Lenten reflections 2018 - 03

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Sunday - Third week of Lent
(Exodus 20:1-17 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 John 2:13-25)


A woman - quite estranged from God, angry because she felt that He was not there to protect her when, she as a little girl, so desperately needed him - went on a weeks retreat. In one of her meditations she was asked to sit in the room of her heart. In the course of this experience she `saw' Christ there with her. She writes: ‘Jesus gazed round and took in all that made up me. He looked through all the treasures I held up to him and he appreciated the jewels of my life, and I was grateful, knowing full well the source of these gifts’.


‘He looked upon my love, goodwill, flames of truth, sacred moments, journeys of hurt and healing and his light grew as he steadily gazed at me. His countenance shone as love beamed through him lighting up the whole of my heart, leaving no shadow or shade. Then his compassion pierced the mists that covered the things I'd rather hide. With gentle purpose he searched them out: success, control, the need to impress others, forces that bind me. Yet another pile his gaze revealed - self-centredness, aloofness, lack of trust, apathy, despair, anger, coldness, unforgiveness, bad language. And still holding me in his gaze he said: `Thandeki, in me you do not need these. In our relationship there is no room for them.' Firmly, yet gently and without a trace of judgment, he asked: 'Thandeki, give them, each one, to me.' And so I placed into his wounded hands 'distrust' and wondered what he would do. He took `distrust', self deception, and all the other shadow areas, upon himself as on the cross, he took it into himself. The horror thereof pierced my soul in searing pain and bitterly I wept, crying out: 'No Jesus - don't! But he replied: 'Unless I do this you can have no part of me – you cannot drink of the water which will turn into a spring inside of you, welling up into eternal life.’

'I pleaded for forgiveness as one by one I handed everything over to him until all was done.

He knelt beside me and embraced me, holding me till the sobbing ceased. He breathed over me and I began to feel his peace penetrating and filling the emptied spaces within. In that moment of intimacy there welled up within - a deep sense of well-being - a cleansed and liberated feeling. Together we rose and gazed at each other, drinking in deeply the love of the other'. (Little Girl Arise - Umlilo)

The writer of Exodus reminds us of the ways in which we need to act as God’s people. This we can do when we tap into the Fountain of Water at the core of our being – that space where God resides. Today we are called to dig into our souls and hearts and let ourselves be seen, sinners and yet disciples, called to salvation and rejoicing. We are the living wells of God's divine presence, of his spring of love and healing. What attitude, mindset, unforgiveness prevents the Spring within to cascade forth in streams of life - not only for ourselves but for all those around us?

We know that God said: I do not want your sacrifices and fasting. Rather God whishes us to offer him to walk humbly, act justly and to love with compassion and kindness. 


Breath Prayer

(Jesus stands before you - what do I need to place inhis outstretched hands?) Bring to consciousness the thirst of my heart

I breathe in:    'Jesus, I place...... (whatever you called to mind) ....' 

I breathe out:     'Into your hands.'




Monday - Third week of Lent
(2 Kings 5: 1-5; Luke 4: 24-30)


`Like Elijah and Elisha, Jesus is not sent to the Jews only'.


The old proverb that no prophet gains acceptance in his own place had become a theme that highlighted God's boundless compassion as He continued to send prophets to a rebellious people. The people of Nazareth failed to understand that with God, love begins wherever human need is found, including among non-Jews. Jesus used, as an example, how their favourite prophets, Elijah and Elisha did more miracles among Gentiles in foreign countries than in Israel. By referring to this he abolished the monopoly on God's mercy which his Jewish audience thought they had.

A question was asked at a St Vincent de Paul meeting. 'Should we continue to give food to those people who use the little money they had on drink, leaving the children hungry?' In continuing giving food to such families, do we entrench a bad habit or do we give witness to love and respect? When beggars come to the door do we look at his/her dirty and torn clothes or can we see beyond the 'cover of the book' and recognize in this person the presence of God, a longing to experience a sense of dignity that he/she may never have experienced? Are our doors open to Catholics only or are we open to all persons in need? Can we extend to all with whom we are privileged to travel honour, respect and time? We share in the role of prophet, priest and king. Jesus asks that we leave our comfortable and controllable space and walk with him to strange places and find intimacy among strangers in order to meet God, the real God, not our version of who we want God to be.


