Father David's Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Inventory Who fed me when I was little? Who feeds me (earns my daily bread) now? Who first nourished me with the Bread of Life, with the word of God? Who is feeding me with this bread, teaching me about God, now? Input The Entrance Antiphon tells us that those who "rejoice with the Church" (the new Jerusalem) and love her will "find contentment at her consoling breasts." The Church is a nourishing mother. But we have to recognize her as such, be glad of what she offers, and seek the nourishment she offers. This is discipleship. In the Opening Prayer(s) we declare to the Father that we are "joyful in your Word, your Son Jesus Christ," because we recognize that he "reconciles us to you." It is

Father David's Reflection for Third Saturday of Lent

The Response to Psalm 51 is from Hosea 6:6: "I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice." And the verse continues: "...the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." The theme of all three readings is that God looks to the heart, not to external actions. What he wants from us is deep, enduring love and the desire to know him, not just "orthodoxy" or acts of religious observance, no matter how good these are in themselves. Hosea 6: 1-6 is a call to conversion that tells us two things: God will without doubt "heal" and "revive" us. For this to happen we must change our hearts, not just our behavior: "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offer

Father David's Reflection for Third Friday of Lent

The Responsorial Psalm is an invitation to wisdom: "I am the Lord your God: hear my voice" (Psalm 81). Wisdom is defined as "taste for spiritual things" (cf. the Latin sapientia, sapor, and the English "savor"). All three readings are encouraging us to seek our well-being through relationship with God: hearing his voice as disciples and loving what we hear. This is wisdom. In Hosea 14: 2-10 God reveals that his response to our guilt is love. God draws us to himself through love: "Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt." God's promise is, "I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely." The texts keep emphasizing that the one spea

Father David's Reflection for Third Thursday of Lent

The Responsorial Psalm is an unexpected response to the first reading. It urges us: "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts" (Psalm 95). But in the first reading, God tells Jeremiah (7: 23-28) that when he commanded his people, "Listen to my voice. they obeyed not." Nor did they listen to the prophets. And he warns Jeremiah, "When you speak. they will not listen to you either!" God is painting a pretty dim picture of his people at that time. And we might think in our discouraged moments that it is a credible description of people in our times! So it is deliberate optimism when the Responsorial Psalm encourages us: "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts." But this o

Father David's Reflection for Third Wednesday of Lent

The Responsorial Psalm invites us to focus on how good and life-giving God's teachings are, so that we will appreciate him: "Praise the Lord, Jerusalem" (Psalm 147). Praise will lead us to appreciation. Deuteronomy 4: 1-9 focuses, not on the requirements of God's law, or on the difficulty of obeying them (both things we tend to focus on), but on how wise and life-giving they are. "Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live." If we live by God's teachings we will "give evidence of our wisdom and intelligence to all the nations." Even non-believers will recognize that "this is truly a wise and intelligent people." In Matthew 5: 17-19 Jesus

Father David's Reflection for Third Tuesday of Lent

The Responsorial Psalm calls us to believe that, whatever our starting point is, God will help us: "Remember your mercies, O Lord" (Psalm 25). Psalm 25 makes God's mercy very concrete: "Your ways make known to me; teach me your paths; guide me in your truth.." To "have mercy" means to "come to the aid of another out of a sense of relationship." God has mercy on us, not just by "zapping" us unilaterally from on high, but by interacting with us, guiding us, helping us to help ourselves. For Jesus to be our Teacher, we have to become his disciples, his students. Daniel 3: 25-43 begins with an admission that things aren't as they should be: "For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, b

Father David's Reflection for Third Monday of Lent

The Responsorial Psalm teaches us to listen to our heart and follow it: "Athirst is my soul for the living God. When shall I go and behold the face of God?" (Psalms 42-43). Kings 5:1-15 shows us a common reason why we don't make progress in the spiritual life: we won't do the small, easy things because we think they won't have any effect. So we do nothing. Naaman was willing to invest a huge amount of time and money to be cured of his leprosy. But all the prophet told him was to go bathe seven times in the river Jordan. He expected some big ceremony, and was going away angry when his servants said, "If the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All th

