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Contents: Volume 2 - 2nd Sunday Lent  – B –
February 25, 2018






1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Barbara Cooper, OP

3. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

4. -- Brian Gleeson CP

5. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

6. -- (Your reflection can be here!)





Lent 2 B 2018

The first and second readings today tell us much about God. God expects and rewards our obedience. God loves us so much that He did not withhold His only Son, Jesus, from us. Jesus, now in Heaven, still intercedes for us in our needs today.

As we see in the Gospel reading, while on earth, Jesus often went to great lengths to try to teach the apostles and us to look beyond uncertain times and believe in him. The mystery of Jesus being fully human and fully divine is indeed that, a mystery. No wonder in Mark's account of the Transfiguration, the three apostles are terrified and left questioning when they experience something so beyond what they could imagine about Jesus.

We still have much in common with these apostles many years after these events have been explained and re-explained to us. We still witness amazing things that can only be attributed to the Divine (although not usually in the "terrifying" category) yet there is still much questioning. What do we believe way down deep about Jesus (and us) being transformed and about Jesus's Resurrection and ours? Who is Jesus to us individually?

Much like the apostles, most of us prefer to feel favored by Jesus. We like knowing we are in Jesus's presence. It is those moments, perhaps a wedding, a reprise from illness, a new baby etc. that sustain us when the harder times, those confusing ones, come along. What place does Jesus hold in our attention then? Do we focus on the problem or do we remember that Jesus and God-things beyond this world are more powerful than any problem?

For me, well, I have lots of questions! Nothing seems real simple in my life right now. I feel much like a tired juggler trying to keep personal questions, family questions, and the questions world events pose all moving in rhythm rather than crashing into one another as they seem to do on occasion. I understand "daze"!!!

Fortunately, I also understand that God's advice is critical at a time like this, mine or yours. As in the Gospel story, God "overshadows" things and reminds us: "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." We may not fully understand but we must believe that Jesus is real and that all that we are centers on all that Jesus is. Quieting the dazzle of the world, the gnawing of the unknown, or just the pace of everyday living will allow us to remember God's longstanding love for each of us as well as the blessings we are given. After we listen to Jesus, we will be able to come down to navigate the valleys of our life and face whatever each day holds.


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Second Sunday of Lent - B - February 25, 2018

The school shooting in Parkland, Florida on St. Valentine's Day still brings abundant tears and anger. It was also Ash Wednesday, the beginning of a season when we are called to change our way of living, to re-dedicate ourselves to the Way Jesus would lead us.

Trying to reflect and write feels jumbled, confused, and exhausting for me. This latest, so far, act of evil joins my remembrance of all the innocents murdered in the streets, schools, churches, and mosques in the US since Sandy Hook in 2012. So today's reading from Genesis, chapter 22, has struck a raw nerve.

There we read that God was testing Abraham. I don't believe that the Holy One plays such juvenile games or acts with such cruel manipulations. I do believe that people try to blame "god" for their own mischief, mistakes, and sins. I believe that Abraham saw the ritual of human sacrifices in some of the neighbouring religions, and thought Israel's God would be judged "less than they" without this offering. The story is against killing, even if condoned by a "friend of God" and "father of a nation".

We read that the Holy One corrected Abraham's error. The prophets, and later, Jesus, would go further. It is not sacrifice that is desired, but a new heart. The Spirit would have us be transformed, walking in a new way that would manifest the living Christ in our lives.

How can we do this today? In this world? In our society? In the reality of violence? How can we live with our anger without doing vengeance? Do we even want to, or does that feel like complicity in the evil? What does Jesus say about how to respond to evil?

How can we support and comfort people who suffer violence? "My thoughts and prayers are with you" seems so shallow. Perhaps we have said it too often. Can I sit in silent grieving with others and call that my prayer? Can I work for change that would prevent future murders? What could one say to Sarah if Abraham had succeeded in killing Isaac, her beloved son?

Today's reading, and life events, pose many questions with no simple answers. Like Peter, James, and John we need to go aside with Jesus, and listen, and grieve. Maybe we will come away then, with a plan supporting life instead of death.

