Sunday Reflection August 12, 2018
Gospel according to John 6:41-51
At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
I am the bread of life
When trying to put this reflection in writing, I realized that it was very difficult to sit down and write the ideas that came to my mind… So, following the suggestion of one of my sisters in community, I asked myself, “What does the Gospel say to me?” And that’s when I became aware of a penetrating reflection that I want to share with you.
What do I nourish myself with? I mean not just physically, but also in spirit and mind.
Feeding oneself is an activity that requires personal responsibility over oneself, the same as so many other activities in our lives that require our will, decision, discernment and practice. We already have the Word of Jesus, who tells us, “I am the bread of life,” but this is not enough for us to nourish ourselves… We are offered the bread, but it is the movement of our acknowledgment, our hunger and our poverty, which will lead us to accepting, seeking and eating the Bread to satiate our hunger.
Jesus admonishes the Jews: “Stop murmuring among yourselves,” for hearing Him say He was the bread of heaven matched with neither what they had learned when young, nor the teachings passed down for centuries. The assurance that they knew Jesus, His family and His mother, certainly made them act with the confidence of being right. From the poor and hungry point of view of who cannot accept that they may be wrong in their judgment, Jews sought to remain faithful to the law and the prophets, of which they were quite proud.
I ask myself, and invite you to ask yourselves, what is the food that I am nourishing myself with?
What are the things I keep on criticizing – without even considering the possibility I may be wrong – while trying to remain faithful to something I learned years ago, but that no longer seems to correspond to reality?
In these times in which we live, especially in today’s Church and in consecrated life and particularly in Chile where I fond myself today, I feel that it is time to recognize that we are hungry for “True Food”, and it is also time to face the reality that tells us we need to change, transform our “nutritional diet”, stop eating toxic food that gradually degrades our life.
Thus, we recognize the invitation, Health is being offered to us: “I am the bread of life…” but the reply is up to us.
Alba Letelier, SP
Sunday Reflection August 05, 2018
Gospel according to John 6:24–35
When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered: In all truth I tell you, you are looking for me not because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat. Do not work for food that goes bad, but work for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of man will give you, for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal. Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to carry out God’s work?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is carrying out God’s work: you must believe in the one he has sent.’ So they said, ‘What sign will you yourself do, the sight of which will make us believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers ate manna in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus answered them: In all truth I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven, the true bread; for the bread of God is the bread which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered them: I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever hunger; no one who believes in me will ever thirst.
The crowds have followed Jesus because they have been fed. They ought to be seeking out Jesus because he can give them eternal life; it seemed that the crowd might be on their way to accepting Jesus and his mission, so they asked: “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus replies that they must have faith in the one sent from God. But in the next dialogue, the crowd reveals their inability to see Jesus’ true identity. They ask Jesus for a sign so that they might know that Jesus is from God. How strange this sounds since Jesus has just fed more than 5000 people. What more is expected?
How quickly they seem to have forgotten the wonderful thing that Jesus has done for them. Or, maybe they never recognized the miracle in the first place. Sometimes we don’t recognize the wonderful things that God has done for us. And, sometimes, we simply forget and ask for further evidence of his love and care. We pray that God will remove our blindness so that we can receive with thanks and praise all the wonderful things that God accomplishes in our lives.
That’s why it’s important to name the wonderful gifts that God has given to us and some of the remarkable deeds that God has accomplished in our world. It is also significant to count our blessings because we can easily miss recognizing all of the wonderful things that God does for us. Jesus says that he will give them something greater and more important than the bread that fed their physical hungers; he will give them bread that will give them eternal life. We have this gift from Jesus in the Eucharist.
Praying together and thanking God for all that he has given to us, especially for the gift of eternal life and the Eucharist.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection July 29, 2018
Gospel according to John 6: 1-15
After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little bit.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves* and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said: “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world. Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
This miracle of Jesus is recounted in the four Gospels because of the expectations, and then of the importance it had for the disciples. In this passage, John begins by saying: “After this…” But what is “this”? We see Jesus trying to tell His truth and His testimony on the works of his Father. The feast of Passover is approaching and He knows what is going to happen: rejection, cross, people not believing in His Word. As a Providence Family and on the occasion of the celebration of our 175 years of existence, we are asking: and after this, what? And to remember the Community’s historical development, that it is full of life, of experiences, generosities, shadows and challenges is to see it reflected in this miracle.
