The Spirit led Jesus into the desert. When you feel alone and needy and
no one is there to help and nothing is going your way, life is like a
desert. You may be tempted to give up. It is then that faith is most
difficult. It takes courage to believe God loves you. Can you pray with
Jesus to trust in God's care for you in the deserts of your life?
about the others?
"I didn't mean to hurt anybody": These words often follow disaster. A
young girl dies due to excessive speed. A boy is hospitalized after a
fight. A reputation is ruined because of a lie. Sin appears so
attractive, full of pleasure and self-satisfaction. Sin is evil but
appears good. Sin creates a desert of isolation. When you are tempted to
act irresponsibly, ask with Jesus, "What about the other person?"
Relationships can bring out the worst in people. Envy, pride and
jealousy spread their poisons. You try to change the other person to
meet your expectations. But it doesn't work. Lent is a reminder that
others really change only when they are loved. That means first changing
It's hard standing at the end of the line, isn't it? It's hard always
being the last chosen or the one left out. What does this do to your
self-image or your sense of being valued? Those at the end, at the
bottom of the social ladder, are easily forgotten. Jesus sees the last
coming first. Whatever you do to the least, you do to Jesus. This
creates an oasis in life's desert. But do you believe it?
It does rain in the desert. Flowers grow there. The desert sunflower is
an example. Isaiah the prophet says God's word, like rain, gives life to
the good seed in you. Seeds of kindness, integrity and courage are
planted through the events of each day. These need the life-giving
nourishment of God's word to grow. How are you cultivating the seeds
planted in the garden of your life?
Who is your closest friend, the one whose acceptance brings you joy?
This person is someone special. Jesus shares with you his special
relationship to God. He addresses God with the familiar title of
"Daddy." In prayer it is not the words you use that count, but your
awareness of God's complete love for you. God's love will always
accompany you as you journey through the deserts of your life.
A classmate is caught shoplifting. What do you do? A friend is lured
into a drug-dealing gang. How do you respond? Out of a false loyalty you
may do nothing. Jesus invites you to love your friend or classmate just
as you want to be loved. This involves action. Such love, according to
Jesus, is the whole meaning of God's law.
SUNDAY: Can you see the journey's end?
You are not to remain in the deserts of life. Today in the
transfigurationof Jesus you catch a glimpse of the glory that awaits you
at the end ofyour journey. God says, "This is my beloved Son on whom my
favor rests.Listen to him." This is a sneak preview of Easter. This is a
mostreassuring message: The happiness your heart desires is what God
desiresfor you. Imagine!
MONDAY: What's your image?
Who are you? What kind of person are you becoming? What's your image
ofyourself? Friends, movies, videos, music and advertising all try to
sellyou an image to imitate. God, too, has an image of you, "You are
mybeloved." To the world, you must prove yourself. For God, you mustlove
yourself. Which will it be?
TUESDAY: Are you listening?
God says, referring to Jesus, "Listen to him." To whom do youreally
listen? Just as the food you eat shapes your body, the voices youhear
shape your values. They feed your soul. Are the people you hear worthyof
your attention? Are they getting you into good spiritual shape? Do
youhear the words of Jesus addressed specifically to you?
WEDNESDAY: Can you face failure?
The world rejects failure. What do you do with what is selfish and
sinfulin you? Ads demand that you pretend to have no faults. Hide your
sins!Cover up both physical blemishes and moral weakness! But Jesus says
that,when you admit your sin and seek forgiveness, God gives you new
hope. Hidingsomething doesn't make it disappear. Recognizing your sin
can become apath to life.
THURSDAY: Who's there?
Look in the mirror. Who do you see? Can you see only your
imperfectionsand the things you want to change about yourself? Can you
see the childloved by God? Can you know God's joy in you as you try to
navigate thechoppy waters of adolescent life? See yourself through God's
FRIDAY: Can you change?
The Samaritan woman had five husbands. Bartimaeus was a blind beggar.
Zacchaeuswas a tax collector who cheated the people. The love of Jesus
releasedeach of them from shame. Jesus came for those whose self-esteem
was destroyedby their life circumstances. His love changed their lives.
Will you lethim change yours?
