Lenten Reflections

Thursday, March 24 – Sr. Beth Fitzpatrick O.Carm

Gospel: JN 13:1-15 

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper, 
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power 
and that he had come from God and was returning to God, 
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin 
and began to wash the disciples’ feet 
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him, 
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him, 
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him, 
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over; 
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet 
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, 
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, 
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow, 
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”


Holy Thursday Reflection 

         Today's Gospel passage from St. John, is powerful on multiple levels.  I am particularly moved by these words:  "[Jesus], fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God..."

         Jesus was the fully aware human person ---aware that he was the Beloved Son of God, aware of his mission to preach the Good News to the poor, to give sight to the blind,  and to free captives.  Jesus was deeply aware of his own love for the Father and for us, those he called "his own in the world." Fully aware of being held in Love, of moving ever forward to Love, of being Love, Jesus was free to serve:  to humbly wash the feet of his friends, to willingly suffer and die for those he loved and to embrace the joy of glorious new life.

         All during this Lenten season, Jesus has been inviting us to share his life --- to grow ever more fully into the awareness that we, too, have come from God and are being drawn to God.  We have been encouraged to turn away from anything that diminishes God's life in us. We have been invited to serve each other.  Jesus is our model.  May we be ever more fully aware of the Amazing Love who loves us and calls us to Life.

Posted by stevensm on Wednesday March 23, 2016
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Wednesday, March 23 – Sue Hymel

Gospel: MT 26:14-25 

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, 
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
He said,
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near; 
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”’”
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said, 
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
“Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply,
“He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”

Oh Judas 

How much you remind me how easy it is to betray Jesus. How easy to convince myself that it is for a good reason.

I truly believe that Judas thought he had honorable intentions for his decision. Whether those intentions were to “force Jesus’ hand” into acting more quickly and forcefully as a Messiah; or whether it was that he had given up on Him.

I feel sorry for Judas because I can see his humanness. He was impatient and wanted Jesus to be what he thought a messiah should be. How many times do I question why things happen or rather why God isn’t making things happen in our world? I second guess instead of just accepting Jesus as He is and trusting that all will turn out well in the end if we just have patience and acceptance and follow Him.

I also think that Jesus called out the betrayal to his disciples so that each one of them would look inward and look for short comings or doubts. It reminds me of how we should prepare for the sacrament of Reconciliation. We should examine our actions and the reasons for them. We need to ask why we aren’t following His word.

I believe that sometimes God sends us trials or has us fail at some things so that it reminds us that we aren’t perfect and we need to stop and take a look inwardly, to be more humble and know that we only achieve the things we do through God’s help. 

“God our Father, we are exceedingly frail and indisposed to every virtuous and gallant undertaking. Strengthen our weakness, we beseech you that we may do valiantly in this spiritual war; help us against our own negligence and cowardice, and defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts; for Jesus Christ’s sake.” (Prayer of Thomas a Kempis)


Posted by stevensm on Wednesday March 23, 2016
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Tuesday, March 22 –Laura Gravener

Gospel: JN 13:21-33, 36-38

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus’ side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
“Master, who is it?”
Jesus answered,
“It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas,
son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
“Buy what we need for the feast,”
or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,
‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him,
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him,
“Master, why can I not follow you now? 
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”


Mercy in the Face of Betrayal 

Have you ever been betrayed by someone in your life?  If so, you can likely clearly recall the deep pain that you felt along with that betrayal.  Why does betrayal hurt so badly?  As a priest at a recent retreat that I attended pointed out, betrayal usually comes from someone we deeply care about … someone in whom we have put trust and confidence.  It’s not our enemies who betray us; it’s not our acquaintances who betray us.  We don’t expect their love, trust and loyalty.  Implicit in the idea of betrayal is that it comes from a friend.  

In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus recognizing that he will be betrayed by Judas … a man who spent many years by his side, a man that he taught, a man with whom he conversed, a man with whom he shared his thoughts and feelings, a man that he loved.  This dear friend is the man who hands Jesus over to his crucifiers.  Could there be a greater betrayal than this?  As if that was not bad enough, minutes later, Jesus predicts that his beloved Peter will deny him -- not once, but 3 times.

Recalling how you have felt after being betrayed in your own life, imagine the deep, penetrating pain that Jesus must have felt as result of the actions of Judas and Peter.  As sinful humans, what is our natural response to betrayal?  We want to get even, condemn, gossip, or maybe even run away.  It is, after all,  quite possibly the worst hurt another could cause us. But, how does Jesus respond to the ultimate betrayal?  He accepts it, forgives and continues to love his betrayers.  

