Weekly Word

Be inspired and encouraged with a weekly reflection on God’s Word and every day life.


 

John 10:22–30

Reflection by Pat Schnee, OPA

“My sheep hear my voice…They shall never perish… No one can take them out of my hand. “There is a great deal to unpack in today’s gospel but I would like to focus on these few words at the end. What does it mean to be in God’s hands?

A very good woman, hurting from a great loss in her life, once said to me, “Why is this happening to me? I’ve tried to live a good life.” And she had.  So maybe it’s good to begin with what does being in God’s hands not mean.

It does not mean that we will be protected from the losses that come with living: Family members and friends die. Work we love comes to an end. Our bodies becomes less and less reliable.

But I suggest that there is a difference between safety and security. A seatbelt is a safety feature; it is an attempt to protect us from harm. Covid vaccinations and face masks are safety features designed to protect us from a serious illness. And all those safety features are good things. But I don’t think that is what being in God’s hands is about.

It is security that God’s hands provide for us…the security of knowing that no matter what happens to us we are not alone…that God is with us, holding us closely, and will never let go.

Julian of Norwich is quoted as writing:  He [Jesus] did not say, ‘You will never have a rough passage, you will never be over-strained, you will never feel uncomfortable,’ but he did say, ‘You will never be overcome.”

This of course is the long view. In the short run, things can be pretty rocky. And we can help each other with that. We can, and should lend a listening ear, the comforting embrace.  We can help each other over those rough passages that inevitably come. We can be part of a safety net for each other.

But for real security, nothing beats knowing that we are in God’s hands,
…that nothing can take us out of God’s hands,
…and that in the end, “All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well”

Pat Schnee, OPA

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Reflection on John 8:1-11

Reflection by Sr. Theresa Fox, OP

“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Again, the Scribes and Pharisees are at it. They again try to trick Jesus. This time it is pitting the Jewish law against the Roman law. The woman apparently was guilty of adultery – an offense punishable by death according to the Jewish law. But Israel at the time was governed by Rome. The Roman law had control over who could be put to death and who not. So the Pharisees thought they had the perfect trick. Would Jesus let her go – following the Roman law upsetting those following him? Or would he be faithful to the Jewish law in which he was schooled and taught others to live?

Again, Jesus wouldn’t let himself get caught in the trap. Instead, he invited those standing around to search their own hearts. Who are they that they can make a life or death decision about someone else? They, like each of us, need first to examine our own hearts and intentions about our own actions, before we are qualified to make any judgments about the guilt or innocence of another.

“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

How can I judge another to be guilty of a sin (whatever the sin might be), when I am guilty of that same infraction? That can apply to all of us in many different situations. It may not be a serious offense that has occurred, but it does call us to examine our own consciences before making judgments about others. If we would be slower in judging others their wrongs, what a more peaceful world we would live in.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

God Sees More Deeply

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

I have started my annual round of doctor visits for check ups, etc. Somehow I have managed to lose weight (not sure where exactly), my blood pressure and other stuff  are normal but my potassium is low…..bring on the bananas!!! OK, enough self revelation for today.

If you have visited your doctors recently have you noticed there are more questions about your mental health than there used to be? The system I am a part of has included in its pre-check a long series of questions about stress and unhappiness and anxiety, etc., than it did before, around here at least. Then today, my physician asked two additional questions. It allowed for more conversation time than we had had before and it allowed for more information to add to any physical concerns that might be present maybe because of the stresses.

It cannot be denied that the events of these last two years have forced us to dig deep into our reserves of joy and relaxation and inner peace. Just when it seemed COVID 19 was on the down side, along came DELTA and then OMICRON. Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask; get vaccinated, don’t get vaccinated. There is a rumor of a new variant in Europe, should we be worried? And now the war in Ukraine and all the collateral damage. This is all on top of normal life issues that impact us in any normal situation.

So, what can I do? These kinds of stresses and the anxiety they cause are a little deeper than usual. I saw a quote the other day attributed to Ruby Dee, an African American actress, that said “If you pray, don’t worry. If you worry, don’t pray.” I think that is another way of saying, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Some days it might be hard to pray, so just be still. God knows what is in my heart and will hear what is there and will answer accordingly.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

When Peace Seems Impossible

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, shown in her pottery studio

The incursion of Russian forces into Ukraine has been deeply disturbing to me. I feel some days that I am witnessing what it must have been like during World War II. I wonder are we in World War III? How is it that in this time—  in the 21st century— a superpower can simply invade another sovereign nation in a brutal attempt to take it over? I just find that impossible to believe, yet, it is true.   So many innocent people have been displaced as refugees who have lost everything whole villages are without power, water, food, or shelter. They are my sisters and brothers. They could be your family. We all have family in Ukraine.

