Second Sunday of Lent, Feb. 28 
Luke 9: 28-36

Today’s Gospel of the transfiguration from St. Luke is a foreshadowing of the resurrection and indicates to us the purpose, the reasons, for following Jesus. If we follow him, we too shall be transformed, we too shall rise. We will receive the “life in abundance” promised by Jesus to those who follow him.


In order to arrive at our own transfiguration, both in this life and in the life to come, we must listen to Jesus, whom God the Father reveals as his beloved Son in this Gospel scene. Only by listening to him, heeding his words and living his words, will our transfiguration take place.


We must listen to him as he tells us the parable of the Good Samaritan. If we listen and imitate the Samaritan, we become a compassionate people. We suffer with those who are suffering, we care about their plight and our care leads us to action. We become transformed from violent, indifferent, selfish people to a people of love and care even for those who harm us.


When we listen to the parable of the Prodigal Son, we come to understand that our Father in heaven is a forgiving Father. He sees and knows our offenses, sees us going our own way, and yet he forgives us, lets it all go, each time we return to him. And we, too, are to be a forgiving people. Resentments, hatred, prejudices, criticism and gossip become things of the past. Now we love and respect all of the children of God equally.


When we listen to Jesus tell us in the Gospel that he is the way, the truth and the life, we look to him for guidance, we seek him to be a part of our lives, and we pray to him daily for help in choosing the right way, his way, over our own way of doing things.


When we read the story of the woman caught in adultery, we hear Jesus say to her: “Woman, has no one condemned you?” And she replied. “No one, sir.” And then Jesus told her, “Then neither do I condemn you, Go now and sin no more.” In this Scripture passage we get to hear, and hopefully imitate, the sweet kindness of Jesus.


When we listen to Jesus, we willingly accept the daily crosses we have to carry. We become accepting of our illnesses, problems and the many crises of life, realizing these things are part of being human and that in accepting them we become a stronger and a wiser people. Rather than blaming others or God, we embrace these things that help us to listen to our Lord and seek his strength and grace all the more.


These and our many other acts of conforming to his will for us bring us the transfiguration from the old wine to the new. We have a fresh look and feeling of Jesus being part of our lives, of doing things his way, and of reaping the fruits of happiness, peace and joy that come from doing so.

Lord, help us to follow and listen to you faithfully all the days of our lives.

Fr. Howard


Monday of the Second Week of Lent, March 1 
Luke 6: 36-38


In yesterday’s homily we spoke of listening to Jesus if we wanted the promised transfiguration to happen to us. Today’s Gospel from St. Luke immediately follows this up with a few things for us to listen to.


“Stop judging and you will not be judged.” Judging others has to be among the top ten blocks to loving our neighbor, including our so-called enemies. This area is where our negativity really shines forth. Why do we always see the faults and failings of our neighbor long before we notice their gifts and talents? The temptation here seems to be to look at others as they might be or as we would like them to be instead of as they are. The sooner we learn that no matter what, we can’t change other people, the better off we will all be. Here we are powerless and the only solution to powerlessness is prayer – prayer for the person in question and accepting them as they are, faults and all.


“Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.” Here St. Luke addresses those who literally play God by judging whether or not a person they know will be saved or condemned, whether they belong to the category of the sheep or the goats. This is really carrying pride to the extreme. We are not God! We are not to do God’s work.


“Forgive and you will be forgiven.” We all enjoy the feeling of being forgiven, of being given a second chance. Do unto others as we would have them do unto us. If we want and expect forgiveness we must forgive quickly and readily those who harm us.

Stop judging, stop condemning, forgive others, give and you will receive. These are all things we must listen to and put into practice.

Lord, help me to listen closely to you today.

Fr. Howard

 


Tuesday of the Second Week in Lent, March 2 
Mt. 23: 1-12


Today’s Gospel reminds us of the necessity of the virtue of humility in our lives. We are to avoid playing the big shot, the great one. We are called to just be ourselves, to be just what the Lord made us.


