My Sisters Gospel Reflection, Uncategorized

Trinity Sunday

Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity.

“Go therefore..” are the words of the Gospel for today.  We are embraced by God, by the Holy Trinity,  and, therefore, we feel the need as a disciple to go out and tell the whole world “the good news.”

This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:

People usually perceive themselves to be in the world, calling out to God. But these two words, “go, therefore,” turn that perception around. It is as though the disciples are within the embrace of the Trinity and are being sent into the world.

For forty days following his resurrection, Jesus has moved in and out of the apostles’ lives. He has appeared to them unexpectedly, enjoyed breakfast with them on the beach, and breathed into them his Spirit, giving them the power to forgive sins. Gradually he has weaned them from his daily physical presence to a new relationship with him. They will no longer see him or speak with him as they had during those three blessed years before his crucifixion and death. Yet they knew he is with them still, though in a different way. He is with them, and they are with him. He is in them and they are in him. They are becoming one with he who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Through him they also share in a relationship with the Father. They would soon be filled and anointed with his Spirit. And Jesus now exhorts them to go into the world.

What difference would it make in your life if you remembered that you are at home in the Trinity’s embrace, looking out onto the world? How would this, for instance, change your family life? Would you feel less entangled or confined or overwhelmed by what happens within relationships in your family? Would you have more options? Would it be possible to consider acting differently? Loving differently? Thinking differently?

Would you pray differently if you knew you were already in the Trinity’s embrace? Know that you are already at home, and you are already loved. You have already been given everything you need. You are already held with compassion. The striving, the frustration, the methods of prayers would melt away if you knew deeply whose you are . . . already . . . now.

If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of Ordinary Time in:  Ordinary Grace Weeks 1-17.

My Sisters Gospel Reflection

Pentecost Sunday

Tomorrow our Holy Advocate, the Holy Spirit comes to fill us with grace and blessings beyond all telling! It is the great feast of Pentecost!  The Church asks us this great question: Is your heart open to the Holy Spirit? He has been sent to us through the door of salvation opened by the death and resurrection of Christ. Yet, like the apostles and disciples who had witnessed the marvels of the life, teaching, suffering, and death of the Lord, and then the glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, we may have closed and locked our door. Why?

This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:

It isn’t that we don’t believe all that Christ taught, or what we have experienced of the power of his grace in the sacraments and in our daily lives. It is perhaps that our faith has been awed by the realization of what has taken place. Salvation is more than we hoped for, we who live our days in this world.

We often plod along from day to day hoping for the best. We may only have a vague idea of what that best might be. Our daily concerns and cares may cloud our vision of faith. And so, we may be hiding in fear of the stunning act of love we have just lived in the Lenten and Easter seasons. Fear is a natural reaction. We fear our very fearfulness.

Today we open the doors of our hearts and let in hope and healing, like the sun’s rays coming through the clouds. It is now that the Holy Advocate comes to fill us with wisdom, fortitude, and zeal. The Spirit will bring all these things to our minds. He will strengthen our resolve to live as true followers of Christ, and fill our heart with fire.

If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of the Easter season in Easter Grace.

 

 

My Sisters Gospel Reflection

Seventh Sunday of Easter – The Ascension

Tomorrow we celebrate the seventh Sunday of Easter and the feast of the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. At Christmas we celebrate God-with-us. On Good Friday we mourn our sin, because of which we were purchased at the price of Jesus’ death. On Easter we sing “Alleluia!” and rejoice at Jesus risen from the tomb. But on the Ascension we marvel that in Christ we are already seated at the right hand of God.

This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:

Lent looms large in a Catholic’s spiritual terrain, with its various penances and prayers, culminating in the drama of Holy Week and the jubilant alleluias of Easter. For me, however, all of this is only a prelude to the feast of the Ascension. I wait for this day expectantly every year.

