Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

161 posts categorized "Lent Series"

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:71-23:1

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord. 

Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth.” Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought Jesus before Pilate. (Luke 22:71- 23:1)

I can look back at the story of Jesus’ birth and see that earlier in his Gospel Luke gave me some hints of what is taking place in this scene.

• At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel told Mary that her child would be given the “throne of David” (he would be the royal messiah) and would be called “the Son of God.” Now, at his trial, Jesus is convicted for allowing himself to be called by these titles.

• At the presentation in the Temple, Simeon took the child in his arms and said that he was destined “to be a sign that will be rejected.” I am watching this rejection happen here.

From Jesus’ own mouth the Sanhedrin heard what they were looking for. Now, off to Pilate to get the death penalty.

Once Jesus enters my life, I have to accept him or “kill him.” He is never just a neutral bystander.

It’s like the sun. I either let it affect me, or block it out.

Sometimes, except for my religious practices, I block Jesus out of my life, or parts of my life.

If it’s being done unconsciously, it’s going to require some soul-searching, and some help from the Lord.

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:66-70

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord. 

When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought Jesus before their Sanhedrin. They said, “If you are the Christ, tell us,” but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied to them, “You say that I am.” (Luke 22:66-70)

This is high drama.

Jesus stands before the highest religious authorities who want to know two things: (1) Does he claim to be the Christ (Messiah)? (2) Does he claim to be the Son of God?

Jesus’ first answer is non-committal – he knew their image of the Messiah was more of a political leader.

His answer to the second question is more direct: “You say that I am.” The words on their own lips are true.

The identity of Jesus. Is Jesus really God, or simply a good person whom God adopted as his “son”? In 325 A.D., the first General Council of the Church centered on this question . . . as did the second in 381 . . . and the third in 431. Jesus is truly God.

The constant affirmation of the Church has been clear, enshrined in the former words of the Nicene Creed: “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ . . . true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.”

The identity of Jesus. Imagine him looking to me and asking, “Who do you say that I am?” To which I respond . . .

Lent Devotions: 22:60-62

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord. 

Just as Peter was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly. (Luke 22:60-62)

The presence of Jesus always brings healing. Earlier at his arrest, it was the servant’s ear. Here it’s Peter’s soul. After the third denial Jesus looks at Peter to remind him of what he had said earlier: “I’m praying for you.”

As Luke describes it, Jesus saw and heard all three denials. Remember the feeling when, after I’ve said something not complimentary about someone, I realize that they overheard it? That’s how Peter felt when he saw Jesus across the way. He was crushed.

But Peter, unlike Judas, did not commit suicide. I don’t know what happened next (Peter is not seen again until after the resurrection) but he must have poured out the awful truth to the other disciples. They must have done what we all must do when someone tells us of their failures: Acknowledge the evil, and open our arms wide in mercy. One without the other will not work.

The Lord is with me, in the courtyard of my life, not off somewhere else. And he looks at me, not as a spectator, but with love. He’s pulling for me. To remember he’s with me as I go through a day might change a few things. Maybe a lot of things.

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:56-60

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord. 

When a maid saw Peter seated in the light, she looked intently at him and said, “This man too was with him.” But he denied it saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” A short while later someone else saw him and said, “You too are one of them”; but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.” About an hour later, still another insisted, “Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.” (Luke 22:56-60)

Peter flat out lied. He didn’t “hedge.” He lied.

And what he lied about was being “with Jesus.” (In the second denial he also lied about being with the other disciples.)

Funny what a person can sink to.

The devil is cagey. He catches me at just the wrong time, and I end up doing or saying things I never dreamed possible. Other people might lower themselves to such-and such, but not me. And then I turn around and find myself doing it.

I’ve got to face up to the hard fact that, morally speaking, none of us is independently healthy.

“Deliver us from evil.” It was the Lord who taught me to pray those words. I really need God’s help just to live one day well. Like today.

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:54-55

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

After arresting Jesus, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter was following at a distance. They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them. (Luke 22:54-55)

Luke struggled, but told the truth when Judas kissed Jesus. He does the same now when the disciples abandon Jesus. He knows they fled when Jesus was led away, and they’re pointedly absent from the scenes that follow. But he doesn’t draw attention to their flight.

The most notable detail in this passage is that Peter was following “at a distance.” All four Gospels note this. Jesus, on the other hand, is never described as distancing himself from anyone. Ever.

In the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, there is a point when “many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.” Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked if they wanted to leave too. It was Peter who stepped up and said, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

But now it’s Peter who, having abandoned Jesus at the arrest, follows only “at a distance.”

Perhaps my relationship with the Lord is a back-and forth thing too, sometimes close, sometimes at a distance, or perhaps I keep part of my life at a distance.

A helpful reflection might be to picture Jesus quietly asking me: “Do you also want to leave?” An honest conversation about that might produce some surprising results.

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:52-53

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

And Jesus said to the chief priests and Temple guards and elders who had come for him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? Day after day I was with you in the Temple area, and you did not seize me; but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.” (Luke 22:52-53)

The first injury to Jesus is to his feelings. “Have you come out as against a robber?” (The Greek word used here meant armed thugs who preyed upon travelers or made trouble in the cities.)

Jesus didn’t come to hurt anyone. He came to heal. And he is hurt when these people he loved came at him with weapons: “Day after day I was with you . . .”

