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Week Three Lent -Reconsidering the Samaritan Woman – John 4
20th March, 2017

Because the first dialogue in John 4 contains a single reference to the woman’s unlawful marital status (w. 16-18), most exegetes have restricted their understanding of this woman to this single clue. As a result, she has been evaluated in a less than positive light, with
commentators apparently ignoring numerous other hints included in the narrative regarding her character and allowing their interpretation to contradict these details.

A closer look at the details,however, reveals that Jesus himself did not regard the woman from a negative perspective.

While the Samaritan woman had been married five times, the text never informs the reader why the marriages were dissolved. Perhaps the woman was a five-time divorcee, as most commentators seem to believe, or perhaps there might be another explanation for her many marriages.
Perhaps some of the marriages may have ended with the death of a husband. Furthermore, it is generally acknowledged that divorce in that
era was the sole prerogative of the male.

What the narrative details of John 4 seem to portray is an intelligent woman with a keen mind, who has pondered the theological and political
realities of her day and culture. Furthermore, the progression in the dialogue reveals Jesus’ desire to bring this woman to faith. The narrative implies that he did so with the assurance that her mind could grasp theological verities.

Jesus did not regularly speak this directly regarding himself in Israel or even to his disciples.

This woman is not ignorant and base, nor is she the town prostitute. Rather, the Samaritan woman is a well-informed, politically savvy person to whom people listen when she speaks.

An entire village believed her testimony regarding the identity of the Jewish man at the well and went to find the one who revealed himself to be the promised Messiah.

The Gospel of John records that the Pharisees despised the simplicity of Jesus, ignoring his miracles and demanding a sign that he was the Son of God
(Jn 4:48). But the Samaritans, by contrast, did not ask for a sign, and Jesus performed no miracles among them, except in revealing to the woman the
secrets of her life (v. 41). Many in Samaria, however, believed Jesus to be the promised Messiah. In their newfound joy, they said to the woman: “Now we believe, not because of your saying; for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world” (v. 42).

Thus they gave unassailable confirmation of the influence of this woman’s testimony.

Wondering questions:

I wonder in my relationships with other people if I can think of a time when I looked past a person’s current situation to focus rather on what they may become?

I wonder how hard or easy is this to do?

I wonder if I, like the Samaritan woman, can take my enthusiasm of knowing Christ and share it with other people this Easter?

adapted from: Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 43, No. 1, 159-168.  2005 Andrews University Press

lectio divina, Praying the Scripture in Lent 2017, Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay

 

 

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International Day of Happiness – March 20
20th March, 2017

The International Day of Happiness is a quirky celebration.  

Happiness Day reminds us that happiness is a gift. We long for it and are grateful when we receive it. But as is the case with all gifts, we cannot buy it. Nor can we lock it away in a safe to ensure that we do not lose it, or successfully sue people if they make us unhappy. It is not an entitlement.

But our desire for happiness is itself a gift. The longing makes us restless with what we have, makes us want more, while knowing that nothing can ever fully satisfy us. It encourages us to reflect on our lives and to ask what are the better gifts we should hunger for. When we realise that nothing can ever make us perfectly happy we are free to be thankful for the gifts we do have, especially our close relationships, and to be thankful for them.

That explains the surprising fact that many poor people are happy.

Material poverty is not a good thing.  But it does help us to focus on the surprising blessings that each day brings us and to be thankful for them. 

And thankfulness has a great deal to do with happiness.

Although we cannot make people happy, we can  certainly create the conditions under which they may be happy.

Ultimately happiness comes from good relationships – to ourselves, to others and to the world in which we live. It is a gift worth desiring and a privilege to encourage.

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Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ is an editorial consultant at Jesuit Communications

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It’s Lent! Questions posed and reflected upon.
8th March, 2017

Who or what is  Lent?

Derived from the word lencten, which is Anglo-Saxon for springtime.Lent is the 40-day season of preparation prior to Easter which begins on Ash Wednesday.

Why is it 40 days?

Next to the number seven, the number forty occurs most frequently in the Bible. It represents a period of testing or judgment. Lent’s duration of 40 days reflects other times of trial, testing and hardship found in the Scriptures:

  • The story of Noah tells of rain falling on the earth for 40 days and 40 nights.
  • Both Moses and Elijah fasted for 40 days before beginning their missions.
  • The Hebrews wandered for 40 years in the desert after leaving Egypt.
  • It took the spies 40 days to search out the promised land and bring back fruit.
  • Goliath taunted the Israelite army in the morning and evening for 40 days.
  • Jonah warned the Ninevites they had 40 days until God would overthrow the city.
  • Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert for 40 days before beginning his ministry.

