25 March, 2020

It is presumptuous in me to wish to choose my path, because I cannot tell which path is best for me. I must leave it to the Lord, who knows me, to lead me by the path which is best for me, so that in all things his will may be done.

~ St Teresa of Avila ~

Isaiah 49:8-15; Psalm 145; John 5:17-30

The Prophet Isaiah uses the image of a mother who cannot forget her suckling child to describe God. Mothers go to any lengths for their children, often sacrificing a great deal in their own lives for the sake of their children.


God is our mother who smiles warmly and is gentle, kind, caring, concerned, patient, merciful and loving towards us. Isaiah assures us of God’s nurturing concern today.


Towards the end of the Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius asks those doing them to consider how God labours for them in all things “giving them being, preserving them, giving them vegetation and sensation.” In other words, God is always working for us and for our good by caring for us, sustaining us, and loving us. In Lent we are invited to reflect on our lives so that we can really see how and where God is labouring, like a mother, for us.


In the Gospel Jesus tells us that he and the Father are at work. His hearers are having a hard time accepting what he has to say and the tension is palpable. Notice how he speaks calmly and openly. As we move closer to Holy Week the tension will escalate. Allow yourself to be drawn into the drama.


Jesus knows that he has, first and foremost, to do the will of his Father. The truth is that God is at work in and through Jesus and he cannot but witness to that work. God is at work in us and through us, and our lives should bear witness to God’s work.


The opposition Jesus faces might be the kind of opposition we face when we try to bear witness to the truth. In our own friendship groups, families and places of work, our words of truth could bring great opposition. This may leave us feeling marginalised or alone. Yet, in Lent, we discover that we have to do what God asks even if it is not easy. In the face of criticism and opposition we must always remember that God, like a loving mother, says, “I will never forget you!”




You are at work in me and through me.


You suffered because you said that God works in and through you.


Help me to stand up for the truth, even when it feels impossible.


Remind me this Lent that you never forget me.




Catholic Parliamentary

Liaison Office

Jesuit Institute
South Africa

This reflection has been adapted from Have Mercy, O Lord! Daily Reflections for Lent by Grant Tungay SJ, Russell Pollitt SJ, Annemarie Paulin-Campbell, Puleng Matsaneng, Anthony Egan SJ and Frances Correia, & published by the Jesuit Institute South Africa in 2016.

Reflection prepared by

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Whilst working at the Institute, Matthew managed the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and was involved in the Spirituality work, completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and the Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and was also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa. He is currently the Director of Communications for the Jesuits in Southern Africa, based in Lusaka, Zambia.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
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