Barbara Cooper, OP

Vancouver Island, BC Canada





Second Sunday of Lent February 25 2018

Genesis 22:1-18; Responsorial Psalm 116; Romans 8:31-34; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:2-10

The first reading this Sunday is a difficult, troublesome reading. It is unthinkable that a loving, compassionate, merciful God would ever demand we offer our first born child as a holocaust to prove our faith to a suspicious God. The reading begins with the statement, "God put Abraham to the test." What a capricious and angry test: God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son. How ghastly! How unthinkable! God promised Abraham and Sarah that from this child a people whose numbering was impossible to calculate. This test put in total and irrevocable jeopardy the very promise God had given. God tests the faith of Abraham. To what purpose? Why was it necessary for Abraham to prove his faith?

The gospel reading this Sunday contains an answer; well perhaps. But the answer could never have been known by Abraham. Nor could the writer enduring the Babylonian captivity in the sixth century before the birth of the Christ have predicted the awful sacrifice of Jesus in Jerusalem, completed on the wood of the cross. But we see in Jesus, God’s son, another example of faith, of absolute commitment. If we are able to empathize with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane after the last supper we see a parallel with Abraham’s anguish as he walked with his son to the mountain where Isaac was to be sacrificed. How can a just, loving God demand such the death of the child who was God’s gift? In the Christian era we can also ask how the loving, compassionate Father can demand the death of his only son, Jesus.

In the gospel, Jesus ascends a mountain taking with him the three, Peter, James, and John. Whenever there is a mountain in our Bible, our ears should perk up with attention. The mountain is where God comes to humanity, where God reveals himself. Climbing a mountain requires effort: it’s a lot of work even for those with the vigor and energy of youth. In the story Jesus goes to the top of the mountain to pray and wants Peter, James, and John to pray along with him. This happens in the gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke as a prelude to Jesus entering Jerusalem the final time. This time Jesus will be put to death by the forces of this world. So does God in some capricious manner demand the death of his only son? Is this God’s will? Is the story of God’s test of Abraham’s faith a foretelling of what will happen thousands of years later? It has often been said that the transfiguration is the preparation of Jesus for his trial, his passion, and his death at the hands of those who live in the ways of the world.

But what of the overshadowing cloud, that clear and certain image of the God’s presence on the mountain where Jesus is conversing with Moses who is the channel of God’s law, and with Elijah the greatest of those who spoke of God’s hope and guidance for his beloved nation? The voice thunders, or was it a whisper that strained the ears of Peter, James, and John? "This is my beloved son: Listen to him." This is no suggestion: this is no "it-would-be-nice-if-you-listened." This is a very clear command from God. "Listen to him." We’re to listen not only to the words of Jesus but to his actions. There are consequences to living a life of faith and truth in the presence of God. We believe we will be welcomed into everlasting life. But before we get there we will be subjected to the anger and violence of the way of the word. The way of the world always attacks, always meets lived faith with violence as it struggles to deny God’s love and compassion.

Let’s take another look at the story of Abraham’s test.

How do we make sense of God demanding Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac? Didn’t God promise Abraham that he and Sarah would be the patriarch and matriarch of a great nation, a people so numerous that no one could count their number? Isaac was the only real life avenue to achieving this. What’s with God? He promises and then reneges on that promise? What’s an answer to this troubling story? What do we tell our children when they ask why God would ask such a sacrifice? In our own time, why would God allow mental illness and undue influence of power and money to set the scene for the death of 14 young persons who were a hope for our nation? Why would God allow three teachers, administrators who worked for the welfare and growth of the young to be cut down?

