March 28 – Saturday of the 5th Week in Lent

Ezekiel 37:21-28 ●  John 11:45-56

He Keeps on Doing Thinkgs

The high priests and Pharisees called a meeting of the Jewish ruling body. “What do we do now?” they asked. “This man keeps on doing things, creating God-signs. If we let him go on, pretty soon everyone will be believing in him and the Romans will come and remove what little power and privilege we still have.”
From that day on, they plotted to kill him. So Jesus no longer went out in public among the Jews. He withdrew into the country bordering the desert to a town called Ephraim and secluded himself there with his disciples.
The Jewish Passover was coming up. Crowds of people were making their way from the country up to Jerusalem to get themselves ready for the Feast. They were curious about Jesus. There was a lot of talk of him among those standing around in the Temple: “What do you think? Do you think he’ll show up at the Feast or not?”

John 11:47-48,53-56

REFLECTION


Do you ever get the impression that the religious leaders in the gospels sound like little kids incessantly arguing and complaining? Jesus isn’t following their rules, and he definitely isn’t conforming to their assumptions of how God acts. They can’t abide by his non-conformity, so they have to eliminate him.
Jesus understands the danger so he withdraws to prepare himself for the confrontation that inevitably is to come.

ACTION


Where can you withdraw to prepare yourself for a trial that is coming your way? With whom can you safely surround yourself?

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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March 27 – Friday of the 5th Week in Lent

Jeremiah 20:10-13 ●  John 10:31-42

He is in me; I am in him

Again the Jews picked up rocks to throw at him. Jesus said, “I have made a present to you from the Father of a great many good actions. For which of these acts do you stone me?”
The Jews said, “We’re not stoning you for anything good you did, but for what you said—this blasphemy of calling yourself God.”
Jesus said, “If I don’t do the things my Father does, well and good; don’t believe me. But if I am doing them, put aside for a moment what you hear me say about myself and just take the evidence of the actions that are right before your eyes.
Then perhaps things will come together for you, and you’ll see that not only are we doing the same thing, we are  the same—Father and Son. He is in me; I am in him.”

John 10:31-33,37-38

REFLECTION


The gospels give us many examples of opportunities to “judge a tree by it’s fruit.” Jesus asks the Jews to judge him by his good actions, not by his words. So too, are we asked to evaluate others. Someone we know may not be Christian, but shows to others the compassion and mercy Jesus showed. Others may technically be following the religious laws (like “the Jews” in this passage) but be utterly missing the spirit of those laws. Can we let go of names and labels, and simply look for the fruit that a person is producing?

ACTION


Today train your eyes on someone’s “good fruit” and thank God for how God is working through him/her.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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March 26 – Thursday of the 5th Week in Lent

Genesis 17:3-9 ●  John 8:51-59

Never look death in the face

Jesus said, “I’m not crazy. I simply honor my Father, while you dishonor me. I am not trying to get anything for myself. God intends something gloriously grand here and is making the decisions that will bring it about. I say this with absolute confidence. If you practice what I’m telling you, you’ll never have to look death in the face.”
At this point the Jews said, “Now we know  you’re crazy. Abraham died. The prophets died. And you show up saying, ‘If you practice what I’m telling you, you’ll never have to face death, not even a taste.’”
Jesus said, “If I turned the spotlight on myself, it wouldn’t amount to anything. But my Father, the same One you say is your Father, put me here at this time and place of splendor.”

John 8:49-52,54

REFLECTION


Sometimes we can be labelled as crazy for following Jesus’ gospel of love. But what if it is really the culture of individualism, over-consumption, militarism, and economic inequality that is crazy instead? If our savior was accused of being crazy for opposing the cultural and societal norms of his time, isn’t it telling if we get labelled as crazy with him? If we honor the
Father, love our neighbors (near and far), and trust that physical death isn’t the ultimate end, then we are in Jesus’ good company, even if others think we are crazy.

ACTION


Consider today how you might surround yourself more with people who are counter-cultural in their efforts to follow a “crazy” Jesus.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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March 25 – Annunciation of the Lord

Isaiah 7:10-14;8:10 ●  Hebrews 10:4-10 ●  Luke 1:26-38

Nothin is impossible with god

Upon entering, Gabriel greeted Mary:
“Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty,
Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.”
She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”
And Mary said,
“Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me just as you say.”

Luke 1:28-31,37-38a

REFLECTION


Did Mary really “see it all”? Perhaps the veil between this world and the next was lifted for a moment and everything was made clear then. But almost certainly things weren’t always as clear after the angel left her. Later, she puzzled over things people told her about Jesus, she was hurt by his pre-teen rebuke when she found him in the temple, she felt confusion about his calling when he began his public ministry, and she felt the agony of watching him be tortured and killed. But she continued to honor her “yes” to God, despite not knowing how things would end.

ACTION


Recall a wonderful, profound, or beautiful experience in your life that was clearly of God’s doing although it may have initially seemed impossible. Thank God for that now, and ask that this memory strengthen your faith that nothing is impossible with God.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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March 24 – Tuesday of the 5th Week in Lent

Numbers 21:4-9 ●  John 8:21-30

Just who are you anyway?

Then he went over the same ground again. “I’m leaving and you are going to look for me, but you’re missing God in this and are headed for a dead end. There is no way you can come with me.”
The Jews said, “So, is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by ‘You can’t come with me’?” Jesus said, “You’re tied down to the mundane; I’m in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I’m living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all this. You’re at a dead end. If you won’t believe I am who I say I am, you’re at the dead end of sins. You’re missing God in your lives.”

