WEEK THREE OF LENT – MONDAY – THE ANNUNCIATION  MARCH 25, 2019 MARY’S QUESTIONING AND ACCEPTANCE (LK 1:26-38)

Prayer:  Come, Holy Spirit.  Help me to say “Yes” to God’s plan.

Imagination: (Picture Mary speaking with the Angel).

Context:

Luke records the greatest moment in human history, when God becomes flesh in Mary’s womb.  This text highlights Mary’s struggle to understand the mystery.  Once all is clear, she quickly consents.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin named Mary.  The angel said, “Do not fear, Mary. You have found favor with God. You shall conceive and bear a son and give him the name Jesus.  Great will be his dignity and he will be called Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father.  He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will be without end.

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be because I do not know man?”  The angel explained, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you.  The child will be called holy, the Son of God.  Know that Elizabeth, your relative, has conceived a son in her old age.  She who was called barren, is now in her sixth month because nothing is impossible to God.”

Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.  Let it be done to me according to your word.”  At this, the angel left her.

Thoughts:(Read all.  Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. Mary knew that God called her to be a virgin.  Now, the angel speaks of her becoming a mother.
  2. The angel explains how both are true.  The Holy Spirit will overshadow her, making her both mother and virgin.
  3. This message overwhelms Mary.
  4. Because Mary must accept her privilege, the angel describes God’s miracle in Elizabeth.
  5. The angel concludes, “Nothing is impossible to God.”
  6. Mary’s human mind quickly understands that God will do the impossible.
  7. She surrenders completely, “Let it be done to me according to your word.”

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Father, what is your plan for me?
  2. O Jesus, I cannot always understand your favors.
  3. Mary, teach me how to search for answers.
  4. O Spirit, reveal God’s mysteries in my life.
  5. O God, nothing is impossible for you.
  6. Mary, engrave your response on my heart, “Let I be done to me according to your word.”

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. This day, I will surrender to God’s plan.
  2. I will believe that nothing is impossible for God.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Let it be done to me according to your word.

WEEK THREE OF LENT – SUNDAY – C – MARCH 24, 2019 THE FIG TREE (LK 13:6-9)

Prayer – O Lord Jesus, let me use this extra time to repent and receive the Kingdom.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus speaking to the crowds.)

Context:

Although the judgment is inevitable, God marvelously extends the time for repentance.  The Fig Tree parable teaches that in Palestine, the owner allowed three years for a fig tree to grow.  In the parable, another three years has passed, a total of six years.  The owner’s patience is past its limits, yet his mercy grants a stay of execution.  When this extra year is over, no human power can prolong the time of salvation.

The fig tree absorbs large amounts of nourishment, thus depriving surrounding vines of their needed sustenance.  Fertilizing a fig tree is highly unusual.  This tree, therefore, will receive special, unmerited care.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

A man planted a fig tree in his vineyard and came to gather its fruit.  He said to the gardener, “For three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and have found none.  So, cut it down.  Why should it continue to exhaust the soil?”

The gardener answered him, “Lord, let it alone for one year more.  I will dig around it and put manure on it.  Hopefully, it will bear fruit.  If not, then you can cut it down.”

Thoughts: (Read all.  Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. The vineyard represents all of creation. The fig tree is each person.
  2. Three years represents a fullness of time, certainly enough for the fig tree to blossom.
  3. The owner’s expectations are reasonable. A fig tree should produce figs.
  4. His decision to cut down the tree is just. He has sought fruit for three years.
  5. Even so, he will give the tree more time. It will even receive the special care of manure to nourish it.
  6. However, even the farmer’s mercy cannot totally excuse the fig tree. It must respond to all these helps and produce life.

Affections:  (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. God, you have given me so many graces and for such a long time.
  2. You ask only that I produce virtues according to my state in life.
  3. Jesus, how patient you have been with me. Year after year you came looking for virtues.
  4. You give me your choicest graces, surrounding me with every possible help.
  5. Jesus, I will delay no longer. I will choose a devout life and bring forth virtues.

Resolutions:  (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will see all that God has provided.
  2. I will no longer delay. I will no longer put off my decision.  I know what God is calling me to do.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

“Lord, give it another year.  If it bears no fruit, then cut it down.”

