Lenten reflections 2018 - 01

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Sunday - First week of Lent

 

Genesis 9: 8-15 1 Peter 3: 18-22 Mark 1: 12-15

 

LENT 

seat of transformation and life,an invitation 

to enter and rest in thissacred, greening space of renewal.

Grace-filled, graceful the dance of the Beloved

awaiting not enforcing,gentle not controlling,

inviting the loved one to enter the desert plains -

stark in its purity;blazing in its truth.

 

Lured into Love -a journey of risk taking,

the weak are strengthened,the mighty humbled

in succumbing to transparency,holy, sacred ground of becoming.

 

This journey of transformation - God’s oasis;

a spring alive and vibrant;God’s very vitality and presence 

a blazing furnace -cosmic receptacle of

my deepest longings,  my darkest thoughts and actions

my life, desperately clinging to  hope, threadbare from lack of use.

 

In this journey of desert sands of inner toil;

of a merciless sun beating down on ego striving

for centre stage, for the manna of control,

for the nectar of pleasure.

Oasis moments this journey of letting go,

ofgiving in to trust and hope,treading softly the peaceful ground of being.

 

Lent - a dance

of insight and of repentance,

of inspiration and of  transformation,

of letting go and of becoming

one with the Dancer eading each and all 

to the still point within -   centre-space of the universe.

 

Lent

an opportunity to‘fast from words that pollute,

feast on phrases that create life;fast from discontent,

feast on gratitude and joy;fast from anger,

feast on understanding and compassion;fast from worry,

feast on trust and faith;fast from suspicion,

feast on truth and reality;fast from idle gossip,

feast on purposeful silence and acceptance.”

(Redemptorists - adapted)

 

Lent - is a spaceto stop a few minutes each day

to look at our lives

tolisten to the murmurings of the Spirit

speaking of God’s eternal grace and mercy;

calling you and I to abundance -

a state of well-being beyond our imagination.

 

Yet, freedom is the music to this dance -

freedom to choosefreedom to be.

Choosing this safari into desert changes, opens our being

andFulness -

now free can givethat emptiness may be filled.

One in the dance of willing burningin the Fire of Love,

willing diminishing continues

till Self knows;till Self isSacred Unity.

 

Breath Prayer:

 

I breathe in:      ‘God of my heart’

 

I breathe out:    ‘Draw me into your heart’

 

 


 

 Monday - First week of Lent

 

(Leviticus 19: 1-2; 11-18; Matthew 25: 31 -46)

‘And the upright will say to him inreply, 'Lord when did we see you
hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you drink?

And the King will answer,

‘In truth I tell you, inso far as you did this to one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me’.

This is really a tough one. "Be holy, for I, your God am holy." BE HOLY! Bethe person God created us to Be- ......................................... Holy - Whole - fully alive, fully awake, fully mindful. We believe God to be present everywhere - around us, above us, within us, within all people. We are the living, walking tabernacles ofthe Divine presence, created in the image ofGod.

When we take time to touch into the Divine present in our deepest self, we touch into the God ofJustice, of mercy of compassion, of life. Standing in this space, holy ground of Be-ing, we see our connectedness to the other - 'We are all part ofone body' (St Paul). So we can understand the saying ofJesus - 'When you did this to one ofthe least ofthese brothers and sisters ofmine, you did it to me. Every morning we are given time - a gift of 86 000 seconds. Every night the seconds not used are cancelled, never to be recalled. Lost are the opportunities to birth joy though a smile, dignity through a greeting, hope through listening. 'I shall pass this way but once'. Can I today give thanks to God for my manifold gifts by be-ing God's word to those who walk with me today?

 

Breath Prayer:

 

I breathe in:      'Free me God'

 

I breathe out:    'That I may be for the other'

 

 


 

 Tuesday - First week of Lent

 

(Isaiah 55 10-11;Matthew 6: 7-15)

`Lord, teach us how to pray'

A bumper sticker: 'Prayer - Don't give God instructions: Just report for duty' is quite apt for today's reflection. Prayers are not just words. They are invitations to alter reality radically. God spoke and the world came into being. The Word of God became flesh and dwelled amongst us. And Mary said: 'Yes, be it done unto me according to your Word' and history took on a new face. When we speak words, especially words of God, we set something awesome in motion

When we pray - not mindless recitation of words or self centred focussing - it is the Spirit, who knows the heart of God and our heart too, praying in us. Once our words are spoken with integrity the word of God goes forth and does not return to God void. It does only God's will, achieving the end for which it was sent. It sinks deep into the ground of hearts and into history itself. It will nourish those who eat it and joy in sharing it with others. This is the word of the Law on Sinai,a word which every Jew believes still hangs in the atmosphere of the world, waiting to be heard by those with open hearts.

The vitality and power of a word spoken has far reaching consequences, very much like a stone dropped into water - the circles grow ever outward till it has reached its banks. Prayer does not change God, but it changes the one who offers it. Prayer makes us disappear into God and Lent is a time for serious practise to speak words enfleshed with love and peace; with joy and a sense of wellbeing.

 

Breath Prayer:

 

I breathe in:         ‘I am a beam of Love’   

 

I breathe out:       ‘Connecting with those to whom I send Love’

 

 


 

 

 

  

Wednesday - First week of Lent

 

(Jonah 3: 1-10; Luke 11: 29-32)

`And Jonah preached and Nineveh repented; and look, there is
someone greater than Jonah here'
.

