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Gospel Reflections

Gospel Reflection Apr 22 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, April 22

Fourth Sunday of Easter

John 10: 11 – 18

Gospel:
Jesus said:
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
A hired man, who is not a shepherd
and whose sheep are not his own,
sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away,
and the wolf catches and scatters them.
This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd,
and I know mine and mine know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I will lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.
These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice,
and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me,
because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own.
I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.
This command I have received from my Father.”

Reflection:
This Sunday is known as Good Shepherd Sunday and the Day the Church sets aside to pray for Vocations. The gospel poses Jesus as the Good Shepherd who cares for the sheep.

In this long passage form the gospel of John, Jesus speaks first to those who already are following Him, already are part of His fold. Describing His action for His flock, he first tells them that he lays down His life for them. This is the ultimate sacrifice. Then He tells them that he takes it up again, a sure acknowledgement of the Resurrection. He then goes onto speak to those not yet a part of His flock. These too will come to know that they are His own.

This Sunday we pray for Vocations for the whole Church, and we pray for ourselves, that we might know and believe in the One Shepherd who brings us to life.

Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Apr 13 – Deacon Chris

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Sunday, April 15

Third Sunday of Easter

Luke 24: 35 – 48

Gospel:
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

Reflection:
The author of the Gospel of Luke makes it clear that the disciples were encountering the Resurrected Lord and the details show us that it could not have been someone who was resuscitated. He emphasizes the touching of the hands and feet of Jesus and the fact that He eats a piece of fish in their presence. This reveals both the reality of Jesus’ presence and its difference from His former presence. The disciples reaction to this is a mixture of terror and joy. But, Jesus gives them what they needed, His peace. The first thing he says to them is “Peace be with you”.

Jesus gives each of us His peace as well. He gives it to us because the peace of the resurrected Christ is what we really need. As we grow and deepen our friendship with the Risen Christ, His healing and loving peace dissolves the stresses, sadnesses, and anxieties of life. Jesus gives us peace for our minds because whenever we look at the crucifix, we can know that His forgiveness is everlasting. He gives us peace for our hearts because whenever we see the wounds of Christ, we know that we are loved. He gives us peace for our souls because He is alive and the one who is in charge. Christ invites each one of us to personally follow Him and help build up His Church. This brings deep purpose to our lives and satisfies our thirst for meaning.

Each time that we attend Mass, we hear the same words that Christ spoke to the disciples of “Peace be with you”. The priest says, “Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you.” Then, right after that, we have the opportunity to receive the living, resurrected body and blood of our Lord in Holy Communion. In our reception of Holy Communion, Jesus floods us with His peace, the peace that we deeply desire and need.

The peace of the Lord be with you always!

Deacon Chris Tuttle

Gospel Reflection Apr 8 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, April 8

Second Sunday of Easter

John 20: 19 – 31

Gospel:
On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Reflection:
Poor St. Thomas gets a bad rap. We have a sense that Thomas should have believed without any proof. The term “doubting Thomas” is meant in a derogatory fashion, after all. But how many of us can really blame Thomas? We at least have the benefit of a historical perspective, of a long history of belief in Christianity, and the example of the saints and the Church to reassure us. But Thomas had none of that. So perhaps we can go a little easy on him.

A compassionate view of St. Thomas is also reinforced by what he does once Christ does appear. Christ tells St. Thomas to place his fingers into his side, so that he might believe. The text does not say that Thomas actually did so; the text says he simply answered, “My Lord and my God!” We see how hollow was Thomas’ prior boasting, of his seemingly cynical demand for a high bar of evidence. His skepticism evaporates the moment he finds himself face to face with the Risen Christ. He needs no further proof; he does not need to medically examine the actual wounds of Christ any longer.

That personal encounter with the Risen Christ was enough to answer the doubts of even a doubting Thomas. May our own encounter with the Risen Christ also dispel our disbelief and our cynicism this Easter season.

Father Matthew Morris

Gospel Reflection Apr 1 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, March 25

Easter Sunday – The Resurrection of the Lord

John 20: 1 – 9

Gospel:
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

Reflection:
The Lord has Risen!! Let us rejoice and be glad. No fooling! Easter may have fallen on April 1 this year, but the Resurrection is certainly not an April Fool’s Day joke. The tomb is empty. Christ is risen, and life can never be the same again. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ was anything but a prank. It’s a truth that we need in a world where so much is not funny.

