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This reconciliation service is based on the gospel readings of the five (5) Sundays in Lent – Year C. The gospel stories are: The temptation in the dessert (Luke 4:1-13), the transfiguration (Luke 9:28b-36), the parable of the non-fruit-producing fig tree (Luke 13:1-9), the Prodigal son (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32), and the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11).

This reconciliation service is based on the gospel readings of the five (5) Sundays in Lent – Year C. The Service reflects on the Mission of prayer, presence, and preaching with our lives: on presence to God, presence to others, and allowing God to be present to us.

Lent, Year C – April 8, 2019

Opening Hymn                       You Are Mine  by David Haas

Greeting:        The grace, mercy, and peace from God our Creator, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit be with you all.

We have been traveling our Lenten journey mindful that Lent is a time to “repent” – to reflect
and to reevaluate how well we are living the mission of prayer, presence, and preaching with our lives.  We have reflected on how we might become more present to God Who has touched our lives, and how we can allow God to be more profoundly present to us.  And how we can be more lovingly present to others at this time in history, in this nation, in the human community, and in the community of creation.

As we begin, let us pause to center ourselves, enter into the quiet of our spirits,
ask to be fully present and open ….

Our loving God, You ask us to share faith, life and mission.  We know Your love and our calling to live that love with our lives, to embody it for others as we work together for Your justice and peace, and for the health and wellbeing of our whole human family and our Common Home.

Open our minds, stimulate our imaginations, and expand our hearts to embrace Your vision of a New Creation rich in loving forgiveness, truth, peace with justice for all, and reverence for life.
We make our prayer in the name of Jesus and in the power of Your Holy Spirit where we live now and forever.   Amen.

A reading from the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians (2 Cor:5:17-21):

Brothers and Sisters:

Whoever is in Christ is a New Creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.  And all this is from God, who has reconciled us through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to God’s self in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So, we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

A reflective examination of conscience.

As we began our Lenten journey, we were invited to recall how God has shaped and guided our lives to this point and we were warned to stay present and faithful to God who has brought us this far.

On the first Sunday, we contemplated Jesus facing and overcoming temptations to satisfy his own hungers, to take power over others, and to seek attention and celebrity.  But He stayed faithfully present to God who had blessed, chosen and called him and his people, refusing to be distracted by focusing on his own needs, power, or the attention and celebrity he might gain.

So, we ask ourselves…

Do I allow my personal needs, my desires, or false priorities to distract me from being present to God?  [pause]

What temptations or distractions do I most need to address?  In those times, how might I return my conscious presence to God Who loves me?  [pause]

Do I allow fears about my reputation, what others think of me, to burden me and to make me less present to God? [pause]

Have I used my power, my influence, to build up the human community? Do I use my political power and my prayer power to preach God’s Word and to liberate others in today’s world?  [short pause]  Am I mindful of the poor? Do I pray for this country, asking God to transform our hearts and strengthen our values?  [pause]

Do I remember to be grateful for daily graces, blessings, gifts from God?  Am I grateful and see the beauty of the present moment?  How might I grow in this kind of presence?  [pause]

We need Your help, our Loving God, and so we pray:  LORD HAVE MERCY

On the second Sunday in the gospel of the Transfiguration, we saw Jesus become radiant while discussing his suffering and death with Moses and Elijah.  He was able to rejoice in His suffering because He saw it as a new Exodus, a liberation for His people, part of God’s liberating work.

So, we ask ourselves…

Am I too preoccupied with my own sufferings, my own struggles? [pause]

Am I able to be present to my suffering and my struggles in a way that reveals them as liberating?  In a way that can help me or others become more conscious of God’s love and presence?  In a way that can express my love for God or love for others?  [pause]

Am I present to the suffering of others with compassion and love?  [pause]

We need Your help, our Loving God, and so we pray:  CHRIST HAVE MERCY

On the 3rd Sunday of our Lenten journey, we were invited to be present to God who is at once compassionate, patient with our growth, and yet calling for urgency and fruitfulness in addressing the crises facing us.

