Weekly Digest of the Regnum Christi Daily Meditations: March 19-26, 2023
Sunday, March 19, 2023 – And if a Person Is Spiritually Blind?
Monday, March 20, 2023 – A Heroic Example
Tuesday, March 21, 2023 – The Desire to Be Cured
Wednesday, March 22, 2023 – Greater Deeds Still
Thursday, March 23, 2023 – God’s Testimony
Friday, March 24, 2023 – Trust: A Lenten Resolution
Saturday, March 25, 2023 – The Power of Personal Freedom
Sunday, March 26, 2023 – Light and Life from Darkness and Death
March 19, 2023 – Fourth Sunday of Lent
And if a Person Is Spiritually Blind?
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—. So he went and washed, and came back able to see. His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is,” but others said, “No, he just looks like him.” He said, “I am.” So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.” And they said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I don’t know.” They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.” So some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight. They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How does he now see?” His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is of age; question him.” So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give God the praise! We know that this man is a sinner.” He replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.” The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” Then they threw him out. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”
Introductory Prayer: Father, I come to you like the man born blind. I am totally dependent on your grace. I want to show you my love by being totally open to the graces you will give me through this meditation.
Petition: Lord, help my faith grow when I encounter adversity.
- Who’s to Blame? Many people, moved by compassion, would drop a coin into the cup, thinking all the while, “Poor devil, must have been quite a sinner.” The disciples, though they had heard Jesus’ many parables about mercy, show a tiny bit of this “misfortune-equals-divine-punishment” outlook themselves. But, perhaps it could have been his parents who are to blame? The disciples are frequently criticized for being slow on the uptake, but that is because they are the mirror that deflects the criticism from where it should really go: to ourselves. How often, when bad things happen, we wonder if God really loves us. We can find ourselves shaking our fist and muttering, “He doesn’t care what happens to me.” Jesus’ answer to this lack of faith is as sharp as it is consoling: “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”
- Faith Can Grow Through Adversity! The simple life of the formerly blind beggar became quite complicated indeed. Instead of encountering rejoicing friends and family upon receiving the miracle, he encounters confrontation. The adversity is intense; the hostility of the Pharisees is palpable. Yet through it all, the man remains steadfast in his belief in Jesus. In fact, with each attack at his credibility and even with his parents wanting to keep a safe distance, the man’s adherence to Jesus grows and grows. This is seen in the way he refers to Jesus. “The man Jesus” … “He is a Prophet” … “I do believe, LORD.” From “man” to “prophet” to “Lord”: That is the work of God shining through this unlikely apostle! Let’s look at the situations in our life that challenge our faith. Could we, like this man, turn the tables and make it a faith-growing opportunity? Like him, could we be better witnesses to Jesus?
- He Worshiped Him: Faith not only grows through adversity. It can sometimes make a giant leap. Nowhere else in the New Testament, before the Resurrection, do we encounter Jesus being “worshiped.” The man once blind now is gifted with dazzling light: Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God! That gift is so great, so amazing, that there is no looking back. The man has been tossed out of the synagogue which, according to the Jewish culture of the time, was the moral equivalent of a death sentence; cut off from the people, he was a non-person. Yet there are no regrets. The vision of spiritual truth, the astounding realization of who Jesus is, more than repays any sacrifice.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I long to please you with my life. Help me to recognize when you are trying to do God’s works through me. Often, I am slow to see any positive value to passing adversity. But I know with your help I can be a witness to you. Like the man you cured of his blindness, I cry out to you, “I do believe, Lord!”
Resolution: Each time I encounter adversity, I will make an act of faith stronger than the last one.
March 20, 2023 – Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
A Heroic Example
Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, in spite of difficulties I trust in your love and mercy. I believe in you, I hope in you, and I love you above all things. These ingredients—faith, hope and love—will help strengthen me for today’s battle. Lord, I entrust myself to you unconditionally.
Petition: Lord, grant me a clean conscience like that of your foster father, Joseph.
- My Situation: A danger could exist on our spiritual journey. When everything is quiet, works well and is intelligible, or when others esteem our efforts, our life seems to flourish. On the other hand, when everything is tough, humiliating or painful, a repugnance seems to cast a gray cloud over us. We may even begin to wonder if God still loves us. We need to keep our faith in God strong always. Joseph is a good example for us to emulate, for he did not become discouraged easily when undergoing trials.
- A Clean Conscience: Joseph, a just man, wanted to believe Mary’s story, but the facts were too harsh to comprehend. He loved and cared for Mary, but he felt betrayed. Since he had a clean conscience, he tried to dismiss the perfect dream of taking Mary to be his wife and decided to divorce her quietly. God, seeing Joseph’s honesty, communicated to him the truth about Mary’s integrity. A message in a dream was enough to convince his willing heart. How willing am I to believe the works of God in my life? How willing am I to fulfill God’s will?
