St. Francis of Assisi Weekly Reflections

Live as Children of Light

03-26-2017Weekly Reflection

The second encounter from John’s Gospel this Lent is with a man born blind. As with the Samaritan woman last week, we too are invited to know Jesus in an intimate way, this time as bestowing the sight to recognize him as the One sent by God. Our first reading foreshadows today’s Gospel by presenting the experience of the prophet Samuel, who comes to “see” David, the youngest son of Jesse, as the one God has chosen to replace King Saul, rather than the eldest son, Eliab, whom Samuel assumed would be God’s choice. Eliab, like Saul, is tall. “Don’t judge by appearances,” God chides. In the Gospel, we see once again a person’s gradual coming into the light that is Jesus, finally recognizing him as more than a prophet, as the Son of Man who is the Lord. For those of us who are baptized, seeing goes even further than recognizing Jesus as the Light of the world. As Ephesians proclaims, we who “were once darkness…

now...are light in the Lord” (5:8) and should lead lives of goodness, righteousness, and truth.

Are you a child of the light?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1


Fourth Sunday of Lent:Source of light

03-26-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a (Samuel anoints David)
Reading II: Ephesians 5:8-14 (duty to live in the light)
Gospel: John 9:1-41 (the man born blind)
Key Passage: For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as Children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. (Ephesians 5:8–9)

Adult: What are you doing in your life right now to move toward light rather than darkness?
Child: How can you let the light of your faith in Jesus shine for others to see?


Third Sunday of Lent: Source of strength

03-19-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: Exodus 17:3-7 (water from the rock)
Reading II: Romans 5:1-2, 5-8 (faith, hope, and love)
Gospel: John 4:5-42 (the Samaritan woman at the well)
Key Passage: Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." (John 4:13–14)

Adult: Where have you found a source of "living water" for your own journey of faith?
Child: Name some times when your belief in Jesus helped make you stronger.


Jesus brings us to the Well of Salvation

03-19-2017Weekly Reflection

In calling us to return to the Lord with all our heart, our readings put before us in the coming weeks three personal encounters with Jesus. In each one, Jesus reveals who he is and the impact he continues to have on the lives of those who open their hearts to him. Today we reflect on Jesus as the one who satisfies our thirst for God. He is the living water God has sent, just as God provided water for Israel in the desert by having Moses strike a rock. In the encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus confronts a hardened heart, and by his loving care and concern for her, leads her to drink from the well of salvation. We see her gradual transformations from a person suspicious of a stranger to one who brings her fellow villagers to him, resulting in their recognition of Jesus as “truly the savior of the world” (John 4:42). Paul reminds us today that the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit at the waters of Baptism.

How do you bring others to Jesus by witnessing to your faith in him?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1


Second Sunday of Lent: Call to faithfulness

03-12-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: Genesis 12:1-4 (call of Abraham)
Reading II: 2 Timothy 1:8b-10 (exhortation to faithfulness)
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9 (Jesus transfigured)
Key Passage: Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. (Matthew 17:1–2)

Adult: How has your faith in Jesus transformed you? What difference does your faith in Jesus Christ make in your life?
Child: How has the example of Jesus helped you become a better person and a better Christian?


Do Not Be Afraid

03-12-2017Weekly Reflection

The Second Sunday of Lent takes us in a different direction than last week, both geographically and spiritually. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain to pray. Arriving there, they—and we—get a glimpse of the glory that Jesus set aside when becoming one of us. More importantly, they—and we—hear God speak to us about who Jesus is and who we are to be. Jesus is the Beloved Son who lives in intimate relationship with the Father; we must listen to him. This glimpse of glory encourages us as we enter more deeply into the season of Lent, a time to turn toward God, to open our hearts, so that God can enter our lives more completely and make us more fully a people of the covenant that began when God called on Abram to leave e everything. Because he trusted in God's promises, Abram became the father of a great nation. We are to trust in the promises God makes to us through Jesus by listening and obeying his words, thereby becoming beloved sons and daughters.

"Do not be afraid," Jesus tells us. Are you?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1


First Sunday of Lent: Overcoming temptation

03-05-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7 (the fall of humankind)
Reading II: Romans 5:12-19 (humanity's sin through Adam)
Gospel: Matthew 4:1-11 (the temptation of Jesus)
Key Passage: Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1)

Adult: What helpful advice could you offer someone faced with a temptation?
Child: What helps you do the right thing when you want to do something wrong?


The Choice is Basic, Follow God's Will or Our Own

03-05-2017Weekly Reflection

Saint Paul quotes a hymn in his letter to the Philippians: "Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave" (2:6-7). This hymn presents a truth: If Jesus chose to be a slave, then we must be willing to serve. Serving involves self-emptying, which is played out in the story of the temptations Jesus faced in the desert and throughout his ministry. In contrast with Adam and Eve, Jesus chose to serve God and not to use his power, whether to feed himself (stones into bread), to test God (throw himself off the Temple), or to submit to anyone other than God. Because of his obedience to the will of the Father, Jesus won salvation for all who believe in him and follow him in service. Temptations came for Jesus and come for all who follow him. The basic choice concerns seeking God's will or our own.

