Palm Sunday of the Passion of our Lord, Year A, 5th April 2020

Let every tongue acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord!

This Sunday we begin the prayer of Holy Week as Jesus enters Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, accompanied by crowds shouting joyfully ‘Hosanna!’ and waving palm branches. Very soon, the mood of the people changes and their cry is ‘Crucify him!’ (Gospel). We accompany Jesus as he goes to his death.

The other readings help us to understand what is happening.

We see that Jesus fulfils the Old Testament prophecies of the suffering servant from Isaiah; in the face of his Passion, he knows and trusts that the Father will help him (First Reading).

Psalm 21 (22) moves from utter dejection: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ to praise and trust in God: ‘Give him glory … revere him’! You may wish to read the whole psalm from your Bible during Holy Week to understand the prayer that Jesus prayed from the cross.

St Paul’s explanation of the meaning of Jesus’s incarnation, death and Resurrection ends with a firm declaration of faith that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Second Reading).

Even as we find ourselves confined and isolated, walking in sorrow with Jesus this Holy Week, we look forward to Easter joy in his Resurrection, the ultimate victory over death and suffering.

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Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year A, 29th March 2020

Coronavirus Outbreak

At this time when praying in groups isn’t an option for many of us, please do use the weekly Prego to help you pray on your own. As we settle to pray this coming week, let’s hold each member of the St Beuno’s Outreach family across the world in prayer, and remember especially all those who are affected in any way by the virus. If you know someone who is self-isolating and feeling lonely, a friendly phone call or email can make a big difference. Some might also welcome having a copy of a Prego leaflet pushed through their letter box.

With the Lord there is Mercy and Redemption

Although our liturgy brings us nearer this week to the climax of Passiontide, our readings are full of hope and life.

In our First Reading, the people of Israel are exiled in Babylon. The prophet tells them that God will put a new spirit in them and raise them from their graves.

The Psalm is a prayer of trust in God, who is full of mercy and compassion. He will redeem Israel.

In the Second Reading, St Paul tells us that because we have received the Spirit of Christ, then ‘he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies.’

The Gospel unites all these themes of mercy and trust, of death and life, of redemption and resurrection, in the miracle of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. This great sign of Jesus being ‘the resurrection and the life’ leads us into the coming weeks.

As we contemplate these readings this week, may we draw closer to our Lord and accompany him as he sets his face towards Jerusalem.

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Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A, 22nd March 2020

Wake up from your sleep and Christ will shine on you!

Each year Laetare (‘Rejoice’) Sunday gives encouragement to all those travelling the Lenten road  to Holy Week and Easter.

Today’s readings affirm that I do not make this journey alone.  I am offered a helping hand by the Lord who is my shepherd and guide (Psalm).  By leading me on the right path in goodness, he is being true to his name.  I want for nothing.  Though I may have been walking in darkness, even sometimes feeling as if I am trapped in the valley of the shadow of death, I am now exposed to the light of the Lord.

And the Lord, looking with love at my heart rather than at external appearances (First Reading), illuminates me, turning me into light (Second Reading).

Jesus curing the man born blind is a well-known piece of scripture (Gospel).   Perhaps I am like the one without sight who can suddenly see.  And finding myself looking at the Son of Man, I can come to believe and to trust in him even more deeply.

Reason, indeed, to rejoice today!

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Third Sunday of Lent, Year A, 15th March 2020

‘Listen to his voice!’

This Sunday’s Gospel centres on a very personal encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus sees into the heart of her being: he understands her true longing and invites her to draw from the well of living water.

In Lent we are all invited to meet Jesus in a personal way. Jesus understands all that we truly need. So as we try to make time to pray during these weeks, we too can come to the living waters and drink from the wellspring of life that Christ pours out for all people.

In the First Reading, the Israelites, exiled in the desert, express their desperate thirst. They doubt the future that has been promised to them. The Lord provides water from a rock in the desert.

The Psalm is a collective song of praise expressing a longing for God, where we also hear the voice of God himself. It calls us to soften our hearts, to listen to his voice, and to trust in his grace. It is a reminder that God will always respond to our thirst for him.

The letter to the Romans offers encouragement to remain faithful to God’s wonderful grace that has been freely given to us. We can be hopeful because of the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. It is that same love that was shown to us through the death and resurrection of Christ. (Second Reading)

Let’s pray for each other that this Lent, we may listen and respond with open and welcoming hearts to Christ’s invitation to drink from the wellspring of his love.

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Second Sunday in Lent, Year A, 8th March 2020

‘Stand up, do not be afraid!’

Traditionally, on the second Sunday of Lent, we read and pray with the Transfiguration of Jesus: the event that Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us took place up a high mountain. It is an episode that gives us a glimpse of both Jesus’s humanity and his divinity. Here Jesus is also able to reassure his friends and us that there is no need to be afraid, even as we witness such extraordinary events. (Gospel)

Before the Gospel, we hear of the Lord speaking to Abram, telling him to leave everything he knows with the promise of great blessings. (First Reading)

The Psalm reflects on the faithfulness of God’s word. He will be our help and shield if, like Abram, we place our hope in him.

Both Abram’s call and the disciples’ witnessing of the Transfiguration do not occur as a reward, but by ‘God’s own purpose and grace’ (Second Reading). Paul encourages Timothy to accept the hardships he encounters and rely on the power of God, strengthened by the grace of the appearing of Jesus Christ.

This week, then, as we continue on our Lenten journey, we might want to focus our prayer on all those who are afraid, asking that they place their hope in the Lord and experience his comforting love.

