What my Lent does for others
Every Lent is a new beginning; sometimes beginnings are welcomed, other times half and half! We welcome Lent as a time to make our faith fresh, but we know from other Lents that it’s hard to keep going, and it’s for a long time! We might ask ourselves what Lent is really for.
The focus of Lent is not on what we give up but on what we are given. We focus our minds on the self-giving love of Jesus which we will celebrate in Holy Week. We allow ourselves believe in this love. Often it’s difficult to believe in the tender love of God. This conquers all else in the world; it is given in the mercy and compassion of God.
Lent pours the grace of forgiveness into our world, needed individually and as a people. We need to know that God is bigger than any of our sins, wars, violence and hatred. God wants his kingdom to come now. Lent is our time of saying ‘yes’ to a partnership with God in saving the world from the effects of evil and sin.
Maybe we can ask what our Lent does for others rather than just what we are doing for Lent. It is a time of renewal, then it shows in love, forgiveness and care of others in our lives.
Pray a bit every day, read a bit of the gospel every day,
do something good for another every day –
this is the way to share in the saving love of God.
Lord, by your cross and resurrection you have set us free,
you are the Saviour of the world.
Donal Neary SJ
Wednesday 14th February is Ash Wednesday, and marks the beginning of Lent. Mass will be celebrated at 10am in both Holy Trinity and St. Paul’s Ayrfield. Blessed ashes will be distributed at Mass.
Ash Wednesday, while not a Holy Day of Obligation, is a day of Fast and Abstinence.
People make a Difference
Any story involving leprosy is a story of inclusiveness with Jesus. The people whom nobody wanted were deep in his heart. Jesus wanted to make his life better and, in this case, the man was cured. The news spread of this new religious man, a prophet maybe, but one who went where nobody else would go.
Jesus sees into the heart and there he finds a home, because God his Father lives in each of us. His motivation is his deep relationship with all of us. He will cleanse any of the unacceptable sides of ourselves so that we see ourselves as image of God, forgiven and clean. Can we see others like that?
Who would be those he would reach today like this? Maybe the people who want to change their lives from condemnation by self and others. We can name them often, and our society can be cruel on prisoners and their families, abusers of any sort, prostitutes, victims of AIDS and many others. He offers a way out of condemnation and that is often through the goodness and care of another. When we come to him, we meet his followers, and that also can make a difference.
Recall someone who made a difference in your life at a bad time.
Give thanks for it!
Jesus, healer of souls, heal what keeps me from loving like you.
Donal Neary SJ
Darkness and Light
The first reading is tough to hear and we admire Job. We talk of ‘the patience of Job’. Job is the example and the hero of depression. He just had it bad. All had gone wrong and he felt no good, no hope, no meaning. His family collapsed, his wealth disappeared and he cursed the day he was born. He went through all of the depressions people have, but somehow kept that glimmer of light alive. He never totally lost God, and God never lost him.
Depression is a huge illness. Many suffer; many are affected. Treatment can be of help, and the listening ears of friends as well as therapy is healing.
A great priest wrote…. At the worst of the burn out I couldn’t say mass, never mind preach. Dry, empty, without light or life. Thanks again for the card you sent. It means a lot to me now. Funny, in the worst of my anxiety, nothing, no compliment and no reassurance meant anything to me.
There are many helps on the human level. There is the help also of faith and prayer at times. And the help of someone who listens, sympathises, doesn’t judge nor give easy cures. Love from God never ends even though it may not appear near just now. This is the Jesus of the gospel – bringing the grace of healing, of freeing from any evil, of constant love.
Imagine a time of darkness in life; picture it in its colour,
and imagine the bright light of Jesus penetrate that darkness.
Ask for help and give thanks for help. Give light, Good Lord,
to all who live in the valley of darkness and the shadow of doubt.
Donal Neary SJ
The Power of Evil
Jesus was very aware of the power of evil that can be around us. Jesus named the spirit whatever that meant. This gave him power over the spirit. He knew evil when he met it and he overcame it, with love, power and with kindness for this man.
In Jesus the good and the evil of the world met.
One big evil in us is the ‘it’s mine’. We learn it from childhood. We take the plate of cakes or a packet of sweets and say “all mine”. We normally get over this but not always. We need the conversion from it’s mine to it’s ours. That’s the Christian way. The environment is not ours, but for us. We have no right to kill off livelihood all over the world for our paper, our oil and our greed. Any abuse of people is the ‘you are mine’ syndrome. Nobody owns anyone in this earth and we belong only to God in a free way.
Evil will never win out to the end. It has been conquered on the Cross, with love.
Somehow this man was possessed. Evil came into him and maybe it was not his fault. He left clean and whole, with a kindness in his heart he would never forget. The people were amazed not just at Jesus but at the change in the man who had been possessed.
What are evil desires in myself?
For control of others, for greed, for whatever leads me away from love.
Imagine the light of God filling the darkness in me.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
Donal Neary SJ