MARCH 5, 2016 – WEEK THREE OF LENT – SATURDAY – THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX COLLECTOR

(Luke 18:9-14)

Prayer – O Lord, fill me with light that I would see my sinfulness.

Imagination 🙁 Picture Jesus with His disciples)

Context:

The two men both arrive at the hour of prayer (either 9:00AM or 3:00PM). Three aspects mark the Pharisee – his prominent position, the sins he has avoided and his good deeds which go beyond what is prescribed. In contrast, the tax collector stands at a distance, is considered a robber (by respectable people) and recounts no good deeds. He strikes his heart (the source of all sin). His prayers and actions actually show a total helplessness of ever correcting his life. The parable is spoken to the religiously self-confident.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus spoke to those who trusted in themselves and despised others.

A Pharisee and a tax collector went up to the temple to pray. Standing, the Pharisee prayed, “I thank you, God, that I am not like the rest of men – greedy, dishonest and adulterers – as is this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give tithes on all that I possess.”

The tax collector stood afar off, not even raising his eyes to heaven. He struck his breast while saying, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

I say to you that this tax collector returned to his home justified rather than the other.

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

  1. The parable has two scenes – one in the temple and one in heaven.
  2. The temple scene is familiar, two men praying.
  3. What happens in heaven, however, shocks his listeners. The tax collector is justified.
  4. The Pharisee sets the stage for the tax collector. He is the one who has the correct attitude and prayer.
  5. The tax collector is in total despair, locked into a disreputable lifestyle and, seemingly, has no ability to change.
  6. Seemingly, he has no good resolutions.
  7. However, he experiences the beginning step of conversion – a broken and contrite spirit.

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

  1. God, I have absolutely nothing to offer you.
  2. I have no spiritual strength, no good deeds and no resolutions.
  3. Yet, I dare to enter your temple of prayer.
  4. I offer you only one gift – an empty heart and a broken spirit.
  5. But you accept this as the first steps on my new journey.
  6. Your words encourage me, “This man went home justified.”
  7. Your mercy is everywhere. Even I can hope.

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

  1. Even in my most sinful moments, I will turn to God for mercy.
  2. I will never allow the candle of my hope to go out.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

This man went home justified, but the other did not.

MARCH 4, 2016 – WEEK THREE OF LENT – FRIDAY – THE SCRIBE CLOSE TO THE KINGDOM

(Mark 12:28-34)

Prayer – O Jesus, I want to love you with all my heart and soul.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with the crowd while he speaks with this good-willed scribe.)

Context:

This scribe is not hostile. His question is sincere. In response, Jesus quotes the great prayer which the scribe himself recited each day. His Jewish faith had brought him close to the Kingdom.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

One of the scribes asked Jesus, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied: “This is the first: ‘Hear, O Israel. The Lord our God is Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your whole heart and all your whole soul and all your mind and all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is like to it. ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There are no other commandments greater than these.

The scribe said to Jesus, “Excellent teacher, you are right in saying, ‘He is one and there is no other than he. Yes, to love him with all our heart and all our mind and all our soul and all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourself is worth more than any burnt offering and sacrifice.’

Jesus approved his answer and told him, “You are not far from the reign of God”. And no one had the courage to ask him any more questions.

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

  1. This scribe comes with a docile spirit. His question is fair and he accepts Jesus answer.
  2. To emphasize the total consecration to God, the Jews use many images – heart, mind, will, strength.
  3. Jesus adds a second commandment, love for neighbor.
  4. In these two commandments, Jesus sums up his whole gospel.
  5. The scribe agrees that loving God and neighbor are more important than even temple sacrifices.
  6. The scribe is close to the Kingdom. Now, he needs to believe that Jesus is Messiah and Lord.

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

  1. Jesus, give me a docile spirit and a heart eager for your word.
  2. I consecrate myself to you – heart and mind, soul and strength. Anything less is unworthy of you.
  3. O Jesus, when you enter my heart, you bring my neighbor. I must love everyone.
  4. You preached love, even to your death on the cross.
  5. Let me love be a total immolation.
  6. O Jesus, I choose you. You are the bridegroom of my soul.

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

  1. I will set aside time today for God alone.
  2. I will love my neighbor in thought, word and deed.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

Hear, O Israel. The Lord our God is Lord alone.

MARCH 3, 2016 – WEEK THREE OF LENT – THURSDAY – CASTING OUT DEVILS BY GOD’S FINGER

(Luke 11:15-26)

Prayer – O Jesus, use your great power to bless ME.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with the disciples and the crowds).

Context:

In this text, Jesus meets two enemies. They agree that Jesus worked these miracles and cast out Satan. Some question the source of his power and others want a heavenly sign. Jesus destroys their arguments and claims he is stronger than Satan.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

As Jesus was casting out a devil, some said, ‘It is by Beelzebub, the prince of devils, that he casts out devils.’ Others tested Jesus by wanting a sign from heaven.

Jesus said, “Every Kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to destruction. Any house torn by dissension shall fall. If Satan is divided against himself how shall his Kingdom stand? You say that I cast out devils by Beelzebub. By whom do your children cast them out? Let them be your judges. But, if I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.

