Lent Sacrifices

The agony in the Garden

We are entering into the fifth week of Lent. Thus far I’ve had a good Lent, meaning that I have not broken my promise in what I gave up for this holy season. Each year I struggle with the sacrifices and usually fall from grace the first week of Lent. For thirty or so years the desire of my heart has been to lose weight, at least 20 pounds. So I gave up eating bread and sweets; unfortunately I was never able to succeed. This year was different; much to my husband Mike’s surprise, I gave up shopping. I shop for myself at least once a week, purchasing clothing, household items or whatever. I’m a regular at Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Nordstrom Rack. These are my favorites; I never spend a lot of money, but it does add up.

Daily Mass at All Saints Church Mesa, Arizona

Last week I visited my sister Norma in Arizona. She was excited to share that Marshall’s had opened a store just a stone’s throw away from her. As tempting as this sounded, I never gave in. We attended Mass at All Saints Church in Mesa, Arizona instead. I was surprised by seeing all the parishioners. These people are faithful in their attendance because Norma sees them here on a regular basis. In spite of the social distancing, the church was pretty packed for a weekday Mass.

Virtual shopping

I have discovered a new way  to shop. I’ve been shopping online by placing items into a virtual bag and waiting for Lent to end so that I can make the purchase. Now this technique is not working out so well because most of the time I receive a notification that the items are no longer available. This saddens me for a few seconds, but then I remember the purpose for this sacrifice.

Sacrifice

If the Lord can sacrifice His life on the Cross for us, how hard can it be for me to follow this simple oblation? I want to be used by the Lord so this is a perfect lesson on obedience. I liken it to a test of spiritual growth by trusting that God will see me through this. If you have failed in your Lenten sacrifices, it’s not too late to start anew. Remember we serve a merciful God.

Drawing Water From the Well

The Samaritans lived in  a region north of Jerusalem. They are an ancient, ethnoreligious group descendant from Jews who had not been taken into captivity and deported but who remained in Samaria. They intermarried with the Assyrians who had been brought into the land after the  Assyrians conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C.  The Samaritans accepted only the first five books of the Hebrew Bible as their biblical canon. They rejected the writings of the prophets and all the Jewish traditions because they considered Judaism as an altered religion brought back with the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile in 539 B.C. (after the conquest of Judah, the Southern Kingdom by Babylon in 597 B.C.) They worshiped at the temple on Mount Gerazim, instead of the temple of Mount Moriah in Jerusalem because they considered it the original holy place where Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac. They were so despised by the Jews that the Jews would cross over the river Jordan and take a longer route to avoid going through Samaria. The Samaritans also harbored animosity toward the Jews.

The fourth chapter of the Gospel of  John speaks of the Woman of Samaria. The story of the woman at the well depicts Jesus breaking with tradition by conversing with a woman in public and sharing a drink with a Samaritan. In other words He was associating with a woman who was racially despised, a half-Jew/a half-gentile whose religious beliefs were considered heresy.

13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; 14 but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus offered the Samaritan woman living water. With this water we will never thirst again. A human being can survive three to five days without water, but this living water represents eternal salvation. We should all desire the living water, especially during Lent.

    from the fountains of salvation,

Garden of Gethsemane, some of these trees date back to the time of Jesus

Jesus knew all of the sins of this Samaritan woman, as He called them out, she perceived Him to be a prophet. This same Jesus sees all of our sins and, just as He was eager to forgive this Samaritan woman, we, too, can be forgiven.

Our Garden of Gethsemane

When Jesus went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked His disciples to pray so that they would not enter into temptation. Jesus was in deep agony and prayer, so much so that His sweat turned into blood. When Jesus rose from prayer, He found His disciples sleeping. Again Jesus tells them to rise and pray that they may not enter into temptation. Three times Jesus asked His disciples to pray, but they gave in to the temptation because of their weaked spirit.

When we go into deep, contemplative prayer, we become one with God. Prayer keeps us from making irrational decisions; it helps us to choose our words and, most importantly, it keeps us from temptation. I cannot tell you how many times I want to say something mean and hurtful but when I open my mouth, it is as if God has placed a filter over it; so when I speak I’m surprised at the kind words that come forth.

If I am asked to pray for someone, it is my duty before God to intercede on their behalf. The Lord will always give me a signal as to when to cease with this prayer. During the height of COVID-19, our prayer group offered prayers of intercession and supplication on behalf of many suffering from this virus and other serious illnesses. Every night we’d meet at 8 p.m. via group FaceTime. We prayed for more than two months. What great joy we shared when receiving text messages of praise reports of healings! Thank you Helen, Marianela, and Sarah. Great is your reward!

My Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to You with thanksgiving and praise. Thank You for all that You have bestowed upon our hearts to know You and to be used for Your Kingdom. Lord, allow us special time in our Garden of Gethsemane; meet us there and help us through all of our trials. When we feel alone, gently touch us so that we can feel Your Holy Presence. Lord, may we never forget the pain You endured while carrying Your Cross. May we be so gracious as we carry our own crosses. Be with us in our time of mourning and bring comfort to our hearts, knowing those whom we have lost will be in Your loving arms. Amen.

 

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