Thursday, February 04, 2016
Ash Wednesday: Repent and believe in the Gospel
- The ashes received on the forehead are an outward sign of our sinfulness and our mortality. How do I want to be spiritually renewed this season?
- Ash Wednesday is a day to abstain from meat and to fast (decrease to one full meal and two small meals for adults under 60 excluding pregnant or nursing mothers). Do I hunger for Jesus?
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Faith, hope & love help us hear the Good News
“No prophet is accepted in his own country.” (Luke 4:24)
by Sister Laura Zelten
Jesus was and is the greatest of all prophets. At the end of his earthly ministry, he gave his life for the truth he brought to the world. In Sunday’s Gospel from Luke we hear about Jesus experiencing what many people have as they tried to build up the life of a small, closed community.
At first, when the people of Nazareth hear Jesus speak they are filled with surprise and admiration. As Jesus goes on, they find it hard to accept him as someone other than a carpenter’s son. Their admiration dissipates as Jesus challenges them to recognize that God’s blessings are to be given to the Gentiles. By the end, they are “filled with fury” and come close to killing Jesus.
Luke begins the account of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee with this incident because it provides a summary of what is to follow –- the Good News of God’s generous ways is rejected by the people of the synagogue. In Jesus’ mysterious escape from the people of Nazareth, Luke may be foreshadowing the final triumph of the Resurrection.
Sunday’s second reading from St. Paul to the Corinthians complements the Gospel. Having “the gift of prophecy” and an “understanding of all the mysteries” will achieve nothing if it is not inspired by love. Nothing opens the way to hearing God’s challenging message more than an approach full of goodwill -- faith, hope and love, and “the greatest of these is love.”
Thursday, January 21, 2016
How we love others may indicate how we love God
by Sister Francis Bangert
In Sunday's Gospel we find Jesus in the synagogue of his home town, Nazareth. When given the scroll, he reads: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord." Then he adds: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
We, who are baptized and anointed into the Body of Christ, are called by the Spirit to be good news to our brothers and sisters in need. Who are some of them?
- I am an invisible child, victim of child abuse, neglect, abandonment. Can you see my pain, hear my story, and understand without judgment?
- I am in recovery and struggling to begin a new life. Will you trust me with a job?
- I am living in depression and despair. By your willingness to listen will you give me a sense of self-worth?
- I am an immigrant searching for freedom from fear and violence. Will you show me respect, compassion, and welcome?
The measure of our love for God is the measure of our love for our neighbor. In this Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, how can we be the hands, eyes, feet and heart of Jesus?
Thursday, January 14, 2016
As followers, we are asked to give Jesus our very best
- "Do whatever He tells you," Mary says to the servers referring to Jesus at the wedding at Cana. Her instructions are for us, too. How can I listen more intently so as to hear and do what Jesus asks of me?
- At Cana, Jesus turns water into wine. He signals to us that He is the new wine, the new covenant, poured out for all. When it comes to Jesus and others, am I giving them my best "wine" or am I giving from what is leftover?
Thursday, January 07, 2016
Your baptism and mine speak of an ongoing relationship with God
by Sister Mary Kabat
When an account is included in more than one Gospel it is viewed with greater significance. The Baptism of Jesus -- the visible appearance of the Spirit and the voice from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son, on you my favor rests” -- are included in all four Gospels. This moment experienced by Jesus, John the Baptist and unknown others was never to be forgotten. It changed life forever -- for Jesus, for John, for all who knew Jesus and would come to know him, for all believers then and now, for you and me. Jesus’ public life, his mission to be “a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and those who live in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6-7) was beginning.
Jesus’ baptism and our baptism occurred at a moment in time; however, our baptism is ongoing. Baptism is a relationship with God and our faith companions in family, parish and the broader Church. Baptism is a relationship sustained and deepened, nurtured and strengthened by prayer and action throughout our earthly life and brought to fullness one day with God. Baptism is a promise lived in good times and in challenging times as was the baptism of Jesus.
As we celebrate Jesus’ baptism, let us renew our own promises, our prayer life, our commitment to share in Jesus’ proclamation of the Father’s love and mercy in our words and actions.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
King Herod? A gift?
by Sister Agnes Fischer
When we read Sunday’s Gospel we usually think of the gifts of the Magi, and maybe we aren’t very aware of the gift King Herod gave them (and us) when he told them to go and investigate about this child.