The Resurrection was the turning point of human history and is the basis of our Christian Faith. It completed the work of man’s salvation and redemption by which “the gates of Heaven,” closed since the sin of Adam, were again opened. The Passion, death, and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus constitute the most momentous events in the history of the world.

Have you ever stopped to think about where your life would be as a follower of Christ if Jesus had not been raised from the dead? Well, St. Paul summed it all up when he stated: “if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching; empty, too, your faith…and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.”

We are made alive in Jesus. That’s no joke. It’s the great news that we get to share with the world all around us. God has provided for our eternity in Jesus. Today, let us be like the Beloved Disciple who “saw and believed.”

Have a very happy and blessed Easter for the Lord has Risen!!

Deacon Paul Zemanek

Gospel Reflection Mar 25 – Deacon Don

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Sunday, March 25

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Mark 14:1–15:47

Gospel:
The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread
were to take place in two days’ time.
So the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way
to arrest him by treachery and put him to death.
They said, “Not during the festival,
for fear that there may be a riot among the people.”

When he was in Bethany reclining at table
in the house of Simon the leper,
a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil,
costly genuine spikenard.
She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head.
There were some who were indignant.
“Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?
It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages
and the money given to the poor.”
They were infuriated with her.
Jesus said, “Let her alone.
Why do you make trouble for her?
She has done a good thing for me.
The poor you will always have with you,
and whenever you wish you can do good to them,
but you will not always have me.
She has done what she could.
She has anticipated anointing my body for burial.
Amen, I say to you,
wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world,
what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve,
went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them.
When they heard him they were pleased and promised to pay him money.
Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,
his disciples said to him,
“Where do you want us to go
and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
He sent two of his disciples and said to them,
“Go into the city and a man will meet you,
carrying a jar of water.
Follow him.
Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘
Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
Make the preparations for us there.”
The disciples then went off, entered the city,
and found it just as he had told them;
and they prepared the Passover.

When it was evening, he came with the Twelve.
And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me,
one who is eating with me.”
They began to be distressed and to say to him, one by one,
“Surely it is not I?”
He said to them,
“One of the Twelve, the one who dips with me into the dish.
For the Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”

While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them, and said,
“Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
“This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you,
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them,
“All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written:
I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be dispersed.
But after I have been raised up,
I shall go before you to Galilee.”
Peter said to him,
“Even though all should have their faith shaken,
mine will not be.”
Then Jesus said to him,
“Amen, I say to you,
this very night before the cock crows twice
you will deny me three times.”
But he vehemently replied,
“Even though I should have to die with you,
I will not deny you.”
And they all spoke similarly.
Then they came to a place named Gethsemane,
and he said to his disciples,
“Sit here while I pray.”
He took with him Peter, James, and John,
and began to be troubled and distressed.
Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death.
Remain here and keep watch.”
He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed
that if it were possible the hour might pass by him;
he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you.
Take this cup away from me,
but not what I will but what you will.”
When he returned he found them asleep.
He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep?
Could you not keep watch for one hour?
Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing.
Then he returned once more and found them asleep,
for they could not keep their eyes open
and did not know what to answer him.
He returned a third time and said to them,
“Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?
It is enough. The hour has come.
Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.
Get up, let us go.
See, my betrayer is at hand.”

Then, while he was still speaking,
Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived,
accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs
who had come from the chief priests,
the scribes, and the elders.
His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying,
“The man I shall kiss is the one;
arrest him and lead him away securely.”
He came and immediately went over to him and said,
“Rabbi.” And he kissed him.
At this they laid hands on him and arrested him.
One of the bystanders drew his sword,
struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear.
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Have you come out as against a robber,
with swords and clubs, to seize me?
Day after day I was with you teaching in the temple area,
yet you did not arrest me;
but that the Scriptures may be fulfilled.”
And they all left him and fled.
Now a young man followed him
wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body.
They seized him,
but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.