All of us, I believe, are most ourselves when we are serving others. This is one of the reasons God made me in the first place. He has given me very special gifts for the places and situations in which he is going to place me. God wants me where I am today so that I will be able to use the gifts he gave me for someone who is going to need those gifts today. Maybe God is granting me a happy day today because someone I will meet today needs a smile. God gives us all our special gifts and talents not for ourselves or our own use, but for others. This is what makes the world go round. Life is not all about me. It is all about others.

Whom can I serve and help today? God, please point me in this direction.


Fr. Howard


Wednesday of the Second Week in Lent, March 3 
Mt. 20: 17-28

“This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”


All week long we’ve been working at listening to Jesus as he teaches us the way to go for our happiness and peace and for the happiness and peace of others. Since Monday we have heard him say to us, “Do not judge ….. do not condemn …..forgive others ….. give to others that you may receive ….. serve others with your gifts and talents.”

Jesus was all about serving others. We heard this in yesterday’s Gospel and we have it repeated to us again in today’s Gospel. We can’t hear it enough! If only people could realize this. If only they would do it. Let us dare today to think how things would be if we all served one other person today with our gifts and talents. We can dream, can’t we?

Lord, help our dreams become reality.


Fr. Howard


Thursday of the Second Week in Lent, March 4 
Luke 16: 19-31


“There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus …….”


The rich man in the parable found in today’s Gospel is sometimes named Divis which means “rich man” in Latin. What is the Lord trying to get us to listen to in this Gospel? Divis didn’t really do anything wrong to get into all his troubles; it was what he didn’t dothat caused his problems. I think this is the lesson we are to listen to in this Gospel. We can block our love of neighbor through omission as well as through commission.


Divis had all he needed right in front of him to help the poor, hungry Lazarus. But he ignored him and went on his merry way. Divis wasn’t paying attention to the suffering going on around him. His head was in the clouds. Can we identify with Divis? Are we ignoring and looking the other way from the troubles around us when perhaps we could be of help?


Fr. Howard

 


Friday of the Second Week of Lent, March 5 
Mt. 21: 33-43, 45-46


The parable presented to us for our consideration in today’s Gospel is really the whole story of our redemption in a nutshell.

The vineyard is all of Israel. The owner of the vineyard is God the Father. The tenants, those who leased the vineyard, are Israel’s leaders, the chief priests and the elders. The servants in the parable are all the prophets sent by God to direct the people back to him who were abused and mistreated. The owner’s son, of course, is Jesus. And, finally, the new tenants are the apostles and other disciples of Jesus.


The original tenants of the vineyard let their greed and their evil hearts get in the way of capitalizing on a good thing. All they had to do to come out on top was to give God, the owner of the vineyard, his due. But they failed due to their greed and evil desires. Do we in any way identify with these chief priests and elders as we work in God’s vineyard today?

Fr. Howard

 


Saturday of the Second Week in Lent, March 6 
Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32


Today’s Gospel selection is the magnificent parable of the Prodigal Son found only in the Gospel of St Luke. If I were to be asked to name my favorite and most meaningful parable or story in all the Gospels, this would be it. It certainly has saved me a lot of grief, guilt and shame in my lifetime.


I could go on and on with this parable, but to make it brief, this parable is a parable of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. There was a time in my life when I wondered if God would forgive me, and even if he did, could I forgive myself? I was told to read this Parable over and over and over again. And it worked! I understood that God forgave me just as the Father in the parable forgave his wayward son. He let it all go, the offense of the son ceased to have further existence. And this parable also helped me forgive myself. God forgave me; am I greater than God not to forgive myself?

I would suggest we all read this parable again today very slowly. Let what is happening sink in. And let it teach all of us that we have nothing to fear in approaching Jesus for forgiveness. He is only too willing to forgive. All we have to do is ask.


Fr. Howard

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