MARCH 12, 2016 – WEEK FOUR OF LENT – SATURDAY – THE GROWING OPPOSITION

(John 7:40-53)

Prayer: O Jesus, never let me oppose you.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus preaching in the Temple.)

Context:

Jesus has divided the crowd. Some think he is the Messiah and others say the Messiah must come from Bethlehem, the City of David. (John’s community knew that Jesus was born in Bethlehem). The question is about Jesus’ divine origin and this text unfolds the great debate.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Some who heard Jesus’ words said, “This is indeed the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” Some however, asked “Does the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the scripture say that the Christ is from the seed of David and from Bethlehem where David lived? So a dissension arose because of Jesus. Some would even have apprehended him but no one laid hands on him.

When the temple guards came in, the chief priests and the Pharisees asked them, “Why did you not bring him in?” They said, “Never has anyone spoken as he did”. The Pharisees asked, “Have you, also, been taken in?” Do you see any members of the Sanhedrin or of the Pharisees believing in him? Only this crowd which knows nothing about the law – and they are lost, anyway!”

Nicodemus, one of their own (who had spoken with Jesus) said, “Does our law judge a man without speaking with him and learning the facts?” They taunted him, “Are you also a Galilean? Search the scriptures. You will not find the prophet coming from Galilee.” Then, each went off to his own home.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. Some grasp the truth. Jesus is the prophet and the Messiah.
  2. Others find difficulties, as if Jesus does not fulfill the prophecies.
  3. Still others plot to kill Jesus.
  4. The guards are honest. Jesus’ words touched their hearts and they would not arrest him.
  5. Their refusal stiffens the resistance of the temple leadership.
  6. Nicodemus also speaks up but cannot pierce their darkness.
  7. Because their hearts are divided, they separate and go home.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, you are the prophet, the messiah, all that I could ever hope for.
  2. Without you, my whole life is divided.
  3. O Jesus, give me an honest heart to make the right decisions.
  4. Break down all my walls of resistance so I can follow you.
  5. Send your messengers to instruct me and to show me the true path.
  6. Pierce my heart, Jesus. Plant your word.
  7. I do not want to walk away and return to a life without any purpose.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. Today, in the quiet of my heart, I will proclaim Jesus as my Messiah.
  2. I will be aware of any hardness of my heart.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

No one has ever spoken like this before.

MARCH 11, 2016 – WEEK FOUR OF LENT – FRIDAY – IGNORANT OF JESUS’ ORIGINS

(John 7:25-30)

Prayer: O Jesus, I believe that you come from the Father.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching in the Temple.)

Context:

When Jesus is in Galilee, he works miracles and receives acclaim. When he goes to Jerusalem, he finds persecution because the leaders want to kill him. The controversy centers around his origins. Since Jesus comes from Galilee, the people of Jerusalem do not accept his Messiahship. Jesus says that they do not know his real origin – which is from God.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Some people in Jerusalem remarked, “Is this not the one whom they wanted to kill? Yet, he speaks openly and no one says anything. Have the authorities decided that this is the Messiah? Yet, we know where he comes from but when the Messiah comes, no one will know from where he comes.

Jesus, therefore, proclaimed in the temple, “You both know me and you know where I come from. But, I have not come on my own. He who sent me is true, but you do not know him. I know him because I come from him and he has sent me.

Because of this, they tried to apprehend him but no man could lay hands on him because his hour had not yet come.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Jerusalem leaders opposed Jesus because they would lose their power.
  2. Blinded by their greed and social status, they reject Jesus as the Messiah.
  3. Even the people remain in darkness concerning Jesus’ divine nature.
  4. Jesus presses theis important question of his divine origin.
  5. He is from God, the son of the Eternal Father.
  6. The Father has sent Jesus and he knows the Father perfectly.
  7. They fail to kill Jesus.   God alone determines that hour.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, do not let me oppose your plans for my life.
  2. Remove my blindness and I will embrace you as my Messiah.
  3. Where do you come from, Jesus? Did not the Father send you?
  4. Jesus, you know the Father and you reveal him to me.
  5. Heavenly Father, only you will determine my hour of death. I will be ready.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will thank God that I know Jesus of Nazareth is my Saviour.
  2. In what parts of my life do I oppose God? I will answer that question.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

I have not come on my own. The Father has sent me.

MARCH 10, 2016 – WEEK FOUR OF LENT – THURSDAY – PART ONE – THE FATHER’S TESTIMONY

(John 5:31-40)

Prayer: O Jesus, help me to believe your testimony.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching in the Temple.)

