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Lenten Reflections

The Adult Faith Formation team will be sponsoring a weekly Lenten Reflection each Friday of Lent. In preparation a reflection for Ash Wednesday which is this Wednesday March 6th is posted here.  On each Friday of Lent, beginning March 8th, a link to the readings and a brief reflection written by different FP parents will be shared. As Ignatian Companions on this Lenten journey, we look forward to deepening our faith together.

Ignatian Companions on a Spiritual Journey:  Weekly Lenten Reflections for FP Parents

Writer: Elaine Clark

Readings: Friday March 15, 2019

To access the readings, click on the link and then click on the calendar on the right.  The readings will appear.

This week’s readings once again remind us that God is always ready to forgive us.  In the first reading Ezekiel,  the ancient prophet reminds his audience that even if someone has been “wicked”, if he, “... turns away from all the sins he has committed,/if he ... does what is right and just,/he shall surely live ...”. More importantly Ezekiel reminds his followers that God is not a grudge holder. If one has turned away from sin, “None of the crimes he committed shall be remembered against him”. 

In the gospel, Jesus’ builds on this message as he reminds His audience that sin originates in our human struggles with one another and He offers a path to the mercy and forgiveness of God. Unlike the scribes and the Pharisees who may think that an offering at the altar of God is enough to negate sin, Jesus warns that this is not enough. Jesus teaches, “if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother,”. Once again, Jesus pushes us to be authentic. 

In earlier Lenten readings we were reminded that our holy works should not be done for show but only to deepen our relationship with God. Today, Jesus reminds us that unless we are reconciled to those around us, we are not doing enough. Although letting go of hurt and being reconciled to those that may have hurt us may be the most challenging thing to do, Jesus is calling us to do just that knowing that God’s love and mercy await us.
 

Throughout Jesus’ public ministry, He often offers a new approach that His followers find different and radical. For example, in Matthew’s gospel Jesus tells his followers to turn the other cheek and to love one’s enemies. 

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Serving God by caring for those in need

By Elaine Clark

Readings: Friday March 8, 2019

Reading 1 Is 58:1-9a

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
"Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?"

Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

Responsorial Psalm Ps 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19

R. (19b) A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
"Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight."
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Verse Before the Gospel See Am 5:14

Seek good and not evil so that you may live,
and the Lord will be with you.

Gospel Mt 9:14-15

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
"Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?"
Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast."

Reflection

A few days ago, I was picking up my youngest daughter from a study session and as I came off the exit ramp I saw a homeless man standing with a sign.  I prayed that the light would change so that I didn’t have that awkward moment where he looked at me wondering if I would be the one that rolled down my window and offered him something. The light changed and I drove on. This encounter comes back to me now as I contemplate theses readings.

In the Old Testament reading, Isaiah discusses the concept of fasting and redefines it for his audience. Once again Isaiah exhorts his followers to think of others before themselves. Instead of fasting being something that is personal and only for oneself, Isaiah tells his listeners that a day of fasting means, “. . . Sharing your bread with the hungry, /sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; / Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own”.  For his audience Isaiah has blown apart their idea of the fast and asked his listeners to care for those around them. Isaiah suggests that through just behavior, one will grow closer to the Lord.

On this first Friday of Lent, as we listen to the ancient prophet, we have the benefit of knowing that Isaiah was foreshadowing Christ. Centuries after Isaiah’s directions to his followers, Christ tells those gathered around him to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and care for the stranger. In Matthew’s gospel, Christ reminds his audience that when they care for those in need, they are serving God.

As I contemplate this, my mind turns back to my encounter with the homeless man and Isaiah’s words ring in my ears.  That man on the off ramp is my brother and I am called to help him in some way. Whether I serve a meal in a homeless shelter, donate money for the care of the poor, roll the window down and offer him money, or rather than praying for the light to change, I offer a pray for his safety, Isaiah reminds me that the joy of the resurrection can be mine if I stand in kinship with him as well as all of those who are in need.

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Ash Wednesday

By Elaine Clark

Readings: Ash Wednesday March 6, 2019

As a teacher and a parent, I spend a lot of time giving directions and I find that the clearer my directions the better my Prep students and my own children perform.

Owen Gannon '19 distributes ashes to Ms. Cindi Fortunato
during Ash Wednesday in 2018.

Like my students, I am also drawn to directions that are clear and concise and lend clarity to an often confusing and uncertain world.

As I begin this Lenten observance and journey toward the cruelty of the crucifixion and the joy of the resurrection, I find these Ash Wednesday readings give tremendous clarity for the journey. In the first reading, the prophet Joel directs us to “return” to the Lord. More importantly he reminds us that the Lord is “gracious and merciful”.

In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul addresses us as “brothers and sisters” and like Joel exhorts us to be “reconciled to God”. Finally, in the gospel, Jesus teaches us how to “return” and be “reconciled” to our heavenly Father. Jesus reminds his followers to pray, to fast and to help the poor in quiet ways which do not draw attention or praise from others. He warns that those who advertise their holy or charitable behavior will have their reward on earth, but those who discreetly seek holiness will be noticed by God the Father and rewarded.

Today’s readings provide directions that make our journey toward Easter and a renewed relationship with Jesus brilliantly clear. We are called to return and be reconciled to our loving Father.  This strengthened bond can be accomplished by praying, fasting, and helping those in need, always remembering that these deeds are to be done quietly with sincerity and love.

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