Sunday Reflection May 19, 2019
Gospel according to John 10: 27-30
Before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
During the supper, when Judas had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. “Little children, I am with you only a little longer. I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
How can we love as He loves us?
As Jesus was about to say goodbye to his disciples, He leaves them a new commandment that resembles a last will and testament. He tells them to love one another as He had loved them. This is the sign by which people will know we are disciples of Jesus. The most distinctive sign of Christians is not that we gather on Sunday to celebrate Mass. Nor that we personally know the Pope, the bishops and the priests. Not even that we celebrate seven sacraments. Jesus did not want us to be known for any of these things. Jesus wanted those outside our community to know us by another sign, humbler if you wish , but more important and more human: by the way we treat each other, by the way we love one another and love all persons without distinction: “That you love one another”.
This is the sign that the Christian community is the seed of a new world, for only God can give life to a love that can share everything and every one can live more abundantly.
It may be well to ask: Are Christians made differently? Are we superior to others? Absolutely not. We are equal, but God’s presence is with us. And when we let God work in our hearts, we experience a love springing from within us greater than our strength. This is God’s love. This love is a sign of a new earth and a new heaven. It is, for example, the love that Mother Emilie had for the poor, the orphans, the elderly, the sick and all those who were suffering. It is the love with which many mothers love their children, measurelessly, timelessly, without limitation, and with absolute generosity.
However, since we are not superior to others, since we make mistakes and sometimes we hurt each other. There is a dimension of love that the Christian community must know to live in a special way. It is the dimension of forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiving others and forgiving oneself is a form of love that acknowledges one’s own limits and surpasses them because love goes beyond the limits set by our weaknesses. A Christian community living forgiveness and reconciliation bears witness to the love that unites it.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection May 12, 2019
Gospel according to John 13,31-33a.34-35
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are One.”
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, not only for the people of his time, but also for each one of us. He knows us by name and constantly watches over us and protects us from the dangers of such an agitated and sometimes disturbed world. What more could we ask for? With Him, we are safe.
The beginning of this Gospel passage states: “My sheep hear my voice, they follow me.” The best place to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd is it not in prayer and silence.
This is a recipe worth trying – prayer, silence… We risk being surprised at the results. Do not be afraid, Jesus is aptly named: The Good Shepherd … Let us trust Him!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection May 5, 2019
Gospel according to John (21: 1- 19)
Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.
That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about ninety metres off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.
This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” In addition, he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Freed from their fears and their unbelief, by the action of the Spirit, the apostles initiated their mission. There is a headline on the front page, for the messengers of Good News, though at the time there was no newspapers, no radio, no Internet. The disciples through city streets and villages loudly proclaimed what they had seen and heard, “Jesus is alive!” Such enthusiasm such determination on their part. They said they could no longer be silent. What a lesson for us! For are we not often too shy when the time comes for us to stand and be counted as Christians? Today, following the migration movement of crowds in search of human dignity and justice, we are neighboured by different cultures and faiths. Let us notice with what conviction some persons are committed, to the point of risking their lives. Their commitment goes beyond the religious symbols they wear, which can upset those who are refractory to any religious practice or to those who fear seeing their faith superseded by other beliefs. The true signs are invisible to the eyes. They are profoundly written in the soul.
Jesus sends all the disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to all of creation.” (Mark 16:15) “And woe to me if I do not proclaim it!” (1 Corinthians, 9: 16)
The apostles first experienced the same human frailty as ours. Let us delve into ourselves. Hosea made us aware of our frailty, “Your loyalty is like morning mist, like the dew that disappears early” (Hosea 6:4). What is the extent of my faith, as an apostle? Before exercising their apostolic ministry, the disciples lived a questioning and waiting time. They dreamt of an earthly kingdom. Like the disciples, we may tend to shelter ourselves, to lock our doors. Do all the subjects of attraction of our modern world make us also dream of an earthly kingdom? It is in Jesus that we find the vehement desire to announce, to transmit the flame to all those who cross our path.
Simon Peter said, “I am going fishing.” He was undoubtingly not passionate about fishing at that moment. The others followed. A moment of depression. It is human nature. They had to do something to finally break the monotony and forget about the last misadventure, the loss of a leader. Their lack of motivation made them return empty-handed. “How slow to believe you are!” This reproach is for us also, just as it was for the apostles. He had informed them: “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7) “When the Consoler comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” (John 16:13) Jesus said He had to go, for them to receive the Spirit. Nevertheless, Jesus sends the Spirit by whom everyone can face the most threatening challenges, even at the cost of their lives. A Pentecost wind gave them strength and courage to proclaim with a language that everyone could understand. (Acts 2.1-11)
The risen Christ invites Simon Peter to show his commitment. “Simon, do you love me? Tend my sheep.” The Scriptures are for all custodians of the Good News: Jesus is alive! “So faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17)
Just as often as with the disciples, Jesus shows his loving and fraternal presence with concrete means within our reach, as with the invitation to lunch by the lake. This means that our commitment also includes moments of rest, relaxation and success.
The Church must, like Christ, set out to lead all humans to the One who gives us life in abundance. Our testimony becomes credible according to our beliefs. The big problem is religious ignorance in the world, or indifference, isn’t it? It is essential to deepen our faith to better transmit it. We live in a society that knows all kinds of turmoil. Jesus radically accomplishes Easter: in principle, everything is finished. His announcement and welcoming aim at changing humanity. By living the Word, we identify with Jesus Christ and thus our testimony is true and bears fruit.
Jesus wants Peter to understand the kind of death awaiting him: to extend the arms like Jesus and go to the limits of his mission, to welcome the passage that leads to the resurrection, to be born again, as Jesus said to Nicodemus. This is true reality.
Annette Aspirot, SP
Sunday Reflection April 28, 2019
Gospel according to John 20: 19-31
It was evening on the day Jesus rose from the dead, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then 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.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them; “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas, who was called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told 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 in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” After eight days his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. ”
What a great mandate is the Easter mission! How difficult it is to live it in a world that tends to believe in neither peace nor reconciliation. In our own homes, in our own communities, at our own work! We have to admit that it is not easy to maintain peaceful thoughts when dealing with others who are seeking quarrels, division and discord.
However, as Christians, we are carriers of the breath of Christ, his Spirit and his values. We are “the Body of Christ, the Temple of the Spirit…” said St. Paul. This leads us to go beyond ourselves, to seek how to avoid giving in to temptation, this is so easy to do, and to respond by similar means to those looking to unbalance us, to harm us in our choice of living and spreading peace, as Christ asked us.
Let us believe and pray, for Easter time is a privileged moment, when each group or person has the opportunity to recover the freshness of the original Christian movement, as well as respect each one’s charism and the wide variety of special graces.
Christ is inviting us to create with Him a new world, a world of peace, fraternity and love.
Have a good week everyone!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection April 14, 2019
Gospel according to Luke 22, 14-23, 56 (short version)
When the hour came, Jesus took his place at table, and the Apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit from the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.” Then Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my Blood. See, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” Then they began to ask one another; which one of them it could be who would do this.”
We have chosen to make a humble reflection on part of the suggested Gospel for Sunday April 14.
