Category Archives: LENT AND EASTERTIDE

JESUS WAS TEMPTED BY SATAN: First Sunday of Lent [Year B] – Mark 1:12-15

Jakarta, 18 February 2018

A Christian Pilgrim


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Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 5:27-32 – Saturday after Ash Wednesday, 17 February 2018

The Lord calls Levi and then dines with an entire parliament of tax agents. He refuses to treat them as pariahs. Even if they had been an especially corrupt group, which they probably were not, their continued isolation and de facto excommunication would have done little to change them. Hence, the Lord insists on exchanging fellowship with them that they might witness His teaching put into practice even though they might have otherwise been reluctant to hear it expounded in theory.

Our own lives can provide a more powerful attraction to the unchurched and alienated Christian than would any lecture or homily. The power of example is gigantic. We preach what we practice.

The solid base on which our spiritual efforts of Lent should be grounded is the effort to heal our relationships with others.

Jakarta, 17 February 2018

A Christian Pilgrim


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Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 9:14-15 – Friday after Ash Wednesday, 16 February 2018

The Lord refers to fasting as a way of deepening our spiritual experience of the Father and Son. Since the Lord is physically absent from among us, fasting is a way of reaching deep down within toward God.

There were three focal points to Lent in Roman tradition: prayer, alms, fasting. Lent is the great time of prayer – not necessarily more prayer as much as better prayer. There are various kinds of prayer that can bring new vitality and repose to our communion with God. Alms-giving is basically sharing. It is more that the sharing of money. It can involve an extension of our time, our life experiences  or our spirituality to others. Alms-giving reminds us of a broader world and lifts us from the narrow compass of our problems to the wider world of wrenching need around us.

Finally, fasting is much more than dieting. It means eating, drinking, smoking less. Its purpose is to enable us to regain control over our appetites, something that is especially difficult in a consumer-oriented society. If we cannot control our bodies, we will find it extremely difficult to control our spiritual selves. The effort to fast reminds us how closely we are tied to bodily gratification. It seems to be a part of universal wisdom, East and West, that fasting is vital for spiritual self-mastery.

A careful, methodical observance of Lent enables us to learn something about ourselves, about others and about God.

Jakarta, 16 February 2018

A Christian Pilgrim


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Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 9:22-25 – Thursday after Ash Wednesday, 15 February 2018

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NAB)

The Lord asks what profit there is in gaining the entire world if a person destroys himself in the process. There are ways in which a person can stop and look at the direction in which her or his life has been going.

Religious practices are one indicator. The frequency of our Eucharistic celebrations, Scripture reading and prayer time tell us a great deal about the condition of our spiritual life. Lent is also a time to see what we do with our religion. Prolonged introspection can often reveal within us only what we want to see. Another method is to examine the pattern of our relationships with others. If we see a series of harmonious or acrimonious interactions, we discover a great deal about ourselves. It will exhibit the thrust of our life rather that isolated moments. This is one step in a productive Lent in which we can take an honest look at ourselves.

If we look at the direction of our life, we will be able to see whether; in the words of Moses (first reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20), we have been choosing life or death.

Jakarta, 15 February 2018

A Christian Pilgrim




Since the early days of the Church, Lent has been set aside as a time to encourage believers to draw near to God as they prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. Traditionally, we prepare for Easter through forty days of increased prayer coupled with personal acts of self-discipline such as fasting as well as alms giving.

The word “Lent” comes from an Old English word for “springtime” – a season when new life is wrested from the clutch of winter. Lent is our time for revival and renewal – the springtime of the spirit.

We have all been through enough Lents to realize that complete transformation probably will not occur. But Lent is an opportunity for repair work in a specific area of our life that might need reconstruction.

Maybe we (you and I) have doubts about the faith or questions about things we do as a Church. Lent is a time to resolve the doubts and get some straight answers. Maybe we have been carrying personal wounds that have been eating away at us. Lent is a time to find ways to let the healing begin. Maybe our spiritual life is stuck in neutral and we want to be able to pray as easily and spontaneously as Jesus did. Lent is a time to start to experience prayer.

Each of us has some part of our life that needs a lift and some remodeling. Lent is less a time for pain and punishment than it is a time for healing. As the Prophet Joel says in the first reading: Nobody is exempt. Call everyone together – priests, lay people, young and old. This is the levelling significance of the smear of ashes: beneath all our differences, we all need renewal.

How do we start? One way might be to arrange to talk for a while with a priest or another fellow Christian or with the family. Another way might be to select a book carefully. There is a great deal of good writing on every area of life and concern to Christians. Be sure, however, it is a book with a size and style with which we feel comfortable. Also, so that our Lenten resolutions do not disintegrate as our New Year’s resolves may have, we might share what we have chosen to do with someone else. We can then encourage each other.

Lent is not a time for temporary improvement until Easter after which we go back to business as usual. The purpose of Lent is to make a lasting change in our life. If that is something about which you have been thinking, Saint Paul says in today’s second reading that “This is it!” This is the time! Right now! The iron is hot!

In the Gospel reading, the Lord reminds us not to go through the motions alone because this is serious business. If we are willing to undertake this effort and to experience through our Lenten resolutions the death and Resurrection of Christ, we must step forward to receive these ashes, ancient symbols of penance and renewal. We must come forward as we all begin to walk together this very personal road from winter to spring, “from ashes to Easter.”

Jakarta, 14 February 2018 [ASH WEDNESDAY]

A Christian Pilgrim


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Jakarta, 14 February 2018

A Christian Pilgrim


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PSALM 103:11 (Part of the Psalm Reading for today’s Mass)

Jakarta, 2 June 2017

A Christian Pilgrim


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