THIRTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
I still remember an incident that struck me so much when I lived in Brazil. I was asked to teach a woman who worked with us to read. We would meet every week, a few days a week and I watched her struggle and struggle to make sense of the words. One day, I don’t know what finally made it happen, but she began to read. It felt miraculous for both of us. She said to me: “someone who can’t read is blind.” There are many kinds of blindness.In today’s gospel we meet Bartimaeus who calls out to Jesus to help him to give him the gift of physical sight. “Lord that I may see!” One of the greatest gifts indeed. Yes, there are many kinds of blindness. Physical blindness is only one of them. This gospel can make us ask ourselves: “Am I blind in some way?” Is my mind blind? Is my heart blind? Is my attitude blind? Where do I need to see? What do I need to see?When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was calling him he immediately threw off his cloak. He threw off what might drag him down, what might weigh him down. He went toward Jesus with his blindness, with his weakness. His “blind” trust would soon give him sight. In order to see, he was willing to let go of a burden that was not worth hanging on to. Are we?“What do you want me to do for you?” Master, I want to see.
TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
-Sister Lori High sisterlorius[email protected]
TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Today’s second reading from Hebrews is a strong reminder of the power of the Word of God: it can discern the thoughts of every heart, which ultimately stands naked and exposed in its light. It is sharper than any 2-edged sword and can penetrate anywhere… The author of Ps 139 said: “Even the darkness is not dark to you. The night is as bright as the day.” (v. 12) God probes us and knows us (v.1), and it is a knowing that is full of love and understanding, yet which also challenges us, as we see in our Gospel reading.
When the rich young man sought out Jesus, he was sincerely searching for Life, and had already surrendered in obedience to God’s Word in the Torah. But when he approached Jesus, Jesus invited him to even more. Unfortunately, it felt like too great a sacrifice to the young man, and he turned away sadly. Jesus’ own heart was probably also sad as he watched him walk away, knowing the future that this young man could have had. For many, the attachment to riches is like an addiction, and it’s very difficult to break free. Jesus understood that it was “hard” to do, but he also knew that renouncing riches could bring unimaginable freedom to the young man.
The young Francis of Assisi was given the same choice, but with the opposite outcome. Not knowing where it would lead him, he took on the struggle to let go of all his riches, and to renounce even his relationship to his wealthy father, so as to be truly free. Sometimes we romanticize the struggles of the saints, but they were fully human. That decision cost Francis everything, but opened the door to a path of sanctity that changed not only his own life, but the life of the Church.
The Spirit of God penetrates and discerns the heart. God knows what could happen if we were only less timid in our responses. And God knows our struggles when we do attempt to respond. The choice is ours to make.
“ For this command which I am giving you today is not too wondrous or too remote for you. It is not up in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us…?’ No, it is something very near to you… in your heart… See, I have today set before you life and good, death and evil… Choose Life.” (Deut 30:11-15, 19)
God always gives us everything that we would ever need to follow in the Way that he opens before us. But the choice is ours to make – and what we choose will make all the difference in how our life evolves, and in how much joy we will experience. If we choose what God offers us, we will never be disappointed. And so we pray that we can let go of everything that holds us back, and choose Life.
-Sr. Patrice Yarborough
TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
-Sister Lori High [email protected]
TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
In today’s Gospel of the healing of the deaf mute there are two phrases that especially caught my attention: ‘people brought to him a deaf man’ and, ‘he took him off by himself away from the crowd’.
Who are these people who performed such a loving and faith filled act? Were they family, friends, or complete strangers? Whoever they were, they were already living the vision of peace and restoration the prophet Isaiah proclaimed . They were seeing it fulfilled in Jesus: a vision of wholeness and salvation. What a wonderful reminder for me and perhaps you to keep ‘bringing others to Jesus’ through our intercessory prayers for wholeness and healing. And in addition to bringing others to Him, we ourselves are to be his presence as we act with generosity and kindness, openness and courage.
The second phrase puzzled me: ‘he took him off by himself away from the crowd.’ Was it Jesus’ great sensitivity to an individual or did it imply something deeper? I think it was both. Jesus always sees us and loves us as an individual. It must have been the best for that man. But I also think there is something to reflect on about the word ‘crowd’. Many times what keeps us from encountering Jesus is the ‘crowd’ of overly busy lives; of too much noise from TV, advertising, iPods, phones; of being too caught up in what everyone else is saying and doing.
Today we pray that we may never grow weary interceding for others and to become more aware of whatever ‘crowds’ keep us from encountering Jesus and hearing his command: ‘be opened’!
-Sister Ann Marie Grasso
TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Do you remember in school, there were kids who were called goodie goodies? – those who wanted to please the teachers, Principal, or whoever. That was ok, but today’s readings seem to expand the idea of putting the word into practice. We, as, Christians are to put the word in actions. The first reading in Deuteronomy, Moses speaks to the people that soon they will be entering into the Promise Land but they must keep the Commandments. The Ten Commandments were very practical, remember them???-very practical- The first 3 are honoring God and the other 7 are about treating your family and neighbors with justice and love.James speaks in the second reading about being doers of the word and not only hearers. So as Christians how do we live this out? There is a song called “By Our Love”The verses have practical advice:When we feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, lift up the lowly, shelter the homeless, comfort the broken, walk with each other hand in hand, work with each other side by side, pray for unity that one day may be restored, we’ll guard each one’s dignity and together spread the Good News Refrain: By our love, by our love, they will know we are Christians by our love. Not by words, but how we live, yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. ( #512 Breaking Bread 2021)Jesus puts this in another way, “This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”Let us pray for each other that we may truly be Christians in action.
- Sr. Rose Ann
TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Sometimes it is really difficult to believe the truth of what someone is telling us. Maybe the facts are hard to swallow. Or maybe the content seems outlandish or simply unbelievable. So, we doubt the person telling the facts to us. Or maybe the facts of the story have been twisted by someone else and we can’t bring ourselves to believe the person telling us her/his story. We see this in the news. We are face to face with an insidious virus which mutates and refuses to go away. Yet we have a vaccine at our fingertips and some people are afraid to get it. They don’t believe those who tell them the truth about the vaccine’s effectiveness and they don’t accept the positive results shown by science. They have been influenced by falsehoods and are skeptical and doubting.
