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“Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, ‘This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.’ Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant”
(Mark 9:7-10).

This week’s Gospel reading offers us a brief look at God’s glory at a moment when Jesus was speaking of his coming passion, which was the focus of conversation immediately before and after the event described in this passage. Jesus had brought to this mountaintop several of the disciples, who had just learned that he would suffer, die, and, three days later, rise from the dead.. Jesus was transfigured before their eyes, and they were left awestruck. The voice of God proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him” (Mark 9:7).

The disciples were given a glimpse of the glory of God, and then were charged with the task of listening to Jesus. They listened even as he was rejected, as he suffered, and as he was put to death. They listened to Jesus and knew that even death would not defeat him, for he would be raised from the dead. The disciples continued to listen to the risen Christ until the day they too would share fully in his glory.

Just as the disciples were charged with the task of listening to Christ, we are also invited to listen. Through the events of our lives, however ordinary or extraordinary they may be, Christ is present and calling out to us. Christ is in our walking and talking, in our daily encounters, and in our travels.

Christ is present, but are we listening?

Christ often speaks to us through those who have no voice in our world. He speaks through the poor, the elderly, the prisoner, and the immigrant. We may listen to Christ speaking through our friends and family, but do we listen to Christ in the rejected, the lonely, and the outcast?

Where or how is Christ speaking to you at this point in your life? Are you listening?

Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International

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Gracious God,
accompany me as I navigate the conflicts
and struggles in my life.
Help me to trust in your covenant love
and your desire to lift me up
when I stumble in the face of temptation.
Thank you for your faithful love
and for never giving up on me.
Guide me through this Lenten season
to a renewed and deeper relationship with you.
Amen.
 
Adapted from RENEW International’s LIVE LENT! Year B, available in our online bookstore.

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Generous God,
we thank you for all that you have given us.
May the fast and prayer of this holy season
help us value your gifts —
not only as blessings in our own lives
but as resources that we can
share with those who are in need
who are our sisters and brothers.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Amen.
 
Adapted from RENEW International’s LIVE LENT! Year B, available in our online bookstore.

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“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: ‘This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:12-15).

As Lent begins, the Church enters a period of spiritual renewal leading to Easter. Lent is a time of retreat. We journey inward to places of solitude and silence to rediscover God’s love for us.

In the passage prior to this Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent, Mark writes that Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and heard the voice confirming that his future mission was blessed by his heavenly Father.

In this passage, we read that Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to prepare for his public mission. He lived among wild beasts, and he was tempted by Satan, but angels of hope and trust ministered to him as he fasted and prayed during those forty days.

For us, there is no physical desert. Our deserts are metaphorical. They are moments of dryness in our lives that come from tensions in family life, arguments with significant others, anxiety about economic distress, war, and many other sources.

This Gospel passage invites us to recognize those times when we experience our own demons of despair, desolation, and fear as times that reveal the face of God to us in an intimate way. These are the times in which we discover our reliance on God, and that leads us to new and greater life.

What have been “desert” moments in your life that have caused you tension, stress, or despair? How has God been a part of these moments?

Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International

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Share this table prayer with those you will eat with on Easter Sunday.
 
Pray together:
 
Christ has risen! Alleluia!
Loving God, you who create all things
and generously give us all we need,
we praise you and thank you for being present with us now
as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, your Son.
 
Thank you for accompanying us on our Lenten journey;
please be us during this Easter season, and always,
as we strive to live as disciples of your Son.
 
May the breaking of bread, today and every day,
remind us of the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ,
who died to atone for our sins
and rose again so that we, too, may rise
and live in your presence forever.
 
O God, bless this food and we who share it,
and be with those who cannot share it with us.
 
We ask this in the name of the same Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.
 
Alleluia! Christ has risen!
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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We are given the Eucharist, and we must journey with Jesus to the cross.
 
Lord Jesus,
You loved us so deeply that you were
willing to love us unto death, death on a cross.
When we see brothers and sisters
who are suffering and afflicted,
let us see you, and let us respond
with a love “surpassing all understanding”—
your love. Amen.
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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As for his beloved friend, Lazarus, Jesus is our resurrection and life.
 
God of freedom, you loose all bonds
that hold us in darkness and sin.
Heal the places where our wounds and pride
have kept us distant from you
and one another.
Free us from our tombs, O Christ. Amen.

 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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If we are receptive, Christ will heal our blindness.
 
Jesus, Son of Man,
your light shines into human life
and illuminates the places where we are blind and resistant.
Bathe us in the glow of your healing love
and free us from the darkness
that impedes us from seeing and following you. Amen.
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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Jesus is the source of new life for the Samaritan woman and for each of us.
 
Lord Jesus, you stopped because you were thirsty
and yet we were the ones who were refreshed.
You are the living water who brings us new life.
Pour your grace into us,
and let it overflow from our cup to others
who need to be restored in your love. Amen.
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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God calls us to listen to and believe in his Son.
 
