Lenten Reflections: Week Five
Posted 03/12/2018 05:00AM

Monday, March 12
JN 4:43-54

At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee.
For Jesus himself testified
that a prophet has no honor in his native place.
When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him,
since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast;
for they themselves had gone to the feast.

Then he returned to Cana in Galilee,
where he had made the water wine.
Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum.
When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea,
he went to him and asked him to come down
and heal his son, who was near death.
Jesus said to him,
"Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe."
The royal official said to him,
"Sir, come down before my child dies."
Jesus said to him, "You may go; your son will live."
The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.
While the man was on his way back,
his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live.
He asked them when he began to recover.
They told him,
"The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon."
The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him,
"Your son will live,"
and he and his whole household came to believe.
Now this was the second sign Jesus did
when he came to Galilee from Judea.

Reflection by Beth Ann Simno

As I read this passage I kept on thinking about my relationship with God. Is my relationship with God only in times of trials and tribulations? Do I give thanks to Him in times of joy and even in sorrow? Do I call out His name during the day in the silence of my heart or do I just wait until I truly need Him to call out His name? We know that at the time Jesus walked on this earth, people needed signs to believe that He was the son of God. John tells us that this father asked God to heal his son before he died. He needed a sign to know that Jesus was truly who he said he was.

We need to remember that unlike the Royal Official father we don't need signs to believe that Jesus is the son of God. We are blessed to live in a world of Carmelite spirituality in our school and know that God is with us as a lover, protector, and a friend. He is always there for us and with us at all times. Yes, we go to him in times of trials and tribulations. Yes, we are grateful to Him for all the blessings, the joys, and the sorrows as we should be. Abandon yourself to God and live your life as Jesus did and live your life knowing that God's plan will always be the best for you. After all, we don't need signs because we believe and know that Jesus sacrificed His life for us and died on the cross so that we may have eternal life. There is no greater sign than this.

Tuesday, March 13
JN 5:1-16

There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate
a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.
In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there
and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him,
"Do you want to be well?"
The sick man answered him,
"Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool
when the water is stirred up;
while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me."
Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your mat, and walk."
Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.

Now that day was a sabbath.
So the Jews said to the man who was cured,
"It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat."
He answered them, "The man who made me well told me,
'Take up your mat and walk.'"
They asked him,
"Who is the man who told you, 'Take it up and walk'?"
The man who was healed did not know who it was,
for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there.
After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him,
"Look, you are well; do not sin anymore,
so that nothing worse may happen to you."
The man went and told the Jews
that Jesus was the one who had made him well.
Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus
because he did this on a sabbath.

Reflection by Sister Christilyn Rubio

"Do you want to be well?" This word of Jesus towards the ill man reminds us of God's constant love and care. God is truly aware of our needs whether it be temporal or spiritual needs. God always knows what is truly best for our welfare.

I find the words of Jesus to be one of the gentlest and touching questions. If God will ask me the same question today, I would definitely say yes. I may not be physically ill but my personal unresolved issues are what I think needs healing. God is our divine healer. God will readily heal us if we only allow Him to. But sometimes we forget that total dependence on God. We allow ourselves to be preoccupied with the daily businesses of our lives. We cannot help but become worried and anxious about everything. And this leads us towards paralysis. Like in the gospel today, the ill man for thirty-eight years is an example of paralysis. He is paralyzed, not being able to move and put himself on the water. I can imagine his feeling of great suffering and misery. I believe that more than the physical illness, he also has an emotional and spiritual illness. He needs care and attention but nobody was there to help him. The ill man doesn't even give a direct answer to Jesus but Jesus' command made him well. It shows how powerful Jesus words are when He said, "Rise, take up your mat, and walk." It was only Jesus who came to offer him help. It is a clear picture of how God always takes the initiative to rescue us. Jesus' asking shows how much He cares when others don't. This will help us remind ourselves that others may leave us but God won't. That is why in praying, God already knows what is inside of us before we ask. We can always depend on God in everything.

As we continue to reflect on this Lenten season and re-experience Christ's resurrection within ourselves, let us be open to answer this same question that Jesus asks of us. Let us offer to God everything in us that wants to be whole again when we are experience suffering, brokenness and pain. God offers us healing every day.