This kind of doubt happened to Jesus in today’s gospel. Jesus had some hard sayings to tell his followers. Jesus tried to tell his followers that he was the Bread of Heaven, the Bread of Life for them and they could not get their heads around this truth. They found this hard to swallow and when you think about it, it WAS hard to swallow. Yet, for some time Jesus’ followers had seen him do incredible things that couldn’t be explained humanly. But they saw results with their own eyes. However, taking words spoken “on faith” is another matter. So, when Jesus said incredible things that couldn’t be explained humanly there was a divide in the group of followers which separated those who accepted Jesus’ words on faith and those who couldn’t accept them. The followers were faced with a sort of Ripley’s believe it or not.
Finally, Peter has the best response of all to the puzzling words of Jesus. “To whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life.” We believe it! Maybe we could say that certainly they didn’t understand, but so often the heart and the spirit can grasp and embrace what the brain cannot.
-Sr Patricia Brady
THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Doctrines related to Mary emerged first in the early Church in the search to know more about Mary and her role in the life of Jesus and the Church. Theories about Mary’s assumption appeared in apocryphal writings as early as the third century, and eventually, the Assumption became a major feast day. Western Catholics favor the theory that Mary, body and soul, was simply assumed by God into heaven. In the Eastern Church the interpretation is slightly different. They allow Mary her full humanity and imagine her in the serene sleep of death. Pope John XXIII described the Eastern concept: “Jesus stands beside her and clasps her soul to his heart, as if it were a tiny child, to indicate the miracle of her resurrection and glorification.”
The Eastern interpretation is, I think, especially meaningful. It is a sign to us of our own destiny: we, too, after living a simple and faithful life, will merit glory in the presence of God. Any suffering we have had in life will be over, virtue will be rewarded, hope will be fulfilled, and God will be waiting to clasp our souls to his heart.
Past the beacon of the sun Set to light us on our way, Past the watch-fire of the moon That holds the beasts of night at bay Mary lifted from the dead. . . Lifted our perished hearts to you. (William Alfred)
-Regina Murphy, SSMN
NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Our first reading from 1 Kings is a powerful story that we can all relate to. Earlier, in chapter 18, we are told of Elijah’s mighty victory against the prophets of Baal, and how he slaughtered all of them, then prophesied heavy rains to end the drought – and so it happened. When Ahab and Jezebel stalked Elijah in retaliation, God delivered him. In spite of such success, we see this surprising picture of Elijah, emotionally exhausted, collapsing in despair, asking to die… God’s response was not exasperation with Elijah’s flagging faith, but rather a miraculous feeding and strengthening for the rest of his journey – to the very mountain of God!
It often happens that just when we are at the cusp of success, we are tempted with discouragement – and like Elijah, it might not even make sense! But because we are exhausted, we succumb… Still, what we are likely to experience is the tender love of God lifting us up, giving us both badly needed rest and the sustenance to go on and on and on – all the way to the mountain of God…
It’s so easy to give in to discouragement and to allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity, often losing sight of God’s victories when he accompanied us throughout the difficulty. Self-pity distorts everything! We begin to focus on ourselves and what hadn’t gone the way we’d wanted – instead of focusing on God and what God had been doing in the midst of the situation. The whole venture may not even have been a failure – at least not in God’s eyes. But all that we are able to see is the failure of our own expectations. Tired of the struggle, we can sink deeper and deeper into depression, totally losing sight of the big picture. It is comforting to see that even someone like Elijah fell into this same trap – and to see how God released him from it. God didn’t lecture him. God merely dealt with the underlying exhaustion and sense of isolation. God fed him – over and over, until both the rest and the food had transformed him back into a Prophet able to hear and follow the commands of God, able to walk for 40 more days and nights, able to enter into the comforting and challenging presence of God.
Scripture tells us nothing of Elijah’s inner transformation. But if we continue reading 1 & 2 Kings, we can recognize that Elijah followed closely the promptings of God from that time onward until he was finally swept up in a whirlwind and brought to the throne of God (2 Kings 2:1-12). Our lives may not contain such mighty deeds as the great prophet Elijah’s did, but the consolation that he received in his temptation is something that God usually provides to each of us, if our hearts are open. In Baptism, each of us was called to be a prophet, to speak God’s Word to a dark and lost world. Sometimes when we do that, the results can be discouraging. But as he did with Elijah, God will faithfully feed us with all that we need to keep going on, until we meet him face to face. Our Gospel today is from Jn 6, the famous “Bread of Life” discourse, reminding us that Jesus feeds us with his own Body and Blood – daily if we so wish. This food is enough for the most starved heart. The Eucharist is his Gift to us, to sustain us on the way. We need never go hungry again… The choice is ours, to “take and eat…”
-Sr. Patrice Yarborough
EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
-Sister Lori High [email protected]
SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
There is an African proverb that says “What eyes see, the heart cannot forget.” In these readings for this Sunday, the challenge is to be attentive to what we're hearing and seeing. The hungry crowd following Jesus moved his heart. This is also the scene with Elisha in the first reading from Kings. They are seeing and hearing people in need of food. A man came to Elisha bringing twenty barley loaves. Andrew brought the boy to Jesus who had five barley loaves. Barley loaves was the bread of the poor. Even though the servant didn't think that the twenty barley loaves were enough to feed a hundred people, Elisha insisted that he give it to the people to eat. Phillip couldn't see how the boy who had the five barley loaves could feed the crowd gathered on the mountain around Jesus.Like the men in today's readings, we tend to see situations as impossible. However, these miracle stories of Elisha and Jesus feeding the large crowds is perhaps an invitation for us to see with our eyes and heart. The responsorial psalm is another way to say this. “The hand of the Lord feeds us. He answers all our needs.” There was enough to feed all. It was more than enough and some was left over.Every time I hear this reading about the five thousand people being fed, I see a new light. God is able to multiply our efforts, our gifts. God will take what we give and help us make a difference no matter how small. As a follower of Jesus, I must be attentive to what I'm seeing and hearing. Every day women and men struggle to feed their children. In the media and on the news, we hear about the 821 million people who do not have enough of the food they need. One in nine people go to bed hungry each night. Twenty million people are at risk of famine. World hunger is on the rise.What shall we do? Where can we get enough food for them to eat? We must continue to be disciples with prophetic imaginations. The hungry will be fed. The message of the readings emphasizes the importance of ministry, compassion and our responsibility to feed the poor. Let our prayer be “Spirit of the Living God Fall Afresh On Us.”