The Evangelist says Jesus crossed to the other bank of the Sea of Galilee and many people were following Him… What does crossing to the other bank mean for us? What will be our Tiberias? Through discernment with the core values bequeathed by our foundress Emilie Gamelin – humility, simplicity and charity – and like Jesus, who looked up and saw that many people were following Him, we also will see. With the charism of love and trust in our Provident God, we will see and be witnesses to the crowds that challenge us and continue to need the healing promise of Jesus. The stupendous and amazing miracle that satisfied so many people started with something small, fragile and simple: five barley loaves, the bread of the poor, and only two fish. Once in the hands of Jesus, they multiply, feed and bring to fullness. How many times, in the long history of our Community, have we experienced this miracle of our Provident God who never disappoints?
In the place where He performed the miracle, Jesus asked the people to sit down because there was a great deal of grass in that place. He wanted them to be well and comfortable and as He blessed them with the sign of peace, he shared both the material and spiritual goods that fill the heart. This is what we find in our foundresses and confirm in our Constitutions.
When we act with faith and trust in God’s loving plan, we find initiative, creativity, generosity and a proactive attitude, and the resources multiply, for God’s generosity is infinite. We see that after feeding thousands of people, there were twelve baskets of bread pieces left over.
May Mary, our compassionate and loving mother, help us to be humble and generous, and learn from her son Jesus to see the needs of around us and provide us with the means of who we are and what we have. The rest will be accomplished by Jesus himself, gratefully filling us with blessings
Sister Ana Delia Silva. A.
Sunday Reflection July 22, 2018
Gospel according to Mark 6: 30-34
“After their first mission, the apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When He disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.”
What is specific to all Christians is to be artisans of peace, unifiers. It is for this that Jesus missioned His disciples. Bringing together rather than dispersing and separating. Doing what is necessary to avoid breakups, spreading gossip, jealousy and ambition and undermining the very foundations of the community. This is the daily challenge faced by people of peace.
During the ritual of the Mass, the Lord allows us to lay down our aggressiveness, to destroy the walls that separate us. We meet the Lord, receive His forgiveness, we find peace and the necessary tools to forgive those who have offended us.
The time for rest is in Jesus’ boat where, for a time, we forget any concern other than His presence and His love. Nourished by God, Jesus counts on our arms and our hearts every day. Jesus has chosen ordinary people; He left them in their milieus and asked them to announce the Good News. He has not changed His method. It is us He is calling today. Will we hear Jesus’ call?
A nice week to you all!
L.L., Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection July 15, 2018
The Gospel according to Mark 6.7-13:
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Like the disciples of Jesus, we are called to spread the Good News. Like them, we have to rid ourselves of everything that is superfluous and keep only what is essential, our faith and our self, which is a sacred temple in the service of Goodness.
This kind of action, in theory, might seem simple and easily achievable. Yet, everything seems to converge to make this a most difficult task. How can we rid ourselves of the luxury that our society offers to us and that we have within easy reach? How can we separate ourselves from material abundance and remain with what is fundamental? Yet, though we are living in quite different times, I’m convinced that for the disciples of Jesus, it was also difficult to let go of the little they owned and to keep only the minimum as they went from town to town, “missioned two by two.” These small nomadic communities remind us of our predecessors, our sisters, as they left for distant countries. They knew very little about the persons they would meet, but they were filled with the hope that only the urgent charity of Christ can give. I want us to continue on our way while improving ourselves and, at the same time, sharing the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A nice week to you all!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection July 8, 2018
The Gospel according to Mark 6.1-6
“Jesus came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.’ So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching.”
