Lenten Reflection: March 29
John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45
The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying, "Master, the one you love is ill." When Jesus heard this he said, "This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, ``Your brother will rise." Martha said, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world." He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Sir, come and see." And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him." But some of them said, "Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?" So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the dead man's sister, said to him, "Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me." And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, "Untie him and let him go." Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
Reflection by Leigha Story, 12th Grade Student
In the Gospel, Jesus learns of the death of his dear friend Lazarus. When he hears this sad news, he weeps for his friend. When Jesus reached Lazarus' sisters, Martha and Mary, Lazarus had already been dead for four days. Then Jesus does something miraculous. He calls out to Lazarus and raises him from the dead. He proclaims, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
As we get closer to the end of Lent, we are reminded through the Gospel of Christ's own passion and death. Lent is a period of waiting and renewal. We wait throughout the forty days and the triduum where we remember Christ's passion, crucifixion, death. And we renew ourselves and prepare our hearts for God's coming by receiving the Sacraments and fasting from meat on Fridays to enter more deeply in the penitential rite of Lent. The significance of this story is not the fact that Lazarus is raised from the dead because ultimately he will die again. The deeper meaning is that Christ does this miracle days before his own death.
Lazarus is a representation of all humanity. And like Lazarus at the end of time, Jesus will return to raise us all from the dead. It is through true belief in Jesus as the Son of God that Lazarus is raised up. Jesus tells us that even after we die, if we lived and believed in him, we will be saved. Sometimes, we don't fully grasp death. We don't lack a fear of death merely because we don't believe in it. We deny death because we fear it. But the Gospel invites us into death - a death to ourselves. We are called to put others' needs ahead of our own. Instead of looking to ourselves to solve our problems, we have to turn to God and share our ambitions and fears. Maybe when someone bumps you while walking along the sidewalk, you don't turn to hateful assumptions. Instead, you remember that the person who bumped you might be going through something personal. Maybe instead of letting clothes you never wear sit in your closet for years to come, you take the extra step and donate those clothes to people who are in need. And maybe, just maybe, we learn to let go and let God. We stop turning away from God and instead embrace the things God is calling us to do.
Lenten Reflection: March 30
Then each went to his own house, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, sir." Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin anymore."
Reflection by Keith Maddox, Mathematics Teacher
This passage seems to say we should forgive others, because we too are sinners. If that was it, though, this passage would be two verses long, and I would be done commenting. So please join with me on this Lenten day, and I will try to show that this passage contains the secret method to solve all of your problems!
To set the scene, Jesus has been teaching in the Temple, and everyone is debating whether he is good or evil. On this day, the naysayers present Him with a condemned girl, a mob, and a question.
I assumed the Pharisees and scribes knew that Jesus, being Jesus, would have to forgive her, and get Himself in trouble. However, up to this point in the Gospel of John, Jesus hasn't even mentioned forgiveness. Instead He's talked about being the Way. He says the religious leaders are hypocrites, but if people listen to Jesus they can have eternal life. Now I think the Pharisees and scribes were simply testing his understanding of Jewish law. The "trap" was just that he would make a mistake.
What does Jewish law say should happen to the girl? Leviticus 20:10 tells us an adulterer and adulteress should both be put to death. However, Deuteronomy 22 says if a woman commits adultery in the city, she is guilty because she could have screamed for help. But if it happened in the country, she is considered innocent because maybe no one was there to hear her.
Apparently, it's not the act of adultery that's the problem; it's the intent. There are in fact many safeguards to make sure only the truly guilty are punished. Deuteronomy 19:15 says you can only accuse someone of a crime if you have two or more witnesses. According to Jewish tradition, you can only listen to the witnesses if each one told the accused that they were about sin before they even did it. Then each witness has to not only watch the accused do the sin, but also watch each other watch the accused do that sin. You then go before a committee of 23 judges (the Sanhedrin), and at least 13 of those judges must decide the accused is guilty. Only then can the accused can be executed, in keeping with Leviticus 20:10.
It appears the Pharisees and scribes were entrusting Jesus with the authority normally given to 23 elders, which makes sense in a way, because Jesus had been telling them for days that they didn't understand the Laws. Presumably, Jesus might get a detail wrong and get corrected by one of the 23. Or he would agree with them, showing that the Pharisees and scribes knew what they were talking about after all.
