Sunday Food For Thought: Open Arms of the Father

4th Sunday of Lent:   Scripture Readings

Food For Thought

*excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain In His Love

Meditation Reflection: Luke 15:1-3,11-32

We often live in denial of ours sins and this can make it easy to imagine God as loving since we see ourselves entitled to His affections.  However, when our hearts are really struck by the realization of a failure, when shame settles in our stomach at our weakness or self-centeredness, we can mistakenly assume God views us as a failure too and wants nothing to do with us.  Jesus corrected this false view by describing God’s unconditional love in His Parable of the Prodigal Son, also known as the Parable of the Merciful Father.

Return of the Prodigal Son By Rembrandt

In this parable, the father had freely given his sons everything he could – life, love, nurturing, and even inheritance of his estate.  The first son responded with obedience, loyalty, and service.  The second son responded with ingratitude, an entitlement attitude, and complacency.  When he arrogantly wished his father dead and demanded his future inheritance, his father not only allowed him to leave but also gifted to him the undeserved future inheritance.  Mistaking license for freedom, the son lived foolishly for pleasure and self-gratification.  Eventually however his funds ran out and the difficult times that followed revealed the short-sightedness of his choices.  The glamour of evil wore off when he found himself desperate enough to take a job caring for pigs (considered unclean by the Jews) and even more desperate when he felt tempted by his insatiable hunger to ask for some of their slop but was denied. As he hit rock bottom, he finally realized the generosity and goodness of his father.

Some Christians take their faith for granted.  The spiritual gifts they had enjoyed from the sacraments, living in Christian fellowship, and possibly growing up in a Christian home seem less glamorous and more restrictive than worldliness.  At first, missing mass on Sunday to sleep in, put in an extra day at work, travel, or any number of things might not seem that big of a deal.  Next, spending time with worldly friends begins to outweigh Christian friends.  As seeming independence and success increase, a person may feel he or she no longer needs God.  They too mistake license for freedom and, taking their gifts from God, leave. 

Over time however they begin to experience life without grace.  The absence of God’s peace, the kindness of His followers, the richness of Scriptures wanes and they begin to hunger.  When hard times hit, without that spiritual connection to God, a person finds themselves starving and desperate.  Where can one turn for help?  A person who uses others, finds themselves being used by others.  Alcohol or drugs lose their ability to satiate and only make matters worse if not out of control.  All former numbing mechanisms – shopping, eating, gaming, gambling, travelling, even over-working cannot help but rather become enslaving.  

When one hits rock bottom, crawling back to God can seem unthinkable and disingenuous.  How could you ask God for help now when you so brazenly rejected Him earlier or slothfully let Him fall by the wayside.  Don’t you deserve to be miserable?  Maybe God is saying “I told you so”?

Jesus tells us otherwise.  Our pride imagines God reacting this way.  Jesus reveals that God is watching the horizon, waiting hopefully, and running to embrace us when we return.  The father in this parable doesn’t accept the demotion suggested by his son.  He embraces him, and raises him back to the dignity he had left behind; transforming him from servant of pigs to a son of the father. 

The older son’s jealousy reveals a hint of the same mistaken view as the younger son.  Although he made the loyal choice, he still considered his brother’s prodigal lifestyle as glamorous.  As a result, it appears to him that his brother was rewarded for leaving so disrespectfully and rewarded for returning so degraded.  However, the father and the younger son know the terrible poverty, anxiety, and shame his choices had brought upon him.  The older son, though working in the fields all those years, also enjoyed the peace and dignity of living as his father’s son.  He did not experience the “glamour” of debauchery nor did he have the impoverishment of it either. 

God loves us as a merciful father.  He pours out blessings in our lives even if we will eventually take them for granted.  A little time on our own however and we realize how much we rely on God’s supernatural aid and relationship.  He assures us that He is waiting anxiously for our return, running to meet us if we come back to Him and offering us the peace and protection of His home.


+ Reflect on the father in the parable looking out at the horizon and seeing his son in the distance. Consider how God is waiting for you with the same longing.

+ Have you ever fallen for worldly deceptions? How did they turn out differently than what you first expected?

+ How does your dignity as God’s son or daughter outweigh and outshine the false beauty of the world?