-Sister Roberta Fulton SONG: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?view=detail&mid=A5187E49B53E26C1C8ECA5187E49B53E26C1C8EC&q=gospel
SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
-Sr. Mary Laura Lesniak
FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
In September and October of last year I had the privilege of doing a ‘door to door’ visitation on the West side of Buffalo on behalf of Holy Cross Parish. Most of the time, I was accompanied by a parishioner which is the way I believe Our Lord intended this particular approach to mission to take place.
This simple ministry has always filled me with great joy; a joy that’s difficult to put into words. There is just something so sacred in the encounter. God is very present in all people and cultures. He is there waiting for us in the lives of those who are struggling to adapt to a new country and language, or seeking ways to adequately care for their families, or desperate for needed government services.
I believe that when Jesus sent the apostles about, he intended it to be a mutual blessing: those who opened their minds and hearts to listen received ‘good news’ that gave them hope and meaning for their lives; and the apostles were rewarded too: they were welcomed and received the hospitality of so many. How encouraging it must have been for the Twelve to have those days. Surely it helped them feel they were accomplishing the task Jesus handed on to them.
The mission continues today. It’s not ours; it’s Jesus’. The gifts we have are for the sake of the mission. By our baptism, we too have been given the authority to witness to the Good News of God’s Kingdom. Success is not measured by our acceptance or rejection but by the integrity of our lives.
It’s my hope to begin where I left off with those ‘door to door’ visits. And may you experience the blessings of sharing your faith in whatever way chosen. In one of his letters to the Corinthians, St. Paul reminds us that ‘there is a variety of gifts and ways to serve, but the giftedness and abilities come from God.’ How important it is for us to use them and remember: All are needed! We are needed!
-Sister Ann Marie Grasso
FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
-Sr. Corinne Yarborough
THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Today’s gospel tells 2 stories of healings. In the first, Jesus chose to cure. In the second, he pursued the woman who had sought her cure in secret. Both healings are note-worthy. The woman with the hemorrhage differs from most stories because she sought Jesus but didn’t have the courage to face him with her request. Her humiliating disease probably caused great fear in her. Often those who sought Jesus’ help were bold in presenting their request – but not this woman. Perhaps she was afraid that one of his disciples would send her away before Jesus even saw her. Thus she decided to touch him herself – or rather, touch his garment, sensing that that such a gesture would be enough. And it was enough – she was cured! Yet Jesus wanted more. He wanted a face-to-face encounter. Even though she was terrified, she did come forward and acknowledge her bold move. Jesus discreetly avoided embarrassing her by publicly naming her problem. Rather, he simply encouraged her to go on believing and trusting in the concern God had for her. Jesus praised her FAITH – he asked nothing more of her.
When Jairus first approached Jesus, his daughter was already “at the point of death”. Yet this synagogue leader had the faith to seek Jesus. Aware of the seriousness of the situation, Jesus immediately accompanied him. Later people brought word that his daughter had already died. Jesus ignored the despair they voiced and encouraged Jairus: “Do not be afraid. Just have FAITH.” And they continued on their journey. When they arrived, Jesus immediately went to her and raised her – yet he warned them to tell no one! (How could such a happening be kept secret?? Everyone knew that she had died.) God had acted with great mercy toward the girl and her family. No one could doubt that a divine intervention had happened – and thus faith in Jesus now grew exponentially.
In both of these stories, we see that God asks us to have faith even when circumstances are bleak or even hopeless. But what exactly is faith? Hebrews 11:1 tells us: “Faith is confidence in what we hope for, and assurance about what we do not see.” This confidence and assurance is NOT the fruit of human efforts, but is a gift from God. God constantly draws us to himself, and helps us to believe, to trust that he will fulfill the promises which our broken hearts sense. Every time we trust and then witness how God acts, our confidence increases. God desires that each of us have faith during our own struggles – faith that God lovingly cares for us – an “expectant” faith that cannot be squelched by fear of disappointment.
Today’s gospel reminds us that Jesus frequently reached out to those on the fringes, and to those afraid to reach out to him. No matter the strength of our faith, God will still come to us, always offering Life, Truth, Healing, and Peace. We know that even those on the fringes can experience God’s loving action to the same degree that Jesus’ closest disciples did! Because of God’s goodness, each one is invited into intimacy with our God – everyone! And that is the heart of our FAITH: this invitation from God into intimacy. Faith is a Choice. Each of us must choose to believe in such a God – a God who promises to always answer (giving us only what’s best for us), and who helps us in our confusion and unbelief… Moses said in Deut 4:7: “What nation is there which has gods so close to it as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call upon him?” We only need to believe…
S Patrice Yarborough
TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
ELEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
-Sister Lori High [email protected]
FEAST OF THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST
If you really think about it, the Gospel for today contains a very shocking invitation. All throughout their time with Jesus, the disciples had witnessed many moments that could have caused a reaction or two of astonishment. Jesus was breaking them open, little by little, to receive the shocking reality that he was offering to them the evening of the last meal he would take with them. You see this bread I bless before you? Take it. Eat it. This is my BODY. This wine I bless has become my BLOOD. How can something so incredible be understood? It could take a lifetime to absorb these statements and try to realize their meaning within oneself. Yet, it wasn’t, and isn’t, really a question of understanding. It’s so much more than that. You don’t try to understand a mystery. You embrace it. You trust the one presenting it to you and you let it take hold of you because you know it will somehow change you.
Jesus took the elements of daily existence: bread and wine. Ordinary food. Jesus took the ordinary and made it extra-ordinary. I think he shows us how our ordinary, daily lives can become more than that when we let ourselves live them to the full. Life itself is a mystery that’s difficult to define. So, we live it day by day, moment by moment, accepting each mysterious element of it.
Jesus also invites us to become bread and wine for one another. We, too, are to become nourishment for others. Bread for the journey. Jesus is on the verge of dying and giving his life for all who were, all who are and all who will be. We embrace this Passover with Jesus and every Passover to come as we say: “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.”