Many times, we have gathered to celebrate as brothers and Christians the important holidays of our calendar. It is a tradition that we must continue to respect. Jesus our Master did the same, He gathered people closest to Him, his apostles, and in the midst of the joy and rejoicing of the Passover meal, he announced the betrayal of one of his own…
As in the brief life of Jesus, our life is also made of inconstancies and incoherencies. However, facing all this is the coherence and consistency of Jesus, the Son of God sent by the Father, who is determined to show us His love to the end, to give His life totally for us. God is resolute in His love. He love is unchanging, although we say we do not know Him at all, He still recognizes us as sons and daughters, dear members of His family.
Therein lies the key to the Holy Week celebrations. . We remember the love of God for us. It is stronger than death and, of course, stronger than our own sin. The key to understanding this is in Jesus’ look at Peter when the latter denied Him for a third time. It was an affectionate look. He knew him well in his weakness, but He loved him no less. Today Jesus turns that look towards each one of us. He knows us well, inside and out; He looks at us with affection and total love.
Jesus responded to betrayal with love, with His life, giving us all. Very important people in the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence did the same: Mother Emilie, Mother Bernarda and Mother Joseph, who gave their lives, their energy, and their health to those who needed them, as a child needs his mother. They were also generous with those who did not behave so well with them. However, in those situations, these holy women responded with forgiveness and love, like Jesus.
We give thanks to the Lord for having so many enlightening examples to reflect upon as we begin this Holy Week.
A group of Providence Associates
Sunday Reflection April 07, 2019
Gospel according to John 8: 1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before the people, they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. In the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test Jesus, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When the scribes and Pharisees kept on questioning him, Jesus straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground. When the scribes and Pharisees heard what Jesus had said, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
In this Gospel Jesus teaches us that before any important moment in life, it is good to stand back to pray and strengthen your spirit. Facing the Pharisees, Jesus is peaceful and quiet, he knows that they want to bring him to doubt but he is prepared. They brought before him a woman, condemning her for infidelity. I imagine that her infidelity was with a man, but the Pharisees do not condemn the woman but talk to Jesus only about the law.
Jesus, first and foremost, respects the dignity of the woman and fills her with his mercy. Jesus takes upon Himself the shame the women was experiencing. He shows respect for the dignity of the person. Then without looking at the men He says, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the one to throw the first stone”, this brings the men to look inward to their own lives and discover that each of them is a sinner. Then, Jesus raises his eyes and asks the woman, “Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you, go in peace and from now on do not sin again.” He renders her the state of grace and she feels cleansed; Jesus had healed her and said, from now on do not sin, in other words, be honest, be a women loved by God.
May we like Emilie seek the path of forgiveness, to be forgiven and to forgive trustfully.
Marta Alvear, SP
Sunday Reflection March 31, 2019
Gospel according to Luke 15:1-3 11-32
As all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus, the Pharisees and the Scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them this parable: “A man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ So the father divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country where he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine came upon that country and he found himself in great need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. The young man would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating but no one gave him anything. Then he said to himself, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.’ So he set off and went to his father.
But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then take a fatted calf and kill it, so that we may eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.
Now his elder son was in the field and when he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. The slave replied, ‘Your brother has arrived and your father has killed the fatted calf, because your younger brother has returned safe and sound.’ Then the elder son became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you and have never disobeyed your commands; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours, who devoured your property with prostitutes, returned, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
Today we are considering the conversion of the prodigal son. The youngest son had left home and carelessly squandered the best that he had: the love of his family, the love of his father, the security that gives one the feeling of being loved. He thought he could live on his own. He was sure that by himself he could get everything he wanted. And he failed. Sinking into despair and shame, he fortunately realized what he had to do: Return to his father’s house, ask for forgiveness and work without receiving any pay.
On his return, the prodigal son was preparing what he would say: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” When the son encountered his father, he began to say what he had prepared along the way. But the father interrupted him and, significantly, did not allow him to finish. And so the last sentence the prodigal son had prepared to say, “Treat me like one of you hired hands” was not spoken. We don’t know if the son couldn’t finish or whether the father would not listen. What really matters in the meeting between the father and the son is the joy of the father. As if nothing had happened, the father ordered a large celebration to be held in the house. This celebration expresses the joy of forgiveness and reunion, because the most important thing for a parent is to have a united family.
For us, Lent still presents us with an opportunity for conversion. There is no need to prepare what we will say. God will be happy to see us back home. God will prepare a feast for us. We are all made of the same human “material”, we are not gods. Our limitations lead us to do some bad things that we may not really wish to do but, on occasion, we find ourselves sinking. No one is able to present oneself before God with a sinless dossier. And no one wants to stand before God, like the upright Pharisee, saying, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity”… who are sinners. Our lot is like that of the tax collector. Recognizing our faults, with an aching heart and true repentance, we tell God our Father, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” And since we are in a loving dialogue with our God, we ask Him to continue giving his tenderness, love and strength that we may be faithful to his friendship.
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of belonging to the Providence Family on these special days of thanksgiving and blessings.
A Providence Associate
Sunday Reflection March 24, 2019
Gospel according to Luke 13: 1-9
Jesus was teaching the crowds; some of those present told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate Had mingled with their sacrifices. Jesus asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them – do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.” Then Jesus told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ “The gardener replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”
Freedom and wisdom
This text is a guide for all of us Christians, a guide of wisdom. We might begin by asking, what do we do with the freedom God gives us? The fact that God liberates us does not mean that we will automatically attain freedom. Opening a prison door is not sufficient, the prisoner must rise and willingly leave his cell; he must take part in his own liberation. As in Jesus’ words, “unless you repent, you will all perish.” If we connect these words with the ending of the parable in today’s Gospel, we can understand God’s great mercy always extending His saving and liberating hand towards us. The landlord had already spent time and money for three years on a fig tree that did not bear fruit. He wanted to cut it down, pull it out and use the land for another purpose. But the gardener wanted to keep trying. He thought it was still possible for the tree to bear fruit. It is certainly a matter of patience and work; the same patience God always has towards us, until we are able to live as free and responsible men and women.
Lent time should not discourage us. It is true that as we look at our lives, we discover that at times we lost the precious heritage we received from our parents, and we do not live the Christian faith passed on to us, as we should. . But the fact remains we have a Liberator still holding out a hand to free us from our prisons, so we may walk freely, live in fullness and always keep hope in our hearts. These words confirm once again that God does not abandon God’s people, although sometimes life is so difficult we come to think that it is the case.
Let us feel united, during this time of reflection and introspection, with all Christians awaiting the Kingdom of God.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection March 17, 2019
Gospel according to Luke 9: 28-36
Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to Jesus. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his exodus, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah,” but Peter did not know what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And the disciples kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
I would like to begin my reflection with some questions that, I think, are closely related to this week’s Gospel: Being Christian, living and acting as such, is it only a facade even when I go to Mass? What does it mean for me to be a Christian at work? What about with my family? What needs to change in my life so that being a Christian would transform into something more than a group to which I belong?
Interesting, isn’t it? It is as interesting as is the Gospel and the option of being Christians. Most often , faith is given to us by being born into a Christian family; we can say that faith belongs to our cultural heritage, but it is our responsibility to transform this heritage into a living reality. Just as our ancestors experienced it, and through them and their life testimony, we received faith, thus we will only transmit it to the next generation in as much as it is part of our daily lives.
