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2013-2014 Gospel Reflections

April 27, 2014 - Second Sunday of Easter - Sunday of Divine Mercy

posted Apr 21, 2014, 10:45 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:12 PM ]

Gospel of Gospel of John 20: 19-31

Jim's Reflection

Don't Miss Out Like Thomas

"I can be a Catholic without going to Church."  I've heard it many times from young people and adults...we see it after some youth get Confirmed.  And I've always disagreed.

Why?  Because of Thomas.

Thomas was gone when Jesus appeared to the Apostles.  Then he had trouble believing when the Apostles told him about it.  He only believed when he saw Jesus with them.

The message is this:  we need a Catholic Christian community to really believe in the Resurrection.  It's the community that gives us the strength, challenge and guidance to act as we believe.

Notice that Jesus gave the Apostles peace and mission while they were gathered.  The same is true today.  It's in our Catholic Christian community--Mass, service-learning trips, Youth Ministry, Emmaus, liturgical ministries, retreats, even phone calls to friends, that we most fully find Jesus' peace, remember our mission, and receive strength to act as we believe.  If we never worship, never talk about our faith, or never serve with other Catholics, pretty soon we'll find it harder to believe.  And our actions might not show that we believe in a savior who calls us to live radically different lives because he rose from the dead.

We have an inviting, welcoming community here at St. Anne's, we're all a part of it....stay in touch!

April 13, 2014 - Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

posted Apr 8, 2014, 11:32 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:11 PM ]

Gospel of Matthew 26:14 to 27:66

Kristenne's Reflection
Today's gospel is quite a narrative. We hear the story of a man's journey to his death. We see him pray because he is troubled by what God has sent him to do. We see him betrayed by his closest friends. We see him judged by others and sentenced to death in the most cruelest and humiliating of ways. And yet, we see a man, who although struggles, shows us that we can be reborn even in the darkest situations.

When I was kid, I noticed the Christ's Passion story was usually met with observations of great sorrow and solemn moments. Sometimes people were so overwhelmed that they cried. I recall crying a couple of times too because I was so mad to see someone die who didn't deserve to die. I thought, "It's not fair! Why should he die? Why did people not see who he was?" It frustrated me because, in the Gospel, they judged him so harshly that it led to Jesus' death. I wonder if other people ever had that same thought.

Now that I'm a little bit older and have spent time lectoring and discussing readings with other people, I've come to see something more than I originally did when I was a kid. I felt sad because a man was beaten and killed and no one defended him. And yet, at Mass today, we will be the crowd to yell, "Crucify him!" When we look at the story from the outside looking in, we become like Pilate washing our hands of the situation saying we are not responsible.

But we are.

We go through each and everyday making mistakes because we are human. Sometimes we accept those mistakes and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes we are too ashamed to take the blame and we don't give ourselves and others the chance to forgive. We deny Jesus in those moments of when we can't own up to our faults. And more so when we don't accept others for who they are because we judge too quickly.

I work at an after school program with 6th-8th graders and they can be a handful. One day, the students were acting up and being extra rowdy that it stressed me to the point where I felt broken and couldn't take it anymore. To make matters worse  two of the students snuck off to a nearby coffee shop. The students aren't supposed to leave the campus unless a staff is with them and the drinks they bought were full of sugar.

When I saw them hiding trying to come back in though the parking garage, I was so mad I was about to lash out all my frustrations from the day at them. To yell at them saying they made a wrong choice and that they were being irresponsible.

I was about to, but I didn't. Instead, I took a deep breath and asked them to hand over the drinks. I asked them to explain to me what happened and why they chose to do what they did. It was not easy to do this, but I listened with an open mind and heart. After the initial rude comments we got to the reason of why the two of them left. It was because they were hungry.

We can often forget that people have the simplest needs in their lives and that usually they don't act out of hate or cruelty, but out of desperation. Jesus shows us that we should try to understand that and accept the people around us. If we don't try, we will  be doing the same thing they did in this gospel. And we might not even realize it. Let us pray for guidance during that time and even when it feels like the task ahead is impossible, that there will always be hope.

Alfred's Reflection

I find it hard to say anything at all about the Gospel reading. Every time I read it or watch a depiction of the Lord’s Passion, I get overwhelmed because there is so much going on and the significance of it all makes me just want to sit in reflective silence. To soak it all in.

"The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Jesus said this to his disciples when they could not stay awake and pray with him while he agonized about his upcoming suffering and death. Most of us think that we’d be there for our best friend in their time of need. Even more so that we’d be there for Jesus. The disciples wanted to do the right thing but something kept them from doing it.