The greatest gift to be shared is given to us in the Eucharist. Jesus holds nothing back and offers to become our food each time we receive the Eucharist. On this special feast we celebrate this incomparable gift“Precious Body, precious Blood..”“Bread for the world, a world of hunger…”“Pan de vida, cuerpo del Senor…”
-Sr. Patricia Brady
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is a day to contemplate the mystery of God. In his Angelus of 5/22/2016, Pope Francis spoke about the Trinity: “God is a ‘family’ of three Persons who love each other so much as to form into one.” This Love between Father, Son and Spirit bonds them together. As we pray to our God who is love, we are asked to become people who spread that love to others. The world needs this so desperately.
In Deuteronomy we are asked, “Did anything so great ever happen before? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? …” In the face of such a God, we feel awe, but also a call to become the persons God wishes us to be. This “becoming” will require change, and change does not happen easily or quickly. God is very patient with us on our journey toward wholeness and new life. Still, God’s patience is no excuse for inaction. Time is of the essence. We never know “the day or the hour” – how much time we have. Each day is a gift, each moment is sacred and not to be wasted. God is calling.
In his “The Galilee Song” Frank Andersen, M.S.C. uses this refrain: So I leave my boats behind! Leave them on familiar shores! Set my heart upon the deep! Follow you again, my Lord!
We hear this call to follow, to become someone new. So what must we leave behind? What do we no longer “need?” What has become a hindrance? [I’m reminded of my mother, when we helped her prepare to move to a smaller place. We would put things into a “give away” pile, and she would sneak them back. She wasn’t ready to let them go yet.] Do we do the same thing? Are we ready to let go and move on?
“Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking… as you did…?” Our awesome God calls us into the unknown and we proceed one day at a time, one step at a time. Jesus promised: “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” The Spirit was sent in abundance and is always guiding us. The Father’s love always holds us, wrapping us in arms of love. We ask our faithful God Who is Father, Son and Spirit, to help us not to lose hope or courage. It takes tremendous courage to answer this call of God, to step into the unknown in total trust. But we are never alone…
On this Feast let us ponder: “Who is God calling me to be?” What must I leave behind? How can I become the Presence of God in our broken world, a person touching hearts, spreading love and kindness? Let us pray with these questions so that our hearts may be changed. What a wonderful God we have Who comes so close to us, never leaving us alone! What a Feast we celebrate today!
-Sr. Corinne Yarborough
The feast of Pentecost Is a feast of encouragement and new beginnings. It celebrates the outpouring of God’s life into the apostles and humankind, thrusting feeble humans into the world to proclaim a new order of faith and right living. Empowerment, healing, love and mission are the trademarks of this God life. The proclamation of the Easter victory of Jesus was and remains the core mystery of our faith proclaimed. How wonderful those early beginnings must have been for the apostles and their converts. Yet, we know all too well, the price of this call and grace was death, the total gift of self to their creator.
So where are we today? The Spirit has been offered to all yet we remain mired in the many evils of our age: racism, violence, wars, numerous social and political divides, disease. Where did our redemption go? Where is the renewing life of the Spirit? Surely God will raise up new women and men to guide us into the way of peace, love and non-violence. Or will God do so? Perhaps we are those very individuals called to help renew the face of the earth. But how can we do this? Our outreach is limited, we are small in comparison and rather powerless.
The words of Saint Peter in his first Epistle offer guidance and strength: “The end of all things is at hand. Therefore, keep your minds calm and sober for prayer. Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” 1 Peter 4:7-11 May God keep us all in the power of His/Her love and the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Joyous Pentecost! - Catherine Taberski
SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
This is the last Sunday of the Easter Season. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, our hearts are surely lingering with what has happened during these Easter weeks. The Acts have refreshed our sense of the early Church, some organization of the community but also, the Spirit’s building the community, sending missionary preachers to the Gentiles, and baptizing everyone, it seems. The weeks of the Easter Season are very exciting as we come to experience the Risen One and are taught the meaning of love through the Letters and the Gospel of John. There is true excitement during these Fifty Days and especially this week -- the anticipation of the Spirit coming to us, as Jesus promised.
We have just celebrated the Ascension, the event when “the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven, and took his seat at the right hand of God” (Mk 16). On the Ascension, the response for Psalm 47 was “God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.” There is true excitement in those words and that image. On the other hand, I’m drawn to a quieter image that reflects the many times Jesus spoke of his love during his life, especially during his Passion, and also after he had Risen from the dead. The image is an embrace.
That Ascension image is not a throne but an embrace between God and the Risen Jesus. In the center of that embrace is the Spirit….a fire, a heart? It speaks LOVE.
Jesus carries his flesh/us into the heart of God and they embrace the world
May the Spirit of Love fill our hearts May we always live in the heart of God
-Sister Marian Baumler
SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
-Sr. Mary Laura Lesniak
FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
In my reading of different commentaries for this particular gospel, I was struck with an image that Roland Faleys’ book: ‘Footprints on the Mountain’ points out. He speaks of how words say a great deal and as an example uses the difference between ‘shepherding’ and ‘herding’:
“A flock is shepherded, while cattle are herded. Herding conjures us the images of coercion and restriction. But sheep are fragile and in the face of a threat, defenseless, so they need to be handled with care. The bible is strongly attached to the shepherd image because it’s so rich in expressing love and concern.”
Jesus invites all into his fold. No one is coerced. He walks before us, not behind, to lead the way for fullness of life here and in the hereafter.We share an intimate relationship with the One who knows us and calls us my name. This relationship is based on faith and commitment. Our Good Shepherd invites us too, to be shepherds. To live lives that are loving and caring, faithful and trustworthy, patient and understanding. Our relationships with others have at their root love. Like him we lay down our lives when we listen to another, when we sow seeds of unity and not discord, when we build each other up rather than tear down. In these and many other ways we image Him who shows us the way.
