Saturday of Week Five of Lent
LENTEN EVENING REFLECTION ON THE READINGS OF THE DAY
(Saturday of Week Five of Lent)
Br. Brillis Mathew
Dear brothers and sisters,
Last night we reflected on how important it is to journey together with our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph as we
prepare to enter
into Holy Week
. Today, on the other hand, we will reflect on how we should
enter into Holy Week
. Tomorrow, we begin Holy Week, and we know that the Holy Week specially invites us all to encounter our Lord – His Passion, His Death and to experience His Resurrection.
God wants to sanctify us
We all came into this world to live, but
Christ came into this world to die for all of us
. In today’s first reading, we hear the Prophet Ezekiel speaking to us:
“I will bring them back and I will cleanse them.”
(Ezekiel 37:21-28) Through this verse, we come to understand what God intends to do, what His plan for all of us is -
He wants to bring us back to Him and sanctify us.
There is only one way for all of us to enter into the presence of God, and that is by
. During this particular time of the pandemic, we are experiencing difficulties to sanctify ourselves using the means we normally undertake, which is by making a confession during this time of Holy Week. However, this year is in a certain sense
, if we can see it as an opportunity given to us by the Lord in order to rediscover the depth of the Sacraments – all of which are His gift to us - especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The first step – acknowledging that we are sinners
Pope Francis was recounting the question that many people have during this present time, when churches are closed, and there is no opportunity to approach a priest,
“How can we encounter the grace of God?”
The Pope was explaining: “
”, he said, “
as the Catechism says
We have to simply acknowledge that we are all sinners and that we need God’s mercy.
’” Venerable Fulton Sheen used to say,
“Sin is not the worst; but the worst is the denial of sin.”
Dear brothers and sisters, there is the saying,
“A thousand miles of journey begins with a single step.”
We start our long journey towards God by
acknowledging the fact that we are sinners
“Entering” into Holy Week with a humble and contrite heart
How do we enter into the Holy Week? I would say:
with a humble and contrite heart.
The Prophet Isaiah tells us that
God looks at and shows His mercy to all those who are humble, and possess a contrite spirit.
(Isaiah 66:2) We too need the help of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, we will never come to know that
we are all sinners.
(John 16:7-8) A few years ago, someone asked Pope Francis,
“Who are you? What would you say about yourself?”
The answer of the Pope was immediate:
“I am a sinner.”
is that we are
children of God
(Genesis 1:26-28) but our own
we are sinners
, carrying the fallen nature of humanity. Thus it is very important for all of us to realise the truth of our own sinfulness, and to make a true and sincere examination of conscience.
Let go of our worries into God’s hands: Live the day!
We live in the midst of many insecurities and uncertainties, and perhaps this Holy Week we carry more worries than we usually do. Our thoughts may be preoccupied with the security of our jobs or other problems at work; with financial problems - we may think about how we will support our families - even people living quite comfortable lives in the past may worry about the commitments that they have made or planned investments or how to support the studies of their children. We may have made so many plans based on the present situation and all of a sudden, we find that things are changing. Dear brothers and sisters, what is important for us during this time is
to cling to Jesus
who has promised us that He will never abandon us
. Jesus is always with us and He will always leave a door open for us. Something that we can trust is that
God will not allow us to be put to the test beyond our strength
(1 Corinthians 10:13); He will always provide us with
“an emergency exit.”
Almost 15-20 years ago, I had a meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio who was responsible for our area in the Middle East and the advice he gave me deeply touched me,
“When God opens a door for you, be faithful to that so that He will open another door for you.”
What is important for all of us, brothers and sisters, is
“to live the day”
. I once had a conversation with an old lady in Illinois who was 104 years old – At the end of our conversation I asked, “Is there any advice you would like to give to me?” She simply said,
“Live the day!”
I felt that her advice was so profound and Scriptural. Jesus said that we should follow Him
(Luke 9:23; Matthew 16:24-26) and that
we are not to worry about tomorrow; we are to trust in God’s Providence which will provide for us daily what we need.”
Confessing our sins with sincerity and openness
Coming back to our point of departure:
to enter into this Holy Week
, what is important for us is to
. We have to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes we can approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation taking
forgiveness for granted
and approach it insincerely and casually. During my time in seminary, a priest who was preaching to us once said something that struck me very deeply:
“Remember that the confessional is not a place to impress yourself.”
Sometimes we can visit the confessional without true repentance, all the while remaining slaves to impressing and flattering our own selves:
“I am a very righteous person and not like my siblings who are far away from God or my friends who do not come to church.”
God does not like this mentality of
; on the other hand, He wants us all to
be like the tax-collector.
This Easter, as we do not have the opportunity to confess to a priest, let us make a true examination of conscience in front of our Lord. Confession is the
of our heart:
“God, this is what I am”
. I recommend all of you, my dear brothers and sisters, to spend some quality time with the Lord and to ask Him to send His Holy Spirit to enlighten us so that we may understand our weaknesses and our failures, and thus, with
sincerity of mind
, confess to the Lord, asking His mercy, and making the promise that we will make a sincere confession at the earliest available opportunity. I can assure you that you will indeed receive this opportunity! I would like to share with you the experience that one of my friends, Fr. Jean-Laurent Marie, a priest of our Community, had – some of you may know his story - on how, just the night before a critical surgery that he was about to undergo, and not finding a priest to whom he could make a confession, he made a promise to the Lord,
“Lord, You know that I want to make a confession, but I cannot. If, however, I am alive following this surgery, I will surely make a confession.”
The Lord answered his prayer and a priest miraculously appeared to hear his confession.
Let us all make this resolve, and never feel abandoned; in fact, the moment we make a sincere confession to the Lord, admitting,
“I am a sinner”
, we already receive a great
, which will indeed transform our lives. So this is how, dear brothers and sisters, we are to enter into Holy Week.
Jesus died in order to save all of us who are sinners
In today’s Gospel also we heard about Caiaphas, who was High Priest of Jerusalem from 18 - 36 AD. We hear that under his leadership, the Sanhedrin decided to kill Jesus and were trying to justify their decision. This decision was not taken overnight, but something contemplated over a period of time. However, God used even this decision of theirs – the death of Jesus – for His own great purpose: we read in the Scripture that when Caiaphas said that it was better that one man should die for the people, he was in fact
that Jesus was to die not only for the Israelities, but for the whole world.
Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus died for us; He loves us; His arms are always open to embrace us,
especially all of us sinners
. We are sinners: we need His mercy; we need His grace.
With a humble and contrite heart, let us enter into this Holy Week.
“Lord, today by Your grace,
I will invite You into my heart;
and together we will shine light
on each one of my excuses, fears and sins -
so that You may heal me;
so that I may love and serve You
with a pure and peaceful heart.
John E. John
on Sunday, April 5 at 3:42PM