March 31: Fourth Sunday of Lent
Invitation to Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, open my heart to see the great way you are active in the life of all God’s children.
Reflection: On this fourth Sunday of Lent, we take yet another break from the dark days of Lent to remember the great hope we have in our own salvation. In today’s Gospel reading (for those not hearing the Scrutiny readings), we hear this toward the end of the Parable of the Prodigal Son: “He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him.”
Why shouldn’t he be angry? Why shouldn’t he stay way from the party feeling cheated? He’s the faithful son who has loved his Father and served him all along! But what we might not notice is the fact that by doing exactly these things, he removes himself from the presence of his father and separates himself from the family.
So many times in our lives, we allow someone’s past dictate how we treat him now. We’re quick to hold a grudge or quick to think more highly of ourselves because we didn’t go astray. All the while, we never recognize that it is only by God’s grace that we have been able to stay faithful. Our pride gets in the way of us joining in the celebration of a brother or sister coming back to life!
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you suffered and died for all our sins and through your resurrection you open the gates of heaven. Please help us to recognize this great gift you offer to all of us and to celebrate with much rejoicing the return of our brothers and sisters.
Action: Take time today to tell at least one person why you are so glad God has placed him or her in your life and pray with great hope for those who have left the Church.
Wayne Topp is the Associate Director of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Vocations office who handles parish support for vocation ministry, youth engagement, and support for seminarians.
April 1: Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Invitation to Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus help my unbelief.
Reflection: In today’s Gospel, a royal official seeks Jesus healing gift for his son. His strong belief in who Jesus is, overcomes even Jesus remark back to him “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”
Believing in Jesus, who he is and his healing gift is no easy task. A dear friend shared with me before his by-pass surgery this quote from St. Faustina; “A humble soul does not trust itself, but places all its confidence in God.” My dear friend and the royal official placed all their confidence in Jesus and both came away believing.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, through the heart of St. Faustina, may we go before Jesus with a humble heart and place all my confidence in Him.
Closing: On this April’s Fools Day, a day for practical jokes and hoaxes, share with someone your belief, your confidence, your encounter with Jesus. May the Lord find you ready to share your confidence in Jesus.
Deacon Henry Jacquez, ordained April 27th, 2013 Pastoral Associate Holy Trinity Church – Norwood, Master’s Pastoral Ministry, The Athenaeum of Ohio, married 39 years, 3 children, 4 grandsons. Love the summer conferences at Franciscan University, Steubenville Ohio.
Tuesday April 2: Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, make me well.
Reflection: In our Gospel reading for today, Jesus heals a man who had been ill for 38 years. Jesus, before healing him, asks the man, “Do you want to be well?” This may seem like a strange question. We would assume someone who has been suffering illness for 38 years would definitely want to be healed. But that’s not always the case. We see this clearly in regards to sin in our lives. Sin wounds us and also wounds our relationships with God and with others. We know this. We realize how much damage sin does in our lives.
Yet, we may have those moments where we’re not ready to allow Jesus to remove those sins. We continue to hold on to them. One can think of St. Augustine’s famous prayer, “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”
Jesus wants to make us well, and to do this here and now. He wants to set us free from sin, especially in Confession. If we truly desire to be well, let us then seek out His mercy and the forgiveness of our sins. Then, like the unnamed man in the Gospel, Jesus will gaze on us lovingly and say, “Look, you are well.”
Prayer: Jesus, set me free from all that wounds me and let me know the healing that only You can provide.
Closing: Spend time today examining your conscience, asking the Lord to grant you the desire to truly be well.
Fr. Tim Ralston was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2010. He has served as parochial vicar for St. Charles Borromeo parish (Kettering) and the Coldwater Cluster (Coldwater). He is currently the pastor at St. Bernadette parish in Amelia.
April 3: Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me to love the Father as you love Him.
Reflection: Imagine being labeled blasphemous because you called God your Father. Yet in today’s Gospel that is exactly what happens to Jesus. Our understanding of Jesus message is an invitation be not only call God our Father but to become His children by what we say and do.
Jesus reaffirms his mission as the One who is sent by God to prepare the world for the final judgement. During the season of Lent we reflect more deeply on what this means in our lives. By listening to the words of Jesus we are heeding the Word of God.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant that my ears may be open to hear your words and may they find fertile ground in my heart. Like you, I desire to do the will of God, whom you taught us to call Our Father. May my thoughts, words, and actions find favor with God today, and in the hour that is yet to come.
