Tag: Lent

Apr 4 2012

Lenten reflection: Living in the light of the Resurrection

Allan Weinert, CFCA board memberHere is the last of the Lenten reflections. This one is from CFCA board member Father Allan Weinert, C.SS.R. We hope you have learned from and enjoyed these as much as we did!

Happy Easter! April is a welcome month because those of us who live in northern hemispheres know that the heavy snows are over.

April also brings the good news that Christ is risen. Easter celebrates life after death and proclaims joyfully that Christ is with us. Winter will never be the final season of our existence.

Easter means living in the light of the Resurrection. Over these past days, in private prayer and public liturgy, we remember the story of our salvation.

We remember the violence we did to the Son of God and the love Jesus returned to us in bearing it. We who fashioned the cross are now saved by it.

Easter reveals God to us as no other celebration has ever done. On that morning life triumphed over death. Christ rose from the dead and we too shall rise from the dead on the last day.

Belief in the resurrection is a doctrine that we are taught, but it is also an attitude that engages us on every level of our being. It is the work of a lifetime and the hope of eternity. Read more

Mar 28 2012

Lenten reflection: Seeing Jesus in those living in poverty

Scott Wasserman with CFCAEvery Wednesday throughout Lent we will post a reflection on the upcoming Sunday readings. We hope these help you on your own Lenten journey. This week’s reflection was written by Scott Wasserman, chair of the CFCA governing board.

Suppose you knew for certain that someone was planning to kill you tomorrow. How would you prepare tonight?

Would you flee as far as you could travel as fast as you can? Would you hide where you could never be found?

Would you stock up on weapons, train how to use them, and recruit a bevy of friends to fight for you and protect you?

Flight and fight are natural responses to a threat. However, there is nothing particularly human about them. Rodents and reptiles do the same.

In the Passion account in the readings for Palm Sunday, Jesus knew for certain that unspeakable forces were conspiring to kill him. He knew they had infiltrated even his 12 closest disciples.

In the face of certain enmity and violence, he chose neither flight nor fight. He chose a third way, the uniquely human way of nonviolent love for enemies. Read more

Mar 21 2012

Lenten reflection: Waiting for fruit from the seeds we plant

Tim Deveney in CFCAEvery Wednesday throughout Lent we will post a reflection on the upcoming Sunday readings. We hope these help you on your own Lenten journey. This week’s reflection was written by CFCA preacher relations manager Tim Deveney.

This year I am trying to start my entire garden from seed. It’s more work than a trip to the nursery.

Fortunately my 4-year-old daughter is enjoying planting tomato seeds, and her small hands and fingers handle these tiny seeds much better than my mitts.

She waits expectantly for me to get home so we can put dirt in the cups fashioned out of newspaper, place two seeds, water and wait.

Wait for them to sprout. Wait for them to grow. Wait for the crisp cool mornings of late winter to give way to spring’s warmth so we can plant them in the garden. Wait patiently for the plants to bear fruit.

Our Lenten path, like our lives, is filled with planting seeds and waiting for them to grow and bear fruit. Read more

Mar 14 2012

Lenten reflection: Moving to meaningful, life-saving action

CFCA preacher Mark LaneEvery Wednesday throughout Lent we will post a reflection on the upcoming Sunday readings. We hope these help you on your own Lenten journey. This week’s reflection was written by CFCA preacher Father Mark Lane, C.O.

There is a powerful message in the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent. God sent his son into the world not to condemn it, but that the world might be saved through him.

The point of our faith is to help people, to save them. It is a point I find easy to forget, especially when I am caught behind someone at the supermarket check-out or the door bell rings when I am watching my favorite TV show!

Again and again Jesus teaches mercy, acceptance and inclusion, especially for the outcasts and those called sinners.

Who cannot be humbled by the incarnate son of God who steps in between the woman caught in adultery and the stones of her righteous neighbors? How disarmingly simple and clear are his words to her when they drop their stones and walk away: “Is there anyone left to condemn you?” Read more

Mar 7 2012

Lenten reflection: Checking our spiritual ‘GPS’

CFCA preacher Tom SingerEvery Wednesday throughout Lent we will post a reflection on the upcoming Sunday readings. We hope these help you on your own Lenten journey. This weekís reflection was written by CFCA preacher Father Tom Singer, O.M.I.

The first reading for the Third Sunday in Lent, along with the psalm, amount to “a spiritual GPS” for us: directing us on the right road.

Are we listening or stubbornly going our own way? Or, as we approach the midway point of Lent, is it time for us to “recalculate?”

It’s not too late for us to pray that God becomes our life’s GPS, our guiding force.

