The Paradox of Easter

Posted on April 11, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, April 16, 2017,
Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
John 20:1-9 or Matthew 28:1-10 or Luke 24:13-35

Our responsorial psalm sings: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” Easter is a time that invites rejoicing, gladness, and celebration, even when our life events might not feel so joyful, happy, or worth celebrating. But isn’t that what the Resurrection of the Lord is all about? From death, God raised Jesus to new life. From arrest, false accusation, and crucifixion, God brought about freedom, truth, and an empty tomb. From sin and darkness, God made possible reconciliation and light. We celebrate a paradox today, but the paradox reveals the mystery that God does not give evil the last word. God’s unconditional, merciful love wins the day, and the dark nights of our lives. Offered to us all, we are asked to respond by clearing out the old yeast of malice, wickedness, sin, and darkness, to let God bake us into the bread of kindness, goodness, forgiveness, and light. This is the day to rejoice and be glad. This is a day for hope. (more…)

Do Not Worry

Posted on February 21, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, February 26, 2017, 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 49:14-151
Corinthians 4:1-5
Matthew 6:24-34

Jesus tells us not to worry or be anxious at least four times in today’s Gospel. I don’t know about you but I find these words easier said than done. When deadlines loom or money seems short or I have done things I wish I could take back, I worry. Will I have enough time to finish this project? Will I have enough money to pay my bills? Will the person I’ve hurt forgive me? (more…)

A Light for All Nations

Posted on January 3, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, January 8, 2017, The Epiphany of the Lord

“See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples” (Is 60:2a). The news these days has been filled with darkness: the trial of a white man accused of shooting nine African American people in a Charleston, SC, church; the desire for and resistance to the living situations of Jews and Palestinians in Israel; the continued tragedies in the Middle East; fear of terrorist attacks in major cities around the world as we prepare to begin 2017; hate crimes increasing due to race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political stance; people continue to be martyred for their faith; and news about the deaths of respected entertainers and leaders. Darkness covers the earth. (more…)

The Attitude of Gratitude

Posted on October 4, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, October 9, 2016, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

An African-American hymn sings: “Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord! I just want to thank you, Lord!” I was introduced to this hymn while in seminary. It became one of my favorites, because the words reflect the attitude of gratitude at the heart of Catholic Christian life: “Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God. It is right and just.” The Dominican mystic, Meister Eckhart, put it this way: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

But gratitude seems to have been on the decline in our culture over recent years. The Today Show did an experiment, wherein one of their staff stood at the entrance of Rockefeller Plaza and held the door for people as they entered or exited the building. Fewer than thirty percent of people said, “Thank you.” Some people did look into the eyes of the person who held the door and smiled, but the majority of people simply walked through without any response. That experience led me to ask: Is it because people take courteous acts for granted? Is it because people feel entitled to simple acts of courtesy like this? Is it because people are too preoccupied with hurt or worry? What is the reason? (more…)

All through Love and Nothing through Fear

Posted on August 12, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, August 21, 2016, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

0821_MidweekReflection

Isaiah offers us a vision of utter inclusivity and welcome: “From them I will send fugitives to the nations … and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations. They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations as an offering to the LORD” (66:19-20a). Isaiah’s words challenge us given our current world climate of fear and mistrust. Many, if not most, of us want to welcome all of our brothers and sisters, especially those in need due to unjust political and religious situations at home. However, with terrorist attacks and violence that seem rampant, the deeper desire to be welcoming is often overshadowed by the innate human desire for safety and protection. On one hand, this is understandable. On another, we must remember the words of Jesus that also call us to a deeper inclusivity: “People will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last” (Lk 13:29-30). While we must be prudent and even cautious, that does not mean allowing fear to get the best of us and replace the acts of faith and inclusion to which our readings call us.

Pope Francis has spoken often about our need to welcome the stranger and see the Church as a mother whose care is expressed with special attention to sisters and brothers who must flee their homeland. They are in limbo, between the home of their roots and the countries that might become new homes for them. When he spoke to the US Congress, Pope Francis said: “In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities” (9/24/15). We are a nation who has welcomed others from our beginning. When Pope Francis welcomed refugees to the Vatican this spring, he put his money where his mouth was, so to speak. His witness is a foretaste of the words from Luke that all will come from east and west and north and south and recline at table in God’s kingdom made visible in that part of God’s reign known as Vatican City.

How do we follow his example? How do we face our fears in ways that help us feel as safe as humanly possible and, at the same time, follow the Pope’s call to find security by giving security? Today’s second reading is our guide: “Do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him” (Heb 12:5). The discipline of prayer opens hearts and brings before the Lord what we find there—fear and hope—and helps us find strength and courage in the Lord. The discipline of study informs us more fully on issues that can seem daunting or off-putting at first glance. The discipline of dialogue allows truth to surface when we speak honestly and listen openly, especially to those with whom we disagree. The discipline of compassion helps us to feel with another, in the same way we would like others to feel with us. We strengthen our drooping hands and weak knees by taking on these disciplines, like the athlete or musician whose discipline of practice brings freedom and facility in one’s desired goal. Discipline of prayer, study, dialogue, and compassion brings us “the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it” (Heb 12:11b).

Pope Francis models these disciplines for us in his letter to the 2016 Refugee Olympic Team. He wrote the team members: “I have learned about your team and read some of your interviews so that I could get closer to your lives and your aspirations. I extend my greetings and wish you success at the Olympic Games in Rio—that your courage and strength find expression through the Olympic Games and serve as a cry for peace and solidarity… I pray for you and ask that you, please, do the same for me.”

St. Francis de Sales taught that we should do all through love and nothing through fear. Our readings invite us to live these words and offer the tool of discipline to help us do so. By living what today’s readings invite, Jesus will recognize us, know where we are from, and open the door for us to join the throngs gathered in God’s kingdom.

Rev. Paul H. Colloton, OSFS

PRAYER

O God, who cause the minds of the faithful
to unite in a single purpose,
grant your people to love what you command
and to desire what you promise,
that, amid the uncertainties of this world,
our hearts may be fixed on that place
where true gladness is found.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Collect, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time. Excerpt from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved.

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