Lent is a time for reading scripture, praying and meditating in order to prepare ourselves for the Easter season. We seek to grow in the knowledge of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit while increasing our own faith. The following weekly readings and thoughts are meant to encourage prayer and meditation during the forty days ( not counting Sundays ) of Lent, from Ash Wednesday until Passion/Palm Sunday and Holy Week.
Ash Wednesday: Wednesday, March 1
Reading: Matthew 6: 1 – 6 and 16 – 21
Reflection: ” Don’t be such a show off!” Jesus warns the people back in His time. What a stark contrast to today, when the prevailing attitude is one of: ” If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” The faithful Christian lives a life guided by the knowledge that it’s more important to help God’s dream come true than to live up to this world’s expectations.
Lent 1: Sunday, March 5 – Saturday, March 11
Reading: Matthew 4: 1 – 11
Reflection: How many of us find ourselves in some kind of wilderness these days? How many of us feel pulled towards the many attractions of our day and age? Jesus also went through similar temptations, but was able to withstand them. A faithful believer lives a life following the example of Jesus. Take these Lenten Days to explore just how you’re doing as a Disciple, one who follows the example of Jesus.
Lent 2: Sunday, March 12 – Saturday, March 18
Reading: John 3: 1 – 17
Reflection: Jesus came to earth to help in God’s “rescue mission”. In other words, Jesus came to help work out God’s dream for creation. A faithful follower looks for ways through which s/he can also assist in helping to bring God’s dream closer to reality. How are you doing? Can you do more?
Lent 3: Sunday, March 19 – Saturday, March 25
Reading: John 4: 5 – 42
Reflection: “God is not tied to a particular place. Those who truly worship God must worship him as he truly is, without regard to place”. How many of us feel that we can only truly worship God in that space we call ” our Church”? We know this to be questionable and yet it seems so difficult for many to actually put this idea of God’s universal presence into practice. The faithful Christian is one who realizes that God is not tied to a single building, no matter how beautiful, historic or nostalgic it may be.
Lent 4: Sunday, March 26 – Saturday, April 1
Reading: John 9: 1 – 41
Reflection: The Pharisees ( those ” in the know ” ) seem to think they have all the right answers. The blind beggar ( who has been ” on the sidelines” ) seems to recognize who Jesus really is, and what He’s about. What kinds of implications are there in this story for those of us who consider ourselves to be faithful disciples and followers?
Lent 5: Sunday, April 2 – Saturday, April 8
Reading: John 11: 1 – 45
Reflection: ” Many … who … observed what Jesus had done came to believe in Him. “ It seems so much easier for them, back then, to believe. But, what if you were able to see something similar happen right now? Would you believe? A faithful follower is one who believes that his/her role is to help God’s dream for creation come true. What are you doing to make this dream become a reality?
Sunday of the Passion, with the Liturgy of the Palms: Sunday, April 9
Readings: Matthew 2: 1 – 11 and Matthew 26: 14 – 27 & verse 66
Reflection: Both of these passages describe some of the very intense situations in the life of Jesus and some of His followers. Many church – goers seem to opt for attending services on this Sunday and then again on Easter Day, skipping the in-between events and services. A faithful Christian accepts the reality that at least some of life is lived out in the intense situations and does not avoid these times.
Easter Sunday: Sunday, April 16
Readings: John 20: 1 – 18 or Matthew 28: 1 – 10
Reflection: ” The disciples had locked the doors for fear. “ ” Don’t be afraid. “ So much of our modern culture, especially in this part of the world, seems to be based on fear. What would life be like, both personally as well as corporately, if we were to live ” AS IF ” we had nothing to fear? As faithful Christians, can we at least try to do this during these 50 Easter days?
Easter 2: Sunday, April 23 – Saturday, April 29
Reading: John 20: 19 – 31
Reflection: ” I came so that they can have life and have it to the full, ” says Jesus earlier in John’s Gospel. We hear that these words are written so that ” you will come to believe … and … have life in His name. “ Faithful Christians show this full life by the way they live out their daily lives. As it’s said, ” There’s no life like it! ”
Easter 3: Sunday, April 30 – Saturday, May 6
Reading: Luke 24: 13 – 25
Reflection: Isn’t it interesting that these two disciples of Jesus don’t recognize Him at first? They come to recognize Him after He has ” interpreted every passage of scripture” and then took bread, blessed and broke it and ” started passing it to them. “ Jesus makes Himself known to us in many ways and a faithful follower will always look for clues by referring to scripture and taking part in the Eucharist.