"The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." I wonder if Jesus is saying this to us now. I like to think of myself as good person and I try to do the right thing all the time, but there are often times that I wonder if I do enough. Am I doing enough to help make sure that the poor are fed? or that everyone has access to higher education and employment? Am I reaching out to get to know and help strangers? I should be doing these things and want to. What is getting in the way? The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

"The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." So, here we are at the beginning of Holy Week. Jesus is calling us to stay with him and to pray. What for? How about a prayer of thanksgiving for the Eucharist, that we become more worthy of Heaven in sharing a meal with Christ? Or maybe a prayer to say sorry for the sins that we commit that add to Jesus’ burden as he pays the price for those sins by dying and going to Hell? Or a prayer of gladness and joy that Jesus’ resurrection makes it possible for us to go to Heaven? The important thing is to pray alongside Jesus, to have a conversation to God the Father.

It is time to make both the spirit and the flesh willing to answer Jesus’ call. What is more important than saying yes and having His back?

March 23, 2014 - 3rd Sunday of Lent

posted Mar 17, 2014, 10:40 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:15 PM ]

Gospel of John 4: 5-42

Tine's Reflection
As I prepare myself for this upcoming weekend and the confirmation topic that we will be discussing as a large group, I can't help but gravitate towards a very specific line from this reading. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” To me, the water represents our faith in God and faith in ourselves.

These lines stood out to me as I reflect upon my own faith. It is easy to say that we practice our faith. We go to church. We take part in service projects. We go to confirmation every other Sunday. It is easy to have faith and believe in God when things are good. Why question anything when everything is going right in the world? When things are good, we drink all of those experiences in without question.

It is when things are bad that some begin to question God, question faith and question why things are happening. That is why it is important to know and realize that the faith given to us by God never leaves us. When we live a life following His teachings, His blessings and His work, we are able to drink in all of those experiences, good and bad, without question, because we have faith in Him.

We drink water, but how many of us drink His water? We practice our faith, but how many people actually LIVE our faith?

I see a difference in practicing faith and living it. Many go through the motions of faith because it is what is expected of them. Rather than physically being faithful, I think it is important that we are emotionally and mentally faithful as well. Don't go to church because you should. Go to church because it is an experience that will bring you closer to Him. Don't just do the homework because you need to in order to get confirmed. Do the homework so you have a better understanding of His teachings, His values and the religion we share. Don't do service projects or help those in need because it is an assignment or you need hours for school. Do it because helping others, giving of yourself to others, is a selfless act that brings joy and happiness to someone else.

"The water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." When you live a life of faith, when the things you say and do reflect the teachings of God, you will never be devoid of the waters that is faith in God and faith in ourselves. Drink His water and live your faith.

Ernest's Reflection
The Samaritan woman saw Jesus, talked to Jesus, and believed in his
words.And Spread his word to others! It kinda made me connect to the chorus lyrics of the Drake Song "Hold on We're Coming Home":

"I got my eyes on you
You're everything that I see
I want your high love and emotion endlessly
I can't get over you
You left your mark on me
I want your high love and emotion endlessly"

If we worship, trust and love God, He will give us everlasting love and life back to us.

Through the good and bad all we have to do us just hold on, and we'll be home with him after our time here on earth.

In addition, I want to add, that the lesson about preaching good news is important. As the Samaritan woman passed on the news that Jesus was there, he was able to reach so many other people than just her. In these days of social media, it feels like the stories and attitudes passed on are more negative than positive. We should be able to share the good, and praise one another a lot more than complain and be sad. God gives us these opportunities to share good news, but sometimes we choose not to. Let's do that more eh?

Jeffy's Reflection
"… but no one who drinks the water that I shall give will ever be thirsty again: the water that I shall give will become a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life."

This verse stood out to me because of the way Jesus said, the water that I shall give will become a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life.

Jesus use of the word water in the verse, is saying that if you don’t get the water from some other place, you will always be thirsty and not satisfied.

Everyday we get thirsty and we take a drink of our favorite beverage to satisfy our thirst. When we go to church, the readings and the gospel is Jesus’s way of giving us the water we need to satisfy the thirst of life, what we, as Christians need to be satisfied, refreshed, and live life as Jesus wanted us to do.

The way we use water, Jesus is telling us something. We use water to cleans our body when it gets dirty (wash away sin), nourishes us when we our thirsty (give us sustenance), cools us down when we get too hot (when sin and evil is overwhelming us).

Water is around us every day, in different types of brands just as sin is around us. There are people who will put things in the water we drink to make us sick. As Catholics, we are always thirsty for the Word of God to help us through our life journey, we just need to make sure we are drinking from the one right one.