To me, this Gospel speaks clearly to theme of mercy in this jubilee year declared by Pope Francis.  Every time we sin, we betray Jesus.  Yet, we know that he forgives us.  His reaction to Judas and Peter’s betrayal serves as a powerful example of the extent of Jesus’ mercy and reminds us that no matter how much pain we have caused him, Jesus will show us the same love and acceptance that he showed to Judas and Peter.  What a comforting thought!

Jesus also gives us an example of how we should react to those who betray us.  The question he asks Peter is also directed to us … “Will you lay down your life for me?”  I interpret this as Jesus asking us to lay down or set aside our natural human responses not only to the small hurts that other cause us, but also to the very large hurts that others cause us, and to show the same compassion and mercy to our betrayers as Jesus showed to his.  In other words, we are challenged to be the face of Jesus even to those who hurt us the most and thereby let them see the mercy of God through our actions.  Jesus, give us the strength to show others the same mercy you showed in the face of the ultimate betrayal.
Posted by stevensm on Tuesday March 22, 2016
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Monday, March 21 – Geoffrey Philabaum

Gospel: JN 12:1-11

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany,
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. 
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. 
Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages
and given to the poor?”
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came,
not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.
And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
because many of the Jews were turning away
and believing in Jesus because of him. 


So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial.”

In graduate school, part of my research involved religious experience and the body: how we think about, talk about, and experience faith through our corporeal existence.  The images here are beautifully embodied.  The finest oils attainable are placed not on the head, but on the feet: the lowly, dirty feet of a man known for walking through muck.  These oils are to soothe and cleanse the dry and battered, to anoint and empower the simultaneously revered and reviled. They are concentrated, and the scent fills the house. Mary’s hair, the cleanest and most highly prized part of her body, is saturated with the musk of the nard and the filth of the street. This scent will be gone in a few days, but what will linger is a memory, a gift no less profoundly generous.  

So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial.”

Yes, this is a rare oil, but Mary will smell it again.  She will pass it in the streets.  She will catch a hint of it in the air on a day when life will seem to be too much, a day when Jesus’ body will be gone.  She won’t be able to touch it or sit at its feet.  She won’t be able to listen to its words, but it will be there for her.  Today, I challenge you to find your “it.”  What is your memory?  What inadvertently reminds you of Jesus’ grace, power, and humanity? Music is oftentimes my “it” - not just the sounds, but the humanity of the creation.  Seeing and hearing individuals pouring out something intensely personal and intimate for an audience is a gracious (and risky) sacrifice.  It lingers. It sustains, and it will come again when we least expect it.


Posted by stevensm on Monday March 21, 2016 at 07:02AM
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Saturday, March 19th – Kim Duhe

Gospel: LK 2:41-51a

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
“Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them.


A Parent’s Biggest Fear…

My child is missing? My child is missing! MY CHILD IS MISSING!!!

We rarely think of the “boy Jesus.” At Christmas we ponder the miracle and humbleness of “Baby Jesus” and the rest of the year most of us only think of Jesus the man, teacher and savior. Luke’s Gospel gives us the only gospel glimpse of the “boy Jesus” and I often ponder why Luke included this particular story. Sure, the teacher in me knows that Luke wants to offer more stories about Jesus than the other gospel writers and that this event foreshadows what will happen later in the gospel account but it can still seem confusing.

The parent in me wants to get really mad. How dare this 12 year old boy scare his parents like that and then give such a “flippant answer” when they question his motivation. How dare he sit casually among the scholars of the temple discussing “stuff” while his parents frantically travel a day’s journey back and search a crowded city desperate to locate their missing child. What is this supposed to mean to me?

Here are some thoughts…

There really is a plan and a purpose to our lives. It’s going to work out the way it’s meant to with or without our permission, intervention, over thinking or stress. It just will. Parents probably have the hardest time with this in regards to our children. We want to be in control of them… what they like or don’t like, where they go, who they hang out with, what they do, eat, read, watch… But they aren’t really ours. Each person God creates is perfect and exactly how God intended for them to be. Repeat: How God intended them to be. Our job is to love! Love one another and support each other but let every person be free to answer God’s call in their own ways. When we accept that God has called that person on a different path than the one we wanted them to travel with us, it is ok to go back and check on them but we might have to ultimately accept that they have actually been where God intended them to be all along. It’s convoluted but simple: we can plan and organize and micromanage every detail in our lives and it doesn’t mean anything if that isn’t the plan God has for us. Sometimes we just have to accept the plan whether it is for us or for those we think of as “ours.” Accept and love just as God our Heavenly Father accepts and loves: fully and unconditionally.

On Children

Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,

but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children

as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,

and He bends you with His might

that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,

so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Posted by stevensm on Saturday March 19, 2016
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