Really?, by S. Noella Poinsette, OSF

Salt makes everything taste good.
– Really?

Maybe if I went to bed earlier,
read more,
went to the beach every week

Maybe if I ate anchovies or stuffed myself at eating contests
then maybe I’d believe
God is Good
and Perry too
As he watches his National Guard
Push kids back.

Sure, violently
push them back
into the horror they’ve fled.

Maybe if I spent a slew of money
on a vacation
and stopped writing and creating

My eyes would be blind
to the gift of love
and blind to the fire brewing in intolerance.

They should just go back where they came from
And pull themselves up
By their bootstraps.

Then I could compose
Beautiful music
In peace, quiet, and luxury.

Then I could believe in Peace
and the lie of “Give me your tired, your poor.”

 

 

S. Noella Poinsette, OSF.  S. Noella is the pastoral associate for outreach & social justice at St. Francis DeSales and Our Lady of the Lake in Holland Michigan.  She is also a musician and composer.  She wrote this poem during a poetry workshop at Oldenburg Franciscan Center, following a writing prompt about “This I Believe” while reflecting on current events related to immigration.

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Reflection for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, by S. Maureen Irvin, OSF

First Reading: 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12
Second Reading: Romans: 8:28-30
Gospel: Matthew 13:44-52

Reflection
Today’s readings seem to be about what we really value and what sacrifices we might be willing to make to attain something of great worth. God gives Solomon the opportunity to ask for anything he wants. What would we request in that situation? Would we ask for something for ourselves or something to help others? Good health? Money for a new home or car? College tuition for the kids? World peace? A cure for cancer? A forgiving heart? Wisdom? Solomon asks for an understanding heart so that he can rule the people well and fairly. Each day we have many opportunities to ask God for special gifts or for something we or our world needs. Let us consider how our values influence these requests.

In the Gospel parables, Jesus tells us about a person who sells all to purchase a field where a treasure is buried. Another sells every possession to buy a fine pearl. What is it that we find most valuable? Can others tell by the way we live what we truly value? Do we value our faith and our relationship with God enough to make even small sacrifices? Will we give of our resources to aid those who are poor? Will we give of our time to visit or call someone who is ill or homebound? Do we take time for private prayer daily and church services at least on Sunday? Do we make known that we disapprove of unkind, racist or prejudiced comments made by friends or family? It’s a matter of what we value and how much we value it.

Prayer
Loving God, the values we try to live by are based on the qualities we see in You and those lived by Jesus in the Gospels. Help us to be true to what we believe and to what we really value. May our lives speak loudly of our values, even when we don’t say a word about them. May we not be afraid or ashamed to stand up for what we value, even if we are alone or in a minority. Help us, also, to respect the values of others, especially when they are different from our own. May we value You and Your will above all else. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Maureen Irvin, osf
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

 

Reflection for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, by S. Barb Piller, OSF

ordinarytimeFirst Reading: Is. 55:10-11
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 65:10-14
Second Reading: Rom. 8:18-23
Gospel: Mt. 13:1-23

Reflection
As I drive through the hills country of Oldenburg I find myself praying the words of Psalm 65: “You have visited the land and watered it; greatly have You enriched it.” To my untrained eye, the corn and beans are looking great. The soil seems rich and brown. Tomato plants are showing signs of red and yellow. It seems to be a time of blessing. While rejoicing in this growth all around, I am aware that Earth still groans in labor pains as the second reading states. Mother Earth has been hurt by our misuse of her gifts. I ask myself what I can do to mend any of the hurts I/we have caused.

I am part of this planet Earth. How have I used the gifts God has given me? In spite of the possible misuse of gifts, God continues to bless us in the good times and the hard times. God is with us when we experience inner storms. God is with us when the “seeds” of goodness we try to plant miss the mark or fall on hardened hearts. This Sunday’s readings provide us with the reminder that Christ is the real “sower” of seeds. God is the real source of the grace we experience, the richness in our lives.

Prayer
Good and gracious God, I thank you for the reminders in nature of your constant, watchful care. Help me to hear the groans of creation and find ways that I can respond. I ask for the grace to be open to receive the seeds of goodness that you want to plant in me, in us and in our world. May your word fall on “good ground”, on open minds and hearts. Let us be people who trust in you during the good times and hard times. With gratitude for all your gifts I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Barb Piller, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg