Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Our Advent call is to sing the Good News of the Lord
by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich
In Sunday's readings, both the Prophet Isaiah and St. Mark encourage us to “speak boldly”. Isaiah says “Cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news!” (40:9). John the Baptist cries out to “prepare the way” and proclaim the Good News. We are called, as Catholic Christians, to speak with confidence about our faith. No easy task! John the Baptist not only spoke boldly – his words and his actions cried out about the coming of the Lord.
This Second Sunday of Advent challenges us to bring the Good News of our salvation to others by our words and by our actions. What does that challenge mean for us? Are we willing to share our faith with others? Do our actions reflect our belief in the Good News?
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. She, too, is a wonderful model of someone who risked everything to bring the Good News into the world. In a world where there has been so much “bad news”, our challenge is even greater. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we, as followers of the Lord, shared some good news each day? What good news do you have to share today?
May Mary inspire us as we continue this Advent journey.
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Putting an ear to God's heart
Advent 'alertness' happens as we make space for God and walk the journey designed for us
by Sister Donna Koch
The Advent Season leads us to reflect on the journey of the past and the challenges of the present as we look with anticipation toward the future. The prophet Isaiah ponders all three in a dramatic, emotional plea for God to remember those who seem to be wandering. He acknowledges the people’s feelings of “lostness” in the guilt of their failings and then gives comfort with the tender, molding image of God as potter.
In the Responsorial Psalm we see the beautiful images of God as the shepherd of Israel, and as the vine planter.
St. Paul in the letter to the Corinthians is filled with gratitude for the way God has enriched them. He reminds them (and us) that we have all the spiritual gifts needed because of Jesus. He wants us to remember that God is always faithful.
As we ponder the Gospel there is a felt urgency in the words to be “watchful and alert.” We are asked to reflect on the images of the man traveling abroad, the alertness of the gatekeeper keeping watch and the trust that is needed in giving responsibility to others.
Jesus’ words remind me that I have no control over how my life will unfold. Unexpected events pierce my outer composure causing me to listen in a new way, watch with alertness, sit quietly at the bedside of someone I love, or reconsider my values and priorities. My agenda changes in a flash.
It seems that more than anything during this Advent Season we must put our ear to God’s heart and continue to walk this journey with faithfulness. As we do so we give thanks for all that has been, for all that is, and for all that will be, remembering that our past or present situation is not our final destination!
Questions to ponder:
- What is the “lostness” or wandering I have experienced?
- How have I experienced God’s faithfulness?
- What images of God do I turn to for support/comfort?
- How does this Advent Season call me to BE?
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
We're in good hands with our Shepherd
Whether we are ill or lost or doing just find, Jesus is with us always
Who heals you when you are hurt, keeps you on the straight and narrow, and refreshes your soul? One name: Jesus. Sunday is the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, and the readings for the day are full of comforting images of our Good Shepherd. Which passage or words resonate with you? It could be one of these or a different one:
- I will tend to my sheep. I will rescue them when scattered, I will heal them when they are sick, I will protect them from harm.
- I will tend to my sheep. I will give my flock verdant pastures, restful waters, and a table of plenty.
- I will tend to my sheep. As they have welcomed, fed and cared for others, they have done so for me.
Thursday, November 16, 2017
God's goodness: A gift to be shared
Through happiness and sorrow, we give praise to God as we lift each other up
by Sister Carolyn Zahringer
Sunday's opening prayer states that “God is the author of all that is good.” So true. God’s grace gives us the lens to see life more deeply.
The first reading is the same reading my brother chose for his wife’s Mass of Christian Burial last April. That reading sings the praises of a good “wife” or the life of any good person. What makes a person’s life viewed as having been “good”? The answer is God and the response is grace.
The Communion antiphon is from Psalm 73: “To be near God is my happiness, to place my hope in God the Lord.” My brother’s family models this hope and happiness as they have endured and embraced multiple challenges. To cite just two: the death of a 6-year-old in a farm accident and the total loss of property in a house fire. Never did this family abandon their faith journey. Their faith, prayer life and a supportive faith community helped them rise above each challenge.
What gifts do you have to share so that others may see God’s visible face in our time and space?
Thursday, November 9, 2017
Shortcuts won't do
The parable of the bridegroom and virgins instructs us to work each day on our relationship with God
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
“Behold the Bridegroom! Come out to meet him!”
I remember the summer evening, a long time ago, when my sister and I returned home after playing tennis. Our mother told us that while we were gone a friend from college had called. She was taking a course in children’s literature, and as part of the course she was assigned the reading of 75 children’s books and the writing of a summary of each book on a note card. She really felt pressured and knew that we had already taken the course and done well in it. Could she possibly borrow all of our note cards? I recall the irritation I felt by this request, aware of how much time and effort went into completing that project. She did not get the cards.
In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus tells the parable of the 10 virgins awaiting the return of the bridegroom. Five brought oil to keep their lamps burning and were prepared for his arrival. The other five brought no oil and were depending on the wise virgins to rescue them. That didn’t happen. The foolish virgins had to fend for themselves and, in the end, were left outside the door.
This parable presents us with several questions:
- What kind of oil do I use to rekindle the fire in my heart?
- In what kind of darkness must I let my lamp burn today?
- When must I challenge people to do their own work in order to develop a deeper relationship with God?
- Who is the bridegroom? Am I excited about the ways in which He comes to me?
- How has he opened the door for me?
- Into what kind of feast am I invited?
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.