by Phyllis Kubes, Notre Dame Associate
Sunday’s readings speak of Mercy. The entrance antiphon states we can trust the Lord for He is merciful.
In the first reading from the book of Samuel mercy continues as David refuses to harm Saul.
Psalm 103 states: “The Lord is kind and merciful.”
As we read the gospel of Luke we hear the Lord ask us to respond with mercy to those who do us harm. It is not always easy to do this day after day. We must stop judging and condemning.
We will be given the gifts we need, a good measure packed and shaken down. The measure with which we measure will be returned to us.
Reflection for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time… February 17, 2019by Kris Lanik, Notre Dame Associate
Today’s readings speak of hope. “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1817).”
In many ways this is the definition of a life of a hope filled disciple. It is relying on God to provide for our daily needs and focusing on our eternal reward. Only God will fulfill our desire for true happiness and will give meaning to our lives right now.
Jeremiah tells of the difference between the person who puts his trust in others rather than the Lord. The responsorial psalm is "Blessed are they who hope in the Lord." In the Second Reading, St. Paul teaches us that belief in Christ's resurrection will lead to our eternal happiness with those who have hoped in the Lord and have passed from this world to the next.
The Gospel reading from Luke describes the rich life that is available for those of us who are willing to live as Jesus' hope-filled disciples. We are all familiar with the passage of Jesus proclaiming the Beatitudes. Jesus is describing a life where our trust is rooted in God. We are called to be disciples who are focused on others and eternity. It is not always an easy life, but it is a truly meaningful life and one that leads to eternal reward.
Gospel: Luke 5:1-11
Reading this Sunday’s gospel, I am challenged by the words “Put out into the deep.” The fishermen had been working all through the night and all seemed to be fruitless. Then Jesus said, “Put out into the deep.” Wow! What a surprise they beheld -- A catch of fish to the point of nets breaking. Sometimes it feels that way in my own life. I keep trying to be kind, caring, respectful, loving and it feels like nothing is happening. Perhaps the challenge is to “go out into the deep!” What could be the deep for me?
I believe these are some of the deeps God is inviting me to explore. How about you? Have you heard an invitation from God to “Go out into the deep” lately? May we listen gently and carefully this week as we dare to enter into the deep.
Reflection for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time…February 3, 2019by Cindy Wenninghoff, Notre Dame Associate
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you….They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.”
All of us are called by God to be prophets, to share His love with others. And He tells us, that it will not be easy. Even Jesus experienced rejection among his own people. He is the Savior foretold, our salvation, but the people “led him to the brow of the hill and were going to hurl him down headlong.” It’s hard to imagine that scene - being with our Lord, and not believing. But it’s easy to get caught up in what the crowd is saying, to be swayed by those in power. To judge others based on what people say, not what is Truth. And it is even more difficult amongst our own peers as we are afraid to go against them, as they may turn on us too.
This bias and distrust seems just as prevalent today. We listen and react to local news and social media which is more interested in selling stories then following the truth. And our leaders, the vitriolic relationship between Democrats & Republicans, creates only division and anger. It’s hard to even have a conversation anymore, so nothing is done to help those in greatest need. It just makes my heart ache.
But we can’t grow weary of doing what is right. Each of us has a gift that we are called to share, and if we listen to our hearts, God will reveal it to us and be there for us. And we know, as the readings remind us, that “Love never fails. It rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Reflection of the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary time…January 27, 2019by Theresa Homan, Notre Dame Associate
"Do not be saddened this day for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength."
The people were weeping as they heard Ezra read the word of God's law. Maybe they were saddened at how poorly they were keeping the law, or maybe because it seemed too hard to keep. But Ezra told them where to find their strength -- not in guilt or in fear but in rejoicing in the LORD.
Today it seems like fear, especially, is tearing our world apart. If we are all one body and what happens to each of us affects all of us, then how am I being called to help the poor, the captives, the blind and the oppressed? There are so many ways to bring glad tidings, give sight and set free.
What fears do I need to work at letting go of so that I can find my strength rejoicing in the LORD and answer that call?
Reflection for January 20, 2019…Second Sunday of Ordinary Time by Juanita Harding, Notre Dame Associate
A reading from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians: 12-4-11.
In today’s reading, St. Paul writes about the different kinds of Spiritual gifts; the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment of the spirits, varieties of tongues, interpretation of tongues.
“One and the same Spirit distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.”
How awesome that each one of us is chosen to receive certain gifts to help others and spread the word of God. It’s a reminder of who we are as Christians and why we are here.
After reading this scripture, I prayed about what gifts I have been given, and asked myself, “Am I truly using them to the best of my ability as God intends?”
As I was preparing to write these reflections, news broke in our diocese that one of the priests who is very dear to me, turned himself in to the State Patrol, admitting that he had sexually assaulted a young woman in his parish. His long battle with alcoholism had brought him to this lowest point of his life.
My heart is heavy as I pray for this young woman-victim of a life changing trauma, for our priest, for his brother priests who carry the shame of “guilt by association,” and for our wounded church community. My feelings jump around from anger and disgust to deep sorrow, to bewilderment. I am moved to prayer and reflection on the question of: “How does God—our Abba, who loves each hurting daughter and son—look at all of this?”
The psalms cast some light into this dark space, especially Psalm 51, as I pray in particular for my priest friend.
Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;
In your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.
Thoroughly wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sins
For I know my transgressions: yes, my sin is always before me.
Against you have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your eyes.
