by Kris Lanik, Notre Dame Sisters Associate
The theme throughout today’s readings from Holy Scripture has to do with forgiveness. We must always realize that forgiveness is a two way street. We need to seek forgiveness, as we are all likely to do. However, forgiveness is also something we need to give to others.
Jesus is preparing his followers for the time his kingdom is to continue after he is no longer physically present. His focus is on building up harmony among his followers. His teaching is quite simple; we must learn how to forgive our sisters and brothers. It sounds like an easy task; it isn’t. It is only by the grace of Jesus that this is accomplished.
As we reflect on the Gospel reading, notice Jesus’ lesson ends with a warning. Christ always forgives us if we come to him with a humble and sorrowful heart. He expects the same from us. We need to forgive others just as we are forgiven.
by Sr. Mary Kay Meagher, ND
This Sunday’s readings are quite short, direct, to the point and powerful. They don’t lend themselves to equivocal discussion. They deserve honest reflection. Most importantly they are a call to action.
Read carefully all three, not focusing on the dos and don’ts but on the major theme which directly addresses our encountered relationships whether they are complex, supportive, broken, growing etc.
At times when reading these passages we focus on how we can love, accept, and care. But a focus we may tend to give less attention to is in every relationship. There is the essential of reconciliation whether it is with our God, ourselves or another person or group or community or nation. In other words those are those in our lives we call “other.”
By Sr. Mary Hlas, ND
Poor Peter! In today’s Gospel, Peter can’t seem to say the right thing. He was praised for calling Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. Then later when Jesus shared with His disciples that He will go to Jerusalem, suffer, and be killed, Peter responded, “No such thing will ever happen to you.” Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.” He also said, “You are thinking as human beings think and not as God does.”
As we walk through life each day, it might be good to check out thoughts. When all is going well, what are our thoughts? When nothing seems to be going right, then what are our thoughts?
Our prayer today might be a simple one: “Jesus, teach me to think as you think.”
by Theresa Homan, Notre Dame Sisters Associate
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" "But who do you say that I am?" MT 16: 13, 15
Who does Jesus say that he is? The Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus identifies himself with the poor and the least among us. We are all sinners, therefore we are all poor in some way. It is so important, then, to see Jesus in EVERYONE. We are all so different and hold opposing views on many things. Why does God make us so different yet expect us to get along and live in peace with our neighbors?
"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!" RM 11:33
What does God know about our nature, our abilities, our limitations, that creating us and allowing us such freedom seems like a good idea? Is there something holy in the struggle to rise above unloving influences from society, neighbors and even family, even while we often fall prey to them?
Our true nature is to love; to be one with each other in love. It is our calling to be true to this nature as individuals and in our communities. We must not allow hate groups or we/they thinking to take root. Who is God? God is love. Let us choose love as our God.
by Judy Moe McCallum, Notre Dame Sisters Associate
Jesus went to Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman of pagan descent cried to Him to heal her troubled child. Christ said, “I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel.” She begged, Lord help me. He answered: “It is not good to take the bread of the children and cast it to the dogs.” She said, “Yea Lord, for the whelps also eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters. Jesus answered, “Woman great is thy faith. “ And her daughter was cured.
The teaching here that stirs my heart is Christ’s invitation for us to be open and accepting toward everyone, even those who are different from us, without distinction.
As is often the way during reflection, I came upon this story of Giuliana visiting a distant city. She fell on some steps and cried out. A troubled homeless youth came over to her and wiped the blood from her arm, offering his only bottle of water, a few crumbs from his meager table. She was needed elsewhere, yet wanted to help him as he had helped her. All he wished for was a shower to wash away the grime of the streets. By God’s grace, this little bit she was able to offer.
Last Sunday Sr. Anita called us the modern Peters as we become frightened when challenged to reach out to the poor, homeless and so many others. Yet Christ has shown us that even a few crumbs from our table can bring comfort to others and help assuage their troubled hearts.
“Lord, do not thrust me away from your presence; do not take away from me your spirit of holiness. Give me back the joy of your salvation; sustain in me a generous spirit.” (Ps 51,11-12)
by Sr. Anita Rolenc, ND
1 Kings 19:9, 11-13 Romans 9:1-5 Matthew 14:22-33
I love these readings, for they are full of nature’s surprises and God’s display of power and creativity!
In the reading from 1 Kings, Elijah is confronted with a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire. But God is in none of these. Then Elijah recognized God in the whispering sound.
Sometimes God has to use force—wind, quake, fire—to get our attention. Who can ignore the “boisterous” demand? But it is in the quiet moments of prayer or reflection, in the simple things—a flower, a singing bird, a child, an email or phone call—that God often tries to communicate with us. So, what are the “tiny whispering sounds” in your life? A refreshing rain on the lawn and garden and corn/bean crops? The bounty of the tomato/cucumber plant? A friend who needs a listening ear? A relative facing difficulties? A neighbor who is house-bound, lonely, elderly?
The Gospel of Matthew then follows with the disciples terrified on the stormy sea and at the sight of a “ghost” walking on the water. Boldly Peter questions, if it is Jesus, by attempting to walk on the water to reach Jesus. When he flops, Jesus lifts him up before calming the wind.