We contemplate the designs of the Father’s love who wanted us to be part of the Trinity’s life and love forever. In Christ—God and man—we are inserted into the communion of the Trinity, we who are but dust and ashes. It would be like Bill Gates giving his entire fortune to a homeless person, inviting him into his family as his heir and dearest son. We are that homeless person who has been given the divine inheritance full and entire, as a gift, obtained through the obedience of Christ. We have been named the dearest, newest member of the family.

The reading from Mark helps us realize the larger picture in which we live out our lives as Catholics. We cannot take up the divine inheritance won for us and then live for ourselves. Jesus says: go out, preach the Gospel, baptize. We are commissioned to make this family of God grow. It’s not ultimately about me, but about the delirious joy of making it possible for as many others as possible to receive what we have been given. The Lord works with us as we proclaim this outlandish love of God to others. Ultimately, this is the greatest thing we can do with our lives.

If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of the Easter season in Easter Grace.

My Sisters Gospel Reflection

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Tomorrow we celebrate the sixth Sunday of Easter. “Remain in my love.” Jesus is in the upper room with his apostles. In a little while he will lay down his life for them, but they don’t understand. Jesus doesn’t talk too much about what is going to happen to him. Rather, he is concerned about how his disciples will cope with his death.

So what does Jesus do? He invites them to remain in his love—to make his love their permanent dwelling place. The love of the Father is his permanent dwelling place. Nothing and no one can change that—not even his impending death. But his disciples must know that the Father’s love is meant to be their permanent dwelling place too.

This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:

Imagine! Jesus invites us to “hang out” in his love. Have you ever thought about where you regularly hang out interiorly? We actually might have several interior hangouts. Perhaps we dwell in guilt, anxiety, fear, resentment, self-preoccupation, or concern about what others think of us. In those places, our mind feeds on negative thoughts and our hearts are held captive to emotions that keep us closed in on self and unaware of God and those around us.

Jesus offers us another hangout, a place of real security no matter what the situation is around us. That place is in the Father’s love. What would my day look like if I really remained in the Father’s love? Might I be on the lookout for all the creative ways he was using to show me his love: the sunrise, the hot cup of coffee in the morning, the reassuring word of a friend, the difficult task I was able to finish, the coworker who apologized to me for a misunderstanding that happened days ago? Might I “run into his love” when I felt hurt, rejected, like a failure, misunderstood? Might I think of him more often during the day and try to find ways to let that love flow through me to others? Hanging out in the Father’s love could totally change my life!

If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of the Easter season in Easter Grace.

My Sisters Gospel Reflection

Fifth Sunday of Easter

In this Gospel of the fifth Sunday of Easter we hear Jesus say, “Ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” What a marvelous promise, especially coming from God! When friends ask us what they can do for us, we don’t dare request something beyond their capability to give. But this is God asking—and God can give us anything we ask. So why does it seem that our prayers are not always answered? Jesus gives us a clue when he talks about being the true vine in the vineyard of his Father, the Vinedresser.

This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:

One year I was in Italy right before the grape harvest, when the vines bore ripe, full bunches of grapes. I bit into a grape, and cool sweet juice squirted into my mouth. I asked someone why this vine bore such big, sweet grapes. He explained how the vinedresser pruned the vine, binding drooping tendrils and trimming off branches to focus its growth. Contemplating the grapevine, I realized that “asking for what we will” presupposes trusting the Vinedresser. If I had been there when the vinedresser was chopping off branches and tying up tendrils, I may have disagreed with his method. Yet, obviously he knew how to bring an abundant harvest to that vineyard.

The word of God trims us so that we bear fruit. Our fruit grows through life in Christ. Attached to Christ, the true Vine, we feel the sap of Scripture and sacramental life flow toward fruits being formed in our lives. The Spirit of Christ flows through us and in us. Saint Paul writes that we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (see Romans 8:26). Jesus says that we glorify God when we bear much fruit. We bear fruit when we trust the Vinedresser and stay attached to Jesus, the true Vine—who is pruned and bears abundant fruit. Through baptism we are incorporated into the true Vine. All that we do is transformed into worship—with Jesus we become Eucharistic grapes squeezed into wine to share with a thirsty world.