March 9, 2014 - 1st Sunday of Lent

posted Mar 4, 2014, 9:01 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:24 PM ]

Gospel of Matthew 4: 1-11

Ali's Reflection
As we prepare for another season of Lent and as I reflect on this week’s Gospel, the word that comes to mind is discipline. Jesus’ encounters with the devil, reminded me of the days when I was a much younger and more fit person than I am now. I believe a lot of the reason I was probably that way was because of my participation in a martial arts discipline in my early teens. But in order to get earn my black belt, I had to endure numerous tests, which I had to complete after each belt rank. It didn’t get any easier as I progressed up, and it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park come time for the black belt test. The black belt test wasn’t just one test either; it was more like a bunch of tests combined throughout weeks of training, which included all aspects of the art, ranging from stamina and endurance exercises, to technique and forms routines, to demonstrating poise and power by breaking objects, and even mental and spiritual preparation through memorizing terminology and reciting doctrine by heart. My teachers and trainers didn’t make it easy at all; they pushed me to my body’s limits, scrutinized me, and were even outright cruel at times as they criticized me and my classmates. It would have been all too easy to just give in and fold to pressures of wanting to relieve the pain and difficulty of it all, but somehow I didn’t.

As I look back at my experience, I realize it might seem like a superficial example of self-discipline. But what got me through the tests is essentially what matters most and is what I think the Gospel reading is trying to emphasize around Jesus’ ability to resist the temptations of the devil. The gifts of knowledge, wisdom, discernment and courage. The inner virtues of fortitude, modesty, humility, and temperance are what may have helped Jesus pull through and conquer over temptation. And ultimately, God blessed us with the power of choice to help us discern some of the toughest decisions in our lives. As a young person, in today’s society, it may never have been anymore daunting and overwhelming a period in one’s life to be tempted and tested, given the pressures of media, peers, bullying, the desire to stand out or fit in, and even just the mere nature of growing as an adolescent.

With that said, I’ve come to really appreciate the season of Lent because it can most certainly be a time of reflection and disciplining ourselves, but through an intent focus on improving our relationship with God and what He asks of us on a daily basis. During Lent, we are reminded to turn to prayer for guidance to make decisions. We fast as a way to discipline our innate impulses and be modest with what possessions we are given in life. We participate in alms giving to show our humility and prioritize service. While Jesus spent 40 days and nights alone praying and disciplining himself, I think Lent, for us, is meant to be the total opposite and is not a time to be completely alone. We can draw closer to God by reflecting with others on our actions and how we are with one another, how we treat one another, and how we serve and respect those whom we may find ourselves least likely to help and acknowledge. Use these next 40 days not just to focus on yourself but also on your relationships to people in your life and how you have an impact on them, however close or distant they may be.

For those having difficulty deciding on what to focus on, consider these suggestions: Avoid putting priority on material things or possessions (modesty), resist using power for doing foolish things just to impress others (humility), refuse to cooperate with evil and injustice to achieve life’s goals (temperance & patience). Pray about how you choose to focus your offerings this Lenten season. Seek ways to discipline yourself and answer the call towards discipleship.

Harland's Reflection
Today’s gospel reminds me of the challenges, tests, difficulties, and temptations we all face on a daily basis. Personally, I wasn’t fully aware and didn’t clearly see temptation in front of me when I was younger. I always defaulted to going with the flow and made decisions with less scrutiny and more recklessness. This often times got me in trouble and produced some well-deserved scolding and lecturing from my parents. However, with my accelerating age, these challenges and temptations are becoming more abundantly clear to me. They are always constant, and consistently challenge my faith and relationship with God. This burden can all be a bit overwhelming at times and truly test us. The important thing to figure out is to consider how we deal with all this pressure that comes to us. I have my own method that has worked well for me and it's pretty simple.

First off, I have always looked to God for guidance, trying to relate my problems to His life and seeing if I can draw any parallels that will help me in a certain situation. Often times that is enough for me to make a good decision. Secondly, I seek counsel from friends and family. The people closest to me tend to find a way to give advice and support me with whatever choices I make. They provide helpful perspective when my vision is clouded by outside factors and help me see clearly. Lastly, I have learned to trust in myself and my decision making because it is rooted in faith, and supported by my true friends and loved ones.

With Lent approaching, I hope we all use it as an opportunity to grow in our faith. Look for ways to not only give superficial objects up for 40 days, but also seek ways to grow as a person of faith. I challenge you all to find time to connect with your loved ones and most importantly God. Dig deep within, be truthful to yourselves, and become better people. Find time for prayer and personal reflection and be open and willing to share what you learn with others.

