O God, you are rich in mercy and full of compassion. From generation to generation, you poured forth your abundant love upon your people. Liberate us from the darkness of sin and raise us up with Christ, so that, renewed by the Cross, we may be strengthened for ministry. Watch over us when we go astray and keep us close to the heart of your Son. Give us prophetic voices that joyfully announce your mercy and love to all those who are exiled by sin so that all may find a place at the heavenly banquet. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sunday, March 11, 2018 – Mercy
Today’s Readings: 2 Chronicles 36:14 –16, 19 – 23; Psalm 137:1– 2, 3, 4 – 5, 6; Ephesians 2:4 –10; John 3:14 – 21. The readings today tell of the merciful love of God. Carey Landry emphasizes this aspect of God in the song “God is Rich in Mercy” in which he wrote, “God is rich in mercy, full of compassion.” Today’s Gospel points out that God’s love for us is so profound that he offered his only Son on the Cross so that we might have eternal life. When we consider our ancestors in the faith, we learn they wrestled to follow the Commandments and remain faithful to God just as we do today.
In the Book of Chronicles, the Israelites were taken into captivity as punishment for their infidelity, but even here, God’s mercy prevails when King Cyrus, inspired by the Lord, freed the people. Sin causes us to turn away from God, but instead of punishment, God gives us the gift of his Son who has redeemed us; he has brought us out of the darkness into his light. No matter the circumstances in which we find ourselves, God is present and mercy overflows.
In this season of mercy, it is important to name those sins that keep us from God and seek forgiveness. It is also important to show mercy to others, especially those whom we may have harmed in any way. As you ponder God’s mercy, consider celebrating the Sacrament of Penance this week.
This Week at Home
Monday, March 12 – Healed
When we reflect on Scripture, we consider not only physical healing but spiritual transformations. The first thing you might notice in the Gospel is that the official’s son is healed, but that is not the end of the story. When the son is healed, the man “came to believe.” The Psalm provides a prayer of thanksgiving for the times we have been rescued/healed by God. Make a list of those times God has been with you and healed you. Today’s Readings: Isaiah 65:17– 21; Psalm 30:2 and 4, 5 – 6, 11–12a and 13b; John 4:43 – 54.
Tuesday, March 13 – Living Water
As you reflect on today’s readings, keep Baptism in mind. Water is a mighty force of nature. It can nourish our bodies and the ground or destroy everything in its path. In Baptism, everything unclean in us is destroyed and we are nourished with the Living Water. Ezekiel’s vision tells of the abundance where the river flows. Christ is the Living Water that brings us life. Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 47:1– 9, 12; Psalm 46:2 – 3, 5 – 6, 8 – 9; John 5:1–16.
Wednesday, March 14 – Jesus, the Son of God
In the Gospel, Jesus tells the people that he is the Son of God and that the time will come when all will be raised to new life. As in the First Reading, where Isaiah prophesies about the day of the Lord, Jesus too promises that the dead who have done good will hear and have life. How well have you responded to God’s voice this Lenten season? God is truly gracious and merciful. Open your hearts to his Word. Write about or draw the images that come to mind after reading the Gospel. Today’s Readings: Isaiah 49:8 –15; Psalm 145:8 – 9, 13cd –14, 17–18; John 5:17– 30.
Thursday, March 15 – Golden Calf
The First Reading once again highlights God’s profound mercy for his loved ones. The Israelites have crafted a golden calf to worship. They have lost faith in God and turned away from him. We too struggle to remain faithful, especially when we feel lost, alone, or afraid. Moses helped the people see God’s presence. Who helps you see God’s presence? Know that no matter the sin, God will not shower wrath upon you but will call you home and wait patiently for your loving gaze. Make a list of the “golden calves” in your life and offer them up in prayer. Today’s Readings: Exodus 32:7–14; Psalm 106:19 – 20, 21– 22, 23; John 5:31– 47.
Friday, March 16 – The Wisdom of God
Though written long before the time of Christ, the First Reading describes how those who reject Jesus’ wisdom plotted to kill him. Wickedness blinds our hearts to see what is good and righteous. It sets us on a path of destruction. By his death and Resurrection, Jesus confronts sin and death so that we might have life. Do we have ears to hear and hearts to learn the wisdom of God? Invite a wisdom figure from your life to coffee or tea. Today’s Readings: Wisdom 2:1a, 12 – 22; Psalm 34:17–18, 19 – 20, 21 and 23; John 7:1– 2, 10, 25 – 30.
