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)
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'
Peter's perfect words are spoken through an imperfect life - just like yours and mine
A friend’s trust is worth more than gold. This Sunday, we hear Jesus declare his trust for Peter the Apostle. So trustworthy is Peter that Jesus describes him as the rock, the foundation, on which to build His church. Imagine how Simon Peter felt: Honored? Humbled? Overwhelmed?
But Peter was not perfect. In other readings, Peter declares that God should spare Jesus of suffering. Jesus admonishes Peter for suggesting to know better than God. Peter also denies knowing Jesus three times when Jesus is arrested.
Peter was not perfect. We are not perfect. But Jesus loves us just the same.
- Jesus asks: “Who do you say that I am?” How do I answer?
- When do I think my plan is better than God’s?
- Can I acknowledge my imperfections and accept God’s forgiveness?
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Keep the faith
Canaanite woman's faith in Jesus shows us how to be persistent in our prayers
by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich
The power of faith. Jesus met up with a Canaanite woman who asked Him to heal her daughter. At first, He refused but upon seeing her deep faith and persistence He responded to her request and healed her daughter. It didn’t matter that this woman was not “one of the flock" or that she was a woman or a Jew or Gentile. What mattered was that she had a deep faith in Jesus!
The faith of this woman brought about a miracle. Her daughter was not with her or even nearby, yet Jesus healed her. How often have we prayed for someone or have been asked to pray for someone? Jesus’ healing power extends to those we pray for in faith.
- Do we take seriously the power of faith? Our faith?
- Who needs our prayers today?
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Not in the wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire
Encountering the Lord can happen in unexpected ways
by Sister Carolyn Zahringer
What experiences have we had in our lives that have been deeply spiritual encounters with God?
In Sunday's first reading, Elijah encounters God in a tiny whispering sound.
The second reading from Romans poses a challenge to be truthful and to be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit enlightens our journey and feeds our faith.
We have been fed thousands of times by the Eucharist. Where have we been drawn to go because we have been fed? Our eyes of faith allow us to see ways in which Christ is with us in both ordinary and extraordinary ways.
This weekend we as Community celebrate the Jubilee anniversary of seven of our Sisters. Congratulations to each on hearing the tiny whispering sound and accepting the challenge to live according to the Spirit. They have been strengthened by Eucharist to be persons of prayer, presence and hospitality in our Community and the world.
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Special moments with Jesus energize us to do His work
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
“Lord, it is good to be here.” Peter uttered these words when he, James and John witnessed Jesus being transfigured before them on top of a mountain. Jesus’ shining appearance gave them a glimpse of the Resurrection. Our Church celebrates this feast, the Transfiguration, in its liturgy this Sunday.
Jesus was transfigured on Mount Tabor, an oval-shaped mountain in northern Galilee, a few miles from Nazareth. Several years ago I had the awesome opportunity to be on Mount Tabor. We ascended the mountain from the very hot Jezreel Valley, and as we stood 2400 feet above the plain, a cool, refreshing breeze flowed over us. Looking at the luxuriant landscape below, I understood exactly why Peter would have said those words. I told myself that I could stay there forever.
At the bottom of one of the slopes of Mount Tabor is the village of Nain. It is a small, quiet town. We were told that it is one of the poorest places in all of Israel. I remember the precious children begging American money from us as we entered the tiny church.
These two places symbolize the pattern of our lives. We have those special times of prayer, when we experience the splendor of Jesus, like when we are on a retreat, and we want to stay in the aura of His Presence. Then we hear the cry of the poor, and our commitment to Christ calls us to come down from our mountaintop experience and get involved doing the works of charity and justice. It’s because we’ve been to the top of the mountain that we have the motivation and the energy to descend to the base of it, bringing within us the Presence that we have beheld.
- Where is your Mount Tabor?
- Where is your village of Nain?
- What part has each place played in your life?
Thursday, July 27, 2017
A buried treasure, a pearl, and a fish
Sunday's parables remind us to be joyful, not judgmental, in our journey to the Kingdom of God
Three times we hear in Sunday’s Gospel, “The kingdom of heaven is like …” First it is likened to a treasure found accidentally, then a sought-after pearl, and finally a fishing net that collects fish of every kind.
No two journeys of faith are the same. Whether we stumble upon God’s bountiful love or tirelessly seek it, God welcomes all who sincerely desire the Kingdom.
- How do you finish the sentence, “The kingdom of heaven is like …”
- How have you pursued the Kingdom of God? What has it “cost” you?
- What was your attitude toward the sacrifice?