February 23, 2014 - 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted Feb 14, 2014, 10:19 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:16 PM ]

Gospel of Matthew 5: 38-48

Kristenne's Reflection
In this week’s gospel, we are challenged to put ourselves in a vulnerable position. We are asked, in a way, to stop for a moment from trying to get ahead and instead be aware of other people in our lives. We are told to put ourselves in place to get hurt. Essentially, we are invited to show unconditional love.
It’s uncomfortable to listen to the first part of the gospel. Offer them both cheeks? No thank you. However, what I think it means is to have an open heart. Jesus hung on the cross in pain and what did he do to those that teased him? He said “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”
He forgave us. And we killed him.
To show unconditional love is not just to be nice to those who are nice to us, it also means to be forgiving and open to those that hurt us. It is the hardest thing to do when someone hurts you, but in the end you both come out stronger and in better shape than if you resorted to hitting back.
There was a time when one of my closest friends and I had a falling out. We had been friends for so long until tensions rose and we just stopped speaking to one another.
That time had been really painful for me because I felt like I lost a part of me that I sadly took for granted. It required a lot of courage to own up to that and I hoped to salvage our relationship. However, when I admitted to that and tried to talk to that person, I found out that they had done something so wrong towards me. It felt like a stab in the back multiple times. I felt replaced and dejected and all I wanted to do was the exact same thing back towards them.
It would have felt good to stab them right back, I thought. But in my prayers to God of confusion and hurt and pain and crying and feelings of betrayal (and conversations with other friends), I realized that I did not want to lose my integrity of doing something like that to someone I considered a friend…however long or short ago.
I am glad to say, that we are on much better terms today and I feel better knowing that I didn’t do something to wrong them back. I am nowhere near perfect of course, because there were some jabs here and there. And it was not an easy or short journey, but that experience taught me that love for everyone (including yourself) is what will make this world a better place to live in.
And that...I could have been one less best friend if I didn’t learn how express unconditional love.

Alfred’s Reflection
"When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well." Jesus asks us to do some very hard things in the Gospels. Often, I think we get stuck on the hard part and we don’t hear why doing that hard thing is important. How many of us heard that one line and replayed that over and over in our head, visualized it, while the rest of the Gospel was read? Letting someone hurt you again doesn't make sense.

Back when I was on my high school cross country team, I remember running intervals. That's where you alternate between jogging and sprinting. Jog for two minutes, sprint for 30 seconds, jog for one minute... It's kind of fun... for a while. Then you get to that point where the coach whistles and your brain orders your legs: "Full speed ahead" (again). And your legs respond with: "What, again?!" or "Why" or, simply, "No". Why would a coach make long distance runners sprint? The answer comes when you are able to pass others on an uphill climb and pick up the pace towards the finish line.

Similarly, Jesus asks us to do something that is counter to our human nature in order to embrace our heavenly nature. You've got cross country and track coaches, basketball coaches, volleyball coaches. Jesus is our Heaven coach. Those other coaches train us to physical extremes so we can win. Jesus challenges us to our spiritual extremes, to love beyond the limit, so that we can get to heaven.

So, set aside the stuff about turning the other cheek. That's not the point. The point that Jesus is trying to drill into us is: Do not hold a grudge when we get wronged, dissed, messed with, hurt. Let it go. Grudges are negative energy that grows and festers and wears us down. Grudges keep us away from the people we should love. Jesus wants us to spirit bend the dark energy of grudges into the positive energy of love.

There's a popular movie in the theaters right now. It has a song number in it where one of the heroines sings of a lifetime of resentment and hurt and the burden of keeping it all locked in. She "Let's It Go." But I think that she mixed up Jesus' lessons. In the movie, she hurt someone else. Instead, in the process of "letting it go", she isolates herself from everyone, from those she loves and from those who love her.

Jesus would have told her: When you hurt someone else, you beg forgiveness. When you are hurt by someone else, that is when you let it go.

Jesus was fully human. There's a story in the Gospel about him trying to teach the Good Good News in his home town. How did they react? They threw him out! They said things like: "Who is this guy talking to us about God?" "Isn't that Joseph's kid from around the block?" "What's a woodworker telling me about my relationship with God?" How bad would you feel? Did Jesus act out? Did he turn everyone into toads? He easily could have, but he kept himself in check. Jesus expressed his disappointment and moved on to find people who were open to learning from him.

