindful of the effects of the past evil that we have done and, moved by your divine favor, we shall make every effort to correct the injustices that we have caused.

Father, we are grateful for the gift of divine forgiveness which you offer to us in every moment, even when it is not sought. May we always be ready to change our lives, to let go of our sinful past and to accept growth in your divine life so freely given. May the future be for all of us not a time of tribulation but of great joy as we accept even more fully the life that you share with us.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Feb. 14: Thursday of the First Week of Lent

Andrea del Castagno, Queen Esther, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, 1450

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 7-8
Gospel: Matthew 7:7-12

Then Esther prayed to the Lord, the God of Israel, saying: "My Lord, our King, you alone are God. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you (NAB, Est C:14)."

Let us pray.

Father, in the story that we rehearse, Queen Esther, desperate to save her people from slaughter, cries out to you as her only hope. We, your people, Lord, minister to one other in our interdependence. Each of us is his own person, distinct and separate, but we depend on one other for so many things. What we often overlook is that everything that we are and everything that we have comes from you. You, Lord, are the source of all. In certain moments, however, moments that only appear more critical than others, we become aware of ourselves as alone. The usual visible supports of our daily life melt away. Perhaps, like Jesus as he underwent his passion, we are even abandoned by all. There is no place and no one to whom we may turn.

Lord, we realized that every moment is crisis; every moment is privileged; but this is a reality that we often brush aside in the coming and going of everyday experience. It is only when all else has failed and we are thrown back upon ourselves with no other human, no other force, to help, that we finally face up to what is the reality of every moment. Ultimately, Lord, you are our only help in every situation. Your help is often mediated to us by others but in the end that assistance, the life and the power that are our salvation, comes from you. Lord, may I learn from you what you always teach me through your Word that every moment is crisis, that all that I am and all that I have comes from you and that you never abandon me, ever, but are always there for me offering me your life and power in the Spirit through your Word.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feb. 13: Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Jonah, Cappella Sistina, The Vatican, 1511

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Jonah 3:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19
Gospel: Luke 11:29-32

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, "Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you." So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord (NRSV, Jon 3:1-3).

Let us pray.

Father, I have always thought of Jonah as one who could not stand up and face the destiny to which you call us. He hoped, by fleeing, to escape from your presence. But there is no escaping, Lord, not that you pursue us but that, in your Word spoken to us, you are always with us, calling us to repentance, forgiveness and further growth in your life. When Michelangelo painted Jonah on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, he envisaged a different Jonah, this one naked and daring, challenging you with rebellious contempt, but also in the process of conversion, his defiance being transformed by the elation and happiness that comes from the reacceptance of your life, Father, and renewal of the sonship that he had once affirmed in his mother’s womb. All of us, Father, have experienced moments of behavior like those of Jonah when, succumbing to the enticements of the sin of the world or our own delights, we either try to flee from you or to stand defiant in your presence. How grateful we are that, despite what we do, you never abandon us but remain present to us in your Word always offering renewed acceptance and life. May we, like Jonah, finally listen to your invitation and your challenge. Having allowed your forgiveness and new life to transform us in ever increasing measure, may we too bear witness to your presence and universal call to repentance and salvation to all of our sisters and brothers.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feb. 12: Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Christoph Weigel: Our Father Who Art in Heaven, Biblia ectypa : Bildnussen auss Heiliger Schrifft Alt und Neuen Testaments, 1695

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19
Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him (NRSV, Mt 6:7-8).”

Let us pray.

Father, we realize that you are unchanging and that everything begins in you; yet, when we pray, so often we begin by trying to get your attention and then continue by letting you know our needs and how important it is that they be fulfilled. Finally we ask you to come to our assistance, to do what you have not been doing up until that moment in order that our prayers may be answered. The matters that we pray about are often not trivial. We pray for a friend who is seriously ill even unto death. We pray for the poor and those oppressed. We pray for peace and justice throughout the world. When many of our prayers seem to go unanswered we argue that you, Lord, must have a better plan for us. Acquaintances will often argue that we did not pray seriously enough or believe intensely enough. If only we had sufficient faith, they say, then our prayers would be answered.

