We observe the most obvious example of God’s peace in the life of Jesus. For most of Jesus’ life, the odds are stacked against him. Tested, tried, and taunted, Jesus maintains an inner serenity through it all. He knows instinctively that because he trusts God completely, all will be well—even when things aren’t in the moment. This is the peace that God offers to us.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
The good news is that God is more eager to forgive us than we will ever know. God is always there to embrace us, to receive us home again, and to let us start afresh. We see this clearly in the way Jesus constantly offers forgiveness to those around him who have failed.
One reason we struggle to forgive others is that we do not really believe that we are forgiven people. If we could fully accept the truth that we are forgiven and we don’t have to live in shame and guilt, we would know the freedom to forgive. As a forgiven people, we possess the power of forgiveness.
When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”
The devastating suffering of poverty causes God to weep. Sharing God’s grief means we act in whatever ways we can to bridge the gap between the rich and poor. In this way, we can embody Jesus’ good news for the poor.
Lent challenges us to examine how we relate to those who are impoverished. We can ask ourselves, Who do I know personally who suffers from poverty?, What can I learn from the poor?, and How is God calling me to help in efforts aimed at alleviating poverty? Questions like these lead us into greater faithfulness to God whose heart is always turned toward the poor.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free.”
Listening lies at the heart of life with God. But in order to listen to God, we need to learn how to listen to the person next to us. After all, how can we listen to God, whom we cannot see, if we cannot listen to the person we can see?
Lent can be a time when we embark on a spiritual adventure in learning to listen. We can begin this exercise with those closest to us—our colleagues at work, family members, or friends. Listening will become a spiritual practice, an everyday habit, a way of life.
Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry.
Sometimes we make the gospel too small. We reduce it to individuals being reconciled to God or even to God forming a special community. But God’s work goes far beyond those acts. God’s plan includes the healing of the whole world. … God invites us to be part of this divine dream. We cannot take on all human needs and struggles, but we can serve God by taking a small role in healing and reconciliation wherever our lives take us
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.
Despite constant talk of the value of peace, we find very little in this world. Both our public and personal lives reflect our tragic lack of peace—spiraling cycles of violence, unhealthy addictions, and destructive tensions that divide families, communities, and countries. We are far better at loving the idea of peace than at making peace within the realities of our lives.
So our need for peace cries out to heaven as one of the deepest yearnings of the human heart. … We long for God’s shalom that the ancient prophets proclaim.
Happy are people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children.
In the prayer that Jesus teaches his disciples, he invites them to ask for daily bread. This request points us toward our utter dependence on God for sustaining our lives. This phrase emphasizes God’s provision—God offers us what we really need on a daily basis.
What are those specific things that we honestly need right now? To ask for these things is what beloved children do naturally when they turn to the one they call Father.
Give us the bread we need for today.