 

My parish prays the Stations of the Cross during Lent. How did this custom originate?

The Stations of the Cross originated during the crusades when it was popular to visit Jerusalem to follow the steps to Calvary. After the Holy Land was captured, pilgrimages became a very dangerous affair. A desire arose to reproduce these holy places in other lands as a substitute pilgrimage.

It soon became popular to have outdoor markers indicate not only the scenes in Christ’s path to Golgotha, but also the actual distances from location to location. Crude markers eventually gave way to elaborate artwork depicting the events of Jesus’ trial, torture and execution. By the mid 18th century, the Stations were allowed inside the church and served as a focus for Lenten devotions.

The Stations help the participant make a spiritual pilgrimage to the major scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death. Prayers are said until the entire route is complete, enabling the faithful to more literally take up their cross and follow Jesus.

 

http://www.massexplained.com/think-fast-its-lent/ By Dan Gonzalez

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What is Lent?(and Make this one Awesome)
28th February, 2017

Lent means “springtime” and Springtime is an awesome time!

Andy Lesnefsky explains more about this liturgical time of lent and how we can participate more fully.

Here are 5 additional tips to help you focus on the why and the who of Lent:

  1. Aim for consistency in prayer. Consistency is key in growing any relationship. Grow in your love and knowledge of Jesus this Lent by being consistent.
  2. Make your prayer more honest. That might sound strange to you, but honesty in prayer means not holding back from God. God knows you perfectly. Honesty in prayer allows for intimacy. It’s about letting God love you and receiving that love.
  3. Give something up that distracts you from your relationship with God or others.
  4. Disconnect from technology for 1-2 hours. Turn your phone off. Connect with people. Connect with God. Technology is a great thing, but can so easily distract us.
  5. Give this Lent. Often times we don’t connect our wallet and our checkbook to our spiritual disciplines. Make an effort to give weekly to a charity making a tangible difference to help the poor.

February 21, 2017 by

http://redeemedonline.com/lent-tips/

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Ash Wednesday – The Meaning behind the Dust
26th February, 2017

Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent, a 40 day period of repentance when Catholics take time to remind themselves that life indeed is limited: that we will die.

The Ash Wednesday day ritual is simple.  Catholics place ashes on their foreheads as a visible reminder to others that they acknowledge that their bodies will turn to ash one day, that life is indeed precarious, but that they are also a resurrection people.

Catholics believe that more lies beyond this end, and so the ashes are marked by the sign of faith — the cross — at once a symbol of God’s destruction and His greatest triumph.

We listen to the words that the priest or minister says to us as he places the ashes on our forehead: “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” Or, “Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the Gospel.

Some questions to reflect on during the 40 days of Lent are:

  • What is it that holds us back from really living our best life?
  • What do we have to die to — or, at the very least, fast from — in order to liberate ourselves from our bad habits?
  • What do we have to give of ourselves to others, to causes, to God, so that we may stretch ourselves into new ways of being?
  • How does prayer center us into growth

This is the stuff of Lent and Ash Wednesday kicks off the Lenten season for Catholics and other Christians.

taken from: http://bustedhalo.com/questionbox/what-is-ash-wednesday

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The Sign of the Cross
13th February, 2017

At the beginning of every year, our office holds a day for required in-servicing in Workplace Health and Safety, Student Protection and ICT Code of Practice. This is a day the whole of our CEO office get together and we always commence the day with prayer.

This year our prayer centered on The Sign of the Cross:

In the name of the Father

and of the Son

and of the Holy Spirit 

Amen

I thought I would share some insights from Catholic Exchange website: http://catholicexchange.com  

The sign of the Cross is a simple gesture yet a profound expression of faith or both Catholic and Orthodox Christians. As Catholics it is something we do when we enter a church and every time we pray.

But what exactly are we doing?

We open ourselves to grace. As a sacramental, the Sign of the Cross prepares us for receiving God’s blessing.

We commit our whole selves to Christ. In moving our hands from our foreheads to our hearts and then both shoulders, we are asking God’s blessing for our mind, our passions and desires, our very bodies.

We affirm the Trinity. In invoking the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, we are affirming our belief in the triune God.

