Thursday, March 15, 2018
A journey of the heart
Just as a seed gives way to fruit, we live more fully in Jesus when we say 'no' to ourselves and 'yes' to Him
by Sister Carolyn Zahringer
The Responsorial Psalm for this Sunday revisits the refrain and verses of Psalm 51 proclaimed on Ash Wednesday. There is value in revisiting a Psalm of invitation five weeks into Lent.
Lent is a journey of the heart for each believer who experiences Lent with a measure of seriousness. This year we began our Lenten journey on Valentine’s Day -- what a coincidence!
Our journey of faith begins at baptism and lasts a lifetime. This journey will challenge us and cause us to die to ourselves. Jesus says in Sunday's Gospel, “Amen, Amen I say to you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single grain. But if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn.12:24). “Whoever serves me must follow me, says the Lord; and where I am, there also will my servant be” (Jn12:26).
As part of the new evangelization efforts in our diocese, each of us is asked to share the Good News wherever we go. To where will the journey lead us as we approach Holy Week? Palm Sunday falls on the Feast of the Annunciation. What will we “hear” being announced? How will we share it?
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
"For God so loved the world that ..."
The rest of John's chapter 3 spells out where we will find truth and where we will find evil
Do you walk in the light or in the dark?
As we reach the midpoint of Lent on Sunday, we hear Jesus discuss with Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, the choice to live in the light of Jesus Christ or to hide in the dark with wickedness and evil. Nicodemus freely acknowledges that Jesus is sent by God; yet, he seeks out Jesus at night. Did Nicodemus use the dark to hide his visit with Jesus? What did he fear? The words and the actions of Nicodemus can speak to our own lives. What does his journey say about yours and mine?
Thursday, March 1, 2018
'He told me everything I have done'
by Sister Mary Kabat
For when he asked the Samaritan woman for water to drink,
he had already created the gift of faith within her.
(excerpt from Preface: The Samaritan Woman)
Have you been caught in or been the witness of a “he said, she said?” It can end in a rift in a relationship. In Sunday’s Gospel from John (proclaimed in parishes with candidates and catechumens preparing to be initiated into the Catholic Church), Jesus’ simple request, “Give me a drink,” leads to a lengthy back and forth between Jesus and the unnamed Samaritan woman. It begins a volley of questions and theological and historical answers which must have brought Jesus a smile and raised the ire of the woman who showed such spunk, knowledge and faith.
Then came the request that brought the debate to a halt: “Go call your husband.” This required an answer of personal truth. This was a line in the sand that must be crossed for the encounter to deepen. The woman must have taken a deep breath and then revealed the truth of her life to Jesus, “I do not have a husband.” Then, when she references the Messiah, Jesus did some truth telling of his own: “I am he, the one speaking to you.”
The woman sets down her water jar – how this encounter began – and runs to not only proclaim the good news of Jesus but to bring the people of her town to Jesus and Jesus to her town for a two-day stay. How bewildered the disciples were! How filled with faith the townspeople were for having come to know the “savior of the world.”
- What conversation would you like to have with Jesus?
- What truth do you want to share with Jesus or a person in your life?
- Can you set down your “water jar” to lead someone to the good news of Jesus?
Thursday, February 22, 2018
How will His Transfiguration change you?
These 40 days are a time to let Christ's love overcome fears, judgments & excuses
by Sister Francis Bangert
This Sunday's powerful Transfiguration passage from Mark’s Gospel follows Jesus’ teaching on discipleship: that following Him would lead to misunderstanding, suffering, and even death. It’s a basic truth of human life … no pain, no gain. No cross, no resurrection. Think of some examples: regular exercising to lose weight; years of practice to reach the Olympics; rigorous study to obtain a degree; day after long day of struggling with an addiction to achieve sobriety/inner freedom.
To teach the Apostles that following Him will be worth the effort, Jesus invites Peter, James and John into an indescribable experience of the Mystery of Trinity. He becomes Pure Light – then a Cloud comes and a Voice is heard, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”
It is into this mystery that they and we are welcomed to contemplate, to listen for guidance and to be strengthened for the long haul; to work for Gospel peace, not the false peace of control; to respect every human being as an image of God; to care for Earth and stand in awe at her interrelated beauty; to exchange personal comfort and complacency for the challenge of building the reign of God.
As we listen to the beloved Son during these Lenten days, how are we being called into a deeper awareness of being loved unconditionally by Him? What fears, judgmental attitudes, selfish interests, excuses, do we need to let go of in order to grasp the depth of living in the Trinitarian Mystery? It’s worth the effort.
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
God's everlasting covenant
For the First Sunday of Lent, we are invited to set our eyes on God's enduring love and truth
by Sister Sally Ann Brickner
Today’s Scripture readings set the tone for our entire Lenten journey, which centers on our covenantal relationship with God. The passage from Genesis describes God’s fidelity to Noah and his family (and to us as well). God establishes a covenant and promises never again to destroy the earth and all it holds.