John 8:21-26

REFLECTION


When Jesus speaks in John’s gospel it can sometimes be maddening to try to make sense of what he wants us to understand. He speaks on the symbolic level, so trying to understand him on the literal level, like “the Jews” in this passage, will only leave us confused. Jesus asks them, and us, for trust in things beyond what we can see and touch. This is faith he’s calling us to, because if we can see and touch it, it wouldn’t be faith.

ACTION


Sometimes we get so distraught because we are not able to see or feel Jesus’ presence but we don’t realize we’re looking in the wrong place. Might Jesus be in plain sight in some other part of your life where you’ve not thought to look? Pray to have your eyes opened to where he is and how he is present to you now.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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March 23 – Monday of the 5th Week in Lent

Daniel 13:1-9,15-17,19-30,33-62 ●  John 8:1-11

The sinless one among you

“Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.”
Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt. Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
“No one, Master.”
“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

John 8:4-11

REFLECTION


Once again Jesus refuses to see things as only black or white. His listeners could only imagine two answers: either he would uphold the Law of Moses and condemn the woman, or he would publicly disrespect the law of a revered leader in order to let the woman off. But he finds a way to respect the Law without letting it put boundaries on his compassion and justice.

ACTION


Is there someone in your life at whom you are tempted to throw stones? If so, ask God for the gift to feel greater compassion for him/her—and for yourself in your own sinfulness.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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March 22 – 5th Sunday of Lent

Jeremiah 31:31-34 ● Hebrews 5:7-9 ● John 12:20-33

Reckless in your love

Jesus answered, “Time’s up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

John 12:23-25

REFLECTION


When we experience the death of a loved one—or a death of any sort—it may seem nearly impossible to imagine any way that new life can come of our pain. That is when we need this reminder from Jesus. Not only do we know that seeds appear to be dead before sprouting again, we have the example of Jesus showing us that death does not have the final say. We may not want to let someone or something in our life go, but we can do so in an act of faith. Jesus had to do this when he was facing his death in the Garden of Gethsemane. He, like us, was afraid— terrified—that death would be the end. But he chose to act in faith, to act despite his feelings, trusting that God could bring life in some unforeseen way out of his death.

ACTION


Ask God for the strength to believe that new life can spring from death, even if you can’t feel any hopefulness at this time. Ask for the consolation of past experiences of life coming from death.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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March 21 – Saturday of the 4th Week in Lent

Jeremiah 11:18-20 ●  John 7:40-53

Clear my name

GOD told me what was going on. That’s how I knew.
You, GOD, opened my eyes to their evil scheming.
I had no idea what was going on—naive as a lamb being led to slaughter!
I didn’t know they had it in for me, didn’t know of their behind-the-scenes plots:
“Let’s get rid of the preacher.
That will stop the sermons!
Let’s get rid of him for good.
He won’t be remembered for long.”
Then I said, “GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies, you’re a fair judge.
You examine and cross-examine human actions and motives.
I want to see these people shown up and put down!
I’m an open book before you. Clear my name.”

Jeremiah 11:18-20

REFLECTION


Jeremiah is a great role model for us in his ability to be bold, direct, and utterly honesty with God. God asks a lot of him and Jeremiah in turn asks a lot of God. Not only in this passage, but throughout the book of Jeremiah, we find a follower who trusts that God can handle his strong emotions and prayers. He doesn’t always get the answer that he wants, but God always hears him and responds. It is an example of a truly mutual relationship.

ACTION


Do you ever “edit” your conversation with God? Are you fearful of asking too much? Pray for the ability to be more and more honest and bold with the God you love and who loves you, knowing that God can handle your honesty.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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March 20 – Friday of the 4th Week in Lent

Wisdom 2:1a,12-22 ●  John 7:1-2,10,25-30

How the godless think

Here’s how the godless think. “Let’s give the just the run-around; they’re no good to us. They’re always underfoot, always better-than-thou when it comes to observance of God’s word. What they accuse us of amounts to nothing more than a few white lies.”
And, “If they claim they’re true children of God, let’s put them to the test; let’s see if God will take up their cause and prevent them from getting hurt.”
And, “Let’s condemn them to a really messy death and see if, as their very words always promise, God comes to save them.”
These were the ravings and ramblings of the godless; but they have a fatal flaw. Malice prevents them from seeing the truth. They haven’t a clue about their obligations to God, nor do they know that holiness is its own reward, nor do they reckon the honor that awaits lives filled with fidelity.

Wisdom 2:1a,12,18,20,21-22

REFLECTION


The godless in this passage sound a lot like Satan when he tempts Jesus in the desert. They continually put God—and those who try to follow God faithfully—to the test. Yet Jesus showed us through his temptations and through his passion and death how to stay steady, despite the suffering. He showed us how to wait in trust for God’s victory.

ACTION


Where in your life are you consistently tempted away from faithfulness? Pray to hear God’s voice then, and to ignore the voice of the Tempter.

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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March 19 – Solemnity of St. Joseph

2 Samuel 7:4-5a,12-14a,16 ●  Romans 4:13,16-18,22 ● Matthew 1:16,8-21,24a

God's promise & our trust

If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract !
That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect.
But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise — and God’s promise at that—you can’t break it.
This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and  those who have never heard of them.

Romans 4:14-16

REFLECTION


Our modern culture operates from contractual relationships based on a fundamental distrust of others. Yet God’s ways are far above human ways and God wants to give good things to us as “pure gift.” Since we’re not in the habit of receiving gifts with no strings attached it can be hard to trust the Giver and the gift.
But that’s what God asks of us—to receive freely what God wants to give us, without thinking we have to earn it.

ACTION


What gift is God offering you that you can simply embrace today without protesting that you don’t deserve it?

Reprinted with permission. For more information about this booklet and Bible translation, please see TheMessageCatholic.com.

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