Reflections from the Shrine ...
The Message of Reconciliation - a Gift so Needed in Today's Divided World
As I prayed and reflected on today's gospel it seems to be so closely connected to the La Salette message of reconciliation. Today's newspaper reports and T. V. news are a constant reminder of the divisions in our Country and the difficulty of going beyond an "us against them" way of thinking. It seems our charism of reconciliation was never needed as much as it is today. Like on the cross that Our Lady wore at La Salette, we make too much use of the hammer and not enough use of the pliers.
Jesus states so clearly: "you have heard that it was said , you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." We cannot sit in judgment on others and at the same time pray for them with any sincerity. The challenge is to believe that God has no favorites. God loves us all, infinitely, with no conditions. That goes for people I love to be with as well as people I avoid for fear of getting into an argument or whose personality is very different from my own.
Jesus goes on to say our Heavenly Father sends sun and rain to the bad and the good, the just and the unjust. It takes humility to accept that God understands people better than we do. I love to suggest to a person having a difficulty accepting or in conflict with another person to try to look at that person with the eyes of Christ Our Lord. That will sometimes help the person to see the situation in another focus, perhaps to try to recognize the good points in the person as well as his "growing edges." I admit that it is often a big challenge to put into practice that advice in my own life.
This does not mean that we must accept unreasonable or destructive behavior from another. In the first reading from Leviticus, God instructs Moses: "Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen, do not incur sin because of him. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." In other words, do your reproving or anything you do, with love, patience, and trying to put yourself in the other person's shoes.
Of course, after Jesus, we have no better teacher than Mary our Mother - be it in her example in the Scriptures or in her message at La Salette. One of my favorite lines from her own words are: "If my people are converted, the very stones will become mounds of wheat and the potatoes will grow self-sown." Being Irish, I love that part about potatoes growing up everywhere.
Father John Sullivan M.S.
Scripture reflection on the Sunday readings each Tuesday morning during Lent
With the season of Lent only about two weeks away, I have been thinking of offering a scripture reflection on the Sunday readings each Tuesday morning during Lent in our cafeteria from 10:00 AM to 11:30AM. We will also have presentations from Pope Francis' Encyclical: "The Joy of the Gospel" at each session. I hope to begin the 14th of March since I will be out of town the first Tuesday of Lent which is March 7th. I hope to see many of you there. It can be a great way to spend such a special season as Lent. Father John Sullivan M.S.
Here then is the reflection for March 5 Fr. RenéNot by Bread Alone(First Sunday of Lent: Genesis 2:7-9 & 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11)Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3. The context of those words is worth noting: “The Lord let you be afflicted with hunger [in the desert]… in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.”There are two places in her message where Our Lady of La Salette echoes this thought. First she speaks of a “great famine” that is about to ravage much of Europe. Later she complains that her people eat meat all during Lent.Today, abstinence from meat is no longer universally required of Catholics except on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and the Fridays of Lent. But the challenge is still there. Mary’s point is not about a rule that has been broken, but about the meaning of Lent.The story of the Temptation of Jesus makes it clear: if we are not nourished by God’s Word, the life we live is but a shadow, a shell of what it might be. If we do not place our hope in God’s Grace which, as St. Paul writes, “overflows for the many,” even our deepest hopes cannot achieve their fullness.The serpent held out a false hope to Adam and Eve, and they brought sin and all its effects into the world. The devil held out false hopes to Jesus, but Jesus was not deceived.He does not deny the importance of bread. But bread is not enough. Psychology tells us that merely feeding a child is not sufficient for the child’s well-being. Human relationships are more essential still.The season of Lent, and the Beautiful Lady, both remind us of our need for a healthy relationship with God. Of course, material needs cannot and must not be ignored, but in another place in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells us: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Mt 6: 33).It is a good sign that Ash Wednesday, which is not a Holy Day of Obligation, is among the days that have the highest Mass attendance. Its meaning may even change from year to year. That’s a good thing, too.Fr. René