Find Franciscan Sisters at SEEK2019 in Indianapolis

Find Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in the crowd at SEEK2019 January 3-7. We are arriving by van with Focus Missionaries and St. Albert the Great Catholic Campus Ministry Students at Michigan Tech.  University of Wisconsin Green Bay students are also joining us on the ride. Our home for these 5 days will be downtown Indianapolis at the Indiana Convention Center.

This is not our first experience at this event organized by Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Campus Minister Sister Jacqueline Spaniola was introduced to the program in Florida with St. Albert the Great Parish, Houghton’s Focus Missionaries. She also attended the 2018 Chicago Leadership Summit. Others of us have good memories of previous gatherings in Nashville, Tennessee and San Antonio, Texas.

We are confident that anyone who goes with an open mind and heart will be transformed.

If you would like to meet up with us along the way, feel free to send Sister Julie Ann a text or call 920-323-9632. We look forward to many conversations and many, many blessings! Know of our prayers!

 

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Solemnity of Christ the King 2018

The Solemnity of Christ the King is ours to contemplate this week. To help us pray, we share a Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection November 25 2018. Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photos: St. Laurentius-Kirche Church, Gieboldehausen, Germany and statue of Christ the King, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Archives

John 18:33b-37

Pilate said to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.

What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants (would) be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”

So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Background

This is the last Sunday of the liturgical year. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. Although this has been the year devoted to reading Mark’s gospel, the text for this Sunday is taken from John’s gospel.

This Feast of Christ the King may feel awkward to those of us who are born and raised in a culture whose roots go back to the rejection of the King of England. The rejection was in protest to his power to impose his will on others, and that sentiment is still part of our culture.

The title “king” also brings to mind a medieval system of royal entitlement at the expense of unfortunate serfs and servants. Even today in our world, royal families live a lifestyle that few of their fellow countrymen can afford. There are still too many places where those of royalty live a privileged lifestyle while the poor continue to struggle for basic survival. Our experience and attitudes toward royalty can affect not only how we hear the texts, but also our openness to the Holy Spirit working within us as we celebrate this Solemnity.

In all the gospels, Jesus has harsh criticism for religious leaders who assume positions and attitudes of superiority. Jesus also rebukes those who see him as the messiah, those who would want to reestablish the greatness of the Hebrew Nation as it was in the days of their great King David. The religious authorities see Jesus as presenting himself as “anointed of God.” Therefore, they see him as blaspheming. They also know that his claim would be a threat to Roman authority, and the threat could disturb the uneasy peace that allows them to function as religious authority while being subjects of Roman rule.

In this gospel, Pilate acts as one who must determine if Jesus is an authentic threat to the Roman authority that he represents. In his questioning, Pilate asks Jesus directly if he is a king. He is asking Jesus if he believes he is the Messiah. One of the ways people expressed their hope and belief in God was through the image of a future kingdom that would restore God’s order and peace to all of creation. Linked to this image of God’s reign is a ruler, one who would govern with the mind and heart of God. That person was understood as the true and only king.

On one level, the gospel text is a dialogue between two people who are attempting to speak to one another, but who have totally different ideas of kingship. Pilate, the governor, is trying to determine if Jesus considers himself to be the King of the Jews. If so, is he a member of the religious fringe, or does he have true political aspirations? Should Jesus and his disciples be taken as a threat to the Roman rule? For his part, Jesus never claims that he is a king, but he does represent a kingdom, the reign of God. God’s realm turns the order upside down. It is built on a ruler who is a servant, one who does not order, but invites; who does not demand to be served, but washes the feet of others; who does not demand that others give their life in service, but instead gives his life for others. In the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate, they are trying to speak to each other, but each is speaking from their unique perspective.

