Lenten Homilies

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1st Day of Lent
Ash Wednesday

The Legend of the Phoenix neatly encapsulates the symbolism of ashes. The bird is said to be wholly consumed by fire, until only its ashes remain. Then from the ashes, a new bird is born. Ashes are at the one time both signs of death and of life. The call to repentance heard today in the reading from Joel is a call to life. What is important to God, the Prophet points out, is not the external observance of fasting, but the attitude of mind and heart before God.

Jesus is clear that external observance is worthless, even harmful, unless it has at its heart a right relationship with God. Lent is a time when we focus especially on that right relationship with God, beginning with the Cross of ash on our forehead: an outward sign of an inner commitment to God's mercy and love.

Let us pray (pause)

God of peace, speak words of peace to our hearts, and to our world. Help us to spread our peace this Lent and always.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

2nd Day of Lent
Finding Treasure

Some people cannot tell their left hand from their right. This would not be so important except it can lead to great confusion in, for example, trying to follow directions. Often, there is a right way and a wrong way; choosing the wrong way wastes time and energy, and leads to frustration. Moses clearly sets before the people a choice of direction, and trusts that they have the ability to distinguish and to choose - between Prosperity and Disaster, between Life and Death. All the peoples' dreams of life in the Promised Land will turn to dust if they make the wrong choice.

Jesus similarly presents a clear choice; to choose Him and His Cross is to choose Life. To deny Jesus is to lose all. Our choice is the same as that faced by the Israelites, the same as that faced by the disciples of the Lord. We choose Life.

Let us pray (pause)

God of life, through the willing obedience of Jesus Your Son, You showed us how Love could triumph over Death. Help us to love as He loved, so we too may enjoy Eternal Life with You.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

3rd Day of Lent
The Dawn of Joy

Grieving helps us to adjust to loss. We learn to let go of the past, face our present reality, and plan for the future. The Fast proclaimed by Isaiah is a call for the people to let go of their sinful ways. They will miss their old way of life, but through their Penance they will truly let go. They will rediscover a right relationship with God, and they will be able to plan for a future where the oppressed and deprived will flourish.

The Disciples will mourn when Christ has departed from their midst. But as they realize that His Presence is always in their midst, they will learn that letting go of Christ in His Death, they will find Him in His New Life. The presence of Christ is the dawn of a new and everlasting joy.

Let us pray (pause)

Ever-present God, You never abandon Your people. Help us to know You more deeply, and to love You more truly.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

4th Day of Lent
Is there a Doctor in the House?

Good weather for the holiday-maker is not necessarily good weather for the farmer. Often, when we say something is good, we mean simply that it suits us at the time. Isaiah says today that acting justly is good, because it is Obedience to the Will of the Lord, and is the way to happiness. He is not being moralistic, but saying that obeying the Law of the Lord is good, because it is being as we were meant to be.

Good News for Levi is bad news for the Pharisees and Scribes. Dining with Levi shows a level of acceptance, of respect by Jesus. And this was bad news for those intent on preserving their own status. Jesus is not being moralistic, but showing that accepting people is good, because that is doing as we were meant to do. Those full of their own self-importance do not need boosting by others. Only the sick need the doctor, and receive the doctor’s care.

Let us pray (pause)

God of Healing and Strength, be with the sick and the weak. Share Your life with us that we might live for ever in love.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

5th Day of Lent
Build a Palace — or a Jail?

Some aspects of our life are inescapable, others can be changed. The fact we were born on a certain date is unalterable — but we could, by dieting, lose weight. How we live our lives, and the kind of future we will enjoy, are partly determined by factors outside our control, but substantially the result of our own choices. Moses announces the Law to the people, and in choosing whether to obey it or not, they build their future accordingly.

For Jesus, building the future begins in how we treat those around us who are in need. Will we build a future based on Compassion, Justice, Selflessness? Or a future based on Thoughtlessness, Greed and Injustice? Building the first future will bring us Freedom, the second Captivity. Will we build a Palace or a Jail?

Let us pray (pause)

Eternal God, all times and places are Yours. Help us to choose always what is Good, what is Right and what is True.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

6th Day of Lent
The Cost of Comfort

Labor-saving devices are a great help in the home and at work; but they bring their own work-load with them. In order to be comfortable in a modern home, we surround ourselves with devices that need operating, maintaining and replacing. Such is the price of comfort. Wouldn't it be refreshing to be simple? Isaiah points out the effectiveness of the Word of the Lord — It achieves what It sets out to do.

