Children Playing

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

For the past few weeks, we’ve been reading the story of Abraham and Sarah. Today’s reading involves the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael.  Ishmael and Issac are playing together when Sarah’s jealousy and fear for Isaac’s inheritance causes her to demand that Abraham cast them out to the desert to die. We know that when Hagar and Ishmael are exiled, God does protect them and tells Abraham that God “will make a great nation of [Ishmael] also since he too is your offspring.” (Gen 21:13) This great nation will become the nation of Islam.

Two innocent children playing, there’s no mention of animosity between them. But because of jealousy, they can no longer play together. Who knows what relationship could have developed had they not been separated. I wonder if that’s not happening today when we separate children by neighborhoods or walls… when we fear someone who is different from us. What kinds of relationships could they develop?  Would there be peace rather than violence?

Because of Sarah’s fear of Isaac losing his inheritance, these boys will not grow up together. They will not learn how to cooperate and share resources.  Do we let fear of losing what we have separate us from others?  What more could we do to protect our common possession, the earth, if we collaborated rather than isolated ourselves?

I do know that at our core, Christians, Jews, and Muslims, are all related. We have a common ancestor, Abraham.  We share the Golden Rule, a foundational principal of the moral life.  And most, importantly, we were created by God to have dignity. If we can emphasize our common roots, let our children plan together, and not allow ourselves to be separated, anything, especially peace, is possible.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

God Wants Your Heart: Why Not Give It Today?

Blog by Associate Colette Parker, OPA – Co-Director

Be an Organ Donor. Give Your Heart To God.

Those words — posted on a sign in front of a Lutheran Church –caught my attention.

My first thought was, “Clever!”

My second thought (sparked by my sometimes unusual sense of humor), was, “I guess the ‘up’ side is that you don’t have to die to do that!”

Then, I began to reflect upon what it means to give your heart to God.

I imagine that we all know the value of the physical organ – how it is central to our circulatory system, pumping life-giving blood to all areas of our bodies.

But clearly, the words on the church sign were referring to not the physical organ but to our spiritual heart.

It is our spiritual heart that controls our belief and behavior. It determines how we handle life’s challenges and struggles. It is the place that holds our emotions, our mind, and our will. Everything we do flows from our heart. It is our essence. It is the center of our being. It is who we are.

When we give our heart to God, we give God control of our very being.

When we give our heart to God, we consciously make a decision to surrender our will to God’s will – God calls the shots, not us!

When we give our heart to God, we consciously make a decision to live our life for God and to make God the Lord of our life.

God wants our heart, which means God wants us.

God wants our unclean heart in order to give us a new, clean heart.

God wants our heart to empower us with the Holy Spirit.

When we give our heart to God, we are transformed, strengthened, and renewed.

We can experience that renewal, strength, and transformation if we choose to give our heart to God.

There’s no time like the present – give your heart to God today.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Human Trafficking: Ministering in the Streets

Blog by Associate Jackie Paluszak, OPA

As I think about the upcoming World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (July 30th), I can’t help but think of the message that Pope Francis sends us when he tells us that we need to be among the sheep: “Finding the lost sheep is a joy to God, because He has a loving weakness for those who are lost.” These were the words of Pope Francis during his homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta.

I am on two commissions on Human Trafficking. It is interesting to do the research, scour the statistics, and brainstorm about the ways we can reach out to help. I often wonder about new programs we can implement, where we can get funding, and how we can find more volunteers interested in the cause.

All of these are concrete issues: things that need to be addressed. But for me, there is a nagging deep inside that tells me I need to go out into the streets.
I’m not comfortable making decisions by talking about what we should be doing just by analyzing statistics or films that show what goes on in the streets.

The Educator in me needs to take it to the streets. I know the reality. I know the rejection. I don’t expect everyone to come running to me with open arms ready to share their story and accept my help. Although I have not worked with these women who have been trafficked, I have worked the streets doing my best to offer assistance to the mentally challenged, to those returning from prison, the homeless living under the bridge, in their own camps, homeless and on the streets, individuals with varying needs.

It is not an easy job.

You need to be gentle. You need to be kind, loving from a distance, and patient, very, very patient. And you need to be street smart or you won’t be able to accomplish what you need in order to be successful.

The Dominican women that I work with are trained and far more experienced than I am. The work that they do really makes a difference. They make a difference. They count. They make strides daily in this ugly world where human life is treated so deplorably.

My only hope is that after some training, I will be able to walk in the footsteps of these Dominican women, and if I can touch one person and make their life better, I will have achieved what Pope Francis challenged me, and all of us, to do.

Pope Francis reminds us, “Each one of us is precious; each one of us is irreplaceable in God’s eyes.” [Tweet 6/25/17] This is what we need to bring to the women we meet on the streets.

Posted in Just Reflecting, News