Breath Prayer:Call to mind the 'beggars' you meet on a daily basis

I breathe in:      'God's deep love and respect'

I breathe out:    'I breathe it over each in turn'




Tuesday - Third week of Lent
(Daniel 3: 25, 34-43; Matthew 18: 21-35)


'Lord, how often must I forgive          Not seven times, I tell you, but
seventy-seven times'.


Life is a mystery and we who live this life are truly indefinable in our essence. Two persons can have the same or similar experience, the one will become embittered and imprisoned, the other - in time - will move through the event and be liberated, free and full of vitality. Why the difference? Could it have anything to do with being unforgiving?

Forgiveness means letting someone back into your heart. This is ncsentimental act. It asks nothing but all of our love to extend the grace of healing. Forgiveness is not just a feeling, or condescension, or sellrighteousness - nor is it conditional. I will forgive if           Forgiveness is showing mercy, letting go of resentment and the need to take revenge If we hang onto hurts, they'll eventually destroy us. When forgiveness is given from the heart we can let go of these hurts and know the peace that only Christ can give us. Forgiveness is accepting people as they arc - they have to accept us too - with our spots, warts and love. So it means taking a risk - opening ourselves to hurt. It may be easy to forgive once or twice - but when it becomes the norm of life - it requires deep faith,love and trust. We are called to make forgiveness a way of living which can only happen in a deepened relationship with the God of our lives. Of course forgiveness means accepting graciously an apology. To erris human, to forgive divine. St John Chrysostom said that nothing makes us more like God than to be always willing to forgive. It's afearful thought that others may only see God as they see Him in us.

Breath Prayer

I breathe in:     'Christ's creative and gentle Light'

I breathe out:    'Permeating who/what needs to be forgiven'




Wednesday - Third week of Lent
(Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5-9; Matthew 5: 17-19)


‘I amthe light of the world, says the Lord, anyone who follows me
will have the light of life'.


Moses stands before the people prior to their entrance into the promised land. He tells them to hear and observe the Law that they may give evidence to their wisdom. He asks them to be light and hope, as they live in the presence of God, witnessing to the power of God in their relationships, their governing style, the way they make decisions and the way they live their lives. But how do we learn such obedience?

How do we reconcile this kind of life giving law in a world that cries out against the violence and injustice of a Holocaust that happened in nations that claimed to believe in God, in Jesus, in the Trinity? How do we merge the law of hope, with the escalating violence in our streets, schools, and families, against nations contemplating the use of nuclear weapons? Why do we allow prejudice, hatred, and viciousness to persist in politics, economy, in our places of work - within my family? Why do we let fear and insecurity and lack of trust control our lives and decision making? And, and, and    ? Could it be because we have turned away from God, turned our back on the divine laws given to us? Have we allowed sin to reign, a darkness that pervades and destroys the freedom, life, hope and sense of well being that all people are meant to enjoy? God's laws are life giving because God wants us to experience fullness of being. So what are we to do? Today hear the words of Jesus: ‘I am the light of the world, says the Lord, anyone who follows me will have the light of life'.


Breath Prayer:

I breathe in:      'Jesus, Risen Christ'

I breathe out:    'Fill me with the light of your law'




Thursday - Third week of Lent

 (Jeremiah 7: 23-28; Luke 11: 14-23)

 `Every kingdom divided against itself is heading for ruin, and a

household divided against itself collapses'.


Sometimes it is frustrating that, no matter how hard we try to do what is right, someone is going to misinterpret our motives, misunderstand our actions, misjudge our actions. Today Luke speaks about the experience in just such a situation, however, it is on a very serious level. His whole mission was being twisted and turned inside out. Jesus' use of power announces that he belongs to and serves God alone. His mission is proclaiming the Kingdom of God, making the blind see, the dumb to speak - both physically and spiritually. To accuse him of being possessed by Beelzebub was an offensive insult, an attack that clearly comes from a group of people who do not see or can't understand.