Jesus combines this effectiveness with simplicity. When we Pray, we have no need for sophistication or complication. We Pray simply and directly. In this one area of our lives, comfort is easily found.

Let us pray (pause)

God of day and of night, guide us throughout our lives. Renew within us a Spirit of Prayer, that we may call upon You in our need, thank You with grateful hearts, and praise You for Your Glory.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

7th Day of Lent
Short-sighted?

Even wearing glasses, it is possible to overlook something that is before our very eyes. Vision is partly physical, partly an attitude of mind. The people of Nineveh could see the dire peril they were in, and they repented; seeing them, the King followed their example and joined them. All fasted, and God relented.

Jesus contrasts the vision of the people of Nineveh with the people of His own generation. When the people ask for a sign, Jesus tells them that the sign is before their eyes, but they cannot see it. What use another sign? Until the blindness of a closed mind and heart has been removed, a sign is of no value at all. Open hearing, open mind, open eyes!

Let us pray (pause)

Dear God, help us to see signs of Your presence in the world around us. When You seem far away, remind us that You are indeed very near. Give Your comfort and strength to all who are lonely or sad.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

8th Day of Lent
Grant Others your Dream

It is wonderful to dream and to plan. What futures our imaginations can produce! What delights would be waiting for us were our dreams to come true! Queen Esther dreamed of a future faithfully serving the Lord with her people. Even in the face of death, she held on to her dream and prayed to the Lord. If her dream could come true, all would be well.

Whilst telling the disciples to ask for what they want, Jesus also tells them to be attentive to each others' dreams: treat them as you would have them treat you. How well you treat them is only limited by your dreams of how you would like to be treated yourself.

Let us pray (pause)

Ever-loving and Almighty God, give us the vision to see our world as You see it, and to work for Your Kingdom here on earth.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

9th Day of Lent
Square Peg in a Round Hole

Very early on, a child acquires the skill of putting the right shaped peg into the right hole. Experience quickly shows that no amount of coaxing will succeed in putting the square peg in the round hole. Ezekiel makes observations as to who will live and who will die. He is not threatening the lawless and sinful with death; He is simply observing that their way will lead to death. Their sinful attitudes will not fit into a happy life, no matter how much they might wish it.

Jesus is quite clear on the point. Like Ezekiel, He does not threaten. But it is plain that unforgiving has no place in the Kingdom; insofar as a person is unforgiving, that person will not fit in Heaven. That is simply the way it is. The square peg will not fit in the round hole.

Let us pray (pause)

Loving God, help us to forgive others as You forgive us. May we be sincere in what we do and say, showing Your love to each person we meet.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

10th Day of Lent
Tales of the Unexpected

We depend to a large extent on routine, and surprise provides a stimulus to action or to fresh ways of thinking. Without surprise, life would be dull and predictable. Moses lays down God's Law, and it is in essence to be the routine, the daily bread of the people. It is to be as much a part of their life as eating and sleeping. They do not expect surprise from the Law.

Jesus does spring a surprise. He shows that the Law of God is not simply routine, that it is dynamic and alive; teaching the disciples that they must love their enemy and pray for those who persecute them upsets the routine observance with which they would be familiar. Jesus goes straight to the heart of the Law, and surprises those who may have thought they knew it well. To follow Christ is to be prepared to be surprised.

Let us pray (pause)

God of Justice and Right, speak Words of Wisdom to our heart. Let us know Your law, and live it in love every day of our lives.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

 

11th Day of Lent
Giving is Good for the Heart

Dickens' Scrooge is a byword for meanness and miserliness. The image of Scrooge hoarding his small wealth is not an attractive one, and his possessions clearly did not make him happy. If we rely on what we receive to make us happy, we will be disappointed and sad. It seems that the Prophet is concerned that the people have received from the Lord, but not given in return. Their relationship with God is consequently suffering.

Jesus points out that the person who gives, will receive in full measure, and more. He says this not simply as an incentive to generosity, but as an observation on human nature. Those who think of others' happiness and who give from a full heart, grow in generosity and love. Giving is good for the heart.

