During Lent, we are called to pray, to fast, and to give.
These three offerings are the starting point for the daily provisions we
request on our Lenten journey.
Sunday, March 24:
God called out, “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” ...” I am the
God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face, for
he was afraid to look at God. “I have witnessed the affliction of my people
in Egypt and have heard their cry…so I know well what they are suffering.”
(Ex 3:1-8, 13-15)
God is a God of relationships. God is—not was—the God of Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob. God is the God of you and me. Later in this passage, when Moses asks
God whose name he should invoke, God says, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh,” most accurately
translated, “I will be who I will be.” God is active and alive now and forever
and hears our cry. He knows well when we suffer. God desires a relationship with
each one of his children. What’s your relationship with God like these days?
Provision: Pray for the Strength to Look at God.
I was so
afraid to look at God and to have God look at me. I hid, like Adam and Eve,
ashamed at the nakedness of my sinfulness. It took me many years to understand
that in Jesus, I could not only look at God and live, but have life abundantly.
If we want a good relationship with God, we need to approach it as we would an
intimate human relationship. We need to spend time—lots of time—learning about
the Divine Other’s values and ways of being. Fear, selfishness, and retribution
are not the basis for a healthy relationship--if I only relate to God out of
fear of punishment or to get what I want. And while Jesus tells us we must be
like little children, he is referring to the trust and wonder a child has; he is
saying be childlike, not childish. If you struggle to have a good, mature
relationship with God, seek out the advice of a spiritual director or pastor.
You may want to consider reading, “A Friendship Like No Other,” by William
Barry, SJ, or accessing an article by the same author:
“To do your will, O my God, is my delight…I announced your justice in the vast
assembly; I did not restrain my lips…Your justice I kept not hid within my
heart; your faithfulness and your salvation I have spoken of; I have made
no secret of your kindness and your truth in the vast assembly.”
several Christian traditions, today is the Feast of the Annunciation, the
remembrance of the Angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would bear
God’s son. But in a way, it is Mary’s announcement as well—her proclamation of
God’s justice, kindness, and truth to the whole world. While she pondered many
things in her heart, she did not hide God’s faithfulness to his people, but gave
her body and her whole life as a witness. Other than the martyrs, not many of us
are called to such a dramatic demonstration of our faith. But we are called to
witness nonetheless, not by what we say with our lips, but by how we live.
Today’s Provision: Give Witness.
The psalmist also says,
“Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, ‘Behold I come.’"
‘I’ve shown up, Lord. I’m here, waiting to do your will. Tell me, what does that
look like in my life? What does that mean for me today?’ Each day, we might be
called to do God’s will in a different way: perhaps it is showing patience and
compassion to that neighbor or co-worker who gets under our skin; maybe it is a
more life-changing call to a vocation or missionary work; some days, it might be
taking time for ourselves to rest with God. If we avail ourselves to God each
morning and ask for the Spirit’s guidance, that’s great. But then we have to put
it into action. Let’s walk the walk of the one we proclaim. How will you give
witness to God’s great love today?
“Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply
disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair.”
today’s vernacular, the servants in this story are “snitching” on their
unforgiving peer. Snitching is when a person or group sees something wrong,
illegal, or unjust and reports it to the authorities. In business or government,
they are called “whistleblowers.” Nowadays, people rarely come forward like the
servants in today’s story. They don’t want to get involved, afraid of being
ostracized, law suits, reprisals, or worse.
unforgiving servant’s peers decide not to sit back. They have seen their
master’s compassion, but also know he is just. They are confident that, despite
incurring the evil servant’s wrath, justice will be served.
Provision: Fast from Complicit Silence.
very hard to do. It is much easier to be nice to the kid who’s been bullied than
to report the problem or confront the bullies; less risky to ignore the graft
than call attention to it; less time-consuming to give alms to the working poor
than to lobby for just wages; more convenient to temporarily treat the symptom
than try to eliminate the root cause. In reality, there are many things we can’t
solve, but that doesn’t mean we should be silent. Use your voice today to raise
the awareness of injustice in our midst.
