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Walking with the Lord: Lenten Reflections

Published: February 22, 2021

We invite you to journey with us to the foot of the cross this Lent. Over the next six weeks, we will share short Lenten reflections from our Sisters based on weekly Gospel readings. Let us pray and grow together through this holy season.

Week Six: Supper at Bethany
Sr. Christine Kiley, ASCJ

Love often grasps the reality of our life situations, often without any words at all. Walking with the Lord: Lent 2021

Lent gives us a time to look inside our hearts, to search more intentionally for the love that is hidden deep within all of us. Topics that touch on matters of the heart have always tended to grab hold of me in the most refreshing, renewing, and life-giving ways. 

Probing and pondering of the heart’s whispers has, for generations, offered a pathway to God. The scene in John’s Gospel, taking place in Bethany at the home of Martha, Mary, and their brother Lazarus poses an opportunity for such pondering. With storm clouds looming around Jesus, despite danger in the air, he is able to settle into a quiet supper with gracious hospitality and warm conversation with his dear friends. At the table there is deep love and gratitude welling up within the heart of Lazarus. Martha and Mary, too, have always had a unique love for Jesus. All three know the love Jesus has for them. Unspoken yet powerful love, in the midst of this evening, is freely given and received amongst them. 

Hearts, while full, weighed heavily aware that Jesus would not be with them much longer. They were celebrating this meal for Christ; His Passover is at hand. Into this context of internal tranquility and external strife, Mary approaches Jesus with a jar of costly ointment and somewhat dramatically begins to anoint his feet. She tenderly and intimately dries them with her hair. Placing myself in this scene allows me to attune to the depth of her sensitivity and the breadth of her love. I can’t help but feel the sacred place that Jesus holds in her heart.

I wonder: can my Lenten-self hold this place in my own heart? I genuinely pray to make Christ the Center of my life, more and more each day. By sinking into my own depths and taking time for heart pondering, it’s striking to see what happens. Memories, longings, hopes, fears, and deeply held truths all begin to surface.

In the midst of Mary’s overwhelming gesture of love for Jesus, Judas the Iscariot said: “Why was this oil not sold?” Jesus responded: “Leave her alone - let her keep it for the day of my burial.” He sees the beauty and truth of her perceptive understanding of His anticipated death. Heart has spoken to heart. Love often grasps the reality of our life situations, often without any words at all.

This simple scene, at a simple house in Bethany, offers far more in rich reflection than first meets the eye. A table with friends, the gift of human vulnerability, love given and received, inspires my heart to renew, refresh, and recommit my own deep love for Jesus. I pray unceasingly this Holy Week for the grace to fully love my Crucified Lord with an open, desiring, grateful, and generous heart.

Sr. Christine is the Director of Campus Ministry at Greensburg Central Catholic High School in Greensburg, PA.

Week Five: Don’t Settle for Sin
Sr. Allison Masserano, ASCJ

Do not settle for sin. You are made for more. Walking with the Lord - Lent 2021

When I read Monday’s gospel story of the woman caught in adultery, I noticed something I had never paid attention to before: Jesus’ posture.

At the start of the passage, Jesus is seated: the posture of teachers in his day. He sits with authority, the authority of one who doesn’t just know the truth, but who is the Truth.

After he is approached by the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus bends: the posture of humility. The One who is Truth does not lord it over anyone. He offers the truth, offers Himself, humbly. 

Before he addresses the scribes, and before he addresses the woman, Jesus stands: he meets them where they are. And from this level ground, he challenges them. Although worded differently, he says essentially the same thing both times: be better.

The scribes and Pharisees were motivated by a desire to trap Jesus rather than a desire for justice. Had their motives been pure and fair, they would have also brought the adulterous man to Jesus, for he, too, had violated the law. Jesus sees their hearts and tells them: you’re better than this. Similarly, he recognizes the woman’s sin and chooses compassion and challenge over condemnation: you’re better than this; go and sin no more.

The One who is Truth tells them, tells us: you are capable of more. Don’t settle for petty games, or dishonesty, or labels. Don’t settle for sin. You are made for more.

You and I are made to sit in the authority of the Truth. We are made to bend in humility. We are made to stand face-to-face and side-by-side one another, humbly, faithfully, and courageously striving to be better - striving to go and sin no more.

Sr. Allison is a junior professed Sister currently ministering in the Vocations office. 

Week Four: The Light of the World
Sr. Clare Millea, ASCJ

Ask Him to remove from our heart all that impedes the light of His grace from penetrating it

In this Sunday’s reading from the Gospel of St. John, Jesus healed the physical disability of a man born blind. He did so, not only to save him from blindness and the humiliation of begging for his livelihood, but to awaken in him the ability to recognize “the Son of Man” as the true light of the world by proclaiming: “I do believe, Lord!” and worshipping Him (Jn 9:38). 