Let us pray (pause)

Generous God, renew us in Your image, that we might be generous in sharing what we have with others. As we have received freely, so let us give.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

12th Day of Lent
Be Who You are

Friends are those with whom we can be fully ourselves, and know we are loved because we are ourselves. Being with friends is a welcome relief after being in situations where we are expected to behave in a particular way. Isaiah would have the people as God created them, Sinless and Obedient. But sin has made them otherwise. They are not who they are meant to be.

Jesus is concerned with people, not with the masks which we wear to conceal our true selves. He would not have us hide behind titles, gaining respect by showing off or pulling rank. When we are truly ourselves, we are truly the person God made us to be. Jesus is saying, Be who you are; because that is who God loves'.

Let us pray (pause)

God our friend and guide, be patient with us when we stray from the Path of Goodness. Gently call us back, and let us never despair of Your Mercy.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

13th Day of Lent
It Will Never Work

Strong leadership can be good in a crisis. Too many layers of bureaucracy, too many opinions and not enough decisions can paralyze an organization. The enemies of Jeremiah did not like his style of moral leadership. They would have preferred something less challenging to their established position. If Jeremiah's prophetic leadership proved too much for some, a more radical shake-up was to come with Jesus.

The disciples wanted hierarchy, with Jesus clearly at the top. That was the model they could see in the world around them. That was all they knew. But Jesus insisted that amongst the disciples it was to be different; each must be the servant of the other. They must have imagined it to be a model that could not work, but it was to be the new order of the reign of God.

Let us pray (pause)

Gentle, loving God, before You we are all equal. Help us to overcome anything that would divide us, that we may live in peace according to Your Will.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

14th Day of Lent
Impossible to Prove

When we walk out of a room and close the door behind us, how can we be certain that the room continues to exist? Simply because it will be there the next time we, or someone else, looks, is not actually proof. So much of what we treat as fact, is, in fact, probable opinion, and we take it on trust to be true. Jeremiah is concerned with those who put their trust in the wrong people and the wrong things — that is not the way to life and growth.

When we are faced with the challenge of Faith, we either trust or we do not trust. God's promises are impossible to prove. We may know that they are probably true, and risk everything, trusting that once we believe, then we will know. Jesus is clear: the person disposed to disbelief will not see the evidence to the contrary, even though it be in front of their eyes.

Let us pray (pause)

Help us to believe, Loving God, in Your Goodness and Love. Bring us to recognize that all we are and all we have are from You.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

15th Day of Lent
The Last Word

Some people will read a novel from start to finish, saving the ending as a surprise. Others will flick to the last few pages for a sneak preview of what will happen. In the light of the ending, details of the plot can take on a new significance. Reading the novel again is a different experience, as all the threads may be seen to lead towards the conclusion we already know. The story of Joseph is a story of jealousy and cruel treatment; but it becomes a story of Generosity and Greatness.

Jesus is involved in a drama that leads eventually to His suffering and death. But tragedy does not have the last word. In the light of the Resurrection, Jesus' rejection by the Scribes and Pharisees, His torment and isolation, His cruel death, take on a new significance. They become significant details in the drama of the Salvation of the World. The last word belongs to God.

Let us pray (pause)

God without beginning or end, Eternal God, all creation is Yours. Jesus Your Son is reconciling the world to You through His Suffering, Death and New Life. May we die with Him, to rise with Him.

We ask this through the same Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

16th Day of Lent
Drawn like a Moth to the Flame

What is the attraction of a thriller or a horror movie? We go out of our way to watch something that will keep us in suspense, that will make us afraid and insecure. We are drawn to something from which we might otherwise shy away. As Micah and all the Prophets would have been only too aware, the people of God were also a people prone to disobedience and sin.

The Pharisees felt threatened by the teaching and presence of Jesus. Yet they could not bear to stay away. It is as though they listened to Him, knowing they would be enraged by what He said. Drawn like a moth to the flame. Or rather, drawn like hungry people to food, but too afraid to eat. If we are drawn to Christ, yet hang back through fear, Christ invites us to stay, to hear and to enjoy.