Today’s Gospel tells the story of the transfiguration. The fact that Jesus was transfigured before the apostles shows that they did not yet have a totally mature faith. They were unable to see Him as He truly was. They were not yet able to see Him with the eyes of faith. They saw Him as a man. A great man, for sure, but just a man. Jesus was transfigured before them so they might realize who He is. The apostles are still a long way to maturity in their faith, to growing little by little next to Jesus, to learning to live according to the Gospel. The best of this story is that Jesus did not leave them alone in this process. He is with them, accompanies them, assists them, and directs them. He is patient with their mistakes. When they fall, He helps them up and encourages them to continue walking with him. The Transfiguration is only a step on the path to following Jesus. They went up the mountain and then down. He follows the path, which is sometimes difficult, but the apostles now know that they have Jesus with them. He will not abandon them.
We are in a similar situation. From our parents, our elders, we have received a Christian heritage, a heritage of faith. It is the best treasure they could give us. They gave it to us with love. Now, it is our responsibility that it be a living faith, that being a Christian is more than a mere name. It is not always easy to live as a Christian at work, at home, with friends, with children. Sometimes problems arise. There are difficult times. But we know that Jesus is always with us. We can trust Him because He never abandons us. In this season of Lent, the Church invites us to revitalize our faith. So that our Christian heritage is not like a buried and useless treasure, but rather a field that once plowed, fertilized and watered is greatly life giving for ourselves and our families.
Let us remember that the One they saw full of light and whiteness, is the One who seemed to have seen His ultimate destination, the cross. Let us not be discouraged because in the end, life, love and truth are winners.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection March 10, 2019
Gospel according to Luke 4:1-13
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone.’”
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his Angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
This beginning of Lent is the living image of the journey towards Easter, isn’t it? Not only the forty-day journey, but the one I am living since the day I was baptized, because since then, I am committed to live the mission of Jesus. Now, the liturgical season of Lent is a reminder, a highlight of the journey towards Easter, the death and resurrection mystery shared by all Christians.
A strange dialogue the devil’s emptations offerof, that he confronts himself with a question, “If you are the Son of God?” This identity of Son of God is reflected in me through the gift of my baptism that made me a Daughter of God. I am a daughter of God, I live God’s mission in the Church. This wonderful Christian vocation is it not my purpose on Earth.
Three options are offered to the Son of God. The first trial would be for Jesus to respond to the temptation to be fed with earthly goods, (command this stone to become a loaf of bread). We so very often experience the temptation of Jesus to satisfy our material appetites. But Jesus offers an infinitely superior non-perishable food, which is to feed on God’s Word. This Word preaches that we share our material goods, our values, our talents, and our time with the poor. So many of my sisters and brothers, here and elsewhere, live in dramatic moral and material poverty, situations lived facing those who are satiated..
The second trial would be for Jesus to assert his divine identity, (To you I will give their glory and all this authority, for it has been given over to me, if you, then, will worship me.) Jesus is invested with a divine power, but he accepts to be human like us. The humanity that Jesus wants to live is a fraternal humanity. Humans know this temptation of being attributed more value than they truly have. Their pretentions are evidenced. This temptation wants to fill a subtle need to be superior to the other. It is good to remember the poverties of our mortal and fragile beings, recalling that what we mostly need is the simplicity of the poor. To God alone, commit your life.
The third trial would exceed the limits of logic and fail his mission, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his Angels concerning you, to protect you,’” Claiming to know the truth; considering oneself as an omnipotent super human, such arrogance would not be worthy of Him. When Peter wants to distract him from his mission, Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan” (Mark 8:33). Every day I need to rekindle the flame of my lamp. I need strong prayer time like Lent; I need solidarity with the Church, my congregation, and my local community. If I do not pray, I deprive my wick of its animating fire. Prayer puts me in solidarity with people of all cultures, of all ages, of all boundaries. Prayer is the light that guides my daily journey towards Easter; it is the assurance of living my vocation and accomplishing my mission according to God’s designs.
Sr. Annette Aspirot, SP
Sunday Reflection March 03, 2019
Gospel according to Luke 6:39-45
Jesus told his disciples a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like their teacher. “Why do you see the speck in your neighbours’ eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbour, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, fist take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye. “No good tree bears bad fruit, not again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruits. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. “Out of the good treasure of the heart, the good person produces good, and out of evil treasure, the evil person produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.”
First of all, I am very grateful to contribute to these reflections of the Providence Family. I can say that we used to, but even now in small towns we still have to, be very careful with what we do and with appearances. Everyone felt authorized to comment, judge and condemn others for what seemed different than the usual. Sometimes, it was based on minimal data or accidental events, which actually had nothing to do with what the person was or lived.
Nowadays we do that with acquaintances, friends, politicians, movie stars or with any public figures in general. Many dare to give advice with such absolute clairvoyance that we do not understand how they have failed to achieve greater triumphs in their own life. It is as the saying goes: “Do as I say and not as I do.” Sayings are nothing but the reflection of popular wisdom. Today’s Gospel tells us that in the words of a man we discover his heart and what is in it. That is, all those criticisms and comments about which we have spoken above say more about the person making the comments than about the person on whom the comments are made.
Jesus insists on similar ideas. Jesus uses a lot of common sense. No wonder, since popular wisdom has taken a lot from profound human experience. And this profoundness cannot be anchored in anything but God, who is our Creator. This is where Jesus finds the roots of wisdom and of the relationship of human beings with God.
I leave you with a question: Do I have the courage to look at the log in my eye?
A Sister of Providence
Gospel according to John 14 :15-16, 23b-26
Jesus said to his disciples:
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always.
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Those who do not love me do not keep my words; yet the word you hear is notmine but that of the Father who sent me.
“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”
MY REFLECTION ON JOHN’S GOSPEL
Jesus is stressing the importance of Love. Love makes us do what is good and just, and is important for us in order to succeed in this life, and attain our eternal reward.
God the Father showed us immense love when he sent His only son Jesus to earth to suffer and die for us.
Jesus lived a life of love when He went around teaching, healing, comforting and helping people, with so much patience and caring. Even suffering and dying for us. That was not enough love! Then the Father sent the Holy Spirt to continue Jesus’s work of helping, inspiring and guiding us to practise love, and in doing so, to do God’s holy will, and ultimately be saved and united with the Holy Trinity in Heaven!
Pat Nex ( PA, Calgary, Alberta)
Sunday Reflection February 17, 2019
Gospel according to Luke 6:17, 20-26
Jesus came down with the twelve and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. Then Jesus looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. “Rejoice in that day and leap for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the Prophets. “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false Prophets.”
Today especially, allowing ourselves to be guided by the Gospel, we ask who in our surroundings are the poor, the hungry and those who weep? What is our community doing to make them feel loved and preferred by God? What could we do?
Understandably it is difficult for us to answer these questions. However, we know that questioning ourselves is part of the solution.
Jesus clearly tells us that those who have too much confidence in themselves, in the power of humanity, do not have much of a future. It seems that they are doomed to suffering and death. They are self-confident because they are rich, have abundant food and leisure activities and they feel that everyone speaks well of them. On the other hand we find those that Jesus declares “blessed” or “happy”.
In addition, Jesus does not say, “Blessed are the poor who trust in God.” He simply says, “Blessed are the poor”, “the hungry” and “those who weep”. No more, no less. No title is needed to deserve to be called “blessed” by Jesus and receive the promise of the Kingdom. Only the last Beatitude refers to Jesus’ disciples, who will be persecuted because of his name. They too are “blessed”.