Context:   Jesus explains his purpose in healing the man. By this miraculous deed, the Father testifies about Jesus’ divine mission. Before this, John the Baptist testified about Jesus. However, the Jews accept neither testimony.

Gospel text (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

If I testify of myself, my testimony is not verified. However, another testifies about me and I know his testimony is true. This testimony is the works which the Father has given me to do. These testify that the Father has sent me. You sent emissaries to John and he testified to the truth. But I have testimony greater than John’s, the works that the Father gave me to accomplish.

The Father himself testifies about me, but you do not have his word because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the scriptures and even these testify on my behalf. However, you do not want to come to me to have life.

Thoughts (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Jesus has worked many miracles by which the Father testifies to his divine mission.
  2. These miracles speak loudly, proclaiming that the Father has sent Jesus.
  3. When the Jews still do not believe, Jesus identifies the obstacle.
  4. They want the Father but not the Father’s messenger, the Beloved Son.
  5. They are blind even to the scriptural prophecies that foretold Jesus.
  6. They cannot pass from death to life because they reject Jesus, the only bridge to the Father.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Jesus, your miracles invite me to believe in you.
  2. You are Jesus of Nazareth. You come from the Father. You are his Divine Son.
  3. O Jesus, remove my obstacles to faith. Make me a child of light.
  4. Every page of Scripture testifies to you. You wrote it that I would believe.
  5. One truth is certain. When I come to you, I will gain eternal life.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will study the miracles (both in the Scriptures and in Church history). Their abundance will support my weak faith.
  2. I will remove my critical spirit, which often refuses to accept God’s signs.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

The Father himself testifies about me and his testimony is true.

MARCH 10, 2016 – WEEK FOUR OF LENT – THURSDAY – PART TWO – SEEKING HUMAN PRAISE

Prayer: O Jesus, I accept you as my Lord and Saviour.

Imagination:    (Picture Jesus teaching the crowds.)

Context:          In this final part of the conflict, Jesus pinpoints the problem. His hearers listen to each other and praise one another. They do not open their ears to God. Moses did not act this way. He pointed to Jesus. If they believed Moses, they should believe in Jesus.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

I do not receive glory from men. Also, I know you and you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in the name of my Father and you do not receive me. Yet, if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe when you receive glory from each other and you do not seek the glory that comes from God alone?

Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father. The one to accuse you is Moses whom you accept. If you believed Moses, perhaps you would also believe me because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. The Jews have formed an inner circle of approved teachers who resist Jesus because he is the outsider.
  2. Because they do not seek to praise God, their hearts are closed to Jesus.
  3. They seek their own glory and set aside God’s glory.
  4. Moses, not Jesus, will accuse them before the Father.
  5. The Christian community has discovered many sayings of Moses that point to Jesus. If they honestly searched Moses’ words, they, too would come to faith.
  6. They will not accept Jesus, even though Moses prophesied his coming.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Jesus, to you I give all praise and honor.
  2. I believe that you come in the father’s name.
  3. In all my decisions, I will seek only your approval.
  4. O Jesus, your new voice resounds in my heart.
  5. I will seek your word in daily bible reading.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will not value human praise. It is so fickle.
  2. I will cherish God’s words, “You are my beloved.”

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

I do not receive glory from men.

MARCH 9, 2016 – WEEK FOUR OF LENT – WEDNESDAY – PART TWO – HONORING THE SON

(John 5:23-26)

Prayer: O Jesus, help me to value eternal life.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples in the Temple.)

Context: Jesus continues to defend his ministry as He focuses on God’s power to judge, to raise from the dead and to grant eternal life. The Father, (who obviously has these powers) has given them to Jesus, who is “The Son of Man”, (a title of great authority.)

Gospel text (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Whoever does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father who sent him. Amen, Amen, I say to you. Whoever hears my word and believes in him who sent me, has eternal life and will not come to condemnation. He has passed from death to life. Amen, Amen I say to you. The hour is coming and is already here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Those who hear, shall live.

Just as the Father has life in himself, so he has given to the Son the possession of life in himself. And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed. The hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out. Those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life. Those who have done evil deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.

