“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan….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 What is your desert? Where does Satan tempt you? We are four days into Lent, and may be surprised at how Satan has already exploited our weaknesses. And yet, in today’s gospel Jesus is already encouraging us that His kingdom is at hand, the hope of victory is already palpable. Each reading today reminds us that we serve a God of promises, a God who makes covenants and keeps them. As we walk through the desert, and ask for the refinement of our Lord, we know that it is not in vain. We know that Jesus sacrificed all including his life so that might live for eternity. There is nothing we can sacrifice that is not worth what we gain in the hope and joy of our salvation. PRAYER: Lord let me find the joy in the desert, the hope in the preparation of my soul for your Passion, Death and Resurrection. Let me be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to you. Transform my soul this Lent and draw me closer to you in perfect worship, fill me with gratitude for your great sacrifice and let me love my family with that same selfless love and holy abandon to the Father’s will.
“A clean heart create for me, Oh God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me now out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me. Give me back the joy of my salvation and a willing spirit sustain in me. Oh Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.” Psalm 51:10-12,15 Another season of Lent is upon us and we are called to reflect upon our sinfulness, to sacrifice and walk with Christ in the desert as we prepare ourselves for the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord. As mother’s we tend to set ourselves up for failure during Lent. We expect too much of ourselves, or of our families, or both. This year, let’s begin by reflecting upon Psalm 51. What does the Lord ask of us? Contrition and the resolve to draw closer to Him. First and foremost, we want to be cleansed of our sin, united to him in the joy of our salvation. Let this Lent be about knowing Him more, loving him more deeply, spending more time with him, offering up the constant sacrifices of motherhood for His perfect will, for His perfect glory. Draw near to the Lord and let him refine you with perfect love. PRAYER: Refiner and maker of all good things, let me draw near to you in my brokenness that you may prepare me to enter into the mystery of your Passion. Open my eyes to my need for your healing, for your mercy as you cleanse me of my sins and make me whole. Whatever I chose to sacrifice, let it be truly for your glory and for my good. Thank you for this season of reflection and sacrifice; please meet me in these 40 days and let me know you…
“Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose I have come.” So he went into the their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galiliee. Mark 1:35-38 There is a true sense of anticipation in these gospel readings as we approach Lent. Jesus is extremely active in his ministry. Every week we hear of healing, whether it is Simon’s mother-in-law as in this gospel, or lepers on the street as we will see next week. Verse 35 struck me because, once again, we see Jesus go off to a deserted place to pray. He shows us that even he, the Son of God, needed time alone with His Father. He needed to be refreshed and refocused. He then immediately says to his apostles, once they find him, “let’s get back to work”. Every mother knows, time alone is often impossible to come by! But we must find time to “be” with the Lord. It will look different for all of us and it may only be 5 or 10 minutes when our children are very small and their needs so constant. Let yourself practice the presence of God, involving him in the minutia of your day, changing diapers and folding laundry for his glory! If you are separated from your children in work outside the home, and the devil tries to speak guilt over you, speak to the Father in those moments and let him speak truth and peace. Let the Holy Spirit refresh your soul so that you can…
‘“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are the Holy One of God!’ Jesus rebuked him and said “Quiet come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed…He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” Mark 1:24-27 We are not accustomed to seeing “unclean spirits” come out of people, but it seems it was common knowledge in Jesus’s time that people were possessed and that only the priests of the temple had the authority to address the spirits. But what can we take away from such a powerful story? This Jesus, the one who commanded the authority of the devil over someone be broken, who cleansed and healed with a word this is the same Jesus we serve. The devil is real and he prowls like a lion to destroy us, but his tactics are usually very subtle. What sin do we cling to? What have we not given Jesus authority over? Perhaps we hold onto resentment toward our spouse because he does not seem to understand how hard our job is. Perhaps we neglect our prayer life or resist the opportunities to sacrifice with joy and gratitude as we give ourselves for our families. Whatever it is we know Jesus has the authority to rid us of our sin and our bad habits, and wants nothing more than to draw us to himself. He is bigger than any fear or hurt, for even the father of lies must obey him. We serve a mighty and victorious God! PRAYER: Lord, help me to recognize the sins I hold onto, the habits I am comfortable in, and the ways in which I keep…
Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. Mark 1:17,18 Much of the life of motherhood is one of abandonment. It takes courage and great faith to walk away from what we know, from what we have planned, to abandon all of that and follow Christ. What does abandonment look like in your life? Perhaps it is trusting the Lord with an unexpected pregnancy, perhaps it is trusting him when all you want is another baby. Perhaps you have had to abandon your greater skills and talents for a season while you feed and clothe and love the least of these in your home. Whatever it is, Christ is worth it! His plans are perfect, and his will should be where we reside, for in it we will find peace. You are fishers of men. Your ministry begins at home and Christ is so pleased that you have abandoned yourself to him. Let yourself trust in his plan. PRAYER: Lord, I have abandoned my "nets" to follow you. May I never forget that you are the one I am following, that your plans are greater than mine, and your will is perfect. Help me to live the faith and obedience of the apostles, and help me to be an example of trust and abandonment to my family.