God’s love and mercy are for everyone. This is precisely why God manifests Himself f first to those who have nothing, who have been so deprived in this world. God’s love is directed preferentially to them. We too as Christians should have preferential love for them, because they are God’s “blessed”, because they are our poor and abandoned brothers and sisters. We are confident that together, they and us will meet in the Kingdom, , sharing at the table of “Beatitude.”
Blessed week of reflection
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection February 10, 2019
Gospel according to Luke 5: 1-11
While Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Jesus got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For Simon Peter and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, son of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.”
As we Christians of the 21st century, the disciples did not satisfy themselves with following and listening to the master. They associated with Him, they became his collaborators. While the task seemed boundless, they continued throwing the nets. This situates us before the extraordinary mystery of our collaboration with the work of God: we can do nothing without God, but God does not want to do anything without us.
God especially asks us to be confident and available. All began because Peter was confident, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” Peter had heard this master talking to the crowd at length, thus he trusted Him enough to listen to Him, enough to venture a new attempt at fishing. After the miracle, he does not say “Master,” he says, “Lord,” the name reserved for God. Peter was ready to hear the call; in order to venture to this new kind of fishing that Jesus proposed to him, he had to acknowledge Jesus as Lord.
Thanks to the generosity of Isaiah who agreed to become a messenger; thanks to the generosity of Peter and his companions who left everything to follow Jesus; thanks to the generosity of Paul who, after the road to Damascus, devoted the rest his life to bear witness to the risen Christ; now it is up to us, we are here and Christ’s words are still ringing in our ears, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets…” To what we respond, “If you say so, we will let down the nets.” So let us trust and accept to cast our nets for a miraculous catch, it suffices to believe in Him.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection February 03, 2019
Gospel according to Luke 4:21-30
Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom, and read from the Prophet Isaiah. The eyes of all were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is this Joseph’s son?” Jesus said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, “Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum’” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no Prophet is accepted in his hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the Prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove Jesus out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went on his way. ”
Jesus is not only our Savior He is also a prophet. However, He is not one of those we are used to. He is very different. He does not make noise. He does not enter into our lives shouting and gesticulating, but with few simple words. In the Gospel, in continuity with last Sunday, He does one of the briefest homilies in history. He does nothing more than pick up the thread of what He had read in a text of the prophet Isaiah, and said that all had already been fulfilled. It was a text that spoke of liberation for the oppressed, consolation for the afflicted, health to the sick, freedom for all. It was the announcement of the Good News of God.
This is the core of the message of the Prophet Jesus. As you see, it does not contain threats, rather an invitation to live in love. He does not speak of a dark future, but of a present full of light and meaning. In love we discover the closeness of God’s presence. In love we clearly see that those around us are our brothers and sisters, though at times it may seem to us that they act as if they were not. In love, life becomes more livable and happier. The curious thing is that the reaction to Jesus’ message was one of total opposition. Had He threatened them of a final flood, they might have listened to him more. But the message of Jesus disorients people, inviting them too much to change their lives. We are today the listeners of Jesus’ message as well as spokespersons for the world. By living our lives, we will show that love opens to a better future for humanity and for the world.
Mother Emilie and Mother Bernarda did so, as did Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart; they followed the path of light and hope that Jesus presented to them. I wish the same for all of us.
I wish you a very nice peaceful week, following Jesus’ path.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection January 27, 2019
Gospel according to Luke 1: 1-4. 4: 14-21
Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed. Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath day, as it was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
We are absolutely sure that Jesus is the definitive prophet of Christian history, so we are Christians and follow in His footsteps and teachings. Our faith in Him is the source of our perseverance, it help us to struggle against injustice, to combat difficulties, to care for the most vulnerable; in short we become better persons. Luke presents Him this way, in the synagogue episode, in this Sunday’s gospel: giving the Good News of a new era, a definitive time when those who were excluded from the message of God’s salvation are actually the first beneficiaries of this Good News.
Admirably, Jesus chose a text that does not speak about rules or laws. Rather he speaks about Himself and his mission. Jesus uses a text of the prophet Isaiah to explain to his compatriots, and incidentally to us also, the content of his mission, that is he preaches through towns and roads of Galilee. Jesus feels dominated, possessed by the Spirit of God, a Spirit that does not make him superior to others. He did not become a king like other kings of the earth who use their authority to dominate, oppress and enslave. He has been sent to announce the Good News to the poor, release the captives and restore sight to the blind. Such is His mission.
The God of Jesus does not love a people to the exclusion of others; God’s project is rather a universal plan of salvation for all peoples. So His message is Gospel, is Good News. The important thing is this: in Galilee, Jesus the prophet, in breaking the silence of Nazareth, brought the Good News to all who yearn for it, even though we are sinners. No one is excluded from God’s salvation.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection January 20, 2019
Gospel according to John 2: 1-12
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding about a hundred litres. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (thought the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until know.” Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; and they remained there a few days.
The story of the wedding at Cana is presented in this gospel as Jesus’ first miracle; His presence announces all that He will accomplish in his life. Besides, celebrating a wedding is one of the happiest moments for families. It means a new beginning in family life. A man and a woman leave their families to form a new family. There is no reason to be sad, quite the opposite. The family is extended, but most importantly, it opens itself to life. The marriage of one of the sons or daughters means that new members will join and enrich the life of the family. When one of its members gets married, the whole family celebrates that life does not end; rather it opens itself to the future with hope.
It is not by mere coincidence that Jesus began his public life by participating at a wedding and increasing the joy of the participants. In addition, in the opinion of the steward, it is the best wine. Jesus’ presence brings to the marriage an ultimate human celebration, the celebration of life with the best wine. It is a great blessing for life and for love that these families celebrate. The best wine is the sign that the life Jesus brings defeats death.
Weddings, joy, best wine, all are signs indicating that the encounter between God and humanity, through Jesus, is an encounter with true Life, a never ending life. . It is the encounter which will lead to the definitive family, in which all recognize each other as brothers and sisters gathered at the table of God, the Father, where death or sadness are no more. As at weddings, this celebration is only the beginning of a new family. It is still only a promise, but a promise of the fullness of life. Living as Christians is to live in hope and joy.
Hope and joy for all families is our wish for the year 2019.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection January 13, 2019
Gospel according to Luke 3.15-16, 21-22
And as the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. ”
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
This passage is of great importance to all Christians. The Holy Spirit solemnly attests the divinity of Jesus, when He, as any ordinary being, performs the sacramental gesture of submitting Himself to the baptism of John. Thus, throughout his life, Jesus will never present Himself any greater than through humble gestures and words! It is a profound lesson for us who see things so differently. To follow Christ is to choose the path of humility, that is to say, of truth. Christ, true God and true man, teaches us the truth of our being. Stained by sin, but cleansed by baptism, we oscillate between two equally tempting extremes of evil and of holiness. And this is experienced in the most simple of daily life. At every step, we can choose God and God’s love or reject it. Following in Jesus’ footsteps, we are assured to follow a path, though narrow and rocky, nonetheless leading to eternal life, to true happiness.
May we be guided by the light of Christ, following the example of our foundress Emilie Gamelin in this new year of peace and hope. Happy New Year!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection January 06, 2019
Gospel according to Matthew 2:1-12
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the Prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me the word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”
When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
If we want to consider the event of the visit of the Magi from a positive perspective, we remember that:
- “Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea,
- The Magi arrived in Jerusalem,
- We have seen a star,
- We have come to kneel before Him.
