During this year of 2018, we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Congregation. In order to have a common tool of contemplation specific to our Congregation, we would like to present you reflections of the Sunday Gospels
Sunday, April 22, 2018
The Good Shepherd Gives His Life Jn 10: 11-18
I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father. ”
The good shepherd allows those who were entrusted to him to live fully. Saint John, in his Gospel, places emphasis on the individuality of each of us and the importance we have for God, “I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me.” When someone is important to us we know his/her name, whether it is a member of our family, one of our friends, a colleague, someone close. The knowledge I have of a person allows me to love and respect this person. Jesus describes himself as a shepherd who knows each and every one of his sheep by its name. They all hear and recognize his voice. No one is left behind among Jesus’ flock. Strong or frail, everyone will have abundant life, if desired.
Yes, our Shepherd Jesus entrusted us to one another. Like him, we are forced to leave our sheepfold to reach out to others; it is not easy. We are tempted to close the door and stay warm and cozy inside. The good news of the Gospel must be announced to the poor and the excluded all over the world, following the example of Emilie.
On this Sunday of the Good Shepherd, Lord, let us discover your voice amidst the noise of the world; your Word reveals the way that leads to you. Allow us to welcome your voice and to keep it, so it may transform our life, taking advantage of the 175th anniversary of the foundation of the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence to reflect more on the goodness of the Word of God.
Sister Françoise Paillé, SP
Sunday, April 15, 2018
“Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day” (Lk 24: 35-48)
“Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
You are witnesses of these things
We Christians remain unquestionably the privileged witnesses of the resurrection of Christ. Faithful to the promise, God raised Him from the dead. The suffering of Jesus then is the recompense for eternal life, light of life and peace, and we, like the disciples of Emmaus, are witnesses to this.
The Risen One is present, He is in our midst; nevertheless, in spite of the testimonies of the women and the two travelers, the disciples could not believe until Jesus appeared to them. Only Jesus can confirm the experience and its meaning. Jesus proves that their experience is not a hoax. The believer encounters the risen Christ through his/her senses. The disciple saw, touched and heard the Risen One. Nowadays we see, we hear and we touch Christ through the sacraments, and in the testimony and the service of others.
It is not only the breaking of the bread and the sharing the cup that establishes a union with Christ; a greater union is established through sharing: the union of all members of the Christian community. We are the witnesses and also the heirs of faith; it is now we who make known the Good News because people need, more than ever before, a Church that reaches out to them where they are, as they are.
How far does my commitment go in my sharing of the Good News? Did Emilie, 175 years ago, back away or fail when facing the scope of the task, the arduousness of the legacy?
By a Sister of Providence
Divine Mercy Sunday, April 8, 2018
During this year of 2018, we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Congregation. In order to have a common tool of contemplation specific to our Congregation, we would like to present you reflections of the Sunday Gospels – April 8 by Sister Rosalie Locati , SP :
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. [Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Second Sunday of Easter
It is the first day after the resurrection. As morning breaks, the apostles, overwhelmed by fear, confusion, anxiety, sadness and perhaps a certain guilt, lock themselves inside. Soon Mary Magdalen, filled with distress, comes to announce that Jesus’s body is missing from the tomb. Even as Peter and the other disciple run to see for themselves, their hopes are dashed as they see an empty tomb. Then, later in the day, excited and breathless, Mary Magdalene returns to tell her good news: “I have seen the Lord.”
Can you imagine what the disciples must have thought and felt at the news? Could they possibly believe and trust her incredible news? Perhaps there was a rush of excitement, anticipation, and hope that they might witness this themselves? And yet they continued to hide behind locked doors paralyzed by their own personal and communal fear.
Without warning, Jesus stands in their midst. Shocking surprise overtakes them. His simple, calming, soothing and warm greeting of “Peace be with you” disarms their fear, breaks their sadness and offers a deep sense of wellbeing, a release of tension and all doubt. As they rejoice, Jesus commissions them to their new ministry: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you”. They are now to reveal God’s love to the world; to be the human face (presence) of God’s Providence. They are sent to make known the compassion, mercy and love of the Father. Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit who will teach them, remind them of the mystery of salvation and guide them during the difficult days ahead.
