Thursday, March 30, 2017
'Lazarus, come out!'
Jesus sets Lazarus -- and us -- free even from the confines of death
by Sister Margaret Mary Halbach
Today we concentrate on the Raising of Lazarus. This is one of the key stories we share and include in our parish process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, which welcomes new members to the Catholic faith. This story demonstrates the power of God through Jesus.
Jesus was a dear friend of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. He spent time with them every time He went to Bethany which was near Jerusalem. We hear in Sunday’s Gospel of how Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus came to the tomb. Lazarus’ sister, Martha, said to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” This expression of her faith in Jesus is touching to read and reflect upon. Jesus ordered the stone to be rolled back from the tomb opening. Then “Jesus wept.” This is a remarkable statement to have in the Scriptures. Jesus grieved the loss of His friend like we do.
Then Jesus shouted: “Lazarus, Come out!” and he did, still bound in burial cloth. Jesus asked those who were near to “Untie him and unwrap him.” Many of them believed in Jesus at that time. What a marvel to have witnessed.
Maybe our lives have been “dead” to some extent at one time or another. We need help to become alive. The whole Community is needed to make a conversion to the Lord in openness.
- We need a “Martha” to call for the Lord to come to “our town”.
- We need members of the crowd to help “untie or unbind us”.
May God bless each of us to be open during this time of Lent that we may be unbound in whatever way we need.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Believing is seeing
Sunday's readings illustrate how faith requires the heart -- not just the eyes, head or laws
by Sister Carolyn Zahringer
The readings for this weekend are packed with Lenten food for thought.
In the first reading the Lord directs Samuel to see with his heart; Samuel listens and identifies a young shepherd named David to be king.
In the second reading, St. Paul directs us to “live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.”
In the Gospel Jesus heals a blind man on the Sabbath. Work is forbidden on the Sabbath, but this healing act was more important for Jesus than the letter of the law. Jesus lived by the law of love and invites us to do the same.
The Communion Antiphon is a great summary of the Gospel reading -- “The Lord anointed my eyes: I went, I washed, I saw and believed in God.”
- How have I been anointed to see?
- How has God’s grace moved me to a new understanding or deeper belief?
- How have I responded to the law of love?
May we each continue the journey of Lent day by day, moment by moment, with open eyes.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
'I am He, the one speaking with you'
In what ways do we resist Christ's call to believe in Him?
The journey to deep, abiding faith is rarely easy. It takes work and openness to Jesus. In Sunday’s Gospel, the woman at the well personifies some of the ways we resist Jesus. When Jesus asks for a drink of water, she references cultural norms (Jesus, a Jew, should not talk to her, a Samaritan). When Jesus invites her to experience “living” water she claims to have enough drinking water because of Jacob’s generosity. When Jesus expresses the depth to which he knows her sins –- and continues to invite her to believe -- she starts to understand that Jesus is the Messiah.
As you look at the painting here:
- Consider a time in which Jesus invited you to His living water. Did you respond? If so, how?
- Consider the obstacles to faith. Who can remove them?
- Consider Jesus’ confirmation that he is the Messiah: “I am he, the one speaking with you.” What is Jesus saying to you today?
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Shining like the sun
When the Lenten journey takes us into the unknown or requires change, remember Jesus' words: 'Do not be afraid'
by Sister Madonna Swintkoske
“Lord, it is good that we are here.”
This Gospel reading brings back memories of my first day in the convent. On the bulletin board were the words, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” I thought it should say, “Lord, is it good for us to be here?”
Maybe it was part of me that didn’t want to change. Lent is an opportunity for us to change our lives –- to be transformed. Change is not easy. It costs.
The event in today’s Gospel happened just prior to Jesus’ passion and death. Jesus was helping the Apostles to see what the outcome would be after all of the suffering they and Jesus were about to face in Jerusalem. Suffering involves movement toward one form or another of transformation. In time, after the Apostles' suffering they would experience the glory of the Lord.
This Lent, let’s keep in mind the outcome presented to us in the Gospel –- the glory of the Lord. Let us continue to look up and see Jesus and listen to Him as we continue our journey of Lent.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Daily habits can give glory and praise to God
What mindset or gesture would you add to this list?
by Sister Agnes Fischer
St. Paul tells us that, though Original Sin was bad news for us, through Jesus we are justified. What does Jesus ask of us during Lent in order to participate in His good news at Easter?
- a little more patience, understanding and loving words for a spouse ...
- a little more quality time, companionship, and interest in our parents' problems ...
- a little more attention to our elderly, perhaps a visit, some chocolate and a smile ...
- a little more respect for the waitress, the secretary, the bus driver, the janitor, the teacher ...
- a little more fun with our children ...
- a little more care for all created things including our own bodies ...
Then, we will be able to say with Jesus, “I will adore the Lord my God and God only I will serve.”
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Keep your eyes on the prize
God knows us, loves us and provides for us like no one here on earth
Could a mother or father forget a child or love one more than another? It’s hard to imagine answering yes but even if a parent could we can trust in God’s perfect love. Isaiah 49:15 says, “I will never forget you.” This passage coupled with other readings for this Sunday reminds us of the importance of keeping our attention on God’s kingdom. God loves us, knows us, and provides for us.
- “Never” is a strong word; yet, God promises never to forget us. Never. How easy (or difficult) is it to accept God’s promise?