Practical Application:

+ Read Psalm 51 each day this week.

+ Return to God in the sacrament of Confession.

This reflection is an excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain in His Love available in ebook or paperback. Order a copy and don’t miss a single week!


Order the new set of guided meditations for this year’s Sunday Gospels!


© 2021 Angela M Jendro

Sunday Food For Thought: Living in Denial

3rd Sunday of Lent:   Scripture Readings

Food For Thought

*excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain In His Love

Meditation Reflection: Luke 13:1-9

The mystery of God’s Mercy and Justice extend beyond the limits of our comprehension.  Nevertheless, Jesus exhorts us to never forget that God is both.  God’s mercy makes salvation possible through even the smallest opening of repentance and desire in our hearts.  At the same time, the mercy we experience on a day-to-day basis, the undeserved blessings God showers as a doting Father, can also lead to complacency. 

Mercy means healing and transformation.  In our complacency we can begin to think that we deserve our blessings and forget our sins, or worse forget our blessings as well.  St. Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 10:1-12 that the Israelites, after witnessing the mighty hand of God liberating them from Egypt and walking on dry land through the Red Sea, reverted to doubt, fear, and grumbling in the desert.  In consequence, though liberated by God from Egypt, they died in the desert unable to enter the Promised Land.  God can work mighty deeds in our lives.  His mercy will cut through any sin.  God’s forgiveness is not merely “spiritual dry-cleaning” as Pope Francis has termed it.

God’s work heals and transforms.  This process ought to bear fruits therefore of virtue, sanctity, and love.  In fact, one of the ways St. Teresa of Avila verified the authenticity of a spiritual experience was by the fruits of virtue that accompanied it, especially that of love. 

Jesus warned in today’s Gospel that God’s mercy is inextricably united to God’s justice.  God has given us free will.  He will honor that gift.  If we choose to reject the opportunity for life which comes through healing from sin, then at some point we will die.  God offers us more chances than we deserve but they are limited by time and by our choices.  We cannot receive the fruits of mercy until we choose to acknowledge and repent of our sin. 

Unfortunately, the general cultural view denies the reality of sin, excusing it away.  In consequence, as Pope Francis has preached on Mercy (recall the Year of Mercy 12/8/2015-11/20/2016) he concomitantly needed to preach on sin.  In a First Things article, titled “The Pope’s Theology of Sin”, William Doino Jr. provides context for the relationship between sin and mercy and presents Pope Francis’ insights regarding the process of reaching the first step – acknowledgement and repentance:

“The first part is to recognize the darkness of contemporary life, and how it leads so many astray: Walking in darkness means being overly pleased with ourselves, believing that we do not need salvation. That is darkness! When we continue on this road of darkness, it is not easy to turn back. Therefore, John continues, because this way of thinking made him reflect: ‘If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.’”[i]

Why is seeing our sin so important?  Isn’t it a bit depressing?  If it was analogous to learning you had an incurable cancer, then yes.  But if it’s analogous to learning you had a cancer that could be cured with early treatment, then it’s a huge relief.  If we do not suffer under the oppression of sin, we do not need a redeemer.  When we live in denial of our sins and addictions, we refuse the opportunity for help.  For example, if a person lives in denial of their regular rude or hurtful comments under the rationalization that they are just “speaking their mind”, then they will soon lose relationships and friendships.  If a person lives in denial of their intemperance in spending or greed for possessions beyond their means, they will eventually suffer bankruptcy.  Similarly, if we live a self-centered life rather than a God-centered life, at some point we will experience the harsh reality of our choices. 

After opening our eyes to our sins (with the help of the Holy Spirit), the second part of the process is to take them to Confession; not with an attitude of a quick shower but with a humble, and deeply contrite heart.  The word Pope Francis used to describe this feeling is one we shy away from in our culture – shame.  Yet, when we feel genuine shame for our sin, it also motivates us to change and open ourselves up to receiving help and grace.