- Not All Is Easy for a Just Man: God chose a man of great integrity and detail to shoulder the daunting responsibility of raising his Son. Would Joseph ever have imagined that five months after taking Mary into his home he would have to take her to Bethlehem without any comforts or security during the journey? Would he ever have imagined that he would have to flee to Egypt, dodging swords and soldiers? This was the price he paid for being an honorable man. However, the Lord rewarded Joseph with being the foster father of the Creator of the Universe, with all the blessings and satisfactions that this would imply.
Conversation with Christ: O Christ, King and Lord, your foster father Saint Joseph provides me with an example of courage in bearing serenely the weight of life’s crosses and difficulties. Help me to see the beauty of giving limitlessly and surrendering my life to you.
Resolution: I will chat with Saint Joseph at some moment during the day, asking him to teach me how to be serene in times of trial.
March 21, 2023 – Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
The Desire to Be Cured
There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there. After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I look to you with faith, knowing that you are the Lord of all. I hope in your boundless mercy, since without you I can do nothing. I want to love as you deserve, so I come to you in this prayer to console you and bring you the joy of this moment together.
Petition: Lord, help me to be humble of heart so you will heal me.
- Christ’s Power Is Stronger: The man in the Gospel was ill for 38 years. His sickness serves as an example of a life of sin. In 1 John 2:16 we read about a triple spiritual sickness: “Sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life.” However, not even a sickness persisting for 38 years is able to escape Jesus’ curing power. Christ’s power is stronger still. We should therefore take hope, for no sickness, no sin—or life of sin—is too great for him to cure. All that is needed is that we turn to him with a humble and contrite heart: “Lord, I am not worthy, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”
- Revealing Our Weaknesses: Nothing is impossible for Christ. He can heal the sick; he can also forgive their sins, as he forgives the paralytic who is lowered from a rooftop (cf. Mk 2:1-12). All it takes is for this sick man to reveal his weakness—and he does so with detail, like a true confession: how he has attempted to enter the pool, how as he has tried, someone else has beaten him to it. Perhaps without this detailed account of his failure, he might not have been cured. The sick man’s admitting both his personal weakness and desire to plunge into the pool moves Jesus to compassion. This is the remedy to all of our illnesses: presenting ourselves to Christ as we truly are, with all of our weakness, and thus moving him to compassion.
- “Go and Sin No More”: Jesus says, “Look, you are well, do not sin anymore.” It would be a pity if this man, who is deeply moved by Jesus and made whole, afterwards dedicates himself to a life of vice. From the Gospel passage, it would seem that Jesus has cured him in order to allow him to utilize his time and energy for the benefit of the Kingdom: Christ warns the sick man that if he misuses his new health, he could be worse off than before. Hopefully, his healing will produce a conversion and make him a herald of the Kingdom. This happens also in the sacrament of reconciliation: After forgiving our sins, Christ tells us, “Go in peace and proclaim to the world the wonderful works of God who has brought you salvation.”
Conversation with Christ: O Jesus, the only way that I can be like the man at the pool of Bethesda is to be grateful for the gifts you have given me, to fight against a life of sin, and to clothe myself with the “new man.” I am ready to embrace your will with love, even if this means dying to myself.
Resolution: As Easter approaches, I will humbly recognize my sinfulness and seek God’s healing grace in the sacrament of confession, when I am able.
March 22, 2023 – Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Greater Deeds Still
Jesus answered the Jews: “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God. Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for what he does, the Son will do also. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he himself does, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes. Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life. Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself. And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation. I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”
Introductory Prayer: Christ, I certainly believe in you, because in baptism you gave me the gift of faith. I believe for all those who do not believe in you. See my effort, Lord. I trust in your divine plan, and I hope in your saving grace.
Petition: Lord, grant me the gift of piety.
- Like Father, Like Son: “I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for what he does, the Son will do also. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he himself does.” The relationship between Christ and his Father was one of total respect and love. It wasn’t marred by the breakdown so frequently and tragically experienced in our modern family. The intensity of filial love that Jesus lived toward his Father was so powerful that it provides a path for all of us to follow. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of piety. Piety lavishes the soul with the capacity for considering God as our Father and all people as our brothers and sisters. A forgiving heart, which prevails over any rancor for injuries received, is one of the fruits of this gift.
- The Requirements of Piety: Jesus said, “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.” There is no need to squander time in hatred for our brothers and sisters. Only God can judge their hearts. Our duty is to treat everyone with respect and love; this is the best way we have to foster the gift of piety.