We only have so many hours in the day, a limited time on this earth, and we have to choose where we spend our time and energy. Jesus does not want us to waste it by dwelling on past hurts. Jesus wants to use our time and energy on the good that we can do. We should use our time on this earth to train and practice so that we make it to the Heavenly Big Game. Can we all agree that is what it is all about?

February 9, 2014 - 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted Feb 6, 2014, 10:18 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:16 PM ]

Gospel of Matthew 5: 13-16

Samantha's Reflection
The line that stood out to me was, “You are the light of the world.”  What automatically comes to mind is the youth, as if Jesus was speaking directly to them.  When I think of the youth I think of their energy and enthusiasm.  My hope is that young people use their energy, enthusiasm, and talents to do things like help the less fortunate, as it says in the first reading, and to share God’s word even though one may not feel fully confident with it, as it says in the second reading.  We may feel like we don’t have anything particularly enlightening or valuable to share, but we should have faith that God will find a way to speak through each of us.

The other lines that stood out to me were the last ones: “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds, and glorify your heavenly Father.”  To me this says, live your life in such a way that when people meet you, they think, he has a good spirit about him. Or, she has a kind, warm spirit about her.  Help others in need.  Stand up for others who cannot stand up for themselves.  Praise and give thanks to God- on your own, and in front of others who may not know God.  These are just some of my own ideas about how to be the light of the world and glorify God… pray about how you can “shine before others.”

I realize that this word is not just for the youth of course, it speaks to all of us.  So all of us should think, How am I going to be the light of the world?  How will I be remembered?    

January 26, 2014 - 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

posted Jan 23, 2014, 7:21 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:16 PM ]

Gospel of Matthew 4: 12-23

Mel’s Reflection
Many of us are familiar with this Bible story where Jesus poetically calls his first disciples to follow Him.  It is a poignant and touching scene: two men with their own financial, emotional and spiritual struggles are so moved by their faith in God that they surrender the life they had lived in order to follow Jesus.  In past readings I would be quick to notice Andrew and Peter’s encounter with Jesus, but this time I found myself noticing Jesus’ side of the story.  What struck me about this Gospel is the fact that Jesus begins His ministry during a time of personal turmoil.  He hears news that John—his kinsmen and most ardent supporter—is arrested for preaching God’s message.  As I read this Gospel I was wondering how Jesus must have felt to discover that someone He loved was being jailed and taken away from Him.  Despite the worry and anguish this must of caused Jesus, He responds with great courage and trust in God.  Jesus bravely continues the job that John began; in spite of the risks involved with preaching God’s message.

This observation made me recall a time when I had responded with a courageous act of faith in God, even when I was faced with the risks involved with being Catholic.  Back in high school, I was timid to talk about my faith.  I avoided the subject with my peers to protect myself from being questioned or even taunted about my commitment to the church.  I was already dubbed a “nerd” and I definitely didn’t want to known as a “Christian nerd” either. But finally I went to college, where I found my tribe.  As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, my Catholic-Christian identity began to blossom and I found myself becoming more comfortable to talk with others (even those who weren’t Christian) about my love for God.  I was so sure of my relationship with God: going to mass and reading the Bible every week, flying to the Philippines one summer to live an orphanage and experience God’s love with other Christians.  Yet at the height of my confidence in my faith in God, I found myself romantically involved with someone who did not share my faith and Catholic beliefs.

I was in that on-and-off again relationship for seven years.  It is a struggle to try to make a relationship work without both partners recognizing that God must be present to help remind us His lessons of love, understanding, patience and grace.  Finally after a year of prayer and reflection on God’s Word; I realized that my relationship with this man was getting in the way of my relationship with God.  When I had gathered up the courage to re-assert my Catholic-Christian identity and re-affirm my belief that my relationship with God is my sole priority, I was exposing myself to the risks of being a devoted Catholic.  Despite my fears that I would be rejected and alienated by my boyfriend at the time, I put all of my trust in God.  Re-committing myself to my spiritual relationship with God by ending my romantic relationship was one of the best decisions of my life.

This Sunday’s Gospel reminds me to stay true to my faith in God even in tough times; in spite of the possibility of being ostracized or rejected by others.  Just as Jesus lost one friend but gained two, courageous acts of faith in our God may seem intimidating at times but with God’s wisdom and guidance we will discover that when it comes to being faithful to God, the rewards always outweigh the risks. 

Chris' Reflection
This Gospel is a really powerful one. In the second part of the reading, Jesus meets two brothers. He asks them to drop all that they have and leave with Jesus, with barely any hesitation they do just that. They become the first disciples of Christ and together the 3 of them helped spread the word of God.

I really admire Peter and Andrew for the devotion they showed. They left their jobs, their family, everything and trusted in God. They recognized their calling and their higher purpose and they seized it. It was very courageous of them.

