Hidden Riches

A Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent

By Sr. M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/022121.cfm

Does it seem to you, as it does to me, that we have been in “Lent” for over a year already? What more can we say about such a cold, grim season? It has been our own desert, just as Jesus had his –and yet, when he emerged, he had a surprising message, upbeat and hopeful: “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.”

Can we come up with anything like that, as we look ahead to the end of the Covid 19 pandemic? Jesus had angels ministering to him: do we? Where do we see the “riches hidden in Christ” that the opening prayer (Collect) of today’s Mass refers to?

My first response is “First Responders” – the truly heroic, selfless folk who do the dangerous ministry of health care, transportation to hospitals, phone calls to next of kin, handholding and cellphone displaying as loved ones breathe their last. How many times in one day can one’s heart break? Who has the courage to step up to do that, not for their own loved ones but for complete strangers? Those are the “riches, in part, anyway.

Mr. Rogers always advised children to “look for the helpers”, a wise piece of advice.  As we ponder the enormous need all around us, we would do well to look for the helpers in these perilous times. Perhaps instead of sacrificing chocolate or ice cream or other treats for Lent, we might donate to the Red Cross, local food banks or hospitals to express our gratitude for the gift that they are. If not a monetary gift, maybe it would be even more meaningful to say some heartfelt words of thanks to a person who has cared so well for our own dear ones?  No matter how halting or unpolished, such words would be received as golden: “hidden riches” brought to light, offered, and received with gratitude.

These Holy Days

A Reflection by Sr. Clare Walsh, MHSH

wi0821bi_4c1[1]Pange Lingua, the smell of incense, The Stabat Mater, ” Were you there…?”, crucifixes draped in purple cloth…. just a few of the sights and sounds of a Holy Week long embedded in memory.

When we are familiar with something, it can lose its edge, its ability to disturb us, move us to action, or rest in its solace. The scriptures of Holy Week are not immune from this familiarity. We know the narrative, we know how it ends. At least, we think we do.  Familiarity can lead us to dismiss the mystery, to fail to let it engage us, and to escape from “going the distance” with Jesus.

When Columbian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez was asked about his relationship with his wife, Mercedes, he replied, “I know her so well that I have not the slightest idea who she really is.”  For Marquez, rather than dismiss, familiarity contained an invitation. An invitation to adventure, intimacy, and mystery.

Marquez’s words challenge us to enter these holy days more porous, more vulnerable, more willing to render our hearts.   Do we know Jesus so well that we have not the slightest idea who he really is?

How can we accompany Jesus through Holy Thursday and Good Friday? How can we experience these days as if for the first time? How can we console Jesus for the betrayal, the loneliness, the feeling of abandonment? How can we be with Jesus at the table, walk with him in his suffering, and companion him in death?

As scripture scholars remind us – Jesus’ passion for the Kingdom of God led to the passion of his death. We cannot separate them.

Does my life story reflect the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Caesar?  With whom does Jesus stand today? Are we at his side?

What if, as Jesus did, we let the stranger break our heart and enter our prayer? The refugee, the prisoner, the person brought low by poverty, the neighbor who annoys us, the one burdened by life?  What would it take for us to wash the feet of the stranger, to accompany the one forsaken, to be Simon of Cyrene?

What if our prayer these Holy Days led us from the beauty of a Holy Week liturgy to the streets where Jesus lives?

Day 5: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

week_of_prayer_logo_216wDay 5, The Fellowship of the Apostles

Scripture

  • Isaiah 56:6-8, For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
  • Psalm 24, Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
  • Acts 2:37-42, They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
  • John 13:34-35, I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.

Meditation

Jesus’ commandment to love one another is not theoretical. Our communion of love with one another becomes concrete when we gather together intentionally as Christ’s disciples, to share fellowship and prayer in the power of the Spirit.

The more that Christians, especially their leaders, encounter Christ together in humility and patience, the more prejudice diminishes, the more we discover Christ in one another, and the more we become authentic witnesses to the Kingdom of God.

At times ecumenism can seem very complicated. Yet joyful fellowship, a shared meal and common prayer and praise are ways of apostolic simplicity. In these we obey the commandment to love one another, and proclaim our Amen to Christ’s prayer for unity.

Prayer:

God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may you give to all Christians, and especially to those entrusted with leadership in your Church, the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that with the eyes of our hearts we may see the hope to which you have called us: one body and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above and through all and in all. Amen.

For Reflection:

  • What is our experience of encountering one another as brothers and sisters in Christ through Christian fellowship, shared meals and common prayer?
  • What are our expectations of bishops and other church leaders on the path towards the visible unity of the Church?
  • How can we support and encourage them?

We encourage you to share your personal reflections in the comments section.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 8 (Final) Prayer and Reflection

Day 8: United in the Reign of Christ.
Scripture

I Chronicles 29:10-13, It is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all.
Psalm 21:1-7, You set a crown of fine gold on his head.
Revelations 3:19b-22, To the one who conquers I will give a place with Me on My throne.
John 12:23-26, Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
Meditation
Jesus Christ has humbled Himself and been exalted and shares His reign and exaltation with all people.
David’s hymn expresses the truth that everything happens by grace. Christian tradition gives it a Messianic sense; Christ is the true King, full of blessing and life, the perfect presence of God among people.
The Book of Revelations constitutes a message to the Church in all times and places. Those who admit Christ into their homes will all be invited to share with him in the banquet of eternal life. The promise regarding sitting on thrones, previously announced to the “twelve”, is now extended to all who are victorious.
Christians are aware that unity among them is above all a gift of God. It is a share in Christ’s victory over sin, death and the evil which causes division. Our participation in Christ’s victory reaches its fullness in heaven. Our common witness to the Gospel shows the world a God who does not limit or overpower us. We announce to the people of our day and age, that Christ’s victory overcomes all that keeps us from sharing fullness of life with Him and with each other.

For Your Reflection

On this last day of our week of prayer for Christian Unity we celebrate the Reign of Christ. Christ’s victory enables us to look into the future with hope. This victory overcomes all that keeps us from sharing fullness of life with him and with each other. Christians know that unity among us is above all a gift of God. It is a share in Christ’s glorious victory over all that divides.

  1. In what ways do false humility and a desire for earthly glory manifest themselves in our lives?
  2. How do we express together our faith in the Reign of Christ?
  3. How do we live out our hope in the coming Kingdom of God?

Prayer
Almighty God, Ruler of All, teach us to contemplate the mystery of your glory. Grant that we may accept your gifts with humility and respect each person’s dignity. May Your Holy Spirit strengthen us for the spiritual battles which lie ahead, so that united in Christ we may reign with Him in glory. Grant this through Christ who humbled himself and was exalted, who lives with You and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute