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Great Lent Today

Day 17 - Third Wednesday of the Great Lent

Opening Prayer

Keep your family, O Lord,
schooled always in good works,
and so comfort them with your protection here
as to lead them graciously to gifts on high.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Readings (alternate)

Jeremiah 18:18-20; Psalm 31:5-6, 14, 15-16; Matthew 20:17-28

In His Steps - A Lenten Series

Today: Capernaum: Right through the Roof

Daily Meditation:

Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant.
Jesus is telling us about his Passion, Death and Resurrection - for us.
Too often we are fighting over which of us is the greatest.
To take this journey with him, is to take a journey
that draws us to be with him in it and like him:
a servant of love for others.

"The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Today's Daily Reflection

by Eileen Burke-Sullivan
Theology Department, Creighton University

Jeremiah 18:18-20
Psalm 31:5-6, 14, 15-16
Matthew 20:17-28

The First reading from today's Mass, taken from the Book of Jeremiah, could be the basis for the cynical saying that "no good deed goes unpunished." Jeremiah has interceded with God and brought God's merciful response on Jerusalem. Now, as he continues his prophetic work by challenging the people to live up to God's demands upon them to care for the poor and to trust in God's promises, they seek to destroy him by trapping him with his own words. This is a particularly vile behavior because it is people who KNOW he is saying and doing the right things ( they have benefited from his intercession, after all, and they know it) Ė and they still want to discredit him by twisting his own words. This is also a particularly "modern" behavior. The "gotcha" mentality that many practice toward political leaders, religious leaders and even ordinary folks is grounded in a cynical conviction that no one really speaks the truth (as Pontius Pilate, the patron of cynics, said in this paradigmatic question "What is truth?"). It is also satisfying and entertaining to destroy other people's reputations. Ignatius of Loyola offers an antidote to this mentality in Paragraph 23 of the spiritual exercises which he calls a "presupposition." He offers it for those who make the Spiritual Exercises to facilitate a trust-based sharing between the guide and the exercitant, but the practice could make our world a far happier and safer place if more Christians exercised it on an ordinary basis. In this paragraph Ignatius calls on those working together toward God's grace to "put a good interpretation on anything that is said, rather than to seek to condemn it." In other words, assume that the other (whoever the other is) is trying his/her best to speak the truth as he/she understands it, and help make the case for them. The unspoken assumption is that none of us knows everything and we need to hear (with open ears and minds) one another's insights if we want to pursue the truth.

The Gospel from today's liturgy is a fascinating story of human interaction that could offer days of reflection. Mark's Gospel reports this story with the two disciples asking on their own behalf to hold special places of honor in Jesus' kingdom. Today's reading from Matthew tells the story with the twist that the mother of the sibling disciples asks. Matthew is not willing to cast a bad light on the disciples, so he makes Mrs. Zebedee the source of the ambition (can't you just imagine them standing behind their mother as she approaches Jesus?). But in both accounts Jesus responds directly to the men by posing an interesting challenge that many Catholics could listen well to today: "Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?" When I have distributed the Eucharist as a Communion Minister over the years I have been struck by how many approach the Altar and receive the Consecrated Bread, but pass up the "Cup of Salvation" doubtless for a variety of reasons. To put the best interpretation upon this action one could presume that the communicant is ill or coming down with an illness that might be infectious for others. Or possibly the person has an allergy to wine or can't drink alcohol for reasons of health and well-being or perhaps the person has a compromised immune system and is fearful of "picking up a bug." Do these genuinely good reasons account for nearly 60% of Catholics who receive Communion, however?

It is possible that Catholics have simply not been catechized to the meaning and importance of drinking from the Chalice as an act of communion with the Body of Christ, head and members. It carries a slightly different symbolism from eating the consecrated Eucharistic Bread, and thus, carries a slightly enlarged sacramental meaning. There is clearly an Old Testament reference or number of references, some of which imply the participation in enduring the consequences of sin. Jesus' cup is the cup of the suffering of the created order caused by the consequences of human sin through the centuries. The invitation to drink Jesus' cup (not our own, by the way) is to participate in a particularly intimate and absolute way with his work of repairing the consequences of sin for others. It is a symbolic/real way of taking the suffering of the human community into our own bodies through the power of the Spirit, and through that same Spirit, to alleviate that suffering.

