Weekly Reflections

Reflection for Jan. 13, 2019

Thursday, January 10, 2019

The message heard at the Baptism of the Lord isn't just for Jesus

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We, too, are loved and are pleasing to God

by Sister Agnes Fischer

"You are my beloved Son."

On the day Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened and a voice proclaimed: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

On the day of our baptism we didn’t see or hear anything, but our faith tells us that:

  • The heavens did open for each of us
  • The Holy Spirit did descend upon us
  • God did say to each of us, “You are my beloved son/daughter”

After his baptism Jesus went about doing good. Isaiah 42:3 tells us: "A bruised reed he did not break, and a smoldering wick he did not quench.”

  • What good am I doing as a result of my baptismal call to be a disciple?
  • How do people know that I have been baptized?
  • What bruised reeds and smoldering wicks have I sheltered and nourished?
  • Whom have I grasped by the hand and brought out from confinement?

Lord God, may I be your child in name and in truth. (from the prayer after Communion)


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Comments:

CommentBubbleDear Sister: This is a very meaningful reflection, a lot to think about. Thank you, Irene

CommentBubbleI put myself in the scene of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. I begin to talk with Jesus: What did it feel like to be baptized by John, Jesus? What did it feel like when you saw many people coming after you to be baptized? Were you energized by their decision to follow your example? Were you inspired by their willingness and desire to ‘change their lives’ for the good of others? Did you take notice of how each one expressed their love for God, and how they cared for the ‘little ones’ in their midst? Could you tell how much they wanted more in their knowing, loving, and serving the God-of-their-salvation? Were they gentle and kind in their expressions; or were they loud, abrasive, rude, belligerent? What did you say to them? How did you respond to each one? Who of these followers, those choosing to be baptized after you, and in the same water-bath as you, Jesus, am I like? Which one of these followers do I most identify with? Or -– do I mostly identify with you, Jesus, as you ‘go down,’ below the surface of life, to ‘come up’ in greater fullness of a more awakened, more fully conscious life of what it means to be ‘beloved of God?’ -- Linda

CommentBubbleWow, this reflection has really made me stop & think. Very meaningful Sr. Agnes! Thank you! -- Marie

CommentBubbleGreat Reflection, Sister! I appreciate your thoughts & efforts! It was great to be home over the Christmas/New Year's break. Happy New Year. God's Blessings always -- Father Bill Jacobs

 

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Reflection for Jan. 6, 2019

Thursday, January 3, 2019

A star, a star dancing in the night

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Journey of the magi is rich beyond the gifts they brought

by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich

The Gospel for today’s feast of the Epiphany is a very familiar one. Most manger scenes include figures of the three Wisemen ... maybe even a camel or two with them. 

The three travelers risked their lives following a star to find the Messiah. It is difficult to imagine the conditions of their travel and the length of time. Nothing stopped them from their journey. Matthew tells us that they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Tradition tells us that they were foreigners named Balthazar, Caspar and Melchior. They were of different cultures and beliefs yet God touched their hearts to follow the star. Salvation was being offered to everyone! 

This message comes to us in a world that is becoming more multicultural and diverse in many areas -– a world that seems overcome with violence and injustice. Jesus was sent by God to bring all people together. This feast speaks of God’s desire that all live in peace. 

Reflection questions
  1. What has led you to Christ?
  2. How has your journey been guided by God’s hand?
  3. What will you do to fufill God’s desire that all live in peace?

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Reflection for Dec. 30, 2018

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Wisdom revealed

The example of Jesus at the temple demonstrates God's work in time, and God's time at work

For Sunday’s Feast of the Holy Family we hear the story of 12-year-old Jesus engaging with teachers at the temple while his parents departed from Jerusalem, unknowingly without their son. The last sentence in Gospel reads: “And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”

The Gospel implies that Jesus was not born with all the answers, that God revealed wisdom over time. This is comforting especially in times when we feel a spiritual “dryness” or don’t understand the readings or Church teachings. If you are seeking a new year’s resolution consider praying for strength or patience so that you can stick with your journey of faith. Allow God to reveal wisdom at the right time.

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Comments:

CommentBubbleI love this picture! JESUS, Jewish Mid-Eastern boy! It is note-worthy, too, that this climactic gospel ending, "JESUS grew in wisdom, age, and grace ..." is expressed on a day that recognizes the family as central to just such growth and development of each child. Religious communities, too, like families of nurture and care, are called upon to help advance each member's personal and spiritual development. Such a liberating, yet supportive environment, requires wisdom and grace, for sure! And an openness to 'new life;' 'new' ways-of-God! -- Linda

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Reflection for Dec. 23, 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018

How does this happen?

