by Sr. Margaret Hickey, ND
Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 118; Peter 13-9; John 20:10-31
In this holy season of Easter, scripture reflects many happenings following the death and resurrection of Jesus. Did these events happen quickly or over a longer period of time? John admits that there were many more events that were recorded. Regardless of the time span or the number, they give us a profile of the disciples of Jesus and the growth of the early Church. And they challenge us as the followers of Jesus living today.
Imagine the emotions of the 11 disciples after the death of Jesus, those of the multitudes who followed Jesus in his three years of ministry to his untimely and horrible death on the cross, and the feelings of the women who discovered the empty tomb. Loss, fear, disappointment, anxiety, confusion, doubt, betrayal - someone who had healed, accepted, transformed and affirmed was gone from their midst. What Jesus promised would happen did happen - He was raised from the dead! With the strong emotions running through this early church, the promise might have been hard to remember.
I try to place myself in the group of the early followers of Jesus, and wonder what I would have been feeling and doing, and where I might be. How strong would be my faith, how strong my hope; would I have denied and run away too? Would I also have doubted the whole experience of Jesus’ presence, healing, service and teachings?
Or would I have come to believe that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection was the beginning of something wonderful, something I was called to be an integral part of. Today’s readings from Acts record the activities of the early church: devotion to the teaching of Jesus and his apostles; commitment to communal life - holding all things in common, giving what they had so that all needs would be met; gathering for daily prayer and the breaking of the bread; giving thanks for the wonders that had been completed among them; and answering the call to spread the Word to the entire world, knowing they could meet the same fate as Jesus had met on the cross.
Peter, the one who denied Jesus three times and who experienced all the above feelings, writes in today’s second reading: “God our Creator with great mercy gives us new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance, a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time…” This is the promise that moved the early church to travel the known world living Jesus’ message of love. It is the promise that turned Thomas’ doubt to belief. It is the promise that endures to today, in our lives and in the lives of so many even today being persecuted for living this promise. It is the promise that ultimately gives us Life.
May God fill our hearts with joy in the Holy Spirit as we celebrate this holy season of Easter. Amen.
by Sr. Joy Connealy, ND
During Lent I’ve been thinking about the empty tomb and the witnesses who were brave enough to risk going to the burial site. Their courage tells us that we, too, can trust in the truth that is deep within us and announce to those around us and to the world that Jesus is alive.
We celebrate this season the life-giving message that death never has the final word. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection tells us that love is stronger than death. Nothing dies forever; and all that has died in love will be reborn in an even larger love. The grief of yesterday becomes the wonderful truth of today!
Whether or not we are feeling deeply the joy and hope of this holy season we can trust that God is with us. We can be like the women who went to the empty tomb out of a deep commitment to the one who showed them a new way of loving. We can faithfully “show up” because God has called us to live for others.
May our lives be overflowing with the good news of the Resurrection. May our witness to God’s unconditional love for us proclaim to our world our deep hope and love.
by Sr. Barbara Ficenec, ND
Today’s liturgy offers abundant imagery to each of us for reflection and heartfelt response.
Whether we choose to place ourselves amidst the crowd who acclaimed Jesus in Jerusalem or at the Last Supper table, on Mount Gethsemane or Mount Calvary, might we remain for a while?
Let the mind dwell on what is seen and comprehended through silent faith vision; claim it and feel its impact within. What might this mean? Something very singular and valuable will happen to each participant.
I chose to enter the Garden of Gethsemane. I observed Jesus asking Peter, James, and John to REMAIN and WATCH with Him for His hour had come. I focused on the plea that Jesus made and, I asked myself, “Can I move closer, comfortably place my hand on the Lord’s shoulder to whisper that I’m here?”
Confidently I did approach to show my grateful love and support. With a warm pressure of my hand on His arm, I wanted Jesus to know that He matters to me.
As a mother fondly watches over her sleeping child, a youngster holds tightly to the safety of its Dad’s hand clasp, and an athlete enjoys the victory of endless practice hours, we will never regret having given the Lord our efforts and time to be with Him.
Just fifteen minutes a day during this Holy Week in quiet reflection on the Sacred Events of the Passion and Death of Jesus will reap a surprise of spiritual treasures, peace, and joy. Do give it a try.
A Blessed Easter to ALL!
by Sr. Theresa Maly, ND
Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus, knowing that if he came, he would heal their dying brother. How profoundly disappointed and distraught they were as they ended up laying their brother in his grave. With grieving hearts, they welcomed Jesus three days later. “Too late,” suspects Martha, but we know the events at the tomb and Jesus’s final words to the bystanders “Unbind him and let him go.” Lazarus lives again!
How easy it is to be bound by fears, disappointments, frustrations, regrets, failures! How easy to forget the power of God’s grace setting us free and offering New Life. Is this not the mission in which we are called to share? It is in this freedom and trust that our mission thrives; that we can approach others bound in similar ways. A simple word, a smile, a prayer, a loving act of kindness, can bring a spark of new life. We know! We have experienced it ourselves.
