The Transforming Presence of God: A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent

By Sr. Princess Mary Dawson, MHSH

Click here for the Mass readings.

 

 

The readings of the Second Sunday of Lent are a like a roadmap, guiding us and grounding us in hope. At times we may feel like Abram in the first reading, unsure how things will unfold.

But the Lord made a covenant with Abram, promising that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. We can be comforted that even when we cannot see what lies beyond, God walks with us in our fears and doubts.

Then we turn to the Transfiguration account in the Gospel and watch Peter, James and John take the journey to Mount Tabor. There had to be some soul searching going on in them about who this Jesus was. Perhaps they were even hesitant as they journeyed. Imagine reaching the top of the mountain and seeing Moses and Elijah conversing with Jesus. Like Peter, we might want to memorialize this encounter. The encounter is nonetheless memorialized with the proclamation from the clouds “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” Silence follows this event.

The words from the clouds were enough to ponder in their hearts. Possibly they left in fear or in confusion regarding the meaning of what transpired. Even so, Jesus was with them though they did not fully understand what it all meant. We can be comforted that no matter what we face, whatever we do not understand or whatever struggles we confront, we can be certain that Jesus is with us. May we always listen to the beloved Son of God. Amen.

 

 

 

The Change That Changes Everything – A Reflection for Easter

By Sister Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH President

We live in a world and in a time of rapid change.  All avenues of social media keep us aware moment by moment of how quickly things change all around the world.  Closer to home, “in the blink of an eye” as they say, our lives change.  It could be a phone call, a medical diagnosis, news about a loved one and life is never the same.  Perhaps it’s the death of one we hold dear or the birth of a child, a grandchild, a niece or nephew.  Change is all around us; change is the one constant in life.

Recently I was struck by a phrase that I heard and shortly thereafter read in an article. The phrase – “the change that changed everything.”  I kept coming back to that as I prayed about this Easter blog.  Truly, Easter is THE change that changed everything for us who today proclaim, “Jesus Christ is Risen!” 

 Our Lenten preparation and opening to the love and grace of God that is all-surrounding, have perhaps changed our hearts to see even more clearly the awesome mystery that from death comes new life.  We come to embrace in a deeper way what the great mystics knew, that resurrection is how reality is – that nothing dies, everything is transformed.  These forty days have invited us to grow more fully into being a resurrection people.  Our faith is meant to witness a message of hope.  How does this hope allow us to stand with others in their deepest sorrow – in their deepest joy?

 

 May we, like the women at the tomb and those first disciples be surprised by the mystery of resurrection.  May we, like them, experience new freedom as the children of a God who calls us from all that entombs, entraps and keeps us bound.  May our despair, doubt and disappointment be transformed in the light of the resurrection as we find new life, hope and the gentle breath of presence and peace.  For truly Easter is THE change that changes everything!

 

Doubt – A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Easter

By Sister Natalie DeLuca, MHSH

Acts 4:32-35; Ps 118:2-3,13-15,22-24; 1Jn 5:1-6; Jn 20:19-31

The first reading for the Second Sunday of Easter is taken from the Acts of the Apostles and gives an almost picture-perfect word sketch of those first followers of Jesus: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common….With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus….There was no needy person among them….

Full of conviction, the second reading from the first letter of Saint John, gives us the key to this legacy: “And the victory that conquers the world is our Faith.  Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 

But the Gospel brings us back to the faith-struggle and gives us a reality check.

Remember when the risen Lord appeared to the disciples behind locked doors the first time? Thomas wasn’t there.  When he was told of the appearance, he was skeptical, to say the least!   Yes, he was still one of them—that motley group of followers, of weary fishermen, of common folk.  Thomas probably thought he would gather with these same believers to share memories, loss, grief, a need to mourn and to muster the courage and the will to “move on” in life.

It wasn’t going to be an easy task.  He seemed convinced his friends, perhaps stricken by grief, were imagining things.  The memory of a bloody Jesus, beaten and defiled filled his heart.  How could Jesus have stood in their midst and greeted them with “Peace”?  How could this be?   “We have seen the Lord.”  It was a declaration of certainty.  And no one could convince them otherwise.

“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week goes by.  The disciples have gathered together again.  And this time Thomas—with all his doubts—was with them.  Locked doors were hardly a barrier for Jesus.  Again, Jesus stood in their midst and said: “Peace be with you.”  And then he turned to Thomas.  “Put your finger here and see my hands and bring your hand and put it into my side and do not be unbelieving but believe.” 

“My Lord and My God!” Thomas replied with believing eyes and a humble faith. 

For reflection:

    • Where am I in my journey of faith? Skeptic? Infancy? Teen? Adult? Struggling believer
    • Faith does not preclude questions or even doubts.
    • Begin a dialogue with the resurrected Jesus about your faith journey.

 

“Create A Clean Heart in Me, O God” – A Reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Jer 31:31-34; Ps 51:3-4, 2-15; Jn 12:20-33

Last spring, during the Easter season, we enjoyed the beauty and fragrance of several hyacinth plants. After they had bloomed and then gradually wilted and dried, I continued to water them in the hope of a second bloom.  Nothing happened and after a while I gave up and put the pots aside. Almost a year has passed and the other day something in the neglected flower pots caught my eye.

What was that yellowish, white thing? Could it be? Yes, it was a tender shoot pushing through the earth saying, “I died and was buried, but now, here I am emerging from the earth alive and new.” It took time, but the transformation happened. Another and another bud pushed through and I was awed at the miracle and determination of life over death.

We hear about such surprise and transformation in the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.  Jesus tells us that “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat.  But if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

Being the servant, the follower of Jesus means that we understand the story of the seed, the lesson of the plant. Those periods of death, darkness, loss, doubt and confusion that every one of us experiences in our lives, are the environment, the incubation period from which faith, enlightenment and rebirth emerge.

And where is the nurturing place for such a faith? In the first reading we hear the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts. I will be their God and they shall be my people.”

God has placed the seed of faith in our hearts. Our hearts are that place of incubation for renewal, discovery, transformation, birth. Our Lenten discipline enables us to clarify the direction of our lives, to face and deal with the dark places within and to accommodate the challenges of daily dying and rising.

May we nurture in our hearts during this “season of incubation” new stirrings of hope, possibilities and responsiveness to the call of the one who “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

We pray in the words of the responsorial psalm:

“Create a Clean Heart in Me, O God”