The Lord often sends us unexpected and confusing prophets…
An encounter or a sharing can offer to us unexpected ways and both are, in fact, messages from the Lord. Let us note well that prophets are not “fortunetellers” or “messengers of misfortune forewarning the end of the world.” The prophets are those who preach the Word of God, who teach what the will of God is for us and for the world. They accomplish grand things in the simplest way and they teach Truth with the knowledge of the heart, the one that is accessible to all. If we remain alert, we will realize that we encounter prophets every single day… They may be in our family, in our close relationships, at our workplace, etc. It does not matter what the wrapping may look like, it is the message that is important, and the message can help us live. There is an unequivocal sign that allows us to see who are the true prophets : they are always the target of criticism.
This thought leads us to profoundly question ourselves as Christians: when will we ponder things deeply before judging? When will we admit that we have something to change, to improve in our lives, and that the blame we impose on others should very frequently be directed to ourselves ? In addition, are we not judging and criticizing others much more easily than supporting them and helping them during their tough times? May the pathway indicated by the greatest of all Prophets enlighten our lives.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection July 1st, 2018
The Gospel according to Mark 5.21-24, 35-43
21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake.22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” 35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” 36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly.39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this,and told them to give her something to eat.
If we take a closer look, this story is about salvation and faith. The head of the synagogue asks Jesus: “Come and lay hands on my little girl that she may be made whole and be saved.” And the woman with incurable blood loss said to herself, “If I can touch but his garment, I shall be made whole and be saved”. Now this salvation (of which healing is a sign) presupposes faith. This is what Jesus emphasizes; he says to the woman who touched her garment and made her known: “Your faith has saved you”. And to the head of the synagogue who has just heard of the death of his daughter: “Do not be afraid, just believe.”
Only faith in Jesus can give access to salvation, which in turn makes one enter eternal life through the death and resurrection of the Lord. Mark’s account reveals its catechetical character. When read in the light of the resurrection of Jesus, it appears as a prophetic anticipation of what Jesus offers to every believer. He says to the little girl: “Get up.” or literally, “Wake up.”, that is to say: “Resurrect.”
CHRIST has conquered death. HE is the inexhaustible source of our HOPE. HE is the Life that enlivens our souls. HE is Food of life by his EUCHARIST. HE constantly resurrects us with his multiple pardons. HE is the PATH of LIFE. He came for LIFE and life in abundance … How could we not trust him completely!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection June 24, 2018
The Gospel according to Luke 1:57-66, 80
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.
John the Baptist is one of the few people whose birth is described in the Gospel. It all started with the announcement made to Zechariah whose name means, lest we forget, “God remembers.” “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call him John.” June 24, the birthday of John the Baptist, is an occasion for us to consider the uniqueness of this man born of a unique couple. It is also an opportunity for us to unite with the joy of the people of Quebec who celebrate today the feast of John the Baptist, their patron saint, and the National Day of Quebec.
So Elizabeth gave birth to a son. She did what any woman does when giving birth. Through her, John the Baptist came into being! Elizabeth’s whole existence was impacted by this mother-son relationship. I can’t help but think about all of our predecessors, the Sisters of Providence who freely chose to “give birth” in consecrating their lives to persons on the margins of society. Yes, “giving birth” is to give the fullness of life to the other. Isn’t this why we are Sisters of Providence?
John Baptist was the one the world did not expect. On his arrival, however, the world welcomed him and rejoiced. His birth was like a miracle and he was given a name from the tradition of his people. He was the precursor and a man full of joy.
In this jubilee year of the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation, we, the Sisters of Providence, are invited to look at the past and be mindful of all the events that have marked the history of our Community. And on this special day, is it not the time for us to welcome the grace of God in our personal and congregational lives? John, whose name means, “God gives grace,” is the one who continually preached conversion. In this our jubilee year, will we let ourselves be transformed by God’s grace and mercy? Will we turn inward and renew our relationship with Christ who does not cease speaking to us? Finally, with Elizabeth, are we open enough to let blossom the life that is moving deep within in us?