We are the modern Peters. We become frightened when challenged to reach out to the poor, the homeless, so many others. We make mistakes in our dealings with others. We often fail to live a fully Christian life. At times our faith is weak, like Peter’s. The good news? Jesus is there for us! Jesus reaches out and takes us by the hand and encourages us to try again in our call to follow Him.
by Sr. Mary Ann Zimmer, ND
I am always learning from my students. Often the ones with the best questions are those who have been raised with little or no religious background. Their questions can be so fresh and honest. I had a student ask me last year what was with God always thinking he had to be the center of attention and get all the glory. Wasn’t that pretty self-centered? So today what are we to think of this Sunday’s feast day about Jesus’ transfiguration into glory?
We get important clues from the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Daniel, which promises the Son of Man (later used as a title for Jesus) everlasting dominion, glory, and kingship—and service from all peoples, nations, and languages. The Book of Daniel belongs to what we call apocalyptic literature, highly symbolic literature written by oppressed people to encourage hope in God’s inevitable triumph—even when hope is least reasonable. To praise God as king or the one having dominion is to contrast this promise with the life the people are experiencing in history. It is not that kingship is the ideal system of governance but that God, who requires justice and compassion, displays the ideal characteristics of one who rules.
What are we today, who put our trust in democracy and self-determination, to make of this Biblical insistence on God’s kingship? I think the primary thing we overlook is that the people describing God in the scriptures lived most of their lives as people dominated by exploitive foreign powers or by many of their own kings who used their power for domination. To praise God as king, as the psalm says, is to “proclaim God’s justice.” The emphasis is not on a self-glorifying kingship but on God’s justice, compassion for the poor, and protection of the lowly. God is king, exercising authority in contrast to what most people experienced most of the time. This is why the proclamation that God is King is good news. God and God’s justice are meant to govern us and govern through us.
Jesus was the least likely person in his own day to be thought of as glorious. The Transfiguration was a manifestation of how God evaluated him and his choices. As human beings all of us exercise agency in some way. We have the God-given power to get things done in some large or small sphere. The readings today tell us how to exercise that agency and how to evaluate the use of power in our own day.
All this is meant to gradually teach us to see things with God’s eyes, which may transform how we see the world around us and how we act in it. This is not so that God can exercise domination over us, but so that our individual and communal humanity may flourish.
by Cathy (Notre Dame Associate) & Gary Leak
The first reading from Kings, the responsorial psalm, Alleluia, and Matthew’s Gospel all talk about understanding. Webster defines understanding as comprehension, applying concepts, friendly and harmonious relationships, agreement of opinions or feelings, to achieve or grasp the nature, significance or explanation of something.
We all seek understanding like this. We want to understand what God is asking of us and how we can serve. The Holy Spirit gave us the gift of understanding at Confirmation so that we may experience a living relationship with Christ by living out the meaning of what we hear, contemplate, and do in the celebration of the Mass. In the words of St. Augustine, “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.” (CCC 158)
The readings remind us that God’s creation, His Word, and the magisterium of the church help us to understand that God’s Word and laws are more important for a full, complete life than any earthy wealth. The parables in Matthew teach us that God and His Kingdom are more valuable than earthly treasure. We must open our hearts like children so that we might understand these truths.
by Phyllis Chandler, Notre Dame Associate
Today’s Responsorial: Lord, you are good and forgiving.
The first thought that struck me as I read today’s gospel was the words of the householder’s slaves, who said, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your fields? Where have the weeds come from?” I had to chuckle. As an avid gardener, I often ask myself the same question: Where have the weeds come from? I have no enemy who comes at night and scatters them, but the wind and the birds do as good a job. I often say gardening is simple: getting some things to grow and keeping other things from growing.
The same applies to us. As we go through our daily lives, we are called to cultivate the good seed – our God-given gifts. At the same time, we find that there are “weeds” that spring up: our faults and weaknesses, our distractions from seeking and responding to God’s call. We must take care not to let the weeds destroy the good that God has planted. If we remember that everything we have – our talents and gifts, our possessions – is a gift and not owed to us, we will feel less of a sense of entitlement and be more willing to share these gifts with others.
Another rich image in the gospel for today is that of the yeast which leavens a batch of dough. Compared to the flour and other ingredients, the yeast is a small component of the dough, yet it impacts the entire loaf. Like the yeast, we can be leaven for the world around us: our families, communities, even our world. All it takes is for each of us to do our part to make the loaf better.
During the week ahead, reflect on ways that YOU can cultivate good seeds and/or produce better bread as the gospel calls us to do.
Loving God, help us each in our own way to sow seeds of kindness and be the leaven in our world.
by Kathy Schinker, Notre Dame Associate
As I read over today’s readings it gave me great hope with an awareness once again of the blessings, wonders and possibilities I encounter every day in my relationship with God. At the same time it gives me pause to take another look at what I am doing each day.
Today’s readings are rich in possibility as I pray about protecting and preserving our land, waters and living creatures. What am I doing? Are my efforts falling on good soil? Am I a good steward? Am I part of larger group efforts to lessen global warming? Do I recycle, conserve energy?
I continue to pray that with God’s love and compassion for all my weaknesses I may continue to believe that the seeds of my actions will fall on “good soil” so that seeds may continue to fall on good ground for generations to come.
Where do the “seeds” of my thoughts, behavior, prayer fall each day? It is another way, a metaphor, for me to look at my choices and how I spend time and effort.