Lenten Weekly Reflections Resource 2015

The following six reflections are to be used weekly starting with “L.”  For each week there is a reflection or questions and a prayer that relates to the heading.  Recite the prayer each day to keep the topic fresh in your mind.  Can be used for prayer groups, classrooms, faith formation classes or individual reflection.

Looking for love in all the wrong places

Reflection: There is a saying: “Where you spend your money and time is where your heart is.”  If I look in my checkbook am I satisfied with where my heart is living?  If I look at my calendar, is my heart where I want it to be?  Are those places bringing me joy?
Am I expecting others to provide my happiness?  Have I substituted technology like my cell phone or email for face-to-face relationships?  Do I know that God loves me?  Do I ever substitute physical pleasures for meaningful relationships?

Prayer: Loving Creator God, help me to remember that you have been at my side in good times and bad because you love me.  Turn me around towards you when I stray after those things that my culture tells me will bring me happiness.  Help me to seek the joy of your love in relationships with others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Everyone is connected

Reflection: The Butterfly Theory asks “if a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, does it set off a tornado in Texas?”  Maybe not, but all life is intricately connected; what happens in one country can affect millions in another, even something as simple as how you choose the coffee or chocolate that you buy can determine whether a farmer across the globe can afford to send his children to school.  Even how we treat others at the grocery store or on the freeway can affect how they treat the next person they encounter and so on.  Do I think about the decisions I make on what to buy at the grocery store?  Do I research where products come from?  Do I keep up with current events?  Have I ever looked at the labels in my clothes and prayed for the people who assembled them?  Do I perform “random acts of kindness” for others?

Prayer: O God, in this culture of individualism, it is easy to become disconnected from my brothers and sisters around me every day.  Help me to forget about myself for a while and see someone who may be in need of a kind word, deed, or just a smile.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Now is the time

Reflection:  Procrastination is a very human trait.  Twenty percent of people admit to putting things off on a regular basis and quite often has very unfortunate consequences like having the power turned off or the car repossessed.  Fortunately, God is very patient and does not exist within the confines of time and space.  However, carving out time to pray, reflect on the day (or the last minute!) is an activity that can bring great joy to our lives because it is in these silent moments that God often speaks to us.  We live in an “Age of Rapidity” where time is measured in kilobytes per second and information is coming at us at an alarming rate.  We expect fast food, fast internet speed, bullet train transportation.  Lent is our time to slow down, put the phones on silent, turn off the computer and spend some time in prayer, reading, watching the clouds, going for a walk, visiting a friend, or just being in God’s presence.  He’s waiting.  Do I use busyness as an excuse to avoid being present to others, including God? 

Prayer: Dear God, it’s difficult to set aside the time to pray.  I put it off all day with good intentions to slow down but before I know it the day is gone and I’m so tired.  Show me little ways that I can spend time with you during the day, even if it’s only for a minute.  Thank you for always being there with me even when I’m not paying attention.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Trying to find you God

Reflection: Most of us as children were taught that “God is everywhere!”  Of course that’s true, God has no limit.  In certain situations and places, it’s difficult to imagine that God is there such as when a violent crime is being committed, during a heated argument with a coworker or family member, during a natural disaster that leaves people devastated, or when a loved one dies.  We often ask, “Where were you in that situation God?”  Yet, Jesus experienced life the same way, in the garden and on the cross.  He cried out to God too when he felt alone and abandoned.  Yet God was with his Son and gave him the strength to carry out his mission of love to the very end, even to death.  And by Jesus’ resurrection, we are shown that nothing can kill God’s love.  Easter always follows Lent and for that, we can truly be joyful!  Do I really believe that God is more powerful than any problem?  Am I willing to let go of my fear and trade it for hope in the resurrection?

Prayer: Abba, sometimes I am like the disciples on the stormy sea, afraid that you are not there to calm the winds of chaos.  But I know deep in my heart that if I keep my eyes on you I can get through anything because your love is more powerful than any fear I may have.  Help me to remember that you are always there to guide me and that I have been called to share that love you have given me with others who may be suffering.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

I am a missionary?

Reflection: By virtue of our baptisms, all Christians are missionaries.  Forty or fifty years ago, many would have believed that only nuns and priests who go out of their country of birth for a lifetime would be categorized as a missionary.  Now, we can look back through scripture and see that God has been on a “mission of love” since creation!  God desires to be in relationship with his creation.  That desire is so strong that he chose a people, the ancient Hebrews to be his messengers to the other nations that God wants to be involved with their lives.  He acted through Abraham and Sarah, through Moses, spoke through the prophets and ultimately incarnated in the person of Jesus just to get his message across: I Love You!  When someone loves you, the natural response is to love back.  We demonstrate our love for God by loving others.  In doing so, we are also carrying out God’s mission of love, which makes us missionaries too!  Do I really believe that I am loveable?  Can I live my life in such a way that lets others know that they are loveable too?

Prayer: Jesus, you showed us how to live a happy life by being in right relationship with God and with others, especially the poor, the forgotten, and the unloved.  Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by my daily life.  Remind me of what you have called me to be, a messenger and missionary of your love.  Stop me in my busyness and show me opportunities to share you love and joy with others.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Singing for JOY

Reflection: John’s gospel tells us that the joy of the Gospel is such that it cannot be taken away from us by anyone or anything (Jn. 16:22).  Pope Francis said in his apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, that we can’t let the evils of the world be excuses for being querulous and disillusioned pessimists or “sourpusses E.G. 85.”  The early Church was attractive to others because they were a joyful and loving people.  In a time when people were watching out for only themselves, the Christians were sharing with others; in a time when people were grumbling and complaining, the Christians were singing for joy and celebrating liturgy in their homes.  People must have wondered and even asked them, “Why are you so happy?  Don’t you see what a state the world is in?” The Christians would reply, “Because we know that God loves us.  We learned that from Jesus, come to my house for supper and I’ll tell you all about him.” 

The Church grew exponentially in the first 300 years as a result of the joy, love, and caring demonstrated by Jesus’ followers.  Our world is not suffering any less now than it was then.  Pope Francis again says, “In these situations we are called to be living sources of water from which others can drink.  At times, this becomes a heavy cross, but it was from the cross, from his pierced side, that our Lord gave himself to us as a source of living water.  Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of hope!”  Am I happy to be a Christian?  If someone accused me of being a Christian, is there evidence to back up their claim?

Prayer: God, you have loved us from the beginning of time and nothing in this world can ever take that love from us.  I want to share that love and the joy that comes from knowing I am loved, with everyone I meet.  I pray Lord that my joy is contagious and spreads throughout the world so that your message of love can bring about your Kingdom on earth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.