Weekly Reflections

Reflection for Sept. 23, 2018

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The way of peace is not always peaceful

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In accepting the Cross, Jesus demonstrates for us that sacrifice can bring change to our hearts

by Sister Sally Ann Brickner

Many times in our lives powerful emotions of anger and resentment lodge in our minds and hearts evoking disquiet and a lack of peace. Sometimes months or years elapse before we are able to respond to God’s grace to overcome rifts with family, friends or Sisters in Community. Why is peacemaking so difficult?

In the Gospel reading for Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace, we hear Jesus invite a despicable tax collector, Matthew, to follow Him, and Matthew immediately responds to the call. He and Jesus’ other followers learn from their Master what discipleship entails. Jesus makes costly discipleship clear in the Beatitudes that begin His Sermon on the Mount, the seventh of which is “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matt. 5:9). This Beatitude calls us to be actively engaged in the art of peacemaking.

We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus to fully plumb the depths of “shalom,” which means peace in Hebrew. Repeatedly, Jesus foretold His manner of suffering and death, as we hear in Mark’s Gospel for this Sunday.  His message for the disciples and for us: the way of peacemaking is the way of the Cross. Great peacemakers like Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and most especially Jesus Christ accepted the cross, taking suffering upon themselves rather than inflicting it on others.

In the second reading, St. James writes about the absence of shalom: “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?” To counter our passions, St. James urges us to open ourselves to the gift of “wisdom from above which is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy, without inconstancy or insincerity. The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.” As followers of Jesus we must embrace the folly of the cross which proves to be the source of wisdom for those who would be peacemakers.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleI appreciate your beautifully written reflection, Sister. -- Blessings, Father Bill Jacobs

CommentBubbleDear Sisters: I appreciate so much Sr. Sally’s reflection on peacemaking and “folly” of the Cross. Attaching our suffering to the redemption of Jesus on the Cross can be a powerful means for me to “let go” of strife, anger, hurt which brings me to the wisdom of Jesus, and true peace of heart. I read this weekly as I ‘m receiving chemotherapy. Your reflections gives me the pause that “refreshes “my soul. Thank you, Sisters! -- Sr. Anne Dorice DeFebbo, osf

CommentBubbleThank you for the beautiful reflections on peace making. It gave me something to think about in my life. -- Irene

CommentBubbleYes, and as the first reading describes, the spirit of peace enables us to see the truth of: "one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph.4:1-7) And vice-versa: the vision of One-ness, which is the gift of Holy Spirit, enables us to be formed into peace-makers.

Interestingly - and importantly - Sunday's gospel ends with Jesus affirming the 'littleness' of children, once again. "Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, 'Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.'” (Mk.9:36-37)

 

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Reflection of Sept. 16, 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2018

To know Christ is to forget oneself

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We are called to give our lives to the Gospel and to model Jesus' redemptive love

by Sister Annette Koss

O Christ, you so loved the world that you set your face like flint and gave your back to those who beat you. You are the essence of love; love gets its meaning from you.

Set our faces flint-like toward that love. Open our hearts and let us hear the cry of the poor. You ask us over and over, in our joy and pain, "Who do you say that I am?"

Let us know who you are. Help us to know the truth. Let us find what we lose as we give our lives away for you.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleThank you for sharing prayer with us, Sr. Annette, and for giving us this opportunity to all pray together. Even though we are all at different locations and experiencing very different events and happenings, yet the spirit of Prayer brings us and binds us together. And wherever two or more agree in the spirit of Prayer, so is the Power-and-Presence-of-God.

And in this prayer, I hear, too, that Jesus asking us, "Who do you say I-AM?" is like us asking Jesus, "When did I/we see you hungry, Lord? When did I/we see you naked; homeless; suffering; tortured?"

Yes, in this prayer, I see that each of these questions is the 'other side' or 'other half' of the other. Jesus, The I-AM, is one-and-the-same-with-the-suffering-of-the-world. -- Linda

 

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Reflection for Sept. 9, 2018

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Healing, wholeness and peace

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Sunday's readings illustrate that Jesus fulfills all our dreams and helps us see the needs of others

by Sister Agnes Fischer

In Sunday's Gospel we hear of Jesus restoring a man's ability to hear and speak.

