Thursday, March 12, 2015
Who prefers the dark? Stepping into the light
of Christ is a daily decision
"God so loved the world that he
gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life."
by Carla Schommer, Director of St. Francis Convent
John 3:16 is often seen on signs, on billboards, and as a
motivational or inspirational quote. It's a message about our
Christian faith. God loves us so much he brought us Jesus,
and by believing in Jesus we are given eternal life.
This scripture passage is also the opening verse before this
Sunday's Gospel. What does it really mean to believe in
Jesus? It's tempting to think that believing in Jesus is
by affirming the belief statements of the creed and agreeing to the
truths that Jesus existed and worked miracles and died and rose
from the dead. Accepting these truths are important but there
is much more to believing. Even on our best days we have
encounters with sin -- in choosing to do wrong and failing to do
In the Gospel, John shares a keen observation about human
sinfulness: Jesus is the light that has come into the world, but
people prefer the darkness.
We stay in the darkness and attempt to hide our sins, even from
God. We must come out of the darkness of our lives and into
the light of Jesus. Jesus came into the world to reveal our
sins so that they may be forgiven. This is Good News!
Jesus took our sins and lifted them up through the cross so that we
may be forgiven and have eternal life. If our hope is eternal
life, we need the revealing light of Jesus each day. To
believe in Jesus means nothing less than to make his self-offering
love part of our own lives through unselfish, thoughtful concern
for others. God has great love for us and shows us mercy that
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Great Expectations: We hear Christ better
when we set aside our assumptions
by Sister Ann Rehrauer
The refrain from Psalm 19 runs through all three readings for
this Third Sunday of Lent: "Lord, you have the words of
In the reading from the book of Exodus, we hear God's
life-giving words to Moses and to the people of Israel in the form
of the Ten Commandments.
While we tend to resist mandates and the limitations that
external laws place on us, these "words of life" are not really
coming from the outside. Instead, if we look carefully, each
commandment is an expression of a basic sense God has planted
within us. In order to be truly human and in healthy
relationships with others, we need to be trustworthy and generous,
to honor those who gave us life, and to respect the life and rights
of others. To violate these laws is not an action outside
ourselves, but it is to erode the very fiber of who we are.
Each time I act with less than integrity, I am less of the person
God created me to be.
In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he notes that Jews and
Greeks alike are looking for words of life. The Jews asked for
signs that Jesus' message was truly a word that would bring them
life and Greeks sought words of wisdom to bring them life.
But because the words and signs Jesus used were different from
what people expected, they missed the life-giving message that
suffering and sacrifice have positive value in life. And so
Jesus' words became stumbling blocks for them.
In cleansing the Temple, Jesus gave both signs and words of
life. The old will be destroyed and God will no longer dwell
with us within a Temple building, but in the very person of
This Lent you and I also look for life-giving words. Open
minds and open hearts are needed on this journey so we don't miss
- What are the stumbling blocks (in life and work, and even in
the Church) that keep me from seeing and hearing God's call to a
more faith-filled life?
- Jesus drove out the merchants from the temple. What in my life
do I need to get rid of so that God might dwell more visibly and
powerfully within me?
Thursday, February 13, 2014
God's laws are about what to do as well as
what not to do
by Sister Ann Rehrauer
As someone who often works with Church law, today's Gospel is a
gentle but clear reminder that law, even Church law, provide us
with guidelines for living, but they are not the maximum for which
we strive - they only give us the "bottom line."
That's true if we simply read the words of the law. But if
we look beyond the words to the values that underlie the law we see
much more. "Thou shalt not kill" prohibits the intentional taking
of someone's life by murder or reckless driving. But the
spirit of the law includes positive encouragement to safeguard and
promote life; to help others to obtain the basic necessities of
life; and the responsibility to care for our own health and
person. The commandment reminds us that all life is precious.
In our day, we have become aware that abortion, violence, and
physical abuse are threats to human life. More recently the
issue of human trafficking of vulnerable people for sexual or
economic profit has come to our attention - even here in the State
of Wisconsin. Women and men, children and elders, and
immigrants are trafficked and exploited sexually or economically or
both, for the profit or pleasure of others.
The USCCB Committee on Immigration designated February 8, the
feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, as a national day of prayer for
survivors and victims of human trafficking. Our prayer should
also lead us to a greater awareness and to join in action to combat
this threat to life. For more information visit the USCCB
When we bring our gift to the altar this week, we also bring our
prayer, concern, and action on behalf of the vulnerable members of
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Having new life in Christ requires letting go
of today's life
by Carla Schommer, Director of St. Francis Convent
Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee following the arrest of
John, saw two fishermen -- Simon who is called Peter, and his
brother Andrew -- casting a net into the sea. He said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Peter and
Andrew, at once, dropped their nets and followed him. (Matthew
A little further on Jesus saw James and his brother John in a
boat with their father, Zebedee, mending their nets. Jesus called
the brothers, and they immediately left their boat and their father
to follow him.
Jesus interrupted their daily routine, their daily livelihood,
and called them to a new life. Peter, Andrew, James and John
did not hesitate to answer Jesus with a "yes." They gave up their
livelihoods and even their families to follow him. Every day
of our earthly journey Jesus interrupts our lives calling each of
us to come and follow him. How willing is our "yes" to God's
Following Jesus always means leaving something behind, and we
won't always know where our decision to follow Jesus will lead us.
It's not easy to walk away from the things we know and want to do
in order to follow Jesus and do what he asks of us. In order to
answer with a willing and immediate "yes" to Jesus' invitation we
must nurture our relationship with Jesus through prayer, both
private and with community. As we come to know Jesus' abundant and
unending love we long to be with him, to leave our former lives
behind and follow him to new life.
Let us pray that we grow in our relationship with Jesus and his
unending love, that we open our ears to his call to follow him each
day, and that we respond, at once, with our "yes" to his invitation
to new life.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
by Sister Francis Bangert
In Mark's Gospel today, Jesus enters the synagogue to
teach. He knows who He is (One rooted in the love of the
Trinity) and what His mission is ("I have come that you may have
life and have it in abundance"). Clear identity and focused mission
empower Him to teach with authority, to attract aching hearts with
a new vision of life. To give credence to the power of His
words, Jesus then acts: "Come out of him" and the unclean spirit,
now powerless in the face of Jesus, comes out of him. Mark gives no
further details about this man, except that Jesus healed him.
When have you or I personally experienced or know someone "being
held powerless" by an addiction: perfectionism, alcoholism,
workaholism, drugs, sex, gambling, food, or others. This "unclean
spirit" controls us to such a degree that we are paralyzed and
unable on our own to become free. It is only in turning to Jesus
and reaching out to others (family, friends, recovery groups,
counselor, spiritual director, confessor) that the power of love
and compassionate listening can help us re-think, re-direct,
re-cover and know the "abundant life" Jesus offers.
Through our Baptism, you and I -- the church -- are called in
our daily lives and in ordinary ways to either reach out to others
for help in our need, or be a life-giving instrument to those who
are hurting. In this New Year, may we humbly receive the abundant
life Jesus offers us and live in true freedom.
"If today you hear His
voice, harden not your hearts."