-Sister Ann Marie
THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
-Sister Lori High [email protected]
SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER
The image for this Sunday of Divine Mercy is when Jesus appeared to Saint Faustina in a vision, with his right hand raised in a blessing and his left touching his garment above his heart. Red and white rays emanate from his heart, symbolizing the blood and water that was poured out for our salvation and our sanctification. In April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Saint Faustina.In the Acts, we see the beginnings of the first Christian Community and how they were of one mind and one heart and shared everything in common. It reminds me, that in our constitution as Sisters of St. Mary we are to follow the image of the first community. “ Life together expresses in a visible and stable manner the essential union among the sisters founded on their consecration to the Lord.”We, as Christians are called to service one another, to support and care for others in all circumstances.There was a reporter who went to a tribe in the mountains of Africa. He wanted to play a game with some children. He put a basket of various fruits under a tree. He said to the children, the first one who gets to the tree gets the basket of fruit. The children took one another hands and began to run together to the tree. The reporter said why did you do that when one of you could win the basket of fruit. They said why would one person be happy and the rest sad, when all can be happy. Let us go forth and do likewise. - Sr. Rose Ann
SIXTH SUNDAY OF LENT
The four scripture passages for today’s liturgy are so rich that each one deserves a long reflection. I will however focus on the 2 Gospel accounts. In the first we see a crowd of people full of joy and expectation. Yes, they want a king, but their kind of king: one who will come in glory, with power. They seem to be saying: “Come and reign over us – but do it our way…” When it becomes obvious that Jesus will not acquiesce, they want no part of him, and even prefer Barabbas. Jesus did come to be king, but he defined kingship a new way: in lowliness and self-sacrifice; in a readiness to suffer for those who are lost in order to draw them back to God. He preferred to come in meekness and not in a show of strength. Why this “way”? Because it’s God’s Way… It’s always God’s Way.
Mark’s Passion account shows us Jesus’ Way. He was not deterred by the Hosannas of the boisterous crowd, nor by the pain and suffering of his ultimate rejection. He had come to Jerusalem with a mission, and it mattered little to him whether others approved of it or not. Jesus never changed direction just to gain approval or to make things easier for himself. Nor did he waver as his closest friends refused to stand with him and ran for their lives.
We watch as Jesus is stripped of everything: not only of his garments, but of every form of human support. He is stripped even of the consoling sense of his Father’s presence – and yet he presses on… Jesus hung there, suspended between heaven and earth, rejected by those he was sent to save, abandoned by all. Even creation seemed to understand the horror of the drama being played out. Finally, Jesus breathed his last and his body hung there, lifeless. Ironically, it was a pagan centurion who proclaimed in faith: “This man was truly the Son of God!” After the Sabbath, some of the women would attempt to anoint his body – but no one could have predicted how the Father of Jesus would respond to this self-offering of his beloved, obedient Son.
Today we begin the holiest week of the year. Our gospel ends with the death of Jesus, his removal from the cross and his burial. (Reflection on the resurrection is deferred until next Sunday.) We are asked to simply stand at the foot of the Cross and before the tomb, to contemplate the inexhaustible depths of this mystery. The liturgy stops the account here, at the edge of the abyss… There are no words for this moment. St. Paul proclaimed: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55) God is victorious here, in spite of appearances.
Today, let us each take our place at the foot of the Cross, caught up in the realization of God’s unwavering, limitless love for us. May we ask that the blood and water which flowed from Jesus’ pierced side would flow over each of us and wash us, until only purified hearts remain: hearts on fire with Love; hearts ready to stoop low and sacrifice everything so that others may live.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
-Sr. Patrice Yarborough
FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
There is going to be a new covenant, not like the previous one when God led the Israelites out of Egypt. That time, they broke the covenant with God. This time God will place his law within us and write it upon our hearts. The translation of that line in the Jerusalem Bible is especially powerful because it reads, “Within them I shall plant my law, writing it on their hearts.” What is planted has the potential for growth, it can become transformative.
The Israelites thought of the whole human being and personality when they used the word “heart.” The heart was the center and core which makes and identifies each person. To have the covenant planted at the very core of the human person, written on the heart, was to expect that it would be cultivated and nourished so that covenant love, “hesed”, would grow. A people so imbued, so filled with covenant love, would surely bring forth the kingdom of God.
But the law of God will need to be planted in a clean heart. We can say with the psalmist, “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” Creating a clean heart within us is certainly not the work of God alone. This should cause us pause. What else do we have written on our hearts? In what ways can we, must we, cleanse our hearts to enable the law of the Lord to take root and grow? This is our task during this latter part of Lent. “Now is the time of judgment,” according to the gospel. Will God’s name be glorified through us?
-Regina Murphy, SSMN
FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
May I suggest that each of us take time during these last days of Lent to spend some silent time with the very rich readings the Church offers us… linger with what draws you.
(below are some texts…if you have a missalette you can find more)
March 7 Ex 17.3-7 Psalm 95 John 4. 5-42March 14 2Chron 36. 14-23 Eph 2.4-10 John 3. 14-21March 14 1 Sam 16. 1-13 Eph 5. 8-14 John 9 1-41March 21 Jer 31. 31-34 John 12. 20-33March 21 Ezek 37. 12-14 Rom 8.8-11 John 11. 1-45
-Sister Marian Baumler
SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
-Sister Lori High [email protected]
FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
The gospel for today appears to be brief and simple but it’s challenging. Just as the Spirit drove Jesus into that desert where he had to make choices and die to self so too are we driven into our own desert experiences constantly having to choose good over evil. The issue isn’t temptation; it’s fidelity. There is always a choice to be made in temptation; a choice that could bring growth and strengthen a relationship. Lent is our time to measure the extent to which our words and deeds conform to the gospel.
Now too is the time when the whole church joins in a conversion process with our brothers and sisters to be baptized or make their profession of faith that leads to full communion with the Catholic Church. And so it’s a conversion journey for all of us. We have this special time set aside to reflect on our ‘yes’ to God, to ask for that inner strength to continue to be faithful and to live the gospel with deeper conviction and insight. May the church’s ‘Springtime’ burst open a newness of life for each of us.
-Sister Ann Marie Grasso
SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
The first and third readings today have the same theme, namely leprosy. In Leviticus, the laws are spelled out: The leper first had to go to Aaron, a priest, or a descendant of Aaron. Then if the priest declared him unclean, he had to keep his head bare, rend his garments, muffle his beard, and cry out ‘unclean, unclean’. Lastly, he had to live somewhere else. Truly the laws were very strict in those days.In the Gospel, Jesus healed a leper. The leper must have taken a risk to leave his dwelling place. Jesus also took a risk to heal him, but it’s the true meaning of what compassion and love is all about for Jesus. I had the opportunity to visit a leper colony in the Dominican Republic many years ago and to tell you the truth I wasn’t nervous about getting the disease but about what I would say. My experience was super great. I walked to one small house where it was dark as the light hurt their eyes and I encountered a man who was deformed by leprosy. His fingers were gone and his face was somewhat deformed. He seemed so happy to talk to me that we had a wonderful conversation about his family. In 1998, Hurricane George devasted the place. The people were OK but had to be transported to another place. Many families came to get their relatives and to my relief the gentleman I visited had a family to help him.I realized as St. Paul expresses in his first letter to the Corinthians: “Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”.It is Valentine’s Day, so let us truly try to love one another without looking at exterior features but with the heart of Christ.Lent begins this Wednesday so maybe we can be more compassionate in accepting every person as she or he is, and not judging someone by their appearance. A great prophet has arisen in our midst. God has visited his people.
