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.
by Barbara Hickey, Notre Dame Associate
The focus for today’s readings in Sirach 15:15-20 and in Matthew 5:17-37 is the commandments given by God. Most of us have learned The Ten Commandments from our catechisms in grade school. In my school, first thing after Mass every morning through the elementary school experience, it was Catechism class and that class gave us all a solid background for our faith journey.
In Matthew 5:17-37 Jesus says whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Sounds simple, but being humans it is probably the hardest thing we have to do. It is very hard to be pleasant to some people, to like others, to not get angry or upset with our family or friends, and the list goes on and on.
We have a choice to keep or not keep the commandments. God gave us all free will. Why don’t we use that free will to follow the Ten Commandments? Won’t it be wonderful for us to be “great” in heaven?
by Mary Toline, Notre Dame Associate
Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
This reminds me of a person that I have known for years. When I got sick myself, and decided to retire, I heard that she had been diagnosed with cancer. I told her that I would be happy to take her to some of her chemo appointments. She is married but her husband is ill himself and not able to drive her. Then they found she had a different cancer in her colon and had to have that removed and will now have another type of chemo. I thought that I would be helping out and cheering her up. But what I have found is that she has this positive attitude and she is always cheering me and others up. She is always up beat and always going out and helping people. She goes to the nursing homes to say hello to people. If she hears that someone is ill she will stop and see if they need something. She gave an angel to everyone that has driven her to appointments. One just can’t stay ahead of her. Her children all live in different states and have come to help but with their work can’t stay long. She is a light that draws people to her.
I am hoping and praying that she isn’t suffering but one would never know if she is. She has showed me that it just isn’t worth it to set around and complain. I see that a person feels better if they help others and is doing this through our heavenly Father.