- The second reading instructs us to forego judgment. God will “bring to light what is hidden in darkness.” How can I live St. Paul’s words to be trustworthy and unconcerned about giving or receiving judgment?
- God cares for all creation – birds, wildflowers and us. When I worry, who do I believe is in charge? Can I embrace God’s instruction: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.”
Thursday, February 16, 2017
God's holy people
You and I are called to holiness, a journey led by Jesus
by Sister Jane Riha
"Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy." These words from the Book of Leviticus will be proclaimed in the first reading this Sunday. We might ask ourselves, “Seriously, how can I be holy as God is holy?” Perhaps we have grown up with a sense that only certain persons, like saints, can be holy. Holiness does not come in one size. Holiness is for everyone because we are created in God’s image and likeness and as a result the Source of Holiness is within our very soul. Since God’s love is boundless and extravagant, becoming holy is diverse and boundless.
The Scriptures for this Sunday give us wisdom and insight into a holy way of life as disciples. The Gospel is replete with the challenges facing true disciples. Yes, the call to holiness is not the easy road. It involves self-sacrifice, forgiveness, kindness and patience toward those with opposite viewpoints and significantly different lifestyles. Jesus showed us the way, a way that is possible for each of us.
At the heart of our journey is a deep relationship with God. God will direct us and guide us. May the Lord fill your heart with overflowing love!
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Letter of the law
Jesus fulfills the law and addresses the spirit of the commandments
by Sister Annette Koss
The Gospel of Matthew surely talks about the inner meaning of the Commandments.
I learned about them in my three-week summer catechism classes.
The approach was black and white, about what not to do.
Jesus came along and gave nuance and fullness to these laws.
Jesus takes various laws in all their externality, and draws out of their inner roots.
Do not kill; the root word of the law is do not take an angry action against another.
You shall not commit adultery; the inside of that law is to be pure enough
to not even look lustfully at another person.
Not to divorce is about staying faithful and loving within your marriage relationship.
Rather than taking an oath and swearing by God,
simply say yes or no and mean it -– be real.
The inside of the law is written in our hearts.
We have only to pay attention and listen.
Jesus, let us grasp your law: justice, love and compassion.
Let the law make us holy.
You showed us with your every breath just what it means to be holy.
You are the wonder, the goal, and the summit of the law.
Teach us. Turn all of our law-keeping into love.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
Remember the Year of Mercy
Old and New Testaments call us to merciful actions; our responses are reminders of Jesus' love
by Sister Ann Rehrauer
During Ordinary Time, the First Reading and the Gospel for Sundays are chosen because they carry a similar theme. This week, the Scripture readings call us to live our faith through acts of mercy.
Isaiah exhorts us to carry out the corporal works of mercy: share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless, clothe the naked, and do not turn your back on your own.
In the Gospel account, Jesus uses images of salt and light to describe those same types of action we are called to carry out in his name. The primary purpose of these actions is to benefit others. The secondary result, however, is that the Kingdom grows, goodness increases, and God is glorified.
A light on a mountain top cannot be hidden, and fresh salt flavors all that it touches. So, too, a Christian who assists a friend or a stranger, shines forth and brightens the life of all he/she meets. When we see these positive actions in others (and when others see them in us), it reminds everyone of how Jesus cared for and brought hope to the people of his time.
This week may we find (at least) two opportunities to be salt and light – to flavor our part of the world with mercy and goodness, so that others "may see our good deeds and glorify God” who uses us to care for the people of our time. Find your own way: monetary contributions, volunteering at shelters or food pantries, visits or phone calls to elderly folks, assistance with shopping or shoveling, and prayer for those in need. In all these ways, people will find hope and God will be glorified.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
When you're in the minority
Sunday's readings encourage us to be faithful to God even if when we feel like the 'remnants'
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
Have you ever felt like a loner? Have you ever felt that you were just one of a handful of people who subscribe to the same values or practice the same principles?
One of the worst experiences in the history of the Israelites was their exile in Babylon. Jerusalem had been captured and its temple destroyed. The people would not return to their homeland for about 50 years. Reflecting on their predicament, they concluded that it was their infidelity to God, their worship of false idols, that had brought this disaster upon them. Yet in the midst of this bleak situation God promised that a remnant would remain, a people humble and lowly, who would put their trust in God and be faithful.
When Jesus begins His public ministry a few centuries later, He invites His disciples to adopt the disposition of that remnant group, to be poor in spirit, meek, seeking God alone, and working for peace and justice. He promises that the Kingdom of God would then be present among them. Given the fact that Israel was under the oppression of the Roman Empire at that time, Jesus probably didn’t anticipate a huge throng buying into this “good news.” The values of wealth, honor and power were more appealing.
Jesus' invitation is extended to us today. If we live the Beatitudes in our modern society, we can easily feel like loners, ostracized from our culture. Will the promise that the Kingdom of God will be right in our midst be enough to persuade us to commit to these ideals?
Feb. 2 has been designated as World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life (to be celebrated in parishes Feb. 4/5). Women and men living the consecrated lifestyle have offered themselves to God in the context of a religious community. Through their vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience they exemplify the spirit of the Beatitudes; they characterize that remnant people. Let us pray that they will live what they have promised with trust, humility and faithfulness.