They led Jesus away to the high priest,
and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together.
Peter followed him at a distance into the high priest’s courtyard
and was seated with the guards, warming himself at the fire.
The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin
kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus
in order to put him to death, but they found none.
Many gave false witness against him,
but their testimony did not agree.
Some took the stand and testified falsely against him,
alleging, “We heard him say,
‘I will destroy this temple made with hands
and within three days I will build another
not made with hands.'”
Even so their testimony did not agree.
The high priest rose before the assembly and questioned Jesus,
saying, “Have you no answer?
What are these men testifying against you?”
But he was silent and answered nothing.
Again the high priest asked him and said to him,
“Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed One?”
Then Jesus answered, “I am;
and ‘you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power
and coming with the clouds of heaven.'”
At that the high priest tore his garments and said,
“What further need have we of witnesses?
You have heard the blasphemy.
What do you think?”
They all condemned him as deserving to die.
Some began to spit on him.
They blindfolded him and struck him and said to him, “Prophesy!”
And the guards greeted him with blows.

While Peter was below in the courtyard,
one of the high priest’s maids came along.
Seeing Peter warming himself,
she looked intently at him and said,
“You too were with the Nazarene, Jesus.”
But he denied it saying,
“I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.”
So he went out into the outer court.
Then the cock crowed.
The maid saw him and began again to say to the bystanders,
“This man is one of them.”
Once again he denied it.
A little later the bystanders said to Peter once more,
“Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean.”
He began to curse and to swear,
“I do not know this man about whom you are talking.”
And immediately a cock crowed a second time.
Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him,
“Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.”
He broke down and wept.

As soon as morning came,
the chief priests with the elders and the scribes,
that is, the whole Sanhedrin held a council.
They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Pilate questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
He said to him in reply, “You say so.”
The chief priests accused him of many things.
Again Pilate questioned him,
“Have you no answer?
See how many things they accuse you of.”
Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them
one prisoner whom they requested.
A man called Barabbas was then in prison
along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion.
The crowd came forward and began to ask him
to do for them as he was accustomed.
Pilate answered,
“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that the chief priests had handed him over.
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd
to have him release Barabbas for them instead.
Pilate again said to them in reply,
“Then what do you want me to do
with the man you call the king of the Jews?”
They shouted again, “Crucify him.”
Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder, “Crucify him.”
So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd,
released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged,
handed him over to be crucified.

The soldiers led him away inside the palace,
that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort.
They clothed him in purple and,
weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him.
They began to salute him with, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him.
They knelt before him in homage.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the purple cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him out to crucify him.

They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon,
a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country,
the father of Alexander and Rufus,
to carry his cross.

They brought him to the place of Golgotha
– which is translated Place of the Skull –
They gave him wine drugged with myrrh,
but he did not take it.
Then they crucified him and divided his garments
by casting lots for them to see what each should take.
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.
The inscription of the charge against him read,
“The King of the Jews.”
With him they crucified two revolutionaries,
one on his right and one on his left.
Those passing by reviled him,
shaking their heads and saying,
“Aha! You who would destroy the temple
and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself by coming down from the cross.”
Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes,
mocked him among themselves and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
Let the Christ, the King of Israel,
come down now from the cross
that we may see and believe.”
Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.

At noon darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”
which is translated,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“Look, he is calling Elijah.”
One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed
and gave it to him to drink saying,
“Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.”
Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.
When the centurion who stood facing him
saw how he breathed his last he said,
“Truly this man was the Son of God!”
There were also women looking on from a distance.
Among them were Mary Magdalene,
Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome.
These women had followed him when he was in Galilee
and ministered to him.
There were also many other women
who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

When it was already evening,
since it was the day of preparation,
the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea,
a distinguished member of the council,
who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God,
came and courageously went to Pilate
and asked for the body of Jesus.
Pilate was amazed that he was already dead.
He summoned the centurion
and asked him if Jesus had already died.
And when he learned of it from the centurion,
he gave the body to Joseph.
Having bought a linen cloth, he took him down,
wrapped him in the linen cloth,
and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock.
Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb.
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses
watched where he was laid.

Reflection:
This week’s Gospel is the Passion of Our Lord from the Gospel according to Mark. The Gospels’ writers largely tell the same story on how Our Lord suffered and died. This is essential to the purpose for writing the Gospels – to tell this story. For most of us, this story is so familiar to us, we can often fill in the blanks as we are listening to it. To the young and the new to the Christian faith, they hear this story with marvel and wonderment. Its detail and consistency among the Gospel writers lends to its credibility. So, for most of us, since the passage is so familiar, we can easily dismiss the marvel and wonderment to sentimentality.