-Sr. Rose Ann
FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
The readings offered us in this Sunday’s liturgy evoked in me some of the emotions most of us, Americans, have had over the last months. Since March we have continually listened to the news of the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging our world. And over these months we have come to realize, and shamefully acknowledge, the blatant racism that still exists in our country. Our contested election only wedged a deeper divide within the country. And when we thought we had seen and felt it all, January 6th and the insurrection of our capitol entered our psyche and hearts shaking our own and world-wide confidence in democracy. Job gives voice to our feelings: “So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me..I shall not see happiness again.” (Job 7:2)
Throughout these months the psalms of our daily liturgy offered us hope. Likewise today’s responsorial Psalm 147 calls us to know in whom our confidence and strength abide. “The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem..He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds..”
A gnawing fear for the inauguration filtered its way into our hearts as we watched the barriers to our capitol mount while our National Guard slept, day and night, on the floors of the capitol building. Would our new president and vice-president be able to be sworn in without disturbance and more chaos?
As in today’s Gospel with the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, and the many others cured from diseases, goodness emerged in an unexpected way. The events of January 20, 2021 were marked by joy, hope, beauty, music, poetry, culture, and perhaps deepest of all, a sigh of relief. Peter’s mother-in-law, no name given, was set free. Were we not also set free as we rejoiced in the peaceful transition of leadership? In each of his healings Jesus delivers people, restores them to community and speaks truth to power.
Throughout the Gospel of Mark we witness Divine Generosity and in Jesus experience the sheer goodness and gratuitousness of God. Jesus, the itinerant preacher, healer and exorcist, is a man with purpose. His compassion and outreach to the sick and suffering are signs of the kingdom of God.
Is it foolish or too political that in the empathy, goodness and hopes expressed by Joe Biden we might see something of God’s kingdom once again in our country: Health Care, Immigration, Climate change, collaboration with other world leaders…
At evening’s end of the Inaugural celebrations, Lin Manuel Miranda, the star and creator of the Broadway play ‘Hamilton’, read from one of President Biden’s favorite poems, “The Cure of Troy” by Irish poet Seamus Heaney. I quote a few lines. Prayerfully, let us discern if it calls us to the same hope, promise and mission that following Jesus invites.
That means someone is hearingThe outcry and the birth-cryOf new life at its term.It means once in a lifetimeThat justice can rise upAnd hope and history rhyme.
-Sr. Maureen Quinn
FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
-Sister Lori High [email protected]
THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Jesus appears on the scene like a second John the Baptist, with a message just like John’s: the kingdom of God is at hand! Repent! One prophet follows another. John is imprisoned for speaking the truth and Jesus, THE TRUTH (“I am the way, the truth and the life”) is about to begin his mission.
In this gospel Jesus calls. He calls out an invitation to simple people, fishermen, men who might easily be ignored by others. But Jesus SEES them. The gospel tells us that as he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus SAW Simon and Andrew and James and John. What does it mean to be seen by Jesus? The gaze of Jesus was like a magnet. it drew people to him and he promptly drew them to his mission.
There is such mystery involved in this gospel. Jesus calls men who don’t really know him, or if they knew of him, they certainly must have found him compelling enough to leave everything and follow him. Who among us would have so willingly left everything without knowing the details and without asking a million questions first? What happened in this gospel can only be explained in one way. The call of God is a powerful force that can’t be explained. It can only be heard and acted on in faith. It’s yes or no and there’s no in between.
“The Galilee Song” by Fr. Frank Anderson captures something of the mystery and beauty of the compelling call of Jesus in the refrain which we could imagine the disciples singing if this gospel were a musical: “So I leave my boats behind. Leave them on familiar shores. Set my heart upon the deep. Follow you again my Lord.”
COME. FOLLOW. LEFT. Let’s remember these words from the gospel. Let’s hear them in our hearts and lives. They are Jesus’ invitation to us, also.
-Sr. Patricia Brady
SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Whenever I read this particular gospel, the part of the scene that especially stays with me is that of Andrew bringing his brother Simon to Jesus. Hasn’t that happened to us in so many precious ways? Perhaps today would be beneficial to take time ‘remembering’ and giving thanks for all the people in our own lives who have ‘brought us to Jesus’ in one way or another, starting with our parents at that sacred baptismal font.
Of course, ‘bringing someone to Jesus’ is just the beginning of ones’ life journey. The many verbs in this particular text help us understand what must come next: follow, come, see, stay, seek. All of these implying the need to respond. And how does the call come to us? Through a voice in the night (first reading), through the guidance of others (first reading and gospel), through a personal encounter with Jesus (gospel). Through all these ways we come to know who Jesus is and are drawn to choose to give our heart, our fidelity, our all.
Daily Christ-like living is the tangible way we say yes and respond to the call of committing ourselves to bringing another to see the face of Jesus. Do we act with patience, compassion, willingness to forgive, generosity toward others? Each day we have opportunities to become Christ present in this world. Most likely you know the expression: ‘the only bible some people will ever read is you’. What an awesome responsibility and at the same time graced privilege. We pray today that others may see in us a reflection of the One who is inviting them to a relationship with Him; and like Andrew may we not hesitate to help another take that first step.
- Sister Ann Marie Grasso
BAPTISM OF THE LORD
With today’s celebration of the Baptism of Jesus, we end the Christmas Season. John the Baptist was called to “Prepare the way” for the Promised One by “preparing a people fit for the Lord” (Lk 1:16-17) – and he did this by preaching conversion and baptism with water. When Jesus approached him, the Prophet John immediately understood who Jesus was meant to be in the history of God’s Chosen People. John the Evangelist tells us that the Baptist recognized Jesus as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29) – highly charged terminology to use to describe Jesus’ mission. Even though John objected, he later baptized Jesus, and as Jesus rose out of the waters, a Voice spoke from the heavens: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mk 1:11).