If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of the Easter season in Easter Grace.

 

My Sisters Gospel Reflection

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Tomorrow is the fourth Sunday of Easter. In this Gospel passage Jesus tells us that the good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep. He emphasizes this by saying that he lays down his life willingly. Jesus knows that in a world in which we daily face the consequences of sin, we are terrorized by what we have experienced and continue to experience. That is why he laid down his life for us—to save us from an eternity of facing those consequences.

This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:

After showing the film Gran Torino to a group of people, I asked them how they would explain it to someone who had never seen it. One man shot up his hand and said without hesitation, “it was about Jesus giving his life for me.”

In Gran Torino, Walt Kowalski saves his Hmong neighbors, Sue and Thao, from the ongoing threat of gang violence. He confronts the armed gang members, knowing that they will most likely open fire. As he suspects, this confrontation provokes the gang members to shoot the defenseless Kowalski. After I saw the movie, I put myself in Sue and Thao’s place as they watched the lifeless body of Kowalski being placed in the ambulance. Not only were they now safe, but they also knew just how much they meant to Kowalski. They were worth so much to him that he had been willing to die for them. While it is true that Kowalski is not Jesus, stories like this can help us understand what Jesus did for us.

Jesus’ life and death are God’s way of communicating to us how much we mean to him, how much he loves us. Jesus knows us intimately because he too knows what it is like to face the consequences of sin. He knows how terrifying it is. And to save us from that, he laid down his life for us. He loves us to the point of death.

If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of the Easter season in Easter Grace.

My Sisters Gospel Reflection

Third Sunday of Easter

In tomorrow’s liturgy we can imagine the apostles and disciples gathered in the upper room on Sunday night. In this very room, four days earlier, the apostles had eaten supper with Jesus, the supper that was his last. He told them, “My peace I give you …” (John 14:27). They feel anything but peaceful now! Jesus had been shackled and tortured; he was “crucified, died, and was buried.” And now—all these reports (even from Simon!) that he has been seen, brimming with life.

“Let’s try to pray,” someone says, “the way he taught us.” It is the least they can do to try to keep his memory alive among them. “Our Father,” begin one or two voices, “who art in heaven.” Others join in, “Hallowed be thy name.” At “Thy kingdom come,” a new presence is felt in the room. For the eleven it is like that mysterious moment Thursday evening when they had eaten the bread and drunk from the cup: “My body … my blood … my peace I give you.” It is as if they can even now hear his voice! “Peace be with you. . . .” Then they realize: they are, indeed, hearing his voice.

This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:

“Peace be with you” on the lips of the risen Jesus is the answer to our prayer: “Thy kingdom come.” That kingdom is the fullness of peace—not simply absence of conflict, but (in the words of the classic definition) the tranquillity of order. Peace is to the universe what health is to the body: order; the way things are supposed to be. Not static, rigid, lifeless, but a condition of life so full it cannot be threatened or undermined by any power in this world. In Jesus of whom the “law, prophets, and psalms” spoke, in his glorified human body, the body born of Mary, the universe is again set in right order—and an even better order than before! God really can “make all things (all things!) work together for good” (cf. Romans 8:28).

If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of the Easter season in Easter Grace.

My Sisters Gospel Reflection

Second Sunday of Easter

Tomorrow’s Gospel shows us the disciples cowering in fear behind locked doors. Mary Magdalene has already brought them astounding news. Peter and John had already rushed to the empty tomb. The word is out that something extraordinary is happening. But fear still rules the hearts of the disciples who retreat into the shadows behind barred doors.

This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:

The Risen One comes into this darkness. His greeting echoes the words that God uttered at the dawn of Creation, “Let there be light . . .” (Genesis 1:3). In the upper room Jesus tells his disciples, “Peace be with you.”

John’s Gospel reminds us several times in the twentieth chapter that these events happen on Sunday, “the first day of the week.” At the resurrection, God hits the reset button. This is the first day of a new creation. Life is reclaimed from the jaws of death and restored to its rightful state: at peace with God, at peace with all creation. On this new day creation awakens to a fresh beginning.

