Have you ever had a miscommunication with God? For me, I often have a plan in my head and I forget to consult God along the way whether that is His plan for me. This reading serves as a reminder to me that I too, do nothing on my own. I am here, working at Saint Ignatius High School, married to my husband because God guided me to this place.
The line “The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him” struck a chord with me during my reflection. I know God will never leave any of us alone. We learn that at a very young age. However, do I always do what is pleasing to him? Do I really listen to what he wants me to do? Am I entering into the Examen or mass with preconceived notions on the answers I am seeking from God? Am I taking the time to ask God? If I was in that crowd that day, would Jesus be sighing at me or would he be pleased with how willing I am to listen?
During this Lenten Season, I hope you take time to reflect on these questions. Take an extra 2 minutes to clear your mind and just listen to God. What is he trying to tell you? May we all do more to please God during this Lenten Season and truly listen.
Gospel: John 8:31-42
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.”
They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!” So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”
Gospel Reflection: Marc Milkie, Major Gifts Officer, Advancement
I am not telling you what you don’t already know; this has been a trying and very unusual last 12 months. So much change, so much uncertainty, so much suffering. It is exactly because of this that this Lenten season seems more important than ever. In a time when not much is certain, Jesus suffering and ultimately sacrificing his life, so we can live, is concrete and certain. And, our celebration of Jesus rising on the third day is something we, as Catholics, can count on.
In this gospel passage, Jesus challenges the crowd not to remain too comfortable with their status as descendants of Abraham. They need to be open to change, moving beyond confidence in tradition. He invites them to new levels of engagement, greater freedom, deeper love. This message is a tough one for Jesus’ audience to embrace. It is a challenge for us today, as well.
I wonder what I am doing and, sometimes more importantly, not doing that is getting in the way of forming a deeper relationship with Jesus and keeping me from truly being free. How can I make room for His word? Every Lenten season, I try to make sacrifices to remind me of Jesus’ pain and suffering and ultimately the JOY of the risen Jesus Christ.
My prayer for us all, during this Lenten season, is to consider what habits and “false gods” we may have that are keeping us from experiencing the love of Jesus Christ. Let us brush aside those things and revel in the resurrection of our Lord.
March 25, 2021 - Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Gospel: John 8:51-59
“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” (So) the Jews said to him, “Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad. So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
Gospel Reflection: SPA Team
It is important when reading and praying with the Gospels to keep two things in mind. First, how would the message of Jesus be experienced by the people in the scene? Second, how is God speaking to me in my lived experience, through these stories? Oftentimes, the first way can illuminate the second. In John today, we see once again how Jesus deeply angers his believers as he reveals who he is in relation to God. He claims a closeness with God that his fellow Jews would find audacious, if not blasphemy. He makes claims that they are not ready to hear, and they prepare to stone him for it.
What am I not ready to hear from the Lord? When I notice resistance in prayer or worship, what am I asked to confront? Throughout the Gospels, Jesus reminds his disciples and followers to wake up, to take notice of the way things are, not the way they think or wish things to be. To be awake to what Jesus wants to show us is to be awake to the Kingdom of God, present today. To see this Kingdom is to become aware of how I need to change in order to participate, and change can make us deeply uncomfortable, anxious or, as we can see from today’s Gospel, even angry.
My prayer today is to ask for my eyes and heart to be open enough to recognize God and God’s call to me. I pray that when I encounter resistance I can turn that over to God, trusting that God will be with me in the midst of my unknowing and confusion and give me a way forward.
March 26, 2021 - Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Gospel: John 10:31-42
The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, ‘You are gods”‘? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and Scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many there began to believe in him.
Gospel Reflection: Cyndi Geary, Loyola Society Mothers’ Club President
“But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” This is a strong statement and one that touches my heart. I think of Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s quote, “Love ought to show itself in deeds more than words.”
Over the past six years, my two boys have been taught at Saint Ignatius High School to be open to growth, both in their faith and life, and to be of service to others. They have truly become Men for Others for which I am very grateful.
In this Gospel, I am sad for the crowds that were not open to believe and see the truth. I am amazed that Jesus actually showed them His many good works—works of His Father—but they ignored what they saw. Were they distracted by the worldly pleasures? Were they jealous of Jesus? Were they threatened by his words? I wonder what would have happened if Jesus showed the crowds a miracle at the very moment they wanted to arrest Him. Maybe that would have shocked them into faith! But maybe not, as they already closed their minds and hearts to Jesus.
I am comforted that this Gospel ended with hope and faith. Jesus went across the river to where John was speaking about Him. Although they didn’t see a miracle, many believed in Jesus. What amazing faith!
As we approach Holy Week, I pray we keep distractions at a minimum so our hearts and minds are open to Jesus and we grow closer to Him. Like John, let our light shine in the world so others witness and feel God’s goodness and love. A.M.D.G.
Where is the Sunday reflection, you ask? At your parish! The next set of reflections will be shared on Monday. A.M.D.G.