This is a bad time for Jesus. At the end of the temptation in the desert, Luke says that the devil departed from Jesus “for a time.” Now Jesus says, “This is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.” Satan is not an easy loser. He’s back.

I can be sure of this: None of us wins a decisive victory over evil this side of the grave. Satan will always be back, with more subtlety than the last time. It’s true, and as basic as warning a child to be careful crossing the street.

The fasting, prayer and almsgiving of Lent are designed to help me uncover the “darkness” that I hadn’t noticed creeping into my life.

Ask the Lord for help. He’s experienced in taking on the forces of evil.

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:49-51

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

Jesus’ disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked, “Lord, shall we strike with a sword?” And one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said in reply, “Stop, no more of this!” Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him. (Luke 22:49-51)

Things have gotten out of hand. First, a disciple leads a hostile group to seize Jesus and take him away under force. Then another disciple pulls a sword and cuts off someone’s ear.

In the previous 21 chapters of Luke’s Gospel, nothing like this has ever happened. Something is wrong . . . and it will only get worse.

But for just a moment, Jesus steps into the ugly fracas and, of all things, heals a member of the enemy group.

Jesus, the merciful healer, is back at it again. Much earlier in Luke’s Gospel he taught: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” He meant it, and here he is doing it.

What is the lesson for me? At first it might seem predictable: I’m supposed to go out and do the same to others.

But keep this in mind. Religion is more about God loving me than me loving God, or loving others. The first thing I have to catch is that God loves me, now, as I am. Before doing anything else, I need simply to let myself be on the receiving end of the goodness of the Lord.

Where in my life right now do I most need the gentle, healing touch of Jesus?

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:47-48

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

While Jesus was still speaking, a crowd approached him and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas. He went up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:47-48)

There could almost be a warning at this point in Luke’s Gospel: The following contains material that may be offensive to some – scandalous behavior by disciples . . . graphic violence . . . abusive language . . . a brutal execution. Some may wish to consider this before continuing.

Luke himself had a hard time with this material. For example, the Judas kiss. It’s embedded in the Christian memory. But read the passage again. Luke says that Judas “went up to Jesus to kiss him.” That’s enough. No need to keep looking when the kiss takes place. Compare this to Mark, who says: Judas went over to Jesus and said, “Rabbi.” And he kissed him.

We all have a hard time when there is bad news about our Church – failure, sin, public scandal. What should we do? Suppress it? Deny it?

I can learn from Luke who struggled with this but told the truth. Best to put it on the table, learn from it, and recognize that at all levels we are and always have been an imperfect Church. We are, each of us, all of us, saint and sinner.

I talk to Jesus a lot about myself. I ought also to talk to him about our Church. Actually, it’s his Church. I wonder what Jesus has to say to me about it?

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:45-46

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

When Jesus rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.” (Luke 22:45-46)

(Luke doesn’t like to talk about the failures of the disciples. He excuses their sleep, saying it was “from grief.”)

Twice in the last six verses Jesus tells the disciples to pray that they may not undergo the test. This is the same Greek word Luke used earlier for Jesus’ temptation in the desert, and in the Our Father when Jesus said, “. . . lead us not into temptation.

What is this “test/temptation?” It’s not your run-of-the mill kind. It’s the big one. Is there a God, really? Is evil going to win after all? Am I wasting my time trying to lead a decent life? At death, do I simply dissolve into nothingness?

You can’t go through life without having these kinds of doubts, probably more than once. Jesus faced this question head-on with the devil in the desert, and he’s facing it here in Gethsemane.

It’s a good topic for conversation with the Lord. He was truly human, and had to deal with human thoughts and feelings. It wasn’t always a waltz.

Not that I disbelieve the great truths. It’s just that my belief sometimes has holes in it. When Jesus told the father of the sick boy to have faith, the father replied with words I can make my own: “I do believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:43-44

LENT2015-Blog-Banner

Editor’s note: This Lenten season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals from the Little Black Book, which was first created by Bishop Ken Untener of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, Mich. The devotionals are in the prayer tradition of Lectio Divina to help people pray the Passion of Our Lord.

To strengthen Jesus, an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. (Luke 22:43-44)

Artists usually portray Luke’s account of the agony in the garden which says that Jesus is kneeling (Matthew and Mark have him flat on the ground).

Also in Luke, an angel appears. The angel is God’s answer to Jesus’ prayer. And the answer is “no.”

God says, “This cup can’t be taken away, but I will be with you through it all.” This is expressed by the angel at Jesus’ side “to strengthen him.”

It is then that Jesus is in agony. Only Luke uses the word “agony” – the word by which we have come to characterize this whole scene.

“Agony” comes from a Greek word describing the mental and physical tension athletes feel when facing a contest. They may be confident, but one can never be sure of all that will happen.

So the prayer of Jesus now takes a different tone. He knows he will have to face the worst. He prays that he will be able to handle it well. And he begins to sweat profusely.

My prayers are often answered the same way as Jesus’ prayer. The answer is “no” . . . but God says, “I’ll be with you through it all.” I’m grateful for God’s presence, of course, but what I sometimes have to face isn’t easy. It’s agony.

This deserves a heart-to-heart talk. With Jesus. He’s been there.

Stay Connected

Bread for the World