Matthew 16:21–27 21 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. 22 Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! […]
|Followers of the Nonviolent Jesus
In the beginning of the documentary The Sultan and the Saint, there is discussion of how the human brain is hardwired to act with compassion and empathy toward other human beings. For example, you may have witnessed children who cry when they see another child hurt.
Human beings need to be taught to “conform themselves to this age,” (Rom. 12:2) and “think not as God does, but as human beings.” (MT 16:23) The documentary discusses how humans learn how to kill another person when socialized into thinking of that person as “other,” and not as a human being with a soul “thirsting for God.” (Ps. 63) In the United States, we have experienced this “objectification” of other human beings made in the image of God with the use of terms such as “the axis of evil,” “collateral damage,” “casualty” or “guerrilla.”
Nuclear weapons, along with the devastation of God’s creation, pose the greatest threat to the annihilation of humanity. A nuclear war would not only kill hundreds of thousands of human beings immediately but thousands of others would die in the aftermath due to radiation exposure and to the destruction of the environment.
Several weeks ago 122 countries negotiated the first-ever legally binding treaty outlawing nuclear bombs. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons passed at the United Nations was the culmination of a decade-long effort by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Catholic Bishops from both the United States and Europe have called on the leaders of their nations to promote and support nuclear disarmament. This treaty will be signed on September 20 and will need to be ratified by at least 50 nations to become international law. The United States and all other nuclear weapon nations did not participate in the negotiations nor vote for the treaty. Further information about this treaty will be posted in this newsletter and on the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons website.
As followers of the nonviolent Jesus, whose last words to his disciples included “put away the sword,” let us join our Bishops and pray and advocate for a nuclear-weapon-free world.
Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
For all those objectified by their skin color, race, creed or other attributes. May they have the courage to stand up for their right of human dignity. We pray…
Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love and the future to God’s providence are words of St. Augustine of Hippo. The great conversion of St. Augustine is well known by most people and sets an example for all of us to seek out the mercy and love of God. Augustine was a 4th century Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity’s theology and philosophy. We honor this great man on Monday, August 28.
In the reading from Matthew 16:13-20 we have a strong acknowledgement that Jesus is the Christ. Every time we say the name, Jesus Christ, we are affirming that Jesus is the Messiah, the savior. In Matthew’s account Jesus asked his disciples, Who do people say that the Son of Man is? They name all sorts of famous ancestors, including John the Baptist, whom we honor tomorrow. However, Jesus was more interested in what they thought. But who do you say that I am? Of course, Simon Peter jumps in immediately, but this time under the influence of Jesus’ Heavenly Father. YOU ARE THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. What an astounding proclamation. I’m sure all the disciples hung around with their mouths open in awe. Then, on top of that, he appoints Peter as the rock on which he would build his church. Much conversation must have followed, both in Jesus’ presence and behind his back. After all they were poor, uneducated men who were to be part of a new church. What could this mean? It took quite awhile after Jesus’ death for them to understand and witness the development of this concept.
In Romans 11: 33-36 Paul tells us that God is inscrutable and unsearchable…who has known the mind of the Lord. We certainly see that in the manner in which God’s Son, Jesus, lived his life and introduced a new way of honoring and praising God.
Perhaps we need to ask ourselves, Who do we say Jesus is and do we whole heartily believe and live it?
Something new and wonderful may come out of the answer.
The Passion of St. John the Baptist remembrance occurs on Tuesday, August 29. John is an example of a person who fully lived a life of firm commitment to justice. Because he was not afraid to speak out against corruption in government, he was imprisoned and beheaded. He had spent his life calling people to repentance to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. He knew who Jesus was, when he called him the Lamb of God at his baptism. Scripture tells us in the story of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, he even recognized him in the womb. Luke 1: 39-45
Let us hold in prayer all those affected by Hurricane Harvey. May all the responders be blessed in a special way and kept save.
May you journey with peace and mercy,
Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF Director
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER
August 20-26, 2018
Though the Hebrews of the Old Testament believed that the Messiah would be born of one of their own and that this Messiah would only bring salvation to them, Isaiah, the Prophet, had other ideas. God speaks to Isaiah about his concept of salvation. Observe what is right, do what is just, for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed. The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, loving the name of the Lord and becoming his servants…their…sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Isaiah 56: 1, 6-7
We are those people. In the New Testament St. Paul made that concept of God very clear. He became known as the Apostle to the Gentiles. He yearns for his people to be reconciled to God through the acceptance of Jesus. He hopes that his people will see the light through so many gentiles coming to and accepting the faith. He also reminds us that our disobedience calls forth God’s mercy. Romans 11: 13-15, 29-32
In Matthew 15: 21-28 Jesus gives us the strong example of a gentile seeking a healing for her daughter. Jesus tests her in a rather insulting manner, Jesus replies to her request, It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs, but she says, Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters. Wow! She’s just been called a dog, yet she is a wise and humble woman.