To be honest, readings like this make me question my own faith. I know I believe in God. I try to be thankful for all God’s blessings and live by God’s teachings as best I can. What I question is: would I be able to drop everything in my life if God asked me to? I don’t know if I could. It would be really hard to leave everything behind, my family, my friends, all the comforts of my life. I would probably question if it was really God calling me, or why God would ask that of me. It would take me a while to decide what to do. I don’t think I could just leave like the two disciples did.

Maybe I do have the courage, but I don’t know. This might be one of those cases where you’ll never really know how you’ll respond until the situation actually presents itself. For now, my focus is on putting others before myself. That’s how I try to live out this Gospel. it’s calling us to think bigger than our daily lives and daily distractions. It’s calling us to go out and help others. Even if I’m not throwing out all my possessions to roam the world, I hope that the small sacrifices I make for others can add up to something big enough to be worthy of God.

January 12, 2014 - Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

posted Jan 8, 2014, 10:28 PM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:18 PM ]

Gospel of Matthew 3: 13-17

Ernest’s Reflection
As I read this gospel reading, the part where John feels like he's not worthy to baptize Jesus really stood out to me.

recap (of how it went down in my head)
Jesus: Baptize me, John.
John: Forreals? You're supposed to be baptizing me? Not the other way around!
Jesus: It's cool, you can do it.
John: Ok, jump in the river.
[enter God]
God: I'm happy.

It was a cool reflection of how humble Jesus is. Although he is  the Son of God, he still thought it was right to have a regular man baptize him.  This made me think of how the new Pope Francis took selfie pictures with teenagers. Dude, you're the pope! What a cool gesture! Its a reminder of how we are all equal, no matter where you stand in our church and in our society. '

This quote that I found online said "You have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce." We look so highly at some people that are gifted/talented and Not on our level, but in reality we're more similar than we think!

We always try to argue on who's the best, or who has the better clothes, or who's better at one thing or another. Sure some of us have more  experience and focus in different aspects of life, but we're still all people and human beings and we should remember that.  Humble ourselves like Jesus teaches! And instead of one-upping people, why don't we teach each other to make each of us better?

Jim always taught us in Emmaus that we shouldn't use the word "you" when addressing a group. the word " We" includes all of us, and it recognizes that we're all in this together.

Jeffy's Reflection
As I read the gospel passage, the words that stood out were,"as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove..."

For me, the reading has a sense of a waking. When Jesus came up from the river and opened his eyes, everything was bright and clear. Like when you wake up in the morning and wash your face, you feel awake. Or when you go swimming and when you come up from the water, you clear your eyes to see.

The reading is telling us to wash our eyes of doubt and fear of not seeing God’s presence. When we ask God for something, we want to see it right away and when we don’t get, we get mad. We often ask God, why weren’t you there when I needed you.

God’s presence is around us and we just need to open our eyes a little bit wider. When I was growing my mom had this saying that still makes sense till this day. My mom would ask me to find something and I would say, I can’t find it. "She would then say, "Look with your eyes, not your mouth."

As a society and as Catholics, we tend to look for God where we want him to be. But if we open our eyes and look harder, God is right there with us. God show’s himself to us in ways we are not aware of.

The dove is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. In confirmation, we are asked to renew our baptism. Just like Jesus was baptized and saw the Holy Spirit, you too will see the Holy Spirit in your own way. I am reminded of a quote from a movie, “…her Love is like the wind. I can’t see it, but I can feel it." God’s love and presence is right in front of us. We just have be willing to look with our eyes and not our mouth.

Tine's Reflection
A phrase this this week's reading that stood out to me was was John said to Jesus “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?”

This stood out to me because it is always an interesting dynamic when assumed roles are changed from the norm. John expected to be baptized, yet it is Jesus who is looking to be baptized by John. I found that to be extremely interesting because as an elementary school teacher, my students find it weird when I say, "I may be the teacher, but I learn from you." I often look to my students for answers and see where their thinking during class discussions will take us. Instead of having a clear-cut route, I let their opinions and voices be heard, dictating where the learning with lead. At first, they had a hard time understanding that I wasn't going to lecture, that I was allowing them to be participants in their learning. Often times, they don't believe that I allow them the open space to discuss classroom topics, much like John didn't believe that Jesus expected him to baptize Jesus.

I see Jesus as a very humble person in this passage. While He is our God, He also realizes that righteousness is to be fulfilled. Much like my classroom, while I am the teacher (and my students recognize that authoritative figure in me), I also realize that giving my students the space to share their thinking and guide their learning is a valuable aspect to their education. Just as Jesus allowed John to baptize Him and be an active participant in the prophecy, I must find a way to teach my students the required material while allowing them to be an active participant in their learning.