Lord, you are with us on the mountaintops of life.
In those moments,
we glimpse the grandeur of your presence
and the splendor of your promise.
Let us hold these experiences in our hearts
even as we return to our everyday lives.
Let our sight be pure
and our hearts filled with hope this Lenten season
as we await the promised glory of your resurrection. Amen.
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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In the “wilderness times” of our lives, our recourse is to God.
 
Lord Jesus, when I experience wilderness times,
let me never forget God’s unqualified mercy.
As I face times of testing,
give me the grace to choose life.
Guide me through this Lenten season
with a renewed desire to entrust my life into your hands. Amen.
 
LiveLent
 
 
Excerpted from
Live Lent! Year A by Sr. Theresa Rickard, OP, available from RENEW International.

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“Prayer over the People: from The Roman Missal
 
May abundant blessing, O Lord, we pray,
descend upon your people,
who have honored the Death of your Son
in the hope of their resurrection:
may pardon come,
comfort be given,
holy faith increase,
and everlasting redemption be made secure.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
 

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clouds-806637_1920I gave up being pregnant for Lent. It wasn’t my plan. I actually started Lent giving up alcohol, soft cheeses, and sushi. But about halfway through the Lent, I had to give up something else.
 
Things weren’t going well one weekend and I had made an emergency appointment for an ultrasound on Monday morning. As I read my Lenten daily devotional on Sunday night, the prayer was, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:5). I thought that it was a sign that everything would be fine. But it wasn’t. The baby wasn’t meant to be and I lost it.
 
A long, hard, terrible week followed. I have read about people’s “dark nights of the soul,” but I never fully understood what that meant. My faith was rocked. My world was rocked. I know God doesn’t punish us, but I felt punished. It was Lent and all I was reading about was God’s mercy, but God didn’t feel merciful to me. I had definitely hit a low point in my faith, the lowest point I had ever hit. I continued to read my Lenten daily devotional, even though my heart wasn’t really in it.
 
The next week, the scripture reading was, “Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).
 
This resonated with me. The world can be a very dark place. Watching the news is terrifying. Even more so with my own personal crisis, the world felt very dark and frightening. But without faith and without God, the world stays dark. It’s our faith that gives us the light to navigate in the darkness. It gives us the hope to navigate in a sometimes hopeless world. Without God’s love, mercy, and light, we would be lost.
 
As Lent ends and Easter begins we rejoice in God’s unending love and mercy. Be the light that your friends, neighbors, and the world desperately need.
 

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CrossWhat are we to make of Christ’s words of sheer, seeming hopelessness: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
 
St. Augustine, the fifth century bishop and doctor of the Church, suggests that this soulful prayer of the dying Savior points to our kinship with Christ.
 
“He died for our sins, he who is the only Son, so as not to remain alone,” Augustine said. “He who died alone did not want to be alone. The only Son of God made many children of God. By his blood, he bought for himself brothers; he who had been rejected, adopted them; he who had been sold, bought them back; he who had been gravely offended, filled them with honor; he who had been put to death, gave them life.”
 
Augustine preached that we should take joy in this act of divine mercy—even as we enter this week when we remember Christ’s brutal passion and death.
 
Fr. William Nelson, a priest in Japan, once wrote to a friend:
 

“How we welcome the good news of love poured out! Yes, there is a balm, a fountain, love poured out and bread broken and wine served.”

 
What more could we ask for?
 
Our prayer today:
 

Almighty God,
we praise you that in your infinite mercy
you do not deal with us according to our failings,
but treat us with the tenderness of a father.

 
Peter W. Yaremko, a former journalist, is the owner of Executive Media, Inc. and is a specialist in executive communications. He attends St. Peter the Apostle Church in Provincetown, Massachusetts and blogs at peterwyaremko.com/paradise_diaries.

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“It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’; and when he had said this he breathed his last” Luke 23:44-46).
 
During Holy Week, we will hear many words describing the suffering and death of Jesus. In times of suffering, we return to an awareness of our own human frailty. It is a place of humility, recognizing God as Creator and ourselves as finite creatures. We are not in ultimate control. That is God’s domain. So, too, is the reason for suffering and the miracle of the Resurrection.
 
The Passion of our Lord is what connects him with us in our humanity. In suffering, we grow in solidarity with Christ and with those he loves. His suffering is an icon of our own suffering, a window of opportunity that points us to God. God, who is infinite, reaches out in humility to touch us in that pain.
 
As we recall this most precious event within Christian tradition, we are called to enter more deeply into the reality of pain and persecution in our world. We also know the profound promise of a light that will not be overcome by deep shadows.
 
When do you suffer or feel helpless in your own life? Can you see God meeting you in this suffering?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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