The Mass readings* offer direction, inspiration, and challenge. May these reflections help you find your way this Lent.
*The Lenten Sunday readings vary according to the year’s cycle—A, B, or C. Year A=2014, 2017, 2010 / Year B=2015, 2018, 2021 / Year C=2016, 2019, 2022. Weekday readings are the same every Lent.
ASH WEDNESDAY: Jl 2:12–18; 2 Cor 5:20—6:2; Mt 6:1–6, 16–18
St. Paul says, “Now is the day of salvation.” Yet often we live in the past or future. Today, try living in the present. If chopping celery, chop celery. If talking with someone, pay attention. Seek God in every now.
THURSDAY: Dt 30:15–20; Lk 9:22–25
“Choose life,” says Moses. Jesus invites us to choose him. Jesus adds: “Deny [your]self and take up [your] cross daily and follow me.” Sacrifice one small pleasure today. Bear a cross without grumbling.
FRIDAY: Is 58:1–9a; Mt 9:14–15
Isaiah reveals the fasting God desires: free the oppressed, share bread with the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked. How might you do this? Praise someone, support a food bank, donate clothing.
SATURDAY: Is 58:9b–14; Lk 5:27–32
Jesus angered others by keeping company with tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes. What company do you keep? Is it time to broaden your circle?
FIRST SUNDAY: (A) Mt 4:1–11; (B) Mk 1:12–15; (C) Lk 4:1–13
Satan tempts Jesus to use his powers for personal gain, seek fame and fortune, and live a spectacular lifestyle. How can you imitate Jesus’ choice to use his powers to benefit others and to live simply and humbly?
MONDAY: Lv 19:1–2, 11–18; Mt 25:31–46
Jesus says, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Who are the least ones today? Do something kind for a “least” one.
TUESDAY: Is 55:10–11; Mt 6:7–15
When we pray the Our Father, we ask for seven things. God already knows what we need, so why ask? In asking, we may discover our deepest longings. Ask God for something today—something deep.
WEDNESDAY: Jon 3:1–10; Lk 11:29–32
Jonah does what God asks him to do and preaches in Nineveh. Remember, this was the second time God asked him. Thank God for giving you second chances. Give someone another chance.
THURSDAY: Est C:12, 14–16, 23–25; Mt 7:7–12
“Seized with mortal anguish,” Queen Esther begs God for courage. What causes you anguish— illness, finances, relationships, terrorism? Beg God for courage to face fear.
FRIDAY: Ez 18:21–28; Mt 5:20–26
Ezekiel says God forgives the sinner who repents—no matter how awful the sin. All sins are forgivable—at least by God. Forgive someone who has wronged you. Jesus shows you how.
SATURDAY: Dt 26:16–19; Mt 5:43–48
Jesus’ standard is high: “Love your enemies.” This is harder than saying prayers or performing rituals. Where are you on the ladder of love? Is God asking you to move up a rung?
SECOND SUNDAY: (A) Mt 17:1–9; (B) Mk 9:2–10; (C) Lk 9:28b–36
Scripture says God is alive and active in our lives. But we might argue, “My life is too ordinary for God to be part of it.” Tell that to Peter, James, and John. What is God calling you to do?
MONDAY: Dn 9:4b–10; Lk 6:36–38
Daniel prays a national act of contrition. What are our national sins: racism, abortion, violence, consumerism, sexism, individualism? Confess your collaboration in these injustices.
TUESDAY: Is 1:10, 16–20; Mt 23:1–12
A woman said she stopped coming to church because there are too many hypocrites there. The pastor said gently, “Don’t let that stop you. There’s always room for one more!” Walk humbly with God today.
WEDNESDAY: Jer 18:18–20; Mt 20:17–28
According to Jesus, the one who serves is the greatest. Give someone a break today through one small act of kindness—at home, work, the store, or on the road.
THURSDAY: Jer 17:5–10; Lk 16:19–31
Jeremiah says the person of faith is “a tree planted beside the waters.” Thank God for waters that nourish your faith—the Eucharist, Scripture, prayer, service, friends, nature, pets. Revel in one of them today.
