Thursday, November 2, 2017
Do your deeds match your words?
Discipleship requires consistency from the humble and the exalted
by Sister Renee Delvaux
In preaching to the people, Jesus urged them to observe what the scribes and Pharisees say but not to follow what they do. The scribes and Pharisees “preach but they do not practice,” and furthermore, “they love places of honor; all their works are performed to be seen.”
So, what is Jesus’ message for us? It is simply that we are to match what we say with what we do. It sounds so simple but the follow through with the doing gets more challenging! Are you ready to speak and live as Jesus instructs, as a humble servant before all? This is our call to discipleship.
Jesus’ teachings often end with a bit of a jolt, as does this Gospel. He reminds us that the great ones in the community should be the servants of all, and that, “whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” No, Jesus doesn’t leave us feeling comfortable, but rather, challenged!
- Are you a person of your word?
- Do your words match your deeds?
- Do you practice what you preach?
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Exclusions do not apply to this offer
Everything we do, everything we believe depends on loving God and others
Imagine walking into a room that contains nothing but a single wooden chair. Sitting in the chair is someone you don’t particularly care for. Maybe the two of you had a falling out years ago. Maybe you don’t share the same political or religious ideology. Maybe you don’t like “people like that.”
Now imagine that Jesus walks into the room and says (as He does to the Pharisees in Sunday's Gospel): “Love the Lord. Love your neighbor.” How do you respond? Does it stir up some introspection?
Love the Lord. Love your neighbor. That's what is asked of us. “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Mt 22:40)
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
What do I value? What does God value?
On our way to the Kingdom we have opportunities to share our faith with those similar to and different from ourselves
by Sister Agnes Fischer
At times I may think that God’s loving actions in our world are restricted to those who believe as I do. In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus and the religious leaders in Jerusalem continue their tense exchange of questions and challenges. Those who don’t think as Jesus does hand Him a coin bearing the image of Caesar. In Jesus' hand, the coin takes on new meaning.
It becomes the image of people in need, of people who think they need nothing, of believers and non-believers. It becomes my own image. It becomes an image of value, great worth, and dignity because those who need me and those who think they don’t need anyone are made in God’s image and likeness as am I.
I can be Christ’s hands holding that coin. In many encounters, the opportunity to increase a person’s worth is within my reach. Do I recognize authentic love and goodness in this world and give thanks to God wherever I encounter it, whether among the poor and the weak or among the high and the mighty?
Do I hold out my hand to those who don’t think as I do?
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Generous is God's invitation
Wedding feast parable reminds us to prepare for the Kingdom with repentant hearts and good works
by Sister Mary Kabat
This Sunday’s Gospel of the Wedding Feast (Mt. 22:1-14) gives me the shivers. The king informs the guests, not once but twice, that it is time to come to his son’s wedding feast. They didn’t just check “unable to attend” on their reply card, they ignore the invitation or worse yet beat up the messengers and even kill them. The king in his fury replies with violence. (If this was a program on TV I would have already changed the channel.)
Peace returns, and the king sends out his servants to invite everyone they can find to the feast that has been prepared. Then the king spots someone there not in a wedding garment and has him tied and thrown out of the party! What a way to react to a guest!
I don’t know about you, but I hope that I am never like those people who ignored and reacted negatively to our King’s invitations; invitations to share His life, His love, His joy and to be united with all those He has included in His feast. I also hope that I am never caught unwilling to “put on” the heart and mind of the King’s Son.
- Are you receiving an invitation from God?
- Are you being asked to “take off” a behavior or trait so you can “put on” one received from Jesus?
Monday, October 2, 2017
Telltales of God's people
Our Creator's peace is with us as we focus on what is just, honorable and lovely
by Sister Madonna Swintkoske
As we read Sunday’s first reading and Gospel, we could become somewhat anxious with the words and phrases of “judgment,” “bloodshed,” “kingdom of God will be taken away from you.” However, the second reading helps relieve the anxiety, assuring us that the God of peace will be with us.
We are encouraged by St. Paul when he states, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”
When we are anxious, emotionally disturbed, or experiencing grief, we can prayerfully express our needs to God.
Slowing down our fast-paced life, spending time in nature, reading inspiring books, reflecting in quiet are some other ways we can relieve our anxiety and find peace. The God of peace will be with us.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Change of heart
It matters how we respond to God's mercy
by Sister Ann Rehrauer
When I first read this Sunday’s Gospel parable, it took me back to my childhood. When I was asked to do something, I’d immediately say, “Yes, mother.” Sometimes I did what she asked me to do -- but other times I’d drag my feet and avoid doing that particular job. After a while, Mom learned to ask a second question right away, “Is that ‘yes mother, I hear you,’ or ‘yes, mother, I’ll do it’?”