Thoughts (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. When Jesus says “Amen, Amen”, his teaching is very important.
  2. The stakes are very high – eternal life or eternal death.
  3. To enjoy eternal life, you must hear his voice and honor the Son.
  4. His voice is so powerful that even the dead hear it.
  5. Jesus has the power to judge all mankind and he wants you to share his glory.
  6. The decision is yours. You can rise to new life.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, Your words are so important.
  2. You alone, O Jesus, have full and everlasting life.
  3. Through you, I can rise from my grave.
  4. All life dwells in you. You are the Father’s new blessing.
  5. You will call me forth and give me eternal life.
  6. O Jesus, I make the choice.
  7. I choose you. I choose your glory and your life.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will seek a personal relationship with Jesus.
  2. For my eternal salvation, I will trust only Jesus.

 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The hour is coming and is already here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of Man.

MARCH 9, 2016 – WEEK FOUR OF LENT – WEDNESDAY- PART ONE – THE SON AND THE FATHER

(John 5-19-23)

Prayer: O Jesus, reveal the Father and Jesus to me.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples in the Temple.)

Context: Jesus has just healed a man who lay ill for thirty-eight years. However, he healed him on the Sabbath, and “The Jews began to persecute Jesus” (Jn 5:16) and even tried to kill Jesus because He made “himself equal to God”. (5:18). Now, Jesus responds to their hostility.

Gospel text; (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said, “I say to you that a son cannot do anything by himself, but only what he sees his father doing. Whatever he does, the son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself does, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed.

Just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also the Son will give life to whomever he wishes. Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he gives all judgment to his Son, so they may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father who sent him.

Thoughts (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Jesus reveals the source of his powers and deeds.
  2. He does only what he sees the Father doing.
  3. The Father loves Jesus and shows him everything. Nothing is held back.
  4. As the Father gives more power, Jesus does greater works. This causes even more wonder.
  5. Only God can give life and judge the world. Jesus shares even in these divine powers.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Jesus, through you, I share in the Father’s life.
  2. Reveal your mysteries. I can do nothing on my own.
  3. I am amazed and filled with wonder as I see you work in me.
  4. O Jesus, you imitated the Father. Let me imitate you.
  5. You have all power over life and death. I entrust my soul to you.
  6. Only you are the Lord of heaven and earth.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will ask Jesus to show me what to do.
  2. I will trust him for all I need, both in life and in death.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he does.

MARCH 8, 2016 – WEEK FOUR OF LENT – TUESDAY – THE NEW WATER OF LIFE

(John 5:1-16)

Prayer: O Jesus, heal my body and remove my sins.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus speaking to the healed man.

Context:

John portrays Jesus as going to Jerusalem on feast days to show that Jesus fulfills Jewish aspirations concerning the Messiah.   This is the third sign of new life (preceded by Cana and healing the official’s son). The pool is clearly identified as the one near the sheep Gate.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus went up to Jerusalem on a feast day, going to a pool where many sick waited for the waters to be stirred. A certain sick man had been there for thirty eight years. Knowing that he had been sick a long time, Jesus said, “Do you want to be healed?” He said, “Sir, I do not have anyone to plunge me into the pool once the water has been stirred and someone gets in ahead of me.”

Jesus said, “Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.” The man was immediately healed. He picked up his mat and walked. It was the Sabbath. The Jews said to him, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to take up your mat.” He answered, “The one who made me whole told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk’”. They asked, “Who is the man?” The healed man did not know who it was. The crowd was so great that Jesus had slipped away.

Later, Jesus found him in the temple and said, “You are made whole. Sin no more so that something worse does not happen to you.” The man told the Jews that it was Jesus who made him whole. Therefore, the Jews persecuted Jesus because he did these things on the Sabbath.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Jesus chooses to heal this man because he has been sick for so long.
  2. The pool was frequently stirred from below. The sick tried to enter the pool while the stirring was taking place.
  3. Since Jesus is the new healing water, the man needed only Jesus, not the pool.
  4. By placing Sabbath laws first, the Jews reject this new source of God’s grace.
  5. Although healed, the man can still lose eternal life. This is Jesus’ concern.
  6. In great simplicity, the man reports Jesus, totally unaware of the Jews’ desire to kill him.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Lord, how long I have been sick with my sins and imperfections.
  2. You look at me. You know my sorry state. You pick me out of the crowd.
  3. You say to me, “Stand up.” Suddenly, I have great strength.
  4. O Jesus, I will remain with you and you will give me eternal life.
  5. Why do people not love you? You bless everyone.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will live this day in hope that Jesus will choose me for his blessings.
  2. I will not listen to what others want me to do.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

Jesus, knowing he had been sick, said, “Stand up.”

