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 Paradox of the Cross

A reflection for Palm Sunday

By Sister Princess Mary Dawson, MHSH

 

The Palm Sunday Gospel is long and provides much to ponder.

Jesus begins with the Passover meal and goes on to speak of a betrayer in his midst. What do I do when I feel betrayed?

Jesus then listens to his disciples quarreling over who among them is the greatest. Jesus proclaims to the disciples that the one who serves is the greatest and calls Himself a servant. How does this call to service sit with me? Do I feel “above” this call of service? 

 Jesus withdraws to the Mount of Olives and prays for the strength to do the will of His Father. Then Jesus had to face the courts and undergo the Passion that was His destiny. Let us remember the injustice and suffering that Jesus would face.

On Calvary, it was a criminal who defended Jesus as He hung on the cross.  In a few words he proclaimed in faith, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus promised him the reward of paradise.  Before He died, Jesus uttered forgiveness and commended Himself to God.

The pain and agony of the cross did not prevent Jesus from reaching out in this profound action of love. Let us remember that Jesus’ actions on the Cross shows there is “No Greater Love.”

 

 

 

“This Night” – A Reflection on Holy Thursday

By Sister Clare Walsh, MHSH

Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; Ps 116:12-13, 15-18; 1Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15

Holy Thursday. Passover. “Why is this night different from all others?”

We are tempted not so much to ignore the evil in the world as to feel overwhelmed by it, frozen by a sense of futility. Holy Thursday opens countless opportunities for prayer, but among them are ordinary acts having a profound, long-lasting effect.

Friends gathered, a meal shared, forgiveness offered, bread broken, wine poured, memory evoked, service rendered. Most often it is the small, everyday act of kindness and compassion that define us and break the cycle of futility.

Holy Thursday makes clear that we are not here to lord over one another; we are here to wash another’s feet. It is as if Jesus is saying to us, “Do not be afraid to stoop down and offer the most humble service imaginable to one another.”

Homeless people having their feet washed by volunteers at the First United Methodist Chuch of Miami.

Foot washing is one of those small, everyday expressions of humble service that reveal us to be followers of Jesus. Look around your world of family, neighborhood, work…what might foot washing look like today?

Why, in 2012, “is this night different from all others?”

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 1 Prayer and Reflections

Day 1, Changed by the Servant Christ.
Scripture

Zechariah 9:9-10, A King righteous and victorious – and humble.
Psalm131, My heart is not proud.
Romans 12:3-8, We have different gifts with which to serve.
Mark 10:42-45, The Son of Man came to serve.

Meditation
The coming of the Messiah and His victory was accomplished through service. Jesus wants a spirit of service in the hearts of His followers as well. True greatness consists in serving God and one’s neighbor.
Zechariah’s prophecy concerning a victorious and humble King was fulfilled in Christ. The King of Peace comes to Jerusalem – the City of Peace. He does not conquer it by deceit or violence, but by gentleness and humility.
Psalm 131 describes the picture of a mother and child as a sign of God’s tender love and of trust in God, to which the entire community of believers is called.
St. Paul challenges us to discover our own abilities. Each of our traditions has been endowed by the Lord with gifts that we are called to place at the service of others.
By His service, Christ redeemed our refusal to serve God. St. Paul reminds us that the diverse gifts given to us are for service. In our diversity we are always one body in Christ, and members of one another. The use of our diverse gifts in common service to humanity makes visible our unity in Christ. They are an expression of the practical ecumenism which the Church and the world badly need. The imitation of Christ the Servant provides eloquent testimony to the Gospel, moving not only minds, but also hearts. It is a sign of the coming Kingdom of God – the Kingdom of the Servant Christ.

For Your Reflection:

On this day we encounter Jesus, on the road to victory through service. We see him as the “one who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life, a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Consequently, the Church of Jesus Christ is a serving community. The use of our diverse gifts in common service to humanity makes visible our unity in Christ.

  1. What opportunities for service are most threatened by pride and arrogance?
  2. What should be done to ensure that all Christian ministries are better experienced as service?
  3. In our community, what can Christians of different traditions do better together than in isolation to reveal the Servant Christ?

Prayer 
Almighty and eternal God, by traveling the royal road of service your Son leads us from the arrogance of our disobedience to humility of heart. Unite us to one another by your Holy Spirit, so that through service to our sisters and brothers, Your true countenance may be revealed; You, who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

(Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute)

Celebrating Around the Throne – All Saints


By Sister Jane Geiger, MHSH

THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS on November 1 is one that can really fire our imaginations, have cosmic dimensions and resonate down to the nitty-gritty of our lives.

We celebrate the triumph of Jesus and our salvation through the blood of the Lamb.  The Feast of All Saints joins all who have been saved in a spectacular way in a universal celebration of the unfathomable love of God for us.

Imagine…All creation, people of every nation and tongue proclaim the glory of God’s graciousness to us.  Angel choirs, patriarchs and prophets, martyrs and saints of every age join in the chorus of praise and thanksgiving.

As we reflect on this panorama, do we see murals on a wall and statues on pedestals to be admired from afar?  Or, do we allow this heavenly array to surround us and welcome us into their company?  They were once where we are now, striving to make their way through life’s journey.  Their challenges were most likely not the same ones we face today, but their lives were filled with choices and decisions.

They elected to say “yes” to the journey with Jesus in the death/resurrection mystery of life. Now, they inspire us to strive for ideals of love and service, reconciliation and healing beyond what we ever imagined we could do.  They show us that sinfulness, reluctance and unworthiness can be overcome.  It can be done!

As we live our lives today, the saints stand with us as friends, advocates and models of response to the One who shed his blood for us and loved us to his death.  No, we are not spectators, but part of the company of the holy people who surround the throne giving glory and unending praise to God.  Holy! Holy! Holy!

Who are the Saints you look to for help and guidance?