Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Story of Zacchaeus


At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.  Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way.  When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house."  And he came down quickly and received him with joy.  When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner."  But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over."  And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."  Luke 19: 1-10

Zacchaeus is saved us, because he descends from Abraham. He is saved, too, though, because he descends from the tree!   I have always loved the story of Zacchaeus.  Perhaps it is because I can easily related to his height issue.  Zacchaeus was a wealthy man and had a need to see who Jesus was.  He had heard of Him but desired to see Him so he climbed the sycamore tree.  Jesus calls Zacchaeus down, just as He calls each of us.

Jesus calls Zacchaeus down from the tree, to a direct encounter with Him. Jesus does not condemn him.  He calls him to dwell with him.  The same message is there for us.  Jesus calls each one of us to follow Him and be saved.  Like Zacchaeus we too need to have the desire to see Jesus and follow.  We are called to have open and listening hearts.  Jesus takes us as we are and invites us to grow and develop into who we are called to be.  May we live each day with that certitude of heart.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Natural Disasters


Seven years ago today the east coast was rocked by Hurricane Sandy.  I remember that day so clearly.  We had gone over to Mass at the Ursuline Provincialate to be greeted by our Provincial who asked us if we could move in for a few days to help out in case the employees could not get in.  After the initial shock passed we immediately said we just needed to go home and get our things for work.  As soon as Mass ended we headed home and packed up for what we thought would be a few days.  We began our tour of duty by making sure all the beds were made and that there were names on the doors so the sisters would know what room they would use.  Several sisters came from our convent across New Rochelle and those who lived near water also moved in.  We wound up staying for a week, school was closed so we really just remained safe with the sisters.  About three days after the storm hit we went home to check on our apartment since we were not there for the storm.  Once we got to our apartment we were greeted by the fact that there was no electricity or heat so we emptied the refrigerator, put away our work clothes and headed back to the convent where we stayed until the electricity was restored. 

Watching the news was nonstop and when I spoke to my sister I realized that the storm had taken her house.  She told me that, “Barnegat Bay met in my living room.”  As she said this she described the point at which they decided to abandon their house and seek higher ground—it was when a piece of siding landed in their front lawn.  A week later I visited her home to help with the gutting of it.  The water was just less than four feet high which meant that insurance would only pay for half of the walls to be replaced.  We ripped out carpets, took out furniture and cleaned out the refrigerators which still had water and minnows in the draws.  For the past seven years she has fought with FEMA, contractors, been robbed and after finally finishing her house she has sold it and moved to a smaller home away from the water.  Her story is very much like so many others, many of whom have still not completed repairs. 

Today we are praying for the people of California who are battling fires once again.  Two years ago we lost our Retreat Center in Santa Rosa, one of the sisters lost her home and her dog and many lives were turned upside down due to fires.  Let us continue to pray for all those who are in the path of natural disasters -- that all will be safe.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Tree of Life



One year ago today a lone gunman opened fire with an AR- 15 rifle at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.  Eleven people were killed that day and six others were injured.  The victims ranged in age from 54 to 97 years of age.  Two were brothers and greeted people as they came to the synagogue and one had survived the Holocaust.  The conservative Jewish synagogue has remained closed since that fateful day but many people visited the site to mark the one year anniversary.  There is a fence that surrounds the synagogue which has been decorated with messages from around the country and artwork sent by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The outpouring of love and support does not lessen the pain of the senseless violence that had occurred.   There have been random acts of violence since that fateful day, as well as, threats of violence.  Our world is in such pain and everyone needs to come together and work for justice for all.  We need to remember the two great commandments, love of God and love of neighbor.  Each one of us has been created in the image and likeness of God and that is both a call and a challenge to act out of that reality.  May those who have succumbed to senseless violence rest in peace and may we always seek to foster peace in all we do.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Light the Night


Tonight I participated in the Light night walk at Rye Playland.  The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk funds treatments that are saving the lives of patients today. LLS is making cures happen by providing patient support services, advocating for lifesaving treatments and pioneering the most promising cancer research anywhere. And it's all happening now. Not someday, but today. Each year friends, families and coworkers form teams to raise money in support of our mission.

For the past 12 years I have walked in honor of a dear friend of mine Bob who lost a valiant battle with Leukemia.  I had the pleasure of knowing Bob and his family for well over 40 years.    I am still friends with his wife and children and now grandchildren.  Bob had an incredible outlook on life.  When he became ill he fought with all his will and never gave up hope.  Tonight in his honor we donned our “Big Bobby” shirts and gathered for our team photo with great pride.  One of the most special parts of the time is having the opportunity to go into the remembrance tent.  In the tent family and friends are invited to write a message to their loved one.  Each year the messages get more personal and there are often many tears shed. 