MARCH 7, 2016 – WEEK FOUR OF LENT – MONDAY – BELIEVING THE WORD OF JESUS

(John 4:43-54)

Prayer: O Jesus, you can do all things. Help me to believe.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with the royal official pleading for his son.)

Context:

This is the second time in John’s gospel that Jesus reveals his power. This second miracle also takes place at Cana, and has some similar aspects. First, Jesus’ initial response seems like a refusal. Yet, the official sees that it is not a definitive refusal. He grows in faith, “believing in the word Jesus spoke to him.”

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

Jesus went to Cana of Galilee where he made the water into wine. A certain royal official, whose son was sick at Capernaum, came to him because he heard that Jesus had returned from Judea to Galilee. He asked Jesus to come down and to heal his son, who was at the point of death.         Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you do not believe.” The official said to him, “Lord, come down before my son dies.” Jesus said, “Go home. Your son lives.” The man believed the word which Jesus said and went home.

On his way home, his servants met him, bringing word that his son lived. He asked the hour when this happened. “Yesterday, at the seventh hour, the fever left him.” The father knew that this was the same hour that Jesus said, “Your son lives.” So he and his whole household believed. This was the second miracle that Jesus did upon returning to Galilee.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Jesus returned to Galilee, which was filled with faith. Jesus’ fame had spread everywhere.
  2. Having heard of Jesus’ miracles, the royal official comes with great faith.
  3. The son occupies first place in the man’s heart and he wants Jesus to heal.
  4. Jesus’ reply seems harsh, much like his answer to his mother at Cana.
  5. Even so, the man’s love for his son causes him to renew the request.
  6. Jesus acts at a distance, knowing that the son is healed.
  7. The official, also, is satisfied. He does not press Jesus to come with him.
  8. Without seeing, he “ believed in Jesus’ word.”
  9. When the servants brought the news, the official has no doubt that Jesus healed his son.
  10. His faith grows. All in the house believe. He became a Church member. That is how we have the story.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, how many requests I have in my heart right now.
  2. O Lord, I come before you with my heart filled with desires.
  3. I seek no sign, I believe you are the Christ, Son of the living God.
  4. I need not say “Come to my house.” You are already with me.
  5. Your power has no limit. Time and place present no obstacles.
  6. Let me see your power in every event of my life.
  7. O Jesus, we will believe in you, all my family, and my friends.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will ask Jesus for his help in every need.
  2. I will allow faith to grow within.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

Go home. Your son lives. He and his whole household believed.

MARCH 6, 2016 – WEEK FOUR OF LENT – SUNDAY – C – THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL

(Luke 15:17-24)

Prayer: O Father, embrace me when I return to you.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:

The father’s response to the Prodigal’s return is not a model for earthly fathers. It is how the heavenly father responds to our repentance. The son is reduced to the lowest degree of degradation. He is in contact with unclean animals and unable to keep the Sabbath. Having already received his legal inheritance, the son had no further claim on his father. The father’s actions are unusual and undignified. He runs and embraces the Prodigal.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Coming to his senses, the son thought, “The servants in my father’s house have bread. Here, I am dying from hunger. I will go back and say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and you. I am not worthy to be called your son. Make me a hired servant.”

When the father saw him a long way off, he was moved to compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. The father said to his servants, “Put the finest robe on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Get the fatted calf and kill it. Let us eat and rejoice. My son was dead and has come to life again. He was lost and is found.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. The Son comes to minimum repentance. He realizes that he has sinned against God and his father.
  2. He is strongly motivated because he sees that he could do better in his father’s house.
  3. The father needs no words of repentance. He experiences great joy in having him back.
  4. The father has one thought. He must reestablish the son to his former status.
  5. The father explains to his servants that his actions flow from his feelings.
  6. His thinking is clearly described. “My son was dead and has come to life. He was lost and has been found.”

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. God, even though my reasons to return to you are selfish, you overlook that.
  2. To think of returning to you fills me with hope.
  3. I walk to you but you run to me.
  4. I try to speak, but you will not hear of it.
  5. I want to work, but you want to celebrate.
  6. It is as if I have never left. May I never walk out on you again!
  7. You bestow a fullness. You hold nothing back. Your love for me restores me completely.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. God’s mercy calls me to return. I will not delay.
  2. I will not fear meeting God. He will run to me.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

“My son was dead and has come back to life. He was lost and is found.”