The reading from Exodus begins by proclaiming God’s clear and forthright introduction, “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.î

God is gracious and wants the best for us ó reminding us that, indeed, God is on OUR side. Read more

Feb 29 2012

Lenten reflection: Having faith even in the face of confusion

Every Wednesday throughout Lent we will post a reflection on the upcoming Sunday readings. We hope these help you on your own Lenten journey. This week’s reflection was written by CFCA preacher Father Jeff Kirch, C.PP.S.

Thirty eyes gazing at you in utter confusion. Fifteen blank faces staring at you as if you had just spoken a foreign language.

Anyone who has ever attempted to teach young people knows what “utter confusion” looks like. Seemingly everything is going fine and then suddenly a corner is turned and the world has been turned upside down.

This is true in mathematics, chemistry, English and life.

The readings for the Second Sunday of Lent offer us two glimpses of confusion. Abraham, our father in faith, was chosen by God and received the promise. But suddenly everything seems to be in peril as God asks him to sacrifice Isaac.

Peter, James and John, the closest of Jesus’ friends, walk up the mountain, experience the Transfiguration, and then suddenly are told that Jesus must suffer and die.

I am sure Abraham, Peter, James and John were utterly confused. Their lives, in fact, their very futures were in jeopardy.

There are countless times when that same feeling comes over many of us. Times when we are not so sure what God has in store for us. Times when nothing seems to make sense. Times when we are groping for answers to the perennial question, “Why?” Read more

Feb 22 2012

Lenten reflection: Preparing our hearts for God’s wonder

Larry Livingston Every Wednesday throughout Lent we will post a reflection on the upcoming Sunday readings. We hope these help you on your own Lenten journey. This week’s reflection was written by CFCA church relations director Larry Livingston.

The readings for the First Sunday of Lent offer some powerful images of cleansing. First we have the story of God’s covenant with Noah following the flood that cleansed the earth.

The second reading, from the First Letter of Peter, follows on the Noah imagery and connects it to the cleansing death of Jesus on the cross, while the Gospel offers Mark’s simple and direct account of Jesus’ purifying trek into the desert before he began his public ministry.

This cleansing motif makes me recall the times when, as a kid, I would find myself sentenced to cleaning my room.

My usual pattern would be to spend a few minutes pouting over the sheer injustice of it all, and then start figuring out ways to hide the mess so it would look as if I had actually straightened up. Read more

Apr 20 2011

Lenten reflection: Making sense of the empty tomb

Larry LivingstonHere is the last of the Lenten reflections from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope you have learned from and enjoyed these as much as we did!

The tomb was empty. That was the one thing everybody agreed on.

But why it was empty was an unanswered question, and plenty of rumors were going around.

Some claimed the body had been stolen, though by whom and for what purpose was unclear.

Then there were odd stories of people alleged to have seen him in various places, fully alive. Some claimed to have actually spoken with him, and two even swore they had spent the day traveling with him and that they had shared a meal!

But, at the end of the day, all that most of the people of Jesus’ time knew for sure was that the tomb was empty. And what were they to make of that?

It is the same question every Christian has had to wrestle with since that first Easter morning more than 2,000 years ago. Each day we stand at the entrance to that empty tomb. And each day we must decide what to make of it.

Walk2gether in Peru

Two children join Walk2gether in Peru. Walk2gether is part of CFCA’s mission to share grace and compassion with those living in poverty.

Like the adage about whether the glass is half-empty or half-full, how we choose to interpret the empty tomb comes down to perspective.

Do we see a symbol of suffering, failure and death? Or do we see a sign of promise, hope and renewed life?

How we answer those questions makes all the difference.

The world continually presents us with circumstances that we can choose to see through either the lens of hope or that of hopelessness.

War, suffering, poverty ñ these abound and there is no denying it. But for those with Easter vision, there are countless stories of love and compassion to be witnessed in the midst of those brutal realities.

The deepest joy of CFCA is that we are blessed to be agents of that Easter vision.

The members of our community ñ sponsors, sponsored persons, staff and friends around the world ñ have chosen to pitch our tent in the camp of life and hope. For nearly 30 years that tent has stood as a sign of God’s grace and human compassion.

Like Mary Magdalene, we have heard Jesus tenderly speak in the friendships between sponsors and sponsored persons. Like Thomas, we have touched the wounds of poverty and witnessed the courage of those who have risen above them.

And like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we have walked and broken bread with Jesus in the person of the poor, and yearned to tell the world about the wonders we have seen.

So, do we dare believe in the fantastic tale of a God who would die for us ñ and with us ñ and then lead us to new life beyond our dreaming?

Do we have the courage to walk with those who choose the path of hope? Do we have the fortitude to be witnesses for life in a world so obsessed with death?