And so, we ask ourselves:

Do I trust God’s patience with me? Do I trust God’s willingness to cultivate the ground of my spirit to make me more fruitful?  Do I invite God to be present to me in nourishing ways?    [pause]

Am I present to the urgent needs and suffering of the members of the human family?    Do I hear the cry of the poor, the marginalized, the suffering in this world?  Am I living in a way that remembers them?    [pause]

Am I present to the urgent needs and suffering of planet Earth and all its creatures?  Am I serious about living in a way that is not only sustainable but is a way of renewing and redeeming our common home?    [pause]

Do I recognize that all creation reveals God’s presence?  Do I meet God, am I present to God in the other people in my life and in all that is created?    [pause]

We need Your help, our Loving God, and so we pray:  LORD HAVE MERCY

On the fourth Sunday, as we contemplated the Prodigal Father and his two sons, the words of Paul to the Corinthians stayed in our minds and hearts: In the New Creation God knows our sins but does not hold them against us.  Like the Prodigal Father, God reaches out with forgiving love to welcome everyone, especially those who are unworthy.

And so, we ask ourselves:

Do I trust God’s forgiving love when I feel myself unworthy, guilty, ashamed?   [pause]

Am I conscious of being present to God Whose welcoming and forgiving love embraces even those who have harmed me? [pause]

Am I conscious of being present to God Whose love embraces even those whose hatreds or actions make them seem to me unworthy of being God’s children – whether they are people within our families, in the church, across bitter political/cultural divides, across racial, economic, and gender boundaries, across national boundaries or even devastating battlefields?     [pause]

Am I willing to join the mission of Jesus in telling the world the Good News of God’s loving/forgiving presence and in being that kind of presence as much as I can?    [pause]

Can I open more deeply to the presence of God who pleads with us to let go of judgment and resentment and to be fully present to the fact that we are all brothers and sisters, children of the same God?      [pause]

We need Your help, our Loving God, and so we pray:   CHRIST HAVE MERCY

On the fifth Sunday, as we contemplated Jesus standing up to the Scribes and Pharisees, standing with the woman caught in adultery, we were shown the heart of the New Creation:  God knows our sins and the sins of all people, but does not hold them against us.  God is building a new community based not on Law and Judgment and Punishment or Reward but a community that extends forgiveness and love and belonging to all who will accept it and live it.

And so, we ask ourselves:

Am I consciously present to God’s forgiving love for me, letting go of my fears of judgment and punishment?  Am I deeply grateful for God’s loving, forgiving presence to me?      [pause]

When I find myself judging others, am I able to recall and be present to God’s forgiving love for me?  Am I able to trust in God’s loving forgiveness for those I am judging?  Do I pray to be able to embody that loving forgiveness for them, preaching the Good News with how I am present?      [pause]

Do I pray for the nation and the human family, for the growth of God’s New Creation of forgiveness, love, and justice for all?      [pause]

Do I embrace the mission of preaching and of being God’s healing presence in our world?  Do I work to support and nurture the signs of God’s New Creation in the world today?     [pause]

We need Your help, our Loving God, and so we pray:   LORD HAVE MERCY

As an expression of our sorrow for our sinfulness and an acknowledgement of our shortcomings, let us confess:   

I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters,

That I have sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.  Therefore, I ask you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Closing Prayer:    

Our Loving God, Father/Mother of gracious compassion and mercy, through the teaching, actions, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, Your son, You have revealed the fullness of Life to the world and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sin and the building of Your New Creation.

As we extend forgiveness to others, we ask that You grant us pardon and peace and bring pardon and peace to our world and our planet.

All holy and living God, You constantly show us Your mercy and work to help us become a New Creation.

Make us living signs of your love and forgiveness for the whole world to see.
We ask this in Jesus name.                   AMEN

 Sign of Peace:       May the Peace of the Lord be with us!

 

 

James E. Hug, SJ