Today is also Divine Mercy Sunday. As disciples in a world of chaotic and challenging realities, we are sent by the Father, in the name of Jesus, to be agents of liberation and freedom for those persons who are poor, oppressed, and vulnerable. We are called to live and model lives of mercy, reconciliation and forgiveness. As the manifestation of God’s Providence in our world, our communities and ministries, we are, as Jesus said to the disciples on the plain, also sent to be “merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36). Through grace, we must be freed from our personal fears, touched by the mercy of God and inspired by the Holy Spirit to be effective, vibrant and courageous disciples of Jesus.
What fears or doubts cloud my ability to recognize and welcome the Risen Lord in my life today?
What liberates me and gives me courage to speak and act with passion for those who are poor and vulnerable in society?
How do I manifest the Providence and mercy of God in my relationships and communal life?
By Rosalie Locati, SP
Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018
Luke 24 13-35
Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Alleluia! Alleluia! JESUS IS RISEN!
We find him in our daily life.
Our community has been here for 175 years!
Today the Gospel tells us that on the road to Emmaus, a stranger approached some very sad, distressed and hopeless persons. This man spoke to them, encouraged them and accompanied them. The persons started feeling a transformative force in their hearts. After arriving home, they shared their food with the stranger and when he broke the bread, they realized that he was the same Jesus whom they had seen dying on the cross.
They acknowledged that he had risen. Their joy was so great that their hearts were bursting; they went out to share their joy.
It is this same joy, the fruit of a realized union that Emilie transmitted to the poor, humiliated, abandoned, sick and distressed persons she encountered on her way. She learned from Mary how to experience compassion. There Emilie lived her Easter, thus she received the new life, thus she became Providence.
How many Easter have been lived during the 175 years of our Congregation?
How many more can we live daily, inspired by Christ and by Emilie?
May our celebrations be vibrant echoes of gratitude for the privilege of serving, giving new life in every situation we encounter.
By Isabel Cid, SP
Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 14.1-15.47 by Sister Grace (Mae) Valdez, SP, – Sunday March 24, 2018
6TH Sunday of Lent: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
At this time of year, we prepare ourselves to contemplate the meaning of the Lord’s passion in our own call to discipleship. I would like to propose three points from today’s gospel. First, who is Jesus? “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus answered, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power”. Jesus’ “I am” clarifies that He is truly the Son of God who came to us, was handed over to the soldiers and to the crowd and allowed himself to be crucified to save us. Secondly, the obedience of Jesus in the whole of his passion was manifested in his silence. He had enough capacity to receive and to allow the insults, negative remarks and physical. He was obedient to His mission from the Father and faced the consequences. Obedient, not for His own glory but to save all of humanity; Jesus in solidarity with us as He embraced all our sufferings. Looking at Jesus we see also how we should be. We need the spirit of the servanthood of Jesus to save our world. We are faced with all sorts of suffering when we refuse to serve, making ourselves more important than others. Ultimately, the world suffers because of our disobedience to the will of God.
Personal Reflection and Challenge: I felt terrified and hurt for Jesus, when I read, “Crucify him!” I wanted to enter the scene and shout back, no! You can’t do this to Him. We would be hypocrites not to admit that we are part of Jesus’ condemnation and death in the actions of our daily lives. When we insult others or gave negative remarks, do we not hinder God’s Spirit at work in us? When we are unfaithful to God’s grace, do we not betray God’s action in us? Often our behavior and values do not reflect what we are committed to live according to our state in life. Whenever we fail to respond to God’s grace, is it because we have not put Jesus at the centre of our lives? Have we not offended God when we are so focused on ministry and have forgotten to spend quality time with Him, who is the ultimate source of our gifts and skills? May we always be reminded of Jesus words, “For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish, but you will not always have me with you. Truly I tell you, whenever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her (Mk 14, 7 and 9).” May we be reminded even more of Jesus words when we make a habit of using ministry as a priority in order to avoid the responsibilities which might stretch our comfort zones.
The passion of Christ is a challenge for us as Women of Providence. By being faithful to our way of life which is contemplative listening and dialogue, we continuously choose and respond to live in solidarity with each other and particular with the underprivileged persons whom we serve.
Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 12: 20-33 by Sister Béatrice Bouchard, SP, – Sunday March 18, 2018
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.
The grain of wheat
Is there anyone reading this who once met a person who talked about a grain of wheat for a whole evening? Surprising isn’t it? Then let us go meet with Jesus and he will tell us:
If the grain of wheat does not die, it will not bear fruit; it will remain just a grain of wheat and die. When I was a child, my father was a farmer and he used to sow half his field with wheat and the other half with oats. I am still convinced that Jesus found his inspiration in the countryside, especially in sowing and harvesting, to illustrate his conversations with the crowd. My father took special care of his field, he weeded it, plowed it, and, after sowing, he rolled it back to make sure the seeds were planted deep into the ground and that the soil was flattened, otherwise the grains would not germinate.
The Lord has given us an example: we have to die in order to live, because we are all waiting for resurrection; the Lord has shown us the way. Let us not be afraid to follow Jesus in his resurrection, in his kingdom.
My father used to wait until October to harvest, so he was sure to have a good harvest. Indeed, he had planted the seeds very deep and they had died so that they would be able to produce abundantly.
We are preparing ourselves for resurrection; this is important, because of the new life that will follow. We don’t care for death or sickness or suffering, but we are served by the example of Jesus and we rise on Easter Sunday. Then, let us seek Jesus whom we find in the person of the poor, the suffering, the rejected; there is no transformation without dying.
Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 3: 14-21 by Sister Claudette Chénier, SP, – Sunday March 11, 2018
At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus: “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world [God’s incredible love for us] that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light [Jesus] came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”
What gifts of God are faith, God’s love and God’s light. May I let myself be transformed by them!
In the preceding verse of the Gospel of John for this fourth Sunday of Lent, Jesus says that the Son of man who came down from heaven is the only true revelation of the Father. He now talks about his “being lifted up” on the cross. This lifting up will be for the believer “the sign of salvation” and life through the death and resurrection of Christ. What a mystery! The gift of faith that God gave me at my baptism enables me to adhere to this truth, and even more, it leads me to eternal life. Yes, what a mystery! God saves me and saves all of humanity by dying on a cross. Why? Because God loves to the extent of madness every human being, whoever he or she is.
One might think that in the lifting up of Jesus on the cross, God’s love for humanity was revealed and that humanity then received the salvation promised to those who believe in God. But it is the entire life and mission of Jesus that bears witness to God’s love. As the Gospel text says: “God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” We believe that salvation depends on whether a person is for or against Christ. When sending his Son into the world, God asks humanity to believe in Him. To believe or not to believe is the answer to God’s question and it is also the answer to God’s love, which is made known to us in the gift of God’s Son.
God respects his own to the point of leaving them free to choose or to refuse the revelation of Christ. By shutting themselves off from the light of Christ, they refuse to see that their works are evil. But for those who live in the truth (for John, those who come into the light), express their attraction to the Father and demonstrate that they are in communion with God. In the presence the Light of Christ, the decision to believe or not to believe sheds light on our actions from the past and determines our future actions.
Jesus-light, light up my road so I can walk always closer to you, following you…
You who are living in me, who stay in me, come to transform me.
Increase my faith, strengthen my hope, and multiply a hundred times my love for You and for my neighbour.
Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 2: 13-25 by Sister Mary Kaye Nealen, SP, – Sunday March 04, 2018
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem, He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said: “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of scripture: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” At this the Jews answered and said to him: “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said: “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken. While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.
This is the Jesus who described himself as lifting heavy burdens from people’s backs and as giving his life for his beloved sheep. But here his words and actions are very disconcerting. So also, if we look back at the infancy narratives, the youthful Jesus replied with apparent harshness to his mother when they met in the temple after their two day separation. And what about the remark during his public life, “who are my mother and my brothers?” (MK 3:33) The compassionate Jesus does not always seem so gentle. Why not?
The verse in today’s reading, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me’, may give us a clue. Jesus wanted the temple to be treated as a holy place of worship. And does not the boy Jesus in Luke’s gospel say to his parents in the temple, ‘did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?’(Lk 2:49) In the passage about Jesus’ mother and family, he does not refer to the temple, but emphasizes hearing the word of God and keeping it (Lk 8:21).