FRIDAY: Gn 37:3–4, 12–13a, 17b–28a; Mt 21:33–43, 45–46
The Bible is populated with scoundrels as well as saints. Incredibly, God uses mixed-up and messy lives to bring about good. Be patient with all that’s messy in life.
SATURDAY: Mi 7:14–15, 18–20; Lk 15:1–3, 11–32
We say God sees all. But God is also full of love and mercy, overlooking some things. This is a lesson of the prodigal son parable? Overlook something today—out of love and mercy.
Use Cycle A readings when your parish has catechumens preparing for Easter Baptism.
**THIRD SUNDAY: (A) Jn 4:5–42; (B) Jn 2:13–25; (C) Lk 13:1–9
The woman at the well gives Jesus water. He gives her living water of truth and love. Reverence the precious resource of water today. Share your truth and love with another.
MONDAY: 2 Kgs 5:1–15ab; Lk 4:24–30
We sometimes take for granted people from our own neck of the woods. The Nazarenes did this and missed out on Jesus. Who in my neighborhood, workplace, parish, or family am I missing out on?
TUESDAY: Dn 3:25, 34–43; Mt 18:21–35
When we say we’re sorry, we admit our failings and guilt. Do we need to apologize to God or anyone else for anything? Lent is a time to mend bridges.
WEDNESDAY: Dt 4:1, 5–9; Mt 5:17–19
Moses tells the people to pass on their faith to the next generations. We do this by making our faith part of our identity and living it joyfully. Pass on your faith today.
THURSDAY: Jer 7:23–28; Lk 11:14–23
Guilt isn’t all bad. If we throw out food while others go hungry and our lives are so cluttered we leave little time for God, perhaps we should feel guilty. Let guilt spur you to caring action.
FRIDAY: Hos 14:2–10; Mk 12:28–34
We tend to separate things: God/neighbor, sacred/secular, spirit/flesh. Jesus lived life seamlessly—loving God is loving neighbor; lilies and birds reveal God’s love; touch is a holy thing. Live your life more seamlessly.
SATURDAY: Hos 6:1–6; Lk 18:9–14
It’s dangerous to be a religious person. Like the Pharisee, we can become self-righteous and look down on others. At Lent’s halfway point, ask God for genuine respect for everyone. Every one.
**FOURTH SUNDAY: (A) Jn 9:1–41; (B) Jn 3:14–21; (C) Lk 15:1–3, 11–32
We’re all blind in some way—blind to the marvels of nature, people in need, signs of hope, God’s love, our worth. Identify one of your blind spots. Ask Jesus to give you clearer sight.
MONDAY: Is 65:17–21; Jn 4:43–54
Everything passes away—childhood homes crumble, neighborhoods give way to freeways, parishes merge or close. We have no lasting city here on earth. Live more lightly. Share more readily. Remember, love alone endures.
TUESDAY: Ez 47:1–9, 12; Jn 5:1–16
Jesus asks, “Do you want to be well?”—that is, happier, healthier, holier? For Jesus, they all go together. Do something today that makes you happier, healthier, and holier.
WEDNESDAY: Is 49:8–15; Jn 5:17–30
In American Sign Language, the word for "Jesus" is touching the tip of your middle finger to the palm of each opposite hand, recalling the wounds Jesus received for love of us. Use your hands to love someone.
THURSDAY: Ex 32:7–14; Jn 5:31–47
The golden calf is anything we focus too much attention on—money, success, security, pleasure, appearance. Focus your attention on what really matters—becoming more selfless.
FRIDAY: Wis 2:1a, 12–22; Jn 7:1–2, 10, 25–30
It’s difficult to live our religious convictions. It’s easier to take the path of least resistance. Jesus remained true to his convictions—even when it cost him his life. Live your convictions today— no matter what.
SATURDAY: Jer 11:18–20; Jn 7:40–53
The people can’t believe a prophet could come from Nazareth. Prejudice blinds them. What are you prejudiced against—a certain race, religious group, age bracket, profession, gender, lifestyle? How might you overcome prejudice?