- Humility Is the Key: Jesus said, “I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” Believe it or not, the humble are the only ones who can lead a peaceful coexistence with all and, at the same time, stalwartly uphold truths and principles. Who can imagine a sunny day without the sun? Who can imagine the gift of piety without the practice of humility? I should examine those times when I blame everyone else for my impatience. Are they not a result of the difficulty I experience in shouldering someone else’s plans over my own or in accepting God’s will at the expense of my preferences?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, so many times have I come to you on my knees. I come now, confident that you will pour into my heart an abundance of the gift of piety through the infinite merits you won for me on the cross. Help me, Lord, to see you in everyone I meet.
Resolution: I will be a pious friend and a forgiving neighbor. I will humbly offer my services to the neighbor who interests me the least.
March 23, 2023 – Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Jesus said to the Jews: “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life. I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope. For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
Introductory Prayer: Jesus, the gift of faith permits me to soar higher. I believe in you! I lend myself to this intricate duty of faith, and with a hopeful trust, I leap toward your infinite love. I love you, Lord. I have come to spend this time with you just because I want to be with you.
Petition: Lord, help me to live with purity of intention.
- Seeking Human Praise: Jesus said, “I do not accept human praise.” Why? His Father deserves all the credit for anything that exists because, after all, he created everything. Knowing and accepting this is indeed a quick path to holiness. Jesus is God, but he leaves us a splendid example of how man should search for God’s glory and not his own. When we look for our own “fan club,” we are really stripping God of the glory that he alone deserves. When we seek praise from people and work hard to be accepted by them, we are standing before a guillotine that severs a head from its body. However, by purifying our intentions and glorifying God alone through all our actions and thoughts, eternal life is merited for us and for many souls.
- The Proper Motives for Our Deeds: Self-seeking doesn’t work. True, selfless love does. There are some advantages to living a life that seeks only God’s glory. The benefit achieved is order. We learn to maintain the proper hierarchy in our values and to keep things in their place. When parents need to punish a wayward child, their question is: “Are we punishing him because he has done something wrong and needs to be taught a lesson?” Or do they allow their anger to get the best of them, and the punishment then becomes a release valve for their fury? Likewise, in our use of the material goods we have at our disposal, do we use them out of pure love of God or only for our comfort?
- True Peace of Heart: When children do something wrong, they usually act nervously when their wrongdoing is uncovered. However, when they are mistakenly blamed, they show a convincing innocence, and the accuser retracts in time to avoid harm. The same could be said about purity of intention. If a soul labors only for God’s glory, then a certain guarantee of fulfillment necessarily accompanies his destiny. No matter how many obstacles and misunderstandings might besiege him, the soul who follows God’s will enjoys peace.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you teach me in the Gospel to add a supernatural dimension to all my enterprises and efforts. This mortal existence on earth is a mere drop in the ocean compared to eternity that will quickly engulf me. Help me to do all for your greater glory.
Resolution: In my conversations today, I will not brag about myself. I will try to focus the conversation on the interests of others.
March 24, 2023 – Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Trust: A Lenten Resolution
John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.
Introductory Prayer: Jesus, I truly believe and hope in you and your Gospel. You have touched me by the example of trust you had in your Father’s plan. I adore you and thank you with my whole heart.
Petition: Lord, help me to trust more in your divine providence.
- A Way Out When Cornered: A cornered bear reacts by the instinct of self-preservation and fights until death. Christ, however, shows an altogether different attitude when challenged. He seems always to be calm and in control of every situation. He knows that not a single hair will fall from his head unless the Father deliberately permits it to occur. Many times, our fears corner us to the point that we get spooked. To conquer our fears, we need to believe more, hope more, and love Christ much more.
- The Force of Love: It is interesting to note that Jesus originally planned to stay behind in Galilee. But out of charity and trust in the Father’s will, Jesus set out on the perilous journey to Judea. Once there, he forgot the danger that loomed before him. Christ felt a renewed strength as he had compassion for the lost sheep in Judea. Nothing could diminish his resolve to feed the spiritually hungry, cure the sick, and teach the ignorant. Love gave Christ the capacity to give himself more. Love protects life from prejudices and complaints.
- Proof of God’s Love: The soldiers tried to arrest Jesus, but they were thwarted. The Father had decided that his Son was not to be given up yet. Cancer, global warming, the nuclear bomb, terrorism and natural disasters—things that might seem to be threats to us—should not make us fearful. Trust is really trust! Jesus invites us to trust, and this is powerful. Saint Paul says, “All things work together for good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28). The important thing in life is for us to keep our thoughts and efforts focused on God’s will and to go about doing good, generously serving others. “Seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides” (Lk 12:31).
Conversation with Christ: My Lord and Savior, I know that my vision is often short-sighted. Teach me to love and to trust. Enlarge my heart so that I can endure adverse situations and predicaments for the sake of my eternal salvation. Jesus, I trust in you!