WEEK TWO OF LENT – SATURDAY – MARCH 23, 2019 THE PRODIGAL SON (Lk: 15:11-32)

Prayer:  O Heavenly Father, let me never leave your house.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:

This is a “Parable of the Father’s Love” and is drawn from real life.  Many young unmarried sons (under twenty) asked for their inheritance to leave Palestine and better themselves.  This son, however, loses his money and returns home.  The father’s response is not reasonable, but mirrors the way God treats us.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

A man had two sons.  The younger said, “Father, give me my inheritance.”  After gathering his things, he went to a distant country.  However, he wasted his money by living recklessly.  When he had lost everything, a famine broke out and the son got a job feeding pigs.  He would like to have filled his belly with their food but no one gave him any.

Thoughts:  (Read all.  Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. This scene happens so frequently.  A young person grows dissatisfied and wants out.
  2. This desire destroys the family support which he/she still need.
  3. The son rejects the Father’s wisdom and soon his own wisdom fails him miserably.
  4. The destructive power of sin destroys all that he has.
  5. The result is total disaster.  A privileged son has become a hungry swine herder.  (The lowest of occupations).

Affections:  (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O God, how often my desire for liberty has led me to frightful decisions.
  2. Too often, O Lord, I have trusted my own wisdom.
  3. O Jesus, my unbridled passions have led me into problems.
  4. You allowed my situation to deteriorate.
  5. You abandoned me to my own whims, so I would face reality.
  6. Leaving your house, O Lord and choosing my own path have led me to the depths of darkness, even to depravity.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will recall all of my foolish decisions, taking full responsibility for what I have done.
  2. I will not blame God for my situation.  I decided to leave his house.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

He got a job feeding the swine.

(To complete the parable, go to the next meditation.)

WEEK TWO OF LENT – FRIDAY – MARCH 22, 2019 TAKING AWAY THEIR VINEYARD (MT 21:33-43)

Prayer – O Lord, you have given me everything.  Make me a faithful tenant.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus with his disciples and his opponents.)

Context:

Jesus spoke this parable in Jerusalem when the chief priests and elders questioned his authority.  The parable fitted their situation.  The tenants are the Jewish religious leaders.  The vineyard is Israel.  The servants already rejected are the Old Testament prophets.  The son, of course, is Jesus.  By rejecting the son (killing him on the cross), the religious leaders will lose their authority.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said, “There was a man who planted a vineyard, put a hedge, dug a vat and erected a tower.  He rented it to tenants and went on a journey.  When the harvest came he sent his servants to the tenants to receive his share.  The tenants beat one, killed another and stoned another.  He sent more servants and they did the same.  Finally, he sent his son, thinking, “They will respect my son.”

Seeing the son, the tenants said, “This is the heir.  Let us kill him and we shall own the vineyard.”  So they killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.  What will the Lord of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”

They answered, “He will bring those evil men to an evil end and will give the vineyard to those who will give him grapes at vintage time.” Jesus said, “For this reason I say that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and will be given to a people who will yield a rich harvest.

Thoughts:  (Read all.  Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Notice the zeal and care of the owner for his vineyard. He plants a vineyard and builds a hedge, a vat and a tower.
  2. The owner only wanted his share of the grapes.
  3. The messengers just bring the owner’s words – to give them what is his due.
  4. The owner is patient, even when the tenants kill his servants.
  5. He gives them another chance, deciding to even risk his son to restore the right relationship.
  6. The tenants want the whole vineyard and are willing to kill the son to get it.
  7. Instead of gaining the vineyard, they are cast out.
  8. The vineyard is taken away and given to others.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Jesus, you have done everything for me. You created me.  You came to earth for me.  You died for me.
  2. O Lord, you have a right to my praise, to my life, to everything. It is yours.
  3. O Lord, when you send your messengers, let me accept them. When you speak in my heart, let me listen.
  4. How patient you are, O Lord, waiting, always waiting until I turn to you.
  5. Father, you sent your only Son to me, even at the cost of his life.
  6. I give you everything. All that is yours is mine.  You have done everything for me.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own)

  1. I will give God every Sunday. The day belongs to him.
  2. I will listen to the church and to God’s voice within me.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Finally, he sent his son, thinking, “Surely, they will respect my son.”

