This week in New Zealand we are taking a significant step out of the lockdown restrictions that have become the pattern of our lives these past two months.
For several years now Food for Faith has offered daily Advent and Lent email reflections. When the restrictions on the celebration of the sacraments were introduced in March I decided to continue the daily reflections beyond Easter as a way of journeying together with Christ through these difficult days.
Now that many of the routines of work, study and family life are resuming, Food For Faith will move from the daily emails to one email each week and two or three weekly posts on the website at www.foodforfaith.org.nz. Save the homepage to your home-screen for easy access.
It is my hope as time and resources permit to develop a Food For Faith website and App enabling easier communication of regular reflections, audio Lectio Divina, other audio resources including interviews and reflections, and a more interactive prayer-intentions platform, Support for life and prayer for example where to find help in the scriptures in different life situations, and a space for readers to offer their own comments and reflections. Your ideas are always welcome.
These three months of daily reflections have become a healthy daily routine for me. Each morning I pray with the following day’s gospel, then keep it in mind as I go about the day, and usually by later in the day a thought or two worthy of sharing becomes a post for the following morning.
I will continue to post two or three times a week on the website and once or twice a week will send an email to those who have signed up. You can unsubscribe at any time at the footer of the email.
These weeks have been a retreat of sorts for us and often at the end of a retreat there is a desire to make new resolutions and choices. Perhaps the finish of the daily FFF reflections this week calls us to deepen our personal decision for Christ.
Today’s gospel reading with its emphasis on two different worlds: the world of faith and the world of sin, the world led by satan and the world led by Jesus Christ also invites us to make a choice.
In his Spiritual Exercises Ignatius of Loyola offers a choice meditation titled “The Two Standards.”
Pope Francis presented this meditation to young people in Paraguay a few years ago, and I’ll let him present it for us today (in blue below)
Saint Ignatius has a famous meditation on the two standards. He describes the standard of the devil and then the standard of Christ. It would be like the football jerseys of two different teams. And he asks us which team we want to play for.
In this meditation, he has us imagine: What it would be like to belong to one or the other team. As if he was saying to us: “In this life, which team do you want to play for?”
Saint Ignatius says that the devil, in order to recruit players, promises that those who play on his side will receive riches, honour, glory and power. They will be famous. Everyone will worship them.
Then, Ignatius tells us the way Jesus plays. His game is not something fantastic. Jesus doesn’t tell us that we will be stars, celebrities, in this life. Instead, he tells us that playing with him is about humility, love, service to others. Jesus does not lie to us; he takes us seriously.
In the Bible, the devil is called the father of lies. What he promises, or better, what he makes you think, is that, if you do certain things, you will be happy. And later, when you think about it, you realise that you weren’t happy at all. That you were up against something which, far from giving you happiness, made you feel more empty, even sad. Friends: the devil is a con artist. He makes promises after promise, but he never delivers. He’ll never really do anything he says. He doesn’t make good on his promises. He makes you want things which he can’t give, whether you get them or not. He makes you put your hopes in things which will never make you happy. That’s his game, his strategy. He talks a lot, he offers a lot, but he doesn’t deliver. He is a con artist because everything he promises us is divisive, it is about comparing ourselves to others, about stepping over them in order to get what we want. He is a con artist because he tells us that we have to abandon our friends, and never to stand by anyone. Everything is based on appearances. He makes you think that your worth depends on how much you possess.
Then we have Jesus, who asks us to play on his team. He doesn’t con us, nor does he promise us the world. He doesn’t tell us that we will find happiness in wealth, power and pride. Just the opposite. He shows us a different way. This coach tells his players: “Blessed, happy are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake”. And he ends up by telling them: “Rejoice on account of all this!”.
Why? Because Jesus doesn’t lie to us. He shows us a path which is life and truth. He is the great proof of this. His style, his way of living, is friendship, relationship with his Father. And that is what he offers us. He makes us realise that we are sons and daughters. Beloved children.
He does not trick you. Because he knows that happiness, true happiness, the happiness which can fill our hearts, is not found in designer clothing, or expensive brand-name shoes. He knows that real happiness is found in drawing near to others, learning how to weep with those who weep, being close to those who are feeling low or in trouble, giving them a shoulder to cry on, a hug. If we don’t know how to weep, we don’t know how to laugh either, we don’t know how to live.
Jesus knows that in this world filled with competition, envy and aggression true happiness comes from learning to be patient, from respecting others, from refusing to condemn or judge others. As the saying goes: “When you get angry, you lose”. Don’t let your heart give in to anger and resentment. Happy are the merciful. Happy are those who know how to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, those who are able to embrace, to forgive. We have all experienced this at one time or another. And how beautiful it is! It is like getting our lives back, getting a new chance. Nothing is more beautiful than to have a new chance. It is as if life can start all over again. Pope Francis 2015
- Take time to ponder the Two Standards reflection presented by Pope Francis above. You can read it in a different form at this link. What encouragement do you feel when reading this exercise?