SATURDAY: Can you believe in yourself?
Are you popular? Do you try to please others? Do you bend yourself outof
shape to be accepted? Or do you believe that others will love in youwhat
you love in yourself? Experiencing God's love for you as you are isthe
beginning of a healthy self-love. You are his beloved. Believe it!
SUNDAY: Take a risk.
Sometimes the unexpected things are most important. A new classmate gets
the desk next to yours; a troubled team member asks for a ride; a new
teacher shows up in class. Offering Jesus a drink of water changed a
Samaritan woman's life. The ordinary things hold extraordinary
surprises. Give something new a chance!
MONDAY: Let go.
Have you ever said this or felt this way? Sometimes, when we hold on too
tight, our fear is greater than our love. Risk letting go of your fear
and of people to whom you cling too tightly. Tell God how much you want
to trust in his love.
St. Peter had an attitude. So he asked Jesus how often he needed to
forgive. Jesus responded with the unexpected answer. Forgiveness is not
about numbers. It is about attitude. Once you really know that God
forgives you everything, your attitude will change. You will be free to
forgive from your heart.
WEDNESDAY: Wake up!
A youth once described the Church as being on the outer circle of the
dartboard. He was referring to all the Church laws. Lent is a wake-up
call to the unexpected news梩he full meaning of all law rests in the
person of Jesus. He loves you personally and invites you to love in
return. Love is about a person before it is about law.
The little child watched with eyes like fifty sen coins as the sun fell
slowly from the sky. The horizon exploded with color梤ed and pink, orange
and rust. With amazement the child looked to his mother and said,
"Mummy, can you do that again?" God's wonders are there to dazzle you
each day. Are you too busy to look?
FRIDAY: Care enough.
What makes Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Mother Teresa
universally recognized as worthy of imitation? They lived with passion.
They served others, sought justice and cared for the forgotten ones
wholeheartedly. If you are bored with life, don't blame others. Look
within yourself. How passionate are you? Do you live fully or do you
hold back in fear?
A recent concert advertisement covering a Justin Bieber concert read,
"Connections, strings get you close to Justin." It is natural to want to
be someone who can get front-row seats. It is easy to expect that good
grades or success make you a a bit better than others. Jesus sees this
behavior as living in illusion. You don't become a better person by
looking down on others but by looking honestly at yourself. Jesus favors
the tax collector who prayed, "O God, be merciful to me, a sinner" (Luke
SUNDAY: Oh, say, can you see?
I saw a blind man play basketball. I watched a blind and deaf Helen
Keller see by using the movement of her fingers in the hand of her
teacher. Jesus healed a blind man who in return believed Jesus was
indeed God's chosen one. Seeing is believing. But believing is the light
needed to really see. What are your blind spots?
Faith makes things happen. Faith in a new coach can produce a winning
season. A teacher's faith in you can help you achieve unexpected
accomplishments. Faith sees the invisible possibilities. Faith brings
into light hidden gifts. Faith frees untapped powers in yourself, in
others and in God.
Trust unleashes a power in you and in others that fear blocks out.
"Trust me, you can do it," was the message of Ann Sullivan to a blind
Helen Keller. When you fear the blind spots in your life, Jesus says,
"Do not be afraid. I am with you always." Can you share a fear with
WEDNESDAY: Seeing clearly.
Ads say happiness lies in material things. Buy and you will be content.
But you always need more. Of course, this costs you more. Jesus says
money can never buy happiness. You look for it in the wrong places. That
is your blind spot. You hold the treasure you seek within you. Look
THURSDAY: Love alone.
TV is getting rich on game shows with big payoffs or reality-based shows
with million-dollar prize money. Lotteries are popular nationwide.
People seek happiness in money. This is a blind spot—in the eyes of
Jesus. Money without love is a skeleton of loneliness clothed in luxury.
Misplaced faith can kill body and spirit. Young people die from trusting
that drugs will make them happy. People kill their spirit of generosity
by seeking happiness at shopping malls. Jesus reminds you that where
your treasure is, your heart is sure to follow. If God is your delight,
God will give you your heart's desire.
