Here I Am!

February 28, 2021

Each day during Lent, I will be highlighting a Lenten Word (or phrase) of the Day from the readings of the day. I encourage you to reflect on this word or phrase and incorporate it in your prayers today.

He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he replied.
(Genesis 22:2)

HERE I AM: This is a beautiful way to start off your morning prayer each day – “Here I am!” These are words of gratitude. You have been given a new day. “Here I am!” says, “Thank you for this day, God! How can I use it to serve you?”

This prayer starter is particularly appropriate for the Lenten season. Pope Francis said, “Lent is a humble descent – it is about becoming little.” We “become little” when we turn our focus toward the will of God, when we willingly offer ourselves up to him daily.

When we say, “Here I am!” and sincerely listen and follow what God has planned for us, we are taking steps toward sainthood. That’s right – US – saints! Who knew?

Homily: Listen to HIM

February 28, 2021 – Second Sunday of Lent – Gospel of Mark 9:2-10

This homily was originally delivered during Lent of 2013 at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis:

When I was the Director of Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House, we had a program called Morning for Moms. We offered a morning retreat for the ladies in the upstairs conference room, and provided babysitting services downstairs. There would be 25-30 little kids, from infants to pre-school.

On one particular occasion, we were short-handed and I was called on to help with the babysitting. One of the babies, Patrick, who was sitting in a swing, began to cry. A staff member, Cheryl, started toward the swing to pick Patrick up, and said to me, “Watch this, it’s amazing.”

By the time she had gotten to Patrick and taken him out of the swing, Patrick’s mom was walking through the door. Cheryl told me it happened all the time. There was a presentation going on in the conference room, the air handler was running full speed, the babies were on an entirely different floor of the building, behind closed doors, and yet Patrick’s mom heard him cry. Just as amazing, no other moms came down; each mom focused on and recognized the distinct cry of her own child.

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Love Your Enemies

February 27, 2021

Each day during Lent, I will be highlighting a Lenten Word (or phrase) of the Day from the readings of the day. I encourage you to reflect on this word or phrase and incorporate it in your prayers today.

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. (from Matthew 5:43-38)

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES: These are perhaps the most challenging three words Jesus ever spoke – love your enemies. I suspect that Jesus lost some disciples the day he placed this “impossible” task before them.

We use the word ‘love’ loosely in our society. We talk about our love of people the same way we talk about our love of ice cream or the love we have for our favorite vacation spot. However, the love to which Jesus calls us is different. He calls us to love as God loves us – unconditionally and unreservedly.

It is easy for us to love our spouse, our family, and our friends. It is even easy to extend love to those we don’t know well, as long as they think like us and hold the same values. It is more difficult, however, to love those that offend our sensibilities, stand opposed to our belief system, live a lifestyle foreign to us, challenge our faith, or perhaps even hate us.

Yet, these people – that Jesus refers to as our enemies – are exactly who we are called to love. We don’t need to defend their actions, applaud their decisions, or agree with their politics – but we do need to love them. We don’t need to compromise our value system or throw up our hands in defeat – but we do need to love our enemies.

To love our enemies is to show respect, accept differences with humility, and offer kindness and compassion always. To love our enemies is to love others as God loves us.

How will we respond to this “impossible” task Jesus places before us? Will we walk away too?

Be Reconciled

February 26, 2021

Each day during Lent, I will be highlighting a Lenten Word (or phrase) of the Day from the readings of the day. I encourage you to reflect on this word or phrase and incorporate it in your prayers today.

Therefore, 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, and then come and offer your gift. (from Matthew 5:20-26).

BE RECONCILED: I heard this at a conference many years ago and it stuck with me; it offered me a beautiful image of what it truly means to reconcile…

Inside of the word ‘reconciliation’ is the word ‘cilia’, which is the Latin word for eyelash. Reconciliation is locking eyes with Jesus, having a face to face, eyelash to eyelash, encounter with him. It is raw and intimate. The intimacy allows Jesus to see inside me – to my heart, to the depths of my soul.

When Jesus, or anyone you have harmed or offended (sinned against), can see the intent of your heart, forgiveness is possible.

The gospel passage above reminds us to make amends (be reconciled) before coming to the party (bringing your gift to the altar). Liturgically speaking: You must go through Lent to enjoy Easter.