Isn’t that what mercy is all about? We want a clean slate and a chance to start over. We ask for healing and mercy for ourselves and for the people we hold dear. Jesus walks through the locked doors and hidden places of our life, and breathes his new life into us.

On that Resurrection first-day-of-the-week, God gives us a new start. It is an ongoing event that we celebrate—and in some mysterious way becomes present to us—each time we participate in the Eucharistic liturgy. At Mass we encounter the living, resurrected Jesus. We are privileged to touch and be touched by the Risen One. Refreshed, we start anew.

If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of the Easter season in Easter Grace.

My Sisters Gospel Reflection

Easter Sunday

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and Mary Magdalene arrives early at the tomb. Her heart is grieving for the Lord. Darkness shrouds the earth, it is before dawn, and the light of faith not yet risen in her heart. The night still reigns, yet this is illusion! Something unforeseen, new, living—pulsing with hope—has emptied the tomb of death in the night.

Mary is shocked. Nothing is as it was, yet she does not yet understand what is to be. The idea of Christ alive—risen!—is still unthinkable, beyond possibility. Mary runs to the disciples not in hope, but in desperation: “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” She runs in fear, believing the tomb has been raided, the body of the one she loves stolen in the night. She runs, because she cannot face this alone.

This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:

Why do our hearts resist resurrection? Why can’t we grasp the possibility of new life? Sometimes, it’s harder to embrace resurrection than the cross! Why? What keeps us from seeing and believing, as John does?

Perhaps it is because accepting resurrection means accepting all that came before it. All the pain, chaos, and confusion were necessary in order to bring us this new life of joy, freedom, and hope. The resurrection cannot exist without the cross. We rebel against this reality. Yet it remains true, both in the life of Christ, and in our own lives. Somehow, it is often in our times of deepest darkness, in the secretive silence of the tomb, that Christ brings us the most profound gifts of grace, insight, maturation, and growth. Jesus then comes and raids our tombs of death with his new life! And we find that we are a new creation. We are utterly transformed!

We may, at times, find ourselves with Mary, weeping before an empty tomb. Yet we know that in a few short hours, Mary’s profound grief and fear give way to profound wonder, joy, and awe!

If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of the Easter season in Easter Grace.

My Sisters Gospel Reflection

Passion Sunday

Tomorrow is Passion Sunday in Lent. Here one is able to detect the attitude of different people in this Gospel and their relationship to Jesus who says: “This is my body…. This is my blood, which will be shed for you.” “The leader is the one who serves. I am among you as the one who serves.” “You, Peter, will deny me.” “Pray not to enter into temptation.” “Judas, do you betray me with a kiss?” “If I tell you who I am you will not believe me.” “Father, forgive them” (cf. Lk 22:23–23:34).

This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:

An interesting contemplative exercise would be to jot down in two separate columns the words said by Jesus and those said by everyone else in this Gospel passage.

The disciples and religious and civil leaders say things such as: “Who is the greatest?” “Lord, I am ready to go to death for you!” “Look, here are two swords. Shall we use them?” “If you are the Messiah, tell us.” “This man perverted our nation.” “Crucify him!” (cf. Lk 22:24–23:21).

The words of the disciples and leaders are characterized by self-protection. They are the words of people seeking to plan and control their lives from within their own framework or perspective. They are words of violence toward others. Their words reveal their desire to forfeit their identity for the safety of the rush of the mob. Jesus’ words, on the other hand, show that he has made himself vulnerable, that he will hand himself over for the sake of others. Jesus wasn’t trapped in his own fear of death, but knew himself to exist within a reality more spacious than his own fearful neediness, something ultimately good in which his life was held, beloved, even were he to die on the cross.

In a word, perhaps that was just it. The attitude of the disciples and leaders in the face of threat was one of non-acceptance and fear. Jesus’ attitude was one of acceptance despite his fear.

If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of Lent and Easter seasons in Lenten Grace and Easter Grace.