Third Sunday of Lent

Sunday, March 19, 2017

by Sister Molly Jacob   

Scripture passages referenced in this reflection are Exodus 17:3-7, Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-2, 5-8 and John 4:5-42

In today’s readings, we see God as Giver, who gave us Jesus. God gave us the law and living water; the meaning of law is love and the meaning of water is life. Jesus experienced “thirst” in his life, in the agony of the cross, and talked about thirst with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus’ thirst was love for the Father which he demonstrated by fulfilling the Father’s will while he was in this world. We see Jesus’ unconditional love on the cross, fulfilling his mission to bring salvation for all. Through our baptism we are immersed in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Our call today in this world is trusting God while standing in our prophetic role to share the Good News, to heal the sick and to become a bearer of hope for all around us. This is the witness we give to the gift of life we have received. St. Teresa of Kolkata began ministry on the streets and in the slums with the unwanted people of the city. She heard the voice of Jesus, “I am thirsty.” Jesus was thirsty because of his compassionate heart for the suffering, the needy, the poor and the outcast.

In Romans we learn that we will not be disappointed because Jesus is our hope and giver of life. Today many women suffer from difficulties but happily give life to their family, society and the world. These women are our mothers and sisters, who share love and hope unconditionally. During this Lenten season let us pray for one another that we may be filled with life-giving water, recreating us in God’s image and sustaining us to receive, to drink and to share this generous gift of God.

Reflection Questions

Am I seeking to be a giver of life?

How do I give witness to the “thirst” for God and his people?

How am I growing in this gift of life?

Thank you, St. Patrick

Friday, March 17, 2017

“How did I come by this wisdom which was not my own, I who neither knew what was in store for me, nor what it was to relish God? What was the source of the gift I got later, the great and beneficial gift of knowing and loving God, even if it meant leaving my homeland and my relatives?

“I came to the Irish heathens to preach the Good News and to put up with insults from unbelievers. I heard my mission abused, I endured many persecutions even to the extent of chains; I gave up my free-born status for the good of others. Should I be worthy I am ready to give even my life, promptly and gladly, for his name; and it is there that I wish to spend it until I die, if the Lord should graciously allow me.”
— A reading from the Confession of St. Patrick

On March 17 Catholics celebrate St. Patrick, the fifth century bishop and patron of Ireland, whose life of holiness set the example for many of the Church’s future saints.

St. Patrick is said to have been born around 389 AD in Britain. Captured by Irish raiders when he was about 16, St. Patrick was taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years as a shepherd before escaping and returning to his home. After making his escape, he wished to become a priest and later was made a bishop for Ireland. He was untiring in preaching the Gospel and converted many to the faith. It is said that he used the shamrock, a commonly found plant in his time, as symbol of the Holy Trinity.

 We give you thanks, almighty God, for sending St. Patrick to preach your glory to the people of Ireland. Grant that we who are proud to call ourselves Christians may never cease to proclaim to the world the good news of salvation.

Lent: A time for a spiritual checkup

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

by Sister Margie Lavonis, CSC

Many people get a yearly medical checkup. Lent is a good time for a spiritual checkup to help deepen our relationship with God.

Traditionally the Church recommends three spiritual practices during Lent to deepen our spiritual lives. These are prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

First, prayer is important in the life of Christians. Prayer is communication with God. In Lent, we are given the opportunity to examine our prayer life. We might discover that we do not really communicate with God or our prayer consists of memorized prayer. Lent is a good time to look at our prayer life and find ways that will help us get closer to God. It might be as simple as setting a daily time for prayer, even 15 minutes, and sticking to it, not just during Lent, but after the season is over. Those who already pray regularly might look for new ways to enhance their prayer life like going to Mass an extra day a week or reading some Scripture each day to learn more about Jesus. It may be to make a retreat or day of reflection.

The second discipline of Lent is fasting. We can fast from food or meat, but there are other ways to fast that might benefit our spiritual lives even more. When I was a campus minister, I would give the students a prayer about fasting and feasting during Lent. Some things suggested were that we should fast from judging others and feast on the Christ dwelling in them; fast from pessimism and feast on optimism; fast from complaining and feast on appreciation; fast from bitterness and feast on forgiveness; fast from self-concern and feast on concern and compassion for others; fast from discontent and feast on gratitude.

Finally, Lent is a time to focus on almsgiving. Almsgiving traditionally means to give food or money to those less fortunate than us. Some of us do not have money or food to share, but that does not get us off the hook. Another and sometimes more meaningful way to give alms is to give of our time and love to the poor and needy. Perhaps we can volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen or visit lonely people in nursing homes. Think about other ways you might serve others. And hopefully our service will not end on Easter Sunday.

Lent is a time of metanoia, a Greek word that means to turn our lives around. It is to change what needs to be changed to make us better disciples of Christ. Lent gives us another chance. Take the opportunity.

