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Contents: Volume 2 - 1st Sunday Lent  – B –
February 18, 2018






1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Barbara Cooper, OP

3. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

4. -- Brian Gleeson CP

5. --

6.. (Your reflection can be here!)





Lent 1 B

Mark's account of Jesus's 40 days in the desert seems like a non-event spiritually and every other way. It is not. It calls us to look a bit deeper at the words and into what transpired "between the lines" just as we are called this Lent to look deeper into our own lives.

I was surprised by the brevity of the passage. Then there is the word "drove" to describe the initial action of the Holy Spirit. "Drove"(not by a modern car!) is a strong action; "led" (used by Luke and Matthew) has more of a feel of being gently guided.

So our first question might be what "drove" Jesus to spend 40 days virtually alone except for the wild beasts, without food and drink and shelter, in a desolate place? I think that the short answer is connected to Jesus's internal need to be prepared for his public ministry and the ordeal at Calvary he was ultimately going to face. The Spirit within him knew what had to be done.

Jesus, fully human, is a model for all of us humans. Jesus's "success" in withstanding the temptations of the devil tells us that it can be done. With the same kind of prayer and grace that sustained Jesus, we , too, can overcome our own temptations and fulfill our purpose in life.

We may not be in a literal desert nor a spiritual dry spot for 40 days, but our temptations are real enough to us in our time. They seem to rage strongest when we feel threatened or lonely or hungry/thirsty, or tired, tired physically or just tired of something in our lives. We often turn toward what seems comforting or what we think might solve the problem or desire of our heart at the time. In our minds, perhaps we don't think we are turning away from God, but most of those times, we certainly do not turn toward God!

Jesus's example tells us that holding onto our faith, to Scripture, and to prayer will be key to our "success". Building those habits when we are not tempted will be our defense and stronghold when we are. Knowing ahead of time what is tempting to us is also good preparation and just plain smart.

Lent is a great time to look deeper into that part of our spirituality. Our weakness maybe a true weakness/propensity to sin or just an indifference. Being indifferent to God may not qualify as an actual turning away from God, but I think it is definitely NOT turning the right way.

Apathy dulls the mind and slowly eats away at one's spirit. If you have fallen into accepting a flatness in your life or ignoring its many challenges so that you have a new but really unacceptable "normal", Lent has come at just the right time!! Let the Spirit drive you toward God, to all that is God's , to all that is God's love and mercy.

A good place to start is to remember where God's Presence is or was noticeable and nurturing in your life. Seek it out. Dwell on it and in it. Savor it and reconnect. Perhaps it is in Nature, in a relationship, in helping others, in the Quiet Presence of prayer. Wherever or whatever it is, let Lent be the bump that jars you back to it and away from the slippery slope of apathy. Happy Lent!


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





First Sunday of Lent - B - February 18, 2018

Picture yourself living in a time when people believed the earth was flat. Something like a dinner plate or a pizza. This earth floats on "the waters below" which are visible from the edge. Waters that move, that have no solidity.

This earth is covered by a dome over the sky, with windows God could open to let the rain through. We all know that windows can break.

Now imagine it rains. The "waters above" falling through the windows to join with the "waters below", washing all of creation off the "dinner plate" earth.

Where could you go? What could you do? This is the end. This is chaos.

But God had Noah build a boat. This man and his family lived, and saved the animals too.

Today Mark tells us the Spirit drove, or impelled, Jesus out into the desert. In that dry, gritty, sand-blown, lonely place, Jesus endured hunger and thirst, weakness and fatigue, predators and poisonous snakes. And then he was further tested by the adversary and deceiver. Even in the desert, Jesus might have felt like waters were rising and he was in danger of drowning. This is chaos too. Sometimes within, sometimes outside.

We live in chaotic times, as did many people who went before us, and many who will come after. But chaos, with it's pain, fear, disruptions, uncertainty, and threat, can be not only an ending, but a door to a new beginning.

As dry land reappeared, the Holy One made a covenant with Noah and his family. It's like everything started new again. And Jesus left the desert and went into Galilee. There he began his "public ministry" with the announcement of a new covenant:

"This is the time of fulfillment.