We could say that Abraham was influenced by the culture that marketed worship of the awful god Moloch. The Canaanite people who followed that cult were obligated to offer their first born sons to that demon. These infants were burned alive in an overheated furnace to honor and seek favor from Moloch. Did Abraham think such behavior would prove his God an equal to Moloch? If the pagans who created this monster god had to be honored by such a sacrifice, did Abraham think it his obligation to prove his faith in his God more than equal to that evil demon? If we think about it with logic and with movements of our hearts, we discover evidence that the cult of Moloch remains active and present in our time. John Paul II spoke often about the culture of death pervading the cultures of the world. As more and more nations succumb to the pressures of Mammon – the god of corrupt wealth and power in all its forms – more and more children are crushed under the treads of vast corporate and individual machines of economic violence and political power. When those who are chosen to represent us, whose obligation is the common good, when those persons surrender their efforts to a corrupt power of wealth our children are periodically sacrifices to the flames of Moloch? There is a contemporary example of this surrender in the array of tools of mass human destruction available to anyone with a purchase price. Are we not complicit in facilitating the theft of the lives of our young when we fall in line with the way of the world? Is not the drive for profit in the manufacture and marketing of weapons for human destruction the root cause of proliferation? Has the need for campaign funds or a desire for a grand life-style subverted the consciences of global politics to corrupting self-interest no matter the collateral damage?

Our season of Lent looks forward to that awesome three-day-long liturgy of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil. We speak often about Jesus dying for the sins of the world. Perhaps we misspeak when we say "for the sins of the world." A more accurate expression would be to say he died a victim of the corrupt power and wealth. We look at his work in those three terrible days to discover how we are saved, how we are redeemed from what is sinful. Those three days are really a test of God. Wouldn’t we, if our children were murdered not rise up in anger and murder the murderers? The Father’s response is instead of a victory that is the resurrection. The sins of the world will never eliminate God’s love and compassion for his creation. It is his Son who is attacked by greed, avarice, unbridled power, and insatiable wealth. This test of God’s compassion is a proof for the depth of his love for us: it is testimony of God’s enduring love for us. It is witness to the necessity of truth about the way of the world and its effect on our spirits. Sister Verna Holyhead, an Australian Sister, writes in the publication Give Us This Day a clear message regarding the test of Abraham and the test of God’s loving kindness toward us.

"It is well to remember that God did not want the sacrifice of Isaac or any other child, and especially his own Son. What killed Jesus is what continues to crucify today: disregard for human life and human dignity, lust for power, materialism, violence. What gives life is faith and love.

"Every disciple in every age has to learn what Peter, James, and John learned on the Mountain of the Transfiguration: Following Jesus is not about comfort and security but about daring to hammer the tent pegs of our lives into the mystery of Christ, with a readiness to strike camp and move on when he wills."

In this second week of Lent our readings ask us to consider how we individually and as members of local, federal, and global communities live our faith. Today, as in every age, our faith is tested by the culture of the world around us. When our God becomes a little "g" god we fail the test of faith. When we worship money, power, influence, or fame as our god, we fail to live our faith. Just as the ancient Canaanites worshipped a god of death, we also worship that same god when we have faith in the ways of the world. Those ways ultimately lose their ability to lead us to fullness of life. When wealth, power, influence, and fame are worshipped, we run rough shod over the dignity and worth of God’s creation. We can never allow those things to cloud our vision even though we must make use of them for our living and for God’s purpose. The point is to never allow them to become a dark cloud over our faith, over our reason, or over our understanding and pursuit of the common good. That is, after all, the second great commandment. The overbearing, strident voices of Mammon always appeal to our emotions and insistently divide us into warring camps. Our emotions are unable to discern the truth of what demagogues shout at us. It is our heart, attentive to the Word of God, and our reason, which applies the Word of God to our every circumstance. We must put our trust in God and reject Satan and all his works, and all his temptations. We must climb the mountain and pray for the vision to listen and apply the Word of God. In this beginning of Lent we are called to walk with Abraham as his faith is tested: let us struggle up the mountain and Listen to the voice of God instructing us to "listen to the Word."

When we resolve to listen we are able to sing with conviction the Responsorial Psalm this Sunday. "I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living." Let us reject death and all that supports death and live in the Lord.

"The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!"

Carol & Dennis Keller






(Developed from a story of Paul O’Reilly S.J.)

God says to us: "This is my Son, the beloved. Listen to him" (Mk 9:7).

A person giving a sermon or homily might sometimes wonder: -"How many people are really listening? Is anybody listening from start to finish? Will those listening now remember anything later on? In any case, can a homily ever start to change another person’s life?" I know of one particular instance where it definitely did.

