Daily Mass Reflections
Daily Reflections 2nd Week of Lent
Saturday 2nd Week of Lent
The readings today reveal to us once again the amazing ability of God to forgive. Indeed is seems God is more willing to forgive than we are. The prophet Micah says that God actually delights in showing mercy, and will tread our faults down to the bottom of the sea.
Then in the Gospel, we have what has been described as the greatest short story ever told, the parable of the Prodigal Son. Here we see God as a loving father who gives us freedom to live our lives and make our own choices. As the parable reveals, sometimes we make the wrong choices when we go our own way.
However, God is always looking out for us, and as soon as we turn back to Him, God comes running to us to welcome us home.
Conscious that at times we do go our own way, we begin this Mass by first asking for the loving mercy and forgiveness of God.
Pope Benedict XVI has described the parable of the Prodigal Son as a good reflection of the world today. The Younger Son, wants to leave and go his own way, do his own thing. He is searching for the ultimate freedom, no ties, no responsibilities. This is very much the way of the world, wanting to live in seeming freedom with nobody to answer to, totally free to do whatever they want. Ultimately it is as if society is trying to live without God.
But to try and live without God it to live without our origin, it is trying to live against the truth of who we are as people, God’s children.
In the parable, the younger son squanders his father’s property. The Greek word used to describe property actually means, ‘essence’. The younger son does not just lose his father’s property, he loses his very essence, he loses his very self. In his search for freedom, he becomes lost in emptiness and pain.
The world will eventually realise that it can not live without God; we can not love without God. True freedom in life is only found with God, because God is the source of our lives and the source of our freedom.
And just as God has given us the freedom to walk away, so to are we given the freedom to come back. The father never stopped looking out for his son, equally God never stops looking out for us. The moment we turn our hearts back to God, then God will come running out to us to welcome us home. If God can do that to us, then surely we should try and do that for each other.
Friday 5th March – 2nd Week of Lent
In our readings today, we come across the danger and destruction of pride and envy. There is nothing more destructive to our own peace of mind.
In the first reading, Joseph’s brothers are so envious of him, that they actually want to kill him. In the end they sell him into slavery.
Then in the Gospel, Jesus points out that the pride of the people has meant, that time and time again, they have killed God’s messengers. The people always seem to think that they know best, and will not listen to God.
We pray in this Mass that we will listen to the voice of Jesus today and open ourselves to receive the loving mercy of God, driving anyway all forms of pride and envy, and giving us the freedom to live truly as God’s own people.
I think of all the vices, pride, envy and jealousy can be the most destructive in our lives, because they gnaw away at us constantly and we never seem to find any peace in life. And this can be the case in so many ways.
As people of faith the only thing that really matters is that we are children of God and God has made us for a purpose. Every single person is uniquely precious to God. We therefore are ultimately precious in God’s eyes. And if that is the case, what does it matter what other people have; what does it matter what other people do or say?
Jesus was the Son of God, yet He never once tried to better than anybody else or use His powers to impress people. He lived with total humility spending most of His time with the poor and the lowly. The only person Jesus wanted to impress was His Father in Heaven.Our faith in Jesus, is not just that we believe in Him, we also try to imitate Him. Jesus leads us in the way of humility, it is only in this way, do we find the peace of mind to live truly in freedom and be the people God wants us to be. Let us not waste our lives with pride, envy and jealousy, instead let us celebrate our lives because we are God children, and God has a purpose for us that only we can fulfil.
Thursday 4th March – 2nd Week of Lent
The readings today speak clearly about not closing our hearts to the needs of others. Sin is not just what we do, but can also be what we fail to do. The rich man in the Gospel today, does not actually do any harm to poor Lazarus; he just does not do anything. He totally ignores the sad life that Lazarus endures. The rich man is totally caught up in his own life.
As Jesus makes clear, we will be judged on both what we have done and what we have not done.
We pray in the Mass to have our eyes and our hearts open to be responsive to the needs of others, especially those who need our help.
The rich man in the Gospel today, is traditionally called Dives, which is the Latin for rich. From what we hear in the parable, by the standard of the day, Dives really is a very rich man. The story makes it very clear that Dives lives in real luxury.
At the other extreme we have poor Lazarus, a hopeless beggar, who is actually so weak, he cannot even ward off the street dogs. Such is the scene in this world for Dives and Lazarus.
