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Look up the daily passages from the New American Bible online at www.usccb.org/nab/bible.
SUNDAY, MARCH 25, 2012
FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
TeamRCIA.com, a free online resource for Catholic parishes, offers a helpful interpretation of the Scrutinies that catechumens undergo today for the third consecutive Sunday: They are about developing a way of seeing—of seeing sin as it really is and seeing Christ as the one who liberates from sin. “The Scrutinies . . . are experiences of the freeing touch of grace, which restores our sight . . . . The Scrutinies are repeated so that we will learn to see well . . . . When we see sin in its right aspect, we become free to choose something different, to step away from sin and into the light of Christ,” suggests Rita Ferrone on TeamRCIA. Whether we were baptized as infants, adolescents, adults, or await baptism, we need to take that step.
“Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”
MONDAY, MARCH 26
SOLEMNITY OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD
March through time
This year the church celebrates the Annunciation one day late because the actual date, March 25, falls on a Sunday. March 25 has an interesting history. Early mathematicians calculated and thought this to be the day on which Jesus died. They believed the creation of the world started on this day as well, which made it a natural date for the first day of the New Year. Thus for several hundred years March 25 was New Year’s Day. Mary’s willingness to bear the son of God also ushered in a new year, a new era. Every “yes” does that. Celebrate Mary’s “yes” with one of your own today. Before you say an automatic “no” to your child, your spouse, your coworker, your neighbor, take a deep breath and reconsider whether you might say “yes.”
“May it be done to me according to your word.”
TUESDAY, MARCH 27
The idea of homeopathic medicine is that one can use a small amount of a pathogen to fight off what, in full strength, would make you ill. In mainstream medicine a similar idea lies behind immunization. In both cases the very thing that can cause disease becomes the means of healing. The bronze serpent that Moses crafted to cure his people if they looked at it, as well as Jesus’ vision of himself lifted on the cross and drawing all people to himself, evoke the same idea: The very instrument of bitterness and death, through grace, becomes the source of life. During your Lenten prayer spend some time simply gazing at a crucifix, not to dwell on the agony of Jesus but upon the “wondrous love” and healing that the sign of the cross has become.
“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.”
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28
That’s a mouthful
W. C. Fields used to exclaim in his films, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!” No doubt Fields enjoyed using these exotic biblical names as an expression, but behind them are three actual characters from Hebrew scripture. The Babylonian king had commanded them to worship the statue of a god or face immediate execution. Their response was an interesting one. Of course they wouldn’t bow down, and if God saved them, so be it. But if not, they still wouldn’t deny their God. Now that’s faith—both the willingness to give up their lives but also their affirmation that God did not have to prove anything to deserve their trust. Faith does not begin with what God will do for you if you believe. It starts with believing because God is God.
“Jesus then said to those . . . who believed in him, ‘If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples.’ ”
THURSDAY, MARCH 29
Leave this stone unturned
Death-by-stoning is an ancient form of execution. Because it is slow, most would call it torture. Biblical examples are sparse but they do exist, though later limits on the practice in Jewish law and tradition became so restrictive as to prohibit it for all practical purposes. Sadly, this cruel punishment is still legal in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, and some states in Nigeria. Occurrences are documented as well in Afghanistan and Somalia. Stoning has been universally condemned by human rights groups and most nations and faiths. As Lent is a time of repentance, add your voice to the chorus calling the world to repent and do away with this and other cruel punishments.
“They picked up stones to throw at him.”
FRIDAY, MARCH 30
LENTEN WEEKDAY; DAY OF ABSTINENCE
How do you live beyond fear?
Fear is a reasonable response in an unreasonable time. Check the daily news and within minutes you’ll have a long list of motivations for barricading the door to keep the spirit of vengeance, violence, and evil away from yourself and those you love. But fear is not a Christian response to the world or toward your fellow human beings. “Fear is useless,” Jesus once told a man despairing for his daughter’s life. “What is needed is faith.” As you surrender the option of meat today you might also opt for courage over fear—a courage born of your trust in God.
“I hear the whisperings of many: ‘Terror on every side!’ ”
SATURDAY, MARCH 31
Bread for the world
As Christians prepare for Palm Sunday and Holy Week, Jews prepare for the beginning of Passover this coming week. There are many traditions that led to the Jewish use of unleavened bread, or matzah, during this feast. One of the most interesting is the usage of the Hebrew term lechem onii, “the bread of poverty,” for matzah. This hard, flat bread is said to remind Jews of what it was like to be poor captives in Egypt and to promote humility and a greater appreciation of the gift of freedom. Food for thought for one and all—and for gratitude!
“Now the Passover of the Jews was near.”
©2012 by TrueQuest Communications, L.L.C. PHONE: 800-942-2811; E-MAIL: email@example.com; WEBSITE: www.takefiveforfaith.com. Licensed for noncommercial use. All rights reserved. Scripture quotes come from the New American Bible.
Contributors: Alice Camille, Daniel Grippo, Caroline Hopkinson, Father Larry Janowski, O.F.M., Ann O'Connor, Joel Schorn, Patrice J. Tuohy, and Sister Julie Vieira, I.H.M.