Let us pray (pause)

All-seeing God, all our ways lie open to You; You know our every thought and deed. Let us live in Sincerity and Truth, every day of our lives.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

17th Day of Lent
Make a New Start

There occasionally comes a realization that our old way of doing something is no longer sufficient, that something new is required. Sometimes we feel able to rise to the challenge, and look for a new way; at other times, we wish to cling on to what we know, even though we know it is not enough. Naaman the leper was dubious about going abroad for a cure. Having received instructions from Elisha, he followed them, again with the greatest reluctance. But the realization dawned that, having broken with his old ways, new horizons of life and health and faith now lay before him.

Jesus challenged the people in the Synagogue to broaden their horizons, to leave behind their old chauvinism and accept that God is a God over all, not a petty God of the people of Israel alone. He challenged them to make a new start, in life, in health and in faith.

Let us pray (pause)

Healer and Reconciler, loving God; come to us that we may be healed in Body, Mind and Spirit. Heal our wounded world, and establish Your Kingdom in our midst.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

18th Day of Lent
Playing with Fire

Certain consumer goods sell better if they are priced highly. They are, and are seen to be, luxury goods, which depend on their expensive image to sell. If the price comes down too low, their desirability for the luxury sector of the market decreases accordingly. Azariah, standing in the heart of the fire, prays to the Lord. Azariah's respect, however, is not notional, his prayer is not lightly made; God is not lightly invoked; God's help is not lightly sought. Azariah knows the value of what he seeks, and knows to Whom he makes his request. His attitude is one of profound respect.

The Parable Jesus tells illustrates how one could make the mistake that because Mercy is freely given, it is of limited value. It is freely given, but is always treated with the respect that is its due; the respect due to the Giver of Mercy, the respect due to God.

Let us pray (pause)

Creator God, help us to value all that You have made. Let us enjoy the Creation, and use wisely all Your Gifts. Help us to care for each other, and for our earth.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

19th Day of Lent
Do What You Want

Lawlessness is far from true freedom. Movements reacting against legalism, stifling bureaucracy and legal oppression fail if their object is to remove all law. Anarchy is the result, and out of the Anarchy a new law will emerge, the whole process beginning again. True freedom is found in the right understanding and application of law. The Commandments given by God through Moses were not arbitrary restrictions on the freedom of the people, but guidelines for their happiness and growth.

Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to show that at the heart of the law is a relationship between the people and their God. The laws guide and free the people in their relationship with God. With the law of the Lord on their heart, they can do what they want, and still be pleasing to the Lord.

Let us pray (pause)

God of Justice and Right, let us understand more deeply Your Law of Love, and live by it each day of our lives. Keep us from criticizing others, and neglecting our own conscience. Give us always Your Mercy and Love.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

20th Day of Lent
On a Winning Streak

Gamblers always think their next bet might be the lucky one. Even on a run of bad luck, they tell themselves that their luck will change, and their losses will be made good. When things go badly, they can go very badly; but when they go well, the gambler finds it hard to stop — there is more money out there to be won. The people of Israel are denounced by Jeremiah; it seems that they can do nothing right. Only by turning back to God can they be saved, but like gamblers who have run out of luck, they persist in their sin.

Jesus, however, does not rely on luck or chance. If something or someone stands in the way of the Kingdom, then He will not make futile attempts to overcome them. He is not the victim of fortune. He actively seeks out those who would oppose Him. Jesus is on a winning streak, His victory already won.

Let us pray (pause)

Loving God, You are our Life and our Hope. Through Jesus Your Son, our Salvation is certain. Grant that we may live in unity with each other.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

21st Day of Lent
The Heart of the Matter

Disaster alters our priorities, and we hardly give it a second thought. One minute we are wondering what to wear; we are in a dilemma as to what to eat; we wonder where we will go on holiday. And then disaster strikes, and our only concern is to stay alive, and to preserve the lives of those we love. Matters which seems important only a short time before do not even enter our mind. Hosea is able to cut through the trivia and proclaim the central message, ‘Come back to the Lord your God'. Nothing else matters but a right relationship with God.

Jesus teaches with authority because His central message is simple and clear. Everything can be reduced to loving God with all our being, and our neighbor as ourselves. It need not take personal disaster for us to get to the heart of the matter. We listen to and heed the Words of the Lord.

