A Reflection for the Second Sunday in Advent

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Reading I: Isaiah 11: 1-10
Responsorial Psalm: 72: 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Reading II: Romans 15: 4-9
Gospel: Matthew 3: 1-12

Advent 2 pic 2The word “hippie” came to mind as I began reading the Gospel for the second week of Advent. John the Baptist certainly marched to his own drummer, living in the desert, wearing “odd” clothes, eating “strange” food. People like John are often written off as kooks, nut-jobs, outliers. In spite of his off-putting ways, though, people of his time seemed drawn to him, traveling (on foot, remember: no Greyhounds to tourist meccas) “from Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan.”

His message wasn’t very cheerful, either, nor was he much of a diplomat in presenting his thoughts. Really, if someone invited you to go for a long, rough hike to hear an oddball, sort of angry person scold everybody and warn them of impending punishment, how likely is it that you would have gone?

Maybe the appeal lay in seeing someone blast the religious leaders of that day – aristocrats and legal scholars of their faith, not known for sensitivity to the human condition. Whatever drew people to John (nothing good on TV?) they certainly came and were motivated to be baptized as a sign they would change their ways.

There’s a balance to John’s fire in the first reading. Isaiah is just as intense as John, but more hopeful, perhaps because he foresees justice for the poor, safety even for a baby playing near a snake (which had to be a much greater concern in those days), no harm or ruin anywhere on earth. Who wouldn’t go for that?

In the second reading, we’re encouraged to endure and be hopeful – something we can all get behind these days – expressing our trust and hope by the way we relate to one another – just as Jews and Gentiles were urged to get along, though in Paul’s time that was a wildly radical notion! Is it too wild and radical for us in our time? Do we have enough of Isaiah’s vision to give it a try? Where will you begin?



A Mother’s Day Reflection on the Mother of Jesus

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky

Is it uniquely Catholic to speak of Mary, the mother of Jesus, as “the Blessed Mother”?

In what sense was she “blessed”?  I think of a French word that looks similar—blesse—but gives us more to ponder:  It’s a word that means wounded.

Now that is accurate.  Mary’s involvement in God’s plan was profoundly wounding.  Reread the first four chapters of Luke’s gospel, plus other mentions of Mary further on and see how obscure, terrifying, horrifying Mary’s life was at times.

If you’re a reader who can plow through some poetic excess, A Woman Wrapped in Silence by John W. Lynch might yield surprising insights into Mary’s and Joseph’s trials.

Their boy was not an easy responsibility.  Like most offspring, he made life “interesting” to an extreme extent. Parents who look on anxiously as their children navigate life’s tricky passages might find it helpful to reflect on those rough spots and converse with Mary.

A Wounded Life

How blessed exactly did she feel when her 12-year-old went AWOL in Jerusalem, or when his buddies sent word for her to come and get him because he was “talking crazy”?

Thinking along these lines about the Blessed Mother helps me to understand why my mother and so many other women (and men) raising children today still turn to Mary for inspiration.  Her life was anything but a holy card in pastels and gilt.  Even though she herself was sinless, the sin-pervading the world touched and wounded her life repeatedly, and she, like us, had no choice but to live it out moment by moment with no idea how it would end.

Sound familiar?  If you intend to follow God’s plan for living, reckon with what that might require of you, and pray for Mary’s courage to stick with your commitment!

Note:  Sisters and friends of the Mission Helpers post their reflections on their mothers on our Mothers Day Blog, Sunday, May 13.

Entry Into the Paschal Mystery – A Reflection for Palm Sunday

By Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

Mk 11:1-10 (At the procession); Is 50:4-7; Ps 22:8-19, 17-20, 23-24; Mk 14:1-72; Mk 15:1-39

Palm Sunday ushers us into Holy Week.  As we receive our palm branch and listen to the opening Gospel we are transported in our imagination to the scene of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, seated on a donkey.

The crowds are still looking for a triumphant hero who will release them from the treacherous rule of the Romans.  But, as we hear the Passion narrative—this year it’s from Mark—we remember that Jesus was alone in his suffering and death. The crowds did not get what they were looking for.

It is significant that Mark’s Passion narrative begins with the story of a woman who manages to break into a dinner party where Jesus is present.  She anoints Jesus’ body with expensive oil.  We are told that the oil was worth a year’s wages.  She breaks the jar and pours the oil on Jesus’ head.  Her action was not appreciated by the dinner guests.  However, Jesus commends her.  Immediately after that, Judas goes off to look for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to the authorities.

This story can inspire us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. We might think of how we spend a year’s wages (a sharing of our gifts) to soothe the pain of those who make up the suffering Body of Christ in the world today.

As Holy Week unfolds and leads us to Easter joy, we come to a deeper realization that although there may not be many earthly rewards for us as disciples, Jesus promises to be with us now and “he prepares a place for us so that where he is, we also may be.” (Jn 14:3)

Questions for reflection:

  • Do you feel confident enough in your relationship with God to trust your life with him?
  • How does God trust you?  Who are some of the people that God entrusts to your care?
  • What graces do you need in order to live in this trust?