In his first letter, St. Peter assures us that God’s covenant is renewed with us through our baptism when we are plunged into the life-giving waters – not of a flood – but of Christ’s own resurrection. We are assured that in and through Christ we can overcome the powers of evil, whether they come from within ourselves or assail us from without.
St. Mark relates that before beginning His public ministry Jesus spent 40 days in the desert wrestling with temptations from Satan. By walking with our Risen Lord during these 40 days the grace of the Spirit will enable us to be true to our baptismal promises – to reject evil and the lure of Satan and to walk in newness of life.
- What witness does Jesus provide for us in resisting evil, in casting out demons from our hearts?
- How true are you to your promises?
- What graces do you most deeply desire so that your covenantal relationship with God can be renewed?
Thursday, February 8, 2018
'Be made clean'
In a move deemed risky by our standards, Jesus heals the leper; Can we take a risk for Him?
Jesus changed everything. In Sunday’s readings, the Old Testament describes what a leper must do – be declared unclean by a priest, live apart from others, and, if encountering others, cry out, “Unclean, unclean!”
Not so with Jesus. He takes pity on the leper. He touches the leper and heals him. Jesus then is the one who dwells in deserted places, apart from others.
One encounter illustrates what Jesus is willing to do for us. What will we do for Him and others?
Thursday, February 1, 2018
Verbal and nonverbal communications
Preaching the Gospel at all times takes on many forms; here are a few ideas
by Sister Agnes Fischer
In today’s second reading St. Paul tells us, “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel.” So how do I do this?
- I live my matrimony in such a way that I witness to those around me a true image of God’s love.
- As a parent I show my children and grandchildren cause to really call God “Our Father”.
- At home, school, factory, office, or business my enthusiasm to be a Christian is caught by those around me.
In other words, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel: “Let us go to nearby villages and preach there also.”
Thursday, January 25, 2018
My peace I give to you
The weight of guilt is lifted by confronting it and giving it to God
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
“There is something I once did in the past, and I feel very guilty about it. I’ve never told anybody what I did; maybe sometime I will.” Has anyone ever said that to you? Afraid and inwardly tormented by the guilt, the person eventually might come forth with the whole story. The person might then feel a sense of relief and freedom, having shared the story with someone else. You might feel honored that the person trusted you to that degree.
“What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” The man in the synagogue, troubled by an unclean spirit, recognized Jesus as the Holy One of God. Why would Jesus want to have anything to do with him? Yet Jesus commands the unclean spirit to leave the man, and the spirit departs. The crowd was amazed; how much more amazed the man must have been, knowing that Jesus was not repulsed by his being unclean, but saw his inherent goodness and desired that he be at peace.
Sometimes the best way we can help people is to enable them to honestly confront the demons that roam around inside of them. All it takes is listening. In the end, we go away amazed. We have honored their story; they have honored us with their trust.
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Fight or flight
No matter how imperfect our response is to Jesus' love He stands with us through it all
by Sister Annette Koss
In Sunday’s first reading, we see how Jonah responded to God’s call to go to Ninevah. He boarded a ship hoping to avoid God’s call. As we know, Jonah found himself being swallowed by a whale giving him time to reflect and pray. God saved him and he did go to Ninevah where his preaching converted the people.
In our Gospel, the disciples seem to follow Jesus almost blindly. They had no idea what they were getting into yet they dropped their nets and followed the Lord. As they journeyed with Jesus, they found out what following Him really meant. As it happened, they ran into the worst – the Passion and Crucifixion. Later they experienced the best – the Resurrection.
We might run away like Jonah or run toward Jesus like the disciples did. Either way, we will have some suffering. We know that Jesus is with us throughout our lives, with us in our suffering and with us in our joys. Each day we are asked to learn what love is really about and set our eyes on the goal of eternal life.
Gracious God, you called to disciples and they left their nets.
When you called Jonah, he ran away.
We know that you call us, too.
Help us turn to you instead of running away.
We want to leave our boats, to drop our nets.
Help us let go, detach from everything.
Capture us in your net of eternal love.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
What are you looking for?
Jesus' question should stir deep contemplation in your heart and mine
by Sister Madonna Swintkoske
In today’s Gospel John points out Jesus to two of his disciples. As a true follower of Jesus he directs them to Jesus, not to himself. His goal was to draw them to Christ. There was no jealousy in him that they followed Jesus instead of him.
Jesus turns and addresses them with the question: “What are you looking for?" Jesus met them half way. He made it easier for them by opening the door for them with a question. He was asking them about their heart’s desire.
Today I am invited to ask myself the question: What am I looking for? What is my heart’s desire? What am I trying to get out of life?
To answer the question I need to ask first (as Andrew and the disciple with him did), “Where are you (Christ) staying?" I am not asked to speak on the road in passing as a chance acquaintance; but to linger longer, to “come and see”, to reflect about it with a loving God. Then in God’s loving embrace and mercy, and open to love I can respond to the question.