Monday, September 8, 2008

Reflection on Sunday's Readings

Almost every Saturday evening for 1st Vespers of Sunday, one of our sisters gives a relection on that Sunday's Gospel. This weekend Sister Mary Carmen gave a wonderful reflection. Enjoy!

Reflection for the 23rd Sunday of the Year – Cycle A By Sr. Mary Carmen Spayd

Allow me to paraphrase a portion of the first reading from Ezekiel for this Sunday. “You, Sisters of this monastery—you, spiritual direction interns—I have appointed you watchpersons for this community, for your families. If I warn the wayward one and you fail to dissuade that one from her/his sinful way, I will hold you responsible.” The second reading from Romans, I think, tempers Ezekiel’s warning with the statement, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another for the one who loves another fulfills the law.” And in the Gospel just read to us Christ lists for his disciples the steps to be taken to bring about reconciliation between persons at odds with each other. Thus it should be quite obvious to us that scripture points out our obligation to help one another to turn from sin, to grow in holiness, and to attain eternal salvation.

Each one of us has a need to turn from some type of sinfulness or laxity and thus we need to hear the Divine Word, as well as the warning words of community and family—not just with the ear but with open hearts. In this week’s
Living with Christ, Phyllis Groux stresses this so well, stating that the intentional opening of one’s inner ears to the word of another, especially God’s word, is quite different from letting mere sound wash over our ears. She continues that whether and how well we hear is not just OUR business; it affects others as well. Closing ones heart cuts off the voice of others and thus fractures community life and breaks down the Body of Christ.

Where better to open our heart ears than in the presence of one another within the church community, within this very chapel. Recall that prior to August 21,
2005, this place was merely a structure in process--of stone, sand, wood, plaster, and marble. It became a holy place only through the rite of anointing and sprinkling of holy water and the intercession of the Holy Spirit; and, yes, by the presence of a loving, holy community of people. Likewise, a newly built house is transformed into a home only through the presence of loving family members who help one another become better parents, better children, concerned neighbors.
Buildings change for better or worse because of its inhabitants.

Within the confines of this holy place we are most blessed, given the opportunity daily to hear Jesus’ words to us about changing, experiencing conversion, becoming new. That renewal happens in a community of love which “does no evil to the neighbor.” We become something “other” than we are through concerned community members, spiritual directors, family members, or good friends who draw us out of our selfish “me, myself, and I” tendency; our opinionated attitudes; our critical stance of everything under the sun, our stubborn spirit, our lack of concern for the needs of others.

The church’s liturgy reminds us unceasingly of the need for healing and forgiveness. For example, the Penitential Rite at the beginning of each Mass gives us the opportunity to receive God’s forgiveness and to be reconciled with one another. Unfortunately, and I speak for myself, we too frequently allow this rite to be a meaningless, blank, or distracted opportunity. Recently I have told myself, “Mary Carmen, get with it; pay attention; God is talking to you.”

As we survey the world around us, we see the tremendous need for conversion and reconciliation also within families, church communities, local government and nations at large. Even though the situation seems so totally hopeless much of the time, we must remember that with prayer all things are possible and that hearts of stone can be melted as St. Monica experienced with St. Augustine. Moreover, let us lead and encourage through good example.

In closing, let me quote again from Living with Christ, “May our hearts be open to hear, our words wise and courageous, for the sake of the Body of which we are a part.”

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