We enter Holy Week this Sunday. Make a commitment to set aside the familiarity of Our Lord’s Passion and journey through this week as if it were your first time. Take a palm home this Sunday and display it. Come to the events of the Triduum – Holy Thursday Mass at 7:30pm, Good Friday reading of the Passion, Veneration of the Cross, and communion service at 3:00pm, and the Vigil Mass on Saturday evening beginning at 7:30pm. If you take this journey for the first time, you will never look at the weekly Sunday Mass in quite the same way.

Deacon Don Poirier

Gospel Reflection Mar 18 – Deacon Frank + Operation Rice Bowl Week 5

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Sunday, March 18

Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 12: 20 – 33

Gospel:
Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast
came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee,
and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”
Philip went and told Andrew;
then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Jesus answered them,
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.

“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?
‘Father, save me from this hour’?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven,
“I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder;
but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
Jesus answered and said,
“This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Now is the time of judgment on this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself.”
He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

Reflection:
We all experience grief, loss, or suffering at some point in our lives – favorite things that get broken, teams we don’t make, or jobs we don’t get, dreams delayed, or abandoned, broken relationships.  Some of these events shape our lives and others are momentarily jarring, but everyone has something. Jesus reminds us in the gospel this weekend that it’s right at these times that we may have to die to one thing and let go of it for God to do something new in our lives.

The symbol that Jesus offers us is that of the wheat grain that falls to the ground and dies.  It is only by falling on the ground and dying that the grain can yield a rich harvest.  In a similar way we are asked to follow Jesus as the one who dies on our behalf and in so dying draws all people to himself.

On this 5th Sunday of Lent, where we stand on the threshold of Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, may we contemplate the necessity of suffering in Jesus’ life – and in our own life – as we hear Jesus also say to us ‘…where I am, there also will my servant be…’

Deacon Frank Iannarino

OPERATION RICE BOWL STORIES OF HOPE: WEEK 5

Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, Jesus tells us to give special care to those who are most in need. He reminds us of our Christian duty to listen closely to those who often go unheard and to help those most vulnerable.

Encounter Alefa
Alefa is a mother, grandmother and farmer. She provides for her three children, three grandchildren and husband by selling her crops. If they fail during one of Malawi’s rainy seasons-or in a drought-her family goes hungry. One particularly difficult year, Alefa was forced to sell some of her land to make ends meet.

She knew she had to start planting crops that could withstand Malawi’s changing climate. So, she attended a CRS-sponsored seed fair, where farmers learn the best crops to plant for the upcoming year, and receive vouchers so they can choose the seeds and supplies they need. Besides rice, Alefa bought corn, cabbage and tomato seeds. This way, she can continue farming rice but also feel confident that, even if her rice fails, she will have other crops to sell.

“This harvest will provide food, shelter and education for my family,” she says. In a few short months, Alefa will be growing corn and harvesting hope.

Gospel Reflection Mar 11 – Sr. Teresa + Operation Rice Bowl Week 4

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Sunday, March 4

Fourth Sunday of Lent

John 3: 13 – 21

Gospel:
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

Reflection:
Since the 1970s during big sports events, you frequently see people holding up a sign with John 3:16 written on it. It is imprinted on the bottom of paper bags and pop cans, on billboards and t-shirts, car stickers, etc. It began as an evangelizing tool used mostly by born again Christians and quickly grew in popularity.

Today, we have it enfolded in our reading for the 4th Sunday of Lent. In the reading I am also drawn to the interplay between light and darkness. It is not a question of one or the other. Light and darkness are intertwined in our lives. There is good darkness and there is unhealthy darkness. In the past two months we have walked around in great darkness. The death of Payton Young, and the sudden death of a young student at Coffman High School that affected so many of our young people and made all of us draw our children closer. The deaths of Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering from Westerville Police Department and then another school shooting that took the lives of 17 people in Parkland, Florida. This darkness was over all of us. There is so much unhealthy darkness in our world today because of bigotry, poverty, exclusivity, unbridled violence and the list could go on and on and it draws all of us into it.

There are many who choose unhealthy darkness– the darkness of greed, the darkness of power, racism, sexism and other addictions. Then there is the very personal darkness of our own choosing and making. It is that darkness that attempts to keep the light of Christ from burning in our lives. It is the darkness that tries to snuff out the Light of Christ. It might be the excessive amount of time spent on social media. It might be the darkness of unattended tension in a marriage or relationship. It might be the darkness of indifference towards religion. It might be ???… (we can all name our own darkness).

