Stating the Facts & Facing the Conclusions

by Angela Lambert

March 26th, 2017; 4th Sunday of Lent

Gospel of John 9:1-41

As Jesus passed by He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—. So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is,” but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.” They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?” His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.” So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.” He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.

 Meditation Reflection:

Another long passage.  Why?  Two in a row?  Is it because it’s Lent and the Church wants to test or patience?  No, despite our ever-shortening attention spans, we still need to hear real stories of real people’s transformation in Christ.

John could only include a sliver of these experiences in his Gospel, so he reserved room for the most powerful or most instructive.  His Gospel is not written as myth or legend, but as testimony.  Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well taught us the surprising nature of the kingdom of God which we, like many of the Jews at the time, may find difficult to understand on a natural level. Jesus’ healing of the man born blind, testifies to the undeniable evidence of Jesus’ divine origin.  Thus, discipleship of Christ cannot be sustained by natural reason alone, which is why believing in Him as merely a good moral teacher is not enough and not very effective.  Rather, disciples follow Christ based on faith in Who He is.  This faith may develop gradually over a period of time and interaction like the Samaritan woman’s village with whom Jesus spent two days, or happen in a miraculous moment like the man born blind.  Either way, the call of discipleship exceeds our understanding, and can only make sense if we believe that Jesus is truly God.

Discipleship, therefore, begins with encounter and follows with witness.  The man born blind stated the facts of the situation without interpretation several times.  The Pharisees refused to acknowledge the logical conclusion so they tried to raise doubts about the premises.  Finally, the exasperated man connected the dots for them and stated the logical conclusion. He was born blind, now he is not blind; only God could have given him sight ; God only blesses those whom He approves; therefore…Jesus is from God.  For the Pharisees to reject Christ when the miracle was standing right in front of them, was to willingly choose blindness.  God acts in our lives daily and has sent His only Son for our salvation.  We have no more excuses for our ignorance.

The Pharisees tried to pit Jesus against Moses, but Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to send a new Moses.  Moses received the Law from God and brought it to the people.  Jesus is God, and communicates the New Law from His own authority.  He also, therefore, has the authority to correct any misinterpretations or mis-applications of the Old Law.

God also promised, that someone from the line of David would always be king.  As the New David, Jesus takes up the crown as eternal king.  When God told the prophet Samuel to go to the house of Jesse and anoint one of his sons as the new king, Samuel expected the oldest to be chosen.  Instead, God chose the youngest.  This was such an unforeseen call, that David wasn’t even present at the visit but instead was tasked with tending the sheep.  Just as God said to Samuel regarding David, “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7), so the blind man gave witness to Jesus by his miraculous and supernatural sight.  One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see…It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.”

All Christians are called to bear witness to Christ, evidenced by His transformative power in their lives.  How others react to that witness, brings to light their true state of soul.  We all have an innate yearning for God.  We sometimes avoid Him however to continue in some of our sins.  Sometimes we feign ignorance, rationalize away Christ’s teaching, or discount the witness given by the lives of strong Christians we know, so we can avoid facing the truth about our attachments.  We cannot hide any longer.  Christ has come, His light has shone, and He continues to live and act through His Mystical Body the Church.  He has given a New Law as our Eternal King.  His expectations exceed our natural abilities and weakness, but His grace makes the Christian life possible.

The more our relationship with Christ develops, the more our faith will strengthen and our trust in Him will grow.  Then, when the Christian life tests our minds and hearts, we will hopefully respond as St. Peter did, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69) and to give witness as St. John does at the beginning of His Gospel: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as the only-begotten Son from the Father.” (John 1:14)

Consider:

  • Where would you consider yourself in your spiritual journey?
    • Initial Outreach – just beginning the search for God, curious about Jesus but unsure of whether to follow Him
    • Early Development – responding to Christ, learning His truths, forming convictions, developing Christian habits, shedding sinful habits, wavering but growing stronger
    • Disciple – follower of Christ, faith in Him and trust in Him above oneself, motivated by love and loyalty, allowing Christ full authority to transform you, witness of His life in you
  • If, like the man born blind, you were asked to testify about your encounter with Christ, what would you say?  What would be the “facts” of the case, and what would be your conclusions?
  • How has the Christian witness of others strengthened your faith or moved you to make a serious change in your life?