Even though Jesus dies disgraced and suffering, the inscription that hangs over his head on the cross indicates that Jesus was the “King of the Jews.” In John’s gospel, it is often Jesus’ enemies who, although they have no idea of the truth of their words, state the profound truth that John wants his community to understand. In the central section of John’s passion account, Jesus is presented as the king. “Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!” (John 19:1)

At the end of each liturgical year the Church closes the year with this Solemn Feast of Christ the King. Throughout the year we have been reflecting on Gospels where Jesus has been revealing to us who God is in word and deed. He has also been instructing us in what it is to be a disciple of Jesus, the one who came to serve the will of God, His Father. Pilate is trying to sort out who this “King of the Jews” is that stands before him. Jesus, even before Pilate, when his life is in jeopardy, is true to his role of being servant of the Father.

Reflection Questions

1. When you think of royalty the images that come to mind are…
2. When you think of royalty, what moments in history or items of contemporary news come to mind?
3. What do you recall of the royal line of David in salvation’s history? What meaning or significance does this have for you?
4. What is your response to people who appear to feel entitled to a lifestyle that is beyond those who make that lifestyle possible?
5. Imagine you are an advisor to Pilate, listening to their conversation. Given the opportunity to approach Pilate and whisper in his ear, you would say…
6. At the beginning of the text, Pilate seems to have the freedom to ask Jesus about his relationship with God and his followers. Realizing that you too have that same freedom, you can now ask…
7. Can you take some time now to talk with God or Jesus about what kind of King Jesus is for you, about the kind of follower you would like to be, or about what this feast means for you in your relationship to God?

Ohio Catholic School Honors Grandparents

Franciscan Sister Sharon Paul reflects on Grandparents’ Day at St. Benedict School, Cambridge, Ohio.

Grandparents’ Day was celebrated recently at St. Benedict School, Cambridge, Ohio in grand fashion. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity were called upon to do various tasks to help the children honor their special relatives.

In the Old Testament in the book of Proverbs is found this verse: “Children’s children are the crown of the elderly, and the glory of children is their parentage.”(Proverbs 17:6) Keeping alive this wisdom, St. Benedict School likes to hosts a book fair where books for all ages can be purchased on this day Grandparents and grandchildren come together. Everyone can find something that they enjoy.

 

Significant to the day is a special Eucharistic celebration. Father Bob Borer was this year’s presider at the Thursday Eucharist.

Musician Sister Carol Juckem and Sister June Smith helped lead the songs.

Visits to the classroom and a lunch followed.


Thank you, to all Grandparents, who are the supporters and benefactors who have helped St. Benedict’s School exist since 1911.

Franciscan Sister Teaches 19 Years in Peru

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie shares on the life and ministry of Sister Maria Jose Scharinger. To read the whole reflection, click here: Franciscan Sister Maria Jose Reflection Here are comments on Sister Maria Jose’s many years of serving in Lima, Peru.

Sister Maria José found all of her years in religious life enjoyable and rewarding, however, the 19 years in Peru meant the most to her. She was always deeply grateful to God and to the Community for giving her this missionary opportunity. Not only did Sister Maria José treasure the Peruvian experience, the people who knew her there also valued all she was and did. In one of her formal yearly evaluations the Principal of Maria Reina School, Mr. Eduardo Pecol, wrote, “Sister Maria José is an excellent English teacher. She is creative, exercises common sense, is careful and clearheaded. She considers her and the school’s success as synonymous and welcomes new assignments as opportunities to prove her abilities. Sister Maria José has the ability to grasp a situation and draw correct conclusions. She reaches sound decisions promptly, is not easily disconcerted and is discreet.”

Another Principal, Maria Isabel Quinones, affirmed Mr. Pecol’s evaluation and added, “She is not just deeply involved with her students’ reality, but also with the school and her colleagues, trying to assist them whenever they need her. We can say that she is a role model. She projects her humbleness through her classes and many other virtues and values that are part of the Franciscan Charism. In other words, we can say that she shows through her daily actions the coherence that the Franciscan and Marianist Congregations proclaim.”