There’s this man called Mark, who lives a long way away. At 12, he was a bit wild at school. At 14, he was smoking and drinking. At 16, he started taking drugs, -mostly cannabis, speed and ecstasy. At 18, he moved on to heroin. At 19, he was injecting crack and heroin every day. At 22, his life seemed completely destroyed. He had no home, no family, and almost no possessions other than the clothes he stood up in. He had lost one leg when he was high and walked in front of a car. He had tried to kill himself three times - twice by taking drug overdoses, once by trying to hang himself. When he went to church, it was not to pray but to beg from the people there. He found that just after Mass people are generous.

But one Sunday, the gospel of the Transfiguration was read. In the homily he heard the priest say this:

"The meaning of the Transfiguration is that God does not make junk. God created the world - and what God makes is good. And ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’"(Romans 8:31)

At the end of his homily, the priest made all the people stand up and say with conviction: "God made me; God doesn't make junk." So, along with all the rest, Mark felt compelled to get up and say: "God made me; God doesn't make junk."

But for many days later, those words burned into Mark's heart: "God made me; God doesn't make junk." It became his prayer. It became his faith. It became his life.

With the courage of his new convictions behind him, Mark gave up drugs. He found a wife and he found a life. Not in a moment, of course, nor even in a few weeks, but over months and years he was transfigured and transformed. He took to heart the implications of the Transfiguration of Jesus: "God made me; God doesn't make junk", and "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).

What about us? Where do we stand? Do we really want to be transfigured and transformed by listening to Jesus our Saviour – listening to his words, his teachings, his example, and his inspiration? Do we?

Surely we do!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <>





Year B: 2nd Sunday of Lent

"…they discussed among themselves what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean."

One of my patients has a favourite T-shirt which he often wears to consultations with me. In block red capitals (presumably he has concerns about my eyesight) it says, "Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future."

Having lived with quite a few saints in my time, I can heartily attest to the former. But, just in case I have to live with them again, the story I am going to tell you is about the latter….

Now, you may know this already, but it is actually quite rare for anyone to listen to a homily all the way through. It is more rare for anyone to remember anything of it long after it has been given. But it is quite exceptional for a homily to change any one’s life.

I have a friend called Mark - I don’t mind calling him by his real name - he lives a very long way from here. At 16, he started taking drugs. By age 22, his life seemed to be completely destroyed. He had no home, no family and almost no possessions, except the clothes he stood up in. He had lost one leg when he walked in front of a car when he was high. He had tried to kill himself three times - twice by taking overdoses of drugs; once by trying to hang himself. When he went to church, it was not to pray but to beg off the people there. He found that Christians are most generous just after mass.

But, one Sunday, this gospel was read. And the priest said this in his sermon: "The meaning of the Transfiguration is that God does not make junk."

God created the world - and He is not a bad work man.

God created Abraham and raised him up to be the father of many nations.

God sent his only begotten son into the world to die and rise again for our salvation. As St Paul says: "Could any one accuse those that God has chosen?"

At the end of the sermon, the priest made all the people stand up and say as part of the creed: "God made me: God doesn’t make junk." He made them say it out loud three times, so as – he said – that it would penetrate not just the mind, but the heart and the soul.

And the power of peer pressure is such that, along with all the rest, Mark had to stand up and say three times aloud and trying to look as if he meant it: "God made me, God doesn’t make junk."

And for days later, those words burned into Mark’s heart: "God doesn’t make junk."

It became his prayer;

it became his faith;

it became his life.

"God doesn’t make junk."

With that courage behind him, he gave up drugs; he found a wife and he found a life. Not in a moment, but in several months and years, he was transfigured. He told me, "I may be a junkie, but I am not junk."

Let us promise God right here and now, that when we are tempted to despair, we too may be given the grace to know that the true meaning of the Resurrection is not how much I love God - it is how much God loves me.

Try it for yourself: I won’t embarrass you by making you stand up and say it out loud (though I admit I was tempted). We are, after all, British. But some time today, when you are quiet and alone, say it to yourself: "God made me; God doesn’t make junk."

For now, let us just stand and profess our Faith in God, our Maker, our Redeemer.

Dr Paul O’Reilly SJ <>





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