Sister Sandrine-Aimée Tsélikémé, SP
Sunday Reflection June 17, 2018
The Gospel according to Mark 4: 26-34
The seed and mustard seed
He said, “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
While we are waiting for the “harvest time”, a process of growth is at work. It is an illusion to think that nothing is happening. We do not see what is going on, but life really develops. What happens in us and around us is often of that order: a hidden, imperceptible force is activated without our being aware of it.
Also, Jesus lets us know that our effort to spread the message of the Good News points in the same direction. He was himself a great preacher, still he did not easily convert his contemporaries and his own family. Yet, with a crazy audacity, he believed he had not lost his time when spreading the seed of the hope of the Kingdom. History has proven him right.
This short parable makes us remember that while life is shattered everywhere around us, we must learn to remain calm, not to become agitated, and to sleep peacefully. Saint Paul said that instead of building up ourselves, Christians must be shaped by the grace of God. The Lord is like the sculptor who does not stack stone on stone, but rather removes sections from the block of marble that he is working on. So we Christians must let ourselves be shaped with confidence. We must also leave to God the development of the faith around us. The action of God is present, even if we do not see it.
Sunday Reflection June 10, 2018
Mark 3, 20-35
He came home. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.
Try to imagine, as I am doing now, that you are part of this gospel which, at first glance, looks controversial… Jesus, squeezed by people, cannot even eat anything. What do I feel when imagining this scene and what do I think about it? To my surprise, Jesus remains calm… I look askance at him… He is attentive. And among so many requests, it strikes me that he listens to the scribes, those who, with their knowledge, prejudices and fears, said on Jesus: “He is possessed by Beelzebub and expels the demons with the power of the prince of the demons…”
I am waiting for what Jesus might say; after all, they are the scribes, the men (women) of opinion, leaders in their field and jealous of their tradition. Do you recall being evaluated by some people or groups through the compass of their prejudices and fears? And you, with your prejudices and fears, have you evaluated someone? I see Jesus, who looks at me tenderly, as if knowing my ignorance mixed with deep admiration and respect… And you, how do think that Jesus looks at you? He invites me to come closer and, as to the others, he explains, with the most basic logic, that a divided family not can survive. With their activity, their zeal and their silence, they have a true foundation that is impossible to change, which is…the will of the Father! … I breathe deeply… and I realize that Jesus looks at me with longing, he says my name and directly, he asks me: “Are you my brother, my sister and my mother?” What do I answer?
Marcia Gatica, SP
Sunday, June 03, 2018
“This is my body, this my blood” (Mk 14:12-16, 22-26)
The Gospel according to Mark
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.
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, 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.
From now on, those who look very well at the crucifix, recognize that there, in the true face of God, are the brothers and the sisters of Christ. They know him as He really is, the God of tenderness and mercy and, when their turn comes, they are able to live with tenderness and mercy. Finally, this would be to live as free beings, because the worst chains that exist are those that we put on ourselves.
Here is the new life to which we are invited and which is symbolized by the bread. When Jesus said, “This is my body,” he held in his hands a piece of unleavened bread, or matzo; He was announcing a new way of being, a pure way that meant being free.
During this year of the 175th anniversary of the foundation of our congregation, we will offer to the new Sisters of Providence and the Providence Associates as well, the pride and love of belonging and of being rooted in our beautiful community.
Amid the celebrations, in the joy and the thanksgiving, I marvel and I thank our Provident God and Emilie Gamelin. She inspires me to live her charism. Each and every Sister of Providence, wherever she might be in the world, is an extension of Emilie who still is very alive in our hearts and in our lives.
175 years of blessings!
Sister Lise Lessard, SP.
Trinity Sunday, May 27, 2018
All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God….When we cry, “Abba, Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ… Romans 8, 14-17
When I pray with the icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrei Roublev, I am struck by how each of the persons depicted in the icon are inclined toward and are leaning into each other. These three distinct persons seem to be engaged in a holy encounter, which is both conscious and harmonious. In their engagement, we can recognize a deep and sacred communion is happening.
In the chapel at the International Centre of the Sisters of Providence in Montreal, there is an icon of the Holy Family. Here the three persons, Mary, Joseph and the boy Jesus, are also leaning into one another, fully conscious and engaged in an encounter, which mirrors that of the Holy Trinity. Here, too, we see communion happening and we recognize the community of love we call the Holy Family.