In the midst of nearly suffocating darkness, whether it be societal, cultural or personal — it would be easy to slip into the deeper darkness of hopelessness or despair. So easy to just give up. So tempting to just ignore it, be numb to it or become a part or perpetrator of it. Yet, we have John 3:16 to anchor us in hope.

God loved the world.
God sent a great light into the world.

We are called to keep pushing back the darkness by our work for peace, by our ministry to the poor and marginalized, and by our efforts to be public voices for those who have been silenced. We are called to push back the darkness when we stand with the immigrant. We push back the darkness when we pray with the dying, visit the sick or write to our political leaders. We push back the darkness when we are serious about developing and fostering a relationship with Jesus Christ. We push back the darkness when we pray for self and others. We push back the darkness when we refuse to allow any brokenness or sin in us or in our world to be more powerful than the Light of Christ. We push back the darkness in so many ways – some big and some small; some acknowledged and some never noticed. Walking in the Light of Christ (even when it seems but a flickering flame) is a deliberate choice. It is a choice we are called to make each day.

God so loved the world that God sent his son.
His son sends us to be witnesses of God’s love,
to be bearers of the light that the darkness cannot overcome.

Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

OPERATION RICE BOWL STORIES OF HOPE: WEEK 4

Call to Family, Community and Participation
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Call to Family, Community and Participation, we remember that human beings are social by nature-we need each other. We, like the early disciples, are called to come together and grow as a community-whether that community is in our classroom, workplace or family.

Encounter Andrise
“Education is the foundation of everything,” says Andrise, who’s been a first-grade teacher at a small Catholic school for 11 years. It’s the same school she attended from first through sixth grade, in the community she calls home in northern Haiti.

Andrise says the opportunities at Notre Dame set the course for her life. But a lot has changed since she was a student. New teaching techniques and resources are changing how students learn-and how teachers teach. “We use poems, dances, songs-all sorts of activities to help the students improve their literacy,” she says.

And Catholic Relief Services-working with the Catholic Education Commission in Haiti-is leading the way. Every student receives a new workbook to practice their reading and writing. This is a big change from before, when students had to copy notes from the board. “Now, all the students are able to learn at the same time,” Andrise says. And she benefits too-from ongoing teacher training. Last year, the parish priest named her Teacher of the Year.

The new techniques are working: Andrise’s classroom is a high-energy place, and the students love school-and her. “They call me ‘my mother,’ and I call them ‘my son, my daughter,” she says. “They’ve already promised that next year, when they’re in second grade, they’ll take time out of their recess to come and visit me.” For a teacher like Andrise, seeing the children grow not just as students, but as people, is the reason she goes to work each day.

Gospel Reflection Mar 4 – Msgr Hendricks + Operation Rice Bowl Week 3

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Sunday, March 4

Third Sunday of Lent

John 2: 13 – 25

Gospel:
Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
“Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
“What sign can you show us for doing this?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews said,
“This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
many began to believe in his name
when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all,
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.

Reflection:
Jesus in the gospel has three conversations with Nicodemus. He is a leader of the Jewish governing body in Jerusalem. He comes to Jesus by night so he will not be discovered by the Jewish leaders and thus become an outcast by them. He comes because he is curious and because Jesus has overtaken his heart. He struggles, but is sincere in trying to come to faith. Tradition holds that he later became a believer, after the Resurrection of Jesus.

For the gospel of John, the image of the serpent in the desert would be known to Nicodemus and the story told repeatedly. Jesus in the gospel of John who like the golden serpent, is also lifted up on a pole (the cross) and brings healing and also redemption to the people of the world.

So we look to the Cross as a saving and loving event that brings us to eternal life.Monsignor Hendricks

 

OPERATION RICE BOWL STORIES OF HOPE: WEEK 3

Care for God’s Creation
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Care for God’s Creation, we remember that God created every plant, every mountaintop, every animal-everything. And God said that these things are good. We find God in these good things, and so we must take care of creation-for ourselves and for our entire human family.

Encounter Safiata
The dry and dusty climate of Burkina Faso means farming can be difficult. It means water can be hard to come by. And it means Safiata and her family often face hunger. Even though she had two plots of land to farm, the many months each year without rain made feeding her 9 children and 16 grandchildren a real challenge.