Easter 4: Sunday, May 7 – Saturday, May 13
Reading: John 10: 1 – 10
Reflection: Jesus is the ultimate steward and caretaker. He cares for the sheep, i.e., those who have been entrusted to His care, with utmost regard for their welfare. As people who want to be His disciples, ought we not to take His life as an example or a template for our own actions?
Easter 5: Sunday, May 14 – Saturday, May 20
Reading: John 14: 1 – 14
Reflection: Jesus tells Philip that anyone who believes in Him will be able ” to perform greater feats ” than he himself had done. Faithful Christians live AS IF they have not only heard this message, but have also accepted it as a basis for their day-to-day interactions with those around them.
Easter 6: Sunday. May 21 – Saturday, May 27
Reading: John 14: 15 – 21
Reflection: Jesus promises His disciples that He will go on living in and through them. A faithful follower hears this and allows herself or himself to be used as a channel for Jesus in our own world. So, what characteristics of Jesus do you demonstrate by what you do and say?
The Ascension of the Lord and Jerusalem Sunday: Sunday, May 28, 2017
Reading: Luke 24: 46 – 53
Reflection: Jesus ascended into Heaven, blessing His disciples and promising that they would soon receive the power of the Holy Spirit. We who have received that promised gift of the Spirit are now empowered to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth — to use our time and talents to spread the Good News of salvation.
The Day of Pentecost: June 4, 2017
Reading: John 7: 37 – 39
Reflection: The gift of the Holy Spirit, given to all who live as faithful stewards, can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing, in that the Spirit does indeed offer us a source of sustenance for our journey. It’s a curse, in that the Spirit forces us to see the choices we make which are contrary to God’s dream for all creation, thereby not allowing us to be “off the hook” for our decisions.
Trinity Sunday: June 11, 2017
Reading: Matthew 28: 16 – 20
Reflection: ” So long as this world continues its course, ” says Jesus to His followers, ” I’ll be with you day in and day out. “ We know that the realities in our world are sometimes very difficult to bear. Facing these hardships with the knowledge and assurance that Jesus is with us always, wherever we are, makes us very blessed indeed.
Second Sunday of Pentecost: June 18, 2017
Reading: Matthew 7: 21 – 29
Reflection: The words of today’s Gospel reading tell us plainly that, as the familiar Christmas song puts it: ” Words are not enough! “ The faithful Christian is one whose actions reflect the words. That is, the faithful steward is the one who not only ” talks the talk ” but who also ” walks the walk. ”
Third Sunday of Pentecost: June 25, 2017
Reading: Matthew 9: 9 – 13 and 18 – 26
Reflection: Isn’t it ironic how those who were deemed to be on the ” outside ” — sinners and tax collectors — always seemed to find where Jesus was and wanted to be near him? As a faithful steward, how much time do you make to be with Jesus on a regular basis?
Fourth Sunday of Pentecost: July 2, 2017
Reading: Matthew 9: 35 -38 and Matthew 10: 1 – 8
Reflection: What humble beginnings for Christianity — twelve people who went out, equipped with their marching orders from Jesus. Look at the impact those twelve had on the rest of the world! How often do you hear: “We don’t have enough.” ( people, money, space — you name it! ) Today’s Gospel reading teaches us that great things can and do come from very little — something a faithful steward needs to keep in mind.
Fifth Sunday of Pentecost: July 9, 2017
Reading: Matthew 10: 24 – 39
Reflection: In the latter part of today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks words that sound pretty harsh to our modern ears. ” Who do you love more than me?” He asks. ” If there’s anyone you love more than me, you’re not worthy of me! ” As faithful Christians, how do our lives show that Jesus is at the very centre of all we say and do?
Sixth Sunday of Pentecost: July 16, 2017
Reading: Matthew 10: 40 – 42
Reflection: To whom do we give and why? Jesus reminds us that the faithful follower who gives even a minute amount to someone who is a follower will not go unrewarded. In and of itself, that ought to be enough to encourage each of us to be generous in our giving.