With the aid of the media we are exposed to the signs of the times - the need for Justice, employment, equality, dignity of all peoples, etc. Chaos on the road is diminished when we obey the signs which show speed limits, stop, go and yield signs. But what about the signs along the road of our spiritual life? In today's Gospel Jesus pointed out such signs. One such sign is that of Jonah, the other, the sign of the Son of Man. Both signs say, 'Reform your life'

The sign of Jonah was the image of one man trying to awaken the pagan Ninevites to the spiritual facts of life. Jonah was reticent in fulfilling this call of God. One can understand this if we look a little into the history of the time. The Ninevites were the hated Assyrians, who destroyed the ten northern tribes of the Hebrews and rained widespread destruction upon Judah (2 Kings 17 & 19). Nevertheless, these people, among the cruelest in biblical history, allowed themselves to be converted by Jonah. Yet the voice of Jesus whose wisdom is greater than that of Solomon and Jonah is not being heard.

The signs of God come to us in many ways - the voice of the beggar, the news on TV, the restlessness and void within, the yearning for happiness and well-being that tears at our hearts. Jesus has a personal message for each of us. Will we stop, become silent enough to hear his Word of compassion?

 

Breath Prayer:

 

I breathe in:      'I open my heart'

 

I breathe out:    'Touch me Jesus with your presence'

 

 


 

  

Thursday - First week of Lent

 

(Esther 12: 14-16; Matthew 7: 7-12)

 

‘Ask and it will be given to you; search and you will find;
knock andthe door will he opened to you’.

The book of Esther is entirely devoted to the story of a woman who saves her people who are in mortal danger. She is bound to her people more than to her own life and her prayer is simple and clear: 'Save us by your power, and help me, who am alone and have no one but you, OLord. You know all things.' Her trust is complete and she passes her situation into the 'hands' of the God of her ancestors. So she is heard, and answered and thus saves her people.

In the gospel reading Jesus speaks about prayer, about our attitude in approaching God. Like Esther our trust in God, which is complete, enables us to approach God in faith, hope and confidence because of who God is. God can close doors that no one can open or open doors inaccessible to others. We live in the River of Abundance - God the Source of our being. All is available to us if we but believe. When approaching God with gratitude for the gifts and blessings already part of our lives, we open ourselves to receive even greater abundance. The prayer to God reflects back upon us as a divine command to become the answer to our prayer. Become the change we desire. If we pray for peace, be peaceful; if for justice then practise justice; if for healing then live a holistic way of life. Our prayer sets in motion an openness permitting God to act without violating human freedom. Imagine the wave of transformation that can take place when a whole community, a parish or a nation prays, with integrity on behalf of those in need.

 

Breath Prayer:

 

I breathe in:      'Oh God, my Father/my Mother'

 

I breathe out: 'I entrust this .........  (need/situation) to you'

 

 


 

  

Friday - First week of Lent
(Ezekiel 18: 21-28; Matthew 5: 20-26)

‘So then, if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there
remember that someone has something against you, leave your
offering andgo and be reconciled first then come back and present
your offering'.

A professor one day told his students that he had an exercise for them, very different to their normal lectures. He asked them to get in touch with their anger and frustrations. Then he handed them some darts and asked them to hit the blank faces on the chart. The students were very energetic and soon all the darts found their spot. There was much laugher as they watched the professor pull out the many darts. He looked at them intently as he turned the paper round and the students became very quiet when they saw that on the reverse side was a picture of Christ crucified.

All holiness begins with life, protection of it, appreciation for it, and nurturing it. Anger, contempt, abusive language, expression of violence creates separation, and deeply wounds not only the person to whom it is directed but also the perpetrator. It not only severs relationships, but adds to the negativity saturating the environment. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said: 'If we would read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each one's life a sorrow and a suffering enough to disarm all hostility'. Murder, rage, hate, contempt and abuse are founded on seeing others as so distinct from us that we make them unrecognizable as human beings. We pray: 'Our Father'. All belong to this Family. Have I left someone outside - in the cold? Leave your offering.....................

 

Breath Prayer:

 

I breathe in: 'With God, I touch my............ (feeling)'

 

I breathe out: 'With peace, gentleness (whatever you need)'

 

 


 

 

 

Saturday - First week of Lent
(Deuteronomy 26: 16-19; Matthew 5: 43-48)

 

`But I say this to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you'.

Teresa of Avila writes: 'Prayer is not spending time with the Lord. It is partly that - but if it ends there, it is fruitless'. No, prayer is dynamic. Authentic prayer changes us - unmasks us, strips us, indicates where growth is needed. Authentic prayer never leads to complacency, but needles us, makes us uneasy at times. It leads us to true self-knowledge, to true humility.

There is no way that I can truly love my enemies or pray for those who persecute me unless I have a personal relationship with God. When this relationship is authentic, the mercy of God touches us and when immersed in that mercy, we cannot help but radiate and pass on this mercy and love of God to whoever comes our way. Jesus does not ask that we love our enemies as we love our closest friends. That's impossible. He means an active feeling of kindness even for enemies, wanting the highest good for them - and even going out to them. Our love for our enemies doesn't have to be of the heart, but of the will. To love them needn't be an emotional experience.

It is good to remember that to be a Christian isn't only to be a genuinely good human being. Even pagans do good to those who are good to them. In our dealings with other people, both friends and enemies, we are to be big-hearted, large-minded, wide open, and generous. To imitate such generosity is to rise and soar with Christ.

 

Breath Prayer:

 

I breathe in: 'With God, I touch........ (person I am at odds with)'

 

I breathe out: 'With peace, gentleness (whatever is needed)'

 

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