Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 11, 2002
Lenten reflections, Scriptural roots
By GLEN ARGAN
Lent is a time to take stock. There is no better way to do that than to reflect on and with the Scriptures.
To help you make your way through these 40 days, I've chosen a line from the Gospel of each day and given a brief personal reflection. What is important is the line from the Gospel; you may disregard my reflections and write your own.
Be still. Ask the Holy Spirit to come to help you reflect. And then, read the line from the Gospel, once, twice, many times. What does it say to you? Is it calling you to do something different in your life? Or is it calling you to do the same thing, but to do it differently?
Talk to Jesus silently about how this line impacts you. Ask him to be with you in all your undertakings today. Give glory to his name.
Wednesday, February 13
"Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice" (Matthew 6)
Secular leadership theorist Stephen Covey says performing acts of "anonymous service" helps to develop one's leadership abilities. It gives insight into the dignity of others because we aren't serving them to gain something for ourselves. It also develops our own sense of self-respect. Do good deeds for which no one will ever know you are responsible.
Thursday, February 14
"If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross everyday and follow me" (Luke 9).
Someone once asked engaged couples to look each other in the eye. "You are now looking at your greatest cross in life," he said. We expect our closest relationships to be sources of joy and happiness . . . and they are. But close relationships also impose burdens on us and take us where we would rather not go. Can we also go there joyfully?
Friday, February 15
"The time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them and then they will fast" (Matthew 9).
There's more to life than renouncing the things we enjoy. Those things wouldn't be enjoyable if we had never allowed ourselves to experience them. But to keep our priorities straight, there are times we need to let go of our creature comforts for awhile. Doing so refreshes the memory of what is most real in life. It keeps our compass pointed in the right direction.
Saturday, February 16
"And leaving everything, he got up and followed him" (Luke 5).
The greatest religious problem facing humanity today is not systematic atheism or some heresy. It is religious indifference. The Second Vatican Council said, "There are those who never enquire about God; religion never seems to trouble or interest them at all, nor do they see why should bother about it." But how about the rest of us? Can we be as courageous as Levi by following Jesus in everything?
Sunday, February 17
"One does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4)
The Second Vatican Council implored Catholics to read the sacred Scriptures frequently. It quoted St. Jerome's dictum: "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ." This applies not only to the Gospels, but also to the rest of the New Testament and even to the Old Testament. One of my favourite Bible verses is Hebrews 4:12 - "The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." You cannot read Scripture frequently and remain unchanged.
Monday, February 18
"I was hungry and you gave me food" (Matthew 25)
I can't hear this Gospel without recalling Pope John Paul's homily in Edmonton on Sept. 17, 1984. There, the pope linked this Gospel with the social and economic structures that keep two-thirds of the world in dire poverty and the rest of us relatively well off. We have the poor in our own cities and towns to feed. But we must also ask why so many have so little and so few have so much. It remains the number one question for the 21st century.
Tuesday, February 19
"If you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either" (Matthew 6)
It's often easier to talk about forgiveness than to do it. Some of the abuse and exclusion we suffer makes us want to seek revenge, not to forgive. But as Rabbi Harold Kushner notes, "Revenge is sweet in the contemplation, but bitter in the carrying out." Hard as it can be to forgive, we need to find ways to restore the power destroyed in us by abuse and to move on. Otherwise, we condemn ourselves to lives increasingly coloured by bitterness.
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