Let us pray (pause)

God of the living and the dead, often we call on You only in our direst need. Help us always to rely on Your Help, always to depend on Your Providence, always to call on Your Mercy.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

22nd Day of Lent
The Rotten Apple

Much of the appeal of food is in its presentation. The same dish may be shunned when presented plainly, but popular when garnished and presented well. The food is the same, but the appearance makes all the difference. The Lord pronounces against the people of Israel because they are all presentation, and the content is poor. Their love vanishes like the dew in the morning. Their problem is not how they are perceived by God: it is how they are.

Jesus speaks in the Parable about two men, one of whom scored highly on presentation, the other making a pretty poor show. But Jesus was not concerned with appearance. To Jesus, it is no use the apple looking good, but being rotten inside. How we are comes first, how we appear follows on behind.

Let us pray (pause)

Lord God, You are always patient, always forgiving. Be with us always, calling us to Yourself. Raise us up when we fall, give us new hope when we despair, give us health when we are sick.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

23rd Day of Lent
Waiting for the word

Looking at a construction site, it is hard to imagine what the completed buildings will be like. Only time will reveal what the planners and builders accomplished. We wait for the completion date, waiting in anticipation, waiting in hope. Something new, something attractive, created from debris and rubble. Isaiah looks forward to the new heavens and the new earth. This vision given him by the Lord is a vision of Comfort and Hope.

A court official approaches Jesus, desperate for a cure for his son who is ill. He believes Jesus can heal. He is waiting in hope for the word that will bring life. Jesus answers prayer, fulfills hope, comforts sorrow; Jesus speaks the word and the boy is healed. Happy are those who wait on the Word of Jesus. They will hear that Word and be glad.

Let us pray (pause)

Mighty God, You care for the weak and oppressed, for the downtrodden, for the victim. Give us new concern for those less well off than ourselves. Make us grateful for the help we have received from others.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

24th Day of Lent
Stale Air

Water is wonderful: it quenches thirst, it washes clean, it irrigates for growth. Ezekiel's vision shows water as the sign of God's Life issuing from the Temple, first as a trickle, then as a wide, flowing torrent. The water signifies abundance, fertility, blessing. There are memories of Eden in this vision; the Paradise once lost will one day be restored.

What a contrast, from the gushing, life-giving waters to the stifling, claustrophobic atmosphere of legalism. Jesus cannot heal on the Sabbath, say the guardians of the Law, missing its point. They would deny the life they see before their eyes. To them, and to their like, opportunities for growth and life seem simply occasions of sin. Let out the stale air, let in the fresh breeze! Celebrate the flowing, life-giving stream.

Let us pray (pause)

Lord of all, Your Spirit is Life, Your Spirit sustains all creation, Your Spirit calls us to Life with You. Give us once again that Spirit, that we may be Renewed and Healed.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

25th Day of Lent
Beyond the Horizon

If the earth was really flat, we would fall off when we reached the edge. But all that actually happens is that our horizon constantly changes, with every step we take. We act on the horizon we see, but know that a new horizon is constantly being revealed. Isaiah, as one of the Prophets, was able to see beyond the horizon of mundane, daily life. He could glimpse the Life of God beyond.

Jesus was Who He was because He could see beyond His earthly horizons to His Father in Heaven. Having an infinite horizon changed the way He thought and the way He spoke and the way He loved. Jesus obeyed the Law, in obeying His Father from Whom the Law came. Setting our sights beyond the mundane, and on the Glory beyond, we glimpse what He saw: the Glory that is eternal, Who is God.

Let us pray (pause)

God of Glory, let us glimpse Your Power and Might, that we might be inspired to work always for Justice and for Peace. May we come one day to the Glory You have prepared for all those who love You.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

26th Day of Lent
Feeling affirmed

Working for an organization or company can make us feel secure, give us an identity, even a sense of pride in what we do. A good company works hard to ensure the happiness of its workers, affirming their success. If the boss praises our work, then that is praise indeed. We feel affirmed; we are proud of who we are and what we do. Moses was engaged on a damage-limitation exercise: how to stay the wrath of God, until the people would repent. He strengthened the people by affirming their goodness, and rooting out evil from their midst.

Jesus owes His Authority and Freedom to His dependence on the Father. Because He has been affirmed, He speaks with confidence and ease; because it is God Who has affirmed Him, He speaks only the Truth, and in Love. And because He has been so perfectly affirmed, He saves others by affirming in them what is good, overcoming what is evil.

