I was cooking our supper on Tuesday and needed to go to the traditional market to buy the things I needed. One of our sisters kindly accompanied me as I had never been to this particular market before. We had done all of our shopping except for ‘free range eggs’ which seemed a bit elusive on that particular day. My companion asked an elderly woman who was selling snacks if she could tell us where the eggs where. I was deeply touched when the woman got down from her stool, walked across the market to the stall selling eggs and brought them to us. Not only had the woman helped us, she had also made a sale for the person selling eggs. We thanked her for her kindness and were rewarded with a beautiful smile that lit up her lovely face. That spontaneous act of kindness illumined my whole day. Hopefully, we can make other’s days too by our own simple acts of kindness.
As Pentecost draws nearer day by day I find myself praying earnestly for the precious fruit of peace to grow abundantly in our world. A shocking level of war and violence has broken out in many places, this calls for our prayer and advocacy. I realise it is not enough to pray, I need to have the stance of a peacemaker – to say sorry, forgive and reconcile in every case. Hopefully, our small efforts can help in some way to increase the overall flow of peace in our world.
As last Sunday’s Gospel (Jn 15: 1-8) has unfolded throughout this week in several of the daily Gospel readings I have found myself constantly reflecting on it. I have been focused on the connection between the vine and the words “Remain in me”. There is a single vine growing in the garden of Ende FCJ Community and I was dedicated to watering it every day for the three months of my time there. I was intrigued to watch the rapidly growing plant send out its spindly tendrils far and wide and grasp tightly on to any available means of support. Once they are wrapped around a piece of wood or even the stems of others plants those tendrils are very hard to unwind, they just don’t let go. It struck me that in the Gospel reading on the vine even as Jesus was inviting us to “Remain in me” he was also (like those tendrils) holding tightly on to us. I liked that idea. I pray that we are all able to accept, relish and remain in the love of Jesus.
In preparation for Vocations Sunday a group of religious from about 25 different congregations present in the UK hosted an online celebration of religious life called ‘Living Joyfully’.
The event aimed to provide young people with an opportunity to meet religious, ask questions and find out more about the wide variety of communities present in the UK.
We had Enclosed Contemplative nuns, Apostolic Religious Sisters and Brothers, members of Missionary congregations and Monastic communities present over the three day event.
Thursday and Friday were offered to schools, with teams of religious ‘Zooming in’ to classrooms to share something of their life and vocation and to answer questions ranging from ‘Do you have a phone?’ to ‘Can you give an example of when you felt God was present with you in a time of struggle? How did your faith help you at that time?’
Saturday was open to young adults from 18 – 40 and we had great conversations with the group who attended.
It was certainly an opportunity for joy as we worked together to share something of our wonderful vocation to religious life!
In reflecting on ‘Vocations’, the theme of today’s Mass, I find myself thinking of the many ways in which God’s people are called to serve others. It seems to me that each state of life is a vocation, as is each form of work, when we undertake it in the knowledge that it is our way of serving God. Today’s Gospel, taken from John 10:11-18, reminds us of the difference between a true shepherd and a ‘hired hand’ who has no true concern for the sheep. Just as Jesus is the ultimate ‘Good Shepherd’ I see that we too are invited to be good and true shepherds to those to whom we are sent. I am happy and proud to be an FCJ sister. It is my deepest prayer that we can all be happy and proud as we live out our unique and individual vocations.
Today’s Gospel reading, taken from Luke 24: 35-48, has inspired me to look around for signs of the Risen Jesus. I sometimes find myself as unseeing as the disciples who couldn’t quite grasp the point that the Risen One was among them. Jesus encourages us, just as he encouraged his disciples to: “touch me and see”. Suddenly I am aware of the signs of Him, in numbers too many to count. I see Him: in acts of kindness and thoughtfulness, in acts of sheer courage and heroism, in the lives of women and men who live for others. The signs are everywhere once I begin to look. This doesn’t take away from the struggles and pain that many are experiencing at this time but it reminds me that ultimately love and goodness will overcome everything.
I am amazed at how many times the word ‘Galilee’ has resonated within me over the last few days. We heard it in the Gospel reading at the Easter Vigil on Saturday night (Mk 16: 1-7), I heard it in several “on-line’ homilies I listened to, and we heard the Gospel for today: (Mt 28: 8-15). The idea of seeing and meeting Jesus in Galilee has featured strongly in my prayer during these days also. It is not a new idea that we are now called to meet Jesus in the Galilees of our daily lives, to see him, to encounter him, and to serve him wherever we see need. In recent days we have been helping to distribute Communion at every every Mass in the parish church here in Ende. Regulations due to Covid19 have required us to do this at a slower pace than usual. This meant I had the opportunity to see peoples’ faces and their eyes and to look closely at their hands as I gave them Communion. Each time I knew in my heart that I was meeting the Risen Christ. He is with us, he is ahead of us, he is waiting for us to open our eyes and see him in others, and indeed in all of creation, now transformed by love.
The Gospel for today, Wednesday of Holy Week (Mt 26: 14-25), is fraught with tension. As Jesus had predicted, Judas betrayed him. Peter was yet to make his threefold denial, but we know it is coming. I know I have no reason to judge neither Judas nor Jesus because I know only too well the betrayer and the coward that lies within me. I pray each day for the grace to stay close to Jesus and to overcome temptation. Thankfully, we have a Christ who is full of compassion and understanding, there is hope and forgiveness for all of us.
I cannot even begin to count how many times I have read today’s Gospel – the story of Jesus’ anointing at Bethany: John 12: 1-11. On this occasion I found I was paying keen attention to Mary. She stood out for me in a new way as she poured the precious oil over Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. Today, I saw Mary act powerfully as she anointed Jesus in thanksgiving and also prophetically as she prepared him for his death. My breath stopped, like that of everyone in the story, as the significance of her action hit home. It was an act of pure love and of total poignancy.
Today I celebrated Palm Sunday in a parish in Ende, Flores. We had a wonderful celebration despite certain limitations due to Covid19. I felt we were really able to capture the joy of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. It was great to be part of a large congregation and even though we were ‘socially distanced’ we were ‘as one in prayer and spirit’. I hope it will not be too long before churches all over the world will be open for prayer and for a whole variety of celebrations.