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.
Thank you Sister for your Reflection & reminder of the Feb 2 World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. I have been blessed to witness over 5 decades the inspiring trust, humility & faithfulness of at least 2 members of your community, Sisters Jeanquart & Finger...such loving role models for me and countless others!
Gods blessings to all of you!, will be in my special prayers on Feb 2!
Thank you, Sister Elise for the insightful reflection.
Well written, Elise. History does repeat itself, even today.
In the context of Sr. Elise's reflection, I wonder if JESUS' words on the mount, weren't a self-giving commitment to stand in support of, and be in solidarity with all those people who had come to hear him, who had come to be in the presence of a sincerely genuine, caring human being, because they obviously knew what it meant to be "poor," "grief-stricken and in mourning;" to feel helpless, maybe even hopeless; to want so much for a 'new' life of righteousness and goodness for themselves and their families, including children. I wonder if the 'remnant' comes forth from those who truly know their own self-poverty, their own heart-breaks and sorrows, their own struggles and sufferings, and whose one-and-only recourse, resource, source-of-comfort-and-strength, is God.
Let us be vibrant remnants of hope and light with each breath; in each precious moment...with grateful hearts.