Let us pray (pause)

Tender God, we know that You love us and that You love all people. May Your love challenge us to love others, with a love that knows no bounds. May Your love in us transform our world.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

27th Day of Lent
Country of Origin

There are times when we wished that we had said nothing, instead of speaking on something we knew nothing about. The godless, quoted in the Book of Wisdom, have no time for the virtuous who claim to have God as Father. They are, it seems, speaking on something about which they know nothing, but do not realize the foolishness of their ways. The writer of the Book of Wisdom is consoled by the evident ignorance of the godless.

Those who do not accept Christ similarly display an ignorance of Who He is and whence He has come. They do not realize that they are children of the one God. If this single fact really sunk in, the implications for their life and their faith would be enormous. If they knew where they were from, they would know where they are going.

Let us pray (pause)

One, true God, root us all more firmly in Your truth. Deepen our faith that we may believe in You, and in believing in You, love You, and in loving You, spread the Good News of Your Kingdom.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

28th Day of Lent
The Voice of Common Sense

There is tremendous wisdom in ordinary common sense. It is a form of education we take entirely for granted: it is not taught in schools, nor is it naturally acquired. Common sense is wisdom passed down from parent to child. At times, however, common sense can be set aside and ignored. Those plotting to kill the Prophet Jeremiah are foolish. Obliterating their opponent in such a manner could only bring vengeance upon them, sow discord among them. Jeremiah's blood would be upon their heads.

The Pharisees have passed judgment on Jesus, under the guise of upholding the Law. But when it is pointed out to them that they are not following the Law, they continue anyway. They display that their actions are inspired by Prejudice, not Virtue. How can people so easily lay common sense aside? Conscience is God speaking through common sense.

Let us pray (pause)

God of Wisdom, speak words of Wisdom to our hearts, dulled as they are by the distractions of our daily life. Let us grow in Wisdom and in Knowledge of You, that we may more faithfully serve You.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

29th Day of Lent
A Red Herring

Distractions can take up more time than the actual business in hand. Whether we find ourselves involved in an entirely unrelated activity, or simply daydreaming, it is all too easy to leave the task before us, and concentrate on something else instead. More dangerous are the deliberate distractions which sabotage our efforts and distort the Truth. Susannah faced the false testimony of two elders, but was prepared to die rather than collude in their lies. She refused to be distracted by fears for her own safety.

The woman brought to Jesus was accused of adultery, and according to the Law, the penalty should be death. Jesus realized, however, that the accusation was a red-herring, a distraction. The real issue was the evasion and hypocrisy of those accusing the woman - pointing to someone else's sin to distract from their own. Jesus stuck to the real issue, held on to the Truth, and real Justice was done.

Let us pray (pause)

God of day and of night, let the sun of Your Justice shine in the darkness of our lives. May we live according to Your Law, not through fear, but through love.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

30th day of Lent
A VIP Calling for Tea

Public figures often lack private lives. Their every move is watched by the press, and whether working or relaxing, they can never be certain that they are not being watched. Every now and again a public figure, perhaps a movie-star, will slip unnoticed through the crowd, with the help of disguise. If the public realized who was in their midst, the private figure would once again be in the public eye. The Israelites in the desert seem to underestimate God; they complain as if badly treated by a minor bureaucrat, rather than having been saved by the all-powerful Lord. They are reminded that the One Who passes unseen amongst them is worthy of their respect and their praise.

Jesus has a private life with the disciples, and a public life preaching and teaching. From time to time He escapes to be alone; but He returns once more to the fray. He is a very important person; sent by God, to show God's Love, and to bring us to share God's Life.

Let us pray (pause)

Lord, You are God of all people and of all ages. Through the Life of Christ Your Son, You show us Your Love. Help us always to live in that love, and to let it show forth in our lives.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

31st Day of Lent
Cast-Iron Guarantee

'Agony Aunts' are a feature of many magazines. People writing in with their problems or dilemmas receive sympathy, information and advice. The columnists acquire a reputation for their style of response to those who write - how frank they are, how non-judgmental, how helpful. Essentially what is offered is opinion and advice - however informed it may be. Nebuchadnezzar believed strongly in the power of his own gods. But he ran up against an Authority and a Power that could not be denied; he did not face friendly advice, helpful hints or possible scenarios, but clear evidence of the Power of the One God.