That’s why Catholic Relief Services is providing farmers like Safiata with more land to grow crops-like onions-that thrive in dry climates. And thanks to a CRS-sponsored irrigation system, she knows she’ll have access to water year-round. That means her crops will grow, and she’ll be able to sell some at the market. “I pay school fees thanks to selling the vegetables. The vegetables help solve the problems my family faces,” Safiata says.

Moreover, she can prepare for the future. Together with others, Safiata is putting a little of the income she earns from selling her crops at the market into a community savings pool. “If you face difficulties, the community will help you,” she says. Those who contribute can borrow money from the fund for emergencies, school fees for their children, or to build businesses.

Gospel Reflection Feb 25 – Deacon Chris + Operation Rice Bowl Week 2

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Sunday, February 25

Second Sunday of Lent

Mark 9: 2 – 10

Gospel:
Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Reflection:
Even though it is only the second Sunday of Lent, the Church is already talking to us about the Resurrection. Here we are at the beginning of this penitential season, and we are given the story of Christ’s Transfiguration. Jesus shows Peter, James, and John a glimpse of His eternal glory, the glory that He will fully claim after the Resurrection. So, why is the Church giving us this gospel when Easter is more than a month away?

The reason is that the Cross is always linked to the Resurrection and the Resurrection is always linked with the Cross. As Catholics, the Cross and the Resurrection are two sides of the same coin. The season of Lent is a time for sacrifice and a time to acknowledge suffering in the world and in each of our lives. Everyone experiences suffering. But if we suffer with Jesus and allow Him to help us through it, it will not be the end of the story. The crosses that we encounter in our lives can purify us of selfishness and can lead us closer to Christ where we can experience the Joy of His Resurrection.

So, we make sacrifices during Lent in order that our lives may be transfigured. We strip away excesses so that we can refocus on what is most important, our relationship with Christ and eternal life. The essence of the Paschal Mystery is that Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection was our redemption. Therefore, we always remember the connection between the Cross and the Resurrection. Because His suffering and death would be meaningless without the Resurrection and there can be no Easter Sunday without Good Friday.

Deacon Chris Tuttle

Gospel Reflection Feb 18 – Fr. Morris + Operation Rice Bowl Week 1

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Sunday, February 18

First Sunday of Lent

Mark 1: 12-15

Gospel:
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Reflection:
The familiar ritual of Ash Wednesday involves both a symbol and a word. As the sacramental of the blessed ashes is traced upon the forehead, the Church instructs the minister to say one of two possible formulas: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” or “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

The first formula is taken from the words that God pronounced to the disobedient Adam and Eve before they were cast out of Paradise: “By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

The second formula is taken from today’s Gospel, as Jesus begins to proclaim the Good News. The time of fulfillment has come; the descendants of Adam and Eve will soon be freed from their mortal curse by repenting and believing in the Christ.

Lent begins with the words of the Fall and the Redemption, reminding us simultaneously of Death and Resurrection. It is a paradox that is only understood, only fully resolved, when at the Easter Vigil the deacon chants that most curious of Christian statements: “O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!”

Father Matthew Morris

 

 

OPERATION RICE BOWL STORIES OF HOPE: WEEK 1

Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Life and Dignity of the Human Person, Jesus reminds us that we are all made in God’s image and likeness. That means that every human being has a special value and a purpose. We need to care for each other so we can be the people God calls us to be.

Encounter Majd
Eight-year-old Majd thought his family was going on a picnic. His mother, Lamya, said they would be back home in a week. But when ISIS attacked their home in northern Iraq, the family fled for good.

“What worried me the most were the kids,” Lamya says. “Our life was stable and we were doing well; we had a very big house. Our children had everything they needed. But when we fled, I was not able to bring anything for them-not even food.”

Fortunately, the family found an apartment to rent with other displaced families. It is much smaller than the home they had, but it’s safer. The children enrolled in a CRS-sponsored school, where the routine provides hope, stability and a sense of belonging. “Education is very important,” says Lamya, especially in Iraqi culture.

Lamya received training from CRS and became a teacher at the school. Now she has hope for the future. “I really love children, so when I go to class I feel like I am with my family,” she says.

Her son, Majd, also loves going to school. “Majd is so motivated to go to school. He just wants it to be morning so he can go,” Lamya says. “He is relaxed, having fun and more confident.” For Majd, school means a normal life-now and in the future.