Resolution: Today when contradictions flare up at the workplace or at home, I will not sigh in despair. Rather, I will make an act of hope: “Long live Christ the King!”
March 25, 2023 – Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
The Power of Personal Freedom
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Introductory Prayer: Heavenly Father, you have given Mary to us as our Blessed Mother. Thank you. I know that she constantly intercedes on our behalf and that you listen to her prayer. I am confident in your mercy and love. You are guiding me home to spend eternity with you. I place all my trust in you. I offer you my weak but grateful love in return.
Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to embrace you in faith, hope, and love.
- Sent from God: Too often we attribute too much of our achievements to our own doing. Our education, wealth, or technological ability can lead us to have a false sense of security in our ability to shape our world. Today’s Gospel reminds us that God’s plan for the salvation of the human race is his own initiative. He sends his Son into the world at a precise time and in a precise place. He prepares Mary beforehand with everything she will need to fulfill her mission as Mother of the Redeemer—a mission that she accepts in freedom and through faith. I do well to realize more and more that God is also the true protagonist of my own life.
- Do Not Be Afraid: One of the constant refrains of the Gospel is Jesus’ admonition: “Do not be afraid.” When the Lord draws near, our natural tendency is to be afraid. We can be afraid of his presence. We can be afraid of what he might ask of us. We can be afraid of our own limitations in the face of the call to true conversion and holiness of life. We can be afraid of the apparent obstacles along the path of Christian discipleship. Like Mary, we need to overcome our fear by embracing God’s will with faith and love. As our confidence in God increases, our fear decreases. As our love increases, our fear disappears. Of what am I afraid in my relationship with the Lord? Am I surrendering my fear by giving myself in faith?
- May It Be Done to Me: What a truly incredible thing it is to make the salvation of the human race dependent upon the free response of Mary! Mary’s “yes” to God shows us the power and transcendence of personal choice. It also sheds light on the importance of our own personal “yes” to God with regard to his plan for our lives. Mary’s loving, faith-filled consent to a plan she did not fully understand becomes the model of our own daily consent to the divine will as it manifests itself in our daily lives.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I have remembered through this meditation that you are the one guiding my life and all of history. I need to be mindful that you always intend good for me, even if it is painful and purifying. So, I should never be afraid of your hand in my life. I believe and trust in you, my Lord, but increase my faith, hope and love.
Resolution: I will embrace God’s will today as Mary did—with faith and love.
March 26, 2023 – Fifth Sunday of Lent
Light and Life from Darkness and Death
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to him saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.” When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
Introductory Prayer: Heavenly Father, I know that you give us only what is good and that you are paternally guiding us home to you. I trust in your mercy and love. In return I offer you my love, though it is so weak and stained by my egotism. Here I am, Lord, ready to listen to you and to respond with all my heart.
Petition: Inspire me, Lord, by your love, and guide me by your example.
- “This Illness Is Not to End in Death, But Is for the Glory of God…”: God draws good from apparent evil. Physical illness leading to the death of the body is the remains, so to speak, of original sin. Christ comes to destroy death at its root: by destroying sin, he also destroys death. Yet he does this precisely by suffering and dying himself—by embracing death. What was previously the ultimate penalty for disobedience to God becomes, because of Christ, the moment of birth into eternal life with God. Am I able to give this Christian meaning to death, and thus be peaceful about it, despite the pain?
- “I Am the Resurrection and the Life”: Death is an oppressive reality, whether it be the death of a loved one or the prospect of our own passing. But when we look at Christ, we see the resurrection and life behind the darkness of death. If we truly believe that Christ is the resurrection and the life, we become a sign of hope for others. We become living signs of hope in a world that seems shrouded in so much darkness. Is Christ really my resurrection and life? Does my hope in him bring resurrection and life to those who need it?
- “And Jesus Wept”: Why did Jesus weep? There have been many attempts to answer this question throughout the ages. Jesus’ tears at the death of his friend, Lazarus, show us the true humanity of his heart. Indeed, the Lord has a truly human heart. He loves us with that heart. He participates in all our joys and sorrows. He truly takes no pleasure in our suffering or death. On the contrary, he wishes to heal us and keep us from pain. But Our Lord permits these in our life to heal our soul and free it from any attachment to the goods of this life. He allows us to be sorrowful now so he can fill us with eternal joy later. Sometimes we fail to appreciate this reality. Do I relate to Christ as he truly is—true man and true God—, or do I see him as being distant and detached from my life?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, let me come to you! In the world there is darkness and obscurity, but you are the light. You are the light of the world. Whoever follows you will never walk in darkness. Lord, light my way!
Resolution: Today I will be a sign of hope, of resurrection and life to others.