Weekly Reflections for Lent: Reconciliation, Reaching out, Repairing the World

April 1-8, 2018: Easter Sunday and the Octave of Easter

Alleluia! This is the day the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it! Alleluia! (Psalm 118:24)

In the Gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus and his subsequent appearances, there are elements of surprise and mystery. Jesus is not always immediately recognized. Familiar words and actions now reveal qualities of his risen life. His followers are given a mission and a message to share with the world.

Easter is an event so cosmic that 24 hours cannot contain its significance. The Church extends “this day” from now until next Sunday, with the same verse before the Gospel echoing like the ringing of bells.

The week’s Gospel accounts are drawn from all four evangelists. They begin with where Jesus is not—in the tomb. Angels now occupy the space where soldiers once kept guard. Their message to Mary of Magdala and the women, and to Peter and John is direct: “You seek Jesus…he is not here…he has been raised from the dead.”

Jesus is no longer limited by time and space. He simply is there, appearing wherever and however he wishes. He walks to Emmaus with two disillusioned disciples, explaining how his suffering and death fulfill Old Testament prophecies. He finds Mary of Magdala weeping at the tomb, and does not correct her when she thinks he’s the gardener. He just says her name, “Mary!” in a way that erases all her grief. He enters the locked upper room where the Eleven hide in fear, to offer the gift of his peace. Another time, Jesus cooks a seaside breakfast, showing the apostles where to cast the net for a catch of fish. (John exclaims, “It is the Lord!” and Peter jumps into the water and swims ashore.) Jesus has a charcoal fire ready, with fish and bread prepared, and graciously adds some of “their” fish to the menu. Peter’s denial and Thomas’ doubts are met with forgiveness and the invitation to touch the now-glorified wounds made by the nails and the lance. “It is I,” Jesus reassures his friends time and again, “No need to be afraid.”

When Jesus says to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed,” he is talking about us. So let him find us this day and in the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost, wherever and however we are. On that day we will know Jesus, and we will indeed be glad!

Sr. Lenette Marcello, SND

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The Easter Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday

Everyone longs to be loved. The Triduum leaves no doubt that God satisfies that desire. Holy Thursday’s Gospel states, “He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (meaning both until the last moment and to the utmost). Out of love Jesus instituted a sacred meal to remain with us and so we would remember his sacrifice. He also stooped to wash his apostles’ feet, just as he stooped to become man and cleanse us from the grime of sin. 

On Good Friday, we recall how Jesus sacrificed himself to atone for sins. He restored the bond of love between our Creator and us. All over the world people focus on this incredible act of love in silence and prayer.

On Holy Saturday, the body of Jesus, a victim of love, lies in a tomb. The world waits, in sorrow and anticipation.

It’s said that if you were the only person, Jesus would have died for you. He longs for our love, more than we long for his. We might echo St. Francis Xavier: “Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ, should I not love you well: Not for the sake of winning heaven or of escaping hell; not with the hope of gaining anything, not seeking a reward, but as you have loved me, O ever-loving Lord.” How have you experienced God’s love?

 

Sr. Kathleen Glavich, SND

Author

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March 25, 2018: Palm Sunday -The Sixth Sunday of Lent

Today is Palm Sunday and we are standing on the threshold of Holy Week. For this reflection I have chosen to focus on Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem

The event finds him among thousands of pilgrims going to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The mood is festive. The pilgrims sing as they recall the exodus from Egypt, and as they hope for freedom from Roman rule. Many of them have heard Jesus proclaim a kingdom marked by justice for the poor. As they enter the city with him, they spontaneously shout “Hosanna,” and wave branches in his honor.

Throughout his life Jesus described God’s kingdom of justice and peace and so enters Jerusalem on a  donkey as a bearer of peace. This excites his followers but threatens the Romans who worry that Jesus may incite rebellion.

As I imagine the scene, some questions arise from within.

Are we courageous enough to be provocative as Jesus was?

What threatens my comfortable lifestyle as the Romans were threatened by Jesus message?

Is my witness to faith alive enough to disturb someone?

Is there some truth that I am not willing to consider as valid, but may bring justice and peace to a situation?

