With God in the Wilderness

A reflection for the third week of Lent (written on the Feast of St. Joseph)

By Sr. Loretta Cornell, MHSH

I’ve been reading a publication called “A Lenten Pilgrimage: Journeying with Jesus.”   One of the reflections is titled: “In the desert we cling to essentials.”  It says: “A trek into the desert wilderness is no simple matter.  There are hazards, privations and loneliness, uncertainties, fickle weather, wild animals, and the frightening prospect that overnight the wind could alter the landscape beyond recognition.  It is easy to lose oneself in the wilderness.”

Joseph and Mary had to go through the desert, the wilderness, to get to Bethlehem and then out again into the wilderness to escape Herod’s soldiers who would slaughter the innocent. Both Joseph and Mary were examples of listening to God speak to their hearts, experiencing God with them.  They nurtured and protected Jesus, guiding him all through his life, and taught him how to survive the wilderness in all its forms.

“After his Baptism in the Jordan, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, where he fasted for forty days and nights and was tempted.  The desert wilderness is that place where what is essential (food, clothing, and shelter) is made abundantly clear”.

The wilderness is where God “I Am” nurtures us.  “The wilderness is that place where we enter to be reminded of the One, “I Am”, who is truly essential in our lives. It is where we stand before God,” I Am.”  It is the place where we stand in the light of God,” I AM’s” strength.  Our God says “I alone give you life and I give it to you fully.  Cling to me and I will care for you.  Trust in me and you will find freedom.”

Did you know…

Fig trees can grow in the desert!  Mary and Joseph may have come across one in their travels.  The beautiful fig tree yields two harvests per growing season and produces deliciously sweet fruit. Fig trees might take about 3 or more years to start producing a viable crop, but when they really start to produce you will have all the figs you can eat! Figs, one of the oldest cultivated crops, were a favorite of some early societies. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and even Egyptians enjoyed figs.

For reflection:

What is essential for me to live?
What will nurture me?
Can I meet God in the wilderness?

“Independence” – A Reflection on Independence Day

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

“Independence.” From toddlerhood on, our children are encouraged to walk by themselves. No one with any sense tries to prevent their walking because they might fall: spills are part of the process and another valuable lesson, scary and painful though they be.

Middle-schoolers learn gradually to speak truth to power, starting with peers on the playground. If well mentored, they grow in courage as teens, finding their backbone and making hard choices as they enter adulthood. We agonize with them at times but cheer their insights and brave decisions.

On a parallel, our country struggles to become itself, free, courageous in confronting evil, determined to go forward no matter the price in lives or money—and if you’ve lost a loved one in one of our many armed conflicts, you know that “pricey” doesn’t begin to describe the pain.

american flag 2As we sing our National Anthem on this July 4, enjoy fireworks and hot dogs, and recall the struggles that bought our freedom, let’s say a prayer of gratitude for all those—proud new parents, wise teachers, spiritual mentors, brave soldiers—who have bought and nurtured our independence, individually and as a country.

Let’s pray as well for people around the world who are still striving to be free and self-determining.

Whose example of hard-won independence inspires you? How will you express your gratitude for freedom this year?


Were You There? A Reflection for the Third Week in Lent

By Sister Natalie DeLuca, MHSH

[Readings: Ex 20:1-17; Ps 19:8-11; 1 Cor 1:22-25; Jn 2:13-25]

We are at the half-way mark.  Lent’s goal of deepening one’s relationship with Christ challenges each of us to answer the haunting question:  Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Paul was not present at the Crucifixion.  He did not literally witness Christ’s death on the cross.  But Paul’s faith has given him the strength of conviction.  In his lifetime, he has experiences that seem, to the people of his time to be obstacles or madness.

In this first letter to the Corinthians (from which the Second Reading for this Sunday is taken), Paul admits that faith in Jesus Crucified is beyond understanding.

What gives Paul that assurance, that unshakeable conviction in Jesus Crucified is not an obstacle, not nonsense, not madness?  It is the gift of the Spirit.  He accepts this gift of wisdom.  God’s wisdom is not the wisdom of the world.  The wisdom of the world is alien to things of God.  God’s wisdom, Paul asserts is holiness, virtue, freedom.

Was Paul there when they crucified my Lord?  No. Paul was not a physical eye witness. He was a witness in Faith.  And Paul realizes that with this gift comes the realization that this Spirit of God that dwells within him must reach out to others.  And so that is what he does.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  No. Yet, you are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and like Paul, you come to realize that with this gift comes the realization that the Spirit of God dwells within you and me and we are compelled to reach out to others.