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Each morning take five minutes of prayer to think about your day ahead, and resolve to  witness to Christ in one to three concrete ways.
    • Consider in each aspect – home, work, recreation, family time.
    • Think of ways in each area you can live your Christian faith and witness to Christ by either your words or your actions.
    • Resolve on one thing to say or do in each area for the day.
    • At the end of the day, reflect back on how you did.  Praise God for your successes, and where you failed ask for grace to do better tomorrow.

~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2017

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Hope…When Least Expected

by Angela Lambert

woman at well

March 19th, 2017; 3rd Sunday of Lent

Gospel of John 4:5-42

 Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” —For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.— Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.  Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one speaking with you.”

At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?” The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?” They went out of the town and came to him. Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.” When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

Meditation Reflection:

What a long passage.  Why?  Why does John give this much space in his Gospel to one woman’s conversion?  Jesus encountered multitudes of people during His brief public ministry.  John even gives a disclaimer at the end of his Gospel, apologizing that he could only include a handful of Jesus’ miracles, enough to make the point that He is the Son of God, because they were too innumerable to recount in written form.

The woman at the well’s encounter with Christ, models the process of conversion.  Jesus approached her when she least expected it.  She went to the well at noon, the worst time of the day, to avoid the other women.  Sin has a way of isolating us from others as we try to cover up our sins or rationalize our choices.

Jesus initiated the conversation.  He sought her.  He began with a request, but in fact desired to offer her healing and salvation.  Every Christian’s conversion begins with an encounter with Christ, and the experience of Him having sought us before we sought Him.  Discipleship is not a project, club, or philosophy.  It’s a response.  It’s a realization that what Christ asks of us, is in fact His invitation to receive from Him.

Next, He addressed her sins.  She skirted the issue, and even when confronted directly, she tried to distract Him with a theological debate.  By the end however, she felt relief and joy. From her encounter, she learned that the Christ, the anointed one of God, had come.  Moreover, He had come to her – despite her personal unfaithfulness, as well as the unfaithfulness of her people the Samaritans. Jesus revealed Himself as the Savior, come through the promise of the Jews, and at the same time for the salvation of all.

Imagine her hopelessness as she approached the well in the heat of the day.  Women of her time would view success as a good marriage and large family.  She had already had five husbands and given up on marriage altogether with the man she was living with. She had no friends and was excluded from the community of women.  There was no way back for her, and no opportunity going forward.

God gives surprisingly and super-abundantly.  Met with physical thirst, Jesus offered her the living waters of eternal life.  It took awhile for her to wrap her mind around what He was saying.  Eventually however, she recognized the work of God and ran to the people of her town to tell them.  She left her water jug, despite her physical thirst and needs.  She boldly told everyone of her experience, despite the shame of her reputation among them.

Her witness was so moving that they went to Jesus to see for themselves.  They too encountered Christ in an unexpected and surprising way – through the seemingly least religious woman in town.  By the end of their encounter however, they too were converted.

During Lent, Jesus comes to meet us in our shame and our thirst.  As a Church, we endeavor to hear Him through increased prayer and introspection.  We recall that He came to save us, while we were still sinners.  We remember that He first sought us, but we must respond.  Thankfully, He is patient.  Our transformation in Christ will become our witness, and our witness will bring Christ to others.  But first, we must set aside our tactics for avoiding our sins, and allow Christ to lead us through them.

Consider:

  • The woman went to the well at noon instead of morning because of shame:
    • What are you ashamed of? What do you hide from others?
  • Imagine meeting Jesus there.
    • Would you feel surprised? What excuses might you make?
  • Imagine Jesus calling you out on your sins.
    • What are your competing loves? Be honest.
  • How is Jesus the living water compared to these other “spouses”?
  • How are the other pleasures you seek temporary and always needing replenishing, whereas Christ’s joy is abiding?
  • Jesus offers her life, and commands her to sin no more.  Let Jesus confront your sin.  You too must choose. You cannot have both.

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • When God confronted King David about his sin through the prophet Nathan, David responded by composing Psalm 51.  He acknowledged his sin, asked for forgiveness, and trusted God to transform his heart.
  • Do an examination of conscience this week.  If possible, meet Christ in the sacrament of Confession.

~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2017

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We Have Seen His Glory…Gospel Meditation for Second Sunday of Lent

by Angela Lambert

 

March 12th, 2017; 2nd Sunday of Lent

Gospel of Matthew 17:1-9

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

 Meditation Reflection:

It requires little effort to encounter Jesus in His humbled, human form.  Belief in His human existence doesn’t require faith, since the historical evidence regarding His time on earth exceeds that of other great figures of history.  The wisdom of His teachings resonates with Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and secular persons alike.  Thus, to view Jesus as a great Teacher doesn’t equate to faith per se either, but merely to good education. Limiting Christ to His human form, His own people had no qualms about making Him famous one day, shouting “Hosanna in the highest!”, and killing Him the next, shouting “Crucify Him!”.