Seventh Sunday of Pentecost: July 23, 2017
Reading: Matthew 11: 16 – 19 and 25 – 30
Reflection: It’s difficult to find many people these days who don’t feel “overburdened”. We all seem to have a great deal on our ” plates “. Jesus reminds us that the faithful follower is the one who comes to Jesus and asks Him to share the burden.
Eighth Sunday of Pentecost: July 30, 2017
Reading: Matthew 13: 1 – 9 and 18 – 23
Reflection: Have you ever stopped to ask yourself just what kind of soil the Word finds in you? Know how to find out? It’s very simple, really. Just take a look at your life and think about what kind of ” fruit ” you see being produced regularly.
Transfiguration Sunday: August 6, 2017
Reading: Matthew 13: 24 -30 and 36 – 43
Reflection: How do you help ” good seed “ to not only take root, but to grow, and keep on growing in your life? Jesus suggests that the faithful follower is the one who listens to His words and allows them to guide all of his/her life.
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost: August 13, 2017
Reading: Matthew 13: 31 – 33 and 44 – 52
Reflection: Heaven’s imperial rule, also known as the kingdom of heaven, seems like a pretty interesting and exciting place to be. Faithful Christians are ones who do what they can to help this part of God’s dream come closer to reality each and every day. How are you helping it come about?.
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost: August 20, 2017
Reading: Matthew 14: 13 – 21
Reflection: The story of the loaves and fishes, seen through the eyes of a steward, serves as a reminder that from seemingly small and insignificant beginnings, great things can happen. Why, there are even leftovers! Do you see God’s abundant generosity in your world?
Twelfth after Pentecost: August 27, 2017
Reading: Matthew 14: 22 – 33
Reflection: Does your life ever feel like it is being pounded and tossed around? Do you feel like you’re sinking, with no way of being rescued? Sometimes, it does get that bad, doesn’t it? The faithful follower knows not only when to ask for help, but, more importantly, Who to ask.
Thirteenth after Pentecost: September 3, 2017
Reading: Matthew 15: 21 – 28
Reflection: ” Your trust is enormous,” Jesus says to this Canaanite woman. A faithful steward is one who is able to show enormous trust in Jesus. If you were asked about your level of trust in Jesus, just how would you respond?
Fourteenth after Pentecost: September 10, 2017
Reading: Matthew 16: 13 – 20
Reflection: Peter responds to the question of Jesus with what some people might call an inspired answer. Jesus is God’s annointed — God’s chosen One. If someone was to ask you, as a follower of Jesus, and ( hopefully ) as a faithful Christian, who or what would you say Jesus is?
Fifteenth after Pentecost: September 17. 2017
Reading: Matthew 16: 21 – 28
Reflection: ” You aren’t thinking in God’s terms, but in human terms,” says Jesus to Peter. The faithful follower is one who seeks to discern God’s ” terms” and allows these to guide their own thoughts and actions — minute by minute and day by day.
Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost: September 24, 2917
Reading: Matthew 18: 15 – 20
Reflection: Some people say that they can’t see or find Jesus anywhere in their lives. In this Gospel, Jesus reminds us that He will be found wherever two or three are gathered together in His name. It sounds like Jesus likes to be among company. How often do you gather with others “in His name” ?
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost: October 1, 2017
Reading: Matthew 18: 21 – 35
Reflection: Who says stewardship is only about money? This story clearly tells us that stewardship and forgiveness are interwoven. Jesus reminds us that faithful followers are ones who care so much for others that they are able to forgive — even when they might feel that they are owed much!
Harvest Thanksgiving Sunday: October 8, 2017
Reading: Matthew 6: 25 – 33
Reflection: God provides — not only for small birds, but for us, too. Jesus reminds us about God’s extravagant bounty towards all creation. A faithful follower knows and practices genuine gratitude. What are you thankful for today and every day?
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost: October 15, 2017
Reading: Matthew 21: 23 – 32
Reflection: Jesus speaks about John the Baptist to those who ” have it made. “ They didn’t listen to John’s message which advocated for justice. However, says Jesus, the tax collectors and prostitutes did. And they ( as far as we know ) didn’t ” have it made. “ Are there connections between stewardship and justice? You be the judge.