Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
The disciples’ failure to understand Jesus’ message is much like the message we receive when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Sometimes it takes multiple conversations and visits to the doctor with that loved one to realize this person is going to die. Why the failure to understand? Is it because of the suffering the love one will have to endure? Is it because we will be left behind? The disruption the illness will create to the family? Even though Jesus knew his disciples did not hear his prediction, yet again, he remained patient – much like the patient has accepted his situation before others.
The mother of two of the disciples is clueless as well that the Messiah is before her. She, too, has failed to hear Jesus’ prediction of his upcoming death. By her request of Jesus to have her sons sit to his right and left, she believes that this journey to Jerusalem is for a banquet. It might be difficult to understand how this mother could fail to hear Jesus’ clear prediction of his death, except that even today we hear what we want to hear, particularly when it involves cross-bearing, whether it’s our own or someone else’s.
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’
He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.’”
Reflection: Father Cyril Pinchak, Theology Faculty
Three key words come at the very end of today’s Gospel: to repent, to hear, and to be persuaded.
The rich man assures Abraham that a visit by someone newly risen from the dead would be enough to inspire his brothers to repentance. The Gospel’s original Greek word for repentance is not like the Latin “conversion”, a kind of turning around, rather, the word is “metanoia”. Metanoia from “meta + nous” means a change of our “nous”, that is, our intellect, our way of viewing reality. The repentance that is being talked about here is not just turning our actions around but changing our worldview. Abraham responds by saying that such a change in our worldview is not so easily acquired, even by such a marvel. Changing our worldview requires us to hear.
The idea of hearing is a powerful one in Jesus’s day. Every day, at least twice a day, observant Jews would pray the greatest commandment, the Shema prayer: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Hearing is not just an audible phenomenon. “Shema” means, not just “listen” or “hear” but “attend to.” Interestingly, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in speaking about “shema” notes that there is no word “to obey” in Hebrew. The word that dominates the commandments and Moses and the prophets is not “obey” but “attend to”.
If we attend to what is important, the Gospel tells us, then we can be “persuaded” by the true faith.
What do you need to attend to right now? What is God inviting you to pay attention to this day? What would it be like to allow your worldview to be transformed into God’s worldview? To see yourself as God sees and loves you? To see the world as God sees and loves the world?
March 5, 2021 - Friday of the Second Week of Lent
Where is the Sunday reflection, you ask? At your parish! The next set of reflections will be shared on Monday. A.M.D.G.
Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him, "He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.” Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes? Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.
Reflection: Sean Teets, S.J., Fine Arts/Theology Faculty
In today's Gospel, Jesus discusses the Kingdom of God, which is the central message of the Gospel and a really Big Deal!!! Jesus uses the parable of the landowner to explain that we must grow each day to produce the best fruits that we can.
Jesus came to earth to restore the original balance that was upended by the fall of Adam and Eve. We may fall as well, from time to time, and each of us sins in our own ways, but we have the ability to get better each day. It is in this act of growing that Jesus talks to us today.
Lent is a great time to reconnect and restore those relationships that are broken by sin. During this time, we can look deep inside our lives and ask: what oh God do I need to do to change? What do I need to let go of? What oh God do you ask for me from my life here on earth?
In this parable, Jesus encourages us to grow through reading scripture, praying for people who need our prayers, or doing acts of kindness for others. As we approach this Lenten season, may we be given all the graces that we need and allow Jesus to grow in our hearts. At the end of the day, we want to be the people who grow great fruit in service of our loving and merciful God.
March 6, 2021 - Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
Gospel: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them Jesus addressed this parable.
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’”
Reflection: Marquia Ivey, Athletic Operations Coordinator
There is always a want and a desire to have more than what you’re given or blessed with. The reality of that is we will never know how to get through this world alone without the covering and guidance of God. Just like the father of this parable God continues to oversee our unjustly wants and curiosity when we stray away, he continues to take us in with open arms whenever we return to him. Just like the faithful brother, sometimes we stay near and do not see the benefits of our relationship immediately but understand later the foundation and the blessings God had in store for you before you even had a clue. Just like the unfaithful brother we sometimes irresponsibly fumble our faith, but we always find our way back home. The passage gives me reason to focus not entirely on my sins but on the love of Jesus Christ and what he has done for me and my family in these trying times.
Lord, help me this Lent not to focus entirely on my sin but to keep my heart fixed on your love. Don’t let me be distracted by any false image of myself, but allow me to hear your invitation to grow in your image, to reflect your love.