The final part of the process he writes, is:

“having absolute faith in God to renew us: We must have trust, because when we sin we have an advocate with the Father ‘Jesus Christ the righteous.’ And he ‘supports us before the Father’ and defends us in front of our weaknesses.” [ii]

Rather than despair at our weaknesses and imperfections, Pope Francis reminds us to put our trust in Christ.  We must acknowledge that we cannot change on our own and allow Jesus to apply His healing grace to our souls – enlightening our minds, strengthening our wills, and fanning the flame of love for God and neighbor.

In conclusion, the mystery of God’s Justice and Mercy requires us to make an active decision to turn away from sin and accept God’s help.  Because grace is freely given by God, fruits of that grace are expected too.  If we do not bear fruit, we can conclude that we have not actually been receptive to grace.  If we do bear fruit, it will evoke feelings of gratitude and love because we know who we are, and from where those virtues truly came.

[i] Doino, William Jr. “The Pope’s Theology of Sin.” First Things. August 2013. 

[ii] Ibid.


+ How has facing your faults, though painful, made you a better person with the help of Christ? How are you different today than in years past?

+ Has God ever “rebuked” you? Did it have a positive effect later or lead to greater freedom?

+ Are there faults you continue to rationalize? Do you treat your spouse, children, or family members with the love they deserve, or do you excuse your behavior by saying they should love you as you are without an effort to change?

+ Have you ever experienced the pain of seeing someone you love self-destructing or suffering due to living in denial of a serious problem? Have you offered help and been rejected?  Consider how this relates to God’s perspective.

Practical Application:

 + Read an examination of conscience and prayerfully reflect on it.  Most parishes have a pamphlet by the confessional with an examination, you can also find some online.  If possible, look for one tailored to your state in life (e.g. single, married, priest, etc.)

+ Choose one sin you have been avoiding admitting and actively root it out through prayer and practicing the opposite virtue. (For example – greed is combatted by generosity, a habit of critical remarks by encouraging words of affirmation, pride by humility, etc.)

This reflection is an excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain in His Love available in ebook or paperback. Order a copy and don’t miss a single week!


Order the new set of guided meditations for this year’s Sunday Gospels!


© 2021 Angela M Jendro

Sunday Food For Thought: Mount Tabor Moments & Transfiguration in Christ

2nd Sunday of Lent:   Scripture Readings

Food For Thought

*excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain In His Love

Meditation Reflection: Luke 9:28b-36

The relationship between Jesus’ divinity and humanity will always be veiled in mystery.  Nevertheless, at times the Lord pulls aside the veil and lets the glory of His divine love for man shine through the humanity of His Son.  Jesus became man to share in our human experience, to walk in our shoes and our struggles, and thereby conquer them for us and in us through grace. As a result, He provides the perfect example for us to follow. 

Today’s Gospel account is instructive for our own faith journey.  Notice how Jesus went up the mountain to pray, a task that required effort and endurance.  He took with Him only a few of His closest companions.  He spent time alone in prayer persisting even when the apostles fell asleep. 

During this solitude Moses and Elijah appeared to Him, representing the Law and the Prophets, both of which Jesus would fulfill.  They spoke with Him about His mission and the Father overshadowed them in a cloud speaking words of confirmation and encouragement. Similar, if we persist in prayer, the Lord will guide and encourage us Himself and through others.

Seeing Christ so transformed, Peter, John, and James didn’t know what to think or do.  Peter offered to pitch tents for everyone, not comprehending what was happening, but trying to at least offer some kind of service.  Christ usually appears humbly in our lives, veiled in His humanity.  He does this so well that we too often react with surprise and an awkward response when we awake to moments of His glory.

This experience of light and glory strengthened Christ as well as the apostles for the upcoming darkness and suffering of Calvary.  It was an experience so profound that they “kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen” (v. 36) Peter and James would still abandon Christ in His direst moment but later repented at their actions. Of the apostles John alone would remain with Jesus at the Cross.  Through darkness, disillusionment, and intense pain, that confidence in God’s call and the experience of His encouragement strengthened them to persevere. 

Conversion tends to be a slow process of turning away from sin and toward Christ daily.  However, during this long road, we sometimes experience a Transfiguration moment wherein God reveals His plan, His mission, or His love for us in a profound and tangible way.  St. Paul’s moment occurred on the road to Damascus.  St. Peter’s occurred when Jesus appeared to him after His resurrection and asked him three times if he loved Him then asked him to feed His sheep.  These moments may confirm our call to the Christian faith, or they may confirm our call to our vocation.