Then abruptly, the scene changes, Lazarus is in Heaven and Dives is in torment. Lazarus had a very privileged life great things came his way. But he allowed all this privilege to totally take over his life. He was so self-obsessed, that he failed to see the suffering of those around him and therefore he did nothing about it.
In stark contrast to Dives, in the Gospels, we see Jesus constantly with the poor, the weak the forgotten members of society. Jesus was not interested in being with the powerful and wealthy. They were probably too tied up in their own lives than to listen to Jesus. Instead Jesus went where He knew the people needed to hear that God loves them.
The irony is that it was Lazarus who was rich in the eyes of God; it was Dives who was the poorest because he was the one who had absolutely nothing in his heart.
Wednesday 3rd March – 2nd Week of Lent
The readings today speak to us of the importance of the Law. For Jews the Law was sacred and therefore people were to listen to it, study it and follow it with their whole lives.
Jesus confirms today that He did not come to change the Law but to confirm it. This may seem surprising as Jesus is constantly in dispute with the scribes and Pharisees over breaking their law. However, the Law Jesus is here to confirm is the Law of God, not the 1000s of man made rules the scribes and Pharisees have added to the law.
For Jesus the essence of the law is to discern the will of God and give our whole lives to try and follow it.
In the time of Jesus, the Jews used the word Law in four ways;
The Ten Commandments
The Pentateuch – which is the Law par excellence
The Law and the Prophets
And finally the oral or scribal law
It is this final oral and scribal law which got Jesus so angry. Man made rules which stopped people living their lives. For example on the Sabbath Day people were not allowed to write, carry things above a certain weight, travel more than a certain distance, and were even not allowed to heal. Yet none of this is found in the Jewish sacred scriptures. It is all man made laws and there were literally 1000s of them. As Jesus often pointed out to the scribes and Pharisees much to their annoyance, these man made laws were pure nonsense and had nothing to do with following God, let alone being holy.
The true law of the Pentateuch which is the foundation of our law today, it has been said can be summed in one word; Reverence. Reverence for God and the name of God; Reverence for God’s day; Reverence for parents; Reverence for life; Reverence for property; Reverence for personality; Reverence for truth and another person’s good name. Without this reverence all law will be meaningless.
We are called to live with an attitude and service of reverence. This never entails following petty man made rules, but rather in living with love; Love of God and love of each other.
Tuesday 2nd March – 2nd Week of Lent
In the first reading today we have the prophet Isaiah urging the people to change their ways and listen to the commands of God. God wants to welcome them home and says very simply, “Cease to do evil, learn to do good.”
Then in the gospel Jesus points out the hypocrisy of the so called religious leaders. All the holiness is mere show and has no depth or sincerity. As Jesus says, “They do not practice what they preach.”
We gather together in the presence of the same Lord Jesus and ask for His loving mercy in our lives.
There is no doubt that these days the world seems to be obsessed with celebrity; with people both seeking after fame and people seeking to find famous people. We see it every day in papers and magazines which bring the latest celebrity gossip.
Today’s Gospel reading blows a big hole through all this show and ceremony. Jesus, who is undoubtedly one of the most famous people in human history, calls on his followers to be humble. These are not empty words. Jesus lives by his own commands. He hangs around with the people others regard as the dregs of society; he doesn’t seek fame or recognition. In fact, many of his listeners refused to believe that Jesus could be the Messiah precisely because he didn’t have all the trappings of fame. He wasn’t a worldly king, he wasn’t a great military ruler, he wasn’t even rich.
Jesus turned the world upside down because he lived on earth as a humble man and yet he was the greatest king this world has ever seen. This servant king shows us that the way to greatness in God’s eyes is the hardest way of all. It is the way of self-denial, love and humility.
Monday 1st March – Feast of St David
Today we celebrate the feast-day of St David the Patron Saint of Wales. When speaking about St David, one of the key words of his life was austerity. A man who through self discipline and training, committed his life body and soul to the service of Jesus and His Church. A man of deep prayer whose holiness shone through him for all to see.
We gather on this special feast day and ask for the loving mercy and forgiveness of God.
Born around 520 he was brought up in South Wales. After becoming a priest, he went away to the Isle of Wight to live the monastic life. After some years in spiritual training, he returned to the West Country and to Wales, and his spiritual fitness soon began to make itself felt. A missionary dynamism burned in him and he was responsible for the founding of many monasteries. His monks lived very full, hard working lives, in the church and on the land. David himself settled in Menevia, now called St David’s, a quiet and remote corner of Wales.