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Mary's visit with Elizabeth reminds us of the unpredictability of God who brings peace, His Son, into the world

by Sister Francis Bangert

The Gospel for today is one of my favorites, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.  I offer a beautiful poem for your reflection.

Visitation

Two women meet,
cousins yet more than kin—
bound now to one another
by pregnant surprise.

Their unpredictable God has laughed at nature
and made the childless and the virgin bear.

She of the leaping womb thought barren
bears the restlessness of her God.

And the virgin unknown
becomes the magnifying glass
that makes great her God
for all to see.

The women embrace:
forgotten hope surprised by life
embraces surprising love.

Meeting they touch
the old and the new
the forgotten and the unknown
now revealed in mystery
as ancient desire and time's fullness.

The simple majesty
of their common meeting
is remembered as the uncommon visitation
of God come among us.

Shall our own forgotten hope
protect us from surprise?

Perhaps!

Shall our fear of being known
cause us to turn and hide
from this -- God's embrace?

It is possible.

Shall we trade
the restlessness of God
for oblivion?

Also possible.

But these women,
Elizabeth and Mary,
desire and fullness,
call us to laugh
with our unpredictable God
who comes to visit
such a warm and generous embrace
upon our quaking hearts.

by Harry Hagan, OSB
© Saint Meinrad Archabbey, 1993. All rights reserve. Used with permission.


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Comments:

CommentBubble"becomes the magnifying glass that makes great her God for all to see." This is VERY COOL: that is our "visitation" calling, too. I recently was sent this (https://progressivechristianity.org/resources/are-you-sure/) very thoughtful pondering regarding "annunciation." It gives us pause to wonder if there have been ways and times that we have resisted, or even rejected, an invitation and request from The Great Mystery-of-All to "bear God new life." How much surrender it takes to really "hear" and "know" and succumb to that call to "new life!" "God, surrender me to your holy, life-giving will!" -- Linda

CommentBubble"...the unpredictability of God..." says it all! Thank you for your thoughtful reflection! -- Michael V

 

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Reflection for Dec. 16, 2018

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Love + mercy + grace = joy

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Third Sunday of Advent calls us to extraordinary joy found only in the gift given by our Creator

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 loving God who 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)


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Comments:

CommentBubbleI loved the inspiring words, Sister. We tend to forget God’s love. -- Irene

 

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Reflection for Dec. 9, 2018

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Repenting, forgiving and letting go

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Second Sunday of Advent is an invitation to a fresh start

by Sister Mary Kabat

In this Second Sunday of Advent, we hear the Prophet Baruch calling Jerusalem to put on the splendor of God’s glory and cast aside all their misery.  We also hear John the Baptist inviting the people to a baptism of repentance.

As you read and reflect on these Scriptures do you find yourself longing for the glory of God, longing for divisions between loved ones or nations to be smoothed, or longing for the assurance that God is with you and is working good in and through you?

We do NEED this yearly time of Advent, this time to prepare ourselves in heart, mind and lifestyle to celebrate more fully than ever the birth of Christ in our world, our loved ones and ourselves.

Though the Gospel story is of John preparing the way for the adult Jesus, we also know John as the new “Elijah,” a precursor of the Messiah who came to us as an infant.  John’s invitation to repentance is needed now as well as in the weeks of Lent.  Let us let go of that which is forming a mountain or a valley in us, let us let God do the work of smoothing and filling this Advent so we may better know the Lord and hear his voice speaking joy in our hearts.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleLovely reflection, Sister. I especially like the way you tied in the wise words delivered during President Bush’s eulogy, reminding us that there was indeed a time when we were willing to do some of the “smoothing and filling” on those mountains that separate us ourselves ... -- Michelle

 

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Reflection for Dec. 2, 2018

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Love Incarnate

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The Advent journey is one of transformation; does racism fit in?

by Sister Sally Ann Brickner

During Advent, the first season of the liturgical year, we wait in hope for God to transform our hearts and minds that we may be ready to recognize and receive “the Lord our justice.”

What might Advent mean for those in our society who since the arrival of Europeans to this land have suffered the grave injustice of racism – Native Americans, Blacks, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and Muslims – to name a few? Many among these cultures still suffer personal and systemic effects of discrimination and prejudice according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Last week they released their second pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.”

The sin of racism requires a transformation of the human heart.  Overcoming racism is a demand of justice, according to the Bishops. Acts of hatred or ill will toward another person because of skin color or origin violates Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Love exceeds justice, but it never lacks justice (Pope Benedict XVI in Caritas et Veritate). 