The kindom of Heaven is at hand.

Repent, and believe in the gospel."

Whatever the chaos, this is the time we live in. In flood or through desert, we have a relationship with the Holy One. And a map of God's kingdom. We might write the words of psalm 25 in our heart:

"Show me your ways, Beloved, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are my Liberator, and my hope is in you".

Barbara Cooper, OP

Vancouver Island, BC Canada





First Sunday of Lent February 18 2018

Genesis 9:8-15: Responsorial Psalm 25: 1st Peter 3:18-22; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 4:4: Mark 1:12-15

Whenever the Hebrew Scriptures write about a significant change in God’s intervention in human history the writers identify the change is the beginning of a new epoch. Each such time God makes a new covenant with humanity. The covenant described in our first reading is the first "deal" God makes with humanity. The story of Noah and his claim to fame, the Great Flood, is one of the four stories of sin in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. These four stories give us a clue to the side of our nature that encourages us to make self-centered choices. We traditionally described these inclinations as the effects of "original sin." But if there is a side that leads us astray, there is another side that leads us to loving others so that we care for each other as God cares for us. If we overly stress our evil inclinations to the exclusion of goodness that is also part of our nature, we can easily despair of goodness and succumb to the ways of the world. When we believe and act in such a way, we suppress the ancient understanding of faith that we are created in the Image and Likeness of God. When we use the phrase "the ways of the world" we can be drawn in to think our survival and growth come to us when we are selfish. Lent is a way of bringing into focus a perspective of the truth of what we are. There are inclinations that drive us away from God: but there are also inclinations that bring us into the court of God to join in the ultimate, the extreme banquet.

In Lent we spend a lot of time looking at what leads us away from God. Those inclinations toward self-centeredness are part of what we are. That part is not all bad. It is necessary that we look upon ourselves and all others as worthy of dignity: we must recognize that all have worth in the eyes of God and standing among humanity. But these necessities of self-focus can and often lead us to isolation, to making up gods of gold, influence, pleasure, and power. This Noah story is no mere myth but a parable that tells us about ourselves. If we have ears to hear, we must listen: if we have rationality to think then we can find meaning more than a child’s story. With this as background we ought to achieve a mature understanding of Noah and the Flood and how it applies to us in our day-to-day living.

The first of the four stories of sin in Genesis is about Adam and Eve. They succumb to pride born in self-consciousness and behave as though they were gods. The gods arbitrarily decide to make what is bad good and what is good bad. These are the first "spin doctors". That story insists our very DNA is poisoned with a radical self-centeredness gene. That gene makes us capable of believing that a massacre of innocents, or the despoiling of mother earth, or the oppression of the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the worker is a righteous and just deed. Such a manipulation of reality twists truth into a pretzel heavily salted with selfishness. Adam and Eve began the mantra we still hear today: "If it’s good for me then it’s good -- no matter who gets hurt or whose life it may take." It’s the shout of the captain of the revolutionary war ship who yelled above the noise of cannon and musket, "It’s every man for himself, and the devil take the hindermost."

