St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (today’s second reading) seems to be a perfect recipe for genuine happiness. He writes, “Brothers and sisters, watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of opportunities….” He goes on to say, “Be filled with the Spirit, praying psalms, singing songs, and giving thanks always and for everything.”
At times we experience grief, sickness, misunderstandings, and worry, difficult times. We may wonder how we are supposed to give thanks always and for everything. St Paul also writes, “Try to understand what is the will of the Lord.” Our Lord does not WILL that we experience difficult times but rather that we turn to Him and know that He will never abandon us. It is good to remember what St Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians: “Do not lose heart, for the things that are seen are transient but the things that are often unseen are eternal.” Small momentary afflictions are preparing us for an eternal glory beyond all comparison.
Reflection for the Nineteenth Sunday, in Ordinary Time…August 12th, 2018 - Mary Toline, Notre Dame Associate
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians, “Brother and sisters: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, a reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.”
As you read this letter, and as you hear the news or read the newspapers, all you hear or see is violence, people being killed, people stealing, there is not love. It is more hatred showing up. All the addictions that are out there, alcohol, drugs, gambling, to name a few. This is so sad for the person and their families. We try to pray for them but one persons’ prayers are not enough.
Lately there is so much fraud out there, that you even hate to answer the phone.
I was raised to obey the rules of the Church, family, the law and government. We were told to go to school and get an education or just work a job. But today nobody wants to work and so they don’t. They get into gangs, think of ways to cheat people, and if they don’t follow they are killed or someone from their family. This is a hard world to live in and we all need to pray more and imitate Christ like behavior. If we are truly sorry for our past mistakes, and we can forgive others we will be forgiven in Christ.
After the stunning feeding of 5,000 people with a few loaves and fish, the crowd went in search of Jesus and found him in Capernaum. This was puzzling, for Jesus had walked on the water to the apostle's boat and was taken there. Jesus did not answer their question but replied instead, "You are searching for me because you ate the loaves and fishes."
Jesus wanted them to search for and desire his words and Presence as the food of everlasting life. They responded by asking for a sign to believe that he is of God. Feeding the 5,000 seemed not enough and they wanted more.
How often do we see God’s marvelous works around us: the summer greenness, cumulous clouds in their so stunning imagery, the kindness shown to another person, or a summer flower in her bright colors. We can so easily miss God’s manifestations.
Since the people hungered for more of the bread he fed them, he moves to the bread that his Father is giving them. “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven….for this bread gives life to the world.” Their response is, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus replies, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
This had to be a stunning revelation that stretched what they had just heard. Yet this saying has been passed on down to us through believing centuries and we are comforted knowing Jesus feeds us in the Eucharist and gives us the promise of eternal life. Jesus also draws us all together into a holy communion of brothers and sisters. His words in Scripture continue to feed us the fullness of living in truth, love and compassion. Yes, we too can say, “Give us this bread always,” and “Thank you”.
by Sister Joan Polak ND
Parable of the loaves and fishes
The story of loaves and fishes is an easy lesson of sharing. It is also a not so easy lesson of trust in the word of another. Another is a likeness to the transformation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. A miracle that happens daily at our altars.
However, the words that struck me in today’s gospel were: “He withdrew again to the mountain alone”. Instead of hanging around for acclamation and perhaps even gratitude of the crowd, he withdrew to the mountain ALONE. And so I ask” Where is your mountain? Is it the church, a chapel, a bench in a park, a quiet corner to be alone?
We all need to find that place of retreat from busyness to quiet commune with our God. Let us go to that mountain daily or at least weekly where we find not only rest, but the strength to carry out the works of mercy.
July 22, 2018 by Sr Celeste Wobeter ND
Today’s Gospel calls us to reflect on how well we balance our time. A time for our ministry. A time for leisure and relaxation. A time for prayer and contemplation. Sounds quite simple, doesn’t it? To live it well is not so simple!
It seems that Jesus and the disciples had to deal with the same challenges we have. Jesus invites the disciples to come away and rest awhile. So off they go to a “deserted place.” At least they thought it was! But the crowds got there before they did.
How did Jesus respond? He and the disciples were longing for a time to rest, to renew themselves, to share their lives, to dialogue and to pray.
“His heart was moved with pity for them . . . and he began to teach them many things.”
So much for a good balance of time in their lives! Jesus, like us, knew that life does not always go the way one plans. Discernment of heart was his guide. His will was always focused on God’s call. This yearning to be about God’s work was imbedded deeply within his spirit. His heart was moved with pity!
And he began to teach them.
Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Amos 7:12-15; Ps 85: 9-10, 11-12, 13-14; Ephesians 1: 3-34; Mark 6:7-13
Sr. Margaret Proskovec, ND
We learn from the Prophet Amos, that those who speak for God don’t always get to pick their audiences. This gets to be tough when they meet with resistance to God’s words of healing and truth. The Psalm response reminds us that God proclaims peace, that God’s ways are kindness, truth, justice, and peace. As people of faith, called to proclaim the Good News, we are sent to prepare the way for this to happen.
Paul’s letter from prison to his beloved community in Ephesus begins with a blessing. It is grounded in his firm confidence in God’s forgiveness, wisdom, and rich grace that draw us all toward life and unity with one another in Christ.