Jesus does not offer opinion and advice. Jesus offers Truth. He describes the way things are, with an Authority that cannot help but evoke a response in the listener. He offers Truth, and in that Truth is a cast iron guarantee of Authenticity, because of Who He is, and from Whom He came.

Let us pray (pause)

God of Truth, lead us into Your Truth. Help us to know the difference between what is False and what is True. Give us open minds and hearts, that Your Spirit may guide us.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

32nd Day of Lent
Time-Slip

There is much speculation about time-travel. In scientific journals and novels, the ability to move backwards and forwards in time has long exercised the imagination. Of course the implications of time-travel are mind-boggling. Could you go back and see yourself as a child? Could you travel forward to a time beyond your death? Could you alter the past? God seems to live in all times at once. Talking to Abram, God describes the future as though it were already present. God can see what will happen, because for God it is already happening.

Jesus is in our time and in our space. But Jesus too, through His unity with His Father, lives in all times and all places. Past and future are as one. Living in past, present and future, knowing what has been, what is and what will be; we too participate in that eternity, imperfectly now, perfectly in the life to come.

Let us pray (pause)

God of past, present and future, You know all that is past, and all that is to come. Renew our confidence in Your Providence. When we are downhearted at world events, renew our trust in You. Strengthen us to do Your Will.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

33rd Day of Lent
So Far, so Good

We do not want to be gullible, falling for every false claim, believing every story, buying every product; but neither can we afford to take skepticism to extremes, cynically disregarding everything we see and hear. There is a middle way to tread. Jeremiah feels the people err to much on the side of skepticism. He is surrounded by unbelievers, and feels that there is little faith in the world. Perhaps he is over pessimistic.

Jesus finds that, even in the face of opposition to His Ministry, there is Faith in Who He is and what He does. Those who cannot believe in Him can believe in His Work. But the evidence of the Baptist is seen to be true; what we have heard so far is good, so we believe that the rest is true. Such is Reasonable and Just, and to our credit.

Let us pray (pause)

Give us, O God, a new dedication to those in need. By Your Word, inspire us to follow You more closely, showing Your Love to all. Help us to be active in our concern for Justice.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

34th Day of Lent
Rotten to the Core

Violent revolution is not the ideal seed-bed for peace. Violence begets violence, and it can take decades, even centuries, for the violence to subside. The people of God were establishing themselves in the land promised to them by God; they were doing so by driving out those who lived there already, and clearly this was not the ideal basis for prosperity and peace - they would have many enemies abroad. So God spells out the basis on which they are to live: they will live in peace, according to the Law of God.

The religious authorities in the time of Jesus wished for Order and Peace, but tried to attain their end by Violence and Oppression. Clearly they could not succeed. They undermined their own authority in a way so radical they could scarcely comprehend. Killing Jesus was to make Him present for ever. They let themselves and their religion down.

Let us pray (pause)

God of Peace, help us to break down the walls of Suspicion, Jealousy and Fear that cause violence and division. Give us a glimpse of that Peace which only You can give, so we may work for Peace with renewed vigor.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

35th Day of Lent
Enjoy!

Humor can lighten even the heaviest of situations. A smile, a joke or an amusing mistake can relieve the tension of a meeting or conversation. So many of the prophecies in the Old Testament are full of doom and gloom; but there is a lighter side too. We have few instances of humor in the Scriptures, but Isaiah is able to look on the lighter side with his glowing description of the Servant of the Lord. All is not lost; there is hope; the future looks good.

Jesus Taught, Preached, Healed and Forgave; He Worked and He Prayed. There was a lighter side too. He could enjoy a meal with His friends. No doubt there was serious conversation, no doubt laughter too. Living life to the full involves laughter and fun, for Jesus as for us.

Let us pray (pause)

God of joy, fill us with Your Joy. Let us always rejoice in Your Goodness to us. Let us rejoice in the life You have given us, in all Your Gifts to us.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

36th Day of Lent
Warts and All

Sometimes a person's most irritating habit is what we find most endearing about them. The aspect of their person we would most like to change, is what we find appealing, even attractive. Isaiah experienced the approval of the Lord in a way that may have surprised those who knew him. Known for his sharp tongue, Isaiah is able to say that it was the Lord Who made his mouth a ‘sharp sword'. What many would consider Isaiah's most undesirable trait, was created and approved by the Lord.

