Friday, 24 March 2017

Fourth Station: Jesus is Denied by Peter

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Malcolm Davies (No. 236)

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about!"

As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazorean." Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man!"

A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away." At that he began to curse and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately a cock crowed.

Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: "Before the cock crows you will deny me three times." He went out and began to weep bitterly. Matthew 26: 69-75

When Jesus first met Peter, He fixed his gaze upon him and said, 'You are Simon, son of John; you will be called Peter'. (John 1:42)That was an experience of the grace of God in giving the fisherman a new vocation to proclaim the love and mercy of God.
Later on, Peter had a unique experience of grace with James and John when they witnessed the Transfiguration whereby the body of Jesus was transformed by Light. Matthew 17:1-13
Despite experiencing miracles, healings and the Transfiguration, Peter was still full of fear of death and therefore denied knowing Jesus in the courtyard.
Deep down Peter was open to the grace of mercy and forgiveness and that is why he allowed himself the grace of a renewed relationship with Jesus after the resurrection.
No matter how poorly we have responded to the love and care of Jesus in our lives He is always there to offer unconditional grace and love. There is no limit to the love of God in our lives and the relationship he wants to have with each one of us. 
Will you say yes to His mercy as you seek forgiveness during this season of Lent?

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Third Station: Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Jane Borg (No. 235)

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. 
They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us.”
He replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I question you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”
All of them asked, “Are you, then, the Son of God?” 
He said to them, “You say that I am.” 
Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!” 

By the time Jesus got to the Sanhedrin, he had been deserted by his closest friends and betrayed by one of his disciples. Now he is standing before the Sanhedrin –the leaders of the people of God; priests of the Temple; God’s representatives on earth; defenders of the faith; shepherds of God's people. Of all, these should have recognised Him for who He was – the Son of God; if their eyes had been open! But they were not. These men were full of pride and greed and could not see that their God stood before them.

How easy it is for us to stand in condemnation of their blindness.  Yet this season of Lent provides us with an opportunity to look deep within our own hearts.  Perhaps there are areas of our own life where we do not fully believe the Word of God? Or areas where we believe, but do not respond to His call?

We have the benefit of hindsight and thousands of years of teaching to assure us that Jesus truly is the Messiah, who suffered his passion and death so that we could have a relationship with Him and one day join Him in eternity. Despite this, so often we still choose today over eternity.

Will I pray today? Will I take this Lenten journey seriously? Will I forgo a little splurge and give that money to someone in need? Will I go out of my way to bring joy into the life of someone who needs a friend?

Perhaps we need to cry out like the centurion “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 

We can trust that Jesus our Lord, desires nothing more than to grant us the gift of ever deeper faith.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Second Station: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, is Arrested

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Malcolm Davies (No. 234)

Then, while Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders.
His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, "the man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely."
He came and immediately went over to him and said, "Rabbi." And he kissed him.
At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.
(Mark 14: 43-46)

Judas' betrayal of Jesus continues to be a mystery. Judas greets Jesus with a kiss which was a sign of deep friendship and respect during that time.
It may be that Judas was trying to bring about the reign of God by betraying Jesus and then expecting him to initiate a perverted Kingdom of earthly power. In this Kingdom, the Roman rulers would be destroyed through the direct intervention of God the Father.
The possibilities of perversion of the human heart are endless. The only way to authentic conversion and the true Kingdom of God is to place oneself on the side of Jesus, assuming his point of view.
We must try, day after day, to be in full communion with Jesus through lives of prayer, forgiveness and service of the poor.
After his fall, Peter repented and found forgiveness and grace. In contrast, Judas did not seek the forgiveness and mercy of Jesus.
Jesus offers us grace and mercy every day. We have the freedom to choose to be like Peter and experience grace or be like Judas and experience despair.

Lord, for the times I have betrayed you, have mercy on me. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

First Station: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

10 Minute Daily Retreat - Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
By Susanne Timpani (No. 233)

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee and began to feel sorrow and distress.  Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.”  

He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” 

When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?  Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Jesus chose to leave Peter and the two sons of Zebedee while He advanced into the garden to pray. He clearly felt the need to be alone with His Father in His final hour. When He returned to find his disciples asleep, why did He challenge them? Did He really need their support to manage His sorrow and distress?

As humans, we all experience trials. We may receive support from our friends and family, but in the end, no one can walk our journey for us.

My friend who works in adult education told me the most stressful moment for educators can be handing back exam papers. Students who fail can become aggressive and cast around for someone or something to blame. Surely as adults we take responsibility for our own learning…or life's challenges? The educator could only provide so much support for the student; in the end no one else could sit that exam for them.

Jesus took complete responsibility for what He knew lay ahead. He drew on the only source of strength which could truly help; His Heavenly Father. He challenged His disciples to watch and pray, not for His support but for their own. They too had a difficult journey ahead.

'Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.' Matthew 26: 41 If Jesus needed His Father in his moment of greatest need, how much more do we?

No one can develop our spirituality for us. Why not use this time of Lent to draw on the strength of our Heavenly Father? The 10 Minute Daily Retreat will focus on the Scriptural Stations of the Cross, posting on Sundays and Fridays, and every day during Holy Week.

Let us stay awake together because we all know that "that our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak.” Matthew 26: 41