- When they saw the star, a deep joy overwhelmed them
- They returned to their country taking a different direction”
We too can, in this beautiful liturgical season, choose the positive:
- They saw the star and were overwhelmed with joy
- They returned to their country taking a different direction.
This allowed them to hold and savor their deep joy of having seen the Child.
By what means, from what angle can we, do we want to look at our lives, at others, at events, so to be overwhelmed with profound joy?
Sunday Reflection December 30, 2018
Gospel according to Luke 2:41-52
Every year the parents of Jesus went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival.
When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents say him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them.
Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in favour with God and human beings.
Reflections of two Sisters of Providence: one of our centenarians (102 years), Sister Anne-Marie Tremblay, and our youngest professed sister, Sister Francine Blanc.
What came to my mind on reading this passage is a comparison. In my home parish, the Holy Family had special importance. Every home had a picture of the Holy Family. On the Sunday that followed the feast of the Holy family, there was the blessing of the children. On that day, there were very few gray heads in the church, and as families easily had 10, 12 or 14 children, the church was crowded.
In this passage of the Gospel that speaks of the Holy Family, there is no doubt that Joseph and Mary were worried, because it took them three days to find Jesus. When they found him in the temple, they saw that people were amazed at this young boy asking questions. I believe they were surprised by this so bright 12-year-old boy. But his parents had to be anxious, they asked Jesus, “… why have you done this to us?” And he answered them, “Do you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”
Once back in Nazareth, Jesus was obedient. But I think he certainly must have told His parents what he had done, as we would have told our parents about a special day.
Sister Anne-Marie Tremblay
In this Jubilee year, as we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the foundation of our Community and the legacy of Mother Gamelin and Bishop Bourget, I see in Luke 2:41-52 that the parents of Jesus searched for him everywhere, but did not find him. They thought he was with their companions. They had to return to Jerusalem, where they found him.
For us who celebrate, it is a great opportunity to go deeply in our search for our heroes, Mother Gamelin and Bishop Bourget. Jerusalem is the source of our Mission, of our spirituality. Sisters, we must always return to Jerusalem to find our Savior. May we be urged by this love. Let us pray that we may always have the impetus to go forward, to adapt to our reality, without forgetting the source. Thank you!
Sister Francine Blanc
Sunday Reflection December 23, 2018
Gospel according to Luke 1:39-45
Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of you womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
With this fourth Sunday of Advent Christmas is soon upon us. The Lord gives us a beautiful biblical text, where we see Mary, cheerful and joyful, because she knows that life is growing in her womb, a life that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and is for all humankind.
So great is the love and joy that Mary feels, she is unable to remain quietly at home waiting for her baby to be born. Instead, she needs to set off immediately to meet with her cousin Elizabeth, whom she will not only help with domestic chores, but to whom she will bring God himself. That is why when Mary entered Zacharias’ home, John leaped for joy in his mother’s womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud voice: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Blessed are you who believe, you who present to me the Holy Spirit, you who speaks to me of God, not only with His words but with His life.
This text invites me to remember and give thanks to God for all women who, like Mary, have come to us to help us know God, and help us discover the gift of faith with their words and testimonies of life, as Emilie, Bernarda, Joseph, our grandmothers, mothers, sisters and so many other women, filled with the Holy Spirit, have done, never were they indifferent to the needs of their brothers and sisters. Like Mary, they heard the voice of God in the cries of the poor and quickly went out to encounter life while carrying life.
Today more than ever, the world needs joyful women, centered on God, who bear and defend life, faith and hope, who are contemplative and prophetic women, always ready to go forth and reach out to our sisters, brothers and all of creation.
Our service and dedication are not meant to be sterile; indeed they have to be fruitful love, love that carries life, a life that is God, not a God for the few, but for all humankind. May we always be the joyful and loving faces of Providence and make it such that God is truly born in every corner of our planet.
Nancy Arévalo, SP
Sunday Reflection December 16, 2018
Gospel according to Luke 3:10-18
The crowds, who were gathering to be baptised by John asked him,
“What should we do?” In reply John said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats of false accusation, and be satisfied with you wages.” And as the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” So, with many other exhortations, John proclaimed the good news to the people. ”
Here is a passage of the Gospel which may seem quite proper for the season of Advent, the time preceding the coming of our Holy Savior. However, I also see it as a summary of how we Christians, followers of Christ, must be people of compassion and kindness.
While it is true that Advent prepares us to Jesus’ birthday and his coming at the end of time, it is also true that this time of the year is associated with conversion, i.e. to the radical change of our values, our attitudes and our lifestyle, because even if faith dwells in us, our openness to others, as followers of Jesus of Nazareth, remains our common ground.. That is, we are bound by the One who will soon be born in the hearts of us all.
To convert may still seem easy. John only called for simple and concrete things. But let us try… and we will see that changing our lives is very difficult. In order to reach that point, it takes an act of God as well as a human act. To describe the action of God, John the Baptist used three images: diving, wind and fire. The Spirit of God wants to push us around like a wind storm in which we are immersed, like a fire that burns and strips all of our tasks. This is what the sacrament of penance offers at Christmas. We have the opportunity to experience it before the holidays. May it lead us forward on the road to true happiness, on the path to peace of heart.
Today, listen to His word that exhorts us to share our goods, and to respect justice and dignity for all. Let us prepare ourselves to receive the One coming to save us and will return to “judge the living and the dead.”
Happy Advent to all!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection December 09, 2018
Gospel according to Luke 3:1-6
“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the Prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
John the Baptist opens the way for the Lord
Advent is a time of grace, of light and of Holy waiting. A time filled with hope that fills our hearts with joy.
However, if Advent is a time to prepare one’s self for the Lord, so that every mortal may see the “salvation of God”, the way to be prepared is to treat people honestly, using our influence justly. In our lives, we should pay attention not to let ourselves be taken up by structures and their needs. These are worthy goals, but they are not the center of our spiritual life. The ultimate goal is to prepare hearts to receive the Lord, a goal that is difficult to measure. While we construct buildings and implement programs, we must remember that the truly important ministry of the Church takes place at this level, less visible and more difficult to measure… and that is the work of the Spirit.
Advent makes us descend from the heights; breaks our silence, brings us out of our rooms, chapels, churches and rituals. It invites us to go onto the streets, to mingle with the people, to be with the poor, who are the Lord’s favorites. This Advent time reminds us that this is where we meet God. The first sacrament, the most authentic and real one is the human person. Every human being is a sign and the presence of God. When God chose to come to us, He did it with a visible face: Jesus. Since then, God has done it with any face and perhaps more intensively with those most distressed, those most wounded and those most suffering. This is the sacrament of God’s presence among us. Today, here and now, may we look to our brothers and sisters and discover that Jesus, the One who is coming, gives meaning to our commitment to a more just and fraternal world.
Let us join together in these tender waiting times, with joy and open hearts.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection December 02, 2018
Gospel according to Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36
Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
We begin the period of Advent; we begin to prepare ourselves for Christmas, a time during which all Christians are getting ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Savior. Waiting to celebrate the birth mixes with the hope that the Lord Jesus will definitely come into our hearts and into our world.
Deep within every Christian experiences the certainty of having a deep faith and that he or she believes in Jesus; but we are often unable to put into practice, in any total way, that same faith. We believe that Jesus, by rising, released us from death, but we still have to live through that path. There is also too much pain and suffering in this world. This is why we strongly hope that the Word of Jesus be fulfilled, and that His Kingdom come. Unceasingly our heart is saying, “Come, Lord Jesus!” This is living in hope.