Mother Teresa began her mission to serve the poorest of the poor after a profound experience in prayer.  She had already been a nun for 15 years when, while on a train travelling to the Loreto Convent in Darjeeling for a retreat, she heard the voice of Christ speak to her.  Missionary of Charity and postulator of the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of Mother Teresa, Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk recounts in his book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, that,

“Though she would persist in letting the details remain veiled in silence, she later revealed:

‘It was a call within my vocation.  It was a second calling.  It was a vocation to give up even Loreto where I was very happy and to go out in the streets to serve the poorest of the poor.  It was in that train, I heard the call to give up all and follow Him into the slums.’”[i]

Fr. Kolodiejchuk further records that Mother Teresa considered the date of this mystical experience (September 10, 1946), as the beginning date of, and her entrance into, the Missionaries of Charity. Christ had asked her to “Come, be My light” in the darkness of the poorest of the poor.  Jesus continued to speak with her through a gift of interior locutions into the middle of the next year.  During this period, she presented her concerns to Christ, her happiness serving as a Loreto nun, and her feelings of inadequacy. In her letter to the Archbishop she wrote, “These thoughts were a cause of much suffering – but the voice kept on saying ‘Wilt thou refuse?’”  Her love for Jesus could not refuse Him anything and so she said yes to His request.

Mother Teresa had a “Transfiguration moment”.  She was thirty-six at the time.  The next fifty years of sacrifice and suffering would be motivated by this single call of Christ.  She faced many setbacks, rejections, and challenges both materially as well as spiritually.  She experienced an interior darkness (meaning lacking in light to see) in which she couldn’t see God or feel the closeness of union that she had enjoyed before.  At first, she worried that her own sinfulness had caused the feeling of absence.  On the contrary however, Fr. Kolodiejchuk records that,

“With the help of her spiritual directors, she progressively came to grasp that her painful inner experience was an essential part of living out her mission.  It was a sharing in the passion of Christ on the Cross – with a particular emphasis on the thirst of Jesus as the mystery of His longing for the love and salvation of every human person.”[ii]

As a result, what seemed a loss at first turned out to be an extraordinary gift.  Some saints have been given the stigmata – the physical wounds of Christ.  Mother Teresa was given a share in the suffering of Christ’s heart.  She could not have done this however, without being firmly rooted in her faith in Christ first.  She could look back to that Transfiguration moment on the train and confidently press forward in humility that Christ would bring to perfection the good work He had begun.

When we feel like we can’t see God or we become disillusioned in our vocation or work, rather than ask for another sign, think back to that first call.  Remember your Mt. Tabor and the time you saw Christ transfigured in glory.  When you feel most near to Christ’s experience of darkness on the Cross (“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”), draw strength from your experience with Him during the Transfiguration.

[i] Teresa, M., & Kolodiejchuk, B. Mother Teresa: Come be my light. (New York:           Doubleday, 2007).

[ii] Ibid.


+ Reflect on a time when you felt the presence of Christ or saw His glory. 

  • Have you witnessed a mighty deed of His like the apostles when He calmed a storm or cast out demons?
  • Did you experience His mercy or love like the Prodigal Son or Peter?
  • Were you healed like the blind, lame, and sick in the Gospels?
  • Were you stopped in your tracks and knocked down like St. Paul?
  • Did you hear Him in “a still small voice” like Elijah?

+ Reflect on times of “darkness” when you could not see or feel the presence of Christ?

  • Did it cause you to doubt?
  • Was Christ still with you even though you couldn’t see it at the time?
  • Did it increase your longing for Christ?
  • Did it deepen your connection to His experience on the Cross?

Practical Application:

 + Journal about your Transfiguration moment(s) and keep it to look back on during times of darkness.

+ Encourage or visit someone struggling or suffering.

+ Read the lives of the saints. Read one a day or at least one a week. 

This reflection is an excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain in His Love available in ebook or paperback. Order a copy and don’t miss a single week!


Order the new set of guided meditations for this year’s Sunday Gospels!