December 8, 2013 - 2nd Sunday of Advent

posted Dec 6, 2013, 8:45 AM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:13 PM ]

Gospel of Matthew 3: 1-12

Kat’s Reflection
Just recently, I had a string of health issues come up. I didn't expect them at all because I thought I was doing everything right. I exercised 6 days a week. I ate healthy most of the time. I don't smoke, drink heavily or do drugs. At a recent female check up, my blood pressure was higher than normal. It was really high, enough that the doctor I was seeing made another appointment for me to see my primary care physician to get checked out.

My primary care physician initially thought this was a fluke. My BP would come down within the 2 week waiting period before my re-check. My only instructions were to control my salt intake to a low-salt diet and continue working out and doing what I was doing. However, I love my salty foods (in decent portions of course). I crave that more than sweets. Did you know that we're only to have one teaspoon of salt a day? It's a major factor when it comes to high blood pressure. Even though I knew to cut out the salt, I really didn't do it fully. I justified the instructions with my thought of, "if I change how I really eat, then it's not going to give them a true reading of how I really am. Why should I change then?"

How often do we hear good advice and not listen to it? I heard several people tell me the same exact thing. My mom, some close friends, the nurse, THE DOCTOR. I didn't even listen to the doctor, the expert in my health issue. I hear advice about a subject and even give the same advice. When I find myself in that same predicament, I don't follow their nor my own suggestions. It's hard to do, even though the advice is clearly understandable.

When John the Baptist is telling the Pharisees and the Sadducees to repent and prepare, they don't truly understand the weight of what his message is. He couldn't have been more blunt and forward about telling the people about "the one who is coming" being "mightier and will baptize, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit". This is HUGE and they don't see or get it. Then again, how would they know that this advice was supposed to be really important?

I now know that my sodium intake is part of why my blood pressure is high. Also, I now need medication just to keep it in a normal range. If I had taken the advice and warnings of my close family, friends and doctor, I may not have needed to be on this medication. Because I've started taking it, I've been told that I cannot stop taking it. THIS is a huge deal to me. What I didn't understand then, I completely understand now; lesson learned and I've changed. Although I don't keep my sodium intake to one teaspoon, I'm conscious of how much salt I consume and make an effort to keep it as low as possible.

I'm sure the Pharisees and Sadducees finally came to understand John the Baptist's warnings and advice when Jesus came. Hopefully, they took it to heart and repented and prepared for the "one to come's" arrival. Maybe we can all learn a lesson and pay attention to the blunt advice that is given to us whether we want to hear it or not. Or, if we do hear it and understand it, maybe we can just believe it in and follow it instead of second guessing it.

Jerico's Reflection
Preparation is a word that sticks out to me in this week’s gospel.

When I was in high school I was always told to prepare for certain tests or due dates for essays, assignments and projects. Working last minute was not an option, most teachers would say. They would tell us to prepare in advance. I remember that in my junior year in high school. I was in AP US History. It was a tough subject. My teacher based our WHOLE grade on two things; the midterm and the final exam. All he did was lecture and talk about the subject for that day. NO HOMEWORK, just reading assignments to prepare for the lesson each day.

My teacher had explained that in order to do well in this class, we must prepare ourselves before we enter. We have to read the assigned reading each night in order to follow along and to understand the topic.

I remember it was one evening, 2 days before the midterm exam. I was out with some friends and I told myself that I can catch up on the reading the next day. So I slept through the night not thinking of the assigned reading for that day.

The next day I went to class and I didn’t understand or know the material my teacher was talking about and the next assigned reading was three times the amount of pages than the last assigned reading. So now, with only a day before the exam and more reading and studying to do, I got frantic. I was stressing out and I felt like I was prepared. I went into the exam thinking that I crammed everything I can.

I wasn’t prepared to take on the exam.

How many of us procrastinate on things like homework, projects, assignments, due dates at work, cleaning up the house and more?

This week’s gospel talk about preparation. Preparing for Jesus’ coming wasn’t/isn’t always easy. But the gospel tells us to prepare ourselves. To make room in our hearts for the coming savior.

Just like my exam, we can't just Jesus on the side. We can't turn Jesus on or off like a light switch.

What are some ways you can prepare for Jesus? Our lives are so consumed with so many things that its hard to make room for anything.

But Jesus gives us hope in knowing that if we can open our hearts to him, things will be alright.

