Sunday, February 28, 2021

Second Sunday of Lent


On the second Sunday of Lent, the Gospel reading proclaims the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. This event is reported in each of the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Mark’s Transfiguration story is similar to that found in both Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel. The Transfiguration occurs after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ prediction about his passion. After this, in each of these Gospels, there is also a discussion of the cost of discipleship.

In each story, Jesus takes three of his disciples—Peter, James, and John—to a high mountain. While they are there, Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus.  First, we see that there are three persons on the “high mountain": Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. We see the priest, prophet, and King, the three offices of Jesus, embodied here by three physical persons. They seem to be in consultation and complete harmony, just as the Holy Trinity is three Persons in complete accord.

Next are the three witnesses, hand-picked by Jesus: Peter, chosen to be the “Rock” on which Jesus would build His Church; John, the youngest and the “beloved” disciple; and James, who would lead the Church in Jerusalem. This reminds us that the Father created, and nurtured man and He would build a Church using through his “beloved Son,” Jesus; and the Spirit would breathe life into the Church on the day of Pentecost.

We can also see each Person of the Holy Trinity in this passage: God the Father in the voice saying, “This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him;” God the Son in physical form; and the cloud representing the Holy Spirit — just as He appeared in the desert in the Old testament. This is not something that would have been understood by the disciples, who “kept the matter to themselves.”

The use of the number three here is very intentional. The three on the mountain, the three witnesses, the indication of the three Persons, all point to the truth of the Trinity. This concept of God was completely foreign up to this point. What a mystery for the disciples, and us, to ponder as we continue the Lenten journey!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

First Sunday of Lent


On the first Sunday of Lent we read Mark’s account of this Jesus’ temptation in the desert.  In Mark’s Gospel, the desert marks beginning of Jesus’ battle with Satan; the ultimate test will be in Jesus’ final hours on the cross. In a similar way, our Lenten observances are only a beginning, a preparation for and a reinforcement of our ongoing struggle to resist the temptations we face in our lives. During Lent, we are led by the Holy Spirit to remember the vows of Baptism in which we promised to reject sin and to follow Jesus. Just as Jesus was ministered to by the angels, God also supports us in our struggle against sin and temptation. We succeed because Jesus conquered sin once and for all in his saving death on the cross.

Pope Francis has given us another way to look at fasting in Lent when he wrote:


In the words of Pope Francis:

• 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 have trust in God.

• Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.

• Fast from pressures and be prayerful.

• Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts 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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the start of the Lenten season, normally observed as 40 days of prayer, fasting, and repentance in the days before Easter. In Ash Wednesday services, participants receive a blessing of ashes on their foreheads as a reminder of our mortality. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19)”

The ashes are prepared by burning the palm fronds used during the prior year’s Palm Sunday celebration. They represent death and repentance, a reminder that we are human.

 More recently when one receives ashes, you hear "Turn away from sin and live the Gospel."

We encourage you to take a few minutes a day to pause, reflect, and pray throughout the season of Lent. These moments to reflect on your life and recommitting to your faith are a great way to prepare for Easter. 

Merciful God,

look upon us as we enter these Forty Days,

bearing the mark of ashes,

and bless our journey through the desert of Lent.

May our fasting be a hunger for justice;

our alms, a making of peace;

our prayer, the chant of humble and grateful hearts.

All that we do and pray is in the name of Jesus,

for in his cross you proclaim your love

forever and ever. 


Wishing a peaceful and prayerful Lenten Season!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time


A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.”  The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.  Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.  He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.  He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere. Matthew 1: 40 - 45

Whenever I hear this story, I often find myself asking myself what are the things that I am ashamed of? What are the things I hide from?  What causes me to be distant from God?  Like the leper we must be courageous and willing to place ourselves in God’s presence.  He needed healing and was willing to ask Jesus for help.  We get to know God by bringing our brokenness to God and not trying to have it all together to seek help.  God accepts us in our need and with all our vulnerability.

“Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’” When Jesus reached out and touched a leper, he reached across every boundary and did something totally unexpected.  Jesus is always willing to do the same for us.   All we need to do is ask and be willing to embrace our weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Today we also celebrate Valentines Day.  It is a day where we celebrate love.  Let us acknowledge all our loved ones this year in a special way.  It has been a difficult year for all.  May our hearts and homes be filled with love, peace and joy this day and always.  Happy Valentines Day!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Today we celebrate the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  It is not just any Sunday as it is also Super Bowl Sunday and many states are being covered once again in a blanket of snow.  For the second time in a week snow is once again falling with the promise of not as much as the last one.  Nevertheless, the snow is falling and accumulating quickly. It is a beautiful sight.  I love watching the snow fall – it is so peaceful and calming. 

Looking at today’s Gospel reading the one thing that caught my attention was the fact that Jesus “went off to a deserted place” to pray.  Why did Jesus do this, after all Jesus is God?  The fact is that Jesus prays as an example for the rest of us.  As a reminder that we, too, need to pray.   We all had the experience of learning traditional prayers as young children.  As we grow and mature, we can allow our relationship with God to do the same.  We do not have to wait for the right time or have all the right words we just need to open our hearts to God’s abundant love.  It might begin as simply as settling down for five minutes, closing your eyes and placing yourself in the loving presence of God.  The more you do it the easier it gets.  Before you know it you will be settling down each day for longer periods and enjoying some relaxing time with God.