Father David's Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent

Disciples in Action Inventory Why is there so much suffering in the world? Do the bad things that follow from sin only hit the people who are guilty of sin, or does everybody suffer from them? What is the Christian response to the sin and suffering of the world? Input The Entrance Antiphon calls us to believe that God can and will free us from whatever diminishes human life on earth: "My eyes are ever fixed on the Lord, for he releases my feet from the snare." God will do this, not by some thunder- bolt of power from the sky, but by working through the ground level human actions of those who are the body of Christ on earth. - through us who act "through Christ, with him and in him." God says

Father David's Reflection for Second Saturday of Lent

The Responsorial Psalm gives us courage to convert to God with our whole heart: "The Lord is kind and merciful" (Psalm 103). Micah 7: 14-20 tells us God will "cast into the depths of the sea all our sins," and "shepherd" us, guide us to where we can "feed" on truth and grow into the fullness of life. When we turn to God, he doesn't just accept us; he comes out and embraces us, and fills us with blessings that enrich our life. This is what Jesus tells us in the story of the "prodigal son" (Luke 15: 1-32). The story is actually more about the father than the son, but it does show us very vividly a conversion taking place. And if we study it we can learn some- thing about conversion as such. Th

Father David's Reflection for Second Friday of Lent

The Responsorial Psalm encourages us to remember what God has done in order to trust in what he will do: "Remember the marvels the Lord has done" (Psalm 105). In Joseph's story (Genesis 37:3-28) we can only recognize "the marvels the Lord has done" with hindsight. Now that we know what Joseph did for his family later, we can see God's guiding hand in the choice his brothers made, first not to kill him outright, then to sell him into slavery. But as Joseph was led off to a foreign country in chains he probably thought God could have done much better for him than he did! In reality, though, God was doing something greater than Joseph could have dreamed of. God used the brothers' sin to put Jo

Father David's Reflection for Second Thursday of Lent

The Responsorial Psalm tells us where to look for security: "Blessed are they who hope in the Lord" (Psalm 1). But the Psalm makes clear that this is not just blind hope. The hope that is real is the hope we act on. So the one who "hopes in the Lord" is one who "meditates on his law day and night" to understand it. This is discipleship. Jeremiah 17: 5-10 says the disciple is "like a tree planted beside the waters, that stretches out its roots to the stream." True conversion to Jesus is a conversion that reaches to the roots of our life, to the roots of all our choices, and ex- tends those roots to God. This can take time. We don't always recognize clearly the attitudes and values, the real g

Father David's Reflection for Second Wednesday of Lent

The Responsorial Psalm is an act of trust in God in the face of opposition and danger: "Save me, O Lord, in your steadfast love!" (Psalm 31). In Jeremiah 18: 18-20 people are plotting against Jeremiah although he has done nothing but good for them. And he is outspoken to God about it: "Is evil a recompense for good? Yet they have dug a pit for my life. Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them, to turn away your wrath from them." Being good does not keep us from being persecuted. There doesn't have to be a valid reason for people to attack us. But we need a reason - one which Jeremiah didn't really have yet (see verses 21-23) - to forgive those who re- turn evil for good. And th

Father David's Reflection for Second Tuesday of Lent

The Responsorial Psalm tells us: "To those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God" (Psalm 50). God is not setting conditions on his help; he is saying that if we follow his path he can show us where it leads. So we need to pay attention and learn. Isaiah 1: 10-20 calls us to discipleship: "Hear the word of the LORD. Listen to the teaching of our God.." If we are not intent on learning from God how to live, all our devotions, rituals, religious festivals and recited prayers are just pretense: things we do to make us feel better, "low cost" observances we think will keep God on our side. What God wants is action in response to his teaching: "Learn to do good!" And we need to no