Jesus, you who make the deaf hear; open my ears:

  • To the pleas for justice of our indigenous neighbors
  • To the immigrants who long to belong
  • To the just claims of the poor and oppressed
  • To the voices of those looking for work

Jesus, you who make the mute speak; loosen my tongue:

  • To speak up when someone bad mouths a colleague
  • To speak kindly to one who has offended me
  • To ask pardon when I have offended
  • To praise my children and/or employees and offer them encouragement
  • To speak the truth to my spouse, parents, employer, when it is necessary to right a wrong

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Comments:

CommentBubbleThank you, Sister, for reminding all of us that all we have to do is pray and we will receive for GOD is always at our side. -- Emma

CommentBubble"Ephphatha" indeed; beautiful reflection and important reminders in our current cultural climate. Thank you! -- Michelle

CommentBubbleLord, Jesus, if you will speak "Ephphatha! ... Be opened!" over my heart, it will be done. This is what I ask of you today, and every day, Lord, Jesus. Speak "Ephphatha!" upon and within my heart. Amen. -- Linda

CommentBubbleNice work, Aggie. These are words and thoughts that are much needed in this “me first” society we find ourselves in today. Always good to be reminded of the goodness of Jesus and the better side of ourselves. -- Bette

 

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Reflection for Sept. 2, 2018

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Looking inside instead of outside

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The heart knows when concern and love are called for, going beyond laws or rules

by Sister Renee Delvaux

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make a decision on following the rule or doing what your heart said?  Recently a doctor was stopped by the police for speeding – breaking the law.  When the doctor quickly explained that he was on the way to the hospital for an emergency, the officer waved him on.  Concern and love superseded the law.

In today’s Gospel Jesus is in conflict with the scribes and Pharisees, being criticized for not observing the law regarding hand washing.  Jesus was often challenged for breaking the rules.  Recall how he healed on the Sabbath and spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well.  Both were no-no’s according to the Jewish law.  Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites because they upheld human tradition and laws but disregarded God’s commandments.

Being a Christian involves more than following the rules.  It calls for responding in justice and compassion, even if it means disregarding the rules.    

Living from a heart of generosity, concern and love are what count.

 

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Reflection for Aug. 26, 2018

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Yes's, no's and maybe's

Pursuing the Spirit of Life can deepen our commitment even in times when we don't fully understand

Commitment. That's the word that comes to mind while reflecting on Sunday’s readings.

  • In the first reading, Joshua gathers all of Israel into the presence of God and says, "decide today whom you will serve." The people choose God who saved them from slavery.
  • In the second reading, husbands and wives are instructed in the second reading to "be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ."
  • In the Gospel, many of the disciples say something that you and I might say during our own faith journey: "This is hard; who can accept it?" Some disciples stay with Jesus, some turn away.

Commitments -- such as following Jesus, being in relationship with others, etc. – go hand-in-hand with sacrifice. To say “yes” to a commitment can entail saying “no” or “maybe later” to something else, but it can also bless us in ways we cannot imagine. You and I are called to pursue the "Spirit that gives life." May we answer as Simon Peter did: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."


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Comments:

CommentBubbleAt first glance, the image seems overwhelming, as the one person in the center appears 'lost,' 'alone,' 'confused ...' But as I re-look, I focus on the Center, itself, not on the one individual, lone seeker. With the Center as the focus, I see many more possibilities, yet all emanate from and return to the Center.

As I contemplate the Center as both Source/Beginning and Destination/Fulfillment, the paths are not limited to the mere 6 we see, paths made by human endeavors, but the entire Circle leads and forms Itself outward, ever expanding, ever-widening LIFE, itself. That is the Great Beauty of Life-with-God: there is no path that is not All-Life, All-Love, All-Light. Life-with-God is "All." All-encompassing, All-inclusive, All-'knowing.' All-wise. -- Linda

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Reflection for Aug. 19, 2018

Thursday, August 16, 2018

What happened to common sense?

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Maybe the better question is, 'Am I seeking wisdom?'

by Sister Ann Rehrauer

This week I was speaking with a gentleman, and he commented, “You know, common sense isn’t as 'common' as it used to be.”   We had been discussing the sharp divisions of opinion in our country about racism, gun violence, and immigration.

Then I happened to look at the first two readings for this Sunday.  Both the author of the Book of Proverbs and St. Paul speak of wisdom vs. foolishness.  As you would expect, they encouraged the former and advise against ignorance and foolish living.

