We enter into Lent. Each Lent we are afforded the unique opportunity to join Jesus in the desert. It is a time for renewal – a time to change behaviors – a time to correct course. It is a time to reflect on our sins – to really reflect upon those obstacles in our lives that keep us from fully committing to Christ. Through fasting and abstinence we cleanse ourselves. It changes our routine and brings us more focus. By spending time contemplating God, reflecting upon Jesus, and renewing the commitments we made in baptism; we prepare ourselves to make choices of the soul, rather than choices of convenience. We owe it to ourselves to do this. We need to confront the demons within us, the sins that get hidden below the surface. We need to see sin in its true aspect, and see who Christ is for us.
As Vincentians, Lent also affords us the opportunity to reflect upon our attitudes, motivations and interactions with those we serve. It is easy for us to lose sight of our purpose (grow in holiness) and our means (by seeking the face of Christ in those we serve). We can become jaded by our work, and it is important to on occasion take a step back, look at our relationship with God, the promises we made in Baptism, and how we bring those two things into one. Do I have right attitudes when dealing with those in need? Am I seeking and finding the presence of God in them? Do I listen for and to the will of God in all that I do?
Lord Jesus, allow me to journey to the dessert with you. Help me to correct attitudes that are not helpful to filling up with your love. Fill me with humility, selflessness, patience, and gentleness as I do your work. Give me passion that I may bring your presence to others at the same time I find it in them. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
In our gospel we hear the story of Jesus healing the leper and telling him ‘see that you tell no one anything.’ Of course, the first thing the leper did was go and tell people. “Soon it became impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly…People kept coming to him from everywhere.” Jesus heals the man out of pity, but his mission is not to go around healing everyone. His mission is to build up the Kingdom of God. The healings – while certainly positive work – are truly for the purpose of forwarding the acceptance and desire of the Kingdom of God.
As Vincentians, I suspect you too have experienced the ‘glut of responses’ to help you provide to one person. You know what I mean – you help one person in an apartment complex, and suddenly there are six more in need. It can be overwhelming, it can be frustrating, and it can be draining. It can be one of those times when we question the integrity of people and maybe – not see God quite as much present in them. It is one of those times when we need to step back a little to keep perspective. We need to go to the Lord in prayer for patience and mercy. When we do, we begin to recognize the despair that leads people to reach out begging as the leper did. Through prayer we find the kindness to be the face of Christ to someone who may feel isolated and alone. It is at those times perhaps – that we recognize that our mission is not the individual service to anyone client, but our need to be the presence and face of Christ for others so that we may grow in holiness and find Christ within ourselves.
Lord Jesus, Help me to stay humble and to grow in patience and kindness when confronted despair of others. Allow me to hear in their voices the suffering you endured on the cross for me, that I might bow down and beg your forgiveness for those times when I have been prideful, self-centered and judgmental. Help me to always remember to come to you prayerfully, seeking your guidance in all things. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
In our gospel today, Jesus is found healing and attending to the needs of others. Many are brought to him as evidenced by Simon’s comment “everyone is looking for you.” But Jesus has bigger plans than ‘simply ministering’ to the sick. He is about spreading the good news through both word and deed so that God might be glorified. He also knows the importance of prayer – constant communication with God – in making this happen. The healings, the miracles, the service to others are all very important ministries – Jesus wouldn’t bother with them if they weren’t – but they are not the mission. Look beyond Jesus’ activities to what he says to the apostles: “For this purpose have I come.” His purpose is the glorification of God the Father.
As Vincentian’s we have all faced times when it seems like the need and the number of people can be overwhelming. We can easily lose sight of the broader purpose and mission in the business of ministering to those in need. Let us never forget the need to stop and prayer, reflect and spend time with God to recharge ourselves. Let us also remember that our purpose – our mission – is to first grow in holiness and glorify God. Do I always stay focused on the broader purpose? Do I always remember that I am totally dependent on God as I minister to His people?
Lord Jesus, help me to always keep your purpose for our ministry in the forefront of my thoughts. Provide me with humility that I may know all things are possible only through you. Help me to care for those you bring to me that they may know your love and see the Glory of God that brings hope to all situations. We pray all of this in your name. Amen
St. Mark tells us in his gospel that the people were astonished at the teaching of Jesus when he entered the synagogue. He had an authority (and truth) which they had not seen before. St. Paul admonishes us to set our anxieties aside (for we all have them) and to be laser focused in listening and adhering to the Lord without distraction. Our Responsorial (Psalm 95) recounts the questioning and testing of God at Massah. God had already delivered food (manna) when needed but now drinkable water was the need. God instructs Moses to gather the people and to strike a rock with his staff (which will provide them with water). God grants Moses the reassurance of the Divine Presence: “I will be standing there in front of you”. In giving manna, bread from heaven, earlier, and now water (from an earthly rock), God provides for his people and shows his mastery over creation. We are called to not allow our hearts to become hardened when we hear the voice of the Lord but to recognize his authority, truth and love for us.
Moses had a relationship and awareness of God which others were only beginning to understand. He had to continually witness to and remind others of the goodness and love of God. As Vincentians, we too must be witnesses and continual reminders to the presence, compassion and love of our God. We often encounter people at a time when darkness and despair have entered their lives. We must be the light cutting through that darkness and reminding them of the eternal hope and salvation of our Lord. Do I continually strive to make God’s presence known through my actions? Do I continually strive to soften my heart – and the hearts of others – that the voice of our Lord may be clearly heard?
Lord Jesus, you have the words of salvation and hope. Humble me that I might hear your voice and trust in your ways. Allow me to dispel the darkness of despair for others through the truth of your compassionate care. Help me to set aside my anxieties and those of others by focusing solely on your will for us. Let my heart be softened that I might hear the sweet sound of your voice. We pray all of this in your name. Amen