Gospel: Mt:6:1-6, 16-18
In today’s Gospel, there are many ways that God wants us to live. We give without acknowledgement; we pray in silence; we fast as Jesus did in the desert. What more can we do this Lent to be more Jesus-like?
~Associate Barb Hickey
First Thursday of Lent
How will I choose life today by loving God as I meet others?
~ Sr Rita Ostry, ND
First Friday of Lent
1st Reading: Isaiah: 58:1-9
This rather, is the fasting that I wish:
~Releasing those bound unjustly
~Setting free the oppressed…
**Can I fast from bias and negative thoughts, which hold others apart from me?
**Or can I fast from seeing others as “different than me” rather than as “my sisters and brothers?
~ Sr. Marie Alice Ostry, ND
First Saturday of Lent
Gospel: Luke 5:27-32
“Jesus said, Follow Me.” And leaving everything behind (Levi) got up and followed him.”
What is Jesus asking me to leave behind this Lent?
Am I stuck in regrets, old painful hurts, negativity or to what am I resistive?
~ Sr. Rita Ostry, ND
The reflections I offer come out of my having watched Dr. Maya Angelou on PBS this past week, having meditated on several of her famous quotes I found online, and having taught black and brown children these past two weeks. Her son, Guy Johnson, said in an interview, “My mother taught me a lot about justice, a love of doing what’s right.” May the parallels I found help you make life-connections for your week ahead.
– Sr. Cynthia Hruby, ND
Collect: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, always pondering spiritual things,
We may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you.
First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2. 17-18
“You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart…. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.”
Miss Angelou: Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but hasn’t solved one yet.
Second Reading: Corinthians 3:16-23
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
Miss Angelou: While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.
Gospel: St. Matthew 5:38-48
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Miss Angelou: I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Without the Holy Spirit, our efforts are in vain! – Pope Francis, 2013
by Rod and Connie Determan, Notre Dame Associates
In Sunday’s gospel, Matthew tells us that Jesus directs us not to just follow the Law but to take it to a higher standard. We are told that it is not acceptable to simply meet the visible appearance of the Law, but to follow the Law in our hearts where only God can judge us. We are told that we need to take responsibility for seeking forgiveness of others that we have offended. If we know in our heart that we have offended someone, we are to stop what we are doing and go seek that person out and ask for forgiveness. I appreciate the warning of doing this in a timely manner. Go find that person and make amends before you come before the judge. Or your opponent may hand you over to the Judge and you will be imprisoned for you offence.
I must ask myself if I have offended someone because of a grudge that I cannot let go. Can I go to the person and ask for forgiveness and make amends before it is too late, and I find myself before the Judge? Do I have it within me to take the high road and resolve what God has laid upon my heart? As we move forward toward Lent, this is an excellent time to step up with courage to forgive and ask forgiveness in damaged relationships in my life. As we move through this election season, we continue to see examples of people not courageous enough to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Rather it is pride or a serious lack of respect for their opponent, real solutions will never move forward without forgiveness from both sides.
Lord, as I enter this Lenten season, please give me the desire to respect and listen to those around me with new and different ideas. And when I do offend them, give me the courage to stop what I am doing and go seek forgiveness and mend my offenses. May God always show me the path to the high road.
by Juanita Harding, Notre Dame Associate
A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew 5:13/16
In today’s gospel Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?” Salt has always been a precious commodity. Salt is necessary for life. Our own blood, sweat, and tears have this mineral in them.
Jesus also told the disciples: “You are the light of the world.” He explains that you do not light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket. The light is for all to see and use. Light guides us and shows us the way.
We are disciples too, and Jesus is speaking to us also. Being salt of the earth and light of the world calls us to use our gifts in service to others. The need is all around us. People are hungry and homeless, and in need of many services. We are called to make a difference. “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
by Ed McKibbin, Notre Dame Associate
The prayer below was sent home from my boy’s school.
It seems to fit as we celebrate the Presentation of Christ this weekend.
Heavenly Father, on this Feast of Candlemas (the Presentation of Christ), I recall the gift Mary and Joseph gave to the world by offering baby Jesus to You in the temple.
I offer up to You all the children in my family. I place them into Your perfect will and I turn their futures over to You.
Help me to let go of my ideas of what they should do with their lives, and show me how to guide them into the purposes for which You created them. Help me to learn from the example of the Blessed Mother, whose heart was pierced by the sword of her Son’s pain, how to always trust in Your plans. Holy Family, pray for us.
On this Feast of Candlemas I believe it is a good time to assess how we depend upon and trust God in our daily lives. Simeon and Anna are two people referenced in the Gospel, in addition to the examples provided to us by Mary and Joseph, who live their daily lives based upon complete trust in and dependence upon God. Simeon and Anna are rewarded by having the opportunity to personally witness in person that long awaited Messiah.