So today, take challenge. Go out and find ways to prepare for Jesus in your own life. Maybe say a pray every morning when you get up? Or talk to your parents or siblings about Jesus?  There are many different ways to prepare for Him. What are some ways you can start today?

November 24, 2013 - Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

posted Nov 22, 2013, 10:28 AM by Domain Admin   [ updated May 7, 2016, 10:22 PM ]

Gospel of Luke 23: 35-43

Ali’s Reflection
I work in the mental health field as a social worker, and amongst the individuals I’ve served, I had the opportunity to meet and work with a young man in his early twenties, whose story really challenged me as a clinician. He was a former foster youth who became homeless soon after his parents were unable to care for him. In the time I worked with him, he would tell me about the agonizing hours he spent struggling with being homeless, combined with the challenges of severe mental illness and substance abuse problems. What struck me most, though, was how he was treated in the community. He was often ignored and was sometimes targeted as someone to fear looking at or even acknowledging because of his bizarre appearance. With his long hair and lanky stature and being dressed in a dark oversized trench coat, which he wore everyday, he seemed to remind people of the young men who were involved in the shootings at Columbine. He was dismissed, bullied, ridiculed, and mocked by people he encountered in the community, hearing messages such as: "you need to get your act together", "just find a job", “you’re psycho”, "take your medication”, messages similar to ones he grew up hearing most of his young life from adult figures and even his peers. The way this young man was treated is what seemed to come to mind when I was reflecting on this week’s gospel.

I was drawn towards the behavior of the second criminal in the gospel, who backs Jesus up after the rulers, soldiers and the first criminal who was crucified with him, were mocking Jesus as the “King of the Jews”. Instead of joining in on the mockery or becoming angry and upset like the first criminal, he showed some empathy and compassion. He, of all people—a criminal, a sinner, highly scrutinized in the public eye, hated by members of his community and judged for his misdoings—seemed to own who he was and his past mistakes and ultimately, showed faith in Jesus. In return, Jesus instantly validated the criminal by welcoming him into his kingdom of Paradise.

As sinners, ourselves, and people of faith, I believe we seek for similar redemption to be welcomed by our King. I'm challenged to think about how I can be like the criminal who spoke up for Jesus because he seemed to believe that the label or name of ‘King’ was more than what was inscribed on Jesus’ cross. In the same light, I am reminded of our young people and how labels, name-calling, and stigma have a pervasive impact on the way they treat each other and even themselves. It seems all too easy to dismiss a person and not be mindful of how we choose to be towards one another, especially in the milieu of competition, needs for acceptance, and popularity that young people often live through. How often do you back up your friends when they’re being judged or mistreated? Instead of joining in on what can seem like fun jokes or playing around, how can you acknowledge or even try standing up and voicing your support of him or her? What would it take for you to do the same for a complete stranger? With this in mind, I urge that we each try to recognize God in our daily lives, especially when you happen to meet someone who reminds you of the face of our King.

Harland's Reflection
The gospel reminds me of the hazing, taunting, and bullying that is rampant in society today. This type of ridicule comes from many different sources and is often times hurtful and degrading. I’m sure we can all come up with times in our lives where we have been questioned, made fun of, booed, or challenged in such a manner. I remember playing for my Varsity basketball team at Moreau Catholic High School years ago, and more than once received racially and religiously charged jeering from opposing teams. I’m not going to lie – it hurt being a target of such pointed and specific hatred and ignorance. In fact this issue has even become a hot topic in the world of professional football. Though hazing has traditionally been an unwritten right of passage for players throughout the years, it has gotten out of hand as players are taking it too far with their forms of hazing. A 2nd year player from the Miami Dolphins actually stood up for himself and identified the person responsible for hazing him and that player was suspended by the NFL. Even after defending himself, he is still being judged by his peers as well as sports fans for calling out his teammate and getting him in trouble. Sports pundits defend the hazer and identify the “hazee” as being the bad teammate.
How do you react when you see behavior like this? Ask yourself, “Would I step in and help the person being made fun of? Would I be able to stand up for myself if this happened to me?” The second criminal in the Gospel stood up for Jesus and was subsequently welcomed into His kingdom of Paradise. Luckily we are given some gifts of the Holy Spirit to help handle these types of situations. The gift of understanding helps us when this vitriol is aimed directly towards us. With a little understanding, we can avoid over reacting and remain calm and collected. The gift of courage encourages us stand up for ourselves, as well as others when they may not be able to stand up for themselves. Sometimes it can be hard to do what you know is right, but a little courage should help along the way. It’s up to us to accept the gifts that God has so graciously bestowed upon us and use them for good.

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