How foolish of us, Lord. We begin our prayers by asking you to come, to listen, as if you are not always present to us, you who have sent your Word to dwell with us, your Word who constantly challenges us to accept your Spirit and to grow in your life.

Then we explain our needs, even in great detail, as if you, Lord, did not know everything that there is to know. You are aware of our needs ever much more fully than we are ourselves.

We beg you to come to our assistance when it is you who in every moment offers us through the Word your own divine life in the Holy Spirit.

How unthinking of us, Lord, to ask you who are unchanging to change and help us (as if you were not always helping us and everyone with the fullness of your divine power at every moment). Father when are we going to learn that pray does not change you? Prayer rather should sensitize us to the life and power that you always offer us so that we might accept it and make it our own, even share it with others in need. How grateful we should be that you respect our integrity and our freedom, that you do not belittle us by acting for us, that you never take over in our lives but in every instant empower us to act if only we would accept the gift of your life. Father, prayer does not change you. Prayer should change us.

Alleluia. Amen.

Feb. 10: First Sunday of Lent, Cycle A

Anonymous Spanish Master, The Temptation of Christ, Hermitage of San Baudelio de Berlanga, Province of Soria, Spain, The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, c. 1125

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17
Second Reading: Romans 5:12-19 or 5:12, 17-19
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11

But Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (NRSV, Mt 4:4).’ ”

Let us pray.

Father, as we begin this holy season of Lent, may I follow your Spirit, as the Spirit leads me, as well into the desert that with Jesus, in a confrontation with death, not always recognized as the sister that she is, that I too may come to realize, in this moment, who I am and what it is that you require of me here and now. May this moment also prepare me for coming moments and their demands as I continue my pilgrimage towards you who are my one, final and true Future.

After forty days of fasting, Jesus was hungry and the devil came to him and challenged him to change stones into bread to satisfy his hunger. But Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’ ”

During this Lenten season, Lord, may I understand more fully what you always teach me: the life that I lead is only apparently a life of this world, a merely physical life. It would seem, like other created beings around me, that my life is determined finally by the laws of this world, that I had a beginning at a certain moment in time, offspring of mother and father; that, interacting with others and things about me, I have grown to maturity; and that I shall eventually go into decline and die.

But, Lord, listening to your Word spoken within me, even from that first moment in my mother’s womb, I have realized that it is not by mother and father that I truly have life but by your Spirit that is given to me. It is through the Word who speaks to me that I receive the Spirit. It is through the Word, then, and not by bread alone, that I truly live and move and have my being. Physical life has been passed on to me by earthly mother and father but my true life, Lord, comes from you through your Word in the Spirit. It is your very life, Lord, that you share with me. It is as Jesus the Word himself made flesh declared: It is by him, by your Word, that I live.

May I, Lord, during this Lent, to nourish myself more fully in your Holy Spirit gifted to me through your Word who always, in every situation, even though I wander, speaks to me.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Feb. 9: Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Hendrick ter Brugghen, The Calling of St. Matthew, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1621

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Isaiah 58:9-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Gospel: Luke 5:27-32

After this Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me (NRSV, Lk 5:27).”

Let us pray.

After this Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me (NRSV, Lk 5:27).”Father, Jesus chose his close disciples, each during a passing encounter. I used to wonder what would have happened to them if they had hesitated or even said “No;” if Peter and Andrew and James and John had not dropped their fishing nets and left their boats to run after him; or if Levi, whom we also know as Matthew, had not gotten up from his counting table to abandon his profession of tax collector. There is also the case of the would-be disciple who wanted first to bury his dead father. Is it possible that he did actually abandon his deceased father to follow Jesus then and there? Or is there another, somewhat cryptic message for him, and us, hidden in Jesus’ challenge? We know, from the story, that the rich young man did walk away from Jesus saddened because of his attachment to his wealth. Was there a second chance for him? Many argue, Father, that you have a particular life’s work laid out for each of us? One can wonder what might be our fate if that opportunity is deliberately missed.