We have become very familiar with “first responders.” Such people come to a scene with one goal in mind: the welfare of the person in serious distress. They do not pay attention to the stack of dishes in the sink or the pile of laundry in the corner. During his whole life, Jesus had one purpose in mind, to know and follow the will of the God who had sent him. He desired the goal that the disciples would achieve after the resurrection, when ‘they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.’ These days of Lent offer us time to let Jesus teach us what is central to our lives. For whom and what are we “first responders”?
A second reflection by a Sister of Providence:
Holy anger… This paradoxical expression qualifies an action of Jesus who invokes, at the same time, his own gentleness and recommends it to us. There must be something unusual going on to infuriate Jesus to this point.
Indeed, he comes to the Temple and finds it disfigured, transformed into a “den of thieves” and diverted from its primary function: to be a house of prayer, a place of encounter with God. The commercial ambition of the merchants led them to an abuse of their true function: to provide the faithful with the offerings they needed to worship as prescribed by the Law.
By his… holy anger, his indignation, Jesus indicates we must not lose sight of the motivations for our actions, even the most noble, and we must be authentic about what is motivating us.
This episode makes me aware of the importance of having a privileged place – a sacred space – where I can enter into relationship with God, uncluttered, as far as possible, from multiple concerns and objectives other than to honor Him.
The Missalette, Living with Christ, suggests to us: I contemplate the place where I am accustomed to give myself to prayer. Am I contributing to keeping it beautiful and true to its vocation?
The Gospel According to Mark 17: 1-9 by Sister Hélène Julien, SP, – Sunday February 25, 2018
Mark 17: 1-9 The Transfiguration of Jesus
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain on their own by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became brilliantly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus, “Rabbi,” he said, “it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.” Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them anymore but only Jesus. As they were coming down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what “rising from the dead” could mean.
It is good to be here in the grand family of Providence. The Gospel of the 2nd Sunday of Lent presents us with an amazing scene: the event of the Transfiguration (MK 9: 2-10), which offers a message of hope and encourages us to let ourselves be transformed by God’s dream.
The mountain is as high as Mount Sinai and Mount Horeb. The man from Sinai is there, it is Moses. The man from Horeb is there also, it is Elijah. Jesus’ clothes are dazzling white; his face shines like the Sun; a voice speaks from the the cloud. This cloud is that of the Exodus which led the Hebrews in the desert. Everything points to that voice being God’s. We do not settle on the mountain, we keep going! We come down onto the plain, where our brothers and our sisters live. Only one thing is important: listen to Jesus and do what he tells us.
Like Peter, James and John, let us go to the mountain to meet Jesus and let him put us at the service of the poor, of the needy; let us walk to the heights and contemplate Jesus, attentively listening to the Beloved son of the Father, our hearts open to the intimate moments of prayer.
The disciples came down from the mountain, “their hearts and their eyes transfigured by this encounter with the Lord.” It is a course that we also can accomplish. The rediscovery of Jesus gives us the impetus to “come down from the mountain”, filled with the Holy Spirit, to take new steps of authentic conversion; showing kindness and compassion to one another and forgiving one another as God has forgiven us in Christ. (Eph 4: 32)
To be transformed by God’s dream is to welcome others, to accompany them, to be a bridge as Émilie Gamelin was in bearing witness towards patients, prisoners, refugees and the poor.
Let us listen to the Beloved Son through prayer, worship, reading of the Word of God, the Eucharist, silence and the life stories of those who surround us.
The Gospel According to Mark 1: 12-15 by Sister Yvette Demers, SP, Vice Postulator of the Emilie Gamelin Cause – Sunday February 18, 2018
At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
On this first Sunday of Lent, St. Mark in his Gospel (1:12-15) reminds us that after his baptism, Jesus was driven out into the desert by the Spirit.
Before beginning his “public life”, Jesus needed silence; he needed to be heart to heart with his Father who would ask him later to sacrifice his life to “heal” humanity.
Any human life gets moments of doubt, hours of anxiety, misunderstanding, and only a deep FAITH, the certainty of following in Jesus’ footsteps, will bring light and give enough strength to keep going on until the end.
