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.
Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love Him. I first heard the song “Eye Has Not Seen” over 20 years ago at a funeral for an aunt. Initially I thought “I don’t know this song, how am I going to sing it?” As it turned out, I found it beautiful, easily learned, and it spoke volumes.
Today’s second reading 2 Corinthians 4:13 - 5:1 has this same message – we don’t know what God has in store for us in eternity or in this life, but we know it will be far beyond our imaginations!
Whatever pain, sorrow, misfortune, etc., we have will cease to exist. We are going from darkness into light. Just as we welcome the sun after a stretch of cloudy weather, this new light will be with us for eternity. This is God’s promise to us.
We know, we believe, we wait. . .
Reflection for the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ…June 3, 2018 by Sr Barbara Markey ND
(Mark 14:12-16, 22-26)
Jesus knew what it was to be truly human. Because of this, we know in faith that the gift of Eucharist was intended to help us know that God makes a home in our body, heart and soul. The food and drink we take literally keeps us living, so the bread and wine we take in Eucharist reminds us that we are alive in God.
Jesus was body and blood. He knew pain and joy, knew acceptance and complete denunciation. Eucharist is food for life for those with faith in Christ Jesus and allows us to come back to this holy nutrition in order to continue on our journey. This unexplainable food, to which we are continually invited, gives us hope and allows us to continue trusting that God is always with us and for us. We don’t have to earn this food. We seek to be faithful, but we know that God is faithful to us even if we are not faithful to him. The body and blood of Christ is there for us as we seek to return to him.
As we celebrate the feast of Eucharist, let us know that Jesus was human and that he gave us this gift of his body and blood in order nourish us with his life and love.
The first Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday. It honors the most fundamental of Christian beliefs – a belief in an eternal God, consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – the Holy Trinity.
Mystery. In this sense, the mystery presents itself as a supernatural fact revealed by God which, within itself, transcends the natural power of human reasoning. Three persons in one God – not similar but each one different – not identical pieces of the same pie or identical flowers or leaves on the same stem – but each one distinct, and yet all three in one . . . the math just doesn’t add up!
Tradition. Many revered and beloved Catholic traditions are closely associated with the Holy Trinity, including the Sign of the Cross and the prayer of praise – Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Representations of the Holy Trinity are also well-known and wide-spread: the Father and Son shown in human form and the Holy Spirit shown as the figure of a dove.
Understanding. A dear friend (now deceased) once recalled to me how his seminary studies of trying to understand the Holy Trinity almost caused his mental breakdown! The Trinity is a doctrine we affirm but have great difficulty explaining. The idea of one God in Three Persons – three-in-one – is a concept we have difficulty getting our heads around!
While the human mind can never fully understand the mystery of the Trinity, we are able to boldly articulate our belief:
God is three persons in One Nature. There is only one God, and the three Persons of God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – all are equally God, and they cannot be divided.
Faith. As I try to develop my own understanding of the Trinity, I’m encouraged by theologians to stop thinking of the Trinity as a theological concept, but to keep an understanding that, as followers of Jesus, we are loved by the Father, and led by the Spirit. All three persons of the Godhead are at work in our lives, in the life of our Church, and in the life of this world.
This Sunday’s readings celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the whole Church and on each of its members. We hear how the formerly wounded and frightened apostles are touched by a mighty wind and tongues of fire that fill them with the Spirit. They immediately leave the room where they waited and boldly go out to share what God had revealed to them with Jews from every nation. Language barriers and divisions are shattered by the Holy Spirit who brings them together.
Like the apostles, we all have wounds and fears that can keep our hearts barricaded and our voices silent until we too are touched by the Holy Spirit. At a recent Notre Dame gathering Sr. Mary Kay reminded us, though, that the Holy Spirit didn’t call Elijah out of his cave into service with a mighty wind but rather with a gentle whisper. We were challenged to identify our gentle whisper and where it calls us.
Mine came just days ago in a very simple way. I have an 11 year old grandson on the autism spectrum who spends an overnight with my husband and me every weekend. I was wallowing in hurt from what seemed like the abandonment of a soul friend when this beloved child propped himself on my lap and began sharing a computer game he was playing with me. My hurt was replaced with love, joy and peace, fruits of the Spirit. I knew my call was to consciously nurture the confidence and joy of this special child.
In the second reading St. Paul tells us that “to each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” What does the Holy Spirit need to heal in you? How are you called to share the gifts of the Spirit’s love with others?
“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in then the fire of your love.”
“Love one another, as I have loved you.” In one form or another, Jesus tells us to “love one another” eleven times in the Bible. The Lord does not offer this as a suggestion nor as an option. He offers it as one of the two most important commandments. If we have made an effort to genuinely love one another, we will have gone a long way to living as faithful disciples.