Father David's Reflection for Second Monday of Lent

The Responsorial Psalm is an admission that we are always "falling short" of the (divine) level of life to which we are called: "Lord, do not deal with us as our sins deserve" (Psalm 79). Daniel 9: 4-10 shows us why we fall short: "I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, 'Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have not listened.'" We don't live in an abstract world. We live in the concrete reality of a world in which God has spoken, Jesus has come to earth, died, risen and shared his divine life with us. For us, to live out anything less than the divine life of

Father David's Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent

Having Eyes That See Inventory What do I look to for guidance in my life? To what seems to be the norm in my profession or circle of friends? To what has been taught to me as the law of God? Or to the mind and heart of God as revealed in Scripture and in the life of Jesus? Input The Entrance Antiphon points us to God as a person: "My heart has prompted me to seek your face. I seek it, Lord, do not hide from me." It is only by studying the "face," the mind and heart of God as revealed in his action and interaction with his creatures, that we can understand the true intent of his laws. God is love, and all that comes from him is love. Therefore, law without love is a lie. The alternate Entranc

Father David's Reflection for First Saturday in Lent

The Responsorial Psalm assures us "Happy are they who follow the law of the Lord" (Psalm 119). Deuteronomy 26: 16-19 makes this a promise: "Provided you keep all his commandments, God will then raise you high in praise and renown and glory above all other nations. and you will be a people sacred to the Lord, your God, as he promised." Is this a motive for learning and living by God's directions? We may not need "praise and glory" as a nation, but we do want the Church to stand out as true and holy, so that people will seek and find fullness of life through her ministry. For this it is not enough for us just to "avoid sin" by keeping the Ten Commandments; we have to live lives so different, s

Father David's Reflection for First Friday in Lent

The Responsorial Psalm opens us to a deeper dimension of right and wrong: "If you, O Lord, laid bare our guilt, who could endure it?" (Psalm 130). If we really knew the level of life to which God calls us - really saw in detail what we ought to be doing - would it just overwhelm us? Ezekiel 18: 21-28 tells us that the choice we have is life or death. This doesn't mean God will literally kill the sinner. It is just a Scriptural way of saying that all sins - recognized or not, and whether we are subjectively guilty of them or not - destroy life and diminish the quality of life on earth. If we do bad things because we "don't know any better," we are not guilty. But we are still destructive - to

Father David's Reflection for First Thursday in Lent

The Responsorial Psalm gives us confidence in dealing with God: "O Lord, on the day I called for help you answered me!" (Psalm 138). Esther C (after chapter 4): 12, 14-16, 23-25 shows us Esther risking her life on the basis of what she "used to hear from the people of the land and our ancestors. that you fulfilled all your promises to them." Because she listened, believed and acted on what she heard she became a hero. She saved her people. In Matthew 7: 7-12 Jesus encourages us: "Seek... Knock.." If we do, we will find what we are looking for (or more than we dreamed of). And a door will be opened for us to enter. He says the Father is eager to "give good things to any- one who asks him." Bu

Father David's Reflection for First Wednesday in Lent

The Responsorial Psalm tells us the kind of conversion that gives us confidence: "A broken, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn" (Ps. 51). If we convert to being authentic disciples of Jesus, will things really get better in this world? Will it make a real difference? Jonah 3: 1-10 gives us reason to trust that it will. Nineveh (in modern-day Iraq) was a city so bad that Jonah actually wanted it destroyed. When God told him to call its citizens to conversion, he took ship, trying to flee from God's presence - and wound up indigestible fish food! But when he did proclaim that Nineveh was about to be destroyed, they converted. And they did it with a "broken, humbled heart." The same thing

Father David's Reflection for First Tuesday of Lent

The Responsorial Psalm promises: "God will deliver the just from all their afflictions" (Psalm 34). But the verses make clear that God requires action on our part. Notice the words: "I sought," "look to him," "called out." It is when the just "cry out" actively that "the Lord hears them." Isaiah 55: 10-11 tells us three things: 1. The initiative comes from God. 2. God gives us life through his word. 3. God's word bears fruit. If we really respond to God's initiative by reading and reflecting on his words, his words will transform our lives, because they will teach us to know God, to know his mind and heart. But something depends on us. Jesus explained what that is in the parable of the sower

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