What cannot fit into my understanding or my experience may well become a threat, something to fear and reject. So we strike out, reading into actions what we actually fear. Self-preservation, greed, need for power and control then lashes out in violence - physical, spiritual, emotional or mental. Jesus, on the cross prayed: 'Father, forgive them, for they do not see'. When our focus is limited and closed we cannot see beyond the confines of what keeps us feeling safe and in control. When our focus is on our ego self we can easily condemn, put people into boxes, reject an explanation of action, be suspicious of friends and family and in this way put an end to a relationship that once was an experience of love and joy.


Breath Prayer: (I call to mind a person or group of persons whom I have prejudged in a negative light)

I breathe in:     'Jesus, Son of God'

I breathe out: 'I am sorry'



Friday - Third week of Lent


(Hosea 14: 2-10; Mark 12: 28-34)

 'Israel, come back to the Lord your God'; 'Love your neighbour as



Can we hear the intense longing in God's invitation - come back to me, I will heal your disloyalty. I will make Israel, (you) bloom like a lily. Through Hosea we hear again and again that it is God who hears our prayer, cares for us and in whom we are fruitful. In God nothing is impossible, all we need to do is to respond. The kind of response needed is made very clear in the dialogue between Jesus and one of the scribes. 'Love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength and love your neighbour as yourself . Unfortunately 'love' has gone through the mill so much so that the depth of it, the beauty of it, the power of it, is often lost.

However, the Gospel is filled with examples of what it really means -going beyond ourselves, to rise above our own needs, to stretch out to someone, to risk discomfort, to give our time and energy and ultimately to give ourselves to another. Yet, we cannot give what we do not have. Unless we treat ourselves with respect, with love and honour, giving ourselves the care we need to live holistically we cannot love in the way Jesus asks of us. The self-emptying comes as we gaze on the One who knows the meaning of 'Kenosis' - that outpouring that comes from being one with the God of all creation - the very God who longingly calls us to return home - the place and the space where true joy, life and peace is found in abundance. We need only one word: 'Yes', I come"


Breath Prayer:  Imagine God before you, feel the longing as He invites you to return - maybe after some failure, or having turned from Him


I breathe in:      'Into your hands and heart'


I breathe out:    'I place all that I am'




Saturday - Third week of Lent
(Hosea 5: 15 - 6:6, Luke 18: 9-14)


‘Anyone who exults him/herself will be humbled, but they who humble themselves will be exalted’.


There is a story of a king who wanted to learn how to be humble like the Zen Master who oozed a radiance of goodness. He approached the Zen Master with his request. The Zen Master asked the king whether he understood what he asked for. 'All I know is that I want to experience the goodness I see reflected in you', said the King. 'Very well, you shall have your wish fulfilled'. He called on his highest ranking disciple to help the king reach humility. The king had to wash the floors of the monastery. Each day presented a challenge. He was pushed causing all the dirty water to splash across the clean floor. First he responded with great anger, but as the days passed he become more gentle. The other disciples pleaded with the Zen Master to accept him as a disciple, but the Zen Master said that the king was not ready. The head disciple enjoyed pushing the king around, yet, as time went by he could no longer raise any impatience from the king. The king kept before him the beauty of the peace he saw radiating from the master, little realizing that he was becoming what he focused on. At last the Zen Master accepted the king as a disciple and then to the horror of the rest of the group, he commanded that the head disciple now take the king's place to learn the lesson of humility.

One of the greatest challenges in life is to be humble, to acknowledge a wrong, a failure and accepting that I am limited. Embracing who I am, at the moment, frees me to become the person God destined me to be.


Breath Prayer:


I breathe in:      'In your goodness, oh God'


I breathe out:    'Transform my pride into love'




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