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Allie Wing

Gospel Reflection Mar 19 – Deacon Don + Rice Bowl Week 3

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Sunday, March 19

Third Sunday of Lent

John 4:5-15, 19B-26, 39A, 40-42

Gospel:
Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” – For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans. – Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.

“I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him. When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

Reflection:
If the Gospel writers were modern day marketing execs tasked with promoting a new faith called Christianity, they would get low marks for the types of characters they used to promote this new faith. Often, the Gospels writers select characters that are marginalized, downtrodden, and the least of our brethren. Yet, these same characters become central to the Gospel message – that the marginalized are granted high places for all who believe in this message and live it. If we were tasked with promoting this new faith, we would more likely select the popular and successful of society to represent this faith and make it more attractive to our contemporaries. Yet, the Gospel writers chose otherwise. One can only conclude then that the Gospels writers weren’t concerned with popularity, but in the truth with which they were entrusted.

Today’s Gospel often described as the woman at the well is no exception. It is an extraordinary story of the lowly being lifted up to present an extraordinary truth. The woman at the well was indeed an extraordinary woman. She was a Samaritan – a race of people hated by the Jews. This woman was even an outcast from her own Samaritan people. This is supported by the fact she came alone to draw water from the community well. In ancient times, the community well might be considered the equivalent of our modern day water cooler – a place to gossip and socialize, but this woman comes alone and friendless.

The story of the woman at the well teaches us that God loves us despite our social status and sinfulness. Jesus seeks us out in this passage to enter into a deeper relationship with him. As a result of Jesus’ conversation, the Samaritan woman, an outcast from her own people, could understand how profound Jesus’ relationship can be. Jesus uses her and the metaphor of living water as the devices for revelation to other Samaritans as well. To be wanted, to be cared for when no one, not even herself, could see anything of value in her – this is Jesus’ grace indeed. To the first century Gospel reader and for us today, this story is too unexpected, too unworthy, to be anything else but true. All of us from time to time can feel like the woman at the well. Recognize the truth of this Gospel during this Lenten season to further our faith journey and realize the Gospel writers got it right.

Deacon Don Poirier

 

 

OPERATION RICE BOWL: WEEK 3
Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers, we remember that Jesus spent years working as a carpenter. Work is important to help people live good lives, and so people must be paid a fair wage to provide for themselves and their families.
Encounter Fernando
Fernando dreams of becoming a businessman. He also dreams of a better future for his family, and this motivates him to sell cookbooks on San Salvador’s buses. It’s dangerous work for $10 a day — gangs frequently stop and harass drivers and passengers — but he keeps going, determined to achieve his dreams.

It was his dreams that led him to YouthBuild, a six-month, CRS-sponsored program that trains young people in business. There, he found a positive community to help him pursue his passion, despite the challenges of life in El Salvador. “When I tell my classmates that I want to do something, they tell me to try it and to not hold back.”
Training for six months with YouthBuild wasn’t easy on Fernando or his family. Without his wife to support him and care for their two young daughters, the early mornings and long days might have been impossible. “YouthBuild is a family because families help you realize your dreams,” Fernando says. It’s a fact he knows well.  Fernando is putting his newfound skills to work. After graduating from YouthBuild in 2016, he took part in a series of entrepreneur workshops organized by CRS and is currently working on a new business plan. He is also a part of the YouthBuild network of graduates, youth leaders who mentor other young people and look for new opportunities for employment and growth.  “We have a saying,” says Fernando. “Once a YouthBuilder, always a YouthBuilder.” *YouthBuild is a member of the YouthBuild International network.
Watch a 3 ½ minute video to learn more about CRS’ work in El Salvador, and reflect on the life and legacy of El Salvador’s saintly Blessed Oscar Romerohttp://www.crsricebowl.org/stories-of-hope/week-3 