In the Gospel parable we have two sons who respond to their father’s request. The first son sounds obedient and says, “yes, father,” but doesn’t follow through. The second son uses defiant words that sound disobedient, but later has a change of heart and obeys his father.
Jesus addressed this parable to the chief priests and elders. Tax collectors and prostitutes, who at one point were considered sinners because of their lifestyle, listened to the preaching of John, repented, and changed their lives. Because of this change of heart, Jesus said, they will enter the kingdom of heaven ahead of the religious leaders who were listening but felt no need for repentance.
As you and I listen to the parable -- which son do we resemble? Are we more like the son who seems religious and says the right words but does just what he wants to do, or are we more like the other son who rebels at first but experiences a change of heart and really does the father’s will? I suspect we’re both at different times in our lives.
What gives me hope, especially in difficult times, is that God’s invitation is always there and God’s provident love surrounds us -- the God who loves both the sinner and the righteous.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Earning vs. receiving
The kingdom of heaven is a gift given by our Creator; love and mercy are the keys, not 'doing more' than others
Heaven is not a justice issue.
The parable in Sunday’s Gospel illustrates the difference between earning and giving, or how we perceive fairness vs. how God loves equally. In Jesus’ parable, the landowner pays all the workers the same wage regardless of the hours worked. The workers who toiled the longest complain. The landowner rhetorically asks, “Am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?”
As you hear the reading proclaimed, substitute the word “love” when you hear words “wage” or “pay”. Feel your heart shift as you see again how we are all equal in God’s eyes. Admission to heaven is available to all, even the latecomers.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Forgiving in the name of Jesus
Bearing the cross of judgment or ill will separates us from Our Redeemer; fortunately, the remedy is easy
by Sister Laura Zelten
Today we have another challenging Gospel. Peter bluntly asks Jesus how many times Peter needs to forgive someone else. Is seven times enough? I wonder: Did Peter ask because he was curious or had he wounded a family member, a spouse or a friend multiple times? As often is the case, Jesus does not answer Peter’s question directly. Rather, Jesus tells Peter that he should forgive the other person not seven times but 77 times! Now that is a lot of forgiveness!
Minor hurts or insults are usually easy to forgive; however, when we feel betrayed or slandered, most of us find it difficult to forgive. And this is understandable. Our trust has been violated. But here’s why forgiveness is important: Withholding forgiveness is like carrying a cross that separates us from Jesus. When we forgive others we free ourselves of the burden of judgment. Giving this cross to Jesus draws us closer to Him. We can place our anger, hurt and resentment into Jesus’ hands and, over time, Jesus will heal these wounds.
We find grace in knowing that Jesus does not expect us to deal with these hurts alone. Jesus walks with us, encourages us, and gives us the grace to let go and forgive. Sometimes this takes days or weeks. Sometimes this takes months or years. As long as we keep asking Him for help, Jesus will work with us to free this burden, this pain. Jesus is with us and He will answer our prayers!
Today may we place all our burdens, our anger and our pain in Jesus’ hands. This will lighten our load immensely and free us! Will we -- do we -- trust Jesus?
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
What can we possibly do?
We aren't tasked with solving the world's problems; we are invited to be guided by Christ
by Sister Annette Koss
Matthew has Jesus saying, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”
Each morning, as I pray with my Community, we break open a scripture and share how it connects with life. Each evening, we do a spiritual reading and connect it with an event. There are so many events in so many places all the time -- immigration, starvation, human trafficking, global warming, homelessness -- what can we possibly do?
We have heard the serenity prayer, and might even have it memorized: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” We are in the space where we can feel and be as it is.
Gracious God, let us come together and pray as one.
Let us trust in you for everything we can and cannot do.
Make us watchers in love over our sisters and brothers.
Let us help them lay their hands on what is justly theirs:
food, shelter, freedom, schooling and human rights.
We trust you are with us when it is easy, and when it is trying.
Give us a hand when love makes demands.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Living with purpose
The path to God's kingdom requires giving up our human tendancies
by Sister Francis Bangert
Sunday's readings present the Divine challenge and the human response. We can identify with Jeremiah as he struggles to be faithful to the call because that is often our response. Discipleship is tough, yet rewarding. Jesus minces no words in the Gospel. Deny selfishness, take up the cross, and follow. But why? But where?
Martin Luther King Jr. expressed it in another way: “A person who won’t die for something is not fit to live.” Leaving behind our “me-first” attitudes and embracing a new way of life is marked by caring about the needs of others. Only then can the Spirit of the Risen Jesus flourish so that every human being knows unconditional love, peace, justice, goodness, truth, beauty -- the kingdom of God. Jesus worked and died for God’s dream; Dr. King modeled discipleship for all of us.
Who or what am I willing to “die” for … to go out of my comfort zone to show care for and about?
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the HOPE that belongs to our call. (Sunday’s Gospel Acclamation, Eph 1:17-18)