The second story of sin is the conflict between Cain and Abel. Cable News is daily testimony that this sin is abundantly practiced today. Reported violence includes physical violence, economic violence, psychological violence, and racial and gender prejudice. Cain’s sin is practiced when nationalism and separatism provides the motivation to cleanse a nation, a continent, the world of others different from us. It arises from a primal insecurity about individual and collective dignity and worth. When we deny dignity and worth to anyone, we deny our own dignity and worth. Violence seems a validation of prejudices and bigotry and an acceptable way of eliminating competition. Where poverty of wealth, of power, and of influence exists violence expresses itself in drive-by shootings of combatants and non-combatants: makes no difference if innocents are harmed – they’re acceptable collateral damage. The proliferation of military grade weapons enables our bad side to efficiently eliminate foes. Who is there who doesn’t recall the ethnic cleansings of the past century? Who is there among us who misinterprets the troubles in the Middle East as other than ethnic cleansings where Sunni spend their resources to eradicate the Shiites and vice versa: where a Jewish state represses Muslim with the aid of American politics: where Muslim establishes jihad against Jew: where Christians struggle to maintain a foothold in the land they hold sacred: and where the rest of the world chooses sides by supply of weapons, intrigue, and economic manipulation. What can motivate this slaughter? And yet Muslim, Jew, and Christian are all People of the Book, sons and daughters of Father Abraham. What of the past and current slaughter of indigenous peoples in the mountains of Latin America and the lands of Africa. Vast corporations use their influence to gain access to minerals of those peoples and in so doing devastate land and water making their place uninhabitable and unsustainable. Even though it may seem we are don’t endorse and support the sinful efforts of nations and corporations we do share in such behavior. Don’t we participate in the violence of separatists, nationalists, populists, religious fundamentalists by our denial of the dignity and worth of people who look different, speak differently, think differently, and behavior differently than we do? Is there violence in our hearts expressed in voices of anger and prejudice? Perhaps we think our land is relatively free of violence, that it is "over-there" that it’s not our responsibility? Do we in fact not share in this common sin of humanity?

The third story of sin is the story of Noah and the flood. The story begins with God looking at his creation with disgust at what they’ve become. The creation story begins with the life of God – God’s spirit – hovering over the unbridled, chaotic forces of the oceans. God’s action divides, establishes order from the chaos of roaring seas and violent winds. Chaos is antithetical to God and the order God establishes. Chaos is a constant challenge to the creative order God instills in the universe. The behavior of humanity in the Noah story is one of corruption, misappropriation of the energies of creation, and the violent, self-centered behavior of humanity. Chaos ensues. Is there anyone with a TV, a radio, an internet connection who denies there is chaos in our world, in our nation, in our states, in our church, and even in our families? Our bad side contains the seed of chaos.

The fourth story of sin is about the Tower of Babel. While it is a story that makes sport of the excesses of Babylon, the truth the story exposes is how pride, arrogance, and hubris affect us – and our relationship with the Creator. In their pride of accomplishment, of achievement, of building a tower that reaches to touch the face of God, the builders lose the ability to communicate with each other. In their arrogance they no longer function as a team and the work is abandoned, a scar on the face of the earth. In order to survive, the people flee across the face of the earth and begin to live in clusters and tribes. Isolation from others is the result. There can be no working together for a common purpose; there can be no compromise if intentions and goals are not shared. Are not global conflicts, our national political situation, conflicts in our communities, arguments in our families a testimony to this sin’s existence?

Yes, there is sin in the world! In the first reading this Sunday the chaos of the flood is the result of humanity’s collective and individual sin. The waters above the firmament, the water in the earth, the waters in streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans overwhelm their boundaries and flood the earth. When order is restored, God initiates the first covenant with humanity, signaling a new beginning. Never again will the earth be destroyed by flood – although local floods are a reminder of what happens to the earth and to humanity when chaos returns. God seals his deal with a physical sign, the rainbow. This deal is not only with humanity but includes all living beings and birds of the air.

The gospel from Mark tells us Jesus is led into the desert by the Spirit where he is with the wild animals. This is a reminder of the Garden of Eden when humanity walked with the wild and the tame. This is a forty day retreat. Forty is a number indicating fullness, completeness; it is span of one generation. It is the amount of time of the cleansing of the earth by the flood: it is the length of time the Hebrews spent in the desert being formed into a nation. Unlike the Matthew’s and Luke’s account of the temptation of Jesus, Mark only says that Jesus was tempted. He is truly a son of man subject to temptation as all humans are. The Son of God/Son of Man is tempted by the logic of the world, where self-interest usually runs rough-shod over the dignity and worthy of humanity and creation. Mark tells us Jesus was ministered to by angels. God’s presence is with Jesus as he struggles with the motivations of the world and the inclinations of humanity. If this happens to Jesus, why should we think we are above such temptations? Lent becomes the time for us to examine our choices, our thoughts, our goals and motivations. How much do we decide between good and evil if we only focus on our self-interest? How often do we allow anger to cloud our acceptance of others whose interest conflict with our own? How often do we embrace the way-of-the-world and thus ignore the goodness of God’s creation? Do we listen to the words and observe the actions of others without hearing, without seeing? Lent is the time for us to hear the preaching of the Baptist and of Jesus. "Repent! The kingdom of God is at hand! Repent and believe in the gospel." Let go of what separates us from others and in that separation from a relationship with God.