175 years ago, a woman let herself be driven by the Spirit without knowing exactly where it would take her. Her name was Emilie Tavernier Gamelin and she was born on February 19, 1800, in Montreal.
Wife and mother of three, in less than five years, she lost her most precious treasures: her husband and her three sons. She was only 28 years old. Why these losses? In prayer and reflection at the foot of the Cross with our Mother of Sorrows, she found her way: her husband and her children would be all those who are oppressed by misery. She went into action with no further delay.
For fifteen years, this woman responded to the charism that our Provident God had confided to her. With a group of “ladies of charity”, she criss-crossed the city of Montreal, reaching out to meet the many needs of the people of that time. But Monsignor Bourget, Bishop of Montreal, in order to ensure the permanence of this charitable work, wished to entrust it to a religious congregation. Emilie was at a crossroads. What would she do? Would she hand over to the Bishop her work, which had just received approval as a civil corporation on September 18, 1841. Prayer and reflection were again her reference points… And, always attentive and faithful to grace, she would continue to serve the poor for the rest of her life, under the authority of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity who were soon to arrive from France. She trusted her Bishop and she began to help him prepare for the arrival of the French sisters.
However, “God’s plans are not our plans.” Mgr. Bourget was notified that the Daughters of Charity would not be able to come. Having reached an impasse, he invited Mrs. Gamelin to pray with him. After praying together for an hour, it was decided that Bishop Bourget would invite young women to form a new Canadian congregation. This new congregation was established on March 25, 1843.
Then it was that Emilie felt the Spirit calling her to dedicate her entire self to God through religious life. She shared this desire with Mgr. Bourget who hesitated at first. She repeated her desire, she prayed and she received a positive response from the Bishop. This response confirmed for her that her desire was God’s will. She became a Daughter of Charity, Servant of the Poor, Sister of Providence.
The Gospel According to Mark 1: 40-45 by Sister Hélène Mamert Nga Amogo, SP – Sunday February 11, 2018
A leper came to him [and kneeling down] begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
Let myself be transformed by a personal encounter with Jesus in the poor with whom I meet daily
The quote from Mark’s Gospel that has been chosen for our meditation on this 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time of liturgical year B, presents a man affected with leprosy, a disease that, according to Jewish tradition, was considered to be impure. Social marginalization came on top of this suffering. So here was a man doubly burdened but still desiring to recover his human and social dignity. He began a journey of faith which led him to the one for whom he was looking, the best physician ever: Jesus. His initiative conveyed his longing for healing. He first went to Jesus, kneeled down and begged him: “If you wish, you can make me clean.” By his actions, we can see his faith in Jesus. And he asked for something more: purification. He wanted to be purified. He expressed his need for physical healing and also his need for spiritual healing. This is what struck Jesus who took action with no delay; moved by compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched the man and said to him: “I do will it. Be made clean.” With this concrete action, Jesus eliminated the gap between the leprous man and himself. He gave to the man the dignity he had lost. The newly healed leper could not restrain himself, in spite of Jesus’ recommendation about keeping his personal experience to himself.
Isn’t the anonymity of this leper a reflection of each of us who are invited to seek for Jesus and to cry out to Him our deep longing for the healing of the fragility and limitations that are keeping us from being the best persons we are called to be and from offering our unique gifts. The journey of this leper challenges every Christian, and each one of us, Sisters of Providence, to personally experience an encounter with Christ, because we all have need of his tenderness. This leper met the Lord for whom he was looking, and he was found by this same Lord who was also looking for him. This man was humble, confident and convinced in his hope and in his search.
For 175 years, we Sisters of Providence have been seeking this Lord daily. Do we not see today the concern of our master Jesus? He hastens to do good and shows the same compassion He demonstrated toward the leper. With a look, He broke the barrier, He transgressed the rule of isolation imposed on the lepers and his concrete gestures demonstrated the love He had for this person and for all. He touched the leper and talked to him without fear of contagion. Faith is a risk, but it is one worth choosing. Blessed Emilie Gamelin took the risk, as did all the sisters who have preceded them for 175 years. Today, with this Gospel we, Sisters of Providence, are invited to let ourselves be urged by the charity of Christ, everywhere and in all.