When a strong man fully armed guards his courtyard, his possessions go undisturbed. But if a stronger man than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he will take away the arms on which he was relying and distribute his spoils.

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

  1. People use many excuses to reject Jesus. They question his powers or they demand signs.
  2. Jesus answers their question. To think that Satan casts out Satan is ridiculous. Satan is too intelligent to divide his house.
  3. What a powerful image! God only needs his finger to conquer Satan.
  4. If Jesus casts out Satan, then the entire Kingdom of God is present.
  5. Jesus describes the present situation. Satan is heavily armed and keeps secure possession of the whole world.
  6. Soon, however, all that will change. Jesus is stronger and better armed. Soon, he will over throw Satan and set us free.

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

  1. Jesus, your powers are true, able to save me and free me.
  2. O Jesus, cast out all that is dark and satanic in me.
  3. Let the finger of God come upon me.
  4. O Jesus, Satan binds all, and controls all. How I need you!
  5. You have all power. You are fully armed with the Holy Spirit.
  6. You break open and set free. Come, Jesus. I await you.

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

  1. Every day, I will ask Jesus to break the demonic powers that can bind me.
  2. I will avoid all occult involvement.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

If I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God is upon you.

MARCH 2, 2016 – WEEK THREE OF LENT – WEDNESDAY – THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS

(Matthew 5:17-20)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Make me great in Jesus’ Kingdom.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples).

Context:

“Law and Prophets” means the whole Old Testament. Jesus wants his Church to retain these books and teach them to his disciples. At the same time, these books are not God’s final word or his greatest gift because Jesus “fulfills” these laws and prophetic words.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets. I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill. Amen I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter, not even the smallest part of the letter will pass away, until all is fulfilled.

Whoever shall break one of these least commandments and teach others to do so, will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever shall keep them and teach others to do so, shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven.

I tell you that unless your goodness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the Kingdom of heaven.

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

  1. After making us God’s children, Jesus describes how we must live.
  2. First, disciples must keep God’s word. Secondly, they must teach others to live by God’s word.
  3. Then, they will be great in the Kingdom. They will be both doers and
  4. Disciples must go beyond the limited goodness of the scribes and Pharisees.
  5. These tasks are heavy but the reward is great. Disciples will live forever in the Kingdom of Heaven.

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

  1. Jesus, you have made me a child of the Father.
  2. Train me in your word, O Lord.
  3. O Jesus, plant your truth in my heart.
  4. Give me a zeal to instruct others in your word.
  5. May your power make me holy.
  6. You call me to be great in the Kingdom. I cherish your invitation.

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

  1. I will examine where I do not keep God’s law.
  2. I will read the Old Testament to see God’s words to Israel.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Whoever keeps these commandments and teaches others will be great in the Kingdom.

MARCH 1, 2016 – WEEK THREE OF LENT – TUESDAY – THE UNMERCIFUL SERVANT

(Matthew 18:23-35)

Prayer: O Jesus, fill my heart with the Holy Spirit of mercy towards others.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with his disciples.)

Context:

This parable about the Last Judgment highlights the deepest secret of discipleship. They must learn how to forgive. The warning is serious. God, who has granted the disciple forgiveness will revoke that forgiveness if the disciple does not forgive others. Everything is at stake.

The parable also offers a unique comfort. If we forgive others, then God’s mercy will extends to the Final Judgment.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

(Scene 1) The Kingdom of heaven is like a King who decided to settle all his accounts. One servant owed him ten thousand talents. The King wanted his family and his goods sold so payment could be made. The servant said, “Have patience with me and I will pay everything.” Moved with pity, the king forgave the debt.

(Scene 2) When this servant left, he found his fellow-servant who owed him a hundred pence. Laying hands on him, he said, “Pay what you owe.” The fellow-servant, prostrating himself, said “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” However, he would not. Instead, he threw him into prison until the debt was paid.

(Scene 3) The other servants were very grieved and told the King what had happened. He called the servant and said, “Wicked servant, I forgave you the entire debt when you asked me. Should you not, then, have compassion on your fellow servant as I did on you? Filled with anger, he handed the servant over to the torturers until he paid all. So shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you do not forgive all your brothers from your heart.

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

  1. This “accounting” represents the Final Judgment. For the forgiving disciple, this Final Judgment will be filled with mercy.
  2. The false disciple claims that he will repay the master. However, the amount he owes is so astounding that he will never be able to pay.
  3. He seeks only a reprieve, a postponement of the accounting. Instead, the King forgives the whole debt unconditionally.
  4. Although forgiven, the disciple does not imitate the King’s forgiving generosity.
  5. Jesus’ conclusion is clear. The Final Judgment will be a time of mercy only if “You forgive your brother from your heart.”

