Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Weekday Readings



The Third Week in Lent

March 8 - 13, 2021

Luke 4.24-30
The work of the prophet is twofold.  One is to console God's people.  The other is to confront and challenge the faithful to live-up to the word of God.  The word of God liberates while at the same time exacts commitment.  Jesus through his Holy Spirit works this prophetic role within us in our prayer.  We often react negatively to the word being uttered in the depths of our hearts.  We easily reject the consolation.  We opt to seek satisfaction in other forms of fulfillment more superficially pleasing to our fallen state or we opt to remain in self-pity and despair.  We reject the light that challenges us and we prefer the soft, broad, seemingly easy path that is adverse to the word.  Either way, we try to push Christ and His light away from us.  We rush him to the cliff to do away with his Presence.  But Christ passes through the negative  efforts; he remains who he is in himself.  Yet Jesus will return to try again.  That's our hope, although we should not presume too much.  Hope is not presumption.  We have to learn the difference.

Matthew 18.21-35
One fruit of our contemplative prayer is clarity in our understanding of how we approach life.  This knowledge can be painful many times because we begin to see clearly how we really deal with others.  This light of self-knowledge is necessary so that we can cooperate with the Spirit in transformation of how we live our life.  This Gospel points us to the self-examination on how we handle the people who offend us and even harm us.  We have to struggle to accept that the merciful love of the Trinity embraces us with all our sins and faults.  The same love, however, must complete its full circle.  We must in turn embrace others who are repugnant to us because of their offensiveness.  Is there a limit to the number of times?  No, the forgiveness is infinite as God's mercy for us is infinitive.  Forgiveness is exponential.  We offer to the Father all the open wounds of our heart for healing.  We must see through those wounds inflicted upon us into the wounds of the crucified Christ.  There on the cross we learn to forgive so that we may be forgiven.

Matthew 5.17-19
The New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament.  The New Testament enlightens the Old Testament.  The Law and the Prophets, that is, the revelation given to and preserved by the Israelite nation is found fulfilled in Christ Jesus.  Our prayer, then, centered in Jesus the Lord is enlightened by all that the Old Testament reveals.  The many prescriptions of the Old Covenant are folded into the power of the Holy Spirit poured out upon the Church.  In our prayer emanating from the Sacred Scripture, Old and New Testaments, we move into divine union with the Trinity.  In the wisdom that comes from the Spirit in prayer we are faithful to the Spirit of Christ who has been poured out upon us.  The Spirit is the fulfillment of the Old Testament as we are transformed into Christ.  The Spirit never contradicts the sacred text of Scripture or the Church’s deposit of faith, but brings all the texts alive in new ways in the faithful, so as to reveal more and more the treasures of the “tradition-ed” word.

Luke 11.14-23
Our prayer life reflects the voices heard in this Gospel story, especially now during Lent when we experience repentance and cleansing.  The demons are dumb, so they do not plead or cry out.  The dumb man speaks.  The crowd marvels.  But some among the groups question.  They go right to the heart of Christ's work of salvation.  They question the foundation of Christ's ministry.  They claim that it is not the Father’s working, nor the Spirit’s directing.  They claim that it is Satan himself who is the cause of Satan's kingdom's demise. What blasphemy!  In their theological questioning they blind themselves to the light of the Gospel.  So too we must discern well our inner voices of criticism.  These voices that are really anti-Christ may question the absolute and unique position of Jesus as the light of our whole being, the way to the Father.  There are voices being heard in the field of spirituality that would reduce Jesus to just another spiritual master among others, all relative to one's culture or one's conscience.  Our faith proclaims that it is the finger of God which is establishing the Kingdom within our souls in prayer.  Let us worship the Christ, the Son of the Father who accomplishes our salvation and redemption in the Holy Spirit.  Let there be no murmuring of vain intellectual speculation in these matters.  Let us simply be among those who marvel with a contemplative gaze of amazement.

Mark 12.28-34
When you hold in your arms your baby daughter or son or you look into the eyes of your beloved spouse, does anyone have to tell you that you should love that person with all your heart and soul?  No one should have to do that.  Your love flows from the heart to the heart of the beloved quite spontaneously.  But given our poor dispositions and the complexities of our motivations, something greater, outside of ourselves has to say: Remember how precious is this person;  let nothing interfere with the totality of your love.  That is what deep prayer is.  Prayer is gathering up of all that is most real and powerful within our heart and consciously and deliberately giving over fully and absolutely the gift of our self to God.  More, it is the consent to the power of the Holy Spirit to love God as God loves Himself.  This gift is worked-out then in the daily relationships with others, loving them all with the same love that we love ourselves, with the same love that we have accepted in the cycle of love that is the Trinity.  In this way we are not far from the Kingdom; indeed, we are alive and one with God’s life.

Luke 18.9-14
A two-fold process works in the self-righteous to whom this parable is addressed.  First, they believe in their own righteousness as an entitlement of their very selves.  The source of this feeling is the constant glow that comes from holding themselves as the center of the universe.  It seems to be an ingrained reflex.  Second, thinking themselves as the source of their importance, they hold everyone else in contempt.  Others are a threat to their personal universe.  They see their own universe colliding with others.  Thus the Pharisee prays what is in his heart, namely his own self-reliance.  The Gospel of Jesus calls us to another interior process which is opposite to the Pharisee’s.  With a clear insight into his basic unworthiness and his dependence on God, the publican keeps his distance.  He acknowledges that he is far from the absolute source of all life.  He dares not of himself to lift his eyes into the Divine Mystery.  He pleads only that the divine process of mercy may begin to uplift him into that which he does not possess of himself.  God will make it all happen; he will be justified solely by the re-creative grace of God.  Thus prayer is seeking the source of life in God's gift of mercy.  Prayer is to be ever in the process of transformation.  O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

William Fredrickson, Obl. Sec. OSB, D.Min.



For questions, comments or other communication, please contact:
William Fredrickson