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, the feast of Love Incarnate, may we ponder the Bishops’ pastoral letter, “Open Wide Our Hearts,” and commit ourselves to overcome the sin of racism, to welcome “the Lord our justice” in every marginalized person.


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Reflection for Nov. 25, 2018

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What's in a name?

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The Feast of Christ the King alludes to the One who cares for all, protects all and gives them His all

by Sister Ann Rehrauer

As Americans, we are sometimes a bit skeptical about the image of kingship because of our historic struggles with King George in 1776 and our experience of a different form of government.  People from Great Britain or another nation with a monarchy, however, have a different appreciation for this image of the Kingship of Christ because of their experience and affection for their ruling king or queen.

In ancient Israel, two terms were used to describe both God and their civil ruler. “Lordship” denoted aspects of power, of one who “ruled over” the people, and demanded obedience and allegiance. “Kingship” described the one who embodied the sense of the people. He was the symbol of the nation, one who cared for their well being, who protected and inspired them, and was ready to give his life on their behalf.

In the passages from Daniel and Revelation, Jesus is portrayed as high priest and the Lord who comes at the end of time in glory and power. His Kingdom will encompass all that is and his reign will be forever one of justice and peace. 

In the Gospel account of the end of his physical life, Jesus stands before the judgment seat of Pilate who struggles to understand Jesus’ role. If Jesus is truly a king then he is a political rival of Caesar and a danger to the state. If he is not a king, then why has he garnered such loyal followers? Jesus explained the meaning of his Kingship as a witness to TRUTH and to the unimaginable love of God who cared enough to sacrifice his only Son. 

For us, whether or not we appreciate the image of Kingship, we experience and celebrate the love of Christ who offered his life for us, who intercedes for us before the Father, who accompanies us on the journey of life and who will come again in glory at the end of time.

For the fullness of his reign in each of us and in our world, we pray “Come soon, Lord Jesus!”

Reflection Question:

Besides kingship – what other titles or images for Jesus are part of your prayer? 


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Reflection for Nov. 18, 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Where it ends is where it begins

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Our faith in the the Paschal Mystery lights the way through good times, bad times and transitions

by Sister Carolyn Zahringer

The month of November brings us closer to the end of another liturgical year. Endings prepare us for new beginnings. We never know exactly what is ahead. Our faith supports our journey into and through the ebb and flow of life. Our faith tells us that Jesus walks with us, every step. Jesus even carries us at times, as the “Footsteps in the Sand” poem points out.

Each challenge is a birthing experience. Our faith in and hope for a deeper life carries us and brings us to a deeper relationship of love -- with God, others and self. Everyone who bears the name “Christian” can change the world by embracing the grace offered each day.

The Responsorial Psalm for this 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time is from Psalm 16. The refrain is: “You are my inheritance, O Lord!”  Reflect on its message. The verses are filled with faith, hope and love, a message very much needed in our world and our personal lives today.

What "harvest" awaits each of us?


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Comments:

CommentBubble"Each challenge is a birthing experience"...thank you, Sister, for those words filled with hope! -- Michael

CommentBubbleThanks Carrie, I really appreciate your insights and challenges on the Gospel for Sunday. Blessings to you. -- Sr. Laura

 

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Reflection for Nov. 11, 2018

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Two little coins

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This week's Gospel focuses on giving our all to God

by Sister Laura Zelten

Almost no one noticed her. I mean, who would? As the rich entered the temple, their gifts clanged so loudly that every head turned to see who was putting in. That was the whole point, wasn't it? To be seen. To be seen as generous. To be seen as holy. To be seen at places of honor.

But her two little coins barely registered above the din of conversation taking place next to the large metal horn in which gifts were deposited.

Almost no one noticed her. Almost no one. The one who did knew the woman's coins were all she had to live on.  He recognized the enormity of her sacrifice as he contemplated giving his whole life on a cross.

The widow of the Gospel had a generous heart. She looked outward to the needs of others and gave all that she could. She shared because it was the right thing to do.

We rejoice in the message of Jesus. It challenges us to be the loving energy of God for the world, for those who are near and for those who are far away. We are the ones to show God’s care for creation, justice, peace and reconciliation and to give time to God in prayer – to ensure a space and time for God each day.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleI love the idea that no one noticed her. And she didn't do anything to be noticed. I can picture the noise the others made, making sure everyone noticed what they were doing. Wonderful. Jesus notices everything. So whatever I give, as long as I'm doing my best for the best of others, I will be noticed by the One who matters most. Thanks for your reflections. Always thought provoking. -- Kathy

CommentBubbleI could picture what you were saying, would that we could always be so generous. Your reflections are always good and to the point. Thank you. -- Irene Whatley

 

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