This may seem a bit premature (Jesus hadn’t done anything yet!) But in fact, he had. Jesus had stepped out of the oblivion of his earlier “hidden” life, and now both his identity and his mission were proclaimed. Jesus was, in a sense, now publicly embracing both. So yes: Jesus’ heavenly Father was very well pleased, and he announced it the world…
What could perhaps seem barely significant (one baptism among many performed by John), is in fact a giant leap forward in the realization of God’s Plan for our salvation. Jesus, in allowing himself to be baptized, thus assumes the role of God’s Lamb, and he does so in order to “fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:15). While only the Baptist seemed to recognize the full prophetic meaning of what was happening, the time had come for God to fulfill the Promise made to Adam and Eve. The time of fulfillment had indeed arrived!
Jesus freely accepted his Father’s invitation to be the Lamb who would be slain for us. In the waters of our own Baptism, each of us is washed in the blood of Jesus the Lamb and marked with the Sign of his Cross. An important change happens in Baptism, and we are then called to live as though it means something to us…
We are called to undertake a personal journey with Jesus, and to learn from him how we are to live out our own mission. We’re not meant to just imitate Jesus. No – now, because of our Baptism, we are one with him, and we are to live as he lived, even in the ordinariness of our daily lives. We are called to renounce whatever separates us from him, whatever weakens our fidelity to him, and whatever prevents us from keeping our eyes and our hearts focused on him. We are to become what we already are: beloved Daughters and Sons of a Father who never ceases to be pleased, regardless of the number of times we might stumble and fall. Jesus’ Father is our Father, and when our Father looks at us, he sees only “Corpus Christi” – he sees only his eternally Beloved Son, with whom he is ever pleased… In this Ordinary Season, it’s time for each of us to surrender to our extraordinary calling…
-Sr. Patrice Yarborough
FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY
FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY
Sirach 3: 2-14 or Genesis 15: 1-6, 21:1-3 Psalm 128: 1-5 or Psalm 105: 1-8Colossians 3:12-21 or Hebrews 11:8-19 Luke 2:22-40
A man, a woman, in Israel doing what is expected. They traveled to Bethlehem to be inscribed according to the Law. There the woman gave birth to a child. Then they went to Nazareth to be at home. Now after forty days they go up to Jerusalem to present the child to God, to present God’s Child. This is no ordinary visit to Jerusalem.The Scripture passages suggested for today (Sirach and Colossians) suggest that in the ordinary relationships of life, parent and child, parents and children, one person to another, God’s love is made visible. Created in God’s image and likeness, we are called—expected—to live and to do what members of God’s family live and do in loving, forgiving relationships.The alternate Scripture passages for today (Genesis and Hebrews) stress the abundant generosity of God in creating an heir for Abraham and Sarah, an ancestor for Jesus, son of Abraham. These excerpts of the Word of God also make clear that God’s generous gifts can only be incarnated where there is profound faith and trust in God lived out in our actions.A man, a woman, in Israel doing what is expected, come in their faith-filled simplicity to present the Child to God in the Temple. There they meet a man and a woman who have spent their lives waiting on God. Along with all the faithful women and men of Israel of generations past, they live to praise God who is now breaking into their world in an unimagined way. God’s active presence in their lives and ours, now is here, now is here. God calls us to live as family.Ever wanting to be reassured over and over again of God’s love and presence in our midst, we wait for healing of mind and spirit even as we work for a Covid vaccine; we wait for governments to respond to our requests for permission for our sisters and brothers to leave refugee camps in Lesbos, Mexico or Paris; we wait as we work actively for an end to racial discrimination and violence; we wait as we reach out to loved ones separated by our betrayal, anger, or estrangement; we wait and work for the peace that only our God can give.And so, a man, a woman, a child remind us of God’s faithful love and our call to recognize our God in each and every person and event. A man, a woman, a child, wherever we are, living what is expected of people of faith. We are called to be family, a holy family, God’s universal family.
-Sr. Mary Laura Lesniak
FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT
Well, we just have 5 more days until Christmas when we will celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel of today is the same as when we just celebrated the Immaculate Conception on December 8. The Angel is waiting for Mary’s answer as all of creation also awaits and at the moment of her yes, the Word becomes flesh. I remember watching a movie on the Christmas story and I have never forgotten the part when Mary said Yes, the Angel knelt. It was very powerful. How a simple word as Yes can have such power. How many times a day do we say Yes? Yes, I would be glad to take you to the doctor. Yes, I will get your mail. Yes, I will go to the meeting with you. Etc… How many times do we say Yes to the Lord? Yes, Lord I trust you are with me in this situation. Yes, Lord I would like to spent 10 minutes with you. Yes, Lord I will go. Yes, Lord I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. We know that to say yes to someone or some situation brings on a responsibility and a compromise. But we also know that it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the action or words that all will be done. Mary, I believe, didn’t understand the meaning of her YES, but knew in her heart that God would show her the way. She couldn’t have said yes if she didn’t have faith in God. Perhaps as we enter into this last week of Advent, we can ask the Lord to give as faith to say yes to the Incarnation; allowing the word to take flesh in us and dwell with us.God has given each of us special gifts and placed us on this earth for a purpose. Do I say Yes Lord, here I am to do your will? - Sister Rose Ann
THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT
“I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness…make straight the way of the Lord.” (1 Jn 6-8) “But,” may we ask “how do we do that?” What does it mean to straighten out God’s way? Can you hear that voice crying out in these later days of Advent 2020, asking us to prepare, to be vigilant, to enter the wilderness of our own hearts as well as the pain and suffering of our world today. We can’t ignore the plight of the hungry, the poor, the unemployed, the Covid pandemic. This is all very real. But, today the church gives us readings that break into our reality with a huge burst of joy.
Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS; again I say Rejoice!” (Phil. 1:4-5 and 1 Thes 5:16) Gospel joy persists obstinately right in the midst of suffering and, I believe, it is true joy that prevents the pain from becoming bitterness and a closing in on ourselves.
We have all probably in our ministries experienced the strength and amazing courage of joy many times. I can see clearly the face of the man in a very difficult situation who told me “a day without a good laugh ain’t no day to count.”