Jesus did this as an example to the apostles. Jesus replies to the woman, O, woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish. When we ask a favor of the Lord, we must be humble and faith-filled.
This week is the great Feast of the Queenship of Mary on Tuesday. She sits on a throne next to God, where she has “his ear.” We should be confident that we can call upon her to intercede with God. Who can refuse the plea of a mother?
St. Pius X is the pope who granted the reception of Holy Communion to7 year olds. Children are so much more perceptive about many things. Jesus loved children, so Pope Pius X recognized that children can understand the presence of Jesus.
St. Rose was from Lima, Peru; a lay woman of great goodness and compassion. She wanted to be a religious sister, but her family was poor and needed her to support them. She lived in small house behind her home, ministering to her family and the poor, while spending much time in prayer. Being a Dominican tertiary, a lay group committed to the ideals and works of the Order, she was allowed to wear the habit of the Dominicans.
Little is known of St. Bartholomew, Apostle. Some historians say that he preached in India and Greater Armenia or even Egypt. We don’t even know his first name, as his name means, “Son of…” He suffered martyrdom through beheading. However, what greater identification, then to be an “apostle with Jesus?”
As we look at our country struggle to identify itself and clarify its values, we need more than ever to visibly demonstrate our Christian beliefs. We cannot stand by and hope our country will come to the moral standard of God. Many in our country have tried to eliminate God from public life, believing that he is the threat to our way of life. But we see in today’s turmoil, this is not true. The lack of communication, hate, racism, bigotry and violence walk our streets. We cannot hit back with the same degree of hate and violence. We must show that a country with respect for God will respect each other and heal those who wish evil on others. Let us stand as the presence of God and love our enemies.
Walking with you in faith.
Sister Rosemarie Goins, Director
|God Speaks in Thunderclaps and Whispers
During my early morning prayer outside during a July heat wave, I was grateful for every small whispering breeze that moved the leaves ever so slightly, listening to what God had to say to me in the day’s scriptures. Often at night, the heavens rumbled with thunder, lightning flashed, strong winds and rain wreaked havoc with flowers, as if the forces of nature are angry with a government that puts political interest above the welfare of people. Almost every day, there is a new slap at vulnerable people in need of health care, at immigrants whose only “crime” was entering our country without legal papers or carried here as children, at Mother Earth herself.
On a personal level, life brings its thunderclaps of pain and loss, and its whispers of comfort, consolation and hope. God speaks to us in both if we are able to listen, as the scriptures teach us. God spoke to Moses in thunder on the mountain, and to Elijah, in this week’s First Reading, not in heavy wind or earthquake, but in a “tiny whispering sound.” When apostles, caught in a storm at sea, are terrified by “a ghost” that is Jesus, Peter believes, walks on water toward Jesus, but loses focus and begins to sink, crying out “Lord, save me!” He is caught by Jesus and the wind dies down.
Like Peter, we are asked to “Take courage…do not be afraid,” but to trust in God even when storms rage around us or within us. We must learn to listen to God in both thunderclaps and whispers. Often it is difficult not to be afraid, to feel overwhelmed, to sink into discouragement and hopelessness, but this is when we most need to trust that Jesus will reach out to catch us, and maybe even enable us to “walk on water” with him.
Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
|Prayer by St. John Paul II
To you, Creator of nature and humanity,
of truth and beauty, I pray:
hear my voice for it is the voice of all victims
of wars and violence among individuals and nations.
Hear my voice, for it is the voice of all children who suffer.
Hear my voice when I beg you to instill in the hearts of all human beings
the vision of peace, the strength of justice,
and the joy of fellowship.
Transfiguration and Washing Feet
As I reflect on this Sunday readings, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, interestingly, it is the image of Christ washing the feet of the disciples that immediately comes to mind. The Christ, transfigured on Mt. Tabor, is the same Christ who knelt before each of his disciples as humble servant and washed their feet.