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

  1. Jesus, you have revealed how I can receive mercy on Judgment Day.
  2. Lord, may the moment of that judgment be always before my eyes.
  3. Lord, what I owe to you I can never repay.
  4. Teach me to forgive from my heart.
  5. O Jesus, You are always patient with me. Your compassion overflows.
  6. Jesus, let me hold no one in my debt. Then, I will also be set free.

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

  1. Today, I will thank God for his patience and mercy.
  2. I will show forgiveness to everyone.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Moved with compassion, the King forgave the whole debt.

FEBRUARY 29, 2016 – WEEK THREE OF LENT – MONDAY – REJECTION AT NAZARETH

(Luke 4:21-30)

Prayer – O Lord, never let me reject you.

Imagination(Picture Jesus confronted by the angry citizens of Nazareth.)

Context:

The mood of the crowd changes suddenly from acceptance to rejection. Jesus pinpoints the cause. They want to see miracles. Jesus recounts two stories in which the prophets worked miracles for non-Jewish people. Their rejection turns to an angry attempt to kill Jesus. However, it is not yet the time for his crucifixion.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

While preaching at the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus said, “Today this passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke favorably of him and marveled at the words which came from his mouth. Yet, they said, “Is this not the son of Joseph?” Jesus said, “You will say, ‘Physician, heal yourself. We have heard about the great things you have done in Capernaum. Do them here in your own country.’”

He continued, “I say to you. A prophet is without honor only in his native place. I say in truth. There were many widows in the days of Elijah in Israel, when the heavens were closed for three years and six months and there was great famine on the earth. To none of these was Elijah sent except to the widow at Zarephath near Sidon. There were many lepers in the time of Elisha the prophet, but he cleansed none except Namaan, the Syrian.”

When those in the synagogue heard these things they grew angry. They brought Jesus out of the city to the edge of a hill, so they could throw him down. But he passed through their midst and went his way.

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

  1. These people of Nazareth have an obstacle to accepting Jesus as a prophet. They knew him as a little boy, the son of Joseph.
  2. These memories close their minds to faith.
  3. Jesus pinpoints the problem. Prophets are accepted everywhere except where they grew up.
  4. The people feel that they have a right to Jesus’ miracles. After all, he grew up in Nazareth.
  5. Jesus cites Elijah and Elisha who worked miracles for foreigners but none for Israel.
  6. This rebuke stirs them to anger and to an attempt to kill Jesus. However, the Father wants Jesus to die in Jerusalem.
  7. Because of its lack of faith, Nazareth receives no blessing.

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

  1. Jesus, I have so many obstacles. Remove them all.
  2. I accept you, Jesus. I open my heart wide. I am yours.
  3. Lord, all that I have comes from you.
  4. Jesus, your favors are for everyone. You push no one aside. You look with love, even upon me.
  5. Poor Nazareth is deprived of your blessings. Woe is me if I reject you.
  6. O Jesus, teach me your ways.

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

  1. I will seek Jesus today with childlike faith.
  2. I will receive Jesus’ favors and I will use them well.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Jesus passed through their midst and went his way.

FEBRUARY 28, 2016 – WEEK THREE OF LENT – SUNDAY – C – THE FIG TREE

(Luke 13:6-9)

Prayer – O Lord Jesus, let me use this extra time to repent and receive the Kingdom.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus speaking to the crowds.)

Context:

Although the judgment is inevitable, God marvelously extends the time for repentance. The Fig Tree parable teaches that in Palestine, the owner allowed three years for a gif tree to grow. In the parable, another three years has passed, a total of six years. The owner’s patience is past its limits, yet his mercy grants a stay of execution. When this extra year is over, no human power can prolong the time of salvation.

The fig tree absorbs large amounts of nourishment, thus depriving surrounding vines of their needed sustenance. Fertilizing a fig tree is highly unusual. This tree, therefore, will receive special, unmerited care.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

A man planted a fig tree in his vineyard and came to gather its fruit. He said to the gardener, “For three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and have found none. So, cut it down. Why should it continue to exhaust the soil?”

The gardener answered him, “Lord, let it alone for one year more. I will dig around it and put manure on it. Hopefully, it will bear fruit. If not, then you can cut it down.”

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

  1. The vineyard represents all of creation. The fig tree is each person.
  2. Three years represents a fullness of time, certainly enough for the fig tree to blossom.
  3. The owner’s expectations are reasonable. A fig tree should produce figs.
  4. His decision to cut down the tree is just. He has sought fruit for three years.
  5. Even so, he will give the tree more time. It will even receive the special care of manure to nourish it.
  6. However, even the farmer’s mercy cannot totally excuse the fig tree. It must respond to all these helps and produce life.

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

  1. God, you have given me so many graces and for such a long time.
  2. You ask only that I produce virtues according to my state in life.
  3. Jesus, how patient you have been with me. Year after year you came looking for virtues.
  4. You give me your choicest graces, surrounding me with every possible help.
  5. Jesus, I will delay no longer. I will choose a devout life and bring forth virtues.

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

  1. I will see all that God has provided.
  2. I will no longer delay. I will no longer put off my decision. I know what God is calling me to do.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

“Lord, give it another year. If it bears no fruit, then cut it down.”