Throughout our world, are millions of people bound by poverty, prejudice, war, violence, abuse - those being targeted because of their religion, sexual orientation, color of their skin, ethnicity. Many of these bonds are so systemic, that we can allow them to become the norm. That is just the way it is! Right? No! It is never too late, or too impossible, as Martha suspected. With the Spirit of Jesus active among us, we, as prayerful, believing, hopeful communities of compassion and action continue the mission. Unbind them; free them; bit by bit. Let them live again!
by Sr. Marie Alice Ostry, ND
Musing on the readings for this Sunday I am struck by the idea that God is asking Samuel to “see” with a different perspective. Samuel is called to “move on” with God’s plan – “Fill your horn of oil and be on your way.” The Gospel of John also calls for the people to “see” as Jesus heals the man born blind. These two themes cause me to shift my “seeing” of what is truly happening around me, in my area of God’s realm. Do I open my eyes to what God is calling me “to be on your way” as God did to Samuel? How is it that I perceive the events of each day?
Jesus calls those around him to “see” beyond the immediate. There is something more to the event. How do I perceive and respond to the daily events which challenge me? Do I see only with my physical sight or is there something more that is present? I know that at times I go through life on “cruise control” with little or no reflection. I miss so much of the beauty and joy of God’s presence and call through those I meet and the encounters with creation.
These Sunday readings challenge me to pause, reflect, and open my eyes – spiritual and physical – to Who and what is calling me to a deeper life.
by Sr. Mary Kay Meagher, ND
This familiar passage of the Samaritan woman is a plenitude of sub stories and pregnant with areas of reflection.
What struck me in my reading this time is the section where Jesus calls her to her truth. He simple says “what you say is true…you have 5 husbands." In his reply there are no “tsk tsks, no you should know better, there are rules about this.” Just an open space for her to state her truth which liberates her to be in relationship with Jesus.
I think this is the heart of reconciliation, a space to state our truth. The results for this woman and her community are enormous. I wonder if each of us can be so tender with ourselves in stating our truth, in hearing another’s truth without judgment or measure?
by Cindy Wenninghoff, Notre Dame Associate
When we think of the season of Lent, we often concentrate on the fasting and sacrifice of these forty days. But Sunday’s readings provide us the hope we need to see the wonderful future ahead of us.
We see it in Abram, who at an old age is told to leave his home, to trust in God, that He will lead him to a new and better place with joys beyond imagination. It took great faith, to just leave everything behind and follow God’s words. He was very old, and it had to be very difficult for him, but God kept his promise to Abram.
Then in the Gospel, as Jesus is with His disciples, God shows them Jesus as our Lord, and tells us to listen to Him. He is the way to new life. Just as Abram followed God’s word, we too will find great joy in following Jesus’ word. What a great gift in this reading, to be shown God’s glory and reminded “not to be afraid” of what lies ahead. Lent is a season of sacrifice, but also of much hope.
by Sr. Rosalee Burke, ND
As we begin Lent again, we look at what God might be calling us to. What gift does God have in mind for us, what does God want us to give up or increase, and what are we to be more mindful of?
I like to choose one area in which I wish to work and do a specific thing each week. I frequently get so busy that I forget about other people. So Lent is a time for me to choose six people and do six different things with them.
It is the time together that matters. If I do not spend time with them, I lose track of what is happening in their lives and what an impact they are having in others’ lives. If I really listen to the other person, I am impressed by all that they are doing for others.
So if you are a little late in deciding what you are going to do this Lent, choose to spend time with a few friends and be impressed by what they are doing.
by Phyllis Chandler, Notre Dame Associate
"Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me."
These words of Jesus are part of the readings from the gospel of Mark for today (February 21) as I write this. As someone who has spent my entire adult life working in the early childhood profession, they hold much meaning for me. I believe that God has called me in a special way to welcome children in His name.
The images from our Sunday liturgy also evoke powerful emotions. In the first reading from Isaiah, we hear, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” As the mother of four children (two by birth, two by adoption), I know the power of a mother’s love. How much more deeply does God love each of us? Far more than we can possibly fathom.
In the gospel, Jesus talks about the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields and reminds us that his heavenly Father cares for them and will likewise care for us. I am a “birder” and gardener, so again these images touch me deeply. I find that I feel closer to God in nature than I do almost anywhere else. As I tend my flowers I often remind myself that I am working hand in hand with God to create beauty in the world.
This is what we are all called to do, to be the hand of God in our world. Everyone isn't destined to work with children. Perhaps you are not a gardener. Maybe your yard isn’t a wildlife habitat. However, you ARE challenged to find your own way to use your God-given talents to make our world a better place and bring others closer to the God who created us all. He only created one YOU! And only you can fulfill the unique purpose for which you were created.
This week, spend some time reflecting on YOUR call from God to use His gifts to you in the special way for which you were created.
by Kathy Schinker, Notre Dame Associate
The book of Leviticus holds some of the most ancient material in the Old Testament and it includes many commands concerning ritual worship, rules for moral conduct and penalties for numerous sins.
Those who “belong” to the Lord are commanded to love each other as they love themselves in order to be recognized as such. In other words, my words and actions will speak for me.
This is a great call for me this Lenten season quickly approaching us. I may not be known in centers of power but I can make a difference in the circle of the world I live in. If I am to be identified as a “Christian” is there enough proof to convict me.
Today’s readings call us to be known as people of God by our actions, our “love” of others and in our treatment of them, especially the “strangers” and the “enemies” in our midst. As I prepare to enter the season of Lent I will try to be more identifiable as one who belongs to the Lord in my words and actions toward others. We won’t be perfect but I believe our trying will bring us closer to Jesus. What greater gift could we ask for.