Second Week of Lent

Devout Jews wore clothing with four tassels (reminders to obey the Lord’s commands) and phylacteries (boxes containing Scripture passages, strapped to the head and one arm). While the mother of James and John wanted the Lord to promise that her sons would sit at His right and left in the kingdom, Pharisees already sought glory for themselves by wearing oversized cloak tassels and phylacteries. In a string of the Lord’s parables, a rich man ignored someone gravely impoverished right at his doorstep, tenant farmers killed to avoid turning ove

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First Week of Lent

People speculated about Jesus, wondering if an ancient prophet or John the Baptist had come back to life. Peter got it right when he called Jesus “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” The Lord, in turn, gave Peter the keys to heaven. Key elements of hope in everlasting life include Church teaching, forgiveness, and communion with the Church and God. The Gospels offer some practical ways to seek holiness: Pray the Lord’s Prayer, know that God has provided signs of His love, and do more than obey the Commandments. Jesus encouraged peopl

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After seeing Jesus multiply meager supplies of bread and fish on two occasions to feed vast crowds, the Disciples failed to understand what the Lord meant in His warning to beware of the “leaven” of Pharisees and Herodians. (Pharisees enjoyed authority as experts in Mosaic Law and detailed rules under the Law, while Herodians sought to preserve political power of Herod’s descendants. Both groups were self-serving, while Jesus gave His all to satisfy the spiritual hunger of others.) The Lord taught that celebration and sacrifice both have

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Sick people lying on mats outside hoped for and received healing from Jesus. Pharisees and scribes hoped to discredit Him. For example, they pointed out that some of the Lord’s followers skipped ritual handwashing before putting food past their lips. Jesus said to worry instead about doing mere lip service to God and His Commandments. The “chosen people” felt favored by God, and Jesus acknowledged that healing a Gentile woman’s daughter would seem like throwing food meant for children to the dogs. When she responded that even dogs get t

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When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple, a devout man named Simeon recognized the Child as the Messiah. In Jesus’ adult ministry, people in His hometown of Nazareth showed little faith in the Son of a carpenter, despite His wisdom. A grateful man freed of unclean spirits wanted to follow the Lord, even as others begged Jesus to leave the area because those unclean spirits had entered a herd of swine seen rushing into the sea in a terrifying frenzy. When Jesus began to send the Apostles to minister in His name, they each carried not

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Jesus compared people to trampled, rocky, thorn-choked, and fertile ground. Seed, representing the Word of God, can only thrive when it takes root in good soil. Saint Paul, once a powerful Pharisee, had zealously persecuted believers in the early Church. A blinding light and the voice of the Lord caused Paul to fall to the ground and led to his conversion. He became the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Timothy received the gift of faith planted more gently by his grandmother and mother, but Paul had confidence in that faith as he took Timothy und

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People had grown accustomed to strict observance of the Sabbath, fasting, and other rules and rituals. Using unshrunken fabric to patch an old cloak would pull at the tear. The Lord taught what worked for people clothed with faith in Him. He allowed the Disciples to pick heads of grain to eat when they got hungry while walking along on the Sabbath. Seeing a man with a withered hand in the synagogue, Jesus cured him on the spot. At the seashore, Jesus instructed the Disciples to have a boat ready so that the crowd wouldn’t crush Him as people

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