Discipleship requires encountering Christ as He truly is – both human and divine; a great teacher, and God’s only Son sent as ransom for our sins.  To see Jesus’ divinity means strenuous effort to move beyond easy earthly worldviews and comforts.  Christ’s divinity and His redemptive love add a supernatural dimension to reality which impacts our decision making. Why turn the other cheek if justice can only be meted out on earth?  Why forsake wealth, travel, status, or pleasures if “you only live once” and this life is it? God works in surprising ways. He calls us to follow Him and to do things we cannot do on our own.   Discipleship requires faith, because it requires decisions that necessitate grace being real, and the Cross being the path to Resurrection.

Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the high mountain.  If invited to climb a high mountain (without the reason even being stated), how many of us would choose to relax at the bottom instead.  Looking up we might say, “I bet the view is beautiful, but it’s too much work.”  Peter, James, and John could not have anticipated what they saw that day.  They embarked on an arduous hike for the simple reason that Christ brought them.  Although easy to imagine as we read it in Scripture, consider the inertia you feel when trying to make time for exercise in the day, or how many excuses and competing priorities crowd out taking time aside for prayer.

These three wanted to be great in Christ’s kingdom.  Climbing the mountain of the Transfiguration, Jesus revealed that greatness meant trust in His Person.  He didn’t make a case to them as to why they should climb, nor did He make any promises about what they would get out of it.  They followed because He took them, and they trusted Him.

True to His character, God gave super-abundantly.  Peter, James, and John witnessed a magnificent sight.  They saw Jesus in His glorified form, His divine nature radiating through His human nature.  They saw Moses and Elijah conversing with Him, and so fulfillment of some of the greatest promises of the Old Covenant. Aware of the presence of God as His voice spoke from the heavens, they fell prostrate on the ground, overwhelmed and unworthy of such a profound gift.

Peter, James, and John did indeed become great in Christ’s kingdom.  Christ made Peter the head of His Church and the first pope.  James became the bishop of the Christian community in Jerusalem.  John, the beloved disciple and the contemplative theologian, received Mary into his home after Jesus’ death, wrote the intensely deep 4th Gospel, three letters included in Scripture, and the book of Revelation.

Their discipleship developed gradually however.  They believed they had found the Messiah when they first encountered Christ and left their possessions and careers to follow Him at His request. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, and having witnessed innumerable miracles, they came to believe He was the only begotten Son of God. Despite all of this however, the last, and hardest belief would be accepting that His messianic kingdom could only come through the Cross.  Whenever Jesus prophesied that He would be rejected, suffer, and die by crucifixion, the disciples vigorously protested.  They could not conceive any way in which that would make sense – naturally or super-naturally.

Jesus had compassion on their weakness.  He brought them up the high mountain and gave them a glimpse of His divine power, so that during the horrific events of His arrest, scourging, crowning of thorns, carrying the cross, and crucifixion, they would not lose faith.

Each person’s spiritual journey, though unique to the individual, at the same time follows a similar pattern.  Discipleship begins with an invitation from Christ.  To follow Him, we must leave some things behind to attain greater things ahead.  To move further, we must develop the conviction that Jesus is truly our Savior. Having begun the work of following Him, we start to witness His miracles, experience wonder at His teachings, and zeal begins to grow.  The most difficult test to discipleship however, remains the cross.  We might praise Jesus for dying for us, but when we must face the cross in our own lives we easily falter.  Jesus sometimes strengthens us with “Transfiguration moments” prior to these tests.  It might be consolation in prayer, blessings in our daily lives, heightened sight of His grace at work, or interior touches of His love in our soul.  Before great crosses, Jesus strengthens our faith, so that when His divinity is utterly hidden, we can recollect the times we saw it unveiled and persevere in trust.

Consider:

  • When have you felt the call of Christ? What have you left behind to pursue Him? How has it exceeded your expectations?
  • What would you consider your “Transfiguration” moment(s)? When have you been moved in awe by Christ’s divinity?
  • When has your faith been tested? When have you found it most hard to trust Christ? How do those transfiguration moments strengthen your faith in Him?

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • At the end of each day this week, write down at least one time you “saw” Christ that day.
  • Pray the serenity-and-suscipe-prayers each day.

