FROM OUR EDITORS—February 25, 2018 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ February 20, 2018

192

“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” These are God the Father’s words about Jesus at the Transfiguration. God speaks in the imperative, making his words a command. Do it! He leaves us no wiggle room. He tells us to listen to Jesus—not only when it’s convenient but also when it feels inconvenient, not only when it’s popular but also when it’s unpopular, not only when we’re wide awake but also when we’re tired, not only when we have time but also when we’re busy… You get the picture. “Listen to him.”

Lent is a good time to make sure that we’re tuning in to the voice of Jesus. In the midst of so much noise and static, we need to focus our attention on the sound of his voice…and listen to him. Really listen. Not like I sometimes “listen” to my husband. Oh, I hear him speaking, but my mind is often focused on something else. I’m not truly listening.

We find the words of Jesus in the Gospels. We hear the words of Jesus in our hearts…IF we open the Bible to read the Gospels and listen to the Word proclaimed at Mass and IF we quiet our minds and bodies in order to hear Jesus speaking to our hearts through prayer.

How well are you listening to God’s beloved Son? What noises do you need to tune out in order to better “tune in” to our Savior’s voice?

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

Image credit: pexels.com [CC0]

 

FROM OUR EDITORS—February 18, 2018 – 1st Sunday of Lent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ February 13, 2018

188

 

Find Lenten activities at the end of this reflection.
Find Lessons for RCIA Scrutinies here
.

This Sunday’s Gospel begins with “The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert.” I find this wording striking and worth reflection. The Spirit drove him. This word means to compel, force, or prod. Perhaps Jesus, in his humanity, was much like us and needed to be prodded to do things that would be good for him (and others) but that would involve some sacrifice. Jesus knew the day was coming when he would begin his public ministry, yet he also knew that this would lead to opposition, rejection, and execution. The Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the desert for a period of fasting and prayer in preparation for all that was to come.

Whether we look forward to Lent for the opportunity to focus on ways to grow closer to our Lord or feel as if our whole year has been a Lent of sorts, the Holy Spirit and the Church prod us to use these 40 days well. Make your sacrifice this Lent count for something. Choose an action that will help bring you closer to our Lord and the person he calls you to be. Whether that is sacrificing some sleep or screen time for prayer or cutting out an indulgence that will help you be more mindful of those who have less, make it count. (Doing something extra also involves sacrifice.) Keep in mind the great sacrifice Jesus made for us. We pray that you will respond willingly to the Holy Spirit’s prodding and trust that God will lead you through personal sacrifice to the abundance of his Kingdom.

We have quite a few Lenten resources to share. You may use some now as Lent begins and throughout the season:

Seeds: Lent Begins (English and Spanish)
Promise: What Jesus Asks Us to Do in Lent (English and Spanish)
Good News: Let’s Learn About Lent
Good News: What Is Lent All About?
Venture: Get Your Lenten Facts Together
Venture: Grade Yourself This Lent
Visions: What Is Lent All About?
Visions: A Quiz for Champions at the Beginning of Lent
Visions: Analogies for Lent
Catholic Culture: A Prayer Service for Ash Wednesday
Catholic Culture: Lenten Fast and Abstinence
Catholic Culture: Why Ashes on Ash Wednesday?

Check Lesson Updates regularly.

Image credit: P.RAZZO/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS —February 11, 2018 – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ February 5, 2018

184

As we approach the beginning of Lent, reflecting on this Sunday’s Gospel about the leper who wishes to be made clean is good preparation for us. We may ask ourselves: In what ways do we need Jesus’ help to be “made clean”? A helpful Lenten prayer may be “A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit” (Psalm 51:12). Then our Easter joy will reflect Jesus’ promise in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

With Ash Wednesday on February 14, we have quite a few Lenten resources to share. You may use some in preparation for Lent, as Lent begins, and throughout the season:

Seeds: Lent Begins (English and Spanish)
Promise: What Jesus Asks Us to Do in Lent (English and Spanish)
Good News: Let’s Learn About Lent
Good News: What Is Lent All About?
Venture: Get Your Lenten Facts Together
Venture: Grade Yourself This Lent
Visions: What Is Lent All About?
Visions: A Quiz for Champions at the Beginning of Lent
Visions: Analogies for Lent
Catholic Culture: A Prayer Service for Ash Wednesday
Catholic Culture: Lenten Fast and Abstinence
Catholic Culture: Why Ashes on Ash Wednesday?

 
Check Lesson Updates regularly.

Image credit: Valérie BAERISWYL/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS —February 4, 2018 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ January 30, 2018

181

The Gospel of Mark portrays Jesus as a man of action, a man on the move. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus has left the synagogue where he had taught and drove out a demon. Upon entering the home of Peter and Andrew, he learns that Peter’s mother-in-law is sick with fever. He heals her. As evening comes on this already full day, “they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.” Jesus cured many who were sick and drove out many demons.

Early the next morning, Jesus went off to a quiet place to pray. His followers found him there and said, “Everyone is looking for you.” Jesus led them to nearby villages where he preached and healed and drove out demons “throughout the whole of Galilee.”

Whew! What a tiring pace. But notice what Jesus does—he puts limits on what he does and anchors himself in prayer. He cured “many” who were sick—not all. He made time to pray as he began a new day. And instead of staying where everyone was looking for him, Jesus moved on to other villages.

It’s easy to feel pulled in many directions and try to meet the demands and needs of everyone. What we often sacrifice when we live this way is self-care and taking time for regular prayer. If we follow Jesus’ lead and start each day with prayer, our priorities will sort themselves out and we will feel freer to set healthy limits.

