FEBRUARY 27, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF LENT – SATURDAY – PART TWO – 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 is not a model for earthly fathers to follow. It is, rather, 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 does not really repent of his sins. He just sees that he could do better in his father’s house.
  2. He realizes that he has sinned against his father and against God.       This is the absolute minimum.
  3. The father needs no words of repentance. He has already made the decision to welcome 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. “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. O God, my reasons to return to you are selfish. You overlook all that.
  2. You want me back. That fills me with hope.
  3. I walk to you but you run to me.
  4. I try to speak, but you do not need my words.
  5. I want to work. 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 never changes.

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

  1. I will not delay my return. God’s mercy calls me to return.
  2. I will not allow fear to hold me back. God will run to me.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

“My son was dead and has come back to life.”

FEBRUARY 27, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF LENT – SATURDAY – PART ONE – THE PRODIGAL SON

(Luke 15:11-32)

Prayer: O Heavenly Father, let me never leave your house.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:

This is a “Parable of the Father’s Love” and is drawn from real life. Many young unmarried sons (under twenty) asked for their inheritance to leave Palestine and better themselves. This son, however, loses his money and returns home. The father’s response is not reasonable, but mirrors the way God treats us.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

A man had two sons. The younger said, “Father, give me my inheritance.” After gathering his things, he went to a distant country. However, he wasted his money by living recklessly. When he had lost everything, a famine broke out and the son got a job feeding pigs. He would like to have filled his belly with their food but no one gave him any.

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

  1. This scene happens so frequently. A young person grows dissatisfied and wants out.
  2. This desire destroys the family support which he/she still need.
  3. The son rejects the Father’s wisdom and soon his own wisdom fails him miserably.
  4. The destructive power of sin destroys all that he has.
  5. The result is total disaster. A privileged son has become a hungry swine herder. (The lowest of occupations).

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

  1. O God, how often my desire for liberty has led me to frightful decisions.
  2. Too often, O Lord, I have trusted my own wisdom.
  3. O Jesus, my unbridled passions have led me into problems.
  4. You allowed my situation to deteriorate.
  5. You abandoned me to my own whims, so I would face reality.
  6. Leaving your house, O Lord and choosing my own path have led me to the depths of darkness, even to depravity.

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

  1. I will recall all of my foolish decisions, taking full responsibility for what I have done.
  2. I will not blame God for my situation. I decided to leave his house.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

He got a job feeding the swine.

(To complete the parable, go to the next meditation.)

FEBRUARY 26, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF LENT – FRIDAY – TAKING AWAY THEIR VINEYARD

(Matthew 21:33-43)

Prayer – O Lord, you have given me everything. Make me a faithful tenant.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus with his disciples and his opponents.)

Context:

Jesus spoke this parable in Jerusalem when the chief priests and elders questioned his authority. The parable fitted their situation. The tenants are the Jewish religious leaders. The vineyard is Israel. The servants already rejected are the Old Testament prophets. The son, of course, is Jesus. By rejecting the son (killing him on the cross), the religious leaders will lose their authority.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said, “There was a man who planted a vineyard, put a hedge, dug a vat and erected a tower. He rented it to tenants and went on a journey. When the harvest came he sent his servants to the tenants to receive his share. The tenants beat one, killed another and stoned another. He sent more servants and they did the same. Finally, he sent his son, thinking, “They will respect my son.”

Seeing the son, the tenants said, “This is the heir. Let us kill him and we shall own the vineyard.” So they killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the Lord of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”

They answered, “He will bring those evil men to an evil end and will give the vineyard to those who will give him grapes at vintage time.” Jesus said, “For this reason I say that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and will be given to a people who will yield a rich harvest.

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

  1. Notice the zeal and care of the owner for his vineyard. He plants a vineyard and builds a hedge, a vat and a tower.
  2. The owner only wanted his share of the grapes.
  3. The messengers just bring the owner’s words – to give them what is his due.
  4. The owner is patient, even when the tenants kill his servants.
  5. He gives them another chance, deciding to even risk his son to restore the right relationship.
  6. The tenants want the whole vineyard and are willing to kill the son to get it.
  7. Instead of gaining the vineyard, they are cast out.
  8. The vineyard is taken away and given to others.

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

  1. Jesus, you have done everything for me. You created me. You came to earth for me. You died for me.
  2. O Lord, you have a right to my praise, to my life, to everything. It is yours.
  3. O Lord, when you send your messengers, let me accept them. When you speak in my heart, let me listen.
  4. How patient you are, O Lord, waiting, always waiting until I turn to you.
  5. Father, you sent your only Son to me, even at the cost of his life.
  6. I give you everything. All that is yours is mine. You have done everything for me.

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

  1. I will give God every Sunday. The day belongs to him.
  2. I will listen to the church and to God’s voice within me.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Finally, he sent his son, thinking, “Surely, they will respect my son.”

FEBRUARY 25, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF LENT – THURSDAY – THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS

(Luke 16:19-31)

Prayer – O Lord, awaken me by this warning. Do not let me be like the foolish brothers.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus teaching the crowds.)

