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157 posts categorized "Lent Series"

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:54-55

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:39-42

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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 going out, Jesus went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:39-42)

Jesus had a strong sense of a God-given purpose in his life:

     • Early in his ministry, when asked to stay in Capernaum, he says, “To the other towns also I must (go) . . . because for this purpose I have been sent.”

     • Later, told of Herod’s death threat, he says: “I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day.”

     • And now, having arrived in Jerusalem and hours away from death, Jesus says to the Father, “. . . not my will but yours be done.”

Perhaps God is nudging me to do something I don’t want to do. From time to time, a certain thought runs through my mind, an inkling to do something (or stop doing something). I shy away from it, slough it off and figure it’s just one of those odd thoughts, daydreams.

But maybe it didn’t come from me. Maybe it came from the Lord. That makes a difference.

Now, early into Lent, I should take a long look at this. If the Lord is nudging me toward something, I ought to do it.

 

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:35-38

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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 said to the apostles, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?” “No, nothing,” they replied. He said to them, “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, ‘He was counted among the wicked;’ and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.” Then they said, “Lord, look, there are two swords here.” But he replied, “It is enough!” (Luke 22:35-38)

Earlier, when Jesus sent out the 72 disciples, he spoke of “a money bag, sack, and sandals.” Now he speaks of “a money bag, sack, and sword.” He is speaking symbolically, referring to a new time of persecution.

The disciples miss the point, take him literally, and produce two swords. His response amounts to: “Enough of that.”

We’re sometimes taught to be quick with the sword, and we’ve all got our own “swords” – glaring daggers at someone, making cutting remarks.

Throughout this Lent, I’ll watch Jesus face some “swords:” Mockery, manhandling, torture. The early Christians applied a passage from Isaiah to him:

                     He was led like a sheep to the slaughter and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

How did he do that? How could I do that? Ask him.

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:31-34

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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 said, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.” But he replied, “I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:31-34)

Jesus looks ahead to the imminent failure of the disciples – they will abandon him. Peter will do worse. After abandoning Jesus along with the rest, he’ll deny him – not once, but three times.

So, looking ahead to this, what does Jesus say to Peter? He says that he has prayed for him – that Peter may not ultimately fail as a disciple.

Imagine that. Jesus prayed for Peter, was on Peter’s side. Imagine. Jesus praying for me. Jesus on my side.

No need to “imagine” it. In John’s account of the Last Supper, Jesus says, “I pray not only for them but also for those who will believe in me through their word.”

That’s me.

Do I ever really think of Jesus praying for me, not only back then, but now?

If Jesus were to pray for me right now, what would he especially pray for?

Lent Devotions: Luke 22:28-30

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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.

It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30)

Each Gospel is the author’s “portrait” of Jesus. Each is true, but each looks from a different angle (as portraits do) and the emphasis is different . . . just as portraits of the same person vary from artist to artist.

Consider today’s text. In Matthew’s and Mark’s account of this conversation, Jesus chides his disciples that they will soon abandon him. But Luke has Jesus affirm them: “You have stood by me in my trials.” (Well, they have, but in a few hours they will scatter.)

Ever notice how some people do that so well – try to see the good side of everyone (like grandparents with their grandchildren)? That’s a side of Jesus that Luke wants me to know: Always affirming other people.

People will pass through my life today. I could go out of my way to give them affirmation . . . sort of a form of giving alms. Not a bad idea for Lent. Not too hard either.

But before I do that, I can take some minutes right now to picture Jesus affirming me. I have my good points too.

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