The extraordinary thing about Jesus is the variety of people who experienced His acceptance and His love. He is seen sharing a supper with two people who were, in different ways, to betray Him. He loved people just as they were, warts and all. And that unconditional love changed them.

Let us pray (pause)

Loving Father, teach us how to love. May our love reach out to those around us who are in need, bringing them help and support.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

37th Day of Lent
Selling ourselves short

Knowing we have backing is essential if we are to attempt anything significant in our lives. Someone else believing in us helps us to believe in ourselves. Isaiah is confident of the message he preaches, because he knows it is from the Lord. He is able to face opposition because the Lord is coming to his help. He is confident in what he says, because the Lord has placed confidence in him.

When we sin, we sell ourselves short. We think and behave in a way that belies the fact that God believes in us, has confidence in us, trusts us. Judas prices his own integrity at thirty pieces of silver, selling himself short. God knows, and God says, we are worth infinitely more than that. That is not grounds to despair when we sell ourselves short; rather grounds for resolving to grow into the confidence placed in us.

Let us pray (pause)

God of reconciliation, purify our hearts and minds that we may serve You unselfishly. Through our obedience to You, let us bring Your forgiveness to others. May our home and our Parish be places of reconciliation.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

38th Day of Lent
Working your way up

The best managers are those who know the job inside out, having worked their way up. They remember what it was like to be doing the menial tasks, and they understand the working relationships from top to bottom. Paul learned the tradition about the Eucharist from the Lord, and having learned it from the Master, passed it on to the early Christian communities. Paul did not simply learn about the breaking of the Bread and giving of the Cup; Paul learned from the Lord the values the Lord's Supper taught.

Jesus cannot leave the disciples a memorial of His death without leaving them in no doubt as to the meaning of His life. He is the Master because He knows how to serve. His authority does not come from the exercise of power, but from perfect service of others. He learned the basics, persevered in love and passed the final test. And God's Love raised Him from the dead.

Let us pray (pause)

Loving God, You bring us together in Communion through Your Son Jesus Christ. Help us always to appreciate the mystery of the Eucharist, and to look forward to the Eternal Life It promises.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

39th Day of Lent
Center-Stage

Leaving a theater after a good play, there is often lively discussion as to the meaning of the drama. Or else there is a thoughtful hush, as the audience mull over what they have seen and heard. A play can have a powerful impact on the audience. There is a real sense of drama about the Passion Story. Hearing the Passion read out, the story unfolds once again. We are faced with the central themes of the suffering and death of Christ, and left to discuss, or to ponder quietly, on what it all means.

The unjust treatment of the innocent is central to the story of the Passion. It is a theme with which so many can identify. In seeing the theme explored through the life of Jesus, we can begin to feel a way towards understanding it in our own life and in the world around us. Christ is center-stage. On Him, on the manner of His condemnation, on the tragedy of His suffering and death, on the Glory of His Resurrection, hangs the fate of us all.

Let us pray (pause)

God of compassion, Your Son Jesus suffered and died for our sake. Through His death, our sins are forgiven and we are restored to friendship with You. Help us work as reconcilers, whenever conflict arises.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

40th Day of Lent
Day-break

The darkest hour is just before the dawn. When we are tired, run down, or when we feel oppressed and insecure, we are vulnerable and afraid. We are caught up in the nightmare of our own circumstances, or own weakness, ill-health, our own insecurity. And like all nightmares, it seems as if there will be no end. The dark silence of the tomb represents the hour before the dawn, when it seems as if all hope is dead. The promises of Jesus seem like so many empty words. But then the first streaks of daylight appear, and everything seems to change.

The Resurrection of Jesus is the dawning of the new day, after the nightmare of His suffering and death. But this is no ordinary daybreak; the light has come, and darkness is banished for ever. Christ, risen from the tomb, has beaten death, raised by the Father's Love. In our darkness, in our nightmare, we can know that daybreak is always near.

Let us pray (pause)

Father, when all seemed lost in deep defeat, You raised Jesus from the dead, giving us the promise of life for ever. May we be bearers of the Good News of what You have done for us. Protect us from all harm.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

 

 

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