Context:

Judaism believed that riches proved God’s favor and that poverty proved sinfulness. Jesus reveals the true picture, which shocks his audience. The rich man goes to hell, while Lazarus enjoys the highest honor of being at Abraham’s side. This sets the stage for this parable of the six brothers (its real name). The rich man sees clearly that his five brothers are in danger. However, his brothers are like foolish men with no thought of the impending judgment. They do not listen to the Church and its preaching.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

A rich man feasted sumptuously every day. At his gates sat Lazarus, a beggar filled with sores. He desired only the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table but no one gave them. It happened that the beggar died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried in hell. He lifted his eyes and saw Abraham afar off with Lazarus at his side. He cried out, Father Abraham, “Let Lazarus come and refresh me with some water.” Abraham replied, “Remember that you received good things in life and Lazarus received evil things. Now he is comforted and you are tormented. Besides, there is a great abyss between us and no one can pass from one side to another.”

The rich man said, “Then send Lazarus back to earth to preach to my five brothers, so they do not come to this place of torment.” Abraham said, “Let them listen to Moses and the prophets.” The rich man said, “If someone risen from the dead told them, they would do penance.” Abraham said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not listen to one risen from the dead.”

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

  1. Lazarus is used only to highlight the problem of the six brothers, one dead and five living.
  2. The dead brother realizes how important repentance is. Without penance, his five brothers will all join him in hell.
  3. They have the normal helps (the teachings of Moses and the prophets) but the rich man realizes that they won’t use those helps.
  4. He pleads for Lazarus to be a risen-from-the-dead preacher, to whom they will certainly listen.
  5. However, Jesus is already risen from the dead and most do not listen even now.
  6. The parable challenges us to respond to the gospel that is preached to us every day.

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

  1. Jesus, while I am here on earth, I am free to choose.
  2. When my life is over, I will have made my choice.
  3. Right now, I decide to repent, to change and to have you as my Lord.
  4. I do not need an extraordinary preacher. I need only your word.
  5. You are risen. You preach to me. You speak within. You call. You shout. I must hush all the other voices, so I can hear you.
  6. Someday, Jesus, I will be in heaven or in hell. Guide my free will.

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

  1. I will read God’s word with urgency.
  2. I will believe that God who wants to welcome me into his Kingdom.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Lazarus was carried by the angels to the bosom of Abraham.

FEBRUARY 24, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF LENT – WEDNESDAY – AMBITIOUS JAMES AND JOHN

(Matthew 20:17-28)

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit. Reveal the glory you have prepared.

Imagination: (Picture James and John seeking favors from Jesus.)

Context:

Jesus has just told the apostles that he would come in glory. With great ambition, James and John want that glory. Before granting any glory, Jesus must enter into his Messianic glory by drinking the cup. This cup means both his suffering and the Eucharistic cup celebrated in Mark’s Church.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

The mother of James and John came to Jesus, accompanied by her sons. Jesus asked “What is it that you want?” She answered, “Promise me that these sons of mine will sit, one on your right hand and the other on your left hand in your Kingdom.” Jesus replied, “You do not know what you are seeking. Can you drink of the chalice that I will drink?” They said, “We can.” Jesus said, “You shall indeed drink of the chalice that I drink of. However, to sit on my right hand or my left hand, is not mine to give you. It is for those for whom it has been reserved by my Father.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. These apostles have no idea of the costs of the Kingdom’s glory.
  2. Jesus tells them that they seek what they do not understand.
  3. Even with this warning, they glibly say that they can drink the chalice.
  4. Jesus sees the future. After many failures, they will drink the chalice and will be martyred.
  5. The highest glory, however, is reserved for others.
  6. Such is the Kingdom! God has already prepared each one’s place and his decisions are beyond our comprehension.

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

  1. O Jesus, enlighten me about the greatness of your Kingdom.
  2. Pull me into the great mystery of your will.
  3. Help me to drink your chalice.
  4. O Jesus, You have prepared my place in glory.
  5. O Jesus, Your only desire is to share your glory with me.
  6. You have already made me so many promises.

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

  1. I will find time for mental prayer so God can reveal the Kingdom to me.
  2. I will cherish God’s will, both on earth and in heavenly glory.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

The Father has already decided my place in heavenly glory.

FEBRUARY 23, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF LENT – TUESDAY – THE HYPOCRISY OF THE PHARISEES

(Matthew 23:1-12)

Prayer: O Jesus, give me the heart of a servant.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus instructing His disciples in humility.)

Context:

Jesus does not criticize the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees (although he alludes to moral rigorism) but he condemns their practices of seeking honor and gaining titles. Jesus wants his disciples to serve others and to take the last place.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus told the crowds and his disciples, “The scribes and Pharisees sit on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do all that they say but do not follow their example. For they bind heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they do not lift a finger to help them.

They do all their works to be seen by men. They widen their phylacteries and wear huge tassels. They love first places at feasts and first place in the synagogues. They like to be greeted in the marketplace and be called “Rabbi”. You are to avoid the title “Rabbi”. Only one among you is the teacher. The rest are learners.

