Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Keep your eyes on the prize
God knows us, loves us and provides for us like no one here on earth
Could a mother or father forget a child or love one more than another? It’s hard to imagine answering yes but even if a parent could we can trust in God’s perfect love. Isaiah 49:15 says, “I will never forget you.” This passage coupled with other readings for this Sunday reminds us of the importance of keeping our attention on God’s kingdom. God loves us, knows us, and provides for us.
- “Never” is a strong word; yet, God promises never to forget us. Never. How easy (or difficult) is it to accept God’s promise?
- The second reading instructs us to forego judgment. God will “bring to light what is hidden in darkness.” How can I live St. Paul’s words to be trustworthy and unconcerned about giving or receiving judgment?
- God cares for all creation – birds, wildflowers and us. When I worry, who do I believe is in charge? Can I embrace God’s instruction: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.”
Thursday, February 16, 2017
God's holy people
You and I are called to holiness, a journey led by Jesus
by Sister Jane Riha
"Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy." These words from the Book of Leviticus will be proclaimed in the first reading this Sunday. We might ask ourselves, “Seriously, how can I be holy as God is holy?” Perhaps we have grown up with a sense that only certain persons, like saints, can be holy. Holiness does not come in one size. Holiness is for everyone because we are created in God’s image and likeness and as a result the Source of Holiness is within our very soul. Since God’s love is boundless and extravagant, becoming holy is diverse and boundless.
The Scriptures for this Sunday give us wisdom and insight into a holy way of life as disciples. The Gospel is replete with the challenges facing true disciples. Yes, the call to holiness is not the easy road. It involves self-sacrifice, forgiveness, kindness and patience toward those with opposite viewpoints and significantly different lifestyles. Jesus showed us the way, a way that is possible for each of us.
At the heart of our journey is a deep relationship with God. God will direct us and guide us. May the Lord fill your heart with overflowing love!
Wednesday, February 08, 2017
Letter of the law
Jesus fulfills the law and addresses the spirit of the commandments
by Sister Annette Koss
The Gospel of Matthew surely talks about the inner meaning of the Commandments.
I learned about them in my three-week summer catechism classes.
The approach was black and white, about what not to do.
Jesus came along and gave nuance and fullness to these laws.
Jesus takes various laws in all their externality, and draws out of their inner roots.
Do not kill; the root word of the law is do not take an angry action against another.
You shall not commit adultery; the inside of that law is to be pure enough
to not even look lustfully at another person.
Not to divorce is about staying faithful and loving within your marriage relationship.
Rather than taking an oath and swearing by God,
simply say yes or no and mean it -– be real.
The inside of the law is written in our hearts.
We have only to pay attention and listen.
Jesus, let us grasp your law: justice, love and compassion.
Let the law make us holy.
You showed us with your every breath just what it means to be holy.
You are the wonder, the goal, and the summit of the law.
Teach us. Turn all of our law-keeping into love.
Thursday, February 02, 2017
Remember the Year of Mercy
Old and New Testaments call us to merciful actions; our responses are reminders of Jesus' love
by Sister Ann Rehrauer
During Ordinary Time, the First Reading and the Gospel for Sundays are chosen because they carry a similar theme. This week, the Scripture readings call us to live our faith through acts of mercy.
Isaiah exhorts us to carry out the corporal works of mercy: share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked, and do not turn your back on your own.
In the Gospel account, Jesus uses images of salt and light to describe those same types of action we are called to carry out in his name. The primary purpose of these actions is to benefit others. The secondary result, however, is that the Kingdom grows, goodness increases, and God is glorified.
A light on a mountain top cannot be hidden, and fresh salt flavors all that it touches. So, too, a Christian who assists a friend or a stranger, shines forth and brightens the life of all he/she meets. When we see these positive actions in others (and when others see them in us), it reminds everyone of how Jesus cared for and brought hope to the people of his time.
This week may we find (at least) two opportunities to be salt and light – to flavor our part of the world with mercy and goodness, so that others "may see our good deeds and glorify God” who uses us to care for the people of our time. Find your own way: monetary contributions, volunteering at shelters or food pantries, visits or phone calls to elderly folks, assistance with shopping or shoveling, and prayer for those in need. In all these ways, people will find hope and God will be glorified.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
When you're in the minority
Sunday's readings encourage us to be faithful to God even if when we feel like the 'remnants'
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
Have you ever felt like a loner? Have you ever felt that you were just one of a handful of people who subscribe to the same values or practice the same principles?
One of the worst experiences in the history of the Israelites was their exile in Babylon. Jerusalem had been captured and its temple destroyed. The people would not return to their homeland for about 50 years. Reflecting on their predicament, they concluded that it was their infidelity to God, their worship of false idols, that had brought this disaster upon them. Yet in the midst of this bleak situation God promised that a remnant would remain, a people humble and lowly, who would put their trust in God and be faithful.
