Weekly Reflections

Reflection for March 15, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Who prefers the dark? Stepping into the light of Christ is a daily decision

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"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life." (John 3:16)

by Carla Schommer, Director of St. Francis Convent

John 3:16 is often seen on signs, on billboards, and as a motivational or inspirational quote.  It's a message about our Christian faith.  God loves us so much he brought us Jesus, and by believing in Jesus we are given eternal life.

This scripture passage is also the opening verse before this Sunday's Gospel.  What does it really mean to believe in Jesus?  It's tempting to think that believing in Jesus is by affirming the belief statements of the creed and agreeing to the truths that Jesus existed and worked miracles and died and rose from the dead.  Accepting these truths are important but there is much more to believing.  Even on our best days we have encounters with sin -- in choosing to do wrong and failing to do good.

In the Gospel, John shares a keen observation about human sinfulness: Jesus is the light that has come into the world, but people prefer the darkness.

We stay in the darkness and attempt to hide our sins, even from God.  We must come out of the darkness of our lives and into the light of Jesus.  Jesus came into the world to reveal our sins so that they may be forgiven.  This is Good News!  Jesus took our sins and lifted them up through the cross so that we may be forgiven and have eternal life.  If our hope is eternal life, we need the revealing light of Jesus each day.  To believe in Jesus means nothing less than to make his self-offering love part of our own lives through unselfish, thoughtful concern for others.  God has great love for us and shows us mercy that never ends.

 

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Reflection for March 8, 2015

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Great Expectations: We hear Christ better when we set aside our assumptions

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by Sister Ann Rehrauer

The refrain from Psalm 19 runs through all three readings for this Third Sunday of Lent: "Lord, you have the words of everlasting life."

In the reading from the book of Exodus, we hear God's life-giving words to Moses and to the people of Israel in the form of the Ten Commandments.

While we tend to resist mandates and the limitations that external laws place on us, these "words of life" are not really coming from the outside.  Instead, if we look carefully, each commandment is an expression of a basic sense God has planted within us.  In order to be truly human and in healthy relationships with others, we need to be trustworthy and generous, to honor those who gave us life, and to respect the life and rights of others.  To violate these laws is not an action outside ourselves, but it is to erode the very fiber of who we are.  Each time I act with less than integrity, I am less of the person God created me to be.

In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he notes that Jews and Greeks alike are looking for words of life. The Jews asked for signs that Jesus' message was truly a word that would bring them life and Greeks sought words of wisdom to bring them life.

But because the words and signs Jesus used were different from what people expected, they missed the life-giving message that suffering and sacrifice have positive value in life.  And so Jesus' words became stumbling blocks for them.

In cleansing the Temple, Jesus gave both signs and words of life.  The old will be destroyed and God will no longer dwell with us within a Temple building, but in the very person of Jesus.

This Lent you and I also look for life-giving words.  Open minds and open hearts are needed on this journey so we don't miss the message.

Reflection questions:
  1. What are the stumbling blocks (in life and work, and even in the Church) that keep me from seeing and hearing God's call to a more faith-filled  life?
  2. Jesus drove out the merchants from the temple. What in my life do I need to get rid of so that God might dwell more visibly and powerfully within me?

 

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Reflection for Feb. 22, 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fasting, praying, almsgiving make room for God in each of us

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by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich

On this First Sunday of Lent we journey with Jesus into the desert of emptiness and temptation.  During his 40 days in the wilderness Jesus did not turn his heart away from his loving Father.  In the midst of being tempted by Satan, Jesus is sheltered by God.  God's angels minister to him and he is secure among wild beasts.  The heart of Jesus was strengthened in knowing God was with him and would never fail him.  His experience alone with God opened his heart to embrace the challenges in the journey he would undertake.

We know that Lent is a time to change our hearts through fasting, praying and giving alms.

  • Fasting: Do we appreciate the hunger of our world and of our own hearts?
  • Praying: Do we open our minds and hearts to listen to God and respond in love and hope?
  • Almsgiving: Do we see the needs of those around us and give of ourselves?
Reflection questions:
  1. What is your heart seeking during this most holy season?
  2. What is God asking of you?

 

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Reflection for Feb. 15, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

St. Paul: Our humble actions give glory to God

Similar to our written reflections, image reflections invite us to enter deeply into Sacred Scripture. Take a few minutes to gaze upon the image below. Hear St. Paul teach the Corinthians that, as Christians, our actions matter.

Reflective questions:

  1. How do my actions glorify God?
  2. This Lent, how will I bear my sufferings in a more Christ-like way?
  3. Whom do I need to love or forgive in order to better imitate Christ?

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Reflection for April 13, 2014

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

How much time can you make forJesus this week?

by Sister Agnes Fischer

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"Could you not watch one hour with me?"

In today's reading of the Passion we hear Jesus ask this question of his friends. During this Holy Week, he asks us the same question.

Are we planning to take some time on Holy Thursday evening to commemorate and celebrate the day in which we received the great gift of Eucharist and the commandment to love and serve one another?

Will we set aside a little time on Good Friday afternoon to walk the Way of the Cross with Jesus and accompany him in the hour of his crucifixion and death?

Can we forego a little sleep on Saturday night to celebrate the vigil of Jesus' resurrection and recall the wonderful history of our salvation?

And on Easter Sunday will we bring our whole family to church to sing, "Alleluia, Jesus is risen"?

