Listening to Jesus – A Reflection for the Third Sunday in Lent

By Sister Natalie DeLuca, MHSH

Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15
Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
Luke 13:1-9 

“…I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but found none…”  –Luke 13:6

tree_barrenMany years ago, in my childhood, I remember following my father outside in our backyard.  With watchful eyes, he would survey the vegetable garden and the fig tree planted there.  With the care it received, the fig tree would reward my father and his family with a harvest of fruit in due time.  When summer faded, my father would safeguard the tree from Pennsylvania’s wintry blast.  With shovel in hand, my father would dig around the tree, wrap it in sacking and cover it with soil.  There it would rest until it was time to resurrect it back to the warm, bright light of spring.

Today’s scripture poses a possible case of neglect or indifference.  Jesus searches for the fruit of the laborer’s work, but there is none.  The scene provokes a possible connection to our own relationship with Christ.

figtreeWhat care do I give to my relationship with Jesus?  Is there quiet time?  Time for listening, rather than reciting prayers or a litany of requests?

Quiet time in Christ’s presence nourishes the heart.  What does your relationship need in order to deepen, to grow?  The distractions of the world often deafen us, making it hard to hear the call of Christ that will nourish us.

Picture yourself in the scene with Jesus and the gardener.  What do you see?

Dry fruit?  No fruit?

Listen to Jesus.  He comes in search of fruit.   What do you hear from Him?

 

“Lent is no fun…” A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent by Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

I have never liked Lent.  Where I come from, it’s a season of mountains of dirty snow obscuring every intersection, making just crossing a street a death-defying drama.

slushy snow 0

Even getting on or off a city bus was fraught, as the stops were usually at corners where clogged storm drains filled with slushy water, daring the bus rider to either plunge a booted foot into the abyss (hoping to land on anything solid and supportive), or to launch herself beyond the icy stew to the steps of the bus, if boarding, or to the hill of scuzzy snow if disembarking.

Add to all that trouble was the required “sacrifices” of no candy and no desserts for 40 days: Tell me, what’s to like?

station of the crossWell, you might say, not every liturgical season has to be likable. Let’s settle for meaningful.  From little up, I understood about the Way of the Cross (also mandatory on Friday afternoons; all the school children in heavy coats and wet wool scarves, hats, mittens, in the pews in our church, genuflecting repeatedly—Catholic calisthenics, some call that—recalling and honoring all that Jesus suffered for us.

I can’t remember if any of our Sisters told us to offer our chapped lips, windburned faces, raw wrists and shins in union with Jesus’ agony.

Maybe that would have made a good religion class, especially if she encouraged us to unite our suffering with His for some special intention.

Maybe I can’t remember because that lesson has sunk too deeply into my psyche to be dredged up at will.  I still do believe in “offering it up”—as much my mother’s instruction as any religion teacher’s—and offering it for particular intentions—take your pick, they are myriad in our world, and offering gives our small and larger pains some positive purpose—or so I hope.

Well, clearly, Lent is no fun, but I guess it’s useful to put the sad and sore and negative in our lives to some hopeful, positive use before God.  At least, that’s my hope.  And spring and Easter are only a few weeks away!

How are we doing as Ambassadors for Christ?

A Reflection for Ash Wednesday by Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

college open house 1A few months ago I accompanied my nephew on a campus tour geared to prospective college students. The tour was led by an upper class student who belonged to a group called “College Ambassadors.” The student was welcoming and enthusiastic.  He was trying to give a positive impression of his college as he walked backwards leading us through the campus in hopes that some young people in our group would be moved to apply for admission.  My nephew seemed impressed and was listening to every word.

As the tour continued, I wondered what kind of an impression I have made on the people I have encountered over the years.  In particular I was remembering the many international students I met as a campus minister.  I recalled how my experience with them had helped to broaden my understanding of so many cultures around the world as well as how interconnected we are within the global marketplace.  Then I remembered the times I have traveled abroad, and I wondered what kind of an impression I had given others about the United States. Continue reading “How are we doing as Ambassadors for Christ?”

Aging with Focus

A Reflection by Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

I’m folding laundry and I come across the heavy cotton canvas pastry cloth that was my mother’s. It’s mine now, and I use it three times a year at least: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, when I make a pecan pie from scratch (scratch and a lot of butter) for our Community dinners.

Pecan Pie 3pastry cloth, and learning to roll out dough on it, is one of my earliest memories. It was in good shape about 70 years ago, but it is definitely showing its age now!

Maybe we’re having our own little race to the finish line: Will it outlast me? Will I go first? Am I as beat up as it is?

Using that cloth, I kind of work around the holes, and we get along fine. It’s not a marriage that the cloth and I have, but it gives me an insight into the tolerance and forgiveness necessary for a marriage to last—or for a Community to hold together as it’s members age.

Focus on the holes and the fraying edges, the weak spots, the little stains—or get on with doing all that can still be done: a pie, an outreach to someone frazzled, a chuckle over some crazy caper of years ago.

We may just make that finish line together. Tuck the pastry cloth somewhere in my coffin. Just in case….