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Palm Sunday

This Palm Sunday Gospel reflection and questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. If you would like to read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection March 25 2018 Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photos: unwrapping palms and Palm Sunday depiction at Franciscan Sisters’ Motherhouse

Mark 14:1-15:47

Chapter 14
The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were to take place in two days’ time. So the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way to arrest him by treachery and put him to death. They said, “Not during the festival, for fear that there may be a riot among the people.”

When he was in Bethany reclining at table in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard. She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head. There were some who were indignant. “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor.” They were infuriated with her. Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them, but you will not always have me. She has done what she could. She has anticipated anointing my body for burial. Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them. When they heard him they were pleased and promised to pay him money. Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘ Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

When it was evening, he came with the Twelve. And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him, one by one, “Surely it is not I?” He said to them, “One of the Twelve, the one who dips with me into the dish. For the Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”

While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be dispersed.’ But after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though all should have their faith shaken, mine will not be.” Then Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.” But he vehemently replied, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all spoke similarly.

Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be troubled and distressed. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.” He advanced a little and fell to the ground and prayed that if it were possible the hour might pass by him; he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.” When he returned he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Withdrawing again, he prayed, saying the same thing. Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open and did not know what to answer him. He returned a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough. The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

Then, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely.” He came and immediately went over to him and said, “Rabbi.” And he kissed him. At this they laid hands on him and arrested him. One of the bystanders drew his sword, struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear. Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs, to seize me? Day after day I was with you teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me; but that the scriptures may be fulfilled.” And they all left him and fled. Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.

They led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. Peter followed him at a distance into the high priest’s courtyard and was seated with the guards, warming himself at the fire. The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none. Many gave false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. Some took the stand and testified falsely against him, alleging, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another not made with hands.'” Even so their testimony did not agree.

The high priest rose before the assembly and questioned Jesus, saying, “Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?” But he was silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him and said to him, “Are you the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One?” Then Jesus answered, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.'” At that the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further need have we of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as deserving to die. Some began to spit on him. They blindfolded him and struck him and said to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards greeted him with blows.

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the high priest’s maids came along. Seeing Peter warming himself, she looked intently at him and said, “You too were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” So he went out into the outer court. (Then the cock crowed.) The maid saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” Once again he denied it. A little later the bystanders said to Peter once more, “Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean.” He began to curse and to swear, “I do not know this man about whom you are talking.” And immediately a cock crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.” He broke down and wept.

Chapter 15
As soon as morning came, the chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, “Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of.” Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them one prisoner whom they requested. A man called Barabbas was then in prison along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion. The crowd came forward and began to ask him to do for them as he was accustomed. Pilate answered, “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” For he knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over.
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate again said to them in reply, “Then what (do you want) me to do with (the man you call) the king of the Jews?” They shouted again, “Crucify him.” Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” They only shouted the louder, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged, handed him over to be crucified.

The soldiers led him away inside the palace, that is, the praetorium, and assembled the whole cohort. They clothed him in purple and, weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him. They began to salute him with, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and kept striking his head with a reed and spitting upon him. They knelt before him in homage. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him out to crucify him.

They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. They brought him to the place of Golgotha (which is translated Place of the Skull). They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it. Then they crucified him and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” With him they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left. Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross.” Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.

At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “Look, he is calling Elijah.” One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.” Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” There were also women looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joses, and Salome. These women had followed him when he was in Galilee and ministered to him. There were also many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

When it was already evening, since it was the day of preparation, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a distinguished member of the council, who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God, came and courageously went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was amazed that he was already dead. He summoned the centurion and asked him if Jesus had already died. And when he learned of it from the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. Having bought a linen cloth, he took him down, wrapped him in the linen cloth and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses watched where he was laid.