Sometimes everything seems hopeless. An accident, a disappointment or a
rejection may lead you to feel this way. You may have been blind to
life's dangers and your spirit feels crushed. Here God's faithfulness
can bring hope to your spirit. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves" (Psalm 34:19). Use this
Lent is the drama of God breaking into human history through the love of
Jesus. It is shocking to see how God loves. In Jesus, it is God who
weeps at the death of his friend Lazarus. Through Jesus, God calls him
back to life. In Jesus, it is God who dines with sinners and sick
people. What is in you that God seeks to love? Are you ready to allow
God's love to bring what is dead in you to life?
Shame is a type of death. It cuts the roots of your self-confidence
and well-being. Those who see only your shame are dead, too. They ignore
their own humanity. Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, while
challenging the self-righteousness of her accusers. Those who throw
stones overlook their own offenses. Can you ask Jesus to heal your
When you experience suffering, you ask, "Why me?" It may be a car
accident or a sickness or the death of a friend. Where do you look for
understanding? Jesus' journey through the events of his passion offers
you no easy answer to life's mysteries but the assurance that God walks
with you. Is that enough?
Consider these cases: John let himself be talked into shoplifting and
was full of remorse once he was caught. Janey regretted giving in to
pressure from her boyfriend to have sex with him. She feels alone,
afraid to trust anyone. When you are faithful to your convictions, you
feel integrity's rewards. When others dictate your choices, something
dies in you.
Mary couldn't find her lost keys. She looked in all the wrong places梪ntil
she tried the ignition! Sometimes when you feel lost, you look in the
wrong places for help. Then you get depressed and down on yourself. You
feel empty, but the familiar voice of your friend can remind you that
you are somebody. God's voice calls to you, "My beloved."
Do you ever feel misunderstood? You try your best to be helpful but all
you hear is criticism. You may even be accused of acts of which you are
innocent. What do you do? Sometimes God is the only one who knows. With
Jesus you can pray, "In my distress I called upon the Lord. Praised be
the Lord....I am safe from my enemies" (Psalm 18:7,4).
When we use words carelessly or too frequently they lose their meaning.
The words love and freedom are good examples. Jesus comes to you as
God's word. He walked the walk before talking the talk. That is what
Lent is all about. How carefully do you use words?
Holy Week: Life
PALM SUNDAY: Power hunger.
The power of Jesus flows from obedience to God's will. His method of
change is through love. Power and fame tempt people to follow
superstars. For some, education, politics and economics are ways to
power rather than service. Fame in God's eyes is not being number one
but being one of a number of loving people. Which kind of power will you
MONDAY: Buried treasure.
Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with precious ointment. She was
criticized for wasting something so costly. She knew her act of love was
priceless. What is it in you or in your life that is beyond the value of
money? How do you share this treasure?
TUESDAY: Finding safety.
A friend betrayed Jesus. Jesus sought refuge or safety in God's love.
Betrayal doesn't harm the body, but it splits the human spirit. Once
betrayed, trust becomes difficult. A faithful friend is a great source
of healing. Seek God's Spirit in those painful moments of betrayal.
Do you ever feel down and low? Do you experience the poverty of feeling
alone? Jesus identifies with you in your suffering. Your God knows your
anguish. You can pray with confidence, "See, you lowly ones, and be
glad; you who seek God, may your hearts be merry!"(Psalm 69:33).
HOLY THURSDAY: Slave no more.
Today is the celebration of the Exodus: slavery to freedom. Today is the
foot-washing: freedom to service. Today is the Eucharist: service to
thanksgiving. Today is the birthday of the Church: thanksgiving to a
community of love. Today Jesus becomes your nourishment on the journey.
GOOD FRIDAY: Free at last.
How do you know when someone loves you? Words are not enough. Loving
feelings can't be trusted, for your feelings are constantly changing.
When someone can identify with your experience, it is a sign of love.
Today God identifies with the greatest mystery: suffering and death.
Only love overcomes the fear of death.
EASTER VIGIL: Magnetic attraction.
Love took Jesus on his earthly journey through death to resurrection.
Mary Magdalene came out of love to care for the body of Jesus. Love
created in the hearts of the believers the courage to act with
compassion. The resurrection is God's response to death and suffering.
It is the magnet of love pulling on your hear