In today’s Gospel, we still hear the echo of the apocalyptic messages that we heard a few Sundays ago. Nevertheless, there is a new message that closes the cycle and gives meaning to all that has been said: “…stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” Thus, hope overcomes fear.
Once more, love is the characteristic that fills the life of a Christian. One’s hope must be revealed in its special capacity to love those who live near them. For those awaiting a God of love and reconciliation already live under the law of love and reconciliation. If not, their hope is not authentic.
So we ask ourselves, “How could we prepare our self to celebrate the birth of Jesus? What signs of hope could we offer in our community, our family or our parish?
We must diffuse the light that emanates from Advent in order to prepare Christmas; this light is the light of love that shines in all hearts. This light destroys our selfishness, our prejudices and our limitations, in making our lives and our hearts shine. This is the light of a little child running to greet us receiving us with open arms.
The consumer society has quickly accommodated to itself these pure feelings and transformed them for sale, but it is ours, as Christians, to rescue these feelings and make them shine as they should.
May waiting for the Infant Jesus fill our hearts with true love.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection November 25, 2018
Gospel according to John 18: 33b-37
Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice. ”
We are at the gates of Advent and here we are! The liturgical year ends with the feast of Christ the King, sovereign of the universe. The concern here is about an eternal reign, a reign that stretches beyond time, into the glory of God. We tend to look up to better see the King of Kings, and yet we should lower our eyes to contemplate the face of the King of the universe. The only visible throne given to us to contemplate and worship the King of the universe is the Cross of Christ.
The glory and splendor of Jesus’ reign are revealed through His death on the cross. It is truly the meaning of today’s Gospel with this passage about the trial of Jesus before Pilate. The greatness of Christ extends from the creation of the world until its fulfillment; it is not reserved for a people, it is only “truly” discovered and understood through Christ’s passion and death.
Jesus reverses the secular ideas of reign, to which we are still too attached. Two thousand years later, we still do not see that the reign is revealed right before our eyes on the cross, not a gold or silver cross, but a simple wooden cross. This royalty, Jesus said to Pilate, is not obtained by war or combat, but by the abandonment and fragility of someone condemned to death.
Do we have the courage to go all the way and make truth prevail? We know what we need to do, especially what others should do, but carrying it out is a whole different world… We believe that the Holy Trinity dwells in us but we carry it to in places where we do not meet the Lord. We know well that Christ dwells in the Other and yet we despise Him and let Him suffer without any assistance… We really want to accept Christ as our King, but we are dissidents regarding His life code: His Gospel…
Let us walk with Mother Gamelin towards the Light of Christ the King.
A blessed week to one and all!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection November 18, 2018
Gospel according to Saint Mark 13: 24-32
Jesus spoke to his disciples about the end which is to come: “In those days, after the time of suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘The Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the Angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will not pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the Angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
With these words, Jesus seems to announce terrible events, would it be the end of this world, perhaps? With the end of the world would also come the end of our earthly life. The Gospel of this Sunday is for me one of the most difficult texts: the return of Christ at the end of the world for the Last Judgment. However, we cannot read differently the assertion that the Sun will no longer give light and the stars will fall from heaven onto the Earth. It is the announcement of the final disaster. A number of movies have been released in recent years describing this horrible end of the world and of any life it houses. This world passes. Our life has an ending. That is how it is and we will not change it. The end of the world and the end of my life will come someday. The second will probably come before the first. What really matters is that we are welcomed by the forgiveness of God offered to us in Christ, we can access new life, and we are saved. This is our faith. There is no reason to fear. Jesus’ teaching is focused on the second coming of the Son of man. It is a positive development, the end of salvation history.
The Son of God, with the glory of the Risen Christ, will proceed to a Last Judgment and gather all the chosen. The images of the sun, moon and stars illustrate the greatness of this glorious coming. They form a symbolic language that expresses the conclusion and announces the climax of the universal history. The final story of the world is not a catastrophe but salvation for the chosen. It could not be otherwise, since in the beginning of human history, creation was God’s great gesture of love.
When will the glorious return of Christ come? The future is in the hands of God. This is why we Christians are not waiting for imaginary references to guess our future or that of the world; but rather live in the present with a vigilant, positive and hopeful attitude.
The believer differs from someone who is not a believer, not by his moral or ethical qualities, nor by carrying out more perfect works, but by his vigilant attitude towards the return of the Lord, who is coming. This is why faith allows us to live in hope and love.
The parable of the fig tree is an invitation to vigilance and reading of the signs of the times. When the branches become tender and sprout, you known that spring is close, but that it has not yet begun. The key word is “close”; the signs of the times do not announce the end of the world, but the proximity of the end of a stage in the evolution of our faith.
In union of prayer I bid you farewell,
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection November 11, 2018
Gospel according to Saint Mark 12: 38-44.
Jesus was teaching in the temple, and a large crowd was listening to Him. He said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market places, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honour at banquets! They devour widow’s houses and for the sake of appearance, say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money in the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then He called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
“Good and merciful God, You do not judge according to appearances, You gratify those who give all they have not worrying about tomorrow; come today and purify our hearts! Teach us to know that at every moment all gifts come from You, so that we may have confidence in You and in Your Word, and dare to give, though we own so little, yet expect no return,. Prayer of the Senegalese people
Beware of appearances; in this text we see two types of religious behaviour. On the one hand, the pretentious scribes who parade and use religion to assert themselves: Jesus condemns this attitude. On the other hand, we are presented a poor widow doing a minor action in the eyes of those present, but for her it had heavy consequences, since she divested herself of what was essential for her living. Jesus sanctioned this attitude; He pointed it out to his disciples for its impressive truth. It is not what the people see that is valued in God’s eyes. God does not judge appearances but hearts. Jesus leads us to look within ourselves. This is not a matter of success, let alone superficial acts. Salvation requires our actions to be consistent with our convictions. And in everything one does, especially in one’s religious life, human beings should always remember that we do not mock God. Make no mistake: said St. Paul, we do not mock God; for we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6, 7). What the Lord requires of us, is to have a pure heart, true faith, total confidence. This woman has nothing. She was a widow, and so without support or resources. She was poor, without income and gave what was necessary for her living; she placed her trust in God so not to die.
Following Emilie, let us entrust our lives to Jesus, the Christ. May you have a happy week in hope and joy.
Hortense Demia-Mbaïlaou, SP
Sunday Reflection November 04, 2018
Gospel according to Saint Mark 12: 28b-34
One of the scribes came near and heard the religious authorities disputing with one another, and seeing that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘He is one, and besides Him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all your heart, and with all your understanding, and with all your strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbour as oneself,’ – this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that the scribe answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask Jesus any questions.”
What is the most important of all the commandments? Jesus’ answer is clear: the most important is the relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters. This relationship is the same in both cases. It should be a loving relationship. For me it is clear that God must not be feared nor adored. God must be loved. Our relationship with God is a loving one for the simple reason that God loved us first. We are God’s creation.
We find this difficult, it seems that we may never achieve it. It is very possible that we have not yet come to experience this universal love, but at least we should be clear about our destiny. The horizon towards which we are heading is love. But what does loving mean? Some people immediately think in terms of physical attraction, but loving is much more. It has nothing to do with owning or manipulating the other to make him/her do what I want. Loving is closeness to the other, taking care of his/her needs, and serving him/her. It is to put the interests of others before mine and do it gratuitously, without expecting anything in return. Because happiness, for the person who loves, lies precisely in the happiness of the one loved. As long as the other is happy, the one who loves experiences happiness and fulfillment.
