Reflection for March 29, 2015

posted on: Thursday, March 19, 2015 by: renaebauer

Palm Sunday

Take a few minutes to gaze upon the image below. Hear the people call out "Hosanna!" as they lay down their cloaks and palms for Jesus as he enters Jerusalem.

Reflective questions:

  1. How have I prepared for Jesus this Easter and beyond?
  2. How have I shared His message of salvation with others?

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Reflection for March 22, 2015

posted on: Thursday, March 19, 2015 by: renaebauer

Dying and rising: Jesus models obedience to God so that we may have salvation

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by Sister Carolyn Zahringer

Raised in a Jewish family, Jesus was steeped in covenant language. He probably read the Book of Jeremiah multiple times. Jeremiah records a promise of a new covenant which will be written upon the heart. There will no longer be a need to teach friends and relatives HOW to know the Lord. (Jer. 31:33,34)

  • What has happened to us that the covenant is NOT written deeply on our hearts?
  • Has it gotten stuck in our head as knowledge only, but not a lived reality of the head and heart?

John's Gospel records Jesus' words for today: "... unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." Jn. 12:24

  • Taking into account our personal age, how many cycles of dying and bearing fruit have we experienced in our lifetime?
  • Is now another planting cycle?

 

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Reflection for March 15, 2015

posted on: Thursday, March 12, 2015 by: renaebauer

Who prefers the dark? Stepping into the light of Christ is a daily decision

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"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life." (John 3:16)

by Carla Schommer, Director of St. Francis Convent

John 3:16 is often seen on signs, on billboards, and as a motivational or inspirational quote.  It's a message about our Christian faith.  God loves us so much he brought us Jesus, and by believing in Jesus we are given eternal life.

This scripture passage is also the opening verse before this Sunday's Gospel.  What does it really mean to believe in Jesus?  It's tempting to think that believing in Jesus is by affirming the belief statements of the creed and agreeing to the truths that Jesus existed and worked miracles and died and rose from the dead.  Accepting these truths are important but there is much more to believing.  Even on our best days we have encounters with sin -- in choosing to do wrong and failing to do good.

In the Gospel, John shares a keen observation about human sinfulness: Jesus is the light that has come into the world, but people prefer the darkness.

We stay in the darkness and attempt to hide our sins, even from God.  We must come out of the darkness of our lives and into the light of Jesus.  Jesus came into the world to reveal our sins so that they may be forgiven.  This is Good News!  Jesus took our sins and lifted them up through the cross so that we may be forgiven and have eternal life.  If our hope is eternal life, we need the revealing light of Jesus each day.  To believe in Jesus means nothing less than to make his self-offering love part of our own lives through unselfish, thoughtful concern for others.  God has great love for us and shows us mercy that never ends.

 

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Reflection for March 8, 2015

posted on: Thursday, March 05, 2015 by: renaebauer

Great Expectations: We hear Christ better when we set aside our assumptions

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by Sister Ann Rehrauer

The refrain from Psalm 19 runs through all three readings for this Third Sunday of Lent: "Lord, you have the words of everlasting life."

In the reading from the book of Exodus, we hear God's life-giving words to Moses and to the people of Israel in the form of the Ten Commandments.

While we tend to resist mandates and the limitations that external laws place on us, these "words of life" are not really coming from the outside.  Instead, if we look carefully, each commandment is an expression of a basic sense God has planted within us.  In order to be truly human and in healthy relationships with others, we need to be trustworthy and generous, to honor those who gave us life, and to respect the life and rights of others.  To violate these laws is not an action outside ourselves, but it is to erode the very fiber of who we are.  Each time I act with less than integrity, I am less of the person God created me to be.

In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he notes that Jews and Greeks alike are looking for words of life. The Jews asked for signs that Jesus' message was truly a word that would bring them life and Greeks sought words of wisdom to bring them life.

But because the words and signs Jesus used were different from what people expected, they missed the life-giving message that suffering and sacrifice have positive value in life.  And so Jesus' words became stumbling blocks for them.

In cleansing the Temple, Jesus gave both signs and words of life.  The old will be destroyed and God will no longer dwell with us within a Temple building, but in the very person of Jesus.

This Lent you and I also look for life-giving words.  Open minds and open hearts are needed on this journey so we don't miss the message.

Reflection questions:
  1. What are the stumbling blocks (in life and work, and even in the Church) that keep me from seeing and hearing God's call to a more faith-filled  life?
  2. Jesus drove out the merchants from the temple. What in my life do I need to get rid of so that God might dwell more visibly and powerfully within me?

 

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Reflection for March 1, 2015

posted on: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 by: renaebauer

Transfiguration: Taking up one's cross is part of the journey to glory

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by Sister Annette Koss

At my parish, we sometimes discuss where we should have a cross placed in church:
on a wall, in a stand, among the people.
One Lent, each week the cross was moved to a different place among the assembly.
Recently, I was asked to be a communion minister at Mass.
Then, I was asked, "Do you need a cross?"
I said, "I have a cross" -- meaning the one I was wearing.
Then, I said, "I am a cross."
I moved from the concrete cross to its inner symbolism.