It is our joy, everyday to proclaim “glad tidings,” to “heal the broken-hearted; tp free the imprisoned.” Wherever our hearts may be, whatever joy or sadness we are carrying in these last days of preparing to celebrate the profound mystery of “God with us” we may stand with John the Baptist and say to him-
“O voice in the wilderness, reed by the windLeft unshakenCall out o the wind which accosts meAfraid and alone.That the Lamb of God comes, that the Fears of my heart can be takenAway as his own.” - Sr. Mary St. Virginia
-S. Caroline Smith
SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT
As I prayed with these readings, the words of an Advent song we used to sing , kept singing themselves in my heart: “Long is our winter, dark is our night, O come set us free, O saving Light… come dwell within us, O Saving Light”
This week, in the Buffalo area, we’ve felt the first days of cold and seen the ground covered with that “white stuff ” - no blizzard yet! These signs remind us that winter is coming, darkness will be with us for weeks, and an Advent quiet has fallen upon us.
But this year, it seems like we’ve been living in a certain kind of silence and stillness since about March, because of the Covid virus and the pandemic. We’ve spent weeks hunkered down with the people with whom we live. We think twice before venturing out to a store, our worship com-munities have limited space set up, and most often, our worship is live-streamed. Our “long winter” began months ago and we have no idea when it will be over.
As I began this reflection, our local fire station’s siren blew the signal that doesn’t mean fire but does mean someone is in distress – a stark reminder that around the globe and in local towns, we are experiencing not only cold and darkness, but also hunger, unemployment, illness and death. Our prayer reaches out to those who are suffering and to the large number of people who have died as well as their family members who haven’t been able to be with them.
Advent’s readings were very consoling to the people who first heard them and they can also speak to us in 2020. “Comfort, give comfort to my people”…” every valley shall be filled in, every mountain made low”…”like a shepherd he feeds his flock”; “in his arms he gathers the lambs.” John the Baptist arrives in Mark’s Gospel today, bringing good news to the people in the desert.
A speaker once reminded us that HOPE is the virtue when we’re in darkness. Hope is also the virtue for Advent. As we experience that “Long is our winter, dark is [this] night”, may we also know that our Shepherd “feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying [us] in his bosom”
Lord, please hold in your arms, all those who are suffering.
- Sr. Marian Baumler
FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT
Advent! The gateway to Christmas. The prelude to Christmas trees and presents and manger scenes and stockings hanging from a fireplace. Maybe this is what Advent brings to mind for many. But really, Advent is an invitation to avoid sleepwalking your way toward Christmas. Be awake! Be on the alert! Watch! These words could jar us awake and give us a gentle shake of awareness.
We have to really keep our attention on what we’re waiting for and why it’s so important to watch. We all know what it feels like when we are waiting for a long desired event to occur, or a person well-loved to appear or a moment that is going to bring us great joy. There is an eagerness in our manner, a “watch so you don’t miss it” feeling. Imagine if Advent could be that kind of moment in time for us. A moment to live in expectation for a great arrival. The coming of salvation, the coming of new life, the coming of Jesus. This, of course, has already happened, but it is so astounding when you think about it that we are invited every year to live it again.
This time of Advent is also a moment for us to recall that Jesus will come again as promised. We don’t know when or how but it will be a moment like no other. It will be the coming of the one who loves us so much that he was born, lived, died and rose for us, to give us the gift of eternity with him. This is the one we love, the long-awaited Messiah. “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down..” (Isaiah).
Yes, he is coming. He has already come but continues to come, again and again. So, let’s be awake, alert, eager and waiting. No sleepwalking! We won’t be disappointed. If we prepare and get ready and stay awake, we will receive the greatest Christmas present of all.
-Sr. Patricia Brady
THIRTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Today we name Jesus “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords”. In all 3 Cycles for the Feast, the Gospels chosen focus not only on Jesus, but also on those who join him: those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, who have been purified, and who now bear his mark on their foreheads. All 3 Gospels focus on identifying who it is who can be found in this vast throng, and how Jesus relates to them.
In Year A, for example, Matthew 25 cites the example of a shepherd who separates the sheep from the goats. Jesus is a shepherd who knows his sheep, and who is able to distinguish genuine goodness from every mask of deception and self-interest. While God may have allowed the weeds and the wheat to grow together before, the time has now come to separate them, and to admit only the pure-hearted into the final Banquet.
In Year C, Luke 23 tells the story of the 2 thieves crucified with Jesus. Both are guilty of grave offenses, and both deserve the punishment they are receiving. Yet the story reminds us that hearts can change… One is closed to the truth about Jesus, and joins his voice to the chorus of derision and self-destruction. The other thief miraculously recognizes in Jesus the embodiment of love and mercy, and he longs to be a part of that reality, in spite of his unworthiness. Jesus does not hesitate to promise him that his heart’s desire will be granted. He and others like him will be welcome – ALL will be welcome.
In Year B, however, we have an entirely different focus. John 18 describes Jesus before Pilate. It is a strange scene, where Jesus appears powerless, while Pilate maneuvers adroitly to keep his hands clean, revealing only his pathetic weakness in the situation. Jesus knew what it meant to have true power, to stand unbowed before forces which could destroy his body, but could never render God powerless, and could never prevent God’s success in the task entrusted to Jesus: those whom God had created in love are about to be redeemed in love, to be returned to the embrace of God where they can abide in peace, forever.
This Feast of Christ the King reminds us that God’s Victory is not imaginary – it is already real. Yes, we long for the culmination of the final Day, but we also believe that it is already here; that Jesus’ victory is already total and complete and available to every heart ready to receive it. The Gift is free, and it has already been given. All that remains is the choice to receive it, to embrace it, to allow ourselves to be changed by it. God intends for no one to be excluded – but the choice is always ours, and no one is ever forced.
If we have eyes to see the great procession forming, will our hearts be free enough to let go of everything that hinders us, and race to join it, allowing Jesus to take our hand and accompany us, to lift us up when we fall, and to carry us whenever necessary? Will we allow him to be the One who sustains us and strengthens us, who feeds us and heals us, who loves us into existence every step of the way? And all that he asks is that we do the same for one another: that we walk together, supporting one another in this great procession… Like him, we must embrace any who begin to slip and fall along the way. We want to arrive at the great banquet hall together, and miraculously find that for each of us, our soiled garments have become white as snow… Together – God asks that it not be a solitary journey, but that, no matter how late someone joins the procession, they be welcomed in and embraced. Only then can we truly be a People who mirror the face of our God. -Sr. Patrice Yarborough