Lenten Reflection: March 22

John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. 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." 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." 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, and the one speaking with you is he." He said, "I do believe, Lord," and he worshiped him.

Reflection by Philip Garside, Religion Teacher

John Ch. 9 begins with a simple question from the disciples. "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."

This Lent has proven especially hard for Catholics around the world.  The threat of plague, the closure of Churches, the closure of the Vatican itself, physical distancing from loved ones, and anxiety about the future all make us wonder, why all this suffering?  Today's Gospel asks this same inexhaustible aporia. Jesus' answer is extremely hard to swallow. Sometimes, at least, we suffer to show the glory of God. As the gospel shows, it is hard to see how suffering may be a demonstration of the glory of God while one is bearing this suffering or witnessing suffering.  But once the glory of God is demonstrated, the sufferer and those who believe can see. For those who were free of suffering and/or do not have a relationship with God, it may still be near impossible to see.

Jesus gives his answer to the question, "why do people suffer?" knowing that his death will be the greatest demonstration of this maximum, suffering can show the Glory of God.  His passion and death lead to the offer of universal salvation. His suffering leads to Easter Glory. Our trial may or may not be over by Easter, but it is Christian hope that keeps us looking beyond easy answers so that, like the man born blind, Jesus can lead us to true sight.

Lenten Reflection: March 23

John 4: 43-54

At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place. When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves had gone to the feast. Then he returned to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, who was near death. Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe." The royal official said to him, "Sir, come down before my child dies." Jesus said to him, "You may go; your son will live." The man believed what Jesus said to him and left. While the man was on his way back, his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live. He asked them when he began to recover. They told him, "The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon." The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live," and he and his whole household came to believe. Now this was the second sign Jesus did when he came to Galilee from Judea.

Reflection by Maris Nixon, Religion Teacher

One of my favorite quotes is by St. John Paul II where he says, "In the designs of providence, there are no mere coincidences." NOTHING is by accident. The Lord is always at work. Even the things that may seem as a "hindrance" or as an "inconvenience" in our lives are part of our stories for a reason. I can't help but think of the situation we are all in right now with the coronavirus going around. I don't think that it is a coincidence that the Lord would allow us to experience this time of "social distancing" and solitude during Lent. While it may be disappointing and frustrating that events are canceled, classes are online, and the pace of life feels different, I can't help but sense that Jesus has something sweet for us up his sleeve. This is a time for purification and drawing near to the Lord in the desert. What a beautiful opportunity! He just wants us to be close. We have to trust that the Lord's WILL bring a greater good from this situation than if it had never happened. It says in Romans 8:28, "God makes all things work together for our good." Do we trust that he is good? Do we trust that he will provide for what we need? Do we trust that he loves us? These are simple questions we must ask ourselves when we are tempted to lose hope. 

In the Gospel today, Jesus encounters a man who is seeking for his dying son to be healed. Jesus tells the man, "You may go; your son will live." The man, in great faith, believes him and heads back to his son. On his way back he encounters his slaves, and they tell him that his son will live. The man asked them when this happened and they replied, "The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon." The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live." This is crazy! I can imagine the father being in awe of the Lord's timing. His son wasn't just healed on his own, but was healed by the Lord's word. The Lord knew that this little detail would matter to the man, and this detail would affect his faith. The Lord wants to do the very same thing with each of us He desires to connect with us and to engage in a real relationship. He wants to surprise us in the mundane of our ordinary lives. 

I challenge you to let your lives be interrupted by the Lord's providence. Pray and watch. He never disappoints. 

Lenten Reflection: March 24

John 5: 1-16

There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be well?" The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me." Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your mat, and walk." Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, "It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat." He answered them, "The man who made me well told me, 'Take up your mat and walk.'" They asked him, "Who is the man who told you, 'Take it up and walk'?" The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there. After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, "Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you." The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath.

Reflection by Kristen Hode, English Teacher

"Playing by the (Good) book"

Talk about perfect timing.

Who would've ever imagined that Jesus's question, "Do you want to be well?" would be more pertinent than it is right now. The current public health crisis that has blanketed the globe has left so many people with a desperate yearning to "be well"- some physically, others emotionally and spiritually. This piece of scripture is relatively clear: As soon as Jesus asks an ill man if he wishes to be well and tells him to "rise, take up your mat, and walk", the man is healed. Sounds like another incredible miracle by Jesus, yes? Of course, but the Jews nearby who saw the healed man carrying his mat weren't amused. How dare this man carry his mat on the Sabbath, and how dare Jesus suggest it; don't they both know better? So scandalous. But here's the thing...I think this passage reminds us that sometimes it's more important to follow the spirit of the law than the letter of the law.

We are experiencing a situation right now that is forcing us as a community to be flexible. We have watched events get cancelled, travel be suspended, and schools close; "rules" have changed before our eyes, but there is no greater rule than the law of love. Jesus reached out to an ill man and offered him an invitation to be well and to follow him. Jesus didn't turn a blind eye to the man since it was the Sabbath because there is never a time that is not appropriate to offer help to someone in need, whether it's due to the threat of a physical illness or not. And so many people are currently in need of help, reassurance, correct information, etc. Be like Jesus- ask for the grace to look through Lenten eyes to notice who among your family, friends, students, co-workers, or neighbors needs you. Who do you know who might have a "mat" that's in need of picking up? Who's waiting for you to reach out your hand? Who's most in need of Jesus's care and compassion? None of us know just how or when God will choose to use us to do His will, but the only guarantee is that He will use us if we allow Him to. So for the next few weeks especially, and even after Lent is over, play by the "Good" book. In the end, it's the only set of rules that will matter.