During the troubles caused by the Pelagian heresy, David took part in a Council and he spoke so powerfully and his character shone through so nobly, that the heresy was silenced and David found himself, much against his wishes, elected leader of the Church in Wales. He went back to his monastery and many people came to him there to seek the advice and the wisdom of this spiritual giant.
The great lesson that David taught his people, was to love ‘holy discipline’, not to be frightened of austerity, but to see its positive rewards. May we try and follow the example and teaching of this great Saint and seek to strive for holiness in the way we live our lives.
Sunday 28th February – 2nd Sunday of Lent (Year B)
Today we gather on the 2nd Sunday of Lent as we continue our Lenten journey. We hear in the Gospel, the Transfiguration of Jesus, when the Apostles see the glory of the Lord Jesus.
It is also reassurance for Jesus as he prepares to take up his cross which is now very near.
We too sometimes need reassurance, we need to know that God is with us on our journey through life. So we gather for this Mass as a parish, as people of faith, confident that God is with us with the same message as we hear in today’s Gospel,
“This is my Son, the beloved. Listen to Him.”
Let us open our hearts and our lives to God’s presence today, especially in this our parish Mass.
2nd Sunday of Lent (B)
As you know, I have a little dog called Lily, I have had her for 8 years since she was 8 weeks old. She is a special part of my life.
A few months ago, I popped home to see Mum in Leeds and took Lily for a walk. Whilst we were out, a big stray Alsatian dog ran up and attacked Lily. I tried to pick Lily up to protect her but then the Alsatian attacked me. In her fright Lily jumped out of my arms and then the Alsatian went for her. I literally smothered Lily with my body to stop the Alsatian getting to her, but the Alsatian bit me. Thankfully a neighbour heard me shouting and came out to help and chased the Alsatian away. It really was very scary at the time.
I am sure any parent here, would do exactly the same for their children. There is probably nothing you wouldn’t do to protect your children and keep them safe.
With this in mind, we come to the story in our 1st reading today, of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son. Is God really asking Abraham to do such a thing? And if so, what on Earth is Abraham thinking? What did he say to his wife Sarah as they set out?
But then, look at Jesus in our gospel today, what is He thinking? He knows only too well that the Cross of Calvary is waiting for Him in Jerusalem. At the Transfiguration, is Jesus having the very same thoughts that He would have at the Garden of Gethsemane, where He pleads with God that things be different.
In both the 1st reading and the Gospel, Jesus and Abraham are facing their own worst nightmares. I would think that naturally they are both praying that things could be different.
The outcome in each case is different. With Abraham, God was testing Abraham’s faith. Abraham had absolute faith and trust in God and literally would give anything to God and for God. At the last minute, God tells Abraham not to hurt his son, he has proved his absolute faith.
However for Jesus, it is not the same. Despite his prayers that things could be different, Jesus accepts the will of God that He face the cross. Because God our loving Father knew and Jesus knew, that the only way that we can be saved, the only way that we might find eternal life, is if Jesus goes to the cross and destroys the power of death.
What amazing love that God has for us. That God was willing to give His Son that we might have eternal life. We are so special to God that God gave up his Son for our sake. For God we are worth everything.
I know that in our church today, there are people who can relate to the circumstances of Abraham and Jesus. No matter who we are, life will provide its worries, heartbreaks and tragedies. They come in so many different ways. The other day, I had a phone call from a close friend of mine who told me that her husband has just walked out on her and four young children. For my friend her whole world has fallen apart. We are often left with the question, ‘Why?’
Whatever the problems, worries, disappointments, or sadness, our readings today are calling upon us as people of faith to try and trust in God. This as we all know is not easy, and that is ok. We only have to see how terrified Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, to accept that sometimes holding onto our faith is not easy.
But God does not abandon us in the hour of our suffering. He came to Abraham on his most nightmarish day. And He sent His supporting Angel to be with Jesus in His Agony. God was with Jesus at every moment from the sadness of His death to the joy of His Resurrection.
God never promised us a life free of suffering, not even for His own Son. And sadly, we do not even get any explanations as to why things have to be as they are sometimes. If we did, that would perhaps help.
However, in the suffering and death of Jesus, there was a reason why he had to face His own Cross. Jesus pleaded that things could be different, but ultimately accepted the will of God.
When our lives were in mortal danger, God’s Son accepted the Cross and gave His life for our sake. What more does God have to do to prove to us, just how much God loves us.