However, Jesus then does something rare in emotionally charged situations like this. He doesn't argue, he thinks. In an age when paper was specially dried animal skin, "scratch paper" was often sand. Someone would draw in the sand, and then "erase" it when finished. And this is what Jesus does. He doesn't seem to look at the woman or at anyone. As a math teacher, I would like to think he was working on a math problem, or maybe figuring out how much wood his stepdad Joseph would need to make a table. Maybe he was writing out possible speeches he could give to the people there, or recalling scripture.
He could have asked the Pharisees and scribes the details of the case. He could have interviewed the woman. He could have described the flaws in their procedure, or attacked them for being more concerned with winning an argument than doing the right thing with a woman's life. But he just kept working on his problem. He didn't make it personal – except that when disturbed, he came up with a reasonable request to solve the situation and let him get back to work. You can punish her if you haven't sinned yourself… Otherwise, leave me alone. And then he got back to work – and didn't pay attention as they each thought about whether they were qualified to throw the first stone.
If I think someone has wronged me, in the moment I try to convince myself that I'm right and that person is wrong. I think of everything I don't like about that person, and every possible excuse that explains how I could make a reasonable careless mistake. Either that person is completely wrong (they probably are), or I'm completely wrong and without value. The other person has similar thoughts, and generally our problem doesn't get solved until we give each other space to think it over and cool down.
It's different with a math problem. I take my time, and get help or even start over if necessary. If I can't figure it out, I don't really take it too personally. Jesus approaches the problem of the adulteress from this angle, and comes up with a solution that works for everyone involved. Then He lets the Pharisees and scribes think it over (nothing personal, no eye contact even), while He does His own thing. In the calm and the quiet, He and everyone else present found the correct solution for themselves. It seems forgiveness isn't the beginning assumption, but it is a necessary conclusion if we are trying to do the right thing by God.
I pray in this Lenten season we can cool down when challenged by others, and ask God. And then perhaps even more difficult to do, may we not worry about who is right, but instead what is right. When we remove ourselves, our egos, and our prejudices from our problems, we can give them to God, and accept the solution. That's how Jesus solves a problem, anyway, and you can try too!
Lenten Reflection: March 31
Jesus said to the Pharisees: "I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come." So the Jews said, "He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, 'Where I am going you cannot come'?" He said to them, "You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins." So they said to him, "Who are you?" Jesus said to them, "What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world." They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. So Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him." Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.
Reflection by Pamela Cosse, Religion Teacher
"I am going away and you will look for me." How true these words have rung in my ears, especially these past few days and weeks. During this time of uncertainty, watching the world and people I love suffer so greatly, it feels as though Christ has gone away… and we are all desperately looking for him. A few weeks ago when the archbishop announced that all Mass would be suspended, my heart was completely shattered. I never really understood how much I needed the precious Body and Blood of Jesus to sustain me until it was all of a sudden taken away.
I have spent the past few weeks looking for Christ, trying to find some gleam of joy and hope amidst all of the chaos surrounding the world. I spent many days wondering where He could be and how He could leave me in a time like this. After reflecting on today's Gospel, I came to realize that even though we cannot receive Christ in the Eucharist at this time, He is here. Even though it feels like God has abandoned us, He is here. As we walk our neighborhoods in the afternoons, He is there, in every smile that passes us by. When we feel overwhelmed in the changes happening to our daily lives, He is there. In the craziness of being stuck inside all day, God shows up. As we sit on our sofas to watch Mass via Facebook, God is present. It is time for us to slow down and look for Him in the simplicity of life. So, where are you finding God right now?
Lenten Reflection: April 1
Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, 'You will become free'?" Jesus answered them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father's presence; then do what you have heard from the Father." They answered and said to him, "Our father is Abraham." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!" So they said to him, "We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me."
Reflection by Hannah Lew, 10th Grade Student
I constantly find myself questioning if God is walking with me through my life. Everyone has always told me that he is and that he will never leave my side, but in some moments, especially during hardships, I find it difficult to see that God is by my side. This gospel helps me to see that no matter what trial I face or cross I bear, God will protect me and help me through it.
The reading also allows me to visualize my hardships in life and how God helps me through them. Just like he protects the men from the furnace, he protects me from evils and temptations that I might not even be able to see. While the trials I face might not be a literal huge fire, they can be just as painful, whether emotionally or physically.