In the Gospel, Jesus sends out his Apostles to minister the people they encounter. He sends them out with nothing except a companion apostle, a walking stick, and his word.
Reflection: Some time ago, I learned that a synonym for “apostle” is “ambassador” or “representative.” How do I represent the mind and heart of God to others in the ordinary – or not so ordinary – events of daily life? In a reflection by St. Augustine of Hippo, he wrote:
What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of humankind. That is what love looks like.
May this week draw you and the people in your life closer to the heart of God.
Ezekiel 2:2-5 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Mark 6:1-6a
Each of the readings for this Sunday speak of distress: during the Babylonian exile, within Paul’s own soul, and in Jesus facing rejection by the people closest to him.
Ezekiel, one of the great prophets, was called to deliver God’s word to the Israelites in their time of exile. In this passage, part of his call to be prophet, God tells him that it will not be easy. First he will have to make it clear that there is no escape from going into exile because their own hardness of heart. Once in exile, he will provide the word of hope—what they have lost in community, homeland, and Temple—will be restored. All he knows at the beginning of his call, however, is that he is to deliver God’s word to people who do not want to hear it.
The reading from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is his famous meditation on his own weakness. Despite his fervent prayer that God would remove this weakness, it will remain and he will be required to search for its meaning in his life. It becomes part of his witness rather than an obstacle to it.
Finally, Jesus comes to Nazareth with a world of good news and he is rejected for his lack of exotic credentials. Who is he to be delivering a message from God? He had obviously expected a different reception since the gospel records that “he was amazed at their lack of faith.”
Today our world is a place where distress faces us on every side. It is essential that we repent of our hardness of heart, listen together to God’s word, take courage despite our weaknesses, and, with Jesus, witness by word and deed to God’s message in times and places of rejection as well as welcome.
Book of Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15 Mark 5:21-43
Sunday’s Gospel from Mark has much about which to ponder. Three words popped into my head when I read this account. Plan. Touch. Faith.
Jairus had a PLAN to seek out Jesus when his daughter suffered a life-threatening illness. He wanted to persuade Jesus to come to his home and cure her. The PLAN of the woman afflicted with hemorrhages was to sneak up behind Jesus in the crowd, and TOUCH his cloak for a cure.
Instantaneous cure was her reward! Later on, Jesus TOUCHED the “dead” child of Jairus, taking her hand to life her up. She not only woke up, but walked around!
FAITH played a major role in these miracles. Jesus even emphasized the importance of FAITH when he told Jairus, “. . . just have FAITH,” when the people discouraged him from bothering Jesus since the girl had already died. And to the hemorrhaging woman, Jesus assured her, “Daughter, your FAITH has saved you.”
Three questions for your reflection: What PLAN regarding a problem, difficulty, or concern do you bring to God? When and how have you gotten “in TOUCH” with Jesus regarding that problem? How strong is your FAITH when you pray or take action to deal with the difficulty?
In Jesus’ words to Jairus, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
Reflection for the Birth of John the Baptist…June 24, 2018 by Judy Moe McCallum, Notre Dame Associate
God promised Zachariah that his wife Elizabeth would bear a son in her older age, and when she conceived, it was Elizabeth who fully understood and believed the miracle. When asked the child’s name, she did not offer the name of her husband, but the name John, a name ordained by God. Her husband, Zachariah, who was without speech, woke up to the wisdom and deep faith in God of his wife and wrote on a tablet: “His name shall be John,” and God restored his speech. What wonders, then, proceeded as the child grew to become John the Baptist who would baptize Christ.
What promise have we been given by God? How can we, like Elizabeth, come to hear and understand the promise? How can we follow the command of God as Elizabeth did, even when it goes against custom? To not name a child after the father was a brave step for her. But in her faith, she was able to follow God’s command, even amidst the murmurings of the people around her. And she was able, as a wife and now as a mother, to inspire her husband to follow God’s word. How do we give ourselves up so wholly to God as Elizabeth did? How do we find the same deep faith as Elizabeth’s that we might announce in joy the path that God has chosen for us? How can we, like Elizabeth, inspire others to rejoice and answer God’s call for them?
Theresa Wiggs—Notre Dame Associate
This week, in our first Reading, Ezekiel proclaimed our Lord’s words in these images: a weak cedar sapling grows strong on a mountain top, tall trees becoming low, low trees rise, strong trees wither, and withering trees produce fruit. These powerful images remind us of our dependence on our loving God's help and guidance. When we are "weak" enough to accept God's help, we too can do great things.
This lesson is helpful as I work too with my friends that are Sudanese refugees. Finding affordable housing is a big challenge, so I am reminded to ask God to guide my efforts.
In the Letter to the Corinthians we are called to rely less on “the body” and more on faith. Sometimes we must see past the obvious to see what God has in store for us. If we truly, “walk by faith and not by sight”, we leave our eyes and hearts open to God’s will.
Mark’s Gospel this week has Jesus speaking in parables of seeds scattered and grown. The tiny mustard seed grows into a large, strong plant with branches capable of offering shelter. I have always loved this imagery. As we are in nature this week, let us look at each tree and shrub with new eyes. When we are faced with a challenge, let us remember, a ‘mustard seed’ of faith or love can grow, and grow, and grow, when nurtured with faith in God.