What is, for me, so wonderful, amazing and mysterious, is that the communitarian love of the Trinity is “made flesh” in the life of Jesus. With the incarnation of Jesus, the Sacred Love of the Trinitarian God becomes one with all of humanity and one with all of creation. This encounter of God with God’s creation in the person of Jesus is confirmed with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit encompassing the whole universe.
In our daily lives, we are invited to be conscious and aware that we are immersed in sacredness, that we ourselves, each other person, and each aspect of creation mirrors the holiness of God. As we become more and more conscious of this truth, we find ourselves leaning into the encounter with the sacred that surrounds us and engaged in the holy dynamic of love that has the power to transform us. Thus we, with our sisters and brothers and all of creation, are moving together into communion, mirroring in our diverse and holy communities of life the very life of the Trinitarian God.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. II Cor 13, 11-14
Kathryn Rutan, SP
Gospel of St. John 20: 19-23
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
For eight days, the Apostles have been sad and somewhat distraught. Last Sunday, they saw Jesus rise and ascend to heaven. They will see him no more and they know it. They are sad and concerned; they don’t know how things will go for them now.
Today, they meet in their same place, says the Evangelist, probably in the upper room, to talk about Jesus, his teachings, and his words during his first appearance. Jesus had arrived among them telling them: “Peace be with you” and after He spoke these words, He breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit, the One who will teach you all things.” Yet they still lacked confidence and felt afraid. They really did not know how they would fulfill the mission that Jesus had given to them.
So while they are pondering sadly over these matters, they hear a great wind which fills the whole room and they see tongues of fire resting above the heads of each one of them. It is Pentecost! It is the Holy Spirit they are hearing and seeing. This Spirit transforms the Apostles, fills them with boldness, love and courage. Yes, they are ready to proclaim Jesus, his life, his death and his teachings. (Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11)
Most of us also received the Holy Spirit, first at our baptism and later at our confirmation. Do we remember? Do we still think about this? Do we desire the Spirit of God? Do we pray to the Holy Spirit? When I was a child in boarding school, every Monday morning before class, we sang a prayer to the Holy Spirit. I still sing this prayer to myself because I love it and for this week of Pentecost, I want to share it with you.
Oh Holy Spirit, soul of my soul, I love you.
Guide me, direct me, console me, speak to me,
Tell me what I need to do, give me direction.
I promise to surrender myself to all that you ask of me,
And to accept everything that you allow to happen to me.
Only let me know your will.
Sister Pierrette Chevrette, sp
Sunday, May 14 2018
Gospel of Marc 16: 15-20
He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents [with their hands], and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
Ascension Sunday illustrates that the presence of Jesus, which had been limited to those who could physically approach him, touch him, see him and hear his Word, would now be transformed into a presence without limits. The mystery of the Ascension is far from being a dream. It has nothing in common with the promotion done by the “Children’s Wish” foundation, which has as its goal to grant the dream of very sick children before they die.
This mystery of Ascension does not move us away from the human reality we live in. It does not take us to a virtual world, but keeps us very much on Earth. It actualizes the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, for God is with us. Jesus is a presence written into our humanity; he is in our flesh, in our hearts and in our minds. He is a presence that is found at the heart of the Church, in our faith communities and in the acts of sharing that acknowledge his presence, among the brothers and sisters around us and in those who are in need:
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew, Chapter 25: 35-36)
Today, we also celebrate Mother’s Day, a beautiful day on which to thank our mothers with great warmth for having given life to us.