On deeper reflection, I thought about how one discerns the difference between true wisdom in seeking the “will of the Lord” or other aspects of our life, and what just seems to be the common sense approach or popular opinion.  

Of the crowds who followed Jesus and heard his explanation of the “living bread”, many thought “eating his flesh” pure foolishness, and they left.  Common sense would say, “This man can’t give us his flesh to eat.”  But true wisdom called for further reflection.  Some people were perplexed but stayed to hear the further explanation.  And others, in wisdom, accepted the teaching on what we have come to call the gift of the Eucharist.

This week, may we search the Scriptures, seek the inspiration of the Spirit, and pray for the gift of Wisdom as we make choices that affect our lives and the lives of others.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleJesus is Wisdom-Incarnate. Yes. Manna was God's gift for the People on the journey to new life. Jesus replaces one heavenly life-giving gift with his very own Being. His Spirit - the Wisdom, Goodness, Love of God - becomes our nourishment on the path to ever-and-always 'new' life.

In these days of continuing revelation of scandalous, abusive priests -- those who were so ordained, as was taught -- to consecrate and make manifest the Presence of Christ in Eucharist, we are being called to a 'new' understanding of what it means to 'be priest' and to 'share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ,' according to the 'new life' Wisdom-and-Goodness of God. -- Linda

 

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Weekly reflection for Aug. 12, 2018

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Spiritual food for the journey of life

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From whom or what do you draw your strength?

by Sister Renee Delvaux

What is the latest advertisement you have seen for health foods to give you strength to live fully?  The ads truly abound.  Where do we find spiritual health food to sustain us on the journey of eternal life?

In the first reading, when Elijah was despondent and struggling to continue the journey, God woke him from sleep and fed him twice.  Elijah was then aware of God’s love and concern for him, and was strengthened in body and spirit to get up and go on.

In John’s Gospel this Sunday Jesus speaks about His being from God and being nourishment for eternal life.  There is murmuring and disbelief regarding these words.  Jesus invites the doubting Jews, the apostles, and us to find our strength and life in Him.

Jesus’ promise of spiritual food for eternal life:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”  (Jn 6: 51)

Lord, I believe; help me in my unbelief.


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Comments:

CommentBubble "Where do [I] find spiritual health food to sustain us on the journey of eternal life?"

Being a truth-seeker, and recognizing this especially so of me in my adult life, I find spiritual HEALTH food in the moving, inspiring, heart-felt stories of others. One such recent story is that of the 12 Thailand boys and their coach rescued alive from the cave after being trapped for 10 days. "Wild Boars" Soccer Team: 12 students; 1 coach. (Sound familiar? 12 disciples; 1 Teacher) Their coach/Teacher had already taught them how to meditate-and meditate well. Deeply-One; Deeply-at-Peace. This is how and why they survived.

Then there was the "Sleeping Lady" Mountain, overshadowing the village and the cave. The People knew her to be their protector. The people, too, like the boys and coach, prayed, meditated.

It was their Prayer -- their Faith -- all of them, together, along with the great skill and care of the rescue team, including medical professionals, that brought all 13 out alive, and quite well.

The "Sleeping Lady" awoke to their great need. She rallied the help of the Divine Physician, the Great Healer-Transformer-Miracle Worker, just as she did at the wedding in Cana. Together, and with all others, they made a Great Team. :+) Linda

 

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Reflection for Aug. 5, 2018

Thursday, August 2, 2018

When enough is enough

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Jesus -- the Bread of Life -- satisfies the hungriest of hearts

by Sister Carolyn Zahringer

In America, we have so much and still we seek more.  Why?

The deeper question we need to ponder is, “What is our heart hungry for?” Things fail to satisfy our deepest hunger as a person, a family, a nation, a world.

Jesus says to the crowd and to each of us: “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”  Jesus never told a lie. 

How can we live a depth of faith to be truly satisfied? Something to ponder.  It’s a question to be re-visited in our personal journey, day by day.