Lenten Reflection: March 25

Luke 1: 26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end."

But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

Reflection by Beth Ann Simno, Principal

The story of the Annunciation is one we all know. It is the first Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. We can learn so much from Mary from this gift to her God. We can experience through Mary true, sincere, loving prayer as we ponder as she did, be present to God as she was, and be so at home with God as she was. Mary was a person who prayed and her prayer was not only speaking to God from her heart, but also listening to God with the ears of her heart. Mary was so close to God that she questioned the angel, "How can this happen since I have no relations with a man?" She knew God the Father, the "Most High," and now knows that the Holy Spirit will come upon her. Her Son will be the Son of God. Mary's love for God was so strong, and her prayer such a part of her life that she did not hesitate to question God. She said yes to God. "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word." 

As I think about what is happening in our lives today with the Covid-19 health crisis, I feel quite sure many are questioning God as to how can this happen. Did God will this virus on His people throughout the world? We all know that He did not. But, I do believe that through this crisis God is calling us to live like Mary who was accepting of His will. We need to be accepting of what our city, state, and national government are asking us to do. We need to pray like Mary. We need to be open to God's messages. 

Just as Mary talked to God we must do the same. We must talk things over with God until we figure out what God is asking of us. When we hear His message may we have the grace, love, and courage to say, yes God. During this crisis in our lives we know we will be alright because we know what Mary heard from the angel about her cousin Elizabeth, "Nothing is impossible with God." 

May God continue to bless us all.

Lenten Reflection: March 26

John 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews: "If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John's. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life. "I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope. For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?"

Reflection by Lindsey Cheramie, Religion Teacher

Jesus is talking to the crowds and questioning why they do not know who he is. The Jewish people at the time believed in John and "rejoiced in his light" and placed their hope in Moses. In today's time we struggle to get others to see us for who we really are. We want others to listen but if their hearts are not open and willing to receive our love, they cannot see what we have to offer.  We all want validation, support, and understanding. So why do we go out of our way to bring others down when the world already does that? We can find hope, love, and strength through our relationship with God, family, and friends.

"I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him". We are so quick to judge and assume things of people when we only know what is on the surface. We need to open our heart, ears, and mind to God and listen to Jesus' words to help us be the person we need to be.

Lenten Reflection: March 27

John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, "Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from." So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, "You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me." So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.

Reflection by Lorraine Steigner, 10th Grade Student

Learning about the Gospel as a child, I remember always being frustrated with the actions of the Israelites that rejected Jesus. Why, if they were waiting for a Messiah for so long, did they cast Him aside? How could they not see that He was bringing them salvation? Reading today's Gospel, where the Israelites debate Jesus's identity as the Messiah, I was again reminded of that frustration I felt all those years ago. But I realized that maybe I should not be relating to this Gospel as a 21st-century student, or even as Jesus himself: maybe I should be relating to the Israelites debating Jesus's identity even as He stands before them.

It may seem hard to see Jesus in our everyday lives on a regular basis, never mind with all the chaos and confusion currently happening in the world under COVID-19 right now. Just like the Israelites, we can get too caught up in the minute details to even realize His presence. Paying attention to detail is very rarely a bad thing, but it can distract us from the core message Jesus is trying to send us. I think that this Gospel is trying to tell us that often Jesus is right in front of us, and we are too caught up debating the specifics to notice him. In short: stop overthinking it and let Him come to you!

Lenten Reflection: March 28

John 7:40-53

Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, "This is truly the Prophet." Others said, "This is the Christ." But others said, "The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David's family and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?" So a division occurred in the crowd because of him. Some of them even wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why did you not bring him?" The guards answered, "Never before has anyone spoken like this man." So the Pharisees answered them, "Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed." Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them, "Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?" They answered and said to him, "You are not from Galilee also, are you? Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee." Then each went to his own house.

Reflection by Chad Howat, Administrative and Academic Assistant

Our God is a God of surprises! 

In today's reading, we see a division among the Israelites who were unable to recognize Jesus as the Messiah because of their preconceived ideas of the origins of a messiah.  Repeatedly in the scripture we read about how God is larger than our limited rational capacity, expectations, and imagination. Think of Abraham, Paul, Mary Magdalene and most certainly the Blessed Mother.   As people of faith, they accepted a life of surprise and astonishment, as we should.

Yet in my life, I have built walls of certainty, prejudice, and judgment, and often I do not allow for the God of surprise to break through.

This quote from Pope Francis helps me: "Fasting makes sense if it really chips away at our security, and as a consequence, benefits someone else..."

This Lent I pray to rediscover the beauty of fasting — enough of a fast to take me out of my comfort zone. Fasting is voluntarily abstaining from something for a limited amount of time for a greater good.  Fasting can teach us gratitude, humility, and delayed gratification. It builds solidarity with the poor and suffering; it strengthens the will. Fasting can take many forms. Fasting from food can be helpful because it is so visceral, but also consider fasting from television, smartphones, or social media.  Allow the beauty and joy of friendship to set the tone for the day, and be ready to accept the God of surprise and astonishment.



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