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Bible, Eucharist, Gospel, Lent, Mass Reflection, Self Care, Theology

It’s all About Relationships

16 March 2021

John 5:1-16

What exactly did Jesus do that was so upsetting to the Jews that they wanted to have him killed? The last line of the Gospel is the perfect place to begin this reflection, “because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal to God” (Jn 5:16).

Ironically, this last line points to exactly why Jesus was born. He came on a mission to create a kingdom of love to reign in our hearts, to share the love of God the Father with us, and reveal that he is one with God, for Jesus is God, a member of the Holy Trinity. Jesus came to invite us into a personal relationship, heal us, and inspire us to follow him and grow in holiness. 

In life, it is easy to see matters through “our worldly lenses”.  We can start to think that God will follow our formulas and ways of thinking rather than being open to the Lord’s plan. When life doesn’t go our way, we can become anxious, stressed, and even dive into depression. We can push God away. Yet, we’re called to press into God in these moments – into his promises, his embrace, his offer of salvation.

Think of the man in this passage who longed to be healed and waited 38 years for this most glorious moment of his life. He was not only healed but had a rich and meaningful encounter with Jesus!  Imagine how grateful he was when Jesus healed him. Jesus is offering us the same type of healing, he wants to set us free from the baggage that holds us back from loving Him. Jesus shows us that there is always meaning to be found when we are struggling. If nothing else, struggles offer us an opportunity to encounter Jesus more profoundly and learn to trust that he is there for us. 

Jesus sought out the man so that he would know that Jesus was the one who healed him and shared a powerful message. He said, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” In a way, these final words to the man are a formula for life. Jesus wants to heal us, yes, but the next line, “sin no more that nothing worse befall you” is the most important, for what is worse than being crippled or even blind? Sinning and going to hell, and ending our relationship with Jesus. May we seek to be holy!

Emily Jaminet

Meditation

From what do you need healing? It could be a physical ailment, anxiety, desire to control something, the need to forgive a wrong. Wherever you need healing, offer it to Jesus today. Invite the Lord to that place.

Lent Devotional 2021
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Lent, Lent, Mass Reflection, Self Care

Visiting with the Woman at the Well

Over the past years I have been working on my fitness. I usually do my workouts first thing in the morning, and sometimes I attend a boot camp class in the evening. I do not workout mid-day. It’s just too hot for that kind of thing here in Hawaii. Folks who run at noon are some kind of special. I pray for them and cheer them when I see them, but am really glad I am not with them. Mid-day is also the time of day in which my family and I will get sunburn. We all have pretty fair skin.

In this gospel we meet a Samaritan woman drawing water in the heat of the day. Women went to the well in the early hours. Why is she there mid-day? A prevalent teaching is that she dared not go to the well in the morning because she was an outcast. This leads me to believe that Jesus encountered her at the well mid-day because he was looking for her.

“Give me a drink” (Jn 4:7), Jesus said. Jews did not speak to Samaritans. Men did not speak to women. But Jesus speaks to this Samaritan woman. And he doesn’t just speak to her, he asks for interaction, and service. This makes me think of Jesus saying, “I thirst” from the cross. What is Jesus asking you to do for him? To give to him?

“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink? (Jn 4:9), she asks. Similarly, I ask “Who am I that you would speak with me, ask me for help, or even notice me?” Yet, he does. He sees me, just as he sees this woman. He desires me, just as he desires this woman. He seeks me out in the midst of my work, in the heat of my life, and even in the shame of my sins.

In this passage, the Samaritan thinks of physical thirst and of the labor. But what of her soul? What of my soul? Do I thirst for Jesus as he thirsts for us? Am I going to the living water to nourish my soul, or do I drink from the world, no matter how unsatisfying?

Jesus knows this woman. Her ins, outs, her past, her present, her public humiliation, and personal brokenness. She shares none of her story, but he knows it. And Jesus loves her. He knows you as well. Your beautiful and ugly parts. And Jesus loves you, and comes to you.

In her encounter with the Lord, this woman is filled to overflowing. Her joy and faith spill out onto those around her and she must invite the whole town, perhaps even the husbands who cast her aside, or the women who cast her out from the well before the heat of the day to meet the Messiah.

Jackie Henderson

Meditation

May Jesus encounter us in the heat of our day, shower us with his love, fill us with joy, and inspire us to invite others to “come and see” (Jn 4:29).

Lent Devotional 2021
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Lent, Lent, Self Care

Yep, It’s Hard – Forgive Anyway

27 February 2021

Matthew 5:43-48

Have you ever been to Disneyland or Disneyworld? If so, you’ve likely climbed into a boat and sailed through the puppeteering land of It’s a Small World. If you’re anything like me, you’re humming the song in your head right now, and in three hours, you’ll still be humming it. Sorry about that…

Today’s Gospel contains a pretty famous line “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). But why? Well, we have to keep reading. “For he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust” (Mt 5:45). Indeed, it is a small world, and we all reside in this same world. As much as it might chafe our human understanding of fairness and justice, God’s care extends to every person, whether friend or foe.

Forgiveness is hard, in part because sometimes we feel like when we forgive an injustice, we’re accepting the behavior or ratifying it. Our desire for justice may want to see another punished, or for the person who harmed us to feel the hurt that they caused. But that’s vengeance. Vengeance only increases the amount of evil in the world, and the world already has enough evil. Wouldn’t you agree?

In forgiving, we have to make peace with the fact that we may never understand those who persecute us or their motives. Our persecutors may never be sorry. But that’s really not our business. Remember that God alone “searches mind and heart,” (Rv2:23).