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Comments:

CommentBubbleCarrie, thanks for your focused reflection on personal hunger. Yes, much to ponder. -- Sr. Fran

CommentBubbleThis reflection wonderfully illustrates how some (foolishly) try to fill the spiritual void in their hearts with the consumption of precious natural resources, much to the detriment of themselves and our planet. Well done! -- Michelle

CommentBubbleSo happy you asked the question, Sr. Carolyn. To satisfy our hunger: What can it be? I think it is walking in another’s shoes...all the judgements, critiques, evaluations of others puts up walls, barriers, ...prohibits the communion of being with others...universal love is our goal no matter what another thinks, acts, desires...each person wants to be accepted, loved, cherished, listened to and respected...We hunger for the ideal of FAMILY as we walk this earth together knowing that there is a oneness that Jesus described many times and in many ways...not easy, not learned quickly, not achieved by oneself. Hope is there because many holy people have lived this way. Bless our endeavors....thanks for listening. -- Helen E.

CommentBubble“What is [my] heart hungry for?” Today I know and name that my heart is hungry for the Presence and Peace of God with-and-within me at all times, and that I may not stray from it, sabotage it, or hinder it in any way. This is my 'ask, seek, and knock' today, on the Door-of-Life that opens both ways-from the inside as well as from the outside. Thank you, Sr. Carolyn, for giving me the opportunity to ponder and tarry, and struggle through, and to see and name with greater clarity that deeper/deepest hunger of my heart. -- Linda

 

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Reflection for July 29, 2018

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Worthy of the call

Through, with and in Him, our lives can reflect the goodness of Christ

The readings for the next few weeks will focus on Jesus as our Bread of Life. For example, Sunday’s Gospel takes us to the Sea of Galilee where Jesus feeds a crowd with only a few loaves of bread and two fish.

Tucked in between the Gospel and first reading from the Second Book of Kings is a call from St. Paul to the Ephesians. In it we hear how Jesus Christ is to manifest in you and me so that others may know Christ. Paul writes, “live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,” specifically, live with humility, gentleness, patience, love, peace and hope.

Using the picture below, imagine you, too, are on the mountaintop.. As you look down and see the world, which of the six "manners" is Jesus asking you to make a reality?


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Comments:

CommentBubbleSo high up in the clouds ... It just doesn't feel 'safe' or 'real' for me up here. I am, instead, sent into 'littleness.' That is the one word that comes to me. I am sent into 'littleness,' to be one-with-all-littleness. It is the littlest and tiniest of blossoms that attract me, often overlooked by others. But they are so beautiful, so intricate, and so much 'of earth - 'so dependent on earth - and the total web-of-life for their life. And the hummingbird -- so small and tiny the egg, the nest - but so beautiful and graceful and miraculous the bird. So little ... so good. I am sent into 'littleness.' "Littleness" is my home. -- Linda

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Reflection for July 22, 2018

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Busy, busy, busy

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What would life look like if 'progress' replaced 'motion'?

by Sister Agnes Fischer

In Sunday's Gospel we hear how even Jesus and his apostles got caught up in their teaching and healing that they "had no opportunity even to eat" (Mk 6:31). How many times have we been caught up in so much activity that we didn’t have time to:

  • Enjoy a meal with our family -- no phones allowed.
  • Get to know a friend or acquaintance better.
  • Be more present to those closest to us and give them quality time.
  • Ask for pardon or patience when we realize that we have gotten a little testy.

Then it may be time to “come aside and rest awhile” (Mk 6:31).

  • Put our worries and plans in God’s hands for a while and make fun family weekend plans.
  • Dress up and go to church with the family.
  • Listen to music, read a book, take a walk, enjoy the grandchildren ...
  • Accept God’s healing touch and be restored.

The final prayer of Sunday’s Mass says it well: “Lord, graciously be present to your people and help us to pass from former (busy) ways to newness of life.”


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Comments:

CommentBubbleExcellent words this morning, Sister Agnes. Thanks. -- Cheryl

CommentBubbleAnd it's good, too, to hear Sunday's message through the heart, care, and attention of a shepherd, whose constant presence with and among the flock allows him to know each and every sheep - by name - and by personality, and by need. The shepherd does not merely 'have a job' or 'have a job to do,' but the true shepherd has sheep, creatures of warmth and affection - individual ewes and lambs and rams that he has known since birth. The true shepherd is the One who takes time to know each one, and to pay attention to what each one is about, like a mother who bonds with each child. (Resp. Ps. 23: "The LORD is my Shepherd ...) -- Linda

CommentBubbleThanks, Aggie. You say so much in a few words. A gift! -- Sr. Fran

CommentBubbleGood reflection, Sr. Agnes. I especially liked "family dinners-no phones!" We have forgotten what is important in our lives. That chair is still empty next to me-miss you!

 

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