Bring us back to you.

It is wonderful to see the early weeks of Lent as a catechism for those who are on a journey toward Baptism at the Easter Vigil.  Each liturgy offers a new "lesson in the faith" for these new believers.  Viewed this way, Lent can be a journey of renewal in faith for us all.  We listen, with the hearts of children, learning old lessons, as though for the first time.

And each day, we pray these special prayers that simply help us keep turning to God for the graces we need for the day.  Throughout the day, we find moments, perhaps "in the background" while we are doing other things, that help us remember what we are asking for.  Our desire grows as we make changes to our daily patterns.  As we make sacrifices, in order to experience freedom from self-directed needs, we also experience a freedom for other-directed love and generosity.

Grant, almighty God,
through the yearly observances of holy Lent,
that we may grow in understanding 
of the riches hidden in Christ
and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Today's Reading

Daily Meditation: 

Bring us back to you. 

This week we pray for a renewal of our lives. 
We are beginning to be more attentive and alert.
We are trying new patterns.
The difficulties we encounter keep us humble.

Our desire is clear. 
We want the “self-sacrificing love of Christ” -
which brings us mercy and healing - to be “reproduced in our lives.”
In our journey, we seek to savor the meaning of Jesus' self-less love,
that we might reflect that love to others.
At the end of our journey, we will renew our baptismal promises.
Dying with Jesus in baptism, we have a new life in him.
Today, we desire nothing less than God's re-creating us -
breathing new life into us.


Let us praise our loving Redeemer, who gained for us this season of grace, and pray to him, saying: 
   Lord, create a new spirit in us. 

Christ, our life, through baptism we were buried with you and rose to life with you, 
 - may we walk today in newness of life. 

Lord, you have brought blessings to all mankind, 
 - bring us to share your concern for the good of all. 

May we work together to build up the earthly city, 
 - with our eyes fixed on the city that lasts for ever. 

Healer of body and soul, cure the sickness of our spirit, 
 - so that we may grow in holiness through your constant care.

Closing Prayer: 

Lord God, 
you who breathed the spirit of life within me. 
Draw out of me the light and life you created. 
Help me to find my way back to you. 
Help me to use my life to reflect your glory 
and to serve others 
as your son Jesus did.

May the Lord bless us, 
protect us from all evil 
and bring us to everlasting life. 

Daily Reflection
Of Creighton University's Online Ministries

In our First Reading for this liturgy, we hear of one garden, two newly-minted beings and two trees surrounded by various varieties of flora and fauna.   Ah yes, I forgot about the serpent. How did it slither in without my notice?
All good stories and plays have an inciting incident in order to accelerate the action. What would you say is the real beginning of the energy or excitement of this story?  It could be the announcement that everything was good and available, everything that is, except touching or eating of one of the trees. Maybe, but for the sake of my imagination, let us say that it is Mrs. Adam’s desire for wisdom.  God has forbidden them to eat of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”.    Eve is tempted by the serpent to eat of the forbidden tree.    Why would she want to have that kind of knowledge?  She and her mate wanted the “quick and easy”.  God did not say exactly what would result from eating of the other tree, the “tree of Life”.   Perhaps eating of that tree would invite a taste for more life, but that would take a life of time and tasting.  Eating of the “knowledge tree” would result in self-fascination and a “leaf-covering” shame of negativity.  Eating from this tree faced them both with the struggle about what is good and what is bad about them.
The “tree of Life” would have resulted in their seeing what God had said about all of creation, including them, that all was good and that they were “very good”.  Alas, they wanted a sound-bite; a something which would solve incompleteness.   What they received was their life-long struggle to learn from the “tree of life” the wisdom that comes from the long-and-hard climb up the branches of life.

In the reading from Paul to the Romans, it is comforting to hear about how disobedience, literally “not-listening”, is contrasted to the “listening” of the “New Adam, Jesus”.  One sin of one man is contrasted with the one life of receiving himself and living that life to its end on the “Tree of the Cross.”

The Gospel for today  is the account of Jesus’ beginning his living his identity.  In the verses immediately before what we hear,    we read of Jesus being announced as the “beloved” of the Father in Whom God is well pleased.  Jesus heard what the Father had said, and was sent to live that identity.

So the rising action of His story takes place quite quickly.  The devil has Him where he wants Him. Jesus is hungry, vulnerable unsupported by anything except his name.

In three straight little stories, the Tempter is back at it. “Forget yourself, your name, what you heard and listen to what others would say of you. You changed stones into bread. You went flying off the ledge and landed safely. You now have all the kingdoms, handed to you by the real creator of what life can be.” Jesus seems to laugh at the Devil’s silly invitations to forget or deny His Self and His relationship with His Father and His Father’s Kingdom.

The Tempter is the fashioner of the “quick-and easy” style of life. The Tempter is still working on humanity to convince us that knowledge is wisdom and it can be obtained googily or by drinking this or doing that.  Jesus lived the life now traveled by those de-fig-leafed by God’s love.  Lent is the time for letting our names and identities be listened to again. We are walking life’s road toward our being immersed again in the waters of Easter.  We are encouraged and graced to continue climbing the “Tree of Life” and rejoicing in the wisdom-fruit it offers to the patient climbers.   

by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Creighton University's The Deglamen Cneter for Ingnatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager
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