Peace does not seem possible to me. Yet as a woman of peace I want peace, I seek it. I pray for it. Peace is not simply peace of mind or peace of heart, or peace in my house or neighborhood. This moment calls for the world to put a stop to this war.  We dream of peace that is truly the absence of war, and when war comes it must be stopped. But I feel, as I suspect you feel, that peace seems impossible.  What are we to do? All I can offer is a prayer from someone more eloquent than I can be in this terrible time.

It so happens that in 2016, Sr. Pat Twohill narrated the poem by John O’Donohue, For Peace. I offer the video and the poem to you in the hope that our prayers will bring comfort to those who are suffering, and an end to this war.

 

 

For Peace  

As the fever of day calms towards twilight
May all that is strained in us come to ease.

We pray for all who suffered violence today,
May an unexpected serenity surprise them.

For those who risk their lives each day for peace,
May their hearts glimpse providence at the heart of history.

That those who make riches from violence and war
Might hear in their dreams the cries of the lost.

That we might see through our fear of each other
A new vision to heal our fatal attraction to aggression.

That those who enjoy the privilege of peace
Might not forget their tormented brothers and sisters.

That the wolf might lie down with the lamb,
That our swords be beaten into ploughshares

And no hurt or harm be done
Anywhere along the holy mountain.

John O’Donohue, Irish poet and philosopher

 

And all the people said, “Amen.”

Posted in Weekly Word

A Reflection on the First Week of Lent

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

Irascible. Unfathomable. Unpredictable. Maddening. Enigmatic. Endlessly Elusive.

This is our God…and Jesus is clearly in cahoots with him, her, or it. This is the God of the liturgy of the first week of Lent.

God, we plead: Make up your mind!

Wednesday we were supposed to blow the trumpets and fast publicly – and – tells us to do it in secret.

Thursday Deuteronomy told us we were supposed to choose life – and Jesus tells us to choose death – the cross.

And today the God of Isaiah tells us we’ve got this fasting thing all wrong and Jesus doesn’t give a feather or a fig for it – he’s into wedding banquets.

So – what is it, God? Are we fasting or feasting? What exactly do you want of us?

So, I do what every introductory homiletics student is warned against. “DO NOT BEGIN BY QUOTING THE DICTIONARY.” I go to the dictionary anyway. This is God’s fault, not mine. Surprise. I have walked right into the midst of a crowd of words all spelled and sounding the same, but used as varied parts of speech, each having its own singular meaning. This is a hermeneutic of homonyms!

FAST: (I read):

v.i.:  to abstain from food; to eat sparingly or abstain from some foods

adj: characterized by quick motion; moving or able to move rapidly

n: the practice of or the time of fasting.

adj.  firmly fixed; adhering firmly; not easily freed; firmly loyal

That’s it, of course. The word is right, but we have the wrong definition! Or the wrong part of speech! It’s not “fast” the noun that we observe – it’s not “fast” the verb that we do – It’s all in the adjective – it’s about holding fast, firmly fixed, loyal: connected.

WHAT GOD wants, what Jesus is most interested in is FASTENING: relatedness; inseparability; stuckness.

“You shall love the Lord your God….You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

So, who cares, says God, how pinched, pallid and prune-faced you get if you don’t care about the homeless and hungry, the victims of injustice, the refugees, the ones with no clothes to cover them, the ones with no voice?

And how long has it been since you called your lonely Aunt Ethel?

If your heart is not fastened on them, your heart is not fastened on me.

And besides, adds Jesus, isn’t the bridegroom with you? Are you fastened on? Have you “put me on”? Are you throwing banquets daily? Are you rehearsing the feast of the reign of God? Do you have to steal a thought from preacher Fred Craddock – an endless paschal party going on in the back of your mind?

Fast if you want. But make it a fast of connection. A Fastening – fast. Who do you fast with?  Whose burdens, fears, sorrows and hungers do you share? For whom do you make this a prayer? For whom do you intercede?

Feast if you want. Easter is real, now, we haven’t erased it – even in the liturgical churches! But feasting makes no sense without connection to celebrate. A fastening – feast. So, who will be your guests? Which highways and byways will you comb? Who will you reach out to share the feast with?

Then, says God (Is. 58: 10b,11): Then light shall rise for you out of darkness…the Lord will be your guide always and will give you plenty even in the parched land…will renew your strength, and you will be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.

Here I am…eternally, irascibly, unfathomably, maddeningly and madly…fastened: on you.

Posted in Weekly Word