Today’s Second Reading from the First Letter of John could not be more specific on our call to love one another. St. John used the word “agape” to make clear the kind of love. This love from God is self-giving without expectation of a return. This is the kind of love God feels for us. Too often we may do something with the expectation of getting something back. We need to love the way God loves us. That is what John is trying to teach and explain to us.
Each of us has heard the expression “God is love” countless times. However, have we truly embraced it? We need to sincerely accept that love. In response, it is essential we commit ourselves to loving in the same way. If we do that, God’s love can transform not only each of us but also those around us. This is the love Jesus intends for us. This is the love we must strive to achieve.
Reflection: 5th Sunday of Easter
I admire St. Paul for his ability to speak boldly about Jesus. As one who recently persecuted those who followed Jesus, he is not afraid to tell the world that he now was a faithful disciple. His passion is a model for us.
And how do we stay connected to Christ? How do we remember that we are the branches and Jesus is the vine? I hate to admit it, but sometime the pruning is what I need to refresh my relationship. Even though it may be a bit uncomfortable, the pruning that comes through life is just what I need to restore right relationship with God, others and myself.
I recognize my need to be re-connected when I am no longer depending on God for the help and grace I need. If Christ is not my foundation – the root, soil and atmosphere in which I live, then good fruit is probably not going to grow. I just have to remember that I am the branch. I don’t need to be perfect, I just need to allow Christ’s love to flow through me to others.
This Sunday’s readings are such a comfort to us and so familiar: How often have we heard “the Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” or “I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know Me.” Words that are dear to us, because we know that Jesus is watching over us, guiding us, and that He sacrificed everything for us. And the shepherd is such a perfect analogy, because no matter how lost we become, the shepherd will go out to find his sheep.
But this relationship also calls something from us, to be good shepherds, reaching out to others in a humble way. Even as Peter was performing miracles, and the world wanted to praise him, he immediately gave all the credit back to Jesus. I think, because we are one of His sheep, that Christ expects us to share His gifts too – most likely we won’t be curing the sick, but maybe it will be visiting someone that is homebound or in need of a friend or taking food to someone who is ill. Or perhaps it will be in our work, when sharing our talents, that people will see Christ in each of us.
In this Easter time, I hope that Christ’s love continues to surround you in everything you do.
Reflection for the Third Sunday after Easter…April 15, 2018 by Phyllis Chandler, Notre Dame Associate
Today’s Responsorial: Lord, let your face shine on us.
As I reviewed the readings for the Third Sunday of Easter, I also reflected on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord (celebrated this year on April 9 rather than the usual March 25, which was Palm Sunday). A similar phrase from each of the gospel readings caught my eye: 1) Gabriel greeted Mary with “Hail full of grace! The Lord is with you.” She was “greatly troubled and wondered what sort of greeting this might be.” 2) When Jesus appeared to his disciples as related in today’s gospel, He said, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?”
It appears that those closest to Jesus were at times “troubled” by events in their lives, even in relation to Jesus himself. Mary, called to be the Mother of God, questioned the message of the angel. The eleven apostles, chosen by Christ himself, experienced times of doubt and questioning, including the resurrection, despite Jesus’ repeated message that he would die and rise again. Surely then it is not surprising that we too find ourselves “troubled” and in doubt at times. We also have moments/events/experiences that can lead us to wonder what God is telling or asking of us. Even many of the great saints experienced the darkness of uncertainty at times.
Yet, like Mary in her trust in God’s will, and the disciples of Jesus whom the Holy Spirit empowered with His gifts, we too are called to be witnesses to God’s love for us and the call to share it with others. God created each of us for a specific purpose that only we can accomplish. Just like Mary and the early disciples, God is waiting for our “Yes” in answer to His call.
This week, spend some quiet time listening for God’s voice.
The Easter Season readings are vibrantly alive with the recounting of the happenings surrounding the glorious Resurrection of Jesus. Rosemary Haughton writes in The Passionate God, “…the Resurrection is not a single event but the ever-extending ‘over-flow’ of the energy previously damned up by the power of sin and death”. During these weeks of Easter, we hear examples of this Sunday after Sunday. We read in the Acts of the Apostles this week of an early community that rose to the level of becoming a loving community of generous giving and forgiving in which no one was excluded and in need. What an ‘over-flow’ of energy is that!
In the Gospel we hear that Thomas would not believe when the other apostles told him Jesus was alive. He needed to see, to hear, to feel. The next we hear is that the Risen Jesus is inviting him to do just that, to see, to touch, to feel the wounds. Jesus concludes with this invitation to us all, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Though we may not be able to see and touch the wounds as Thomas did, are we not compelled to truly see, gently touch and tenderly feel the wounds of sin and death in the hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, abused, lonely, undocumented, fearful, in anyone and situation in need? We trust in that ever-expanding ‘over-flow’ of Love Energy, the Risen Christ, to empower them and us. May we all, not only believe new life is possible, but realize that we are invited and privileged to prayerfully, joyfully, generously, courageously participate in this transforming process. Alleluia!