Posted February 6, 2012
Book: Daily Reflections for Lent
Author: Robert F. Morneau
Liturgical Press. Collegeville, MN. 2012. pp. 99
An Excerpt from the Jacket:
Find spiritual sustenance for the season of Lent in Bishop Morneau’s reflection on the daily Mass readings, Not by Bread Alone is a collection of insightful meditations that focus on Lenten themes of repentance and redemption, sacrifice and salvation --- as well as the Easter promise of resurrection and new life. With Scripture as the foundation for each day’s brief entry, readers will find the guidance they need to grow closer to God during this holy time of the year. The short yet significant reflections in this pocket-sized book make it easy for even the busiest person to make prayer a priority throughout the Lenten journey.
An Excerpt from the Book:
Expectations: Divine and Human
Readings: Lev 19:1-2, 11-18; Matt 25:31-46
“Then the king will say to those on his right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’” (Matt 25:34)
Reflection: God has expectations of us just as we do of God. Nor is it difficult to know what those expectations are. Scripture reveals to us that at the heart of the divine design is a call to service and sacrifice. We are called to be for others even to the point of total self-sacrifice. God expects us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide shelter for the homeless. What we expect of God is another matter.
The atheist expects nothing since there is no God. We are alone in the universe, indeed, lost in the cosmos. Any appeal to some transcendent reality is absurd and meaningless. There is no ultimate rationale for our human existence.
The agnostic, although claiming that we cannot know, hedges his bets. Though there is no discernable evidence for faith claims, there are “signals of transcendence,” as the sociologist Peter Berger maintained. Such things as order, hope, and humor point to something or Someone beyond the borders of our narrow materialism.
And the religious person? Depending on one’s tradition, the traditions of the great world religions, the expectations of God will vary. For the Christian, whose mind and heart is transformed by revelation, faith, and reason, God is a God of love and mercy. Therefore we can expect that we are the beloved of God and that we are the subject of his merciful forgiveness. More, this God is creator, redeemer, and sanctifier and thus we can expect a continual influx of life, an abiding healing presence, and a constant source of fire and light through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Unlike the character in Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native --- “As for Thomasin, I never expected much from her; and she has not disappointed me.” --- we expect as much from God as God expects from us. Our Lenten task is to figure out God as God expects from us. Our Lenten task is to figure out those expectations so that we do not disappoint our faithful God.
Meditation: What are your expectations of God and of yourself? How have these expectations changed over the years? How do you deal with disappointment?
Prayer: Merciful and loving God, send your Spirit into our hearts that we might know what you expect of us. And may that Holy Spirit empower us to live out those expectations. May our expectations of you be grounded in the mystery of Jesus, the one who came to give his all for our salvation.