Now most of us are not particularly eager to deal with the suffering caused for others by our own sins, much less take on the work of healing the suffering caused by others' sins, and yet that above all is the "Mission" of Jesus Christ, and therefore the Mission of His Disciples. By embracing the Chalice and drinking of its contents, we say yes to the priestly work of Jesus that we consented to in our Baptism in a way that is more complete than nearly any other sacramental or spiritual activity we undertake.

One last thought: Jesus' Cup is also a cup of pure and eternal joy (which after all is the best remedy for suffering it seems to me) for those who receive and exercise the graces offered through receiving the Precious Blood. So sipping from the Chalice at Mass is one of the most grace-filled, dangerous and rewarding actions of the Christian life. In the end, it is important to remember that none of us is going to get out of this life alive, so we might want to be less frightened by germs and more attentive to the possibilities of transforming grace at any time we participate in the Eucharist.

Preface for Meditation
by Prince Mathew

The Bible is a living testimony of some of the greatest calls in history. When we think of these calls we immediately think of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets, and others whom God called into his service. We would like to explore three calls in particular, which the bible highlights.

The first call we would like to explore is the call of Moses. We read in the book of Exodus that when God called Moses, the Israelites had been enslaved for over four hundred years. Yet even in the midst of their despair, their trials, and their sufferings, God did not forget his people. God chose Moses to deliver his people from the bonds of the Egyptians. Yet how did God call Moses? One day, while tending his father-in-law's sheep, God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush and called him to deliver his people. Yet Moses, even though he saw the miracle before him, was reluctant. Moses did not listen to God at first. He tried to evade God's call to him. Moses told God that he was incapable of accomplishing the feat of delivering the Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians. To that God responded, "I will be with you."

Again, Moses tried to evade God's call by saying that the Israelites would not believe him. To that God allowed Moses to perform signs as proof-the ability to turn his staff into a snake, to turn his hand leprous, and to make the water of the Nile turn to blood." Even still, Moses tried to evade God's call by saying that he was not eloquent and that he was "slow of speech and slow of tongue." In other words, Moses, the greatest prophet of the Old Testament had a speech impediment. To that, God told Moses that he would give him the words to speak to Pharaoh and even allowed Moses to bring along his brother Aaron. Finally, Moses relented and accepted God's call. God's call to Moses was quite dramatic and came to Moses when he was about eighty years old.

Even if we heard Godís call several times in our life, our reasons are unaccepted to hear his calls, but now God is saying to us that (1) I will be with you (2) I will give you the Godís signs (3) I will allow you to be strengthen in your voice and take your brothers for achieving Godís plan. We will relent and accept Godís call.

Let us listen to Godís call and accept His call during this Great Lent.

Be ready to hear the ďSecond callĒ on next day Ė God bless us all

Bible Reading Passages:

Fifty-Day Gospel Planner
(Read all Gospels during the Great Lent)

Evening

Morning

Gospel Readings:

Luke 9:44-50 (KJV)

Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.

But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.

And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,

And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.

And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.

And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

Luke 9:57-62 (KJV)

And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Luke 12:32-40 (KJV)

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;

And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.

Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.

Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Bible Verse of the Day:

Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you allóhe is the greatest." St. Luke 9:48

Intercessions:

Let us give thanks to God, our Father:
through the power of the Spirit he purifies our heart and strengthens us in love. Let us humbly ask him:
Lord, give us your Holy Spirit.

Help us to receive good things from your bounty with a deep sense of gratitude;
-and to accept with patience the evil that comes to us.
Teach us to be loving not only in great and exceptional moments,
-but above all in the ordinary events of daily life.
May we abstain from what we do not really need,
-and help our brothers and sisters in distress.
May we bear the wounds of your Son,
-for through his body he gave us life.

Closing Prayer:

God of Love,
through this Lenten journey,
purify my desires to serve you.
Free me from any temptations to judge others,
to place myself above others.
Please let me surrender even my impatience with others,
that with your love and your grace,
I might be less and less absorbed with myself,
and more and more full of the desire
to follow you, in laying down my life
according to your example.

May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Amen.

Source: Portions from: Creighton University Praying Lent

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