March 21, 2022 - Monday of the Third Week of Lent
Reading One: 2 Kings 5:1-15
Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram, was highly esteemed and respected by his master, for through him the LORD had brought victory to Aram. But valiant as he was, the man was a leper. Now the Arameans had captured in a raid on the land of Israel a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman’s wife. “If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,” she said to her mistress, “he would cure him of his leprosy.” Naaman went and told his lord just what the slave girl from the land of Israel had said. “Go,” said the king of Aram. “I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents, six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments. To the king of Israel he brought the letter, which read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.”
When he read the letter, the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed: “Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy? Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!” When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king: “Why have you torn your garments? Let him come to me and find out that there is a prophet in Israel.”
Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. The prophet sent him the message: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.” But Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the LORD his God, and would move his hand over the spot, and thus cure the leprosy. Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?” With this, he turned about in anger and left.
But his servants came up and reasoned with him. “My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.” So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his arrival he stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”
Gospel Reading: Luke 4:24-30
Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
Scripture Reflection: Chuck Kyle ‘69, English Faculty
Did you ever wonder why God decided to instill within the human being the emotion of anger? It is a secondary emotion: it is a reaction to something very displeasing. Anger seems like a waste of time and energy. 90% of the time, the angry situation of one day is solved and reconciled within 24 hours.
In literature, it is only at the dramatic climax that the situation works out where the heroic character of concern channels his/her anger into a positive result. During the early stages of a dramatic plot, the anger takes several paragraphs to subside before the character can redirect focus in a calm, productive way.
Ah, maybe there is a lesson to be learned here.
In the first reading (Kings 5: 1-15), the amazingly successful warrior Naaman is told by an innocent young servant that he could be cured of leprosy: a chronic, infectious disease that was deadly in ancient days. The servant states,”If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria, he would cure him of his leprosy.” This simple solution is an egregious problem. So what happens?
First of all, King Aram wants to help the request by sending a letter to the King of Israel asking him to cure Naaman of his leprosy. Also, Naaman overreacts, bringing ten silver talents, six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments to bribe the king. The king of Israel totally misunderstands the request, tears his garments in anger and frustration and states “Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy? Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!” No, dear King, you have reacted with anger and misunderstood what is going on. But in the Old Testament, many people who get angry and frustrated tear their garments! They must have kept the tailors at the time very busy!
When Naaman finally gets to visit Elisha, Naaman gets angry because he expected the cure would be more demanding than to just “…wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.” In Naaman’s mind, the cure should demand “something extraordinary.” Thank God the servants were wise enough to drop the angry ego and do what the prophet says to do. Because the cure is physically very simple does not mean it is wrong. Naaman’s anger subsides: he humbly obeys the prophet’s directions; and thus, he is cured.
Furthermore, today’s gospel reading (Luke 4:24-30) finds Jesus confronting anger within his own native city Nazareth. The locals want Jesus to perform miracles simply because he is one of their own. But Christ is always searching for people who are open to receive Him. The locals became insulted and angry and “drove Jesus out of town and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.” So their out-of-control anger brought them to the point of murder. Jesus’ search for the people who are open to receive Him at this point ends, and He “passed through the midst of them and went away.”
So can anger be used positively? Could true Christians be angry at whatever in this world angers God? Could that anger motivate Christians to stand up and act against the ungodly acts in this world? MAYBE ANGER CAN BE PLACED IN A POSITIVE WAY!!!!!
March 22, 2022 - Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
Gospel Reading: Matthew 18:21-35
Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”
Gospel Reflection: Ann Marie Przybys Donegan, Parent
Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times." The gospel illuminates the concept and perhaps the experience of forgiveness versus unforgiveness.
Forgiveness has weighed heavily within my Heart and head over the years. Aren't we taught the act of forgiveness as children? Say you're sorry; tell your brother or sister you're sorry; I know we have all heard or spoken these words.
Drawing from very personal and professional public acts of betrayal, I remain tormented with the action of forgiveness with some. I know that unforgiveness yields bitterness and anger. Forgiveness means different things to different people, but at the end of the day, it involves a decision to let go of the hurt and the resentment that followed that hurt which lessens the grip of the person(s) who harmed you.