One day, my mother became seriously ill; she was taken in hospital in Sorel because she could not walk or eat by herself. As I knew a physician that I spiritually accompany, I called him to ask if he could put a word for my mother. He quickly contacted a colleague of his and the later asked for my mother to be transferred to Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, in Montreal. Mom was immediately taken care of. Everyone said, “Lucille, get ready, your mother is going to die.” But in my deepest heart, I was sure that my mother would not pass away. As you have probably guessed, I asked Emilie to intercede for mom; and I made an offering to my beloved foundress. My mother recovered after a few months of convalescence and I thank the Lord. Today, as it is Mother’s Day, I take advantage of the opportunity to thank the Lord again and to pay tribute to my mother: “Mom, thank you for giving me life, for helping me to know God, for teaching me to love the poor and the most destitute, as well as the importance of coming to their defense. Every night I heard you say ‘Our Father’ and ‘Hail Mary’ before you and dad went to sleep. Thank you for all the foster children you raised for so many years. My mother is now 95 and she has been living for some years at the Bourgjoli Residence in St-Hyacinthe, Quebec.
“Let us remember all moms with gratitude and affection, including the ones who are in heaven, by entrusting them to Mary, the mother of Jesus,” said Pope Francis.
On this Ascension Sunday, Jesus disappears from the sight of his disciples, but he remains present in our hearts. Lord, show us how to recognize your presence in all the events of our lives. Amen.
Sunday, May 5 2018
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15: 9-17)
The Gospel according to John
6th Sunday of Easter
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another. ”
We are before one of the strongest passages of the Gospel. If we take time to reflect on it, we may come to the very essence of Christianity, “Love one another.” This commandment has nothing in common with a military order; it is given to us as a “life-giving word” – like the ten words or Ten Commandments given to Moses. At the end of the day, these same words can be summarized very clearly: to love, loving one another more than anything else, as much as God loves us.
This grand and infinite love that Christ demonstrated with his life is a challenge given daily to all of us to be human; to be alive demands an open heart, the acceptance of the other with kindness, with a warm welcome; to love and to let oneself be loved.
So bearing fruit is possible only if we love, if we accept to love as God loves, to love without limits and without notice. If we pursue this goal, we will find already here on this Earth a little of the celestial happiness of those who will love us as we have come to love them.
Thus, this word of love calls us to reflect on this question: Are we truly ready to love? Are we to the other to the point of loving them, to the point of giving our own lives, as Emilie Gamelin did throughout her life?
May the Lord guide our way towards Love.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday, April 29 2018
Gospel of John 15: 1-8
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. ”
Today, the Sunday Gospel again presents us with a bucolic image, an evocative scene. After last week’s shepherd, this week’s image of the vine suggests many things related to life. The vine is a marvelous, complex and fragile plant, amazingly productive but one that requires much caring. Prior to being the pride of the winemaker, it needs his love, his energy, and his constant attention. A true passion! The same thing happens with our local gardeners.
Bearing fruit does not mean doing extraordinary things; it rather means doing ordinary things very well. “Attached to Christ as the branches to the vine, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, we can bear abundant fruit. Saint Paul tells us the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23)’. (Yvon-Michel Allard, s.v.d.)” God needs us to create a better world, a world of respect, of fraternity and of love. God needs our hands, our feet and our hearts in a universe often without mercy for those who are most vulnerable. The text of today reminds us that if we are united to Christ, as the branches are to the vine, we will receive his strength and his life, we will love each other and we will bear much fruit. “The one that remains in me bears much fruit.”
Today’s text reminds us that we must maintain a steady relationship with Christ, so that our faith and commitment do not go out, like the flame of a burning lamp. Thanks to the vivifying sap of the vine, the works of goodness can produce and multiply.
The vine is not left to itself, uncultivated. It can count on the work of the winemaker who is busy pruning it, cleaning it up; not for death and separation but for more life and more fruit. This detail invites us, it seems to me, to reconsider the ordeals that happen in our daily experience of life.
Quite some time ago, a woman, Madame Emilie Gamelin, took a long look at the sufferings of her neighbours and, as a vine that extends its branches, she multiplied her presence, her support and her actions, in order to allow them to grow and fully become, with their lives, a hymn to God who created the universe.
“She considered a field and bought it; from the fruit of her hands, she planted a vineyard (Prv 31:16).” Thus, we are in the hands of the one who loves us. The Father offers to prune us, to free us, to disengage us, so that we may bear all of the fruit expected of us.
Sister Lucille Vadnais, SP
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.