This is a good lesson for us in our daily lives. When we reply upon ourselves, as opposed to God, we find that it is easy to become frustrated and angry during the difficult times in our lives. However, when we turn our lives over to God completely, and depend upon God in our day-to-day lives, we are rewarded, like Simeon and Anna, with the feeling of God’s presence in our daily lives when moments become challenging.
I acknowledge that this is often easier said than done, because we tend to be prideful and think we are strong enough to handle anything that comes our way. Yet, God calls us, and is always there for us to trust and depend upon Him to lead us in our lives. Those times we can do this are the times when we feel most at peace given that we sense the presence of God in everything we do and in everything that comes our way in life.
by Phyllis Chandler, Notre Dame Associate
“The Lord is my light and my salvation.”
In the second reading this Sunday, from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he says, “I urge you . . . that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.” It appears that even among the early Christians there was divisiveness and bickering about whose “camp” they belonged to.
The same is true today. Our country is torn apart by partisanship, name-calling, and animosity. Instead of uniting to achieve our shared goals, we are deeply divided and accomplishing little that will bring about peace and the common good.
Surely we can do better. Issues are seldom as clear-cut as they appear. The more we study them with an open mind, the more aware of this we become. For example, we are called to respect life. Yet, individuals who are adamantly opposed to abortion strongly support the death penalty. Many people express concern about climate change, but are wasteful of our natural resources. On a personal level, I recently had to question to what extent my love of chocolate contributes to the forced labor of children on the cocoa plantations!
Perhaps we should listen to St. Paul’s exhortation to follow the gospel of Jesus “so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.”
During the coming week, let us more closely examine our own beliefs and biases and pray that the light of Christ will illumine us to work with each other toward a shared vision of God’s will in our lives.
by Marylou Garrett, Notre Dame Associate
This Sunday’s readings emphasize that by responding to God’s call and humbly doing his will rather than our own, we point the way to Jesus and help reveal God’s faithful love for all of creation.
In the first reading God calls his chosen people, Israel, to manifest his forgiving love to the Gentiles as well as to their fellow Jews. “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” The future, perfect, light to the nations will be Jesus.
In John’s gospel’s account of Jesus’ baptism, John the Baptist humbly recognizes his role was to point to one greater than himself. “The reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known by Israel.” The Spirit had revealed this to John, and John put the spotlight on Jesus, the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ own humility in accepting his cross out of love for us literally saved us. When we were baptized we were anointed with the same Spirit that he was. In what specific ways is the Holy Spirit calling you and me, right now, to decrease so that our modern world’s awareness of God’s tender love for all of us, right now, can increase?
by Sr Mary Kay Meagher ND
A long time ago I was involved in a parish Baptismal prep for expectant parents. I was stunned hearing in their discussion the questions of what will happen to my baby if he or she dies and is not baptized?
It has called me to examine what is Baptism really about? It is not the ceremony or timing or circumstances surrounding the event but the establishment of God’s relationship with me.
This Sunday we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord. What is outstanding in this story is not the how of His Baptism but what was revealed to Jesus in the voice he heard:
“You are my Son, my Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Jesus’s baptism, at the hands of John the Baptist, was God’s liberating spirit of approval. It was not a washing away of sin.
I suggest reflecting and listening to the voice spoken to each one of us in our own Baptism:
“You are my beloved daughter (or son…with you I am well pleased.”
How can we really hear this? Take this in? Live with the enormity of this relationship every day? Listen to this voice? Let it shape our being?
by Sr. Rita Ostry, ND
This weekend we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, the manifestation of Jesus’ presence to the Magi and all people. What intrigues me in the gospel story is the three people following a star that leads them to Jesus. The experience had a profound effect in their lives. This challenges me to ponder what star am I following that is leading me closer to Jesus? Is this deepening my relationship with Jesus?
So I take time to consider various stars ---
These are a few stars that are shining and inviting me to some serious change and action. What star is beckoning you to be led to a deeper relationship with Jesus? How is Jesus manifesting his presence in your life? Blessings on your week and may you be guided by a star that leads you into a surprising relationship with Jesus.
by Sr Anita Rolenc ND
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23
In Sirach, notice the “blessings” that follow respect/honor/kindness to one’s parents. As grown adults, maybe the blessings we experience now are a result of the way we treated our parents when we were youngsters.
St. Paul, in Colossians, lists the virtues needed to live amiably with others. Take a serious look at that list. Which one stands out as lacking in self?
The familiar scene of the Holy Family fleeing into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod is repeated today by millions of refugees and immigrants displaced because of oppressive situations. While most of us are unable to assist these people, we can show concern to the neighbor in need, welcome a stranger, forgive a family member, or reach out to others in countless ways.
Ask Jesus, Mary and Joseph to bless your family and all families with holiness!