Behold, you delight in truth in my innermost being;
There you teach me wisdom when I bare my shame and truth before you.
Turn away your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.
A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Do not drive me from before your face, nor take from me your holy spirit.
I offer you a contrite heart; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not turn away.
So, what does this have to do with today’s liturgy, commemorating the Baptism of Jesus?
Jesus stepped into the Jordan River to receive the baptism of John, who was preaching repentance. Jesus stepped into the Jordan as an act of solidarity with all who sin, not to participate in our sinfulness, but to share with us the way out.
Psalm 139 tells us that wherever we are, whoever we are, no matter how we try to evade the love and mercy of God, God is there to meet us. In his baptism, Jesus asks us to let him enter the murky waters of our hearts, and to let him bring grace and healing to whatever is hidden and painful there. And then, to rise out of the waters to live life full of a peace that comes from the very core of our being.
“Come, Lord Jesus!”
by Sr Marie Alice Ostry ND
Epiphany – this means manifestation. We just celebrated the coming of the Christ at Christmas. What does this mean in our lives? What did it mean in the lives of those who lived in Mary and Joseph’s time? God came to share in our life. This Sunday we celebrate God’s coming with a “different slant” – manifestation. Christ came to manifest – show – who God is within our human existence.
God is manifesting in all of Creation. We hear in the Gospels that in the words of Jesus and he came for ALL. To me all means “all of creation,” simply because God is the One from Whom all creation came. As I reflected on manifestation I realized that God could only begin to reveal the meaning of “God-life” through the various creations that abound in not only our world but the whole of the universe. And yet, the Whole of the God-life is still not FULLY manifested.
So, what does this mean in our lives? I cannot answer for you, but for me it is living with the amazing and awestruck realization that everyone I meet and everywhere I go IF I am “awakened to the Spirit” I am encountering God’s life. Since the Trinity is a reciprocal experience, I in turn need to respond, respect with the Spirit of the God-life within me to all and everything each day. This is daunting and I take courage in knowing that “God walks with me” each day. Let us be a manifestation of God’s life throughout this New Year.
by Sr Cynthia Hruby ND
Plight of the Family in Flight
The Gospel for today tells of Jesus in the temple teaching the elders. His parents are in the caravan on the way home when they realize Jesus was not with them (LK 2:41-52). The caravan, yes, we have been hearing for some time now of the caravan of families heading to our southern border. We know that many family members are separated and that the love that binds them is stretched beyond our imagination.
Question: What experience in my life can I ponder so that I can begin to be in solidarity with the plight of parents who need to make the choice to flee their homeland? Share it with someone.
Traits of the Holy Family
(Adaptation of homily points by Rev. Bryce Sibley, 2014)
Question: Which traits are most characteristic of my family of origin? …of the family I was blest to form in my faith tradition, whether with or without a marriage partner?
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" (Romans 15:13); may you always remember, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).
by Sr Melannie Svoboda SND on December 24, 2018
The story of the first Christmas sets before us an array of unique individuals. First, there is Mary, a teenage mother. Then there is Joseph, her conscientious husband, a simple carpenter.
Next, we have a powerful Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, who orders all the people in his vast empire to be counted. Why? Probably because he senses he is not receiving all the tax money that legally belongs to him. Perhaps too his inflated ego is curious to know exactly how many people are under his absolute rule.
Because of his edict, Mary and Joseph are forced to make the journey to Bethlehem, a trip of about 90 miles. What makes this journey such a hardship is the fact that Mary is nine months pregnant. At this critical time in her pregnancy, she will be deprived of her family and women friends who could have helped her to deliver her baby. Mary and Joseph’s lives, like so many of our own lives, are subject to political forces and historical movements beyond their control.
Other individuals are part of the story of the first Christmas. There’s the innkeeper whose inn was filled, but perhaps he was the one who directed them to the stable. Then there’s a bevy of angels who announce Jesus’ birth to a band of hard-working shepherds. Soon a trio of star-gazers enter the story bearing precious gifts for this newborn king. A little later, Mary and Joseph will encounter two other holy people when they present their newborn in the Temple: Simeon and Anna. These elderly individuals, who realize the significance of the child before them, have important speaking roles in the Christmas story.
Another person plays a vital role in Jesus’ early life: Herod, the megalomaniacal King of Judea. By all accounts, he was a very nasty person even before Jesus was born. He had his potential rivals murdered (including a number of family members) in order to secure his power.
Once he hears the Magi talk about the birth of a new king, he mercilessly orders the slaughter of all the little boys under two in Bethlehem and the surrounding area.
And last, but certainly not least, is the central character in the Christmas story: the baby…Jesus!
One important lesson we can learn from the array of characters in the Christmas story is this: God can—and does—work through all kinds of people to bring about good. All kinds of people. The young and the old, the simple and sophisticated, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the helpless, the humble and the arrogant, the saint and the sinner. Incredibly, each person in this story plays a role in the history of salvation. Some did it through their love, goodness, generosity, and holiness; others did it through their hatred, evil, selfishness, and sinfulness.
The amazing fact is that God can use everyone to bring about God’s plan, to bring about God’s goodness—even you, even me. A question to reflect on this Christmas is this: Where am I in the Christmas story for 2018? What role am I playing to bring about God’s plan in today’s world? How am I partnering with God to bring about goodness in 2018 and into 2019?
In Romans we read: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). Isn’t that some of the best news in the entire Good News? It makes me want to burst into song… and to sing to each one of you:
Merry, Merry Christmas!