Scripture Reflection . . .
First Sunday of Lent
First Reading: Genesis 2:7-9;3:1-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51 “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.”
Second Reading: Romans 5:12-19
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11
The First Reading begins “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life . . .”
Breathing is so common we don’t even notice we are doing it. However, breathing is essential to our life – we can’t live without it. A common practice in meditation is attention to one’s breathing, perhaps because there is a rhythm to it that grounds and focuses us so we can slowly let go of our incessant thoughts. I recently read a meditative practice offered by James Finley who suggested that as we breathe in, we breathe in God’s “I love you.” Breathing out we whisper our “I love you” to God.
Just as breathing is essential for life, God’s love is essential for our wholeness of life. Without love we are a shell of humanity – constantly seeking out there somewhere for something to fulfill – often power, control, security, wealth, status, recognition . . .
The Gospel tells of the temptation of Jesus after 4o days of fasting in the desert (the evil spirit seems to shows up when we are at our most vulnerable). Before Jesus went into the desert he was baptized and had the amazing revelation of God love for him “You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased (Mark 1:11). He received God’s breath of love that sustained him when he was tempted to security, power and control in his weakest hour.
Love is all we need to fulfill our deepest needs. When we truly believe we are loved that need to be recognized, secure, in control falls away. We are free to focus on the other rather than ourselves.
In Our Lives as Sisters of The Holy Redeemer . . .
Today’s Readings call us to notice God’s breath of love that has sustained us the past week:
Last Monday evening we participated in our monthly evening Liturgy followed by a simple supper. This is always a deep experience of community as we gather around altar and table as Sisters, Priest, guests, to break bread together and recall God’s love for each and all of us.
Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, is traditionally known as Donut Day around here as we continue the custom of making donuts to share with one another and all who join us in mission. At last count, Sr. Ellen helped make over 400 donuts this year! Now that is love!
Wednesday we began March and the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday. This season highlights God’s love, in Jesus, who poured out his life for love of us.
Friday we began weekly prayer services for the season of Lent. These are held just before Noon each Friday and led by various Sisters and partners in mission at our main building. These are opportunities to pause in the midst of our day and activities to remember to breathe in the breath of God’s love.
Finally preparations were completed to welcome 10 students from Michigan State University who will stay with us for a week of service during their Alternative Spring Break. They are a breath of fresh air and a breath of God’s love. Welcome!
In Your Life . . .
Practice: I Love You, I Love You (from Center for Contemplation and Action website – Daily meditations February 25, 2017)
James Finley offers a simple guided meditation to awaken us to our oneness with Love.
When you sit in meditation, your breathing naturally slows. Quietly focusing your attention on your breathing is a way of slowing down and settling into a deep meditative awareness of oneness with God. Breathing out, be quietly aware of breathing out. Breathing in, be quietly aware of breathing in. Each time you realize you have drifted off into thoughts, memories, sensations, and other ego-based modes of being, simply return to your breathing as your anchoring place in present-moment attentiveness.
Your efforts in following the path of breath awareness might be enhanced by repeating a word or phrase with each breath. A practice I have found particularly helpful is to pair breath awareness with the phrase “I love you.”
As you inhale, listen to the incoming breath so intently that you can hear in it God’s silent “I love you.” In this moment, God is flowing into you as the source and reality of your very being. As you exhale, breathe out a silent “I love you” back to God. As you inhale, be aware of the air as being God flowing into you, as the divine gift of your very being. As you exhale, allow your silent “I love you” to be your very being, flowing back into the depths of God.
Simply sit, open to God breathing divine love into the depths of your being, as you breathe your whole being, as a gift of love, back into God.
This one practice alone, engaged in with heartfelt sincerity and devotion, can awaken you to God’s total and complete oneness with you as the giver, the sustainer, and the reality of the sheer miracle of your very being. As this realization of God’s oneness with you grows, you will begin to realize how foolish it is to imagine that God is, in any way, distant from you. You discover how foolish it is to imagine that you could in any way hide from God, who is wholly one with all that is within your mind and heart, your very being.
Blessings on your week!