Alone

February 25, 2021

Each day during Lent, I will be highlighting a Lenten Word (or phrase) of the Day from the readings of the day. I encourage you to reflect on this word or phrase and incorporate it in your prayers today.

“O God, blessed are you. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my hand.” (Esther C:14-15)

ALONE: It might seem like an odd word to reflect upon during prayer. If we tell God we feel alone at times, doesn’t that highlight a vulnerability and weakness? Well, yes and no.

Admitting to God, or anyone for that matter, that we feel alone at times certainly makes us vulnerable. However, it is important to distinguish between vulnerability and weakness. To be vulnerable is to put ourselves ‘at risk’ – at risk for rejection, or at risk for going further down an undesirable path.

Admitting that we feel alone DOES NOT makes us weak. When I say I feel alone, I am saying I value myself enough to reach out for help. I am saying I recognize that I value relationships and seek connection to something or someone outside of myself. To feel alone at times is an act of humility.

Finally, who better to share this with than God? The act of praying to God leads us to the realization that we NEVER walk alone!

Humble Heart

February 24, 2021

Each day during Lent, I will be highlighting a Lenten Word (or phrase) of the Day from the readings of the day. I encourage you to reflect on this word or phrase throughout the day and incorporate it in your daily prayer.

A humble heart you will not spurn… (Psalm 51:19)

HUMBLE HEART: For your personal reflection, I offer these words taken from today’s Responsorial Psalm.

Sometimes our heart becomes hard with pride and the illusion that we are in control. Those with a humble heart realize they are not perfect; they accept their brokenness, their humanity. They acknowledge they’ve made mistakes and desire to change. They know they need God – his grace, mercy, and guidance. Those with a humble heart surrender themselves.

Those are the hearts God desires for us.

Your Father Knows What You Need

February 23, 2021

Each day during Lent, I will be highlighting a Lenten Word (or phrase) of the Day from the readings of the day. I encourage you to reflect on this word or phrase throughout the day and incorporate it in your daily prayer.

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8)

YOUR FATHER KNOWS WHAT YOU NEED: What comfort these words should bring us!

Unfortunately, we often ask God for what we want or desire rather than for what we need. When we do that, we may feel like God isn’t listening to us. Why isn’t God answering my prayer?

Our prayer should be to trust God. He sees through the shallowness of our wants and desires, instead focusing on our heart. God knows what we need because he knows our heart.

Tend the Flock of God

February 22, 2021

Each day during Lent, I will be highlighting a Lenten Word (or phrase) of the Day from the readings of the day. I encourage you to reflect on this word or phrase throughout the day and incorporate it in your daily prayer.

Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. (1 Peter 5:2)

TEND THE FLOCK OF GOD: Multiple times throughout scripture we are reminded of our obligation to care for our fellow man. Jesus told us the two most important commandments were to love God and love others as ourselves.

As you pray today, reflect on what it means to care for our fellow man, what it means to “tend the flock of God.” It is an awesome, even overwhelming, responsibility.

I believe Jesus wants us to view it in this way: Rather than ask, “What all needs to be done for others?” perhaps we should ask, “What am I able to do for others today?” It speaks to the philosophy of breaking large jobs into manageable pieces.

There are some things we can do for others every day: Pray for them. Show them respect. Be kind and compassionate. Be forgiving. Offer a smile and a hand to everyone we meet. Use words that lift up rather than tear down. Love others as God loves us.

There are many other things we can and should do to respond to the call to “tend the flock of God,” but the simple interactions listed above are a great start.

Christ Suffered

February 21, 2021

Each day during Lent, I will be highlighting a Lenten Word (or phrase) of the Day from the readings of the day. I encourage you to reflect on this word or phrase throughout the day and incorporate it in your daily prayer.

Christ suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. (1 Peter 3:18)

CHRIST SUFFERED: These are certainly two words we need to keep in mind this Lenten season!

I think we often forget that, while he was divine, Jesus was also fully human. That means the scourging he endured tore real human flesh, opened up real wounds, and caused real pain – intense and prolonged. The crown of thorns caused real blood to drip into his eyes. Carrying the cross, being nailed to it, being pierced in the side – Jesus felt the same pain and anguish that any human being would feel.

Christ suffered – sacrificed his own life – FOR US. His love for us is real.

May our Lenten prayers reflect our gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice he made for us.