Second Sunday of Lent

Sunday, March 12, 2017

by Sister Renuka Pegu, CSC

Scripture passages referenced in this reflection are Genesis 12:1-4a, 2 Timothy 1:8b-10 and  Matthew 17:1-9

The first reading invites us into the world of Abraham and Sarah, our ancestors in faith. There it is, the journey of faith. Is not that what life is? For the faithless, life is more like a competitive ladder of success to be climbed. For the faithful, it is a journey that takes us to new places in our souls. The summons for the journey begins somewhere deep inside each of us. For some, it begins with hard, nagging questions, and it is often a puzzling or hurtful experience. Curiosity leads others to look at the bigger world and to wander in and out of other people’s lives and in the process, they meet God.

Whenever we travel we encounter difficulties: roadblocks, detours, accidents and delays. In the spiritual journey to God we also encounter difficulties. We give them a name: cross, doubt, death, divorce, pain, sickness, sin—all of these are a cross, The Cross.

We learn early in life that the journey cannot be made alone. Even Jesus wanted companions for the journey; Peter, James and John accompanied him to the mountaintop, but they were not like Abraham. They wanted to stay at the mountaintop rather than to keep on travelling. It is always easier to rest and stay where you are. But that is not allowed—not for them and not for us.

In Lent, God asks us to undertake a transforming journey, so that we are changed. It is not enough to transform only our outside, like putting on spring clothes at Easter. The changes we are asked to make must take place deep within, where our own true selves are waiting to change. But we often are frightened of change and are tempted to stand still when we realize that we are helpless to make changes ourselves. We need to turn back to God and totally surrender to him so that he can bring about the changes in us.

Reflection Questions

As you enter the second week of Lent, what changes have you seen taking place in your life as a result of your observance of this sacred season?

What changes do you still want to make? What changes frighten you?

First Sunday of Lent

Sunday, March 5, 2017

by Sister Elmolin Lyngkhoi, CSC

Scripture passages referenced in this reflection are Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7, Psalm 51, Romans 5:12-19 and Matthew 4:1-11

As we reflect on the temptation of Jesus, we are aware that temptation is not one isolated event. All of us experience temptation in our lives at times. It happens when we are uncertain of who we are and unclear of what we are meant to be. That is why the evil one prefaced each of his temptations to Jesus with the phrase, “If you are the Son of God ... .” Every temptation strikes at the heart of our identity—who we truly are!

Every time we give in to temptation, no matter how small it may seem, part of our true self is chipped away, weakening further our sense of identity. We have a wonderful shelter in God whose heart always welcomes us. God offers us sustenance and strength during this time when we are weak and
feel alone.

We pray to God who dwells within: Our loving Father, who is with us in good times and bad times, we turn our hearts to you and proclaim that nothing can come between us and your love, even when we are troubled or worried or persecuted, or lacking food or being attacked. We can grow through difficult times, because of the power of your love at work in our lives. We offer ourselves to you, that you may help us to remember our true identity in the midst of our daily lives.

Reflection Questions

The Gospel speaks about three great temptations: pleasure (bread), power and failure to accept responsibility. These temptations may affect us also. How have they affected me and how have I responded?

What is the temptation that causes me the most trouble? What steps can I take to deal with it?

Ash Wednesday reflection

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

by Sister Shibanlin Nongsiej, CSC

Scripture passages referenced in this reflection are Joel 2:12-18, 2 Corinthians 5:20–6:2 and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus, bring me back upright when I am knocked down. Help me to never forget that when I have you, I have everything.

Now and again we are flattened by a really heavy blow, but we do not stay down because Jesus is with us. We may be treated badly by others and may have to go through hard times, but because of Jesus, our life is full of blessings. We may appear to have nothing but because we have Jesus, we
actually possess everything. We may be sorrowful but we always are

God’s power at work through the presence of the Spirit empowers us to press on with a discerning wisdom that only he can provide. We are consoled by the fact that, yes, there will be suffering, and, yes, there will be hardships; but at the end of the day, there is the conviction that we really do have everything, which gives a joyful richness to life that involves right relationships with God, with others and with ourselves.

Our Lenten task is to look to our inner motivations before we get preoccupied with how we are coming across to others. We like to present a tidy appearance to the world, but we all have closets and Jesus reminds us to clear them of selfish motives and shallow goals. Being able to say, "I am who I appear to be," is a good goal for all Christians.

We do not need to make a big show of helping someone in need. Doing it to impress others is not proper giving at all. It is just another way of getting something for ourselves, and Jesus warns us against this trap. Many Christians have sought to only serve God but have inadvertently become famous for their selflessness, like St. Teresa of Kolkata.

Jesus goes on to contrast "treasures on earth" with "treasures in heaven." Our earthly possessions are temporary and prone to decay and loss, while gathering treasures in heaven refers to conducting oneself in anticipation of God’s rewards and living in such a way as to build up incorruptible stores. ​

Reflection Questions

In our self-examination during the Lenten season, how do we
present ourselves to the outside world? Who are we on the inside,
as a person?

How do we reconcile these two different realities, our outer and inner selves?