The opening ceremony has changed over the years and tonight’s begun with the sharing of a survivor’s story.  A woman who told her story shared how “faith, hope and humor” sustained her on the journey.  She also shared that in January she had her blood test and her oncologist called her to congratulate her that she was in remission and was also pregnant.  The one thing she wanted was a child, her son, Tyler is now two months old.  This story like so many give tremendous hope.  Let us pray for all those who have succumbed to cancer, are fighting cancer, or are in remission from cancer.  May a cure be found very soon.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Healing of the Ten Lepers


As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.  They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master!  Have pity on us!"  And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests."  As they were going they were cleansed.  And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.  He was a Samaritan.  Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not?  Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"  Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you." Luke 17: 11 – 19

Today’s Gospel is the familiar story of the healing of the ten lepers.  Even though ten were healed only one returned to thank Jesus for healing him.  This leaves Jesus wondering where the other nine were.  God has been alive and present in all of our lives.  Always ready to heal and make whole our God often wonders where we have gone. We forget to see God’s action in our lives.  Often we are not willing to allow God to heal what needs to be healed in us.  We are afraid to surrender to God what needs to be healed.  God is always present to us and is willing to perform both the small and extraordinary miracles we need to experience.  May we always be open to allowing God to heal those places that we are most unwilling to share with Him.



Image result for the healing of the ten lepers

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Lead a New Life


On Wednesday, October 2nd the members of the Ursuline General Chapter had an audience with Pope Francis.  His message to them is inspiring for all of us.

Pope to Ursulines: “Make new life” by attracting people to Christ By Robin Gomes

Today, no one can say any more: "This does not concern me". The problems of others are our problems, my problems. They no longer concern only a people or a nation, but the whole world. Pope Francis made the point to the Ursuline Sisters, officially known as the Roman Union of the Order of Saint Ursula.

Our problems, my problems

Commenting on the theme of their General Chapter – “A Global Community moving into new life” – the Pope said, “We find ourselves in a time increasingly interconnected and inhabited by peoples who have come to be part of a "global community". “Today,” he said, “no one can say any more: "This does not concern me".  “The protection of human rights, the conquest of freedom of thought and religion, the evangelization of the distant and the near - beginning with oneself -, social justice, the protection of the environment and the common search for sustainable development, the advent of a humanistic economy, of a policy that is truly at the service of man,” the Pope said, “are not ‘problems of others’, but they are our problems, they are my problems; they no longer concern only a people or a nation, but the whole world. In this regard he pointed to the burning of the Amazon forest saying it is not just a problem in that region, it is a global problem. The migration phenomenon does not affect only some states, but the international community, and so on.

“Make new life”

In the face of this, the Holy Father urged the Ursulines to focus on the hope expressed in the second part of their theme: "Let us go towards a new life", that echoes the words of their foundress, Saint Angela Merici: “Make new life. ”The Pope said it is possible to make new life by “opening the doors to Christ and imitating him in charity, that is, in His becoming a neighbor to every man and woman of every language, people and nation with great respect for the diversity of the other, both cultural and religious”. n their charismatic originality, he said they are called to "make new life", to bring a breath of new life to the ends of the earth, knowing how to be with responsibility in the midst of different peoples, nations and cultures, so that the message of faith, hope and charity that you bring may attract people to Christ.

Conversion and witness

He asked the nuns, to seek through a climate of prayer, the appropriate instruments to pursue their individual and community objectives without losing sight of the vast horizon of humanity for which Jesus gave His life. This task, he said, requires a pastoral conversion of structures, so that they become ever more mission-oriented and "outgoing", to encourage the response of all those to whom Jesus offers His friendship. For this, a coherent witness is needed, beginning from personal conversion. In this context, the Holy Father particularly encouraged the Ursulines to continue with enthusiasm in their special charism of educating the young, especially in thinking critically and discerning the pros and cons of the means they use, so they mature in values. Serious human growth in the awareness of values, the Pope said, is only possible by combining education with the proclamation of the Gospel, which is done primarily through personal witness.--Vatican News

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Praying for Peace in our World


As we continue to look at the need for peace in our world let us reflect on:
We are all called to develop the global common good and support the struggles of our sisters and brothers in the human family wherever they stand against injustice.

Solidarity “is the firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.”  (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #193)

Pope Francis has recently given fuller voice to environmental concerns that have been a part of Catholic social teaching since the 1960s.

“Care for the environment represents a challenge for all of humanity. It is a matter of a common and universal duty, that of respecting a common good.”  (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #466)

Let us pray:

Free me, Creator God, from sin, from fear;
Free me from all forms of hate;
Free me from anger and violence.
Free me to love all my neighbors;
Free me to love the gift of Creation;
Free me to love with compassion and courage.
Free me to listen to your wisdom;
Free me to pay attention to the earth;
Free me to discern where my voice is needed.
Free me to follow your prophets, ancient and new;
Free me proclaim a graced-filled vision of peace;
Free me to walk the journey to Justice.  Amen.