I strive to be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3) in the way that they blindly trusted God to protect them against their prosecutors. When asked to defend my faith with words, I could easily back up my faith and beliefs; however, in practice, I wish that I could be more like the men from the gospel and just throw all of my trust onto God. They prove that no matter what the challenge or punishment may be, God can overcome anything.
Lenten Reflection: April 2
Jesus said to the Jews: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death." So the Jews said to him, "Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, 'Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.' Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, 'He is our God.' You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham, your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad." So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM." So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
Reflection by Denna Cheramie, Assistant Principal
Reflection: Who Do You Think You Are!
"Who do you make yourself out to be?" These are fighting words! The Jews are clearly challenging Jesus in this scripture passage. They did not know Him. They could not comprehend the depth of who He was. They were afraid of Him. And, so they challenged Him. Can you blame them? They were regular human beings speaking face-to-face with Jesus - with God! That is mind-boggling!
Even with 2000 plus years of miracles, testimonies, experiences, it is still mind-boggling for me to comprehend the depth of our Lord. By my faith, I believe that one day I too will be standing face-to-face with God. It is my hope and my prayer that when that day comes, God will glorify me and allow me to enter into His Kingdom. As I go through my days here on earth, I may try to glorify myself in my mind. Yes, I attend Mass on Sundays and put money in the collection. Yes, I believe in God, and in Jesus, and in the Holy Spirit. Yes, I try to help others and I try not to judge. Yet, when the day comes, as scripture tells us, "if I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing." What will matter on that day is what God thinks of me. He will look into my heart. He will know my thoughts and motivations. He may even ask, "Who do you make yourself out to be?" On that day, I pray that He finds a clean heart and a "good and faithful servant." I hope I hear what Jesus was trying to tell the Jews so many years ago - Amen, Amen, Denna, "you have kept my Word and you will never see death." You will live with me forever is my Kingdom of heaven.
Lenten Reflection: April 3
The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?" The Jews answered him, "We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God." Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, 'You are gods"'? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and Scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I do not perform my Father's works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, "John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true." And many there began to believe in him.
Reflection by Kristen Schaeffer, Social Studies Teacher
In these crazy times, information and warnings are bombarding us like a cacophony of sounds creating an unpeaceful state of mind. Reason tells us to separate and hide and Lent is a season of reflection and stillness. However, I am having trouble finding the time to be still in my head and my heart. My prayers are filled with intentions and worry and my hands feel useless. This reading from John feels perfect at this time. Jesus stands ready to be stoned and yet he teaches what I believe is one of the most beautiful parts of being Catholic, "believe in the works." In this time of fear and confusion we can do as Jesus did and show through our works that we are children of God and want to share his love through our actions. This is not a bold, boasting way of calling attention to our faith, but an action experienced by others who may one day feel changed by it. We live this every time we practice Catholic Social teachings. Each tenant of Catholic Social teaching tasks us to perform works so that others can experience the love of God through our actions. In a time of uncertainty, God is challenging us to show through our actions that His love is still present through the holy church community and a welcome beacon to those who may have trouble seeing His love for us.
Lenten Reflection: April 4
Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, "What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation." But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish." He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to kill him. So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples. Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before Passover to purify themselves. They looked for Jesus and said to one another as they were in the temple area, "What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?"
Reflection by Gabriela Galeano, Science Teacher
Today's Gospel sets the stage for tomorrow, Palm Sunday—the beginning of Holy Week. We have all encountered numerous Holy Weeks throughout our lives. Although we know how the story unfolds, it is still riveting and painful. Yes, the resurrection is coming, but the journey there is dreadful. While this passage is uncomfortable to read about our Lord and Savior, it serves as a stark reminder of what is coming through Caiaphas' words, "one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish." Little did he know he would be prophesying Jesus' purpose—to die for us and our transgressions so we may have eternal life.
During this upcoming week, we have a choice: to walk alongside Jesus' suffering or go about each day as we normally do. Will we allow fear, people-pleasing, or our own ego to keep us from following Jesus when we know we should? Will we look the other way and let our Lenten promises and fasting go? Will we take time to walk with Jesus? Or will we spend most of our time coloring eggs, buying candy, and preparing our Easter meals? I invite you to spend a little of your time each day this week reading the daily Lenten scriptures and reflections about the suffering, sacrifice, death, and resurrection of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.