How are you being tested at this time of your life? Do you turn to God's word for strength?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1


He will Give You Everything You Need

02-26-2017Weekly Reflection

Pope Francis called us to join in a revolution of tenderness during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. One word for mercy in Hebrew is rahamin, which means a nurturing, life-giving womb. God's merciful, tender, loving care flows from this womb in the imagination of the prophet. Like a loving mother, God watches over us. Then Jesus tells us not to worry about what we are to eat, drink or wear. "Your heavenly Father knows what you need" (Matthew 6:32). This vision challenges us , especially when refugees are drowning trying to reach a place to live in peace, and immigrants live in fear of deportation. God is depending on us to do all we can. Seeking first the kingdom of God means working to bring it about by caring for the weak and powerless. We will not hear the end of the Sermon on the Mount this year, but take a look at Matthew 7:21-27, where Jesus calls his disciples to build their lives on His word so they will have a house that will not collapse.

What efforts are you making to build your life on His word?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1


Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Overcoming fear

02-26-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: Isaiah 49:14-15 (restoration of Zion)
Reading II: 1 1 Corinthians 4:1-6 (Christ judges his ministers)
Gospel: Matthew 6:24-34 (dependence on God)
Key Passage: Jesus said, "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?" (Matthew 6:30)

Adult: What things do you worry about most frequently? How do you deal with your worry?
Child: What can help you worry less about something that might happen?


The Spirit of God Dwells in YOU

02-19-2017Weekly Reflection

Paul’s question today provides the foundation on which the other readings can stand: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Paul is writing to the community at Corinth, one characterized by factions, bickering, jealousies, even arguing about whose “spiritual parentage” is greatest. And Paul asks, “Don’t you know who you are? Don’t you know to whom you belong?” by their baptism into the saving mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, Paul argues, the Spirit has been given and dwells in them. God has taken residence in them, individually and communally. We too have to accept and live out of this truth, so we can take in the rest of today’s scriptures, starting with “Be holy, for I the Lord, your God, am holy” and “You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart” (Leviticus 19:2, 17). We then move on to the seemingly impossible teaching of Jesus not even to resist one who is evil, but to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. How is this possible? Go back to Paul’s question: “Do you not know?”

Do you know this? Do you believe it?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1


Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time: Love of enemies

02-19-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 (various rules of conduct)
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 (the work of God's ministers)
Gospel: Matthew 5:38-48 (new law of retaliation; love of enemies)
Key Passage: Jesus said, "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." (Matthew 5:43–44a)

Adult: What is the point of "turning the other cheek" in an argument, and why is it so hard to do?
Child: Who are the people you find it most difficult to forgive?


Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Implications of the new law

02-12-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: Sirach 15:15-20 (our free will)
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 (true wisdom)
Gospel: Matthew 5:17-37 (the old Law and the new)
Key Passage: Jesus said, "So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23–24)

Adult: How do you reconcile with those who have offended or hurt you?
Child: When have you taken the first step to make up with someone who has hurt you or whom you have offended?


Keep the Commandments and they will SAVE YOU

02-12-2017Weekly Reflection

Jesus' program for becoming children of the kingdom of heaven is presented in a series of contrasts between what the law of Moses commands and how Jesus' teaching brings that law to fulfillment. We hear four such contrasts today. Jesus makes it clear that he has come not to abolish but to fulfill the Mosaic law and the prophets. He challenges us to have our righteousness, that is, our right relationship with God and others, exceed that of the teacher of his day. Today's Gospel contrasts what the law says about murder, adultery, divorce, and taking oaths with Jesus' teaching on these matters. In a world of preemptive strikes, Jesus forbids even anger. For Jesus, reconciliation has priority even over worship; adultery includes yielding to lust for another; and speaking with simplicity and integrity renders oath-taking unnecessary. Sirach encourages us: If we choose, we can keep the commandments and they will save us; if we trust in God, we shall live. Paul refers to God's wisdom as not identified with that of this age.

How is the Spirit calling you to trust that God's wisdom and strength will become yours?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1


Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Spreading the light of Christ

02-05-2017Question of the Week

Reading I: Isaiah 58:7-10 (true fasting)
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (preaching on Christ crucified)
Gospel: Matthew 5:13-16 (the similes of salt and light)
Key Passage: Jesus said, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

Adult: In what way might you be hiding the light of Christ from others? What could you do to improve this?
Child: How can you let the light of Christ in you shine for others this week?


Let Your Light Shine Before Men

02-05-2017Weekly Reflection

Matthew’s Gospel has been called the gospel of the church. His five great discourses are especially aimed at community formation. Matthew’s Jesus sets out how the Christian community is to live with each other and in the world. Today’s two images, following immediately after the Beatitudes, appeal to our imagination, challenging us to be salt and light. Salt both preserves and gives flavor to what it touches. If salt loses its savor, it is useless. Also, the community is light for the world when it does the corporal works of mercy: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and oppressed, clothing the naked. Isaiah promises, “You shall cry for help, and [the Lord] will say: Here I am!” (58:9). Being communities of salt and light is the social mission of the Church. Pope Francis reminds us that as the baptized, we must be missionary disciples. We are called to live the gospel in the world. Just as salt gives flavor and preserves, our holiness flavors society and preserves it from corruption. We must bring the light of Christ; we cannot hide our light under a bushel basket.

Do you want to live like a light that is on or off?

—We Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 1