Having been raised to be a strong Catholic, I know as deep as every breath I take that this act of forgiveness is what I have been taught. But how can I possibly forgive? The Lord's Prayer lays out the repeated request from our Lord to forgive those that trespass against us; every time I pray, I remind myself that my journey of forgiveness is not complete. Bishop Fulton J Sheen commented, "Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them?" A broken heart tied to the conscious decision of forgiveness?
Jesus asks us to live with our whole Heart; as a nurse, I know that our Heart is the center of our being, the essence of our life here on earth. So when you love, instinctively, you have a sense of empathy. Is this where I start? Is this where you start?
Forgiveness is a conscious choice that we make with our Hearts out of love for one another, keeping an empathetic lean towards those that broke our hearts.
Pope John Paul II wrote, "Certainly forgiveness does not come spontaneously or naturally to people" "Forgiving from the Heart can sometimes be heroic. Thanks to the healing power of love, even the most wounded Heart can experience the liberating encounter with forgiveness."
Perhaps during this Lenten season, you can join me in renewing your journey of forgiveness.
March 23, 2022 - Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent
Reading One: Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9
Moses spoke to the people and said: “Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. Therefore, I teach you the statutes and decrees as the LORD, my God, has commanded me, that you may observe them in the land you are entering to occupy. Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’ For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him? Or what great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today?
“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.”
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:17-19
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”
Scripture Reflection: Karen Nestor, Board of Regents Member
The first reading today reminded me that we are called as people of faith to bring wisdom and intelligence to others. This seems daunting, especially in a time of great uncertainty, until Moses assures us that we can do this by staying close to the Lord and recognizing that God is there “whenever we call on him.”
Then in Matthew’s narrative, Jesus invites us to sit down with him in one of the most memorable moments of teaching in the history of humankind. He had just spoken the Sermon on the Mount. And then in this reading he tells us what it will take to be wise and intelligent as we hear his encouragement to embrace his fulfillment of the law: to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be meek, to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to be merciful and pure in heart, to be peacemakers, to accept criticism.
I am encouraged to trust the things which my own eyes have seen. I can look to Jesus’s life, the humble ways of his mother and father on earth, the good deeds and the mistakes of his disciples, all models of how to follow the law. I can look to not only the saints, but to the regular people who live the beatitudes in their day-to-day attempts to accompany Jesus in fulfilling the law.
My prayer today is that we do not let the words of the Sermon on the Mount “slip from our memory as long as we live.” Each of us has a role to play in participating in the 2000-year tradition of passing this life-affirming law onto our children and our children’s children. I pray that each of us in our own way will take on that responsibility with joy and confidence as we move through Lent once again toward the celebration of Easter and beyond.
March 24, 2022 - Thursday of the Third Week of Lent
Gospel Reading: Luke 11:14-23
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed. Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
Gospel Reflection: Tasha Pettigrew, Director of Human Resources
Reflecting on this passage, the first thing that comes to mind is the art of spiritual warfare. Is it real or is it not real? How can God perform an implausible miracle on his own? In the mind of some people, the authority by which Jesus healed a man is questioned. Was it Divine or Satanic? This is a common strategy of the enemy, to employ Christians to operate in confusion. However, in 1 Corinthians 14:33, God’s word says that he is not the author of confusion, but of peace. I am instantly reminded that if we are not in constant fellowship with God, the devil will make us think that God’s miracles are not real.
As a Christian sometimes I struggle with fellowship with God, not because I do not desire fellowship, but because I am often torn between my delightful distractions. Should I wake up early to pray and read my Bible or should I make breakfast for my family? After years of struggling with this behavior, I had to make fellowship with God a non-negotiable. I had to remember it was God and his divine power that blessed me with another daughter after the passing of my first daughter 22 years ago. It was God that blessed me with a great husband and a great support system.
During this time of Lent, let’s all remember that with God anything is possible and that without him we can do nothing. My daily prayer to God is, “I surrender to you! Remove all the distractions and confusions from my life. God, remove the limitations from my mind, remind me that you are all knowing and all powerful. God, give me a boldness to confront the enemy that may come in the form of doubt in my mind or man and remind me that if I am with you, you will never leave me.”