Gospel Reflection Mar 12 – Deacon Frank + Rice Bowl Week 2

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Sunday, March 12

Second Sunday of Lent

Matthew 17: 1 – 9

Gospel:
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Reflection:
On this Second Sunday of Lent the church once again gives us the powerful account of Jesus’ Transfiguration where Peter, James and John have an experience of seeing Jesus as being truly amazing. They are able to recognize that He is amazing, for they contemplate Him for who He really is. On the mountain, Jesus shines as the true source of light that He is, and the Father affirms His delight and the trust placed in Him. Naturally, recognizing that they are in the presence of God, the disciples are frightened as they fall on their faces, but they want to stay in that presence. ‘Lord’, Peter says,’ it is wonderful for us to be here.’ Through Jesus’ transfiguration, the disciples see the true face of Jesus, and there is not a thing that they would change; for suddenly they know He is truly amazing just the way He is – fully human and fully divine.

As you go to Mass this Sunday at this point in Lent, the Gospel is also an encouragement for us to see who we really are as God’s amazing children. The manifestation of God’s glory in Jesus is a gift to us to help us see something that is very often hard to acknowledge – that in Christ we too are beloved sons and daughters of God. Lent is a perfect time to look beyond the surface and get in touch with our unique fashioned selves. Jesus, transfigured and hearing how he is the Father’s Beloved, can speak those same words to our hearts this day and in the days to come.
Deacon Frank Iannarino

OPERATION RICE BOWL: WEEK 2

Sacredness and Dignity of the Human Person
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Sacredness and Dignity of the Human Person, we remember that, when God created us, he made us in his image and likeness. That means that every human being has a special value and purpose. We need to care for each other so that we can be the people God calls us to be.

Encounter Evelina
Evelina Banda, like generations of Zambians before her, used to survive on meals made from corn flour, usually a porridge called “nshima.” “Growing up, I’d eat porridge in the morning, at lunchtime and again in the evening,” she says. After all, it was cheap and easy to make.
Unfortunately, nshima has very little nutritional value — and relying too heavily on it has led to high rates of malnutrition. Many in Zambia have full bellies, but little nourishment. And this is particularly dangerous for children under the age of two, who need high levels of vitamins and minerals to grow up healthy and strong. That means mothers who are nursing — as well as their children — need nutritious meals.

So, CRS is teaching women like Evelina how to prepare healthier meals and grow new, vitamin-rich crops like peanuts, pumpkins and sugar cane. In many cases, these crops were already being grown in the village. Now, Evelina and others are adding more nutritious food to their children’s nshima: ground peanuts or eggs, for example. And, what the women learn, they share with their community — especially expectant mothers.

“We sing and dance during the cooking lessons because we are happy to learn how to cook different types of food,” says Evelina. Evelina is healthier, and so is her son, Steven. “I know I am taking good care of him, because he’s full of energy, he’s strong and never sick,” she says, with a smile. Watch about a 4 minute video to meet Evelina and learn about the work of Catholic Relief Services in Zambia http://www.crsricebowl.org/stories-of-hope/week-2

Gospel Reflection Mar 2 – Sr. Teresa + Rice Bowl Week 1

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Sunday, March 5

First Sunday of Lent

Matthew 4: 1 – 11

Gospel:
At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply,
“It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered him,
“Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him,
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.
Reflection:
When Allie first gave me this Sunday, I thought no problem because the first Sunday of Lent is always about the temptations in the wilderness. It is in Luke, Matthew and Mark. I didn’t give it too much thought because it is not too difficult to talk about temptations. When I finally had to sit down and put something on paper, I could not get past the first sentence. Do you remember it? Take a minute. Go back and read it for yourself:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

That never really stood out for me before. I even checked Mark and Luke to see what they had to say and each of them say pretty much the same thing. It seems like a dirty trick or at least a bit mean to me! Don’t we pray every day in the Our Father not to be led into temptation? Now, in this passage, we have the Spirit leading Jesus right into it!

So often as Lent begins we focus on what we are going to do for Lent; what we are going to give up; what spiritual practice we are going to take on to have a great and meaningful Lent. Yet, this gospel passage focuses on Jesus. The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. This is a critical moment for Jesus. It marks the beginning of his public ministry. He will be thrown into life and he will be tempted.

The wilderness of Judea is not your stereotypical sand covered desert. It is rocky and desolate. It is brutally hot during the day and often bitterly cold at night. At night it is so dark, but the darkness provides a certain clarity and you can see millions of stars. There is a beauty and deep silence in this wilderness. There is also a starkness and a frightening solitude in this wilderness.

Jesus is there for forty days and in that time would have experienced hunger and thirst so why wouldn’t the devil tempt him with bread? Why wouldn’t the devil tempt him to show his powers and to claim his power? Our faith tells us that Jesus was like us in all things but sin. He was a fully human being and like human beings would have wanted fulfillment. He would have wanted to be successful in his work. He would have wanted security and to be well thought of by others. But not at any cost!

Even though we pray not to be led into temptation, it doesn’t work that way, does it? Every day we go out into our own wilderness – wherever and whatever that may be and we are indeed tempted. But!! But!! Read the first line again …

led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

We never go alone.

Life is full of temptations, but no temptation is more powerful than the Spirit. The Spirit will always lead us and will always be there for us. Keep your focus on Jesus. Keep your focus on the power of the Spirit that lives within you. Jesus knew who he was. He was filled with the Spirt. He did struggle in that desert wilderness but held onto the Spirit. He held onto his principles. He held on to who he was. He relied on the relationship he had with his Father.
one does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

What is that word? It is God’s eternal promise to be with us always. In today’s language we would say, the Spirit always “has our back.” Do we believe that? Do we believe that we have within us the same Spirit that Jesus had within him as he faced his wilderness? If we do, do we live out of that belief?

Each of us has our own wilderness to go into. We have to decide if we will let the Spirit lead us or are we going to go it alone?

Sister Teresa Tuite, OP

OPERATION RICE BOWL: WEEK 1

Option for the Poor
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Option for the Poor, Jesus tells us to give special care to those who are most in need. He reminds us of our Christian duty to give a voice to those who are unheard and to help those who are most vulnerable

Encounter the Singh Family – India
When the Malaguni River in East India floods, Megha and Raj Singh, their two children and their extended family cannot get to the nearest market–nearly five miles away–to buy and sell food. If the waters do not recede quickly, their rice fields fail, and their animals become sick from diseases spread through dirty water. The family faces financial danger.

That’s why CRS is helping the Singh family prepare for flooding with new farming tools and techniques. Now Raj plants his fields worry-free using a special type of rice that can survive flooding. He can collect and save his seeds for future use. And he now has the resources he needs to vaccinate his cows, ensuring they, too, survive the floods.

Megha grows vegetables in a kitchen garden, so her family has healthy meals even when she can’t visit the market. During past floods, the family had to survive solely on rice. But now, planting veggies in special sacks, she is able to raise the plants above flood lines, ensuring her family has reliable access to nutritious food.

Just as important, Megha has learned new ways of growing food, so that the entire family gets the most nutrition out of every meal. Now, the whole Singh family is healthier, and with these new ways of farming, they can continue to thrive, even during floods. Watch a 1 ½ minute video http://www.crsricebowl.org/stories-of-hope/week-1

Try a simple meal from India: Dalma with spinach. http://www.crsricebowl.org/recipe/dalma-with-spinach

Gospel Reflection Feb 26 – Msgr. Hendricks

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Sunday, February 26
 
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 6: 24 – 34
Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

Reflection:
Jesus in the gospel of Matthew today encourages us to be free of worry and to concentrate on the matters of today.
Worry is one of the most debilitating afflictions that holds us back from freedom and joy.

If we take a moment today to reflect on what is bothering us and what we worry about most, we will discover that often our worry can do little to change the course of our lives or the lives of those around us.