Saturday, March 17 – Refuge
During these final days of Lent, listen carefully to the refrain of the Psalm. In times of pain and weakness, God is truly our refuge. This Lenten season may have revealed the blind spots within our hearts, but all should know that sin cannot take hold when we seek refuge in God. Allow God’s mercy to wash over you and ask for God’s justice. Pray today for all those who seek refuge and safety. Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 11:18 – 20, Psalm 7:2 – 3, 9bc –10, 11–12; John 7:40 – 53.
Lent is the season which runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord's Supper exclusive.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of total fast and abstinence. The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence.
In keeping with the spirit and meaning of the Lenten fast, Catholics are encouraged to observe the Good Friday fast through Holy Saturday and until the celebration of the Easter vigil.
The law of fasting binds persons from the completion of their 18th year to the beginning of their 60th year, i.e., from the day after their 18th birthday to the day after their 59th birthday.
The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing as far as quantity and quality are concerned, approved local custom. The order of meals is optional; i.e., the full meal may be taken in the evening instead of at midday. Also: 1) The quantity of food taken at the two lighter meals should not exceed the quantity taken at the full meal; 2) The drinking of ordinary liquids does not break the fast.
The law of abstinence binds persons from the completion of their 14th year, i.e., from the day after their 14th birthday throughout life.
The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat. It does not forbid the use of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat. Also permissible are soups flavored with meat, meat gravy and sauces.
Pocket Prayer for Lent
You created us from the dust of the earth,
And breathed your own life into our very being.
You recreated us in Christ
through the waters of Baptism,
That we might share as a people your fullness of life.
Through these 40 days
May our fasting strengthen us
to seek your justice,
May our prayer lead us
to become makers of peace,
And may our sharing
quicken the seeds of your Reign,
Present in all human hearts, and growing in mystery,
As we await with joyful anticipation,
the resurrection of Jesus your Son.
We make this prayer to you in his name. Amen
Do you want to Fast this Lent?
Fast from hurting words and say kind words
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude
Fast from anger and be filled with patience
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope
Fast from worries and trust in God
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity
Fast from pressures and be prayerful
Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others
Fast from grudges and be reconciled
Fast from words and be silent so you can listen
In this Time
O God of mercy,
who is slow to anger and rich in kindness,
grant us, as we continue our Lenten journey,
contrite hearts that long for reconciliation
and steadfast spirits that proclaim your love.
In this acceptable time,
soften our calloused hearts,
watch over us, and keep us from all sin.
In this season of repentance,
help us turn toward the light of your Son, Jesus Christ,
and away from selfish ambition.
In this period of renewal,
open our ears to hear your voice,
which calls us out of darkness,
so that with clean hearts we can forever proclaim your praise.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lent is a time to pause and step back from situations that lead to sin, a time to see how God is at work in others and in the world and, especially, a time to return to the Lord, knowing that his mercy is boundless. Lent is a time “to allow our hearts to beat once more in tune with the vibrant heart of Jesus.”
This is a day of new beginning,
Time to remember and move on,
Time to believe what love is bringing,
Laying to rest the pain that's gone.
For by the life and death of Jesus,
God's mighty Spirit, now as then,
Can make for us a world of difference,
As faith and hope are born again.
Then let us, with Spirit's daring,
Step from the past and leave behind
Our disappointment, guilt and grieving,
Seeking new paths, and sure to find.
Christ is alive, and goes before us
To show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
Our God is making all things new.
In faith we'll gather round the table
To taste and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
Our God is making all things new.
Knowing the commands of the Christ,
let this be our way of life:
let us feed the hungry,
let us give the thirsty drink,
let us clothe the naked,
let us welcome strangers,
let us visit those in prison and the sick.
Then the judge of all will say even to us:
Come, you blessed of my Father,
inherit the realm prepared for you!
In these days of Lent, take time to sit quietly and listen to God. In a journal, write or draw what you hear and rest in the presence of God whose love knows no end.