We all are disciples of Christ. May his grace, working in us and through us, draw us continually closer to Him that we may act as He did, in all humility, simplicity and charity!
Providence of God, I thank you for all!
The Gospel According to Mark 1: 29-39
The Cure of Simon’s Mother-in-Law
“29 On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. 31 He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. 32 When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. 33 The whole town was gathered at the door. 34 He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. 35 Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and those who were with him pursued him 37 and on finding him said, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ 38 He told them: ‘Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.’ 39 And Jesus went throughout Galilee; he preached in the synagogues, and cast out demons.”
Reflection on the Sunday Gospel, February 4, 2018, by Gladys Flores, SP
“They immediately told the Lord that Simon’s mother-in-law was lying down with fever.” Presenting ill persons to the Lord in prayer and trusting that He will heal them is a good habit we must practice. We have to be persistent in prayer and not lose the hope that we will be healed in body and spirit by the Lord of life.
And Jesus, in the family atmosphere of Simon’s home, was immediately interested in Simon’s mother-in-law and healed her. He was never too tired to help and acted without delay in the face of the people’s needs, for He is the great Restorer.
Simon’s mother-in-law stood and waited on them; i.e., once she recovered her health and dignity, she began to serve because Jesus not only healed a person, but He made it so that the person could place herself at the service of others.
When serving the Lord, this woman was only employing for Him the energy that He had granted her.
Not only has the Lord freed us from many bad things, but He has given us gifts we must use to serve Him and our brothers and sisters.
Let us meditate on the question that Pope Francis asked during his gathering with the Chilean youth in the Maipú Sanctuary: “‘What do I have to offer in life?’ And many of you feel the desire to say: ‘I don’t know.’ You do not know what you have to contribute? You have it in your inner self, but you do not know what it is. Hurry to find it, then you can contribute. The world needs you, your homeland needs you and the society needs you. You have something to contribute…”
The Gospel According to Mark 1: 21-28
“[Jesus and his disciples] came to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!’ Jesus rebuked him and said, ‘Quiet! Come out of him!’ The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.’ His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee. ”
The reflections of Annette Aspirot, SP, on the Gospel of Sunday January 28, 2018:
Jesus taught with authority. This expression is really touching. That this man taught with authority, we can find manifold proofs in the Gospels: ‘Never before has anyone spoken like this one.’ Jn 7:46. ‘Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.’ Luke 6:19. Jesus won over the crowd, not only with the healings he performed, but also with the power of his Word; not only with his saying, but also with his look, his attitude and the dignity of his person. He listened to people, attended to the poor, took an interest in their everyday life, ate with them, and cried with them. What He said jibed with the truth.
Mark added that He did not teach as the scribes did. The priests and the scribes, guardians of the Word, announced the coming of the Messiah, but they did not recognize Him in Jesus. The sight of his miracles exasperated them. However, those who heard Him said: “He really is the prophet we expected.” The members of the synagogue of Capernaum were facing a somewhat confusing situation. Jesus’ speech contrasted with what they were used to hearing.
The man tormented by an unclean spirit was unsettled by the presence of Jesus. This possessed man revealed the holiness of Jesus, because the devil spoke through his mouth. This devil felt threatened, unmasked. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?”
There is not much of a difference between the reaction of this possessed man and the reaction of those who give themselves over to corrupt business where lies, ambition for profit and injustice reign supreme. They are afraid of getting caught, being denounced or having to admit their deceitful behaviour. They wish to remain in oblivion in order to continue their diabolical demeanour. It rewards them. They pile up earthly treasures that will be destroyed by rust.
The authority of Jesus is liberating, illuminating. When we hear the teaching of a God-loving person, this person teaches with authority because God is speaking through his/her words. Have we not already heard of holy witnesses of the Word? They share what they live. This happens because the Divine announces itself through human words.
We bear witness by being who we are. Our testimony is worth it, valuable because of how we live. We teach with our attitude, with the quality of our presence, with our intimacy with the One we want to make known. How do we bear witness to our Providence Mission? To what extent are we human faces of Divine Providence? The Gospel of Mark is an invitation to let Jesus come to us, to be penetrated by his presence and liberating voice, and to be authentic apostles of the Good News. This way, we will amass imperishable treasures.