The gospel is a new covenant initiated by God. God becomes man. God experiences what man experiences and gains a greater sympathy for the condition of humanity: even to the point of suffering from temptation. The story of Jesus’s temptation gives us hope. There is a way forward; there is a way for us to develop the original blessing that is contained in human nature. We are not condemned to become victims of the evil inclinations of our nature. The good news, the gospel insists we are not condemned. God loves us despite our faults. But God encourages us to practice goodness. Our responsorial psalm this Sunday encourages our hope. "Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant." By following the revelations of God coming to us in human history, we increase the love in our life. By applying the new covenant in the Lord Jesus Christ to the moments of our lives, we discover the truth of our existence.

Let us begin our journey, this Sunday, to the love and truth of what we are.

"The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!"

Carol & Dennis Keller






"Repent," Jesus says, "and believe the Good News [about me]."

It’s not often that a person's life is changed in a single day. A man called Chris, who lives a long way from here, has revealed that between the ages of 16 and 22, he did absolutely nothing with his life except play football, drink booze, smoke tobacco, take other drugs, and chase girls, mostly without success. Every night he came home drunk. After six years of this his mother was frantic, distraught and desperate. She simply couldn’t cope any longer. She spoke to her parish priest. He wasn't much help, she thought. He just suggested that Chris should go on a Day of Recollection - a kind of one day parish retreat, during which people think about their lives, their human and Christian dignity, and where they are going right or wrong in life.

It didn't seem like much of an idea, but she didn't have any better one. So she suggested it to Chris. He simply said "No". She waited a while and asked him again. Again he said "No". Then she said that she would give him $100 if he would go. He thought about that for a while and ended up saying "Yes".

When the day came, he went along to the group. The priest talked for a while. Chris found the priest boring - talking far too much and far too long. So he didn't really listen closely. Then they all had to pray for a while. So he walked round the garden instead and smoked a cigarette. Then there was a second long and boring talk. This was followed by another cigarette as Chris walked round the garden a second time. Most of the day went on like that. But gradually, because he couldn't help it, he did start thinking about his life and where it was going.

Finally, he couldn't take it any longer. He left late in the afternoon and went down to the local bottle shop. Now as he picked up his bottle of beer to drink, he suddenly saw a picture in his mind of his mother crying. It frightened him so much that he put down his beer without even tasting it and left. The next night he went to the same bottle shop. He picked up a beer and the same thing happened. Once more the picture came to him of his mother crying. So again he was too anxious and too frightened to drink. The next night, he went to a different bottle-shop. But still the same thing happened – once again he imagined his mother at home crying.

From that day to this, Chris has never drunk alcohol. And now he looks back on the suffering he caused his family and it makes him cry. But his mother says it’s the best $100 she ever spent.

That, I think, is the authentic spirit of Lent. It’s a time when we stop and consider our lives in the light of God’s Word. We consider especially how we must become better people if we are to become the people that God created us to be.

What are the ways that God needs us to develop if we are to belong more closely to God and be good citizens of his Kingdom? What is it both inside us and around us that is stopping us from becoming more authentic and better people and living more productive lives? What are the ways that those who love us most need us to change, i to become better husbands or wives, better brothers or sisters, better sons or daughters, better friends and companions ?

We can find the answers to those questions in the grace that God gives us all through Lent. St Paul has said that "faith comes from hearing" (Romans 10:17). So, as Lent unfolds, let us pay special attention to what God will say to us in the good news of the Scriptures and especially in the good news about the great person of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Then we will be able to say sincerely with the Psalmist today: "Lord ... make me walk in your truth, and teach me: for you are God my Saviour" (Psalm 25:5)

"Brian Gleeson CP" <>









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