We confess our faith. In affirming our belief in the Incarnation, the crucifixion and the Trinity, we are making a sort of mini- confession of faith in words and gestures.

We reaffirm our baptism. In using the same words with which we were baptised, the Sign of the Cross is a ‘summing up and re-acceptance of our baptism’.

We witness to others. As a gesture often made in public, the Sign of the Cross is a simple way to witness our faith to others.

Fr Mike Schmitz shares with us 3 things to know about the Sign of the Cross.

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Happy New Year – Advent
24th November, 2016

A NEW YEAR in the Church’s calendar begins Sunday. Happy new year to all!

This period is appropriately called “Advent”.  It comes from the Latin word adventus which simply means ‘coming’.  But whose coming are we talking about?  Obviously we are beginning to prepare to remember God coming to be a human being among us, with us and like us.  And yet, although the Scripture for today does speak of the coming of God, it makes no mention of the coming of Christ as Christmas.

Actually, at this time we can speak of three comings of God.  The first, is when Jesus, the Son of God came to be born in the stable at Bethlehem.  But Sunday’s Mass also speaks of the final coming of Jesus at the end of the world.  And there is still a third kind of coming we need to be aware of, namely, when God enters our lives every day.  Every single experience can be an opportunity to make contact with God.  And we are reminded of that ongoing contact with God especially in the celebration of the sacraments, including this Eucharist.

Reflection taken from Sacred Space:Living Space

Jesus Speaks by J. Janda 

You can do
nothing
without me

why do you
keep trying
to do things

alone?

A child is not
supposed to
lift
heavy things
alone

all I ask is
that
you talk to me

tell me why
you are sad

tell me why
you are afraid

tell me why
you are tired

come to me—I
will refresh
you…

http://www.liturgy.slu.edu/
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Reflecting on the Year of Mercy
8th November, 2016

The Year of Mercy that Pope Francis proclaimed last year concludes  November 20, 2016.

Mercy is the most fundamental and defining attribute of God, revealed through God’s actions throughout the Old Testament and most notably, in the person of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

Micah 7: 18-20

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression

of the remnant of your possession?

He does not retain his his anger forever, because he delights in showing clemency.

During the Extraordinary Year of Mercy  we heard the word mercy linked with  Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. And for good reason—mercy is something that we need to put into action. We experience God’s mercy ourselves and then we are called to extend that mercy to others.

Questions to ponder….

  • How many Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy can we name as a group?
  •  Which of these works of mercy have you practiced most recently?
  • For whom are you called to perform works of mercy on a daily basis?

Pope Francis  has urged us to spread God’s mercy to all corners of the world and also to future generations, specifically by protecting God’s creation. In his encyclical, Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), Pope Francis makes it clear to us that protecting our environment for generations to come is an act of mercy, since God’s gift of creation was an act of mercy toward us.

Questions to ponder…

  • What  concrete ways have you shown mercy and compassion for God’s creation?
  • What part of God’s creation are you most thankful for and do you feel most compelled to preserve and protect for future generations?

Pope Francis reminds us that the Beatitudes are the “protocol” by which the Christian life is to be lived:

The Lord will recognize us if … we recognized him in the poor, in the hungry, in the indigent and the outcast, in those who suffer and are alone … This is one of the fundamental criteria for evaluating our Christian life, which Jesus calls us to measure up to every day. I read the Beatitudes and I think of how my Christian life should be, and then I examine my conscience with this Chapter 25 of Matthew. It will do us good! They are simple but concrete things.

What is a blessing?

A blessing is a circle of light drawn around to protect a person, heal and strengthen.

Life is a constant flow of emergence.

The beauty of blessing is its belief that it can affect what unfolds… A blessing awakens future wholeness… We could say that a blessing ‘fore brightens’ the way…—JOHN O’DONOHUE,

How can you continue to “Be a Blessing….”

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Pope Francis’ Prayer Intention for the month of July
12th July, 2016
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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for July is for Respect for Indigenous Peoples: That indigenous peoples, whose identity and very existence are threatened, will be shown due respect.

Indigenous peoples have been a theme in many of Pope Francis’ speeches and travels abroad since his election, including his 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si.”

After speaking out on issues indigenous peoples face in the environmental document, he advocated on their behalf exactly one year ago during his July 5-13, 2015, trip to Latin America, which included stops in Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.

“I say this to you with regret: many grave sins were committed against the native peoples in the name of God,” he said, asking, like St. John Paul II, that “the Church ‘kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters.’”

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