Our Lenten Journey – Week 1

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First Sunday of Lent (B)

Gospel  (Mark 1: 12-15)

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Thought

The season of Lent could be seen as our time in the wilderness – a kind of annual retreat – forty days to give something up or do something extra to help us to get back into shape as Christians.

Have I decided how to use this special time, or am I still wondering what would help me to come a little closer to the Lord?  If you’re still undecided, why not talk to the Lord about it – ask him to guide and inspire you.

Prayer

God our Father,
as we begin our Lenten journey,
help us to use this time
to become more like your Son, Jesus Christ,
who is Lord for ever and ever.


Our Lenten Journey – Introduction

Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Lord Jesus, when I am sad and depressed,
help me think of you praying in the garden.

Lord Jesus, when I am fearful,
help me to think of you being taken prisoner.

Lord Jesus, when I am ill,
help me to think of you being scourged at the pillar.

Lord Jesus, when I have a headache,
help me to think of you wearing the crown of thorns.

Lord Jesus, when I am tired,
help me to think of you carrying the cross for love of me.

Lord Jesus, when I am humiliated,
help me to think of you being stripped of your garments.

Lord Jesus, when I am in pain,
help me to think of you being nailed to the cross.

Lord Jesus, when I am lonely,
help me to think of you hanging on the cross.

Lord Jesus, when I am dying,
help me to think of you dying on the cross for love of me.

Lord Jesus, help me to remember
how much you suffered for love of me,
and help me to love you more and more.

Amen.

(From CAFOD’s Lenten Meditation)

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Friday after Ash Wednesday

Today’s First Reading (cf. Isaiah 58:1-9) describes the kind of fasting that pleases the Lord:

Thus says the Lord:
‘Look, you do business on your fast-days,
you oppress all your workmen;
look, you quarrel and squabble when you fast
and strike the poor man with your fist.

Fasting like yours today
will never make your voice heard on high.
Is that the sort of fast that pleases me,
a truly penitential day for men?

Hanging your head like a reed,
lying down on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call fasting,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me
– it is the Lord who speaks –
to break unjust fetters and
undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,
and break every yoke,
to share your bread with the hungry,
and shelter the homeless poor,

to clothe the man you see to be naked
and not turn from your own kin?
Then will your light shine like the dawn
and your wound be quickly healed over.

Your integrity will go before you
and the glory of the Lord behind you.
Cry, and the Lord will answer;
call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’

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Thursday after Ash Wednesday

An excerpt from today’s First Reading (cf. Deuteronomy 30:15-20) to ponder:

Moses said to the people… ‘If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin on you today, if you love the Lord your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws, his customs, you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to make your own. But if your heart strays, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish.’

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Ash Wednesday

Today’s First Reading (cf. Joel 2: 12-18) contains an invitation to each one of us from our Lord: “Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart.”

The season of Lent is about responding to that invitation – coming back to our Lord “for he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.”

How do I want to respond to the Lord’s invitation to me this Lent?

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6th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel
Mark 1: 40-45

A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

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Reflection

The Gospel reading reminds us of Jesus’s concern for the sick and for those who are excluded by illness or medical condition from taking a full part in society or the Church.

Jesus demonstrates his power over the dreadful affliction of leprosy by curing the sick man. He was not afraid to reach out and touch the leper. This gesture in itself is quite an amazing thing to do because we so often step back from our brothers and sisters who have a disease or need assistance. Jesus shows how to relate to such people who need our help, and to do it willingly.

After the man had been freed from leprosy, despite being told to keep these events to himself, he started telling his story everywhere – and who can blame him? The twist in the story comes at the end when roles are reversed. The leper would have had to live outside the town because of his condition but can now take his place among others, while Jesus who had moved around freely, preaching his message of salvation now has ‘to stay outside in places where nobody lived’. The act of reaching out to the leper has cost Jesus his freedom, soon it will cost him his life.

(Archbishop Malcolm McMahon)

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Prayer

O God,
in Jesus you stretch out your hand to touch the unclean,
to love the unlovely,
and to draw even the most despised and excluded
into the circle of your beloved disciples and friends.
Embraced by such love,
make us eager to reach out to others
in welcome, love and mercy.
Through Christ our Lord.

(Adapted from ‘Prayers for Sundays and Seasons’ by Peter J Scagnelli)

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TEN IDEAS FOR LENT

Thinking about what to do for Lent?  See this week’s newsletter for ideas for adults and children.


5th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel

Mark 1: 29-39

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

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Reflection

Today’s Gospel completes a picture of Jesus’ ministry: preaching, curing the sick, driving out demons, and then moving on to continue this work in another place. Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus did this throughout Galilee.

Jesus’ compassion and healing of the sick is a sign of the Kingdom of God. The Church continues to extend Christ’s healing presence to others in its ministry to the sick. In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the Church prays for spiritual and physical healing, forgiveness of sins, and comfort for those who are suffering from illness.

In today’s Gospel we also notice the importance of prayer in Jesus’ daily life. Jesus rose early in the morning, removed himself from the crowds, and went to a deserted place to pray. When the disciples found him, he told them that it was time to move on. We believe that in his prayers Jesus found guidance and direction from God. We also bring our decision-making to God in prayer, asking for his guidance and direction in our lives.

(From ‘Loyola Press – A Jesuit Ministry’)

Prayer

Out of your power and compassion, O God,
you sent your Son into our afflicted world
to proclaim the day of salvation.

Heal the broken-hearted;
bind up our wounds,
bring us health of body and spirit
and raise to us to new life in your service.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.