WEEK TWO OF LENT – THURSDAY – MARCH 21, 2019 The Rich Man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31)

Prayer – O Lord, awaken me by this warning.  Do not let me be like the foolish brothers.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus teaching the crowds.)

Context:

Judaism believed that riches proved God’s favor and that poverty proved sinfulness.  Jesus reveals the true picture, which shocks his audience. The rich man goes to hell, while Lazarus enjoys the highest honor of being at Abraham’s side.

This sets the stage for this parable of the sixbrothers (its real name).  The rich man sees clearly that his five brothers are in danger.  However, his brothers are like foolish men with no thought of the impending judgment.  They do not listen to the Church and its preaching.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

A rich man feasted sumptuously every day.  At his gates sat Lazarus, a beggar filled with sores.  He desired only the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table but no one gave them.  It happened that the beggar died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.  The rich man also died and was buried in hell.  He lifted his eyes and saw Abraham afar off with Lazarus at his side.

He cried out, Father Abraham, “Let Lazarus come and refresh me with some water.”  Abraham replied, “Remember that you received good things in life and Lazarus received evil things.  Now he is comforted and you are tormented.  Besides, there is a great abyss between us and no one can pass from one side to another.”

The rich man said, “Then send Lazarus back to earth to preach to my five brothers, so they do not come to this place of torment.”  Abraham said, “Let them listen to Moses and the prophets.”  The rich man said, “If someone risen from the dead told them, they would do penance.”  Abraham said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not listen to one risen from the dead.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Lazarus is used only to highlight the problem of the six brothers, one dead and five living.
  2. The dead brother realizes how important repentance is. Without penance, his five brothers will all join him in hell.
  3. They have the normal helps (the teachings of Moses and the prophets) but the rich man realizes that they won’t use those helps.
  4. He pleads for Lazarus to be a risen-from-the-dead preacher, to whom they will certainly listen.
  5. However, Jesus is already risen from the dead and most do not listen even now.
  6. The parable challenges us to respond to the gospel that is preached to us every day.

Affections:  (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Jesus, while I am here on earth, I am free to choose.
  2. When my life is over, I will have made my choice.
  3. Right now, I decide to repent, to change and to have you as my Lord.
  4. I do not need an extraordinary preacher. I need only your word.
  5. You are risen. You preach to me. You speak within.  You call.  You shout.  I must hush all the other voices, so I can hear you.
  6. Someday, Jesus, I will be in heaven or in hell. Guide my free will.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will read God’s word with urgency.
  2. I will believe that God who wants to welcome me into his Kingdom.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Lazarus was carried by the angels to the bosom of Abraham.

WEEK TWO OF LENT – WEDNESDAY – MARCH 20, 2019 AMBITIOUS JAMES AND JOHN (Mt. 20:17-28)

Prayer:Come Holy Spirit.  Reveal the glory you have prepared.

Imagination: (Picture James and John seeking favors from Jesus.)

Context:

Jesus has just told the apostles that he would come in glory.  With great ambition, James and John want that glory.  Before granting any glory, Jesus must enter into his Messianic glory by drinking the cup.  This cup means both his suffering and the Eucharistic cup celebrated in Mark’s Church.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

The mother of James and John came to Jesus, accompanied by her sons.  Jesus asked “What is it that you want?”  She answered, “Promise me that these sons of mine will sit, one on your right hand and the other on your left hand in your Kingdom.”  Jesus replied, “You do not know what you are seeking.  Can you drink of the chalice that I will drink?”  They said, “We can.”  Jesus said, “You shall indeed drink of the chalice that I drink of.  However, to sit on my right hand or my left hand, is not mine to give you.  It is for those for whom it has been reserved by my Father.”

Thoughts:  (Read all.  Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. These apostles have no idea of the costs of the Kingdom’s glory.
  2. Jesus tells them that they seek what they do not understand.
  3. Even with this warning, they glibly say that they can drink the chalice.
  4. Jesus sees the future.  After many failures, they will drink the chalice and will be martyred.
  5. The highest glory, however, is reserved for others.
  6. Such is the Kingdom!  God has already prepared each one’s place and his decisions are beyond our comprehension.