Forgiving is demanding work, and it doesn’t mean that you won’t bear the pain and wounds of past wrongs, but it does mean that you will unbind yourself from the person who wronged you and have the freedom to move on in life.

Meditation

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heaven Father, for he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust. Mt 5:45

Lent Devotional 2021
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Lent, Lent, Mass Reflection, Self Care, Women's Ministry

What’s Wrong with the World Today

26 February 2021

Matthew 5:20-26

What’s wrong with the world today? Several decades ago, the London Times asked this question of essayists and orators – people who by that days’ standards were “influencers”. G. K. Chesterton, the famous writer, philosopher, and lay Catholic theologian, responded to the Times. He wrote:

Dear Sirs:

I am.

Sincerely yours,

G. K. Chesterton

Those are sage words even for the problems of today, and I’m carrying them with me during Lent. There’s a lot wrong in our world today, but righting the wrong starts with me. It begins with letting go of anger and being reconciled the people in my close circle. As today’s gospel shares, “if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gifts there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt 5:23-24).

Turning the well-known verse of Matthew 7:3 into first-person, “Why do I notice the splinter in my brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in my own eye?” My small actions will not fix the whole world, but they might fix the little sliver that God gave me to toil within until my journey on this life is complete.

Elizabeth Tomlin

Meditation

What’s wrong with the world today?

Lent Devotional 2021
Download your copy of A Time to Grow: A Daily Devotional for Lenten Pilgrims here.

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Advent, Catholic Family, Family Life, Gospel, Motherhood, Self Care

You Have Ears; Use Them.

Thursday 10 December

Matthew 11:11-15

Jesus said to the crowds: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”


Hearing implies listening.  A simple concept but a difficult application.  There is so much white noise in and around us, but it’s not the soothing, white noise that helps us to relax and puts us to sleep. It is noise that distracts, agitates, and keeps us awake: screens, children, meals, plans, activities, parties, husbands, chores, and let’s not forget our own heads.  This noise is constant.  Filling our ears.  Filling our minds.  Filling our hearts.  Stealing our peace.

Stop.  Breathe.  Look around.  Whoever has ears ought to hear.

Some of the noise can be controlled and chosen.  This is the season to slow down. Advent is a time set apart.  A time to look back and a time to look forward.  A time to slow down and listen.  What do you hear? 

Sometimes on returning home, I will sit in the car after all the family has gone inside.  The car is off and there is silence.  I sit and listen.  I soak it in.  Advent is like this for me.  Intentionally slowing down, sitting, and listening.

This is a time of preparation.  What is God saying to you?  Do you hear His call to come deeper and experience Him?  Where do you hear God speaking? What is He using? Who is He using? 

This year is different from all other years and there is a gift for you here, in this moment, in this season.  Don’t miss it!  This time is not about stuff, things, and business.  It is about a gift.  The gift of time. The time to hear what the Lord, the creator of the universe, has to say to you.  Whoever has ears ought to hear.

Meditation

You have ears. Use them. Take five minutes, and as St. Benedict wrote, “incline the ear of your heart.”

Jackie Henderson

hands people friends communication
Advent, Family Life, Gospel, Self Care, Uncategorized, Women's Ministry

Come to me, all you who labor. Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

Wednesday 9 December

Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus said to the crowds: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”


Can I tell you something? I was horribly late getting this piece turned in. The burdens of my life were getting in the way. Some of the burdens were big, but most were everyday burdens – what to cook for dinner, the kids arguing with each other, a lack of sleep because of a little one who still wakes up each night in need of extra snuggles. But the burdens felt heavy and instead of setting them down, I was gathering the burdens more tightly to myself and dragging them along.

Dragging heavy burdens gets exhausting, but so often this is the way we choose to go through our lives. Which is so counterintuitive, isn’t it? If something is too heavy, we ought to set it down. Or ask for help!

This inclination to carry on alone starts early.

When my five-year-old helps carry in the groceries she grunts and groans but refuses to quit because she wants to demonstrate how strong she is. But this only works until her little muscles wear out and we end up with a spilled bag of broken groceries on the ground. Are we like her, trying to show ourselves and others how strong we are?

Jesus offers us a better way: “Come to me, all who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.”

What he offers goes beyond just a quick break before we pile all our burdens back on our backs and trudge along. He goes on to tell us, “Take up my yoke, and learn of me.” A yoke was a harness for not one, but two oxen, allowing them to share the weight of the plow. Jesus is literally offering to carry part of the burden for us, to walk alongside us as we move through the hard stuff in our lives, a constant companion.

And He is offering to teach us, too, as we walk alongside Him. He will teach us a better way, a way that is meek and humble of heart, so that we can find rest in our souls. He is offering the five-year-old in each of us help to carry whatever is in our grocery sacks and to teach us how to accept that help, so that we don’t end up broken and spilled out, unable to go on.

That help comes to us in unexpected ways – the husband who picks up take-out so you don’t have to cook, the friend who calls out of the blue and asks if your kids can come for a playdate, the child who sleeps through the night (just once!) so you can get a good night’s rest. We must train ourselves to be meek and humble of heart so that we can recognize and accept the help that is being offered and to see Jesus in those moments when our burden is lightened.

And when we do, Jesus assures us, we will see that His yoke is truly sweet and his burden is truly light.

Kim Miller

To Ponder

Can you think of a time you were dragging along a grocery sack full of stuff? Are you dragging something now? Look around for people offering to help share your burden.

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