Here are three resources to deepen your Lenten experience:
WORD ON FIRE:
Mary Ann Dowd and others recommend Father Robert Baron's daily Lenten meditations at this link. (The sign-up link is towards the bottom of the page.)
IGNITING OUR VALUES:
The Jesuits offer “Igniting our Values,” a Lent 2015 digital prayer experience beginning on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18, through Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015. Each evening, material for the following day’s prayer will be posted at this web site.
BEST LENT EVER:
Don and Kathy Geiger recommend "Best Lent Ever" as a source of renewal at this web site.
NEW! LIVING LENT DAILY:
From Loyola Press, a series of short videos to inspire your journey through lent. Find it at this web site.
Like many of you, we read the "Word Among Us" reflections. Often they give exactly what is needed, sometimes a particular day really hits on something or helps in our discernment.
The readings at the end of January focused on the work of evangelization. They included the call, "Jesus went up to the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted, and they came to him. Mk 3:13"; "Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.Mk 1:17 "; the method, "God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.2 Tim 1:7 "; "The sower sows the word."Mk 4:14; "Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear."Mk 4:23; "The seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.Mk 4:27 "; and the best reality of the best news...God loves us. "The one who had made the promise was trustworthy.Heb 11:11"
The reflections on two days really made me think..."did a Cursillista write this?"
This is from the reflection on the 'Fishers of men' verse. "So here are some suggestions that will help make you into a vessel of grace: First, ask God to give you a desire to share his good news. Second, find the courage to ask people, even strangers, "Can I pray with you about anything?" You'd be surprised at how many people are open to a quiet, nonthreatening invitation. Third, invite people to join you at Mass. Offer to come and get them if they can't make it on their own. Take them out to breakfast afterward. Become a friend, and your love for Christ will rub off on them."
And from the reflection on the 'Sower and the Seed'. "Think for a moment how many other seeds the world, the flesh and the devil are sowing all around us. There's nothing stingy in their tactics. How much more, then, should we counter all these poisonous seeds with the seeds of the gospel! The need is great, so don't be intimidated! And by all means, don't feel defeated or outnumbered! God has promised to be with you always as you spread your word.
So how are you going to sow today? What opportunities will you seize to spread the seeds of the gospel? They're all around, after all. Keep your eyes open, as you ask the Lord to help you see ways you can creatively witness to his love. Who knows? He may even give you brothers and sisters in Christ who are just as zealous as you to proclaim the word, in season and out."
Are you a carrot, an egg or a tea bag? Think about that for a moment. We’ll come back to it later.
We read in Mark's Gospel that in the synagogue in Capernaum “all who looked on were amazed.” How many times in the Gospels do we hear that the people who listened to Christ’s teachings and or witnessed his miracles were “amazed?” Just what does that mean? Have you ever watched a magician and wondered “How did he do that”? Did you stand there with your mouth open in total shock? Being amazed by something is like looking at beautiful fireworks. We say, “Ooh” and “Ahh” when we see it; but when it’s over we walk away just the same as we were before. These people in today’s Gospel were very much like that. They loved to hear the words of Jesus, to see His miracles, but they didn’t change the way they lived or the way they thought.
Contrast that with the Blessed Mother. The Gospel tells us in numerous places that “Mary pondered these things in her heart.” She listened to the message of Her Son and took the time to think about it and to apply it to her own life. She was changed by what she saw and heard. Mary was the first Christian and the example for each of us of what we should be.
When we come to Church on Sunday, are we changed by the message of the Gospel, by the homily, or by the Eucharist that we receive? Do people see anything different in us? Do we leave here and ponder what we have witnessed, or are we just amazed, and unchanged?
Many of us, perhaps most of us, look at the world around us, the corruption in government and in business, the failing economy, the poverty and ask “Why?” We need to know that God has put us here to make a difference. He wants us to hear His word, make it a part of our lives, and to transform us so we can transform the world. The problem is that many of us are not changed by participating in the Mass.
I want you to imagine three pots of water on the stove. Into the pots we put a carrot, an egg and a tea bag. We bring the water to a boil for several minutes. Then we remove the carrot, egg and tea bag. The carrot, which was once firm and crisp, is now soft and limp. The egg, which had been liquid inside, is now hard. The teabag, although wet, is relatively unchanged; but the water it was in is changed. This illustrates an important lesson for us. The boiling water is the obstacles and trials of life. We can be like the carrot, the egg or the tea bag. We can lose our faith and become soft like the carrot; we can be hardened by the events of our life and become hardened like the egg; or we can learn from our troubles and change the environment around us like the teabag.
The Gospel gives us the opportunity to see what God’s plan is for us and how to face our surroundings. Our world is a very different place than it was when we were younger. It has become very modernistic and materialistic. It is anti-Christian. Perhaps that is because the Christians of the world have been changed by the environment. Think of those Christians and Muslims who are fundamentalists. They are almost fanatical about their faith, while we are almost indifferent. Something has to change in us if the world is to change. Christ has said, “Let your light shine before men, so that seeing your good works they may give glory to God the Father.”
Most of us are very excited about today’s Super Bowl. The players who are there have worked hard to get there. They practiced long hard hours and trained their bodies. Some of them are even playing with sore muscles and bones. But they want to win that trophy and get their Super Bowl rings. These are good things, but the life that Jesus is offering us is worth much more than a Super Bowl Ring. Don’t you think we should work just as heard to be the best person we could be, like Christ was and is?
In another verse of scripture, Christ says, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, will He find any faith on earth?” I once marveled at this and wondered” How can that be?” Today I see that it is very possible. You and I must make a choice as to where we are going and where the world is going. We can no longer be lukewarm about our faith or we will be changed by the world around us. We must be changed by Christ’s words and be the light and salt that brings change to the world.
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