Thursday, September 29, 2016
God's angels work together to benefit all of us
by Sister Jane Riha
We are surrounded by angels. Do you believe that you have a special appointed guardian angel? This year, the Feast of Guardian Angels falls on a Sunday. There is no mention of angels in the readings for this Sunday but let us together consider the angels in our lives. As a child, I grew up believing for certain I had a guardian angel. I believe in my guardian angel to this day.
Angels are messengers. How often in the course of your life perhaps some unforeseen or unpredictable circumstance caused you confusion, doubt, insecurity. On some of these occasions, did some person, maybe a stranger, suddenly help you? I recall on my first trip to Mexico City alone, knowing very little Spanish, I was confused in the airport as to where to find the bus to go to Cuernavaca, when a kind, humble Hispanic man spoke to me in English, “Can I help you?” To this day, I know God sent him.
The Scriptures are replete with the significance of angels as messengers from God. These passages reveal actual conversations with these messengers. They often assist the person to a deeper spiritual truth. Recall to mind Mary and the angel Gabriel.
As a child, I learned this prayer to my guardian angel and I continue to pray it as an adult.
Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here; ever this day be at my side, to light, to guard, to rule and guide. Amen.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Who are today's beggars at the door? How do I listen to God's calling?
The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus shared in this Sunday’s Gospel tells us many things. Which one resonates with you?
- What is Jesus’ attitude toward the rich and the poor? How do I align?
- After his death, the rich man pleads with Abraham to be spared of his suffering. His request is denied. Abraham reminds the rich man that while he had it good on earth, Lazarus suffered. Now in eternity, their fortunes are reversed. Who is the “Lazarus” in my life? How do I ease his or her affliction?
- Condemned to suffer, the rich man is eager to spare his five brothers the same fate. Abraham reminds the rich man that his brothers can choose to listen (or not listen) to the prophets. How well do I hear God’s words?
Image: Lazarus at the Rich Man's Gate, by Fyodor Bronnikov, public domain
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Helping those who suffer is a way to serve God
by Sister Charlene Hockers
What is your attitude toward money? What is your attitude toward the poor? These questions are worth asking when reflecting on our Sunday readings.
The first reading, from the Book of Amos, addresses the exploitation of the poor and the weak. It is evident today as well that there are many exploited workers. We might say, “Isn’t it terrible?” and not do anything about it. Instead, what action can we take to help someone who is suffering because of economic injustice?
Our Gospel reading could throw some light on it. What is our virtue of stewardship like? Our money is not our own. We need to be honest and responsible in its use. We need to use wisely and share generously what God has given us.
Stewardship means assessing our resources and then sharing with those who are poor and exploited. We need to share our time, talent, and treasure. What are we doing to help our family, friends, the Church and especially the poor? Think about it, pray about it and then act on it!
Jesus, teach me to be a good steward.
Thursday, September 08, 2016
It is well worth celebrating our return to our Loving Creator
by Sister Francis Bangert
Lost and found could be the tagline for Sunday’s Gospel from Luke. A lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost son describe all of us at some point in our lives.
The key message in these stories is not that we are lost, but that we have been found. The shepherd, the woman, the father are images of a God who searches relentlessly, diligently, patiently for our home-coming. Though imperfect, we are precious and extremely valuable in God’s eyes and loved with a tender, unending love. Unearthing this truth is cause for great joy.
My participation in support groups for women and men whose lives are tarnished by incarceration and/or addictive behavior has taught me that their humble gratitude in recovery leads to praise God for "finding" them.
Each day, we are called to remember the Holy One’s mercy and forgiveness in our own lives.
“For the love of God is broader than the measures of our mind. And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind. If our love were but more simple, we should take him at his word. And our lives would be thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord.”
(“There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy,” verse 2)
Thursday, September 01, 2016
What does it cost to give ourselves to God?
by Sister Annette Koss
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus calls for discipleship and reminds us that this requires both renunciation and calculation -- knowing what discipleship costs.
We know that those who wish to follow Jesus must renounce everyone and everything that gets in the way of a single-minded response to God. We need to think about and consent to the cost, the price of giving our all to Christ. Sometimes it means even giving our life. The price may seem high -- but we know that what God gives us in return is beyond price -- the fullness of life.
It seems strange today to hear Jesus speak about the need to "hate" our family and even our life if we are to be his disciple. We know that this isn't a literal command, because Jesus always calls us to "love" one another. Maybe his point is that we need to "love others in proportion". If we allow the love of God to be first in our life then our beloved family and others will come right along with it.
If we are tempted to love material things too much, we need to renounce those things. Things are good and helpful when they are in proportion.