Closing: Reflect on Jesus saying that the Father has given judgement over to Him, and that those who hear and believe in the One who sent Jesus will have eternal life..
Deacon Tim Crooker has been ordained for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati since 2004 and serves as Pastoral Associate at St. James, White Oak and St. Francis Xavier, Downtown.
April 4: Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Invitation to Prayer: “They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it.” — Exodus 32:8
Reflection: It didn’t take long for the ancient Israelites to lose focus about the reason for their journey. Moses was gone for forty days and they gave up on waiting for him, and they forgot about God. They gathered together their most expensive worldly possessions, their jewelry. They melted them down and molded them into a golden calf. They would then worship their own worldly possessions on an altar as their god. Even with the miracles that had happened to them on their journey, their faith was still weak.
We have our own forty days of Lent to navigate through the distractions that can challenge our faith and our resolve. We have something far greater than Moses to keep us focused. God is not hidden in a cloud on some far off mountain. We have Jesus present in our midst in the Holy Eucharist to feed us and give us the grace to remain steadfast on our journey toward Easter.
Prayer: Lord God, we thank you for the gift of Jesus who came into the world to teach us how to live. Thank you for the Real Presence of Jesus, who is present on the altar at Mass and in the tabernacle. Help us with your grace to remain focused on Jesus as we journey ever closer to you. We pray in the Holy Name of Jesus, Amen.
Deacon Dave Steinwert serves at St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Cincinnati. He writes a weekly reflection in the parish bulletin in a section entitled “The Deacon’s Corner”.
April 5: Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Invitation to Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me the strength to make the necessary changes in my life so as to honor The Father by embracing my Catholic faith.
Reflection: In the Gospel today, the Jews argue whether Jesus is the Messiah, a prophet, or an imposter; they do not know where he gets his wisdom from; they are short-tempered; Despite the signs they have seen (miracles, teaching) they do not want to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Perhaps some, thinking that he came from Nazareth and was the son of Joseph and Mary, cannot see how this fits in with the notion usually taken from Isaiah’s prophecy. They also did not want to accept his teaching because it demanded a mental and moral conversion.
We must be willing to accept all teachings of the Catholic Church. We must be willing to make mental and moral conversions so we can embrace the precious gift of our faith.
Prayer: Jesus, open my eyes to those areas of my life that You are asking me to change, let go of or transforms so I can glorify Your heavenly Father.
Closing: Take a few moments in silence and think of what one thing you will change today for the Glory of God.
John O’Maley will be ordained April 27, 2019. He will be assigned to St. Philip the Apostle Church in Morrow, OH. Member of St. Philip for 6 years; lector, choir member and former President of the Pastoral Council. John married Joy, his high school sweetheart, 43 years ago. They grew up in Loogootee, Indiana. They have 4 grown children, 2 of which are adopted, and 5 grandchildren. 1973 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point; retired Captain and Ranger, US Army. He worked at Procter and Gamble for 10 years in manufacturing, marketing and sales.
April 6: Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Invitation to prayer: Lord, help us to stand strong in our faith, even if we are standing alone.
Reflection: In today’s gospel, we encounter many confused people. The crowd is confused because of Jesus’ origins, the guards are confused because of Jesus’ teachings, and Nicodemus is confused by the Pharisees’ condemnation. We all know how this story turns out, and it makes me think of those folks who were in the minority, who saw that it wasn’t right to arrest and crucify Jesus – even though the authorities insisted that it was right. I think we can all agree that it’s sometimes difficult to stand up for what is right, especially when it isn’t popular. Too often we hear messages of hate, prejudice, and judgement; those messages are often loud and persistent; and sometimes they are coming from our leaders (whether political, religious or otherwise). It is thus challenging to speak up, to stand firmly on the side of love and compassion, to maybe be the lone voice of reason. Thankfully, we have a long history of saints and martyrs to bolster us against hatred and guide us to manifest Christ’s love (not to mention God walking with us every step of the way).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we know that you stood firm in your message of unconditional love, forgiveness and welcome, and we pray that you support us as we try to follow in your path.
Closing: When you hear a message of prejudice or condemnation, hatred or anger, ask God to help you find a way to meet that message with boundless love and compassion.
Andrew Musgrave is the Director of the Catholic Social Action office. He recently moved here from Milwaukee and holds degrees from Notre Dame (BA in theology) and Marquette (MA in public service). He is married to Ana, and they have two daughter, ages 11 and 4.