Today Jesus reminds us that there may be many commandments, but they are all summarized into one fundamental one: love. It is possible that those who love may not know much about theology or may not be cultured persons, but they are closer to the Kingdom of God. This is what Jesus said to the scribe. This is how today we are reminded of our first commandment.
Providence of God, I thank you for all.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection October 28, 2018
Gospel according to Saint Mark 10: 46-52
As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and say, « Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, « Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.
Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has made you well.” Immediately the regained his sight and followed Jesus on the way.
Jesus said, “Go, your faith has made you whole”. Bartimeus, son of Timaeus, was not a blind person like others, he was aware of his blindness. This is why he could shout at Jesus passing by and ask Him to have mercy on him; it is Bartimeus’ faith that guides him. And the more he was silenced, the more he shouted. It was his only opportunity, his unique chance to see once again, he felt it profoundly. With his shout, he drew attention to his handicap, to his limitations.
In society, it is sometimes annoying to expose our poverties, our limitations. But the poor, the oppressed, those who suffer injustices and pain are always present; even though we evict them from our neighborhood or ignore them as they pass near us. Now, I think of young delinquents. They live in the midst of violence. They make noise, they disrupt peace. However, I have the impression that all those things they do, that upsets us so, and draws in true violence in our neighborhoods, are nothing more than ways of shouting their misery, their need for affection. Down deep, they are mere children in need of a family to support them, to defend them and make them feel safe.
To see again with new eyes and heart, today, this is the miracle we need to ask Jesus and Emilie, our foundress. It is faith that leads us to walk hand-in-hand with our brothers and sisters, so that the shouts asking us for help are not so annoying, but are rather calls to experience fraternity as Jesus wanted. Jesus will give us the strength and the grace we need.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection October 21, 2018
Gospel according to Saint Mark 10: 35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And Jesus said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, You don’t know what you’re asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They replied, “We are able.” But Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are Tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. ”
The request of James and John to Jesus:
After Jesus was questioned, He asked James and John to express themselves clearly, if they really did want to sit one on His right and one on His left in His Glory. However, in my reflection I ponder, what are my requests? What are the motives of my prayer? During the recent celebration of Thanksgiving, on October 8, my heart was filled with gratitude for the gift of life and the marvels of nature.
For a year, I have live on the 5th floor of Providence Pavilion, at the Motherhouse in Montreal, the autumn landscape, embellished with its most beautiful colors, delights my eyes and my soul. The blessings of God for the 91 years that will be mine in 2 weeks, on November 4, are graces that deserve my most sincere praise. Then, following in Jesus and our Blessed Emilie Gamelin’s footsteps, in all simplicity I say that I live to serve others. In my environment, I have many opportunities to serve, to be attentive and be a presence for my companions. When welcoming people, I try to remember what the Lord has said: “…I came not to be served but to serve…”
How not give thanks to Providence for so many graces!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection October 14, 2018
Gospel according to Saint Mark 10: 17-30
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’” He said to Jesus, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When the man heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For humans it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father of children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age – houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields – but with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life”.
Contrary to what we may believe, this passage is not a lesson about the vow of poverty, but about something that affects the salvation of all. Jesus offers us another path: the path of truth, which certainly involves giving up our wealth, pride and arrogance. It is a call to do things differently, with wisdom. It is not a call to a life of absolute poverty, materially speaking, but to a poverty that does not rest on the simple security of formal compliance with the law, rather on the quest for God’s Reign.
Owning riches, loving them and looking for them is a way of life that defines an attitude that is contrary to the pursuit of God’s Reign and eternal life: it is power, safety, pleasure… None of these is happiness. However, to think that following Jesus’ footsteps is a miserable option would be a wrong way of understanding what the Gospel offers to us. This young man was not only materially well-off; he was also morally rich because he fulfilled the commandments. Is this immoral? No! But this moral wealth does not allow him to see that his riches are stealing true wisdom and his heart from him. He does not have the wisdom he is looking for, because he probably depends heavily on his “riches.” Thus, walking after Jesus will teach him another way of understanding life, wealth and even religion.
Furthermore, Jesus adds that it is very difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, because they are not able to deprogram themselves from their personal security, from their conception of God and men. Their material wealth is not only what makes it difficult for them to enter the Kingdom; their world of power and security isolates them from the little ones and their world, which is the real world that Jesus tells us about. “What is impossible for a man is possible for God” (v. 27) Jesus’ answer is a very special invitation for us to follow him radically.
Have a good week everyone!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection October 07, 2018
Gospel according to Saint Mark 10: 2-16
Some Pharisees who came to test Jesus asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” Jesus answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has united, let no one separate.” Upon their return home, the disciples asked Him again about this matter. Jesus said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
People were bringing little children to him in order that Jesus might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant He said to them, let the little children come to me; do not stop them: for it is too such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And Jesus took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them
Beyond marriage, Jesus invites us to two deep reflections: that of the sacrament of love and mutual respect within the couple. Not one of the two is more than the other, and not one is more capable than the other. Obligations, rights and privileges must be equal. The two beings that form a couple have a mutual need of each other to form a family or perhaps only to be happy, to live in the fullness of love to which God has called us.
In current times, when families appear to be living in crisis. Jesus invites us to return to the beginning, to rediscover God’s original desire and try to make it reality in each of our families. Thus, every marriage, every family, will become a witness of God’s love, a nucleus where life is recreated daily.
While we talk about the union in love, we also talk of children, who are the fruits of this alliance and whom Jesus blesses. He says that all those who keep their child heart, pure and wholesome, shall receive the Kingdom of God as a reward. Therefore may we allow ourselves to be invaded by children’s purity of heart, their simplicity, their marveled eyes upon discoveries, and their spontaneous sincerity. How many gifts are bequeathed to us during our childhood that we gradually destroy during life? We mistakenly think we are evolving, when in fact we are simply getting older and move away from the crystalline heart that Jesus is asking of us.
Thank you for this beautiful opportunity to share with the Providence family.
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection September 30, 2018
Gospel according to Saint Mark 9: 38-43. 47-48
After Jesus had finished teaching the disciples, John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.”
Christ is inviting us today to be open to those who want to do good, to be edified by their commitments, to admire the beautiful work accomplished by those who are not part of our group, our political party, our nationality. “Don’t stop them, even though they are not one of us.”
We realize that outside of the Church, there is fullness of salvation, that thousands of people cast out demons, that is, they struggle against evil, disease, prejudice, and discrimination. There are many people who are doing exceptional work with a great spirit of brotherhood and commitment.
This is an invitation to reflect on our prejudices, our exclusions, our rejection of others. Openness does not oblige us to give up our own Christian identity; it rather strengthens our identity, not in confrontation, but dialogue. A dialogue to understand, to be amazed, and to be enriched! As we approach others, we discover jewels of humanity and spirituality. “The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes”. (John 3, 8)
Following in Christ’s and Blessed Emilie Gamelin’s footsteps, may we meet the needy and help relieve their miseries without prejudice nor after-thought.