Affections:  (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, enlighten me about the greatness of your Kingdom.
  2. Pull me into the great mystery of your will.
  3. Help me to drink your chalice.
  4. O Jesus, You have prepared my place in glory.
  5. O Jesus, Your only desire is to share your glory with me.
  6. You have already made me so many promises.

Resolution: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will find time for mental prayer so God can reveal the Kingdom to me.
  2. I will cherish God’s will, both on earth and in heavenly glory.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

The Father has already decided my place in heavenly glory.

WEEK TWO OF LENT – TUESDAY  – MARCH 19, 2019 JOSEPH’S DILEMMA (MT 1:18-25)

Prayer:  Come, Holy Spirit.  Give to me Joseph’s fidelity to God’s plan.

Imagination: (Picture Joseph receiving the angel’s message).

Context:

Luke tells us about Mary accepting her role as Mother of God.  In Matthew’s gospel, the stories focus on Joseph’s dilemma.  How does an upright Jewish man resolve the dilemma of a pregnant fiancé? Joseph is a justman.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.  When his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child by the Holy Spirit.  Joseph, an upright man, unwilling to expose her to the law, decided to divorce her quietly.

Such was his intention, when an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in sleep.  “Joseph, Son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, because the child has been conceived by the Holy Spirit.  She shall have a son whom you will call Jesus.  He will save many from their sins.” All this happened to fulfill what the Lord said, “A virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel, meaning, ‘God is with us.’” Joseph did as the angel commanded and took Mary as his wife.

Thoughts:(Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. By his human attraction for Mary, Joseph gets immersed in a divine mystery.
  2. Both Mary and Joseph had a dilemma.
  3. Mary could not explain to him what happened and Joseph had to live according to his beliefs.
  4. Realize the greatness of Joseph.  He could have had Mary killed.
  5. If he did, the Messiah would not have been born and the world would be in total darkness.
  6. An angel resolves the problem.
  7. In his darkest hour, Joseph always followed God’s light.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, in my dilemmas, send me your angel of light.
  2. Give me the faith of Mary and Joseph.
  3. Let all my decisions be gentle and thoughtful.
  4. Reveal my role in your Kingdom.
  5. Thank you, Joseph, for preserving the life of the Messiah.
  6. O Jesus, you take away my sins.
  7. You are Emmanuel, God with us.  How much I owe to you!

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will enkindle a devotion to Joseph (a favorite patron of St. Teresa of Avila)
  2. I will seek God’s help in my dilemmas.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Joseph did as the angel commanded.

WEEK TWO OF LENT – MONDAY – MARCH 18, 2019 COMPASSIONATE AS THE FATHER (LK 6:36-38)

Prayer:  Father, fill me with your compassion.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples.)

Context:

After teaching about loving enemies, Jesus concludes with “Be compassionate as the heavenly Father.”  He then stresses the need not to judge others. This will determine what will be measured out to the disciples.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said to his disciples, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.  Do not judge and you shall not be judged.  Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.  If you forgive, you will be forgiven.

Give and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down and shaken together, flowing over into the fold of your garment. By the same measure that you measure, it shall be measured out to you.”

Thoughts:  (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. How merciful the Father is.  That is how merciful the disciple must be.
  2. If we do not judge, God does not need to judge us.
  3. To be forgiven by God, we need only to forgive others.
  4. Jesus uses the example of buying grain at the marketplace.
  5. The seller fills the basket and presses down so he can give even more.
  6. Finally, he shakes the basket so every inch is filled with grain.  This is how a disciple should give.
  7. People also carried grain in their apron.  Jesus promises that his blessing will “flow over the fold of the garment.”

Affections:  (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, I will approach every person with a merciful and compassionate heart.
  2. O Lord, you make so many promises and all of them are true
  3. If I forgive others, you will forgive me.
  4.  Such a great reward for such a little effort!
  5. Fill me, Lord.  Press your favors into my heart.
  6. Shake me so you can fill me even more.
  7. O Jesus, I give you little and you give me much.
  8. My heart overflows, incapable of receiving all you give.

Resolutions:(Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will ask Jesus to make me a generous person.
  2. Today, I will see who needs my compassion and forgiveness.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation

Give and it will be given to you in full measure.