These questions challenge us. Hopefully, they challenge us enough to admit we can’t go it alone. As we enter this holiest of weeks, let us invite the possibility that with grace and the support of each other, we can choose to bring peace to our troubled world. 

 

Sr.Kathleen Hine, SND

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March 18, 2018: The Fifth Sunday of Lent

One of the gospels suggested for today is the story of the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45). In that narrative is a three-word sentence that is one of the most important sentences in the entire gospel: “And Jesus wept.”

Why is this simple declarative sentence so significant? Because it makes clear that Jesus is in anguish over the death of his good friend. His anguish is so visible that some of the bystanders say, “See how much he loved him.” Jesus’ weeping reveals his deep sensitivity to life’s pain and sorrow.

This means Jesus was emotionally involved with life. His divinity did not shield him from life’s tragedies. On the contrary, he was very sensitive to the pains of life and, in many cases, he was moved to action by them.

We are called to live in a similar way, that is, to be sensitive to the pain and sorrow we experience personally or we see around us: illness, loneliness, poverty, grief, fear, violence, natural disasters. And coupled with our sensitivity is the action we are called to take out of love.

What pain or sorrow is touching me this Lent? What action might it be moving me to take?

Jesus, you wept at the death of Lazarus. Keep me emotionally involved in life, open to its joys as well as its pain and sorrow. May my sensitivity always lead me to action on behalf of good.

Sister Melannie Svoboda, SND

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March 11, 2018: Fourth Sunday of Lent: Reflections on the Readings (Year B)

Even during Lent, our God is a fair and giving God.

The author of Second Chronicles tells the people of Judah of their faults and failings, of which there are many. Then God turns around and inspires the ruler, who acquired captive Israel from the king who conquered them, to go back home build the temple in Jerusalem.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians runs the same story line. We are “…dead in our transgressions…” yet God sends another human – this time his own Son to “…show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Did you see the words "riches" and "kindness?" 

In the verse before the Gospel, we get the famous JOHN 3:16, that is displayed for crowds to see at many a baseball and football game. God loves us so much that we have his only Son.

The Gospel just confirms what has been said in the previous readings – we need someone in whom to put our trust and faith to assure us that we have eternal life after making mistakes during this earthly journey. St. John tells us that Jesus will be “lifted up” so we can both see and believe. We know this means the cross, but we also know it means our redemption.

The Gospel ends with the challenge for us. Do we know how fickle and confused we can get by choosing the darkness of mistakes over the light of good works so as to be a light for others in their darkness?

Walk in light.

Sister Joela Leinberger, SND

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March 4, 2018: The Third Sunday of Lent

Jesus shows another side of himself in today’s gospel.  It is not his first time to be in Jerusalem.  It is not his first time seeing the area around the Temple turned into a marketplace.  It is not the first time he sees “money changers” exploiting those who have come to celebrate the Passover.  But this time is different.  When we hear this story during this point in the Lenten Season, we know Jesus doesn’t have much more time.  He cannot let these injustices go on.  His patience with these stubborn, righteous people is gone.

 

We may be feeling the same way about certain issues in our country and world today.  How long can the injustices continue? How can we get involved in ways that will improve any of the situations we see around us? 

 

Being aware and I nformed is a start.  Writing or calling our congress members makes an impact by the sheer volume of responses they receive.  The Habitat Birmingham, Alabama or Guatemala trips are active responses as well as the other service opportunities at Light of Hearts Villa, Salvation Army Learning Zone, etc.

 

Creating a culture of respect and just plain, old friendliness in relationships with fellow students, faculty, friends, family brings this response to injustice to our day to day experience.  Standing up for someone or stopping ridicule is taking a stand.  And reflecting on and even changing our own attitudes, prejudices, biases may be the way we throw out the money changers, flip over the tables and begin to restore justice.

 

Sister Donna Paluf, SND

 

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February 25, 2018: The Second Sunday of Lent

The first reading this Sunday draws me into the almost-sacrifice of Abraham’s son, Isaac, and I rejoice with relief when the ram is found to substitute. But in the second reading from St. Paul, I realize that the real sacrifice for which the ram was a stand-in was Jesus. Yet Paul reminds me in the second reading, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own son but handed him over for us all, how will he not give us everything else along with him?”