A blessed week to one and all!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection September 23, 2018
Gospel according to Saint Mark 9.30-37
After leaving the mountain Jesus and his disciples went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house Jesus asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. Jesus sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
This Gospel passage talks of Jesus’s second step on his way to Jerusalem, accompanied by his disciples. The Teacher knows, with the lucidity of a prophet, what to expect: the passion and death, but also the certainty that He will be in the hands of God the Father forever, because his God is the God of life. But this announcement of the passion in today’s Gospel, becomes one further motivation to speak to the disciples of the need for service.
In addition, Jesus, guide and master of life, in a sacramental gesture, so to speak, of the symbolic acceptance of a child, a significant gesture and words: “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the One who sent me.” It is this simple and expressive attitude of sincere service to the most humble and vulnerable that authenticates the credibility of true discipleship: “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” What better indication for a Christian commitment to this new scale of values established by Jesus?
If it is the child who must occupy the center of community life, where is the importance of ambition, honour and greatness of privileged positions? Do discords, disagreements and controversies among us make sense? They correspond to nothing of the wisdom emanating from the Gospel. The critical gaze of Jesus falls squarely on his own disciples, disowned by their behavior to exercise the mission for which they were called. The poorest and most insignificant to our eyes come first in God’s eyes. It is not the Lord who is seated at the table, but those who serve.
As Jesus, Emilie and Bernarda asked us through the example of their lives, may we continue to serve the most vulnerable of our society. Have a nice week,
Sunday Reflection September 16, 2018
Gospel according to Saint Mark 8.27-35
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the Prophets.” Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”
And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are thinking not as God does, but as humans do.” Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “Whoever wants to become my follower, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it.”
Following Jesus from our cross
It may be a good way, perhaps, to know ourselves and to know Jesus. When faced with new situations, with different experiences, when we come out of ourselves, then we rediscover ourselves. When we tear down the fears that tie us up and separate us from one another, and when we break our mental clichés and preset ways of living, then we can generate opportunities for sharing and change how we look at our “I”, at our “you” and, above all, at our God.
Because it is not only about standing up, it is about living, moving forward. It is about allowing ourselves to be challenged on who we are and what defines us as Christians. By fear that whoever we least expect recognizes better than many of us the place the Lord Jesus occupies in life, in history, in our daily reality…
Ideally, everything would go great and recognizing the sovereignty of Christ in my life would be a journey of successes and triumphs, as when He multiplied the bread and fish or when He healed the sick. But no. Following the immediate confession of faith of Peter, Jesus put us on guard about what it means to make Christ our reason for living: we will suffer, we will not be understood, we will be rejected, they will be executed, a full-fledged scandal… and despite all this, we will continue professing this confession of faith.
Thank you Lord for the 175 year-long life of our community!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection September 09, 2018
Gospel according to Mark 7, 31-37
“Returning from the region of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. Jesus took him aside in private, away from the crowd and put his finger into the man’s ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, He sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ that is, ‘Be opened!’ And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute to speak.’”
In our world, where the cries of the poor are neither heard nor listened to, there are only intentional, deliberate and persistent silences motivated by selfish interests. We Christians must listen, speak and act. Persons of faith are called through their sensitivity, to perceive, in the midst of worldly noise, the voice of God and consequently choose the path of truth and mercy. Blessed Emilie Gamelin followed integrally this path, giving her entire life for the benefit of those most in need. Following her example, the Sisters of Providence, of yesterday and today, hear the cry of the poor, they speak and act on their behalf.
Whoever has ears that hear and lips that speak the truth also have eyes open for others, hands extended towards those in need, and a pure heart that bears witness to true love.
Christ said to the deaf-mute, while touching his ears and tongue, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” This physical opening, fruit of a miraculous cure, must lead to an inner-spiritual openness. People are too self-enclosed with their small problems of reduced horizons. Opening oneself to faith is to accept salvation, cease to have recourse only to one’s own energies, but rely fundamentally on God, and thus see the light of hope!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection September 02, 2018
The Gospel According to Mark 7: 1-8 14-15 21-23
Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles [and beds].) So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” When he got home away from the crowd, He said to his disciples, From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”
No group, not even the Church, is able to maintain itself without traditions and customs. But however good these traditions are, they have been established by human beings. Therefore, the way mass, feasts, novenas, etc. are celebrated, and everything that a pope, a bishop or a Christian community has established in the past, can be changed by another pope, another bishop or another Christian community. Now, since all this can change, we understand that it is not the core of Christian life.
There is one essential thing that does not change: the teaching of God. Where can we find it? In the Word of God. Too often we do not put much effort in getting into the spirit of the Church, while we cling blindly to antiquated and harmful customs or practices.
Why are so many Christians shocked when the Church frees itself from outdated practices? Jesus gave us the reason, quoting the prophet Isaiah: “Perhaps they cling to their rituals because they are unable to ‘believe’.” Have a good week in the joy of the Lord!
A Sister of Providence
Sunday Reflection August 26, 2018
Gospel according to John 6:59-69
Jesus had given a teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. Having heard Jesus, many of his disciples said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this scandalize you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken
to you are spirit and life.
But there are some amongst you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning who were those that do not believe and who was the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” And from this moment, many of his disciples withdrew and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Had I been in the place of the disciples who followed Jesus, how would I have reacted? Would I have continued to follow Jesus or would I have done as Simon Peter, who answers Jesus: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
If one day, as a Sister of Providence, I truly chose Jesus, then, WHO is He for me when I feel much movement disturbing my inner self? Do I have reason to be upset on such occasions? In reflecting on this, the proper solution is to rely on His powerfulness, place my trust in Him, and abandon myself to His will.
When I see, in a bus, a person giving their seat to a woman or a man who has difficulty walking… To me, this is, a delicate act of goodness.
Or still when a person, touched with compassion, reacts against discrimination, abuse of any kind whatsoever, and violence.
These are expressions of love of neighbour that conveys “walking in Jesus’ footsteps.”
And there are several other small gestures of kindness, generosity and delicacy that can be performed and concretely show the “following of Jesus.”
If we believe that “Jesus has the words of eternal life” and that He is the “Holy one of God” (verses 68 and 69), how could He abandon the creature He created out of love and for whom His love is infinite? YES, God loves every person to the same extent, that is to say TO MADNESS…
Sister Claudette Chénier
Sunday Reflection August 19, 2018
Gospel according to John 6:51-58
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
In his great Love for humanity, Christ gave His Life and continues to offer His Body and His Blood to us, as a pledge of eternal life already provided here on Earth. What a mystery to welcome! How can we give thanks to our God for offering us, throughout our earthly journey, Jesus, who wishes to pursue His saving action in the daily lives of each and every one of us.
At every Eucharist, we repeat “Blessed are the guests at the Lord’s Supper”; are we aware and conscious of that blessing? Do we appreciate the greatness of our God’s generosity? Our poverty is even greater before the bountiful goodness of the One who constantly desires to give Himself to us through His Word and His Bread, through His body and blood. How great is the mystery of our God!
Let us approach the Eucharistic table with joy and gratitude, in union with our brothers and sisters and especially with those who suffer persecution because of their faith in Jesus, who becomes nourishment for the journey. Let us contemplate this privileged sacrament of the resurrection of Jesus, a summary of His life and mission.
On this Day of the Lord, may we extend our praise of thanksgiving to the One who invites us to abide in Him through this communion with his Body and Blood, in a foretaste of heaven.
Sister Marguerite Cuierrier
“We are called to God’s house,
We are invited to God’s feast.
Day of joy and joyful day, Hallelujah”
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.