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Lenten Gospels

By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.

As Lent comes around each year, I recall the lesson I learned some years ago. I was already a priest for about 30 years, and this struck me as new knowledge. It was always there, but how would I know “unless someone shows me?”

This is about the Gospel passages we use in the lectionary for Lenten weekdays. Starting with Ash Wednesday and going through the first three weeks of Lent, our Gospel readings are from the synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They are lessons in discipleship: things we are to learn and do as followers of Jesus.

One author points out that the Gospel teachings are ideals that most of us will never fulfill. He says that is good for us: we fall short and┬árecognize our weakness and our continued need for a Savior. He talks about “compunction,” an old word that is related to “puncturing.” Our egos are punctured as we recognize the grace and mercy of God are gifts, and that we are not finally in charge of our spiritual lives.

Then, beginning with Monday of the 4th week of Lent, the Gospel readings are from John, focusing on the person and the mystery of Jesus Christ. We center on our relationship with him as we move closer to Holy Week and Easter.

I find that to be a handy outline for my own prayer and reflection on the scriptures for Lent. I pray that we all grow and deepen in our relationship with Christ.

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