~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2017

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Determined Discipleship

by Angela Lambert

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

March 5th, 2017; 9th First Sunday of Lent

Gospel Matthew 4:1-11

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.

Meditation Reflection:

Before Jesus began His public ministry, He went into the desert to pray and fast for forty days. Spending time in the desert meant leaving comforts, distractions, and entertainment, and being alone in solitude.  This may sound appealing, especially if you have a demanding job or little kids.  Yet, when we do make time to be alone in the silence, it can be uncomfortable and disconcerting.  We must face ourselves, the inner thoughts we have been pushing to the side, fears, insecurities, doubts, ambitions, and vanities.  The biggest battle most of us will face, is with ourselves and the enemy loves to bite at our heels as we do.  Thus, Jesus prepares for His ministry by enduring all the temptations you and I experience, and overcoming them.

Satan first tempts Christ with bread.  He waited until Jesus was at the end of His fast when He would be tired, hungry, and physically weak.  Similarly, the devil tries to exacerbate our problems when we are worn out and vulnerable.  How many of us have failed to pray in the morning because we didn’t want to give up the comfort of sleep? When have you missed Mass because it would be an inconvenience or it was cold outside?  Are there times when putting your feet up, having a beer or glass of wine, and watching tv took precedence over interacting with your spouse or kids at the end of a long work day (especially when kids require discipline or help with homework)? How many opportunities do we miss because we would rather stay in our comfort zone?  Unless we overcome our own slothful inertia, we cannot be strong enough to be the salt of the earth that Jesus needs from His disciples.

After overcoming our desires for pleasure and comfort, the next hurdle is fame and ambition.  Satan loves to stroke our ego and promote the lie that the measure of our worth is measured by our success.  Yet, our Lord chose a life of humility and rejected some of the apostles’ notions that His kingdom would bring them worldly notoriety.  God works the most through the small and the weak.  St. Paul even states that in our weakness God’s power is brought to perfection (I Corinthians 2:12). Until we curb our own ambitions, we won’t be free to work for God’s ambitions.

Finally, the ultimate stumbling block of the Christian faith, is suffering.  Satan’s third temptation offered Jesus the kingdom without the Cross;  a short cut around humiliation and struggle.  Whether it’s discipleship, marriage, family, or work, many people give up when things get hard.  Our culture of instant gratification further softens our resolve, along with the false expectation that we should always be happy.

Christ endured and overcame every temptation, that we might be strengthened to do the same.  Jesus unites Himself to us in our struggle and imbues us with His divine grace.

During Lent, we step away into the desert so that we might encounter the truth about ourselves.  We struggle against our own will through acts of fasting and self-denial.  We battle our greed and self-centeredness through works of charity and alms-giving.  We increase our prayer, and contemplate the mystery of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, to deepen our love for our savior and to more closely follow Him.

Don’t be discouraged if you have already cheated on your Lenten sacrifice.  Self-knowledge is the beginning of conversion and develops humility.  Each day, we must pick up our cross, and as our awareness of our own weakness intensifies, our awareness of our need for Christ will also intensify. Whether you give something up or do something extra (or both), choose something that will touch the temptation you find most difficult – comfort, notoriety, or happiness at the expense of Christian fidelity.  Discipleship is difficult, and even the apostles’ conversions took time, so be patient.  Moved by love however, they eventually stopped trying to change Christ, and instead accepted Christ.  If we take time for Him, our love for Him will deepen, and we too will be more conformed to our Lord, and able to joyfully celebrate His final victory at the Resurrection on Easter.

Consider:

  • Which comforts or pleasures tempt you the most? Sleep, soda, alcohol, television, food, desserts, gossip, sports, music, movies?
  • What do you want others to notice about you most? What do you take the most pride in?  Do you feel small or unimportant if your work isn’t acknowledged or honored by others?
  • How do you avoid suffering? Do you avoid conflict with your spouse or kids?  Do you take short cuts at work?  Do you try to get ahead by putting others down or by neglecting your duties toward God or family?
  • Consider past Lents. How has God strengthened you?  How have you grown as a Christian?
  • Invite Christ into this Lent. Be docile to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to strengthen an area of your faith life.

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Each morning, begin with the prayer by St. Francis de Sales:

My God, I give you this day. I offer you, now, all of the good that I shall do and I promise to accept, for love of you, all of the difficulty that I shall meet. Help me to conduct myself during this day in a manner pleasing to you. Amen.

~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2017

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