Father, what I have learned about you and my relationship with you has come to me in flashes of insight received now and then over the course of a lifetime. With each of these advances, I have acknowledged that it was always something that I knew all along but just did not seem capable earlier of putting into words. My conclusion, Lord, is that your Word to me has been spoken all along, the same one Word, everything that I have to know about you and everything else, spoken there within me waiting to be understood.

In fact the Word spoken, I now realize, is the Word speaking. Your Word, your Son, made flesh in our Lord Jesus, is always present to me. He not only reveals you to me in one spoken Word; that revelation also offers me your life. Even when I sin or resist his offer, your Word always remains present to me, calling me to conversion, offering me your forgiveness and new life. All of this is essential to my being a human being.

And that, Lord, gives me the answer to what I have so long wondered: every moment, not just one particular moment, is the saving moment. Every moment, every occasion is privileged. Regardless of what I have done in the past, of how many possibilities missed, each moment brings the opportunity of a new beginning.

Father, I am listening. Through your Word, ever present to me at the depth of my being, regardless of how I have responded up until this moment, you are calling me right now to die to myself and my past and to be reborn in you. May I accept and say “Yes” now, and in every moment to come.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Feb 5: Tuesday of the Fourth week in Ordinary Time, Cycle II

Paolo Veronese, Christ and the Woman with the Issue of Blood, Art History Museum Vienna, 1565-70

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Second Samuel 18:9-10, 14, 24-25, 30--19:3
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Gospel: Mark 5:21-43

Jesus said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease(NRSV, Mark 5:34).’

Let us pray,

Father, life and power goes out from you to your Son and the Holy Spirit and indeed to all creation as well in the one instant that is your being. May we accept your gift of sharing in everything that you are and allow that gift to transform us, make us holy and bring us ever closer to you. May we accept your foregiveness and healing, offered to all, in the way most fitting for who we are and the situation in which we find ourselves. May we share your life and power with all of our sister and brothers.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Feb. 4: Monday in the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time, Cycle II

Alexander Master, Jesus Heals a Possessed Man at Gerasa, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague, c. 1430

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Second Samuel 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 3:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Gospel: Mark 5:1-20

‘Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you (NRSV, Mark 5:19b).’

Let us pray.

Father, in every moment your healing power goes out to all of us who will accept it. May we say "yes" to you in every situation and then announce to our sisters and brothers the wonderful things that you do for us.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feb. 3: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Edouard Léon Louis Edy-Legrand, The Sermon on the Mount, François Amiot's and Robert Tamisier's Bible,1950

Readings for Mass

First Reading: Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
Second Reading: First Corinthians 1:26-31
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them (NRSV, Matthew 5:1-2).

Let us pray.

Father, You have, from the beginning, called us all forward to live in your life, ever growing in love for you and for one another. Moses and the Israelites realized this for the first time at the holy mountain and we always have the opportunity to increase that understanding. Jesus also taught us from the holy mountain and even now teaches us in every moment at the depth of our being. May new understanding of your once and for all revelation help us to love every more fully on our journey to you.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feb. 2: Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Sir John Everett Millais, Christ in the House of His Parents, Tate Collections UK, 1849-50

Readings for Mass

First Reading: Malachi 3:1-4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 24:7, 8, 9, 10
Second Reading: Hebrews 2:14-18
Gospel: Luke 2:22-40 or 2:22-32

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him (NRSV, Luke 2:40)

Let us pray.

Father, as Jesus, the Word made flesh grew and became strong, so may we, in every moment, continue to accept you life and power, ever offered to us by the same Word, and thus grow always in you who are our only true Future.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Feb. 1: Friday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle II

Readings for Mass

First Reading: Second Samuel 11:1-4, 5-10, 13-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 51:3-4, 5-6, 6-7, 10-11
Gospel: Mark 4:26-34

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it (NRSV, Mark 4:33).

Let us pray.

Father, you alone are truth and all other truth but shares in your one truth. We who are creatures are called by the Word in Holy Spirit to grow in your truth. And so we go hopefully from understanding to understanding, ever ready to leave behind earlier answers of which we had been so certain. Father, may we always grow in your life and truth, not only in this world but in the world to come, forever and ever.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.