Hear our prayer

“Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise.”

Look kindly, Lord, we pray,
on the devotion of your people,
that those who by self-denial are restrained in body
may the fruit of good works be renewed in mind.

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: 

Hear our prayer. 
The Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent take on a more penitential tone.
 
Our longing intensifies.
 
We know we have to work hard to resist temptation
 
and to change some of our bad habits.
 
We know that spiritual renewal won't come easy.
 
But we know that all we will ultimately be able to do
 
will come from God's inspiration - as a gift.
 
So we ask from a deeper and deeper place in our hearts.

We listen to the wonderful children's story about Nineveh. 
They responded to God's word and repented.

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; 
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. 

Psalm 51
  

Intercessions: 

Blessed be God, the giver of salvation, who decreed that mankind should become a new creation in himself, when all would be made new.  With great confidence let us ask him: 
   Lord, renew us in your Spirit.
 

Lord, you promised a new heaven and a new earth; renew us daily through your Spirit,
 
 - that we may enjoy your presence for ever in the heavenly Jerusalem.
 

Help us to work with you to make this world alive with your Spirit,
 
 - and to build on earth a city of justice, love and peace.
 

Free us from all negligence and sloth,
 
 - and give us joy in your gifts of grace.
 

Deliver us from evil,
 
 - and from slavery to the senses, which blinds us to goodness

Closing Prayer: 

Dear Lord, 
I know you receive what is in my heart. 
Let me be inspired by your words 
and by the actions of your son, Jesus. 
Guide me to make sacrifices this Lent 
in the spirit of self-denial 
and with greater attention to you 
and to those around me. 
Help me to believe that you will grant me this 
because of the sacrifice Jesus made for me.

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

 
Daily Reflection
Of Creighton University's Online Ministries

“A clean heart create for me , O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me” (Ps 51:12-13).

Where is God in human suffering?  Is there a more profound mystery in human life? And today because of electronic media we are acutely aware of suffering  of millions occasioned by political and religious  conflicts. Millions of our fellow human beings are risking  their lives  fleeing  from hostile environments.  Our hearts are tortured by scenes of desperate  refugee families seeking safe havens.

How does our faith help us cope?   It is important to note the crucial difference between the Old Testament and New Testament approaches.

The narrative of Jonah and the Ninevites from the Book of Jonah illustrates  the dominant Old Testament approach.  God made a covenant with the Hebrews through Moses on Mt. Sinai. The First Commandment of the covenant prohibits the worship of false gods. The Commandment specifies both the rewards and punishments resulting from observance and non-observance this commandment:  “. . . for I the Lord your God am a jealous God,  punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments”(Ex 20:4-5).

Old Testament Covenant Theology is stark: fidelity to the Covenant guaranteed rewards from God; infidelity guaranteed  punishment. The Ninevites had sinned grievously and God sent Jonah to proclaim punishment for these sins.  But at the preaching of Jonah the Ninevites repented and God  therefore withdrew the threatened punishment. Please note that God’s rewards and punishments occur in this life since at the time there was no belief in an afterlife. 
God’s role in human suffering in the Old Testament question is clear: God sends suffering as a warning and a punishment for violating the Covenant. In this framework the appropriate response regarding suffering is simple:  What have we done to deserve this?

Please note that the New Testament presents an entirely different approach.  Jesus’ proclamation of Good News announces the coming of a new dimension of life through the sending of the Holy Spirit,. This new life is imparted through faith and baptism.  Paul calls this new life a “new creation.”  And the Holy Spirit not only strengthens believers in trials here on earth but also guarantees a continuation of life after death.  

In short, the New Testament does not present suffering as a punishment from God.  The New Testament exhorts believers to remember that God remains present even amid suffering. Indeed the New Testament witnesses that the power of God is manifested even more starkly  in suffering.  Paul reiterates this truth throughout his epistles. Indeed in his letter to the Corinthians we even find Paul boasting in his suffering so that the power of God made be manifested in him!

Jesus in the gospels invites all those who labor and are burden to come to him. And Jesus on the cross is the exemplar of trusting in God amid suffering.

For Christians the appropriate response to suffering is simple. We love our neighbor as ourselves and do what we can to alieviate suffering.  And ultimately trusting in the Holy Spirit, we kneel before the crucifix and pray:   Help us , O Lord!

“A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me” (Ps 51:12-13).

by Dick Hauser, S.J.
Creighton University's President's Office
click here for photo and information about the writer

 
Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager
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