Jesus also reminds us about the need to carry our cross. Suffering is a part of every life -- even when our own life seems pretty comfortable at times. There is great pain and suffering in our world. "Taking up our cross" sends us out with Jesus to be with and to help other people carry their cross and pain.
Lord, we pay a lot to walk with you; carrying a cross, clinging to nothing and no one: family, friends, house, car, clothes, money. Help us to let go of them, and more, to take them up again only in you.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Gospel living is about loving and serving others first
Jesus offers two teachings in today’s Gospel. The first addresses letting go of one’s status; the second is about charity.
- How do I greet unfamiliar faces at church, at work, in the neighborhood, etc.? Am I helping to create the Kingdom of God?
- With whom do I share a meal? Who is left out?
- Do I allow others to give generously to me -- even when I cannot repay in equal measure? Am I able to give to others without expecting something in return?
Thursday, August 11, 2016
"Lord, will only a few people be saved?"
"Strive to enter by the narrow gate.”
by Sister Renee Delvaux
The question in the Gospel today is: Who will be saved? Who will enter the Kingdom of God?
Jesus makes it clear that the grace of salvation is offered to all. ALL are invited, ALL are welcome, and then at the same time He expresses a BUT: “Many… will attempt to enter BUT will not be strong enough.”
Salvation is not guaranteed, is not simple. It takes hard work. Jesus reminds us that we need to “strive to enter through the narrow gate.” To strive means to exert effort and energy. There is no room for passivity and complacency. St. Augustine said that God created us without our help but He will not save us without our help. Salvation comes to those who live as Jesus did -- in loving service of others.
Points to ponder:
- As a Christian/Catholic do I believe that I am on an equal par with all people, or do I feel privileged and believe that I have an automatic “in” to God’s kingdom?
- Do I judge some people to be “unworthy” to be part of God’s kingdom?
- Am I convinced that the challenge “to enter by the narrow gate” requires dying to self, humbly following in the footsteps of Jesus and living a life of service for others?
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Mary models discipleship by listening and keeping God's words
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
On Monday, Aug. 15, the Catholic Church celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. We believe that after she died Mary was taken body and soul to her eternal home. But just who is Mary? How are we to think of her?
In her book, "Truly Our Sister," Sister Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, presents two ways of viewing Mary. We can focus on her as the Mother of Jesus. She conceived by the Holy Spirit, carried the Child Jesus in her womb, gave birth to Him in Bethlehem, and raised the boy in the humble town of Nazareth in the Galilean culture of northern Israel. We can also turn our attention to Mary being a disciple of Christ. She followed Jesus through His public ministry, which culminated at the foot of the cross. Mary had the primary qualification of a disciple: she knew how to listen to the Word of God and keep it. Eventually she would join the group of disciples in the upper room, waiting for another visitation of the Holy Spirit and another nativity, the birth of the Church at Pentecost.
We honor Mary as the Mother of Jesus, but we are also called to travel with her as disciples of Christ, listening to the Word of God and walking the journey of the Paschal Mystery with her and her Son. Mary not only intercedes for us but she accompanies us. Why not join the crowd?
Thursday, August 04, 2016
Transfiguration reveals Christ's beauty; how is the Holy Spirit nudging you to change?
by Sister Carolyn Zahringer
The 19th Sunday in ordinary time falls between two powerful feasts -- the Transfiguration on Saturday and the feast of St. Dominic on Monday. What wonderful “bookends” to surround a Sunday in ordinary time.
The account of Jesus’ transfiguration takes place on Mount Tabor. God proclaims Jesus as “my Son” and encourages the disciples to “listen to him”. The Transfiguration Gospel ends with: “They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.” The directive was to listen deeply and, when the time was right, to tell.
For St. Dominic, the 12th century was God’s appointed time for this saint to walk from city to city preaching the Good News. People witnessed God’s message in Dominic’s words and actions. His journey laid the ground work for the birth of a new religious order in the church.
My religious community will gather this Sunday with our Associates, family and friends to celebrate four Sister Jubilarians who have given a collective 270 years of service to the Church. That fact makes Sunday not so “ordinary” at all! Congratulations to Sisters Jeanette, Urban, Francis and Clare!
- Would we rather live in mountaintop memories rather than in streets of ordinary life?
- How faithfully are we living our baptismal call in our daily lives?
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Moving toward resurrection: With God's help we can be transformed
What does it mean to be “rich in what matters to God”? This comes from the last line of Sunday’s Gospel and it is answered, in part, by the second reading which instructs us to “put to death” immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed and lying.
In this Year of Mercy, let's ask God to help us exercise greater moral character, purity, peace, mercy, generosity and honesty. What habits should we “put to death” so that we may be “rich in what matters to God”?