Background

Scripture scholars believe that the passion accounts as continuous narratives existed before they were incorporated into the gospels. They were probably written for use in liturgical gatherings of the early Christians. Some believe that Mark’s narrative is drawn from two different accounts that he combined and wove together to form his own account. The earliest account would have drawn on Old Testament texts of Psalm and Isaiah . This account tries to respond to the need to understand how an innocent servant of God would suffer the humiliation of death by crucifixion. This early account of the passion points to these two ancient texts to demonstrate that this kind of death is what has been foretold. The second early account of the crucifixion presents a conflict between the power of light and the power of darkness. Here, Jesus’ cry in agony on the cross is the cry of victory of the power of light. It is at this moment that the temple curtain is torn in two, and all that separates the created world from the divine is breached. Mark’s account of the passion does not support one understanding of the passion over the other, but rather it draws on both to create his narrative.

In order to reflect on the passion of Jesus, it might be helpful to note that our contemporary attitude toward pain may be very different from that of the people at the time of Jesus, and those for whom the gospel was originally written. They lived with much more pain in their daily lives than most Westerners would find tolerable. They presumed that living life meant enduring pain; the more important question in their culture was how one handled it.

Mark presents an image of Jesus accepting the pain in his life with a great deal of composure. He portrays Jesus as human; Jesus would like to avoid the pain and the humiliation of these events, but he will remain faithful to his relationship to God. For the first time in this gospel, he acknowledges publicly that he is the Messiah. (Mark 🙂 By doing so, he seals his death and all that it will mean.

In contrast to Jesus’ faithful acceptance of the consequences of his relationship to God, Mark portrays the disciples as totally unwilling and unable to be faithful to their relationship to Jesus. Judas betrays him; Peter, James and John fall asleep when he asks them to accompany him at Gethsemane, and Peter outright denies that he even knows Jesus. They all drank of the cup that contained the blood of the new covenant, and they joined Peter in proclaiming their fidelity when Jesus told Peter he would deny him. (Mark : & ) Nonetheless they all fell asleep and deserted him.

Mark frames the passion with faithful women at both the beginning and the end of the account. In the first verses of this text, one of them anoints Jesus in the same manner that a prophet would be anointed. She not only recognizes who he is, but also prepares his body for burial. Also, she prepares us to hear about these final events. Again at the end of the passion text, the women are present. They have stayed by Jesus’ side through these painful and humiliating events. Two of them, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses, even follow as Jesus’ dead body is taken to the tomb. They watch as Joseph of Arimathea rolls the stone to seal the entrance to the tomb of the beloved person whom they had followed and to whom they had ministered.

From the perspective of the non-believer, Jesus is portrayed as one who is totally betrayed and stripped of any honor. The pain is real, but the greater burden is the total lack of esteem. Crucifixion was intended by the Romans to be both painful and humiliating. It was a death that dragged out over hours and the victim was even given wine with some drugs so that he would not faint. The person was stripped naked, totally exposed, so that at the time of death when his bowels would be loosened, it would create a public image of denigration and humiliation. It should be no surprise that the disciples, in the hours and days after these events, did not know how to deal with this image of Jesus crucified, given their belief and hope that he might be the Messiah.

At moment of Jesus’ death, the curtain in the temple was torn in two. The curtain created the Holy of Holies, the dwelling place of God. Only the High Priest could enter, and then only once a year to offer sacrifice to God. The curtain separated God from the people. Torn in two, it no longer functioned as a wall to set God apart from his people.

Jesus dies between two criminals who like himself were crucified for their crimes. It is not James and John who are at his right and left when he comes into his kingdom. No, that place was given to two criminals.

Reflection Questions

1. Where are the places where you have experienced pain in your life, physical, emotional or spiritual?
2. Do you respond to pain that is a result of your own choices differently than that which comes from the circumstances of your life, or is inflicted on you by someone else?
3. Who are the people who have stood by you during some period of difficulty?
4. Have you ever wished that you could suffer pain in the place of another?
5. Mark’s portrayal of the disciples is not very flattering. Why do you think he includes their actions in his account?
6. Why do you think Mark, who is writing for such a male-dominated society, places the women in such a positive light? What do you think he is saying to his fellow disciples, and to the women in the community, and to you?
7. What, in the passion account here, strikes you as you hear it now? Can you take some time to talk with God about whatever is going on within you as you hear this gospel?

Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Fifth Week of Lent

Be inspired this Fifth Week of Lent. This weekly Sunday Gospel reflection and questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. If you would like to read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection March 18 2018 Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing.

Photos: Eau Claire Ecumenical Center, Eau Claire, WI

John 12:20-33

Now there were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

Background

Most of the preceding chapter of this gospel recounts Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead. After he did this, some came to believe in Jesus, but others went off to inform the Pharisees. The chief priests and Pharisees convened a meeting of the full Sanhedrin. Because they worried about Rome’s reaction to Jesus’ growing popularity, they decided to kill Jesus. Therefore, Jesus no longer walked in public, and he left the region. The people who had gathered for the Passover were looking for Jesus and wondering if he would come for the feast. The chief priests and the Pharisees had spread the word that they wanted to arrest him. Six days before the Passover, Jesus traveled to Bethany and the house of Lazarus. While at dinner, Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive oil. The crowd learned where Jesus was and came out to see him and Lazarus. The plot to kill Jesus was expanded to include Lazarus. Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem with crowds of people greeting him, waving palm branches and crying out “Hosanna!” At this sight the Pharisees said, “Look, the whole world has gone after him.” (John 12:19b) This briefly summarizes the text that immediately precedes this week’s gospel. (John 11:45-12:19)

Philip and Andrew are Greek names. It is possible that the Greeks who had come to Jerusalem knew Philip, or at least thought they would have a better chance of meeting Jesus by approaching a fellow Greek. The text does not say whether or not they were Jews, or why they were in Jerusalem. The assumption that they were there to celebrate the Passover is not confirmed in the text. They may also have been there to sell merchandise to the crowds, or as escorts to Jews who had come for the feast. Their presence and their request to meet Jesus make the Pharisees’ statement that “the whole world has gone after him” a statement of the reality. (One of the techniques used by the gospel writers is to have an adversary or a spirit speak a truth before it is accepted and understood by those who are disciples.)

With the arrival of the Greeks, Jesus says that his hour has also arrived. It is both the hour that he dreads and the hour of his glory. They are one and the same. Jesus uses the image of a grain of wheat to illustrate his point. It is only by the seed’s destruction that it can become a plant that can then provide nourishment. The reality that the seed must surrender its life as a seed in order to become a plant is also Jesus’ reality, as well as the reality of those who desire to be his followers. The use of the words “love and hate” emphasizes the contrast. A choice is involved here, a decision has to be made. The prayer that begins in verse 28 indicates a sense of the real struggle Jesus experiences in making his choice. With Jesus’ decision to be faithful, the events that will lead to his hour of dread and glory have been set in motion. God’s affirmation, the voice from heaven, is heard by those present, but not understood. The hour of judgment has come. The rulers of the world, those who do not accept his teaching, will be defeated. In the text, the Greeks have come to Jerusalem for the Passover and to find their way to Jesus. At the end of the text, Jesus says that when he is raised up he will draw everyone to himself. We gather to hear this gospel and we are challenged to accept “our hour.”

Reflection Questions

1. Have you ever encountered people who are looking to find or discover Jesus?
2. Has there been a time in your own life when you were looking in some way to find Jesus?
3. Is this Lent in some way an expression of your desire to see or know Jesus more completely?
4. How is the approach of the Greeks seeking to find Jesus a fitting introduction to Jesus’ instruction about his own approaching death?
5. In verse 25, Jesus talks about those who love their life. Who are the people in your life you would associate with loving their life?
6. Do you recall a period in your own life when you had to die to yourself in order to be faithful to the gospel or to your own integrity?
7. Do you think that Jesus was really troubled by the fact that his hour was finally approaching? What might have been some of the things that were troubling to him?
8. Have you ever found yourself saying, with the Greeks, “I want to see Jesus?”
9. Can you take some time to talk with God about your own desire to see God more fully, or about Jesus’ prayer in this text, or about some other thought that arose within you as you pondered this gospel?