WEEK TWO OF LENT – SUNDAY– C – MARCH 17, 2019 THE TRANSFIGURATION (Lk 9:27-36)

Prayer:  O Jesus, take me up the mountain with you.

Imagination:  (Picture Jesus transfigured in glory with his 3 apostles.)

Context:

Peter has just proclaimed (by faith) that Jesus is the Messiah.  Now, these three apostles experience Jesus as the Messiah.  Also, the Father says that Jesus is his “Beloved Son”, the same title given at Jesus’ Baptism.  Elijah and Moses appear. They, too, share in Jesus’ fullness.  All of these religious experiences confirm that Jesus is the Messiah.

Gospel Text:  (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain to pray. While he was praying, his face changed in appearance and his clothes became dazzlingly white.  Suddenly, two men were talking with him – Moses and Elijah.  They appeared in glory and spoke of his passage which he was about to fulfill in Jerusalem.  Peter and those with him had fallen asleep.  When they woke, they saw his glory and the two men with him.  As the two men were leaving, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three tents – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  He did not realize what he said.

A cloud overshadowed them.  They were afraid as Moses and Elijah entered into the cloud.  A voice came out of the cloud and said, “This is my Beloved Son, listen to him.”  Then, they were alone with Jesus.  The disciples kept quiet, telling nothing of what they had seen to anyone.

Thoughts:  (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. The three apostles had no idea where Jesus was taking them.  They just followed him in faith.
  2. Upon arriving, they had the greatest possible religious experience. They saw Jesus in his glory.
  3. Even more, Moses and Elijah speak with Jesus about his future death in Jerusalem.
  4. Peter experiences overwhelming joy.  He wants to erect three tents and stay there.
  5. The Father enters the scene with a clear message.  Jesus is his Son and they must listen.
  6. The holiness and power of God overwhelm them.
  7. Fortunately, when all is over, Jesus remains with them.
  8. The gift remains locked in their hearts until after Jesus rises from the dead.

Affections:  (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, every morning I will ascend the mountain of prayer.
  2. I will meet you, Jesus.  I will see your glory and you will claim my heart.
  3. You are the center of all history.  You are the whole purpose of my life.
  4. The Father speaks.  I hear his words.  He tells me who you are.
  5. O Jesus, I will listen only to you.
  6. Your glory fills me with a fear.  Let me never be separated from you.
  7. O Jesus, stay with me.

Resolutions:  (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will be faithful to daily mental prayer.
  2. I will remain with Jesus, never walking away from him.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

While he was praying, his face was changed in appearance.

WEEK ONE OF LENT – SATURDAY – MARCH 16, 2019 LOVE YOUR ENEMIES (MT 5:43-48)

Prayer:  Come, Holy Spirit.  Make me perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.

Imagination   Picture Jesus asking the disciples to imitate the Father.

Context:

Jesus continually demands that his disciples show goodness towards enemies.  They must act as children of a heavenly Father.  At the end Jesus reveals his goal.  He wants the disciples to be as perfect as the heavenly Father.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

You have heard it said, “You shall love your neighbor but hate your enemy.”  I say to you “Love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.  Pray for those who persecute you and insult you.  In this way, you can be children of your heavenly Father.  He makes the sun rise on the good and the bad. He makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust.

If you love those who love you, what reward shall you have?  Do not even sinners do this?  If you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that?  Do not even the pagans do that?  You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Thoughts (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Jesus calls you to the height of holiness.
  2. He asks you to love everyone and to exclude all hatred.
  3. He offers you the highest reward. You will be a child of the heavenly Father.
  4. Look at how God acts. He sends his sun and his rain on everyone, good or bad.
  5. Jesus wants you to act in the same way.

Affections (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Jesus, lead me to your heights of holiness.
  2. O Jesus, give me a new way to live.
  3. Let your love cast out all my hatred.
  4. Make me a child of the heavenly Father.
  5. I will shower my love and my forgiveness upon everyone.
  6. You call me to be perfect as the Father. I will begin right now.

Resolutions   (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will let everyone into my heart this day.
  2. I will remove my hatred and critical spirit.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.