Sunday, February 28, 2010

Second Sunday of Lent

Today's readings can be found here.

Too often we think of God as someone who acted a long time ago in a far away place, but we need to remember that he acts today in our own time. This Lent, the challenge is to seek God so that we may see him in our own time and in our own homes. In this way, we will grow closer to Him and be renewed.

God loves us and desires for each of us to belong to Him and join Him in heaven. He has made a covenant with each of us. A covenant is an oath, in Latin an oath is, “sacramentum” or sacrament. The sacraments were designed by God to renew our covenant to belong to God. St. Paul tells us what that means in his letter to the Philippians, “he will change our lowly body to conform to his heavenly one.”

God and the Church have made it easy for us to seek and conform to God. We only need participate in events that are designed to bring us closer to God. Our Baptism, Confirmation, reception of the Eucharist, Marriages, Holy Orders, our Reconciliation and our Anointings bind us again and again to God. Participation in the sacraments are ways that God renews His covenant with us. Like Abram in today's first reading, we enter into a covenant with God. Our covenant is that we belong to Him. He shall be our God, and we shall be His people. Like St. Paul says in our second reading, “Our citizenship is in heaven.”

Along with the covenant of God's love is transformation. When Abram enters into a covenant with God, his name is changed to Abraham. He grows in faithfulness and holiness and his descents eventually do number the stars, especially when we consider that we are counted among them. Peter, James and John come onto the mountain with Jesus. During the Transfiguration, their hearts become fully awake to the reality that Jesus is God's beloved son and their lives are transformed.

God has something in store for each and every person. He has a time and place prepared for each of us, where He has planed on revealing himself to us. The sacraments are special times set aside to seek God and ask for his revelation. It is during these times, we should sing along with the Psalmist, “Your presence O Lord, I seek. Hide not your face from me.”

Friday, February 19, 2010

First Sunday in Lent

Sorry about not posting last week, but I'm back this week!
Here is where you can find the readings for today.

Jesus speaks three lines in the Gospel this first Sunday of Lent. He is spending 40 days in the desert and he is tempted by the devil. His responses to the devil's temptation should be our guide in holiness this Lent.

Jesus' first response is, “It is written 'One does not live on bread alone.'” and so we cannot. Our life is made of the things our body does, and the things our spirit does. Many times they come together in beautiful harmony, and sometimes they do not. Our body is fed by food. Our spirit, however, is fed by God. If we do not bring our spirit before God on a regular basis for a refill, then our spirit grows weak, famished, hungry and dumb. Jesus tells us we cannot live on bread alone, and we cannot.

Jesus' second response is, “It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve'” and so we must. Our hungry spirits are fed by worship of our Lord God. Our spirit is fed by serving Him. In Lent, we are often encouraged to give something up, this is to make us recognize our physical hunger, and then spark us to recognize our spiritual hunger. Another way to awaken awareness of spiritual hunger is to serve others. When we share our love with others through labor, donations, or direct service to those in need, God's love is returned to us, strengthening our spirit.

Finally, Jesus says, “It also says, “You shall not put the Lord, your God to the test'” and we mustn't. Lent isn't a time to give up chocolate secretly hoping that weight will be lost, but many approach it this way. Lent is a time to give up chocolate and reflect. Reflect upon the poor of the world, many of whom have never tasted chocolate, who cannot afford chocolate, who cannot even afford water or rice to eat, who go to bed hungry, wake up hungry and live and work hungry.

Our Lenten sacrifices are meant for the poor. The poor who hunger in body, and the poor who hunger in spirit. While we in the USA hardly hunger in the body, we often hunger in the spirit. Our Lenten sacrifices are meant to direct our spirits towards God in humble sacrifice. Our Lenten sacrifices of body should become our Spiritual Thanksgiving of fullness. What we sacrifice in food or extras, that money saved should go to those who hunger in the body. The money saved from our chocolate sacrifice does not have to be large to make a great impact. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once said, “ If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” I pray that we may be full this Lent in spirit and find our bodily sacrifices feed at least one.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Todays readings can be found here.

The scripture readings today tell us three stories of meeting God face-to-face. Isaiah, the apostle Paul and Simon Peter, James, and John all saw God, repented, and were given a mission. These readings are a reminder for us as we approach Lent, the great season of repentance and turning towards God.

When we meet God face-to-face, the experience should make us realize we want to be good, pure, and perfect in God's eyes. I'm sure in many of our lives we have hurt someone so much that we think we would rather die than live without their forgiveness. We desire more than anything to remove the wrong and restore the love, friendship and communication we once had. In scripture and in our lives, meeting God face-to-face evokes a similar response.

Many people go through their lives never having met God or forgetting that they did. A person could spend a lifetime in the pew and still wondering when God will reveal Himself. God is constantly revealing Himself to humanity. You should look back on your personal history and look for times that God was reaching out to you. Look for patterns, events, or threads that have composed your religious story, brought you to an awareness of God, formed your spirituality, and led you to faith. In those moments, God was revealing Himself. Another scenario to consider is a time when you may have felt great repentance and desire to be reunited with God. Whatever led to that moment was God's revelation.

If these prompts seem weak, and you cannot find a moment in your life where you actually experienced God, or this moment was so long ago, I encourage deep reflection prior to and during the Lenten season. An excellent workbook to use would be Discovering My Experience of God: Awareness and Witness by Frank Desiano and Kenneth Boyack. It provides a step by step spiritual exercise to help you realize where God has met you face-to-face in your life. It is a tool to help you realize your own story of conversion.

Realization that you have met God is the first step in life-long conversion. Meeting God again and again, renewal of self through repentance and a life of mission is the goal of life-long conversion. It is the goal of Jesus Christ and his work on Earth. We may not be Isiah with an angelic vision. We may not be Paul with his conversion on the road to Damascus. We may not be fishermen who witness a miracle of abundance in an empty lake. We are God's children though, and He is revealing Himself to us. We should pray for eyes to see Him.