Upper Rooms – Then and Now

By Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH, D.Min

During this Easter season we, the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, send you prayers and blessings for you and your family. Here we are, like the apostles, in our “upper rooms” -many of us since mid-March until today  – and most likely for a while longer.  How much longer, Lord?

How often the apostles left that room during those 40 days from Good Friday night to Pentecost, is not so important. They were in the Upper Room pondering and wondering what had happened, how it happened and why it happened. How the journey with Jesus ended was not what they imagined and hoped for?  In the Upper Room, they waited, carried on conversations, tried to strategically plan for what to do next. Jesus left no clear strategic plan that they understood with their imperfect, partial or inadequate faith.  I am sure they tried to support one another as one or the other began to flounder into worry, distress, or darkness.  I like to imagine Mary, the Mother of Jesus, holding her own amongst them as ‘mother’ soothing their fears.  Her faith was strong enough to carry them into the events they were about to encounter in the coming 40 days.

The Upper Room soon became an encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ.  The closure did not prevent the ‘light of the world’ to seep through into their presence. When Jesus suddenly appeared he understood their hearts. He first says to them: “Peace be with you. Do not be afraid. It is I.” How unbelievable those moments must have been. Were their minds and eyes tricking them?  Could it be he was there in their midst?  I try to ponder what their diverse emotions were.

The Upper Room was to become the ‘place’ – a ‘sacred place’ where the apostles were to enter a new missionary formation experience.  Here they were being tested and strengthened with a new or deeper faith and hope for the task ahead of them.  Jesus had promised his Spirit would come to them. The Upper Room experience was a maturing period for each one to reimagine their vocation/ mission.

Perhaps, as we are in our “upper rooms” (homes), this is what is being asked of us.  Jesus says to us today: “Peace be with you.  Do not be afraid. I am here. It is I!”  Let us rest our minds and hearts in/on the Risen Jesus.  Let us keep our focus clear for our mission.  Let us not falter. May these be days of new religious imagination, courage, compassion, and service to all those we are called to serve in a COVID-19 milieu.

 

 

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!

 

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience” –Emily Dickinson

An Easter Reflection by Sister Clare Walsh, MHSH 

A missing plane from Malaysia, a mudslide in the state of Washington, countless Syrian refugee children, school violence…sometimes our soul and the season seem out of sync.

Yet the tomb is empty.

Jesus' Tomb empty2When our ‘soul stands ajar’, we catch a glimpse of resurrection.  Resurrection joy is not simply the joy of satisfaction that follows a productive day, or happiness in scoring well on an exam.  Resurrection joy is experienced when our hearts are drawn to God.


When our ‘soul stands ajar’, faith may not change the story, but it may change the way we see the story, and that in itself can make all the difference.

When our ‘soul stands ajar’, our attention is focused outside and beyond ourselves and lifts our hearts so we can participate in the joy and sorrow of others.  Whenever joy enters into those who are in pain, sorrow, and distress, it is experienced as consolation; God consoling.

When our ‘soul stands ajar’, we notice that the Risen Jesus listened to the disciples’ stories and then named the story of God that ran under and through their story.  They were so close to their story they could not see the fullness of it.  Jesus longs to do the same for each of us.

open soul_2When ‘our soul stands ajar’, we recognize the fire that burns within.

When ‘our soul stands ajar ready to welcome the ecstatic experience’, Easter holds far more for us than we can ask or imagine.

If Mary Magdalene had been given what she desired, what she begged for, she would have been given the dead body of Jesus.  Instead, she came face-to-face with the living Christ and heard him speak her name.

What would it take for your ‘soul to stand ajar ready to welcome the ecstatic experience’ of Easter?

Easter Blessings galore, one and all!