The reality is, that no matter how much we tell ourselves not to worry, we do worry.

The remedy of the gospel and the words of Jesus today encourages us to put our faith in Him and give or hearts to Him and be free from what holds us back from true love and joy.

A good thought is in today’s gospel for us. Worry gets us nowhere. Faith brings us home and home with peace.

Monsignor Hendricks

Gospel Reflection Feb 19 – Fr. Morris

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Sunday, February 19
 
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 5: 38-48
Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Reflection:
“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Our Lord really gives us a tall order to fulfill in the final sentence of this Sunday’s Gospel. Does Jesus really want us to be “perfect?” What does it mean to be perfect like God is perfect?
The Church’s answer is that all Christians are called to the perfection of the saints. We all have what the Second Vatican Council called “a universal call to holiness.” Striving to be a saint is not reserved for some hermit monk in the desert subsisting on the Eucharist alone; we are ALL called to holiness, no matter our vocation or state in life. In one of his Wednesday audiences, Pope Francis commented on this teaching of the most recent ecumenical Council:
“[T]he call to holiness is not just for bishops, priests or religious … No. We are all called to become saints! So often, we are tempted to think that holiness is granted only to those who have the opportunity to break away from the ordinary tasks, to devote themselves to prayer. But it is not so! Some people think that holiness is closing your eyes and putting on a pious face… No! That is not holiness! Holiness is something greater, more profound that God gifts us. Indeed, it is by living with love and offering Christian witness in our daily tasks that we are called to become saints. And everyone in the particular condition and state of life in which they find themselves…Always and everywhere you can become a saint, that is, by being receptive to the grace that is working in us and leads us to holiness…
 
At this point, each of us can examine our conscience, we can do it now, everyone answering for himself, inside, in silence: So far how have we responded to God’s call to holiness? But do I want to improve, to be a better Christian? This is the path to holiness. When the Lord calls us to be saints, he does not call us to something hard or sad… Not at all! It is an invitation to share His joy, to live and offer every moment of our lives with joy, at the same time making it a gift of love for the people around us. If we understand this, everything changes and takes on a new meaning, a beautiful meaning, to begin with the little everyday things.”

We should not afraid of this call to holiness! We are not alone in this journey! Jesus is not only the one who calls us to sanctity, but is the one who is by our side, who grants His graces through the sacraments He instituted and entrusted to the Church. We know we can become perfect, because Christ has told us we can, and He Himself has given us the resources we need to fulfill His call!

Gospel Reflection Feb 12 – Deacon Paul

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Sunday, February 12
 
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 5: 17 – 37
Gospel:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment;
and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin;
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife – unless the marriage is unlawful –
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”

Reflection:
In today’s Gospel, we have Jesus preaching from the Sermon on the Mount, telling his disciples that his mission is to fulfill the Law, by impressing on them the need to form their hearts in the Law and in love of God and neighbor. Jesus states the law first, and then he gives a deeper interpretation. Jesus, the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets, is saying that to be a Christian is “more” than just doing the minimum the law sets out. Being a Christian is “more” than following laws and procedures.

Jesus essentially says, look, if you thought the law was tough, wait until you see this. If you really want to be my disciple, give me your heart without reservation. If we have a tendency to ask the question, “What must we do to get to heaven?” then we have failed from the beginning. Instead, we need to ask, “What can I do to love God?”

For some, the Sermon on the Mount is about how to be good now so that they can go to heaven later. It is a mistake to think of the teachings of Jesus in this way. After all, this is not where Jesus placed the priority of living the Christian life. His focus was on entering into a relationship with God.

Jesus’ call for a transformation of our heart and a higher standard of living is not a static one. Wherever we are in our spiritual walk with Christ, let us be stirred to seek spiritual maturity with our Lord and Savior. For it is those whose hearts are transformed by the love of God, shown in Jesus, who really keep the law.

Deacon Paul Zemanek