The Gospel is also filled with dialogue: we witness Jesus teaching His disciples, graciously healing the man born blind, and sharply rebuking the Pharisees. While the miracle is life-changing for the man and a great joy for his parents, it causes the dramatic conflict surrounding the identity and authority of Jesus to grow more vicious among His enemies.

None of the opposition deterred Jesus from ministering to his beloved people, teaching them and healing their infirmities of soul and body. He continues to be present with us too as we journey through our own challenging times. During these Lenten weeks, let’s take some quiet time with Jesus – perhaps with a short, reflective Gospel reading – to relive anew the awesome drama of His passion and death for our salvation. We can ask Him to remove from our heart all that impedes the light of His grace from penetrating it. May we resolve once more to follow Him to His glorious victory over sin and death and enter into unending Easter joy.

Sr. Clare served as Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from 2004 to 2016. She is currently on mission in Waterford, Ireland.

Week Three: The Greatest Commandment
Sr. Susan Emmerich, ASCJ

Unless I love myself I can't love anyone else

A Scribe asked Jesus to identify the greatest commandment, and Jesus said: “The first is: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…the second is: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

There were no surprises for Israel nor are there any for us in this passage until the last two words. We know we owe absolute love to God and we are called to express that love in our dealings with our neighbor…but unless I love myself, I can’t love anyone else. Unless I really believe that I am a reflection, indeed an image of God—and treat myself as such—there can be no right relationships. Unless I see myself as a beloved son/daughter of God worth every drop of Jesus’ precious blood upon the cross, the Kingdom cannot come! 

Dare I own this? Can I fill in the blank with my name and hear the Father say, “This is _____, my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased”?

Adapting the words of Pope Francis, each of us is a sinner—but a sinner who has been forgiven…a sinner who journeys not only through Lent but throughout our entire life upheld by the God who loves us, calls us to Himself, and invites us to share our journey with our neighbors—sometimes giving support, sometimes needing the strength of others, but worthy of both roles. As we hear so often in these pandemic days, “We are in this together.” 

Sr. Susan lives and ministers at Sacred Heart Manor in Hamden, CT.

Week Two: What is the Chalice That You've Been Given to Drink?
Sr. Patricia Kofron, ASCJ

What is the CHALICE that you’ve been GIVEN TO DRINK? Walking with the Lord: Lent 2021

Replying to the mother of the sons of Zebedee who asked that her sons sit next to Jesus, one on the right and one on the left, Jesus asked of the brothers, “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” (Mt 20:17-28)

What is the chalice that you’ve been given to drink? Is it perhaps a broken relationship, a failed marriage, a physically or mentally sick spouse or loved one, a wayward son or daughter? Or maybe you’ve been faced with unemployment, financial struggles, or even homelessness. Whether it is worry, anxiety, depression, a lack of self-esteem, or the burden of caring for someone suffering from dementia, we all experience trials and difficulties.

We know from Jesus himself that in order to be his disciple, we must take up our cross when following him. In other words, we must drink from the bitter chalice of suffering.

What then sustains us as we take up our cups and drink? Is it not the hope that we gain from the example of Jesus who “did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”?

Meditating on the crucified Jesus and uniting our sufferings with those of our Lord and Savior can assist us in our Lenten journeys; however, it is of utmost importance to remember that the Crucifixion is followed by the Resurrection! 

May our willingness to carry the crosses that have come our way enable us to joyfully proclaim on Easter “HE HAS RISEN”!

Sr. Patricia serves as Pastoral Associate at Seven Holy Founders Parish in Affton, MO.

Week One: Thy Will Be Done
Sr. Colleen Smith, ASCJ

May we pray with abandon...Thy Will Be Done Sr. Colleen Smith, ASCJ. Walking with the Lord: Lent 2021

Jesus said to his disciples, “This is how you are to pray. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done…” (see Mt. 6: 1-15).

As I think about the words of the prayer Jesus taught us, the central phrase “Thy will be done” catches my attention. No matter why we are brought to prayer, Jesus tells us to frame our prayer with an acceptance of the Father’s will.

I wonder, “What if I don’t want what God wants?” And my Heavenly Father seems to just smile at my foolishness. Jesus tells us in the Gospels that he has come so that we might have life and fullness of joy (Jn 10:10). 

Why would I not then pray with all my heart, “Thy will be done?”

My prayer changes me, and I realize what I want most deeply is what God wants. This Lent, let us pray for one another that we may have the courage to trust in our Heavenly Father who desires only that which is good for us and who promises fullness of joy. In the midst of trials, loneliness, or whatever uncertainty plagues our hearts, may we pray with abandon, “Thy will be done!”

Sr. Colleen is currently Director of the Office of Mission Advancement for the Mary, Queen of Apostles Province.

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