Discovering Something New – A Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Lent

By Sister Rita Lynch, MHSH

Isaiah 43:18-19   “Remember not the events of the past….see, I am doing something new”

Philippians 3:12-13  “It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained it, but I continue my pursuit….forgetting what lies behind, but strained forward to what lies ahead.”


Holy_Week_DispayEach year, we celebrate the season of Lent, Holy Week and Easter.  It is full of special events—Ash Wednesday, Rites of Initiation, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil.  We make personal choices of how to journey this most holy and spiritual time of the year.  It is a time to remember again the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus, who was sent by God to show us the way to live in God’s presence.  It reminds us of all that Jesus lived and died for: “US”!

The readings for this week encourage us not to forget, but also to remember that there is something new waiting for us to receive from our God with open minds and hearts.  Each of us has traveled this same journey for as many years as we have had birthdays.   Sometimes those years are a repeat of the prayers and liturgies of the previous ones.   

something newSometimes it seems that we are not called to do the same thing over and over every year. And, if we listen to the words of Isaiah and Paul, we are challenged to look for the deeper meaning, the expanded vision, the next deeper insights of what this time of the year is meant to be for us. 

Our faith not only repeats the past words and events, but needs to bring us to “continue the pursuit” as Paul suggests. We are called to discover the “something new” that allows the season to change our hearts and lead us to new understanding of how this time affects our spiritual life and gives us the impetus to carry this season into the future in a new way.  

A New Things

2016 is not the same as 2015, or 2014, or any other year.  We are different, have had many new experiences since we celebrated this holy time last year.  Perhaps our lives have seen a new commitment—and so we are reminded of the commitment Jesus made with the Father when he came to earth and walked among us. 

 

Our Journey to Jerusalem

 A Reflection for Good Friday by Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH    

three crossesWhen we look at Jesus today, Good Friday, we must look at death. There is no escaping that today. We cannot deny that Jesus died.

Death itself is difficult to face for all of us, and especially difficult for so many of us who are relatively young, healthy and focused on the future . The reality of our own death may seem remote, far off, almost unreal or something we don’t want to think about.

We are often tempted to ask why. Why does God allow death? Why did God allow Jesus to die?   We just don’t know why. And Jesus didn’t explain–he just did it. All he said to the apostles was that the Son of Man must suffer and die. He didn’t say why.

Early on Jesus knew his life was headed to Jerusalem–to suffering and death. In the Gospels we hear Jesus instruct his disciples many times that “the Son of Man must suffer and die.” And, if we follow Jesus, our own life is pointed that way also. Human living is a journey to Jerusalem.

Now there is more to life’s journey than death at the end:

Like Jesus’ journey, our journey has lights and shadows along the way,
beginning with the miracle of our own Bethlehem–our own birth;
the growing pains of our own Nazareth–our youth;
the joys of our own accomplishments;
public life in its different dimensions;
the wilderness and its temptations;
Peter, John, Magdalene and even Judas intersecting our lives;
an occasional transfiguration;
the joy of communion with a living God.

And then there are the experiences of letting go–
letting go of family, home, childhood;
letting go of friends and colleagues;
letting go of good health;
letting go of outmoded ideas and limited perceptions;
and finally, letting go of the sheer miracle of being alive.

Our life’s journey always leads to Jerusalem where death is inevitable.

How does this reality of death affect our life right now? Karl Rahner, the Jesuit theologian who so influenced Vatican II, has an insight for us: “for Christ, death was the expression of loving obedience, the free transference of his entire created existence to God.” In other words, Jesus knew his life was a free gift of God and he freely gave it back to God, little by little, day in and day out by the way he served others.

We, too, can be formed in the pattern of Jesus’ life and death as we grow in acceptance of our life as a free gift of God and follow Jesus’ example of service. What could be a more appropriate response to God’s gift of life than to give back that life in service to others as we travel our life’s journey?

On this Good Friday, a day of impasse between Jesus’ life on earth and his life of fullness with the Mystery we call God, let us contemplate our own death as that unique moment when the “yes” we have been saying to God all along will reach its climax in that extraordinary experience when Christ who is life, who has been our life, will fashion us finally and fully to his life and in his image.

 

 

 

 

 

A Reflection for Good Friday

By Sister Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH

Is 52:13-53; Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25: Heb 4:14-16; Jn 18:1-19:42

Good Friday.  Five brief days from the glory of Palm Sunday when Jesus entered into Jerusalem amidst cries of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord…Hosanna in the highest.”  Today, in the Gospel of John, we hear the crowd cry, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!”  How quickly life can change.

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord,” goes the hymn.  Our readings for Good Friday speak of some of those who were there and of some who foretold the happenings of this day regarding Jesus the Lord, the suffering servant.

Jesus, the one who says, “…learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Mt 11:29)  St. Paul writes, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 9-10) What does it mean to believe that when we are weak we are strong?  How are we challenged to be followers of this suffering servant?  Where in our world today do we see the Cross of Christ—the one who “was spurned and avoided by people, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom people hid their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.” (Is 53:3-4) We might pause and call to mind those we hesitate to look upon…who did we pass by today?  Who is it in our world we consider weak or when are those times we become discouraged by our own weakness?

Perhaps a guide for this day can be Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Can’t you almost hear her speaking to us in the following worlds by Robert Browning Hamilton:  “I walked a mile with Sorrow, and never a word said she; but, oh, the things I learned from her when Sorrow walked with me?”

Not too many days ago we celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of God.  As she pondered this happening in her heart did she have any idea of where that “Yes” would lead her?  Mary gives witness to “love as a verb.”  To hold in heart and prayer the pain of a loved one is no passive act.  Oftentimes, it has been my realization of how very little I can do for another in their pain that allows me to surrender to the need to do something.  It is then that I am able to give myself over to simply being with another in their sorrow. 

Have you sat with a friend or loved one experiencing the betrayal of divorce…the death of a child, a spouse, a sibling, a parent?  Perhaps it was when you were waiting with someone in the doctor’s office or emergency room of a hospital.  Have you tried to reach out to someone hurting?  Mary stood by and stood with Jesus and his friends knowing the deep sorrow of powerlessness, while remaining faithful to her “Yes” to the mystery of God.

We know that Good Friday and the Cross are not the final answer, yet endure our crosses we must if we are to rise to new life.  Look to Jesus, the one who shows us the Way, who is our Truth and our Life. (Jn 14:6). In his weakness is our glory!