Intention: That God may bless and protect all those who carry healing and peace to the poor, the abused, and the forgotten people of our world.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 16:13-19
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
A Lenten Reflection
It might be argued that today we are living in especially selfish times. It is not necessarily that people are any more inclined to selfishness than in the past, but that today there is greater opportunity, even permission, for it. There is so much available to obsessively covet, from material possessions to social luxury to personal convenience. An even darker side is that of isolation and tribalism. Modern wealth and technology make possible, if not likely, for us to retreat into economic, political, and cultural enclaves. As we interact and cooperate less with others, we view one another with increasing mistrust and prejudice.
Jesus often spoke to his followers about not hesitating to bring their needs to their Father. He exhorted them to ask for good gifts, offering as examples the things that they would freely give to their own children. In other words, we learn about God’s grace in what we do with and for one another. In our interdependence, having allows for giving, and lacking allows for receiving. It is here where we experience the meaning of both gift and need, of serving and being served, and their place at the core of what it is to be made in the image and likeness of God.
In his book, Voice of Reason, author Bryant McGill wrote, “The greatest joys in life are found not only in what we do and feel, but also in our quiet hopes and labors for others.” The Lenten spirit of self-sacrifice is rooted in the reality that we all are agents of each another’s wholeness and partners in one another’s salvation. God calls us to forgo the trap of living only within and for ourselves, and to embrace his call to be fully human.
Eternal Father, your son gave himself as an offering for those crying out for deliverance from the pain of life. In this time of Lent, we pray that we will have the courage to follow him, to help bring your wholeness to the brokenness in our world. Make us strong for any of our sisters and brothers that we might be able to serve. May we turn away from the sin that hardens our hearts to them and embrace the compassion that empowers us to live as your children. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.