Too often, we desire to move, intellectually and spiritually, to the image of God and of Christ Jesus as divinely manifested in all glory, power, and majesty. Too often, we might get caught up with festive religious celebrations full of grand processions and majestic robes. Too often, like Peter we want to remain up on the mountaintop in the majestic glory of the presence of God. Like Peter we want to set up ‘tents’ or shrines to mark these places as sacred, places of our encounter with the Divine.
Yes, we are called to come to know and dwell with the transfigured Christ and to grow in union with God’s Divine Love. The gift of Christ’s transfiguration is the invitation to Peter, James, and John and to all who follow Christ to gaze into eternity. God desires our union. This feast is God’s invitation to glimpse beyond our human understanding and to imagine Eternal Divine Life.
St. Clare of Assisi, a woman who lived in the medieval world, expressed this invitation to feast on God’s divine presence as she wrote to St. Agnes of Prague, “Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! Place your heart in the figure of divine substance! And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead Itself, through contemplation!” In another letter to Agnes she instructed her to, “gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him.”
Both Clare and Agnes were drawn to the gospel life of poverty that they witnessed in Francis of Assisi and the early friars. This gospel life brought Francis and his brothers not to lofty mountain tops or quiet cloistered monasteries but into the forests and caves where the lepers dwelt abandoned and isolated and into the hovels where the poor and the destitute longed for food and comfort. Clare, Agnes and the women who were drawn to this gospel life of poverty also desired to serve the poorest of the poor and to see themselves as “minoras” or little ones, servants washing the feet of others, as Christ did.
As Christians and especially as Franciscans today, the gospel call has not changed. Our life, prayer and spirituality must be deeply rooted in the fourfold movement of gazing, considering, and contemplating which moves us into imitating and embodying the presence of Christ as humble servants for others. Our gospel call should lead us more deeply into Divine Love and then outside of our shrines and churches into the marketplaces and streets where those who are lost, abandoned, and poor still struggle from the loss of their human dignity and the basic needs for living.
Pope Francis wrote, “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37). (Evangelii Gaudium apostolic exhortation, 49. (November 2013)
May Christ’s divine transformative energy move us beyond our narrow views of ourselves, our church and our world, to be a transforming reality that heals, comforts and brings new life and relationships to birth in our world.
Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
Franciscan Action Network
Pray this week for a conscientious awareness of your view of yourself and others. Are you a harsh judge of yourself or others?
May the transformation of Christ penetrate our hearts and transform us into the loving, healing, comforting hands of Jesus. We pray…
May the message of the Gospel and our Holy Father, Pope Francis resonate deeply with all Christians and move them to action, We pray…
|July 10, 2017: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|How Deep are the Roots of Your Faith?
I am in awe of God’s perfect confidence as expressed in our first reading this week. Isaiah tells us the Word of the Lord “… shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” God speaks to us through His word and we hear it and allow it to impact our lives. Week after week we go to Masses and services to be filled with this heavenly instruction so as to live out the life God has ordained us for. How blessed are we to be given this wondrous gift.
In the second reading, Paul tells us that our sufferings are nothing compared with “the glory to be revealed to us.” Paul’s faith is rooted deeply in his heart which gives him the confidence to preach to the Romans and remind them of what is to come.
In the Gospel, we hear the familiar parable of the sower. The longer form of the Gospel this week gives us the intended meaning of the story, making plain the various ways we might hear the Word. Or rather, the ways we might allow that word to nurture and feed us in our day-to-day lives. We must strive for the seed of our faith to root deep within ourselves, so when we are living with “the sufferings of this present time” we can lean on our faith to get through. Like Paul, our faith gives us the power to speak the truth to those in disbelief.
My pastor, Fr. Tom, speaks often about his wish for us. He and the parish staff of St. James in Stratford, CT work very hard to offer a plethora of opportunities to deepen our faith so our hearts will be more open to God’s love, which we are then instructed to share most generously with others. These words are said at the end of almost every Mass, during a special ritual of “the birthday blessings.” After each Mass, the congregation is asked if there are any birthdays being celebrated, that day, week or in a previous week. Those with special days come up to the front of the church, get introduced and have this special blessing prayed over them:
Dearest God, our Father, thank you for bringing your beloved sons and daughters into existence. Thank you for being with them and loving them every moment of their lives. In their new year of birth, help them to deepen their faith, so their heart will be more open to Your love, and may they share that love most generously with others. Amen.
Today, I pray this prayer for all of our readers, members, friends, and partners, not just on birthdays, but each day. I hold in my heart the hope that our collective faith will grow like a flame to engulf the unjust ideas and unfair thoughts that are constantly bombarding us in society.