News Category: Daily Reflections for Lent

April 3rd ~ Holy Saturday

The Longest Sabbath

Since we know the ending to the story of Jesus’ Passion and death, we often don’t give much thought to what it was like for Jesus’ family and friends on the day between the Crucifixion and his resurrection. That day was a Sabbath day for them. They had no work to do, no shopping or cooking or cleaning—nothing to distract them from what just happened. Their only activities of the day would have been grieving, sleeping, eating, praying, and replaying the story of Jesus’ death, maybe out loud with each other, or maybe over and over in their own minds. For those of you who have lost loved ones, you know the experience of that terrible first day after a death.

FOR PRAYER: Today, do what Jesus’ friends and family did after he died. They rested. They prayed, probably reading the scriptures, looking for comfort and hope. They told stories of their loved ones. They grieved.
Per­haps today is a day to visit the burial site of your loved ones or remember them in a special way.

April 2nd ~ Good Friday

Standing as a Witness

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. —John 19:25-27

Jesus’ Passion and death are still playing out in our world today. Two thou­sand years after Jesus suffered in that way, innocent people in 2021 are still sometimes arrested and unfairly convicted. Some people in power allow others to do violence in the name of law and order, just as Pontius Pilate did. Some people deny their connections with friends out of fear for their own safety. Law enforcement officers sometimes strike, mock, or even kill those in their custody.

Amidst the terror of these modern-day Passions stand other people — like the women at the foot of the cross — who are faithful witnesses to those in pain and stand willing to care for the bereaved.

FOR REFLECTION: When you have experienced a personal “passion,” who stood by you as a witness and to offer compassion? To whom might God be calling you to stand alongside in their pain now?

April 1st ~ Holy Thursday

The Intimacy of Washing

Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.—John 13:4-5

One of my favorite liturgies of the year is the Holy Thursday Mass, when all are welcome to come forward to get their feet washed and wash the feet of another person. I know not all churches invite everyone in the pews to do this, and I’m convinced they miss out on a powerful ritual.

As an RCIA Director, it falls to me to invite, encourage, and sometimes give a little push to the candidates, catechumans, and their sponsors to come forward to be a part of this ritual. If you have ever washed the feet of small children, an elderly parent, a partner, a patient, or a stranger at Mass, you know what an intimate act it can be. Every year there are people in my RCIA group who are hesitant to do this, and every year they are all touched by the beauty and simplicity of this reenactment. One year, a sponsor who had attended Holy Thursday mass for decades without ever getting her feet washed finally worked up her courage to go forward. She came back to the pew beaming, nudged her candidate and said loud enough for many to hear, “Now we’re foot buddies!” I don’t think she quit smiling until after communion. The foot washing service is one of those sacramental rituals whose power can’t be described in words. That’s why Jesus did itinstead of only telling the disciples to do it. It gets its power from the doing.

FOR ACTION: If your church offers foot washing for all, screw up your courage and go for it! If they don’t offer it, consider creating your own foot washing service at home tonight. Get a bowl of warm water and a towel. Read John 13:1-15 aloud and then take turns washing each others’ feet. If you have children, by all means, include them. Children naturally grasp the beauty and reverence of this act.

March 31st

Sometimes We’re Judas, Too

When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” —Matthew 26:20-21

I can pretty quickly disassociate myself from Judas and his betrayal of Je­sus. Maybe I’ve been like Peter sometimes, denying Jesus. But betraying him? I don’t want to believe that. The truth is, if whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters we do to Jesus, I think all of us have done both some betraying and some denying of Jesus throughout our lives. I don’t like thinking about it much, but I have used my words, my actions, and my inactions to betray family members, friends, and strangers at various times, intentionally or not.

FOR REFLECTION: How do you sometimes betray or deny Jesus with your actions or your inaction?

March 30th

God Needs Us to be a Light

I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. —Isaiah 49:6b

When I was a child growing up Catholic, I bristled a little at the concept of Jews being God’s “Chosen Ones.” Having three siblings, I was well-ac­quainted with their charges of favoritism against my parents, so to me that sure sounded like God showing favoritism. When I was older, a Jewish friend explained that being the “Chosen People” doesn’t mean that God has favorites or that God loves Jews any more than God loves Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc. Being the Chosen People meant that God gave Jews the responsibility of being “a light to the nations” so that others would come to know God. As a people, they were called to be a beacon of justice and compassion in a world that is so often unjust and cruel.

As Christians, we now have inherited that same responsibilityto be a light to the nations, a light in our communities, a light in our work worlds, in our neighborhoods, and our families. When it is so easy to see the dark­ness in the world, God asks us to be a light that shines so that others will want to know about the God we worship.

FOR PRAYER: Ask the Holy Spirit to inspire you today to be a light to others in whatever way the Spirit wants to use you, even if you never find out how you brought light into someone’s darkness.