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”?
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Persistent prayer will reveal a richer relationship with God
by Sister Madonna Swintkoske
In today’s reading, Jesus instructs his disciples about prayer. The lesson is one of perseverance.
Jesus gives the parable of a man coming to a neighbor in the middle of the night looking for some food to provide to an unexpected visitor. Jesus says if the man persists, then the neighbor will eventually give the man all he needs simply to get some peace.
In another example Jesus asks if a father would give his child a snake instead of a fish or a scorpion instead of an egg. He ends by saying, “If you, with all yours sins, know how to give your children good things, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
There are a number of ways of praying persistently. One is to keep begging God to give us something we want or need. Another is to think that somehow we can manipulate God or put God under some kind of obligation by asking repeatedly. This way of praying is a subtle way of asking God to do our will.
The kind of prayer that Jesus is talking about is really something quite different. He seems to presume that what we are asking for is the gift of God’s Spirit. Whatever form our prayer takes ultimately, it must be to know God, to love God and to follow God. The more we pray for this the more likely it will become a reality in our lives. And could God refuse to hear this prayer?
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Listening to Jesus is always the better choice
Time after time, Jesus invites us to what is most important: Follow Him. This week, the message comes to us through Martha and Mary. Martha works hard to create a welcoming environment for Jesus while Mary stops working so she can listen to Him. Martha’s complaints to Jesus are quelled by His words, “There is need of only one thing.”
- When do I pause during my day and give my full attention to God?
- Do I procrastinate listening by busying myself with work?
- What obstacles are in my way to choosing the “better part?”
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
How to inherit eternal life? Love!
by Sister Margaret Mary Halbach
Have you spent time reflecting on the scholar's question posed in Sunday's Gospel: "What do I need to do to inherit eternal life?" This is an important question for each of us to ask. Jesus affirms the scholar's answer, "love God with all your strength" and "love your neighbor as yourself."
Is loving as simple as it sounds? Are all people easy to love? Are all easy to forgive? Can we show mercy equally toward all people? In a family, community, and neighborhood, a lot of human faults can get in the way of loving your neighbor as yourself. The effort is what Jesus is asking of us.
Today is our 40th Halbach family reunion. It will be a fun time sharing stories, favorite foods, etc. in the town's water park with about 175 folks. Our "inheritance" is based on our faith so we always begin with a Mass at the parish where most of us were baptized. This will be an easy time of sharing our love with family even though our lives hold good and not-so-good situations.
God gives the promise of eternal life to all. The process seems simple for attaining. Let us remember that the Lord is with us in the difficult times. He loves us ... we are His family.
Friday, June 24, 2016
Proclaiming 'the kingdom of God is at hand' is possible through words & actions
by Sister Agnes Fischer
This weekend, we mark a great beginning -– the birth of our country. As a matter of fact, we’re just ending a time of year when we celebrate a lot of great beginnings: graduations, weddings, ordinations.
All these momentous beginnings signal life going on, landmarks being reached. They’re moments of great hope. So is the moment we encounter in Sunday’s Gospel when Jesus sent 72 of his followers into the world to begin His work.
We don’t know who these people were. Luke doesn’t name them. They weren’t necessarily any of the 12 apostles. They were, it seems, ordinary people -- faithful followers of Christ who were eager to spread his message. If you want an idea of what they looked like just look around you. We are those 72.
The mission is universal and so is the message: peace. Peace is the first word Jesus speaks to his followers after the resurrection. And it is the message he wants his disciples to carry into the world, as well. Peace.
He also wants us to proclaim another simple truth: “The kingdom of God is at hand.” Now just maybe that’s not something you say every day. But we don’t need to proclaim it with words. We proclaim it with our lives.
Where do you find the kingdom of God? It is a nurse bathing a leper; a chaplain praying over a prisoner; a teenager helping the homeless; a mother and father teaching their child the Sign of the Cross. This tells the world, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” We proclaim it with simply being who we are and using the gifts that God gave us.
Consider Christ’s simple instruction to His followers: Don’t take a money bag or a sack or sandals. In other words, bring nothing but yourselves. Use this. What we are, who we are, is enough.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Procrastination and other flaws can keep us from following Jesus
“Follow me,” said Jesus to a believer. Pretty direct, right? Yet, in Sunday’s readings, two disciples want to exercise revenge while two others want to tie up some loose ends before they start following Jesus. Sound familiar? Use the visual reflection below to consider the following:
- What characteristics should a follower of Jesus have?
- Which of these characteristics do I have? Which ones should I work on?
- What “loose ends” do I want to tidy up rather than answer His call?