**FIFTH SUNDAY: (A) Jn 11:1–45; (B) Jn 12:20–33; (C) Jn 8:1–11
Jesus weeps. He is one of us, we say. Then he raises Lazarus. He is unlike anyone we know, we say. The truth is that Jesus is both. He’s worthy of our friendship and awe. Pray the name of Jesus throughout the day.
MONDAY: Dn 13:1–9, 15–17, 19–30, 33–62; (A and B) Jn 8:1–11; (C) Jn 8:12–20
Jesus says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” Stones can be hateful words, hurtful criticism, gossip. Don’t throw any stones today.
TUESDAY: Nm 21:4–9; Jn 8:21–30
The Israelites looked upon the serpent mounted on a pole and received life. We look upon Jesus mounted on the cross and we, too, receive life. Gaze upon a crucifix today.
WEDNESDAY: Dn 3:14–20, 91–92, 95; Jn 8:31–42
The gift of freedom is given so we may love. The better we love, the freer we are—even if we’re confined to a bed or prison cell. Jesus invites us to greater freedom. Accept his invitation. Love.
THURSDAY: Gn 17:3–9; Jn 8:51–59
Communication is hard work. Even Jesus experienced difficulties communicating with religious leaders and his disciples. Practice good communication skills today. Really listen.
FRIDAY: Jer 20:10–13; Jn 10:31–42
Jesus said, “The Father is in me and I am in the Father.” He demonstrated this oneness by word and deed. Cooperate with God's grace today through some word or deed.
SATURDAY: Ez 37:21–28; Jn 11:45–56
We would never plot to destroy Jesus, yet we can reduce his teachings to a platitude: just be nice. How am I working for a more just world, the kind Jesus dreamed about and died for?
PALM SUNDAY OF THE LORD’S PASSION: (A) Mt 26:14—27:66; (B) Mk 14:1—15:47; (C) Lk 22:14—23:56
In Mark’s Passion account, a woman anoints Jesus with expensive oil and perfume. Jesus praises her loving, extravagant deed. Perform a loving deed today. Be extravagant.
HOLY WEEK, MONDAY: Is 42:1–7; Jn 12:1–11
Hear God call you “my chosen one with whom I am pleased” or say, “I love you and am so proud of you!” Let these words motivate you to love others today.
HOLY WEEK, TUESDAY: Is 49:1–6; Jn 13:21–33, 36–38
Jesus’ friends deserted him in his darkest hour. Pray for courage to remain loyal to Jesus and his teachings. Then thank God for your loyal friends.
HOLY WEEK, WEDNESDAY: Is 50:4–9a; Mt 26:14–25
When we hear of some terrible crime, we must not say, “I could never do such a thing.” The truth is that we’re all capable of doing great evil. Such knowledge is frightening, humbling. May it keep you close to Jesus.
HOLY THURSDAY (evening): Ex 12:1–8, 11–14; 1 Cor 11:23–26; Jn 13:1–15
At the Last Supper, Jesus took a towel and wrapped it around his waist—a makeshift apron. Loving can get messy. Put on a real or spiritual apron and serve someone today.
GOOD FRIDAY: Is 52:13—53:12; Heb 4:14–16; 5:7–9; Jn 18:1—19:42
Instead of Jesus’ sufferings, focus on the love underlying his suffering. Jesus died for love of you and me. Let’s embrace his way of loving, knowing it often involves a cross.
HOLY SATURDAY, EASTER VIGIL: (A) Mt 28:1–10; (B) Mk 16:1–7; (C) Lk 24:1–12
Today is a quiet day in preparation for the evening vigil. That’s when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection with candlelight, Scripture readings, songs, bells, lilies, and incense. Seek quiet moments. Then celebrate! Happy Easter!
3/19 ST. JOSPEH
2 Sm 7:4–5a, 12–14a, 16; Rom 4:13, 16–18, 22; Mt 1:16, 18–21, 24a or Lk 2:41–51a
St. Joseph avoids center stage and speaks no recorded words. Use fewer words today. Shine the spotlight on another.
3/25 ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD
Is 7:10–14; 8:10; Heb 10:4–10; Lk 1:26–38
Mary scraps her own plans in favor of God’s mysterious designs. Change your plans when love intrudes.