On readings for the first Sunday in Lent, Year C
GENTLEST OF WAYS
Expectations of you to be harsh and demanding
Fade with the gospel reality of your gentleness:
Showing mercy to a sinner ready to be stoned,
Curing years of an ill woman’s hemorrhaging,
Touching disdained lepers with tender concern,
Weeping at the gravesite of a beloved friend,
Awakening the dead, forgiving the arrogant,
Gathering playful children whom disciples shun.
Everywhere in your life there is tangible evidence
Confirming the truth of your gentle kind-heartedness.
Today: I approach all life with gentleness
-Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name, February 28
Opening question for sharing
As we begin this Lent, how are you doing? How are you feeling physically, mentally, and spiritually?
Luke 4: 1-13
After Jesus is baptized, he goes into the wilderness and fasts. He is tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread, worship the devil and thus rule all the kingdoms of earth, and throw himself down from the top of the temple to see if God or angels will catch him.
For the beginning of this Lent, I am going against the trend to give up something in solitary penance, as Jesus did in the wilderness. I’m going to suggest that we take on something that connects us with God, with nature, with others, and with our deepest selves. Here are some readings you might find helpful in finding how you might connect and what you might take on during this time before Easter.
Do you think there is anything not attached by its unbreakable cord to everything else?
– Mary Oliver
Connections lay undiscovered beneath the surface of our everyday interactions with others. How might we live differently with the realization that they are there?
-Joy, in Friends of Silence newsletter, March 2022
Make the next 40 days prayerfully powerful in a new way. Don’t simply “give something up;” FAST from what paralyzes you from embracing Christ’s example (Is it fear? pride? a grudge?). Instead, FEAST on trust: His offer of companionship now (making burdens light) and His offer of peace ahead that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7).
It is hard to move from one global crisis to another. Challenges such as a pandemic, inflation and war can drain our well of hope. Yet, God gives us the freedom to choose how we’ll respond. God offers to work with us, through us, and in us if we accept the invitation. Through us, God can glorify any situation.
-Maria G. Cressler, Executive Director, Ignatius House, Atlanta, GA
FINDING JOY IN GIVING AND RECEIVING
Giving of time
Lending an ear
Giving comfort & understanding
Making time to care
-for a pet
-for home and family
-in all my work and interactions
-in how I treat people I meet or pass on the street.
Trying to be considerate
Giving kind advice or gentle redirection
Modeling patience and peace, but not indifference
Joy in helping others without resentment or fear
Jesus, through scripture & daily prayer
Gradually relax all parts of your body from your feet up to your head, three times breathing in God’s light, love, and comforting darkness, God’s strength and power to heal.
Imagine yourself at the beach using all five senses in imagination. There’s enough sunshine for you to feel pleasantly warm but not overly hot. You hear the waves lapping on the shore, the calling of seagulls, and the soft murmur of the wind in the pines. You’re walking at the water’s edge, watching the foam roll onto the sand at the leading border of the waves. You can feel your bare feet sinking into the damp sand as you walk. You can almost taste and smell the salt tang in the air.
As you amble along, you notice that something has washed up on the shore just a few feet in front of you. You realize it’s a bottle, so you walk over to it and pick it up. Inside is a description, in words or pictures, of an invitation to your heart’s desire for this Lent. It’s a description of ways to connect with God, with others, with Nature, and with yourself, by giving and receiving. What is that desire and invitation?
As you are pondering the contents of the bottle, Jesus walks up. Share with him your heart’s desire.
Meditational Art Project
On a clean piece of paper, write some of the ways you’d like to give and receive this Lent. Or write parts of the readings that especially move you. Cut out pictures of nature from magazines or art books and paste them in and around the words on your Lenten Sheet. Keep your artwork near you to look at and enjoy during this holy season.
New Prayer for Peace
How do we pray for peace from half a world away?
How can words salve and soothe real wounds,
Assuage real fears, wipe tears from real eyes?
God of endless compassion, transform our prayers
From words into bridges that span the distances
Between us, uniting our hearts in yours.
Every time we turn our keys in a lock,
May we remember all who are losing their homes.
Every time we step into our cars,
May we remember all who are having to flee.
Every time we embrace our children,
May we remember all who are trying to shield theirs from war.
May our besieged brothers and sisters
Be drawn into the arms of the suffering Christ,
And may our cry be heard as one voice
Ringing out from every corner of the earth:
God of endless mercy, grant us peace.
Cameron Bellm, courtesy of the Society of Jesus @wearethejesuits