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him… Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body." I Corinthians 6:13, 17-20 "You are not your own." I imagine you have not felt like your own since the first time you gave your body for another. Perhaps you have done it again, and again. Perhaps you feel you have lost yourself along the way. But take heart for you have been purchased at a price and all that you do is for the glory of God. Every diaper changed, every load of laundry, every sleepless night; let it all be to the glory of God. Speak to him throughout your day, and offer every menial task, and every overwhelming one, glorifying him with your body; a body offered up for your family, offered up in service, joined to the Lord, one in Spirit with him. PRAYER: Lord, let me be one Spirit with you today, remembering that I serve you with the temple of my body. Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell within me, may I honor His presence with my gratitude and with my service. And may that same Holy Spirit dwell in the bodies of my children and at the center of my home.
“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem” (Isaiah 40:1). My three-year-old son sat in my lap screaming. It went on for a long time. His sister had rudely awakened from a nap, and little Sebastian was confused, groggy, and miserable. He screamed and wailed for quite a while. I did what I know how to do: I rocked him, talked to him in a soothing voice, and patted him gently on the back. I spoke calming words as I stroked his hair. Finally, he quieted down. PRAYER: Lord, you are the giver of comfort. You are the one who soothes our pains and lifts our spirits. Quiet our hearts, so we may hear your gentle voice. Amen.
"Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Be alert: Are you alert? When Christ comes, will you be asleep or awake and alert? As a Catholic mother, I am going to bet that you will be alert. Are you open to life? Do you have a full house? When Christ comes, I can only imagine that you will be in the midst of an act of mercy: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, instructing the ignorant. . . even if Christ comes in the middle of the night, you might have a little one wrapped around your arm. Even in your sleep, you are pouring yourself out for others. PRAYER: Lord, help me to love my family well as I serve them, that I may please you and always be ready for your coming. Amen.
“I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so will I tend my sheep.” (Ezekiel 11:34) When we celebrate Christ the King, we celebrate him as our shepherd. In his royal governance, he is not a dictator; he is a loving, caring shepherd who watches over his sheep, gathering them together, giving them food, rest, and even healing. How much has God made mothers in imitation of Christ the King: mothers shepherd their young, blessing them with food, rest, guidance, and even a place to “bind up” their wounds. PRAYER: Father, thank you for Jesus, who is our King. Thank you for his shepherding of us. Give us the ability to shepherd our children as you desire us to, and may we please you, finding you in our vocation as mothers. Amen.
“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, in the recesses of your home. Your children like olive shoots around your table." (Psalm 128) Growing up in a secular, progressive environment, I had a relatively low estimation of bearing children. Thinking toward the future, I could have imagined having a child or two, but I never would have believed it if you told me then that, one day, I would have eight pregnancies, with six resulting in live births. I would have laughed. This passage of the Psalm speaks to a different view: Children are an immense blessing, and the more the better. More shoots of an olive branch are a sign of health for the plant, and a blessing for the one who has the plant, because the plant will bear more olives. Is it really true that the more the better? Certainly, there are times when we are beyond our strength and abilities, and in prudence, we should abstain and regulate our births. But that does not diminish the overall truth of the Scripture: God’s vision is that many children are a blessing, one of the greatest blessings a person can have. Let us be open to life, and open to God’s best plan for us. PRAYER: Lord, open our eyes and ears to your word for us: Do you have more children for us? Let us hear clearly, and not be swayed by the secular age in which we live. Lord, help us to see our children with love and gratitude, and may our hearts be enlarged to see the true blessings that they are. Help us, even in moments of hardship and strain, to recognize the gift that each child is. Amen.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13) (more…)