When Jesus begins His public ministry a few centuries later, He invites His disciples to adopt the disposition of that remnant group, to be poor in spirit, meek, seeking God alone, and working for peace and justice. He promises that the Kingdom of God would then be present among them. Given the fact that Israel was under the oppression of the Roman Empire at that time, Jesus probably didn’t anticipate a huge throng buying into this “good news.” The values of wealth, honor and power were more appealing.
Jesus' invitation is extended to us today. If we live the Beatitudes in our modern society, we can easily feel like loners, ostracized from our culture. Will the promise that the Kingdom of God will be right in our midst be enough to persuade us to commit to these ideals?
Feb. 2 has been designated as World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life (to be celebrated in parishes Feb. 4/5). Women and men living the consecrated lifestyle have offered themselves to God in the context of a religious community. Through their vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience they exemplify the spirit of the Beatitudes; they characterize that remnant people. Let us pray that they will live what they have promised with trust, humility and faithfulness.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
The wise words of our Teacher
People in darkness have a great light in Jesus Christ
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” are Jesus’ words to us this Sunday. In the longer version of this reading we hear how Jesus began assembling his apostles, the first of whom were Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. When called, they immediately stopped fishing and began following Him.
- To repent is to acknowledge one's sinfulness and to choose Jesus’ way. In my life, where do I need to make amends and joyfully choose as Jesus would?
- Each day, how do I acknowledge that the kingdom of heaven is at hand?
- When Jesus calls to me, do I respond as the first apostles did?
Thursday, January 12, 2017
God's relentless calling
We are invited to serve, to be holy and to invite others
by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich
Throughout our lives we all get chosen for something. Sometimes we might be called to do something we never dreamed of doing. Isaiah tells us: “the Lord has spoken, who formed me as his servant from the womb” (49:5) Paul tells us that we are “called to be holy” (1:2). John the Baptist recognizes Jesus as the “Lamb of God” and says that he saw the “Spirit come down…and remain upon him”(1:33). What does this all tell us?
We, too, have been chosen by our God to be servants, to be holy and to testify that Jesus is indeed the one who came to save us. The Spirit has come upon us and lights our paths as we strive to be holy and to invite others to know Jesus as the Lamb of God.
- What does it mean to be called to holiness?
- How do we invite others to “be holy”?
Please pray for those Sisters called to serve in leadership for the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross and ask the Spirit to continue in guiding us into the future!
Thursday, January 05, 2017
Guided by a star, blessed by holy waters
God is our constant source of all things good whether we are kings or commoners
by Sister Charlene Hockers
“We have seen his star in the East, and have come with gifts to adore the Lord.”
“This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
We are coming to the end of celebrating a glorious liturgical season: Advent, Christmas, and now the Epiphany on Sunday and the Baptism of Jesus on Monday. We will take a moment to reflect on these mysteries.
The Wise Men had traveled from the East following the star. When they found the Messiah, they presented their gifts to Him. We also follow the star through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who will help us recognize Jesus as He breaks into our lives. In ordinary and surprising ways, we find the Lord through the Scriptures, the Sacraments, creation and in our own personal lives. In order to BE epiphany to others, we strive to be persons of selfless love. We celebrate in gratitude and awe!
Since the Baptism of Jesus is celebrated the next day, let us fast forward from the Child Jesus to the adult Jesus at the Jordan to be baptized by John. At the end of this event, we hear how the heavens opened and the Father proclaimed, “This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” As Jesus was encouraged by His Father, so, we too, are encouraged and guided by the Spirit in our daily life. We recognize that encouragement through our family, co-workers, and friends. We hear the voice of God in the quiet of our hearts.
Who encourages me? Whom do I encourage? We invite Jesus to break into our lives as we listen, encourage, and give ourselves in selfless love!
“You are His beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
From seed to blossom to fruit
What gifts will you receive, love, and pass along in the coming year?
by Sister Francis Bangert
Sunday celebrates three important events -- the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God; the World Day Prayer for Peace; and the New Year. In the Book of Numbers the Lord gives Moses (and us) a blessing for safety, peace and mercy. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we are reminded that it is through Mary that God sent his Son to free us from slavery and sin for adoption as sons and daughters, so we could call God “Abba, Father.” In Luke is the unfolding of God’s plan which Mary did not totally understand with her “Yes” but kept all these things in her heart. The readings speak of blessing and peace, promise and fulfillment, freedom and commitment.
A friend recently sent me this poem by Dawna Markova, appropriate for today.
Living Wide Open: Landscapes of the Mind
I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
How will our lives bear rich fruit in this New Year? Peace and all good.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
We have the finest gift and it can change everything we think, do, say
The joyful waiting of Advent concludes; we now proclaim, “Emmanuel! God is with us!” Our God of never-ending love and mercy has “richly poured out on us” (Titus 3:6) the finest gift -- our Savior, Jesus Christ.
What will we do with this gift? Will we:
- Be like the angels and proclaim the good news to all?
- Be like Mary and carry Jesus close to us?
- Be like Joseph whose words and actions honored Mary? Will we do this for people with whom we agree and disagree?
- Be like the shepherds who left the darkness of the fields for the greatest light found in the most unlikely of places?