March 25, 2022 - Friday of the Third Week of Lent
Gospel Reading: Mark 12:28-34
One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that [he] answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Gospel Reflection: Bob Mooney ‘64, Alumnus
We often look for clear messages from Jesus in Scripture to answer the critical life question, “What does God want from me?” There are a few very simple, clear, direct messages in Scripture. Today’s Gospel reading is one of those. Jesus says that I should love the Lord my God with ALL my heart, ALL my soul, ALL my mind, ALL my strength, and love my neighbor as myself. If we can do these things we are “not far from the kingdom of God”. It is the ALL that makes Jesus’ words more challenging than at first glance. Finding the ALL is a great challenge in my life. While I know I am not perfect I also know that I should not be satisfied with just “burnt offerings and sacrifices”. As I struggle to live in this temporal world where God’s plan has placed me while I truly serve God, I have great hope that with God’s help I can do better.
So how do I seriously consider the ALL when I must go into the world every day and conduct my life with all the temporal responsibilities I have chosen? I naturally think of my wife, my children, my work, my passions and other commitments in this busy world. However, in prayer it occurs to me that I should seriously consider all the things that in my busy life replace God; the things to which I am sinfully attached, the things that draw me away from God often without much thought. It is in prayer that I can honestly consider my own personal struggles with ego, vanity, pride, accumulation of resources, control, honor among people, power, to name a few. While I know that God created me and loves me with all my strengths, weaknesses and personality traits, He is always asking me to think and act in life first with Him in mind. This approach will get me closer to the Kingdom of God.
Lord help me to clearly understand how to live fully involved in this world while my heart, soul, mind and strength are better directed to your will. I am weak in my humanity and I know that I cannot attain eternal life without your love and grace. Humble me and give me wisdom so that I can more fully understand that my true purpose in life is to praise, reverence and serve you; and therefore to attain eternal life. As I make decisions and take actions with my family, my career, my friends and my enemies help me to find a better path toward You.
March 26, 2022 - Saturday of the Third Week of Lent
Gospel Reading: Luke 18:9-14
Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Gospel Reflection: David Van Hal, S.P.A. Administrative Assistant
Jesus tells a parable of two people who went up to the temple area to pray. One was the good character, a Pharisee, who taught the Scriptures. The other was the bad character, a tax collector, who was a part of a corrupt profession over-charging taxes from his own people to give it to the Roman occupiers and fund his own extravagant lifestyle.
The Pharisee prays first, but he prays to himself thanking God that he is not like the rest of evil humanity and the tax collector, but instead he fasts and gives money to others. What a prayer! It’s a prayer to himself about himself. Amazingly, we are not told he is wrong in his self-assessment, nor that his judgment of the tax collector is false.
The tax collector prays next. As a sign of contriteness, he beats his chest and prays, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” This is a prayer to God, and in it, he agrees with the Pharisee’s assessment of being a sinner. The tax collector is penitent, humble, and knows he has nothing to stand on. To the surprise of all, Jesus says it is the tax collector who went home justified.
What an incredibly challenging parable for us today. I find myself tempted to identify with the tax collector because of my awareness of my own shortcomings and at the same time thinking of others I deem to be the Pharisees. This passage should not lead us to dwell in misery of our own shortcomings nor to judge others. In fact, this passage does not focus on a person’s deeds at all. There is no condemnation for the tax collector, nor praise for the Pharisee.
This passage instead reminds us that God exalts and draws near to those who come to him humbly, not trusting in our own strength, but asking God for his mercy. It is not necessarily the pious who are exalted in the eyes of God. However good our deeds are, we are completely dependent on God to meet us where we are and bring us close. This is an invitation to pay attention in prayer to our own life, actions, and heart, not to the life of others. We also see that however bad our deeds are, we are not too far from the embrace of the Loving Father when we turn to him in humility and penitent hearts.
Wherever you find yourself in this passage (and like me, it is probably a mix of both people), take a minute to put aside all judgments of others, and pray throughout this day the prayer we are given in this passage: O God, be merciful to me a sinner.
Where is the Sunday reflection, you ask? At your parish! The next set of reflections will be shared on Monday. A.M.D.G.
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