 

Image credit: Diana Lapshina/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS —January 28, 2018 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ January 23, 2018

175

Sunday’s Gospel tells us that Jesus taught with “authority.” You may be thinking, “Well, of course, Jesus is God, so he would teach with authority.” While we’re not fully human and fully divine as Jesus was, we too can teach with authority.

Building on the authority that comes from Sacred Scripture, the teachings of Christ, and the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church, the witness of your life is a vital part of teaching authoritatively. The National Directory for Catechesis (US) reads:

“Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, catechists powerfully influence those being catechized by their faithful proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the transparent example of their Christian lives. For catechesis to be effective, catechists must be fully committed to Jesus Christ. They must firmly believe in his Gospel and its power to transform lives” (29E).

Involvement in the ministry of catechesis is both a privilege and awesome responsibility. It’s important to keep in mind that we’re involved in God’s work, and the Holy Spirit will guide our efforts. We encourage you to begin your planning for each lesson with a prayer for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Then invite the Holy Spirit to share your class by saying a quick and sincere prayer before students arrive. Follow the Spirit’s lead, and you may find that you’re teaching—and living—the faith with more confidence, authority, and joy than ever before!

 

Image credit: P.RAZZO/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS —January 21, 2018 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ January 9, 2018

174

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus calls his first Apostles. I think there must be something meaningful in the fact that they were fishermen. These men didn’t simply enjoy fishing as a hobby. They made their livelihoods from the fish they caught in the Sea of Galilee.

What little I know for certain about fishing is that it requires patience. Jesus told these first followers, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). Their mission of being “fishers of men” is also our mission as followers of Christ today. Just what does this involve?

I think being a “fisher of men” may look a bit different in each of our lives, but I’m certain that it requires patience from all of us. Consider your patient witness…to a spouse or friend who may not share your passion for your faith; to children—your own or those in your classroom—who often try your patience; to the people in your workplace, on the highway, in the grocery store, or in your parish whose values are so clearly of this world and not of the kingdom Jesus came to proclaim. And then there’s the toughest challenge of all—being patient with ourselves.

We’ve long heard that “faith is caught, not taught.” May your witness—however flawed—catch those God is trying to reach through you. Be patient with yourself and others and keep walking the path of faith. Ultimately, the task of catechesis is God’s work to accomplish. Do your part and trust God to do the rest.

 

Image credit: Laurent LARCHER/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS —January 14, 2018 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ January 9, 2018

162o

A lot happens in the eight verses of Sunday’s Gospel: John the Baptist points out Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” two of John’s disciples follow Jesus and spend time with him, Andrew tells his brother Simon that Jesus is the Messiah and then introduces Simon to Jesus, Jesus gives Simon the new name of Peter.

Sometimes it works that way in our lives too—one significant event leads to another and another. Yet more often, we encounter Christ and his invitation in the everyday events of life. As we muddle through an ordinary day, we hear Jesus say, “Come, and you will see,” through common people or events.

Through big events and seemingly small ones, we can expect to encounter Christ if we seek him. In our busy lives and world, there are many distractions. We pray that you’re able to focus on the things that matter most and find Christ whenever and wherever you seek him.

 

Image credit: PLRANG ART/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS —January 14, 2018 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ January 2, 2018

A lot happens in the eight verses of Sunday’s Gospel: John the Baptist points out Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” two of John’s disciples follow Jesus and spend time with him, Andrew tells his brother Simon that Jesus is the Messiah and then introduces Simon to Jesus, Jesus gives Simon the new name of Peter.

Sometimes it works that way in our lives too—one significant event leads to another and another. Yet more often, we encounter Christ and his invitation in the everyday events of life. As we muddle through an ordinary day, we hear Jesus say, “Come, and you will see,” through common people or events.

Through big events and seemingly small ones, we can expect to encounter Christ if we seek him. In our busy lives and world, there are many distractions. We pray that you’re able to focus on the things that matter most and find Christ whenever and wherever you seek him.

FROM OUR EDITORS — December 25, 2017 & January 7, 2018 – Christmas & Epiphany

Author: Joan McKamey ~ December 19, 2017

165

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

This ending to the poem, “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Victorian poet Christina Rosetti (1830–1894), is one of my favorites. Although we don’t know the exact timing of Jesus’ birth and have reason to believe it was in the spring rather than “bleak midwinter,” the poet’s humble realization that the best she can offer Jesus is her heart rings with resounding—and challenging—truth.

What does Jesus most want from us? Our hearts! If we adopt the Beatitude humility of the “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3), we will acknowledge our dependence on God for everything and offer him our hearts as our best gift. Much like the little drummer boy, our lives will then “play our best” for him.

We pray you all have a blessed Christmas season, one that’s rich with the realization of God’s abundant love and blessings in your lives.

 

Image credit: Alessia GIULIANI/CPP/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS — Sunday, December 24 – 4th Sunday of Advent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ December 11, 2017

162

Advent is winding down very quickly this year. The 4th Sunday of Advent is the only day in this final week of Advent. It could easily be eclipsed by the celebration of Christmas Eve later that day.

From Sunday morning to Sunday evening, we’ll fast-forward nine months—from conception to birth. The Sunday Gospel is the story of the Annunciation, proclaimed recently on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The key message of this Gospel for me is that Mary said yes—to being the mother of God’s Son and to surrendering to God’s will for her life. We, like Mary, are called to be Christ-bearers in the world. We, too, are called to surrender our lives to God’s will.

Don’t lose the message of this 4th Sunday of Advent or skip over this opportunity to consider the ways God calls you to say yes with your life. Once you’ve done that, go ahead and celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas with an even greater sense of its meaning.

 

Image credit: Romolo Tavani/Shutterstock.com

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