With the experience of the transfiguration,
Mark clearly connects the transfiguration with the cross,
placing the transfiguration between passion predictions.
He was expanding the disciples' understanding of Jesus as a suffering servant,
to be obedient in the midst of not fully understanding,
to give hope in the resurrection in times of persecution.
The disciples stood in a cloud as they experienced mystery.
Jesus would be the new Moses and the new Elijah with a new message.
Peter preferred to build three tents and prolong the experience.

The transfiguration was a call to discipleship:
"Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me."
The transfiguration confirmed the teaching on the cross.
It was an invitation to risk one's life.
The disciples were called to understand the choices before them:
to deny Jesus was to live but ultimately lose life,
to follow Jesus was to risk death but gain life.

Reflection questions:
  1. What has been a "mountaintop" experience for me?
  2. Did I want to stay there and prolong the experience?
  3. Did it lead me to service and maybe some suffering?

 

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Reflection for Feb. 22, 2015

posted on: Thursday, February 19, 2015 by: renaebauer

Fasting, praying, almsgiving make room for God in each of us

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by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich

On this First Sunday of Lent we journey with Jesus into the desert of emptiness and temptation.  During his 40 days in the wilderness Jesus did not turn his heart away from his loving Father.  In the midst of being tempted by Satan, Jesus is sheltered by God.  God's angels minister to him and he is secure among wild beasts.  The heart of Jesus was strengthened in knowing God was with him and would never fail him.  His experience alone with God opened his heart to embrace the challenges in the journey he would undertake.

We know that Lent is a time to change our hearts through fasting, praying and giving alms.

  • Fasting: Do we appreciate the hunger of our world and of our own hearts?
  • Praying: Do we open our minds and hearts to listen to God and respond in love and hope?
  • Almsgiving: Do we see the needs of those around us and give of ourselves?
Reflection questions:
  1. What is your heart seeking during this most holy season?
  2. What is God asking of you?

 

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Reflection for Feb. 15, 2015

posted on: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 by: renaebauer

St. Paul: Our humble actions give glory to God

Similar to our written reflections, image reflections invite us to enter deeply into Sacred Scripture. Take a few minutes to gaze upon the image below. Hear St. Paul teach the Corinthians that, as Christians, our actions matter.

Reflective questions:

  1. How do my actions glorify God?
  2. This Lent, how will I bear my sufferings in a more Christ-like way?
  3. Whom do I need to love or forgive in order to better imitate Christ?

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Reflection for Feb. 8, 2015

posted on: Wednesday, February 04, 2015 by: renaebauer

The healing hand of Jesus Christ is within your reach and mine

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by Sister Charlene Hockers

Recently, I visited a friend at the nursing home. She had gone through major surgery about three months earlier. She took the risk of surgery rather than give up and die. She came through the surgery which everyone believed was a miracle. She made good progress in healing for a while. But the same day that I visited her, she died.

Her story came to mind as I reflected on this Sunday's Gospel. We hear how Jesus grasps the hand of Peter's mother-in-law and heals her of her fever. In the evening, He heals many more. I believe Jesus grasped my friend's hand at the time of surgery and again when it was time to move into eternal life. Her suffering was over. Jesus is always ready to grasp our hand. He is always ready to heal us so we can get up and allow Him to work through us.

In the Gospel, what follows the healings is worthy of our notice. "Rising very early before dawn, He left and went off to a deserted place, where He prayed." In the midst of our service to others, we need to go off to our deserted place and pray. Faith is built on prayer. Our ability to help others heal spiritually is dependent on our relationship with Jesus. Let Jesus grasp your hand and take you to that deserted place to pray, and then go on to continue your loving service in His name.

 

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Reflection for Feb. 1, 2015

posted on: Thursday, January 29, 2015 by: renaebauer

Proclaiming the Good News requires prayer and preparation

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by Sister Laura Zelten

Today's Gospel gives us a glimpse into the culture of Jesus' time and a deeper understanding of why he was such a powerful and often-perceived disruptive figure. First, he teaches "as one having authority," despite lacking the training or position considered necessary. He is seen as bold and rebellious, yet his words and actions ring with truth. Even the "unclean spirit" within the man is aware of the power of Jesus' presence and reacts accordingly.

Like Jesus, the power of our words must come from a deep faith in a God who calls us to work for justice, to ask questions and to speak up. Without the faith that calls us to ask questions, we cannot be prophetic and speak with authority.

In a certain sense, the power of our words and actions can make a difference in the world, driving out the evil spirits of injustice, poverty, violence and selfishness, and inviting in the good spirits of justice, peace, community and economic well-being for all.

Reflection questions:
  1. When have you experienced someone who "taught with authority?"
  2. How did this impact you?
  3. Did this person have a "social-ethical message" that made a difference?

 

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Reflection for Jan. 25, 2015

posted on: Thursday, January 22, 2015 by: renaebauer

Jesus invites each of us to share in his mission in a special way

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by Sister Jacqueline Capelle

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh to deliver a message. He thought it would take three days to go through the city but on the first day the people heard the message and followed it.

Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee and called Simon, Andrew, James and John to join him on his journey.  These four fishermen must have wondered where they were going with Jesus and what He meant when He said, "You will be fishers of men."

Jesus invites you as He invited those in today's readings. To what mission has He called you? Think of this! What a treasure to receive this invitation to be a part of Jesus' mission and to spread His word.

Take some time this week to hear clearly and journey forth to carry the Word of God wherever you go.

 

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