Wednesday, March 14
JN 5:17-30

Jesus answered the Jews:
"My Father is at work until now, so I am at work."
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him,
because he not only broke the sabbath
but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.

Jesus answered and said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything that he himself does,
and he will show him greater works than these,
so that you may be amazed.
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.
Nor does the Father judge anyone,
but he has given all judgment to the Son,
so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
Whoever does not honor the Son
does not honor the Father who sent him.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word
and believes in the one who sent me
has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.
Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.
For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life,
but those who have done wicked deeds
to the resurrection of condemnation.

"I cannot do anything on my own;
I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just,
because I do not seek my own will
but the will of the one who sent me."

Reflection by Alison Ruckert

Today's Gospel passage has two ideas that resonate with me. First, when the Jews become angry that Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, He explains himself by saying He is working because "My Father is still working." The idea that God is still working on the celebrated Sabbath day is a strange concept. When I was little and learned the creation story, it wasn't difficult for me to picture God sitting there on the 7th day, soaking in all that He has made and looking over it with a sense of pride and wonder. I have always had this visual of Him sitting there, taking a deep breath, and smiling as he looks on. At first, it was as strange to me to think about God never resting as it was for the Jews to hear that God is still working. This small portion of a much greater passage sits with me- the idea that God is always working in some way. He is always moving, always setting things in motion, always answering prayers at His right time, always comforting those who mourn, always rejoicing with those who celebrate, and always challenging us to discover who we are in Him. He doesn't take a break.

Also in this passage, Jesus boldly claims himself as God's right-hand-man, His equal. Because God is always working, He extends His own authority to Jesus so that Jesus can help do God's works. A friend once likened the idea in this passage of Jesus following in God's footsteps to being a parent and being very aware that his children were watching him and following what he does. While I can't make the same comparison, I can view this in the eyes of a child who has watched and followed what her parents have done for 33 years. It makes me stop and think about things I do and how some of these things and the way I do them are because my parents did the same things or fulfilled the same roles. I know I'm the daughter who calls her mom to say hello every evening because I remember my mom doing that. I know my friendship with my brother means the world to me because we watched our parents be friends with our aunts and uncles. I know that the patience I bring to teaching teenage girls is a result of the patience my parents graciously gave me as a teenager. We cringe if someone says we can all be like Jesus, but we can be, even if not in the same context as the Gospel passage. We might not receive the same authority from God as Jesus did, but we should consider the idea that we, as followers of Christ, have been given something from Him. Jesus wondered what God wanted Him to do and did not shy away from God's authority. We should think about what God wants us to do and how we can fulfill His goals for us. Don't shy away from the authority you gain from God, however small that authority might seem. Just as we picked up habits from our parents as we gained authority from them, stop to think about which habits you've picked up from God and pursue those habits. You might be surprised what great works you can do.

Thursday, March 15

JN 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews:
"If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.
But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John's.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.

"I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me,
because he wrote about me.
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?"

Reflection by Philip Garside

This passage is a helpful test of where we are willing to look for a deeper relationship with God. In it Jesus offers a series of testimonies that offer relationship to God, including relationship with himself. Jesus states, "But I have testimony greater than John's. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish," and that work is his complete self sacrifice on the cross. The other testimonies' offers are not bad, they are just not as good as perfect love.

The other testimonies he lists are John's testimony and the scriptures. Jesus describes John as a "burning and shining lamp" that brought the listeners joy "for a while". He describes the scriptures as offering life if properly understood. But he points out that people don't understand how the scriptures point to him and John's testimony seemed only to be effective in as much as it was attractive.

This passage seeks to wake us up to the message of Christ beyond our self affirming comfort zone. We are prepared to take paths to God that bring us joy or support our predefined worldview. But as soon as either of these things is challenged, all of the sudden we demand "proof". Jesus assures us, no one testifies for him, he testifies for himself, his life is the proof. The question is, can we accept it?

