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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Third Sunday of Lent


The Third Sunday of Lent

March 4, 2018
Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; John 2:13-25

Moses gives the Ten Commandments to the Israelites in the desert as a covenant with God. The church places emphasis on this reading during Lent because it is the core of our moral code that we can return to as we examine our consciences. The commandments honors God and the people around us and Jesus later summarizes them as attitudes that “love God” and “love others as ourselves.” The commandments help us develop a loving attitude and positive regard for those who are around us. Thereby, we evaluate the strength of our relationships and notice where we need to reform our lives.

            In the Gospel, Jesus enters the Temple upon his arrival in Jerusalem and he is upset because of the excessive commerce that is conducted there. It is understandable that money changers would exchange Roman coins for Jewish ones that could be used to purchase sacrificial offerings or pay the Temple tax, but the practice evolved into something more than what was intended. Jesus is intent on restoring the relationship of Temple worship to its rightful position in society. The House of God is to be restored to a place of prayer.

            Each of us has many relationships that need mending. Today is a good day to start because we are entering into the heart of Lent. As I have recently spent a great deal of time with the elderly in nursing homes, I’ve seen how many of them lament that some relationships remained unreconciled or they have not forgiven themselves for choices they have made. Life is too short to not give the extra effort to forgive or to ask for forgiveness.

            This Lent, why don’t we try an unusual step? Let us ask another person to forgive us for our actions that did not bring about the most positive outcome. Too often, I hear people say that they must forgive a person for an offense done unto them. While that is admirable, it is still an action that another person has done against us. In other words, we are still blaming the other person while trying to forget about the whole experience. When was the last time we owned up to our own failings and asked that someone else forgive the ways we acted? This is where true humility and repentance occurs.

            Acknowledging our own offenses is not easy, especially in a climate where everyone is promoting their own right to be respected. I know there are times when I do not act lovingly to a person who offends me. I may not fight back, but I might not give an inch either. My actions might not provide the best conditions for continued dialogue, and without that, we will both walk away offended. A better way forward for me is to use these occasions as opportunities to teach others about what I need and to express how I am feeling, but the more important work is to pay more attention to how they are feeling and asking about what they need. Kindness and tolerance for different perspectives will help us move towards reconciliation and greater mutual understanding.

            In the end, what type of person do I want to be? I want to be known for kindness and gentleness, for caring for another person who is in need, as one who is open to reform as I learn how I am sinful, and as one who loves Christ and wants others to know of his power to heal their souls. Christ can reconcile our relationships. I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. It often calls for us to take the first step, to reach out and to ask for forgiveness, and to ask for another chance. The miracles that follow always come from God’s approval of our steps. This is the culture we want to build during Lent. These are the reforms God calls us to make. God’s temple is restored and rebuilt each time we turn over that stone and restore it to its proper place.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading:
Monday: (2 Kings 5) Naaman, the king of Aram, contracted leprosy. A captured girl wanted him to present himself to the prophet in Samaria. Naaman was instructed to wash seven times in the Jordan River and his flesh became again like the flesh of a little child.
Tuesday: (Daniel 3) Azariah asked for the Lord’s deliverance. He asked that the Lord deal with them in kindness and with great mercy.
Wednesday: (Deuteronomy 4) Moses spoke to the people asking them to hear and heed the statutes and decrees he received from the Lord. Do not forget the things the Lord has done.
Thursday: (Jeremiah 7) They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me. 
Friday: (Hosea 14) Return to God, who forgives all iniquity. The Lord will heal their defection and love them freely for his wrath is turned away from them. 
Saturday: (Hosea 6) Come, let us return to the Lord. It is love that I desire, not sacrificed, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. 

Monday: (Luke 4) Jesus reminded people that a prophet is without honor in his own land and he called the mind the story of Naaman, the foreigner from Syria, who was cured.
Tuesday: (Matthew 18) Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness. He said to forgiven seventy-seven time because unless each person forgives from the heart, he will not be forgiven.
Wednesday: (Matthew 5) Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Each commandment is to be observed; the one who does it will be the greatest in the Kingdom.
Thursday: (Luke 11) Jesus drove out a demon that was mute and was then accused of being in league with Beelzebul. Jesus explained to them how that does not make much sense.
Friday: (Mark 12) A scribe asked Jesus to declare which is the first commandment. Love the God with you whole soul and your neighbor like yourself. The scribe was well pleased. 
Saturday: (Luke 18) Jesus told a parable about prayer to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. The one who is humble is favored by God. 

Saints of the Week

March 7: Perpetua and Felicity (d. 203), were two catechumens arrest and killed during a persecution in North Africa. Perpetua was a young noblewoman who was killed alongside her husband, their young son, and their pregnant slave, Felicity. They were baptized while under arrest and would not renounce their faith. Felicity was excused from death because it was unlawful to kill a pregnant woman, but she gave birth prematurely three days before the planned execution. They were flogged, taunted by wild beasts, and then beheaded. They appear in the First Eucharistic Prayer.

March 8: John of God (1495-1550), was a Portuguese soldier of fortune who was brought to Spain as a child. He was a slave master, shepherd, crusader, bodyguard and peddler. As he realized that he frittered away his life, he sought counsel from John of Avila. He then dedicated his life to care for the sick and the poor. He formed the Order of Brothers Hospitallers and is the patron saint of hospitals and the sick.

March 9: Frances of Rome (1384-1440), was born into a wealthy Roman family and was married at age 13. She bore six children and when two died in infancy, she worked to bring the needs of the less fortunate to others. She took food to the poor, visited the sick, cared for the needy in their homes. When other women joined in her mission, they became Benedictine oblates. She founded a monastery for them after her husband's death.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Mar 4, 1873. At Rome, the government officials presented themselves at the Professed House of the Gesu for the purpose of appropriating the greater part of the building.
·      Mar 5, 1887. At Rome, the obsequies of Fr. Beckx who died on the previous day. He was 91 years of age and had governed the Society as General for 34 years. He is buried at San Lorenzo in Campo Verano.
·      Mar 6, 1643. Arnauld, the Jansenist, published his famous tract against Frequent Communion. Fifteen French bishops gave it their approval, whereas the Jesuit fathers at once exposed the dangers in it.
·      Mar 7, 1581. The Fifth General Congregation of the Society bound the professors of the Society to adhere to the doctrine of St Thomas Aquinas.
·      Mar 8, 1773. At Centi, in the diocese of Bologna, Cardinal Malvezzi paid a surprise visit to the Jesuit house, demanding to inspect their accounting books.
·      Mar 9, 1764. In France, all Jesuits who refused to abjure the Society were ordered by Parliament to leave the realm within a month. Out of 4,000 members only five priests, two scholastics, and eight brothers took the required oath; the others were driven into exile.
·      Mar 10, 1615. The martyrdom in Glasgow, Scotland, of St John Ogilvie.

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