- Pray to Sleep (a ten minute bedtime audio reflection) at this link.
- Today’s readings at this link.
- Send your prayer requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each day I will add the initials of those we pray for to this list. Take a moment, perhaps 15 seconds, to pray in whatever way you choose for those whose initials appear below, and don’t hesitate to send repeat requests for prayer.
Let us pray today (Tuesday) especially for: AS, DD, BD, WC, KJ, PG, CG, PR, SG, PB. FF, JC, BO, PM, MD,
Praying for a job that give a healthy work-life balance. Daughter due to have surgery but delayed by lockdown. I need God to look after me so I can put my effort into caring for family and employees. Preparing for surgery and praying for success. Struggling to get good school results having missed two months. Struggling to cope with a job making big demands on me. Unable to pay mortgage. Feeling called to make a life choice that family and friends will not like. Spouse of 25 years left at same time last of children left home. Needing to trust Christ more. Appointed to a new job that one of the current employees wanted.
Monday: AL, MM, SIM, TP, PB, JL, AP, MM, WP, TEP, LP, JD, MD, SL, PM, JK, SB, BW, LC, RS, EC, KN, JP, IF, TP, TP, MW, JN, SN,
Sunday: SP, PB, BH, JJ, KB, DM, GL (RIP last Tuesday) JT,
Saturday: CM, OP, GC, GS, ES, MLAH, CS, HC, DC, DU, DMC, FTM, JS, SD, MD, CM, TD. MM, ZM, LM, SD, JD, LD, AD. DC, ME,, CE, KC, LC, BC, KC, BC,
Friday: LS (RIP), AR, TT, BP, MP, PP, GTD (RIP2015), PB, LM, JK, MK, TJO, LB, DD, JRA, FL, JU, SLJ. SLJ. JJJ. MPJ, JPM, MLFJ, MD,
Thursday: SLJ, JJJ, RM, SJ, SF, SLJ, JS, FS, MD, GPD, JMC, AM & I, MS, MC, MR, JCP, MON, SS, MS, OD, ND, CD, JD, JD & KJ, EJH, ARO,
Wednesday: JS, FS, SF, GJG (RIP), JDG, MD, CGW, SD, TK, JK, RF, GN, OP, GC, TN, MC, KJ, SL, AN,
Last week: JMT, KJ, MD, PM, MC, DP, KD, AD, BA, RF, MC, PR, JH, GPB,AD, NF, PR, GPB, BA, MA (RIP), LM, SB, MO’D, S&SW, DMcA, SS, VM, PM, NM, BB, BR, RM, IW, BL, AM, JM, SM, JH, CSL, BS, AW, MR, SR, JC, LR, JF, AB, AB, MB, CB, LJ, AF, JB, CB, SB, MB (RIP), MR, MH, SR, RS, MTM, OH, MM (RIP), SGS. MC, EH, MAC, NDM, JG, SL, JD, AJ, MLJ, SkJ, MS (RIP), LMP, GRJP, JF, IC, RF, JC, LHG, LKG, FMG, GMG, GC, AW, DM, MM, PM, ML (RIP), JMC, PN, KM, JJ, MJ, AWS, HGTJ, JHWW, HJPM, MB (RIP), MD, DN, QRPTT, LTP, NVVO, PEGMW, MC, LM & JM, BM, BP, CP, PP, CH, NF, RJH, GOJ, JMC, LH, JS, RMc, MLJ, EL (RIP)AJ, MLJ, SkJ, MS (RIP), LMP, GRJP, JF, IC, RF, JC, LHG, LKG, FMG, GMG, GC, AW, DM, MM, PM, ML (RIP), JMC, PN, KM, JJ, MJ, AWS, HGTJ, JHWW, HJPM, MB (RIP), MD, DN, QRPTT, LTP, NVVO, PEGMW, MC, LM & JM, BM, BP, CP, PP, CH, NF, RJH, GOJ, JMC, LH, JS, RMc, MLJ, EL (RIP), SS, BK, JKBP, CP, PP, BW, HT (RIP), SL, AW, DM, MM, PM, LH, TN, SF, SC, FM, T&TT, AR, HF, RF, JM, R&B, MC, MD,BH, SGS, JJHB, SJB, BB, MD, MB, JT, RF, SS, SS, PB, SD, JR, SQ, JL, MCSM, PR, MJ, MD, SM, PR, MJ, MD,
LECTIO DIVINA FOR TUESDAY OF EASTER WEEK VI (19 May 2020)
Pictures received of any churches that have been significant in your faith journey will be included as the images on the daily Lectio Divina links. Send to email@example.com.
Today’s church: Our Lady of Mt. Matutum Trappistine Monastery, Polomolok, South Cotabato, Philippines. An inspiring community of around 30 Trappistine nuns, and a monastery where I have been privileged to lead several retreats.
Tuesday Easter Week VI (15 minutes)
Tuesday Easter Week VI (25 minutes)