In this season of lent, a season of repentance by alms, fasting, and prayer this passage gives us food for thought. Have we become sedate in our own locked-in interpretation of scripture, not using the scripture to lead us to who Christ really is, beyond our expectation? Are we dazzled by preachers and wonder workers, but only as long as they teach what we already knew? Or can we journey toward Good Friday and witness Jesus' self sacrifice, making it our own sacrifice, without any "proof" but the person of Christ himself?

Friday, March 16
JN 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

Jesus moved about within Galilee;
he did not wish to travel in Judea,
because the Jews were trying to kill him.
But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.

But when his brothers had gone up to the feast,
he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.

Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said,
"Is he not the one they are trying to kill?
And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him.
Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?
But we know where he is from.
When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from."
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said,
"You know me and also know where I am from.
Yet I did not come on my own,
but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.
I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me."
So they tried to arrest him,
but no one laid a hand upon him,
because his hour had not yet come.

Reflection by Emilee Arthur

In today's gospel, Jesus leaves Galilee and travels secretly to Jerusalem where he begins to preach to a crowd of people even though he knows there are people in Jerusalem who want to cause him harm. What this gospel represents is that we are all "Messengers of God". Regardless of our situation or where we are on our journey, we are called to glorify him, follow him, trust him, and have faith in him. I don't know about you, but there have many instances in my life where trusting in him and his plan and purpose for me seems impossible or just plain hard. I am sure we all have had those moments. You know, the moments when it's easier to walk away, sulk, blame someone else, complain, etc.

In today's world, it is easy to get wrapped up in the negative aspects or get distracted when times get tough, or things do not go our way. But where are we placing that blame? What are we doing during those tough times? Who are we turning to for help? This gospel is the perfect example of what God wants us to do and what he is calling us to do. He wants us to be like Jesus. He understands it is hard to speak out or act on our faith when in fear or times of trouble, but we can ultimately be like Jesus. So stand up during those trying times! Place your faith and fear in God's hands and he will save you, he will wrap you in his arms and he will shield you from harm exactly like he did for Jesus when they tried to arrest him.

During this Lenten season, I pray that you are reminded of God's ultimate sacrifice and his infinite love for us. That you embrace your calling as a "Messenger of God," and you go out and spread his love, joy, and goodness with others through the good times and the bad.

Saturday, March 17

JN 7:40-53

Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said,
"This is truly the Prophet."
Others said, "This is the Christ."
But others said, "The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he?
Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David's family
and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?"
So a division occurred in the crowd because of him.
Some of them even wanted to arrest him,
but no one laid hands on him.

So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees,
who asked them, "Why did you not bring him?"
The guards answered, "Never before has anyone spoken like this man."
So the Pharisees answered them, "Have you also been deceived?
Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?
But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed."
Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them,
"Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him
and finds out what he is doing?"
They answered and said to him,
"You are not from Galilee also, are you?
Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee."

Then each went to his own house.

Reflection by Kristen Schaeffer

The question, "Where are you from?" seems like a simple one. It's just a location, right? Hopefully, we pose this question to understand others in a more meaningful way. Unfortunately, we also use this question to separate and stereotype others. We tend to mask the most important aspect of what is contained within each person's heart and soul. The more we compartmentalize people by the school they attend, the nation they come from, the way they speak, the color of their skin, the style of their clothes, the religion they follow, the music they listen to, the location of their house - the further away we get from the most important view of each individual - their spirit. Nicodemus asks, " Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?" Those lucky enough in the crowd listened and heard the message of Jesus, and yet others present were too concerned about where he was from to hear the beautiful words he shared. They were blinded from seeing the true Jesus, and a division occurred. Do I get too bogged down in the drama of where someone is from or what they look like, or do I hear the message? Do I judge before I listen? This passage goes further to show that this simple question can cause much heartache and misunderstanding. The line, "Then each went to his own house," is a telling one. Instead of trying to resolve our issues do we just surround ourselves by what we know? This visual of closed doors shutting out the possibilities of resolution and community is, to me, the opposite of the message of Jesus. On this Lenten journey, let us challenge ourselves to recognize the beauty and realness of each person we meet. Can we move out of our comfort zone and rejoin the community? Let us strip away the labels and misconceptions to hear the message and find the Jesus present in each of us. Instead of asking, "Where are you from?" can we ask, "Who are you?"

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