 

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Reflection for April 6, 2014

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Jesus shows us that our earthly lives are part of God's plan

by Sister Laura Zelten

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In this week's Gospel, we see Jesus perform another miracle -- raising Lazarus from the dead. This miracle may seem to contradict what the Gospel tells us in previous weeks and what we tell ourselves as we make our Lenten sacrifices: that this earthly world and all of the things of it are surpassed by the heavenly afterlife awaiting us. But if this is true, why does Jesus bring Lazarus back to life? Jesus knows heaven. Yet, he still weeps when he hears of Lazarus' death, his departure from the physical world.

It is through this miracle we are reminded that our physical presence is important and even necessary in order to achieve God's will. We can say the same for Jesus, who came in human form in order to fulfill God's plan of eternal life for all people. Would these Gospels read the same if Jesus had not become physically present here on earth? No, Jesus' life lived as a human being in a human body is what makes his sacrifices and love for us so real!

 

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Reflection for March 30, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

As Spring unfolds, so can and does our spiritual life

by Sister Carolyn Zahringer

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Spring has recently arrived, according to the calendar. We all know it takes time for spring to arrive in its fullness. Lent is the Church's "springtime." Just as in nature, spring is a time for "buds" to prepare anew for a new season of life and growth.

The Gospel of John tells of a man born blind, who now can see because of his encounter with Jesus, the Lord. The communion antiphon for the day is pulled from the Gospel message. It is the core message. "The Lord anointed my eyes: I went, I washed, I saw and I believed in God." (Jn. 9:11, 38)

We are touched by God and we are empowered to respond actively.

  • Where is Lenten healing happening in us?
  • Where are there signs of "spring" appearing in us, our family, our Church, our world?

Look closely.

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Reflection for March 16, 2014

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Today's suffering can lead to tomorrow's glory

by Sister Sally Ann Brickner

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God knows us and transforms us in times of darkness.

The readings for the second Sunday of Lent certainly provide examples for us. In Genesis, God promises that Abram will become the father of a great nation, a holy people. He will be a blessing to many peoples. How true this has been for Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. In the Gospel, John recounts vividly a peak experience with Jesus on Mount Tabor. Peter, James and John are granted a vision of Jesus' glory when he will be raised from the dead. Like Abram, through God's promise the trio is confirmed in faith for the difficult journey of discipleship. Paul exhorts Timothy (and us) to bear our share of hardships for the sake of the Gospel.

Looking up, may we see only Jesus through whom all things are made new.

 

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Reflection for Sept. 22, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dishonest at first, the master's steward makes right his wrongs

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by Renae Bauer

Dishonest or clever?

That's the question we might ponder after reading Sunday's Gospel, the parable of the "dishonest" steward. Here's a guy who squanders what his master entrusted to him and then is praised by the master for collecting only a portion of debts still owed by several merchants. What is going on?

Let's focus on the last few verses where Jesus says, "The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones." How does this relate to the dishonest steward?  One thing we can certainly say is that the steward made some bold decisions when he lost his job.  He contacted the master's debtors and reworked their debts to reflect only the amount owed to the master (forgoing the steward's commission).

Ah-ha. Facing a crisis, the steward moves heaven and earth to return to the master what is his. Is he trustworthy in small matters? The master thinks so.

Reflection questions:
  1. How can I be more resourceful with what God has entrusted to me?
  2. What more can I do to bring the Kingdom of God to others?

Celebrating the 'Year of Faith'

Moral Life -- Applying the Fifth and Sixth Commandments

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About this series
DID YOU KNOW: The first Three Commandments concern love and fidelity to God, while the other seven speak of love and forgiveness of neighbor as an expression of God's love.

Chapters 29 & 30, US Catholic Catechism for Adults

by Sister Lynne Marie Simonich

You Shall Not Kill.
You Shall Not Commit Adultery.

The Fifth and Sixth Commandments call us to a love and respect for all people.  As Catholics, we are challenged to bring these commandments to life by our witness of non-violence, compassion and just treatment of others.

  • How do our words and actions destroy or "kill" another person's spirit, reputation, etc?
  • What will you do this week to be a "life-giving" person?
  • What does being "chaste" mean to you?
  • What does it mean to be a "non-violent" person?

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Reflection for Feb. 26, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cholewinski_Elise_Sr_2012-100pxby Sister Elise Cholewinski

The season of Lent has begun.  On this first Sunday of Lent we hear about Jesus being led into the desert for forty days.  Did Jesus spend time there doing penance in order to develop greater self-disciplilne, or did He stay there for another reason?  His time in the desert preceded His entry into public ministry so we might assume that this was rather a time of preparation for what He would experience in the future.

As we begin this holy season, we might ask ourselves why we do the special things we do during Lent.  Are we simply trying to develop self-discipline, or are we refining the choices we make on a daily basis in order to more appropriately proclaim the Kingdom of God?  Perhaps we could take a little inventory of those choices:

  • Do I pay more attention to my physical needs than my spiritual needs?
  • Do I offer people hope for a future beyond this world as much or more than I strive to see that their temporal needs are met?
  • Do I look for various forms of entertainment when I come to worship God?
  • Do I think that the Church must offer some kind of spectacular event in order to attract new members?
  • Do I seek prayer experiences that give me an emotional "high"?
  • Do I readily compromise my beliefs or religious practices in order to fit in with the culture?
  • Do I have false gods that I regularly "worship"?

Why do we do what we do during Lent?  In the end, isn't it always, first and foremost, about preparing for the proclamation of the Kingdom of God?  Isn't it always about developing authenticity?

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