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?
Thursday, June 16, 2016
How would you describe Jesus in a word or two?
by Sister Rose Jochmann
In Sunday's Gospel from Luke, Jesus first asks his disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” Then he went a step further and he asked them, “But, who do you say that I am?” This is a question that was put to me during my annual retreat last August. Here are some of my reflective responses to that question asking, "Who do I say Jesus is?”
- God, living and true
- My joy
- God who took human form
- God, living and true
- My rock
- Resurrected Jesus who is always present
- Incomprehensible Holy Mystery
I am sure Jesus is all this and infinitely more. But it is important for each of us to reflect on who Jesus is for us. So, what is your response to this question, “Who do you say that I am?”
Thursday, June 09, 2016
We know the tears of the woman; do we know forgiveness, too?
by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich
After a Sunday Mass one weekend, a parishioner came up to me and said, “Boy, if Father knew what kind of person so-and-so is, he wouldn’t give her Communion." Sound familiar?
A woman comes to Jesus in our Gospel today – so full of repentance that her tears flow enough to wash His feet. A woman – a known sinner – performs an act of kindness that the others neglected to do. “When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, He would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.’” (Luke 7:39) Jesus probably DID know who she was. That did not stop Him from seeing her as a child of God and offering her the gift of forgiveness.
Forgiveness – a most precious gift offered to all of us by our loving, generous God. It is a precious gift we can offer to others as well. Imagine the joy of that woman – a burden lifted from her. Imagine what forgiveness does for each of us! As we continue this Jubilee Year of Mercy may we be forgiving to others and find the grace to see each person as a child of God.
- Is there someone I need to forgive?
- Do I need to ask someone to forgive me?
Thursday, June 02, 2016
'God has visited his people' and shown abundant mercy
by Sister Annette Koss
In Sunday's Gospel, Luke shows Jesus' radical concern for the disadvantaged. Who is more disadvantaged than a widow whose sustenance has been cut off by the death of her sole provider, her son? The widow has no name, she was a representative of all who were poor and lowly. Luke declared God’s bottomless compassion on those who were powerless and completely dependent on God for their care.
Jesus has only to say the Spirit-filled word for there to be healing. The poor would have the good news proclaimed to them and the lost and the dead would be found and restored to life. Jesus’ compassion was translated into action through his simple command, his word.
For Luke, death was the same as being lost and life was tantamount to being found. Jesus welcomed the “lost dead son” with mercy and compassion.
The way to bring life in death-dealing situations is to extend that same compassion to the guilt- and blame-ridden family members sitting in our gathering places. We embrace, uphold and love people through the devastations of life.
- Who are the poor and disadvantaged who enter my life?
- What words have I carried into compassionate action?
- What transitions from death to life have I experienced?
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Corpus Christi Sunday: Jesus nourishes us for the journey
by Sister Francis Bangert
Have you ever been in a situation where the demands made on you left you feeling overwhelmed and powerless?
In Sunday's reading from Luke, we find that Jesus has taught and healed all day. It’s now the end of the day, the crowd numbers over 5,000 and everyone is tired and hungry. The provisions are meager -- five loaves of bread and two fish. And then Jesus responds to the disciples’ request to send everyone away with the words -- simply put, “YOU feed them.”
How powerless they must have felt. And yet, Jesus took the little food available, blessed it, and in the end there were 12 baskets of leftovers. Little becomes abundant.
At the Last Supper Jesus took bread and wine, blessed them and gave them to the apostles saying, “Do this in remembrance of me.” In this way Jesus made himself present to us, Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity under the appearances of bread and wine and promises to be with us always, to the end of the world. In Communion, we hold the Living God, Who holds all things in being. An awesome mystery, indeed! Bask in this mystery and know where your power lies.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Trinity Sunday: Three Persons in the unity of the divinity
More than 800 years ago, St. Hildegard of Bingen received a series of illuminations including one regarding the Holy Trinity. Her drawing (below) depicts God as a circle, embracing all. Jesus appears blue, symbolizing compassion, with hands extended in a healing position. Binding all together is the Holy Spirit shown in the gold and silver cables woven together.
There is message of interconnectivity here between divinity and humanity. Reflect, if you will, on some of Hildegard's words:
- God is near. "God hugs you. You are encircled by the arms of the mystery of God."
- Jesus incarnate. "The maternal love of the embracing God came" and became flesh.
- Holy Spirit unites. "The Holy Spirit streams through and ties together 'eternity' and 'equality' so that they are one. This is like someone tying a bundle together -- for there would be no bundle if it weren't tied together -- everything would fall apart."