By Reverend Peter Stravinskas
In this issue, The Monitor shares its third excerpt from Father Peter Stravinskas’ “Lenten Meditations: Post Crucem, Lucem,” published by Newman House Press, johnhenrycardinalnewman.org.
MONDAY, March 16 • Isaiah 65:17-21; Psalm 30; John 4:43-54
The Jesus we meet in John’s Gospel works several signs … they tell us who he is and what he is about. A recurrent theme is that “seeing leads to believing.” During Lent we are given the opportunity to In this issue, The Monitor shares its third excerpt from Father Peter Stravinskas’ “Lenten Meditations: Post Crucem, Lucem,” published by Newman House Press, johnhenrycardinalnewman.org. become more faithful signs of Christ alive today – by our fidelity to the Gospel; by our sensitivity to people in need.
TUESDAY, March 17 • Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12; Psalm 46; John 5:1-16
Water is an element of power – for good and evil. It can give life to beautiful flowers, or it can destroy whole cities. The waters through which the Hebrews passed safely were the very waters that crushed the power of the Egyptians. The waters of Baptism bring death to sin but life in God. Are these waters bringing us life and salvation, or are they closing in like a menacing flood? It depends on our cooperation with God’s original plan and offer of salvation.
WEDNESDAY, March 18 • Isaiah 49:8-15; Psalm 145; John 5:17-30
Jesus makes resurrection dependent on hearing the voice of God. In other words, only those will be able to rise to glorious eternal life who have consistently heeded God’s voice as it came to them in his Commandments, for they will be used to his voice; they will know its sound. But to those who listen or act half-heartedly, God gives this season to sharpen our hearing.
THURSDAY, March 19 • Exodus 32:7-14; Psalm 106; John 5:31-47
Jesus makes a crushing statement to his audience today: “You do not have the love of God in your hearts!” What motivated him to say such a thing? Their rejection of his message; their preconceived notions; their hypocrisy – their lack of charity. How many so-called “good Christians” have the same flaws? Let us work at replacing these attitudes with an openness to God’s Word.
SOLEMNITY OF ST. JOSEPH, March 19 • 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16; Psalm 89; Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22; Mark 1:16, 18-21, 24 or Luke 2:41-51
Joseph is a model for all believers; he acted according to God’s commands, even though he could not understand them. Jesus also accepted His destiny as part of His Father’s Will. In a short while, we will be entering into Christ’s last hours with Him, and we will have to recall and believe that God is on that cross, as ludicrous as that may seem. And, at some unknown moment, we will be called upon to imitate the pattern of Our Lord’s death in our own lives. For such times, let us pray for the faith of a Joseph, who saw in all things God’s Will and His love.
FRIDAY, March 20 • Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22; Psalm 34; John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
In John’s Gospel we hear a great deal about Jesus’ “hour of glory,” [which] begins with his Passion. Why? Because Jesus was never more a king than when he bravely and willingly accepted his father’s plan for him. And therein lies the lesson for us. We do not have to wait for the end of time for our “hour of glory.” No, it begins when we accept God’s plan for us, including suffering and death.
SATURDAY, March 21 • Jeremiah 11:18-20; Psalm 7; John 7:4-53
A Christian is a person who has entrusted his cause to God, after the example of Jesus. A Christian is one who believes and hopes and loves, in spite of adversity. A Christian is a person who can be put down for a time but one who inevitably rises again. And all of this is so because of the firm conviction expressed by St. Paul: “For those who love God, all things work together for the good.”
FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT, March 22 • Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33
The lesson of the Cross lies in the understanding that obedience and total love yield a rich harvest. [It] strikes us to the core with the absurdity and the depravity of sin. The lesson of the Cross is a painful reminder of man’s inhumanity to man – not only on a hill outside Jerusalem but in so many places and moments before and since. [It] gives us the most eloquent sermon possible on the depths of God’s love for us. Jesus knew that his effectiveness would grow because of his death and so he remarked: “And I … once I am lifted up from earth … will draw all men to myself.” Yes, Jesus, like a magnet, draws people to himself – not through grandiose displays of power but by the humble and loving testimony given in his moment of greatest weakness – on the Cross. However, it is important to recall that his hour of suffering is likewise his hour of glory, for Jesus triumphed through his suffering. In this drawing process, which Jesus exercises now, he invites us to join him in his sufferings. He gave the very same invitation to his disciples. It was harder for them because they did not know the end of the story, and they had solid reasons for hesitance. We, however, know that our sufferings are united to his and that he took each and every one of them and offered them to the Father with his own. We also know, unlike the apostles, how the story ends.
MONDAY, March 23 • Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62; Psalm 23; John 8:1-11
Susanna stands in line with so many innocent people who are unjustly accused of wrong-doing. This has happened to all of us at some time in our lives, and the best approach still remains Susanna’s: Put the matter in God’s hands. On the other hand, the Gospel shows us people eager to judge and persecute; these have always been the hypocrites, not the righteous. The saint is so conscious of his failings that he would not dare judge others.
TUESDAY, March 24 • Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 102; John 8:21-30
Today, Jesus says that we “will die in our sins” unless we accept Him. This is the uniqueness of Christianity: That it is not the following of a set of rules but the acceptance of a person, a person who speaks for and is identified with God. Therefore, we are involved in a relationship, not a contract. Our sins do not break the “contract” as much as they hurt the One we claim to love, and so, Jesus presents himself as the source of our salvation; by loving Him and following Him, we please the Father Who sent Him.
WEDNESDAY, March 25 • Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Daniel 3; John 8:31-42
“The truth will set you free.” This is one of the best- known verses of the New Testament but also rather perplexing because, in a few days, we will hear Pilate ask a question for all who ever come after him: “What is truth?” Christians are not in search of truth, for if we follow Jesus, we have the “truth.” Yes, Jesus is the truth who sets us free. Jesus is the liberator who frees us from sin and self-seeking.
SOLEMNITY OF THE LORD’S ANNUNCIATION, March 25 • Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 40; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38
Today the Church’s liturgy invites us to pause in our Lenten penances, to celebrate this great Solemnity of the Annunciation. And even though there is no penitential character about the feast, it really does fit in rather well with our Lenten observance. Simply think of the kind of woman Mary must have been – full of faith, full of trust, full of love. Such virtues develop over a lifetime lived for Almighty God and other people. And that is exactly what we are trying to do during this holy season: Prepare ourselves to hear the Word of God and put it into practice. God can do great things, if we let him: A virgin conceived; Jesus was raised from the dead. What do you want him to do for you? The key is in preparation and cooperation.
THURSDAY, March 26 • Genesis 17:3-9; Psalm 105; John 8:51-59
Very often people in the Scriptures received a new name when given a new mission; Abraham and Peter come to mind immediately. We, too, were given a new name – in Baptism – and the name is “Christian.” And that name imposes obligations on us. It calls us to live as a covenant people – men and women who are especially and closely related to God through Christ.
FRIDAY, March 27 • Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalm 18; John 10:31-42
Today Jesus quotes an Old Testament verse: “You are gods.” Yes, that is our vocation. In every Mass, it is also our prayer: “May we come to share the divinity of Christ, Who humbled Himself to share our humanity.” Each time we consciously choose God’s way over our own, each time we exhibit sacrificial love, each time we share in this Eucharist and take Christ to ourselves, we are becoming more and more divine.
SATURDAY, March 28 • Ezekiel 37:21-28; Jeremiah 31; John 11:45-57
Today, we see Caiaphas beginning the unfolding of the drama: He calls for Jesus to be a victim. Christians, too, are called to be victims – not for themselves or their own salvation, but for the world. Our lifestyle should attract the interest and curiosity of the world, just as the lifestyle of Jesus did. The way we bear our sufferings and share our joys should bring the world to faith, and thus we will be continuing the work of Jesus “to gather into one all the dispersed children of God.”