As I begin to calculate what I have promised to do or not do this Lent, I realize that what I am giving up does not match the amazing generosity of a God who loves me beyond measure. And this love is not “bought” by my sacrifices or conditional on my improving but here and now as I am with all my wrinkles and warts and unlovely behavior. I cannot imagine a love like this because it is beyond me, but not beyond my loving Father. My response to it must be to reach out in return and share that generous gift in the way I treat others this week.

I am hurting as many others are for all the violence of the past week. The destruction of lives through so many tragedies. How can my efforts correct such massive evils? It would be easy to give up in despair but then I recall Paul’s words of hope: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” He can handle it, I live in hope and “believe even when I am greatly afflicted.”

Sister Mary Agnes O'Malley, SND

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February 18, 2018: The First Sunday of Lent – The Desert and Rainbow

To be honest, this isn’t my favorite time of year.  Many people live without  Lent -  they ignore it or simply don’t give it much thought.  I have to admit, however, that the spirit of these weeks, the Sunday Mass readings and anticipation of Easter do make me stop and think.   What does this season have to do with me?

The readings this Sunday focus on two Lenten images:  a rainbow and the desert.  God uses the rainbow – a “bow in the clouds” - to say I love you, I really do, and to remind us of His Covenant, a promise that is sacred, lasting and serious. Love is that Covenant. 

The desert scene changes God’s promise into reality. In this desert, Jesus faces the obstacle to love:  evil itself.  Satan tempts Jesus to take a different way.  Jesus, however, is strong and knows which path his Father takes.  It’s one of pain and surrender, but it leads to joy.   “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the gospel.”  says Jesus.

We need Lent.  The other weeks of the year we work, buy, relate, study, busy ourselves with necessary and unnecessary activity.  We hardly have time to notice the rainbow or venture into the silent desert.  Lent gives us space and prepares us for the most important feast of all:  Easter.  Lent does have meaning for my life, and for your life.  May we all find that meaning!   

Sister Mary Ann McFadden, SND

Instructor for ESL students

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Ash Wednesday

February 14, 2018: Beginning the Lenten Journey: Reconciliation, Reaching out, Repairing the World

The Jewish community likes to use a rich phrase Tikkun olam, repairing the world, when considering the need for social justice and care for the common good. As we enter the Lenten season, Jesus seems to call for that kind of action, repairing the world effort, as we are encouraged today to fast, pray and do good.

The prophet, Joel, invites us, “Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.” In the Old Testament, people would often smear ash on their faces and tear their clothes to convey to others their effort to make up for their sin. Joel indicates that God wants a sincere heart not ripped clothing.

Each year, Lent offers each of us in the Christian community a chance to consider our journey. “Where am I? What is my relationship with God? Am I doing anything to make the world, my NDC group of friends, the world a better place? Do I think about my words? Where do I make an effort to help others? Can I set aside my phone for an hour one day a week and really be attentive to people in person?

Notre Dame College seeks to walk the path of reconciliation, repairing the world and reaching out during this Lenten season. This special link will connect faculty, staff, students, alumni, potential students, and board members with a weekly Lenten reflection written by a member of the NDC community.

As we take the first steps in the Lenten journey this Ash Wednesday, consider what your fasting will look like. Each one of us is called to a unique relationship with God and with our family and friends. Lent asks us to STOP! to find some time each day to pray for peace, for the sick, or for a troubled friend. Make Lent real this year! Hold yourself accountable each day for reaching out in some way to heal our environment, to heal a relationship, or perhaps heal yourself by overcoming a bad habit.

Watch for the reflections that will come from some of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Thank you ahead of time for those willing to share their reflections and a bit of their journey. Thank you to those who will read these reflections and walk in a way that leads to the reconciliation and repair of our world. 

Sister Carol Ziegler, SND., Ph.D.

Chief Mission Officer

Executive Director of the Abrahamic Center

 

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