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First Sunday in Lent, Year A, 1st March 2020

Be off, Satan! For scripture says: ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve him alone.’

As we move into this holy season of Lent, the readings slowly begin to prepare us to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

The First Reading teaches us how God created a good world, giving life to man and woman. But Eve and Adam had ambitions for equality with God, leading to the beginning of our sense of alienation from the Divine.

The Psalm is recognised as a prayer of penitence, particularly suited for the Lenten season. It sees sin not purely in individual terms, but as an evil that can affect the whole community.

For Paul (Second Reading), the imagery of life and death provides a key to understanding what Jesus has done for us. Death signifies being cut off from a relationship with God, whereas life invokes an image of friendship and union with God. Through the life of Jesus, the new Adam, we are all restored to that friendship.

In the Gospel, Jesus, though genuinely tempted in the wilderness, remains faithful to his Father. He is resolute in resisting the devil’s seductive, reasonable-sounding temptations.

Let’s begin the season of Lent by inviting God to show us how to find the freedom of spirit to live with open-hearted generosity, and to rediscover the joy and freedom in living for others, as did Christ himself.

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First Sunday of Lent, Year C, 10th March 2019

When you call, I shall answer: ‘I am with you.’

We begin our Lenten journey in the wilderness. In the First Reading, Moses reminds the people of Israel of the story of how they became a mighty nation. He tells of their years of slavery in Egypt, and how the Lord heard their cry. God’s people were led through many trials in the desert to the promised land.

The Psalm is a song full of confidence in the power of God, to help us endure the difficulties of life. We can imagine Jesus taking comfort from praying this psalm when he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. And yet it is a verse from this very same psalm that the tempter in the desert uses to test Jesus’s trust in God. The psalm reminds us that God is always with us, whatever trials we may face.

Luke’s Gospel account of the testing in the wilderness sees Jesus being tempted to use his divinity for his own needs, and of the possibility of seizing earthly power. Jesus shows that true power comes from centring your life on God.

The Second Reading reminds us of this teaching, and tells us that the Word of God is very close to us. It is deep within our being for all who believe in the saving love of Christ. We are all equal in that love, and we are called to proclaim this message of love in our lives. When we call on the Lord for help in our daily struggles, God will be with us.

Let us hold each other in prayer and pray too for our communities, that we may grow in our trust in God and deepen our prayer life in the coming weeks of Lent.

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Praying Holy Week, 2018

‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’

In New Testament Greek, the word for ‘holy’ is hagios, which means ‘set apart, reverent, sacred, and worthy of veneration’. Throughout this Holy Week then, we may want to set some time apart to be with Jesus as he lives his Passion.

The reflections this year are built around a well known Afro-American spiritual, ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’. You can listen to it here.

Here are some other suggestions you may like to use during this week to help you be even closer to Jesus:

  • Find an extra 10 minutes in your day, perhaps early in the morning and ponder: it’s Holy Week.
  • Copy short phrases or one-liners from the Scripture texts of the daily reflections and stick them on your fridge door or your car dashboard. Change them each day.
  • Change your phone ring tone to ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’
  • Put Lenten graphics and the words ‘Were you there …?’ on your computer or phone.
  • Every time you’re reminded it’s Holy Week, send a short prayer to the Lord, and tell him how much you want to be there to support him.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble,
But I so want to be there.

WERE YOU THERE WHEN THEY CRUCIFIED MY LORD? (version to read online)

WERE YOU THERE WHEN THEY CRUCIFIED MY LORD? (booklet version to print)

 

Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B, 11th March 2018

We are God’s work of art

The readings for this ‘Laetare (‘Rejoice’) Sunday’ reveal the Lord’s desire to save his people.

In the First Reading, the exile of the people, and later their release through the pagan king Cyrus, are understood in terms of God’s judgment and mercy.

Today’s Psalm speaks of the desolation that is experienced when the Lord’s goodness is no longer felt. In exile, the people could not be joyful. They could recall the presence of the Lord, but only with regret at its apparent loss.

The gift of the Lord’s presence is given, ultimately, through God’s loving gift of his Son to the world (Gospel). God loved us so much that he has led us back from the exile of sin, and in bringing us to life in Christ, he has made us a ‘work of art’. Jesus is the means by which we are saved, so that we might live ‘the good life’ of grace in return (Second Reading).

Let’s pray, this week, for a greater awareness of the Lord’s wonderful gift, full of grace, that frees us from the darkness of exile to the light of joyful living.

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This Sunday, the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Lent in Year A may be used as an alternative (please click here).

Third Sunday in Lent, Year B, 4th March 2018

Christ, the power and the wisdom of God

We continue our Lenten journey and join Jesus this week as he goes up to Jerusalem. Our readings offer us the wisdom of God’s law in the commandments, and Jesus’s forceful action regarding the true meaning of God’s Temple.

The ten commandments in the First Reading from Exodus present the Law as a freedom charter – we have been freed from slavery to serve our God.

Psalm 18 (19) is a joyful poem of praise for God’s precepts. It links the teaching of the commandments to their personification in Jesus – wisdom, truth and light.

St Paul in the Second Reading preaches a crucified Christ. This is an obstacle to some, but for Christ’s followers, through his death and resurrection, he is the power and the wisdom of God.

In the Gospel, Jesus ejects the buyers and sellers from the Temple and in doing so reveals himself as the true Temple. Like the Temple, he too, will be destroyed in his body, but will rise again.

As we journey with Jesus, may we find in him the true sanctuary, and perhaps the wisdom to know when to disturb the peace.

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This Sunday, the readings for the Third Sunday in Lent of Year A may be used if preferred (please click here).