From 1 to 31 October 2018, General Visitation was held in the Polish Province. The theme for the visitation was taken from the letter of St. Paul to Timothy: God gave us no spirit of fear but power and love and sober thinking (2 Tm 1, 7). The General Councilors, delegates of the General Superior, visited all of our communities in Poland. They travelled from North to South and from West to East traversing Polish roads in the picturesque autumn season. The visitation was marked by mutual openness, trust, joy of meeting together and sisterly sharing of faith experience and the richness of consecrated life. The beautiful liturgies were the heart of the visitation path, in search for sanctity and ways where the Province can fully develop.
Wednesday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time - Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
“Invest this until I get back.”
So much of who we are and what we are called to do is contained in this brief line in the parable of the talents. We are called and gifted. All that we have – all that we are – we have as “gift,” given to us for a very special purpose.
The contrast Jesus uses is amazingly contemporary and is very helpful for our everyday lives. Jesus does not want us to take what we have been given and simply preserve it – to protect the gifts, out of some fear, in a risk free way. Jesus wants us to “invest” our gifts – to take some risk, in order to grow the value of his investment in us.
"Zacchaeus, you little thief, what are you doing up in that tree? Come on down here with the rest of us. You’re afraid of us, aren’t you? How ironic. You squeeze us for money, to send to your friends in Rome, but where does all your money get you? Up in that tree, alone. And, why do you care to see this Jesus from Nazareth? They say he’s been announcing that the Reign of God is at hand. That can’t be good for the likes of you. They say he heals people, too. That’s why this crowd is lining the road here. We want to just get close to him, maybe even touch him. Come on down, Zacchaeus. For once in your life, take a risk. Try to get up front and reach out and touch Jesus. Who knows, he might heal that greedy little heart of yours. Hey, here he comes!”
Revelations 1:1-4; 2:1-5; Luke 18:35-43
In today’s passage from Revelation, we are told, ‘blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written… ‘I know your works, your labor, and your endurance…and (you) have not grown weary.’ But further on, ‘Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first.’
For me…this somewhat confusing message addresses our everyday life. How often are we caught up with what needs to be done, deadlines to meet, and preparations for what is next? In the midst of all this coming and going, it is very easy to continue to push on ahead…not taking time out to reflect (or pray) about the ‘how’ we are doing and/or discerning what is important to address or let go.
Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 10:11-14,18; Mark 13:24-32
We’ve all had that experience of joining a group of friends who are mid-conversation, and finding that, at least at first, what they’re saying makes no sense to us. Without the context of what they’ve been saying, it’s hard to get our bearings, and work out just what the things they are saying mean.
Jesus wants his disciples to be in continual dialogue with his most dear Father, just as He was. And Jesus exhorts his disciples to intensify this dialogue during times of stress, just as He did. The dialogue is, of course, prayer.
In today's Gospel Jesus chooses the rather strange parable of the corrupt judge to illustrate his point of praying always, especially in need. The judge ultimately grants the widow's petition not because the petition was just but because he does not want to be disturbed: "While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me."
In Our Days
These things we love: leaves in color, the night sky, ideas that prove true. Some days it is enough just to be here. Roll down the hill one more time. No one will know. First take off your glasses. Leaves stuck everywhere. Cry out. Even here we find God. When being here is enough. When we are not wrestling with death, not asking why, not needing more. But more is holy too.
How does God speak in our days? Days of hard work and troubled sleep. Is it enough? Will I make it? Got to push harder. Walk faster. The aloneness takes over and others pass like shadows over the water. A leaf blows to my lips and I spit it out.
Gratitude: God’s Gift to Us
He never said that they weren’t grateful. The “other nine” lepers whom Jesus had cured may have been quite glad to be free of their terrible malady—but we don’t hear them say that and, neither, apparently, did Jesus. Only one returned and gave thanks. Yes, it’s one thing to be thankful; it’s another to express the thanks, especially to God.
Psalm 146:7, 8-9a, 9bc-10
Today’s Epistle is the entire book of the Letter to Philemon, which I have always considered attractive and somewhat unattractive all at the same time.
First a bit of context: The letter, though a mere 25 verses long, has been noted as worthy of inclusion because it was written in Paul’s own hand! He writes from Rome where he is under perhaps some type of house arrest. There he met Onesimus, a runaway slave of Philemon, a wealthy Christian from Colossus. While in Rome, Onesimus had become a convert to the faith, a friend and even considered “a dear brother” as Paul is sending him back to his owner Philemon. In Paul’s thinking, Onesimus was morally bound to return.
Titus 2:1-8, 11-14
Psalm 37:3-4, 18 and 23, 27 and 29
This reflection is really about and for elders….for people like myself. But younger people need to reflect on it too. I must say that the readings in Titus today were certainly culturally and historically situated in a very different time and place. The part about women being under the control of their husbands doesn’t seem too relevant for most of us. But as an anthropologist, I can see the situational wisdom that we can extract from this very powerful lesson. Anthropologists pay a lot of attention to elders. It seems that our society so values youth that we often fail to see where the age and experience of older men and women can serve as valuable resources for younger men and women. But sometimes I think that the frequent failure of young men and women to honor their elders has as much to do with the fact that elders need to make sure they are worthy of respect. I am an elder and I accept what Titus says about being consistent with sound doctrines in our behavior such as the ones he identifies. No one disagrees that it is good to temperate, dignified, self-controlled, faithful, loving, chaste, enduring and reverent; nor should we be slanderers or addicted to drink.