It was truly a gift because, following Herod’s advice, the Magi sought and found the Child and his Mother (another gift).
Herod’s gift wasn’t only for the people of that time but also for us who read this Gospel and follow his advice: “Go and investigate about this child.”
If we succeed in our simple and sincere investigation we will find life eternal because Jesus Himself told us that life eternal consists in knowing the Father and knowing Him whom the Father sent.
So we can thank King Herod for his advice and continue throughout the year to investigate what the Gospel tells us about this new King.
Monday, December 21, 2015
Home for holidays: A time to consider our heavenly home
- The Feast of the Holy Family is a time to honor Mary and Joseph’s role in Jesus’ earthly ministry. It’s also a time to consider what Jesus said about His eternal home and ours. Am I preparing to live in our Father’s house? What can I do differently so as to please God?
- In the second reading, St. Paul advises us to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, love and gratitude. Several lines are given to the last three. What connection, if any, do you see among the three?
Thursday, December 17, 2015
God's unpredictable love bursts forth through Mary & Elizabeth
by Sister Francis Bangert
Today’s Gospel, focusing our gaze on the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, is filled with hope.
Cousins Elizabeth, the childless, and Mary, the virgin, are more deeply bonded to one another by surprise pregnancies. An unpredictable God overlooks the predictability of nature by making the childless and the virgin fruitful.
Elizabeth carries John, the restless. Mary bears Jesus, the face of God who is LOVE. Their lives touch -- the old and the new; an ancient promise and time’s fulfillment are revealed.
Their gentle meeting is a powerful image of “God with us”. In these challenging times for families, for Church and troubled world, in hard-to-make decisions for an unpredictable future, in being faithful to modern day un-prized values, does our abandoned hope shield us from surprise? Does our fear of being known hide us from God’s embrace of love?
May these two women, Elizabeth and Mary, call us to laugh at the ways an unpredictable God wishes to love us and may we move into our unknown futures with hope-filled abandon in our hearts.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Third Sunday of Advent invites us into God's joy
by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich
Gaudete Sunday! On this Third Sunday of Advent we are encouraged to “shout for joy”, “be glad”, “exult with all” our hearts, “fear not”, “rejoice”, “share”. With all that is going on in our fragile world, how can we rejoice? How can we be glad and not fear with all the violence around us?
The answer may be found in our journey through this Holy Year of Mercy. Our loving God offers us unconditional love, mercy beyond measure and graces to face whatever comes our way. Think of how different our world would be if we were merciful like the Father. Wouldn’t joy abound in our hearts and in the hearts of others? Wouldn’t we share the good news of God’s forgiving love to all who enter into our lives? Wouldn’t we rejoice that our God is with us no matter what and stands with open arms ready to embrace us with hugs of love, comfort and peace?
“Rejoice in the Lord, always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4-5)
Thursday, December 03, 2015
Church's Year of Mercy is an opportunity to contemplate God's love for all
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
I sat in my office at a retreat house, listening to a woman telling me her story of alcoholism and drug addiction. She described her childhood as being one of abuse and chaos. She got trapped in her addiction early in high school. Her adult years were filled with drinking and taking drugs, moving in and out of intimate relationships, and trying to raise three children in the midst of the insanity of the disease. Five years ago she had made the decision to turn her life over to God, and since then she has stayed clear of the world of drugs and alcohol. Now on a Twelve Step retreat, she is filled with sorrow over her past; the tears stream down her face as she pours out the details of her past. After she leaves the room, I am left with only one impression: there in front of me had been one beautiful person. I would forget much of what she said, but her humility and sincere desire to love God and her children and all those she hurt would lead me to feel honored to have been a witness to her story.
During this week, on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Church will begin a Jubilee year, the Year of Mercy. As we journey through the coming weeks and months, we are invited to consider the mercy that God has shown us and to show that mercy to all people. If we can picture the worst things we have ever done, and then imagine God standing at our side with an arm around us and speaking gently to us, then we will know what the mercy of God feels like. If we can compassionately reveal that kind of mercy to others, they, too, will know God in a new way and will come to understand how beautiful they are.
Embarking on the Jubilee year, let us do what this season of Advent calls us to do. Let us prepare the way of the Lord.