© 2021 Angela M Jendro

Sunday Food For Thought: Strength in the Lord

1st Sunday of Lent:   Scripture Readings

Food For Thought

*excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain In His Love

Meditation Reflection: Luke 4:1-13

Directly after Jesus’ Baptism, the inauguration of His transition from His Hidden Life in Nazareth to His public ministry, the Spirit led Him into the desert for a time of preparation first – to fast, pray, and face temptation.  In the same way, the Holy Spirit periodically draws us away from the noise of life and the distractions of the senses to be able to connect with God in a deeper interior way.  In some cases, we choose to place ourselves in quiet reflection by going on a retreat or planning a weekend of solitude.  At other times, the circumstances of life create that solitude for us.

It reminds me of standing ankle-deep in the waves of the ocean on the beach.  As the water cascades over my feet, it carries with it a flurry of sand, shells, seaweed, and teems with life and energy.  Then it recedes, drawing back everything it had just placed before me.  Even the sand around my feet recedes leaving me only two small mounds beneath my arches. 

Times of solitude can feel lonely and a little barren like the desert.  However, they can be opportunities for prayer and preparation for the next mission God has for us when the water will return, replenished and shimmering.

The devil of course hates for us to follow Christ and he especially despises when we build the kingdom of God.  He therefore attempts to derail us in any way possible. He prevents us from God’s work in a myriad of ways tailored to our own personal weaknesses.  The devil distracts us with physical pleasures and the lie that if we don’t satisfy our body’s whims and desires, we will die, or at least be so miserable it’s not worth living. 

During Lent, we face this lie and temptation, strengthening or will over our body and seeking joy in the Lord by giving up sweets, pop, alcohol, snacking, over-sleeping, staying up too late, etc., and replacing them with added prayer or spiritual exercises.

Another tactic favored by the devil is to redirect the trajectory of our work by aiming our talents at building the kingdom of self rather than the kingdom of God.  He tempted Jesus with an enticement of kingship without the cross.  Similarly, Satan attempts to promise us success and happiness without the suffering of the cross, if only we would exchange our faith in God for faith in ourselves. 

Lastly, if we thwart both pitfalls through strength of faith and love, the devil makes his last attack by twisting God’s own words and attempting to skew our relationship with the Lord.  The devil hates the Church because Christ empowered it with His authority to preach truth and correctly interpret Scripture by the power of the Holy Spirit, as well as the grace of Christ to live it.  If we listen to the Holy Spirit through Christ’s Church the devil loses his power to trick us “and will depart for a time”. 

If we pay careful attention, we can learn the tricks of the devil in our own lives.  St. Ignatius of Loyola began to notice this too and developed rules of discernment that have become a classic in the Christian life.  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you grow in self-knowledge and provide the grace to overcome temptation so as to live in the freedom of the kingdom of God and work unhindered for His glory.


+ Spend some time in prayer reflecting on your average day. Consider what things unnecessarily slow you down, distract you, make you late, frustrate your work, or prevent you from getting started on something.   Implement a plan to combat one of them. 

+ Consider the three categories of temptations from the Gospel today and how each one applies to you. This Lent build strength by combatting the pleasure that has a hold over you, the suffering you are trying to avoid or the status you are trying to achieve, and grow in knowledge of your faith to protect you from the deceptions of the devil.

+ Look back on your life and reflect on how God prepared you before raising you up for something. How did you feel beforehand and after?  Have you experienced deeper and richer faith after a time of solitude or difficulty?

Practical Application:

 + Commit to a Lenten resolution even if you fail at it periodically. Give something up and/or do something extra to strengthen your relationship with Christ and weaken your relationship with sin.

+ Read (or listen to the audiobook) C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. It’s short, entertaining, and enlightening.  It’s a satirical work which features letters from an experienced demon to a lesser experienced one about how to tempt humans.

+ Listen to Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s podcasts on St. Ignatius’ discernment of spirits. He presents Ignatius’s ideas in an understandable and relatable way. (

This reflection is an excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain in His Love available in ebook or paperback. Order a copy and don’t miss a single week!


Order the new set of guided meditations for this year’s Sunday Gospels!


© 2021 Angela M Jendro