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

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.

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 Pentecost, by S. Marj English

First Reading: Acts 2:1-11
Reponsorial Psalm: Ps. 104:1, 24, 29-34
Second Reading: 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13
Gospel: John 20:19-23

The images of Pentecost are mystical, and Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “mystical” as spiritually significant or symbolic. Locked doors, Jesus’ breath, a noise like a strong driving wind, tongues of fire, are all symbols from these Pentecost readings.

Let the symbols prompt our reflections and prayer today on these readings.

From the Gospel: Locked doors, symbol of security and protection from harm; Jesus’ breath, a symbol of life. The disciples were hiding in fear of what might happen to them in the light of Jesus’ plight, yet Jesus found them and stood in their midst offering them peace and breathing on them the Holy Spirit. Locked doors did not hamper Jesus from entering into the disciples’ post-resurrection world; then think of the intimacy of being breathed on. Perhaps Jesus was making a point: you can hide from me and others but I will find you and give you peace. I want to be intimately related to you, involved in your lives especially when you are perplexed, troubled, and fearful.

From Acts: a strong driving wind and tongues of fire. Think of the noise of a strong, driving wind that comes with tornadoes; often survivors of tornadoes describe the sound of a train. We know the devastation of a strong driving wind, or being in the path of a train. Perhaps this symbol helps us sense the power and fluidness of the Spirit that transforms landscapes, perhaps the landscapes of our souls, and the souls of the disciples. Sometimes the old must be torn down for the new to come. The disciples’ world was certainly being turned upside down by the passion, death and resurrection events of Jesus’ life and now Pentecost. The disciples were given tongues of fire for proclaiming the Good News, and they were being commissioned to spread it like a wild fire.

May these mystical images of Pentecost kindle again in you the life of the Spirit.

Spirit of the living God, help us open ourselves to your love, care, and direction. When we are frightened, perplexed, fearful, help us trust that you are with us in very intimate ways, unlocking the doors of our hearts and blessing us with peace. Help us take seriously our own commission to be like a strong driving force and tongues of fire sharing the Good News with our very lives.

Marj English, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Reflection for the 6th Sunday in Easter, by Associate Pat Browne

First Reading: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Second Reading: 1Peter 3:15-18
Gospel: John 14:15-21

This week’s readings offer us many challenges. We are asked to listen, be aware of the miracles in our lives, and accept the word of God just as those in the town of Samaria did. Peter’s letter encourages us to keep our consciences clear so that those who would defame our way of life in Christ might be disappointed, and those who seek to understand the reason for our hope, may find truth. The Gospel states that if we love Christ, the fruit of that love will be obedience to the commands he gave us. But all three readings assure us that we are not left to our own devices to meet these challenges. Even as Jesus tells the apostles that his physical presence on earth is about to end, he lets us know that we will not be left alone as orphans. As Jesus left the material world he did not abandon us, but rather sent us the spiritual presence of God in the person of the Holy Spirit. How wondrous is our God!

Loving God, we thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to dwell within us and to be our advocate. As we face the challenges of faith, hope, and obedience to your commands help us always to trust in His assistance, and be open to your ever present grace. Help us to be light in the world, and to spread the good news of your love for us in all that we do.

Pat Browne, Associate
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, by Associate Judy Hillman

EmmausFirst Reading: Acts 2:14, 22-28
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 16, 1-2, 7-11
Second Reading: 1Peter 1:17-21
Gospel: Luke 24:13-35

Have you ever gone for a long walk after experiencing a tragic event or death of a loved one, and just kept reliving the last days before the event happened?  Two of the followers of Jesus certainly found it helpful.  And Jesus must have found a need to walk after waking up alive!  He was dead and buried for at least two days.  So Jesus found two fellows who were just as stunned and shaken by the Good Friday event.  So they walked and they talked – for seven miles!  And it actually was Jesus who did most of the talking.  It was almost as though Jesus needed to review for himself the path chosen for him by his Father. “…starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the Scriptures that were about himself.”  Imagine, if you will, the fire and animation in Jesus’ own telling and realization of what his mission had been.  By the time this little group reached Emmaus, the two followers of Jesus caught his spirit and fire.  And they issued the invitation, “it is nearly evening, come stay with us.”  Then it happened.  At the meal their guest broke, blessed and shared bread.  Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.

Dear God, as we live through our own cycles of life, death and resurrection, grace us with friends who are willing to walk, talk and listen. Anoint our retelling of our stories with the same graced spirit and fire as Jesus had in his sharing on the road to Emmaus,” …that we may have faith and hope in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory.”

Judy Hillman, Associate
Oldenburg Sisters of St. Francis

Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent, by S. Lorraine Geis, OSF

2ndSundayFirst Reading: Genesis 12:1-4a
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 33:4-5, 18-20, 22
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 1:8b-10
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9

Is this MY Transfiguration Day?

How much time, every day, do I spend remembering news that was said to me, or about me!  Many thoughts, during the course of the day, find me remembering what was said on TV, or from friends by phone, Skype or cell phone.  How does that remembering time compare to remembering the Word of God, spoken directly, personally, to me?

In the Reading of Genesis, God says, “Go forth (put your name), to a land that I will show you.”  Already, my daily schedule is planned for me by my Creator God!  All I have to do is follow.

My name appears again, at the beginning of Timothy: “(put your name), bear your share of hardships for the Gospel.”  The needed strength, to be transfigured by these words, come from God.

Matthew’s descriptive Gospel, also, includes me!  “Jesus took (put your name) up a high mountain.”  Where is it that Jesus takes me so we can be alone?  Then, how often do I proclaim “Lord, it is good for me, (put your name), to be here.”  Jesus touches me and says “Go, (put your name), and do not be afraid.”

Thanks, God, for the invitation and grace to be transfigured. Thanks for calling me by name. Lord, it is good to be with You.

S. Lorraine Geis, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Reflection for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, by S. Marian Boberschmidt, OSF

handFirst Reading: Is 49:14-15
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Gospel: Matthew 6:24-34

In his classic New Jerusalem Biblical Commentary article the late Carroll Stuhlmueller called today’s first reading “one of the most touching expressions of divine love in the entire Bible.”  But Zion said, “Yahweh has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.”  “Can a mother forget her infant; be without tenderness for the child of her womb?  Even should she forget, I will never forget.  See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name.”
On occasion mothers who are extremely poor, having little or no food, lodging or security for their child, feel forced or are forced to give their child away and they cry out in love, “I will never forget you.”  Set aside all anxiety and worry, say to yourself, “God is with me.”  Whisper to yourself, with you, my God, I know that “all will be O.K., all will be well.  I will trust.  I will wait.”  Anxiety blends within the midst of my loving.  Life’s true mystery is recognized as Divine Love alive and well in my heart.

May we be servants and lovers of Jesus and stewards of the mysteries of God even when we don’t feel all our needs are being met.  All will be O.K. in the midst of our life experiences if we believe and trust God’s word on it.
Marian Boberschmidt, OSF