Franciscan Sister at National Vicars Conference

Franciscan Sister Louise Hembrecht reports on a National Vicar Conference in Chicago, IL.

The Felican Sisters in Chicago hosted the 49th Annual Meeting of the National Vicars Conference for Religious. There were forty-seven vicars/representatives/delegates for Religious present from across the United States including Sister Louise Hembrecht, who serves as the national secretary for the conference. The four regions of the country take turns planning the meeting with the executive officers. This year it was the Western Region who did the planning. Their theme was Remembering the Journey: Opening the Doors of Hope.

The keynote speakers, Sister Lynn Levo, CSJ, and Brother Bill Short, OFM are known to the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity because both have been speakers at the Motherhouse in past years. In addition to the keynotes on Transformation and the recent Vatican document on “Brothers,” there was a session on Immigration laws given by Sister Mary Ellen Burns, ASCJ. Breakout sessions were held on Canon Law, Consecrated Virgins, and Vocations. Several groups greeted the Vicars/Representatives/Delegates and explained their roles in being available to the needs of Religious.

Father Hank Lemoncelli, OMI, the representative from the Dicastery of Consecrated Life, Apostolic Life, and Secular institutes came from Rome to attend the conference. At one of the meals, he again complimented our Community on its Vocation Manual and said that he continues to offer it to other Communities as a guide.

 

Franciscan Sister Coaches School’s Tournament of Truth

Franciscan Sister Anna Maar assisted with the 2017 Tournament of Truth held at St. Benedict School, Cambridge, OH. It was the 11th annual one.

 The event was initiated by the Diocese of Steubenville Office of Christian Formation and Schools, Paul D. Ward, director.

It has been held in various locations throughout the diocese, most recently in schools in Marietta, Cambridge and Steubenville. This year’s competition was held in Bishop John King Mussio Central Elementary School, Steubenville.

Typically, students in second through eighth grades participate. Categories for competition include those in grade 2-4 (candidate); 5-6 (postulant) and 7-8 (novice).

Competitors this year were from St. John Central School, Bellaire; St. Benedict School, Cambridge; St. John Central School, Churchtown; St. Mary School, Marietta; St. Mary Central School, Martins Ferry; St. Mary Central School, St. Clairsville; Bishop John King Mussio Central Elementary and Junior High School, Steubenville; St. Sylvester Central School, Woodsfield.  A total of 226 students competed.

Teams are asked questions to determine the winners. In the final rounds, Diocese of Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton quizzes the youth and awards the winning trophies.

Winners were from St. Mary Central School, St. Clairsville; Bishop John King Mussio Central Elementary School, Steubenville; and St. Benedict School, Cambridge.

 

Franciscan Sisters Witness 75 Years of Religious Profession

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Community Director Sister Natalie Binversie congratulations our Sister Jubilarians celebrating 75 years of consecrated life.

Good morning to each of you on this Third Sunday of Easter!  Special congratulations to Sister Cabrini, Sister Carol, Sister Daniel and Sister Malachy as we celebrate with you your 75 years of Religious Profession!  In the words of the Entrance Antiphon for Mass this afternoon we begin with this Psalm phrase, “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy; praise the glory of His name; proclaim His glorious praise, Alleluia!” (Psalm 65:1-2)  This is what we celebrate today!  We thank God for the witness of the commitment of your life, vowed to God in service of His Church, as a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity.

We remember today those Sisters who journeyed over the years with you under the title of “Our Lady of Peace” and are now enjoying their eternal reward:  Sister Ruth Meyer (1984), Sister Elizabeth Linders (1986), Sister Andrea Kelbel (1989), Sister Mary John Hartmann (1991), Sister Anne Kennedy (1993), Sister Thaddeus Stratman (1997), Sister Thomas More Bertels (2000), Sister Germaine Hubert (2004), Sister Barbara Hadbavny (2006), Sister Philip Neri Hempton (2009), Sister Mary Thomas Aldridge (2010), Sister Roque Essert (2012), Sister Magdalen Sipple (2015), and Sister Teresa Luietkenhaus (2015).  Eternal rest grant unto these Sisters, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them, may they rest in peace. AMEN!  We ask them to continue to intercede for the needs of the Congregation especially for the intentions of perseverance for each of us and for Vocations to continue our ministries in the Church.

In the Scripture readings for today’s Mass we will hear some of the reactions and responses to the Resurrection of Jesus.  We are no different from these early Disciples of Jesus.  We can look to our Jubilarians to recognize how they have come to know Jesus over the years.  They heard God’s call and responded with their yes.  Each day they chose to journey with Jesus.  I would venture to say some days they were unaware and other days their eyes were opened and they recognized Him in the people they lived with, in the people they ministered with and served for their hearts were burning within them knowing that Jesus was with them.

Pope Francis continues to challenge us to open our eyes and hearts to recognize Jesus in all, especially in the poor.  The Jubilarians have done that.  They have identified four places to help people in need.  Donations in the name of the Jubilarian have been sent to The Crossing and St. Vincent DePaul in Manitowoc, to St. Francis Xavier School in Petoskey, Michigan and St. Joseph Hillside Villa in West Point, Nebraska.

As we continue our celebration today, may our eyes and hearts be open to the presence of Jesus in the joy of this day.  Sister Cabrini, Sister Carol, Sister Malachy and Sister Daniel enjoy the day with family,  friends and your Sisters in Community.  May God continue to bless you!

Pope Francis’ Vocations Intention and One Sister’s Call

Sister Kathleen Murphy reminds us of Pope Francis’ April prayer intention of Vocations, while Sister Natalie Binversie’s shares the call of  Sister Florence Piotrzkowski. Sister Florence’s family is a model of prayerful support, the kind of family Pope Francis sees as tremendous blessing in our Church today.

April marked World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In that spirit, we pray with the Church, that young people may respond generously to their vocations and seriously consider offering themselves to God in the priesthood or consecrated life.

Prayer and sacrifice for the gift of vocations is nothing new to us as a community. We do it in some form every day, and God continues to bless us in His own time. This is a good month to increase our prayers and sacrifices in union with the whole Church. It is a good time to re-read the stories of the calls of Francis and Clare. It is a good time to reflect on the blessings of our own vocation.

This is a good time to consider the fact that no vocation comes out of a vacuum. As Pope Francis says, “Vocations are born within the Church. From the moment a vocation begins to become evident, it is necessary to have an adequate “sense” of the Church. No one is called exclusively for a particular region, or for a group or for an ecclesial movement, but rather for the Church and for the world. “A sure sign of the authenticity of a charism is its ecclesial character, its ability to be integrated harmoniously into the life of God’s holy and faithful people for the good of all.” In responding to God’s call, young people see their own ecclesial horizon expand; they are able to consider various charisms and to undertake a more objective discernment. In this way, the community becomes the home and the family where vocations are born. Candidates gratefully contemplate this mediation of the community as an essential element for their future. They learn to know and to love their brothers and sisters who pursue paths different from their own; and these bonds strengthen in everyone the communion which they share.”

Let us take some time to thank the Lord of the Harvest for our own vocation and for the ecclesial nature that St. Francis brought to our spirituality as he sought to have his little band blessed by the Church.

Read about Sister Florence’s call to be a Franciscan Sister: Franciscan Sister Florence Reflection