Wednesday, March 27:
care and be on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have
seen, nor let them slip from your memory, but teach them to your children and to
your children’s children.”
an article several years ago entitled, “The Secrets to a Happy Family.” Based on
research (and resulting book of the same name) done by best-selling author Bruce
Feiler, the article enumerated 19 factors which emerged as common to happy
families. I found the first one fascinating: children who knew the most about
their family’s history were the ones best able to handle stress and bounce back
from adversity. “The reason: these children have a strong sense of
‘intergenerational self’—they understand that they belong to something bigger
than themselves.” Moses, in his instructions to the Israelites, was clearly
on to something!
days, there’s so much focus on the immediate, so much focus on ‘me.’ Sharing
stories from the past (and not just the good or glamorous ones) helps keep
things in perspective for our kids and for us. Successes and failures don’t loom
as large when they take their place in the big picture that is our history.
Provision: Give Children Grounding in History.
Once, when my mom was looking into our ancestry, my grandfather told her, “Go
back far enough in someone’s family and you’ll find a horse thief.” Just look at
Jesus’ ancestry—there was a lot worse than horse thievery going on in that
family! We may be tempted to sugarcoat painful things and embellish the happy
times but respecting and sharing the past means we look honestly, with love and
compassion, on the times, people, and places that have impacted us. Think about
sharing some wisdom with the kids or grandkids about a family member whose story
might resonate with them. Give them hope for the future.
Thursday, March 28:
But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against
itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.”
Whenever I hear this passage, I can’t help but think of the tens of thousands of
Christian denominations in the world, and the divisions that exist between the
millions who call Christ their king. While I believe Christ’s vision for a
kingdom grounded in truth and love will never fall based solely on the strength
of its central pillar, I wonder if we hinder the coming of that kingdom by our
staunch defense of specific creeds and beliefs. Something to consider the next
time I encounter someone whose faith is different than mine: “Am I building a
wall or a bridge?”
Today’s Provision: Fast from Building Walls.
In his message to the 15,000 young Christians gathered in January in Madrid for
the 41st Taizé European meeting, Pope Francis encouraged them to
bridge builders between churches, religions and peoples…promoting a culture of
In another address to young people in Poland, he said: "Peace builds bridges,
whereas hatred is the builder of walls. You must decide, in life: either I will
make bridges or I will make walls.” God calls us to foster peace among all
people and all religions. Let’s fast from building walls and reach across any
divide to build a bridge.
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, "You
are not far from the Kingdom of God." And no one dared to ask him any more
I wonder why no one else dared to ask him any more questions. Were they afraid
of what he might answer? Were they nervous that it might be a “dumb” question?
(A teacher of my son’s used to quip, “There are no dumb questions. Just dumb
people who ask them!”) After his resurrection, Jesus asks the frightened
disciples, “Why do questions arise in your hearts?” But questions are how we
learn, how we begin to formulate meaningful lives, how we expand our vision.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that we are closer to God when we are asking
questions than when we think we know the answers. What questions do you have for
Jesus these days?
Pray the Questions.
patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions
themselves…Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without
noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Maria Rilke) As a child, I was not encouraged to ask questions about faith so
they became nagging doubts that at times drove me away. Do I have the answers I
so longed for so long ago? No, but the difference is now I can bring my
questions to Jesus. I can pray the questions without worrying about judgment or
even needing concrete answers. Don’t be afraid to dialogue with Jesus about what
might be troubling or confusing you.
Saturday, March 30:
us know, let us strive to know the LORD…” “For it is love that I desire, not
and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
bookend to the week where we started by talking about the importance of a
relationship with God. God wants us to know and love him in a deep and intimate
way. God wants us to know of his unfailing love for us; it is why God sent his
son to become one with us, to teach us to love as God’s desires. Consider this:
Do you know the Lord or do you know of the Lord? There’s a big
Today’s Provision: Pray and Strive to Know the Lord.
So how do you get to know the Lord better? Reading Scripture is one of the best
ways. Find reliable, scholarly, but accessible sources for commentary to lead
you through the more confusing passages. And as we said on Sunday, spend quality
time getting to know God on God’s terms. What does that mean? Experience God in
the entirety of creation—in nature, in others. Be intentional. Make a point of
looking for God, especially in the places where you might be challenged to find
him. Don’t make assumptions based on set expectations. Open up to what is
possible, for all is possible with God.