Welcome to the empty tomb. Now, what do you make of it?

Apr 13 2011

Lenten reflection: Embracing the reality of the cross

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday throughout Lent, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own Lenten journey.

Palm Sunday marks our entry into Holy Week, the most sacred time of the Church year.

Now are we invited to begin our annual trek into the depths of the paschal mystery, the central reality of our faith.

Some will keep this week’s opportunities at armís length, for reflecting on the suffering and death of Jesus is not a pleasant exercise.

But for those willing to embrace the spirituality of these coming days, there is much to be discovered about God, the human condition and ourselves.

Part of that discovery is, of necessity, uncomfortable. We are not only asked to witness the drama of Jesusí Passion, we are drawn into it as central characters.

We are there in the crowd, shouting ìhosannaî as Jesus enters into Jerusalem. But we are also there at his trial days later, urging Pilate to condemn Jesus to a criminalís death.

This is the perpetual crossroads at which we find ourselves, challenged daily to make decisions that either reverence the Christ who lives in others ñ and in ourselves ñ or contribute to further isolation, suffering and death.

We rarely recognize it in such solemn terms, but this is where we are. It is part of the price we pay for being human.

It is easy to rationalize the role each of us plays in the continuing sufferings of Christ, but Lent exists to teach us otherwise.

Like it or not, we are each complicit in the effects of sin on our world.

Our complicity ranges in degree from willful ignorance to obstinate selfishness, but it is always there ñ tugging at our souls, tempting us to look no further than our own appetites.

And because we so often give in to that temptation, Christ continues to suffer in the poor and vulnerable.

God wants us to know this ñ to own it ñ but not to fill us with useless, toxic shame. Rather, God wants us to know how good we are despite our sinfulness and what incredible things we can accomplish when we allow Godís grace to flow through us.

CFCA strives to be a witness to human goodness and to the grace of God. The members of our community, both sponsors and sponsored persons, understand that the nature of blessing is to return increased to the one who sent it. They have known resurrection and yearn to share it with others.

And how much more does God yearn to share resurrection with us! But first things first.

We cannot own resurrection without first owning the cross, and this week is about the cross. Each of us must respond to the reality of the cross. We must lean in to it.

It isnít easy. It isnít pleasant. But take heart.

For Easter awaits.

Apr 6 2011

Lenten reflection: Rising again from small, everyday ‘deaths’

Larry LivingstonEvery Wednesday throughout Lent, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own Lenten journey.

Some of the most interesting characters in Scripture are also the ones we know least about.

In the Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Lent we meet one of them: Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary.

Lazarus, we are told, had been in the tomb four days, a fact which distinguishes his story from those of other Scriptural characters who were raised from the dead.

The Gospel-writer wants to make it clear that what happened to Lazarus was no ìnear-deathî experience. Lazarus was dead. Very dead.

But at the command of Jesus, he was alive again, coming out of the tomb wrapped in bandages with a cloth covering his face.

Ariana in Mexico

Ariana, foreground, a CFCA sponsored child in Mexico.

Not fair. Not only are we cheated out of knowing what Lazarus might have said on this wondrous occasion, we arenít even allowed a glimpse of the expression on his face.

What do you suppose it would have been? Gratitude? Confusion? Perhaps even anger at having been brought back? We just donít know.

And that, I suppose, is how it must be. Ours is not to know what awaits us when this life has ended, but to trust in Godís promise that it will be good.

Our task, rather, is to face the various smaller ìdeathsî that life presents ó broken relationships, loss, personal failures, the list goes on ó and to allow God to raise us from them, stronger than we were.

If we do that, we need have no fear of the final death.

But rising from these day-to-day deaths isnít easy, and it takes wisdom to recognize our own ìtombsî ó those aspects of our behavior that keep us from joyful living. It also takes the courage to answer Godís call to come forth from those tombs.

Lent is a gift from a loving God that helps us see our tombs for what they are and break free of them.

It is a time to be raised, through acts of personal discipline and generosity, from the selfishness of sin into deeper, life-giving relationships.

For nearly 30 years, CFCA has served as a path into such relationships. Through our Hope for a Family sponsorship program, we offer people a way to connect with others that blesses both sponsors and sponsored persons.

We seek to help liberate people from the insidious twin-tombs of poverty and indifference, and we are deeply grateful for the hundreds of thousands who have joined us in that liberation.

We may not know much about Lazarus, but it is a pretty good bet that once the cloth was lifted from his eyes the first thing he saw was the joyful faces of Jesus and the others who loved him.

It is a great image and one for each of us to reflect upon.

Just look at the good things that wait for us outside the tomb!