Do not all call anyone on earth ‘Father’. Only one is your Father, the One in heaven. Avoid being called ‘Teacher’. Only one is your teacher, the Messiah. The greatest among you is the one who serves the rest. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

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

  1. By hypocrisy, a person professes a belief that they do not live out.
  2. Jesus despises this false devotion and provides many concrete examples.
  3. The Pharisees place burdens on people and offer no help.
  4. They seek praise of others and places of honor.
  5. They seek titles and superiority.
  6. They distance themselves and refuse to serve.
  7. Only Jesus Christ is your master.

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

  1. O Jesus, I will live my devout life in truth.
  2. I will place everyone in my heart and be a servant to all.
  3. I will love the other disciples and we will be a true sign to the world.
  4. I will seek no worldly glory, especially in my devout community.
  5. You, alone, are my Christ, my Master, my Lord.
  6. Do not let me ruin your work.

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

  1. Today, I will serve others.
  2. I will avoid all ostentatious behavior so the gospel can spread.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The greatest among you must be the servant of all.

FEBRUARY 22, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF LENT – MONDAY – COMPASSIONATE AS THE FATHER

(Luke 6:36-38)

Prayer: Father, fill me with your compassion.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples.)

Context:

After teaching about loving enemies, Jesus concludes with “Be compassionate as the heavenly Father.” He then stresses the need not to judge others. This will determine what will be measured out to the disciples.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said to his disciples, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful. Do not judge and you shall not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. If you forgive, you will be forgiven.

Give and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down and shaken together, flowing over into the fold of your garment. By the same measure that you measure, it shall be measured out to you.”

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

  1. How merciful the Father is. That is how merciful the disciple must be.
  2. If we do not judge, God does not need to judge us.
  3. To be forgiven by God, we need only to forgive others.
  4. Jesus uses the example of buying grain at the marketplace.
  5. The seller fills the basket and presses down so he can give even more.
  6. Finally, he shakes the basket so every inch is filled with grain.       This is how a disciple should give.
  7. People also carried grain in their apron. Jesus promises that his blessing will “flow over the fold of the garment.”

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

  1. O Jesus, I will approach every person with a merciful and compassionate heart.
  2. O Lord, you make so many promises and all of them are true
  3. If I forgive others, you will forgive me.
  4. Such a great reward for such a little effort!
  5. Fill me, Lord. Press your favors into my heart.
  6. Shake me so you can fill me even more.
  7. O Jesus, I give you little and you give me much.
  8. My heart overflows, incapable of receiving all you give.

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

  1. I will ask Jesus to make me a generous person.
  2. Today, I will see who needs my compassion and forgiveness.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation

Give and it will be given to you in full measure.

FEBRUARY 21, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF LENT – SUNDAY – C – THE TRANSFIGURATION

(Luke 9:27-36)

Prayer: O Jesus, take me up the mountain with you.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus transfigured in glory with his 3 apostles.)

Context:

Peter has just proclaimed (by faith) that Jesus is the Messiah. Now, these three apostles experience Jesus as the Messiah. Also, the Father says that Jesus is his “Beloved Son”, the same title given at Jesus’ Baptism. Elijah and Moses appear. They, too, share in Jesus’ fullness. All of these religious experiences confirm that Jesus is the Messiah.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain to pray. While he was praying, his face changed in appearance and his clothes became dazzlingly white. Suddenly, two men were talking with him – Moses and Elijah. They appeared in glory and spoke of his passage which he was about to fulfill in Jerusalem. Peter and those with him had fallen asleep. When they woke, they saw his glory and the two men with him. As the two men were leaving, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three tents – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He did not realize what he said.

A cloud overshadowed them. They were afraid as Moses and Elijah entered into the cloud. A voice came out of the cloud and said, “This is my Beloved Son, listen to him.” Then, they were alone with Jesus. The disciples kept quiet, telling nothing of what they had seen to anyone.

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

  1. The three apostles had no idea where Jesus was taking them.       They just followed him in faith.
  2. Upon arriving, they had the greatest possible religious experience. They saw Jesus in his glory.
  3. Even more, Moses and Elijah speak with Jesus about his future death in Jerusalem.
  4. Peter experiences overwhelming joy. He wants to erect three tents and stay there.
  5. The Father enters the scene with a clear message. Jesus is his Son and they must listen.
  6. The holiness and power of God overwhelm them.
  7. Fortunately, when all is over, Jesus remains with them.
  8. The gift remains locked in their hearts until after Jesus rises from the dead.

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

  1. O Jesus, every morning I will ascend the mountain of prayer.
  2. I will meet you, Jesus. I will see your glory and you will claim my heart.
  3. You are the center of all history. You are the whole purpose of my life.
  4. The Father speaks. I hear his words. He tells me who you are.
  5. O Jesus, I will listen only to you.
  6. Your glory fills me with a fear. Let me never be separated from you.
  7. O Jesus, stay with me.

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

  1. I will be faithful to daily mental prayer.
  2. I will remain with Jesus, never walking away from him.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

While he was praying, his face was changed in appearance.