Scripture Reflection . . .
First Reading: Isaiah 50: 5 – 9a
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 116: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
Second Reading: James 2:14-18
Gospel: Mark 8: 27-35
“What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.” This quote from Author, Flannery O’Connor, resonates somewhat with Jesus’ words from this Sunday’s Gospel,”Whoever wishes to come after me, must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.”
As Christians we are called to a life deeper than a comfortable faith; a faith that flows forth from deep within to actions and works that identify our faith in a self-giving God. St. James reminds us, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says they have faith but do not have works?”
What would Jesus’ words, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it,” mean if he himself did not live it by taking up his cross and thus witnessing to the saving power of God in his resurrection?
If you experience any resistance to the idea of losing your life or taking up a cross – good, you are normal! Most people probably don’t embrace faith for this reason, however, the experience of God’s love will move us and guide in ways we can never imagine. The Responsorial Psalm encourages us, “The Lord keeps the little ones; I was brought low and he saved me.”
So how might losing your life and taking up your cross look in day-to-day life?
The First Reading from Isaiah might be of help:
“The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.” We are called to listen with open hearts even when it may not be what we want to hear or what we want to do.
“The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced . . I shall not be put to shame.” We are called to accept who we are with our gifts and limits knowing we are loved – the grace of humility. And this calls for our acceptance and love of others. We are called to depend upon God as our help rather than leaning on our own strength and control or seeking the approval of others.
St. James is very clear what it means to lose ourselves: “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?” We are called to give of our time, our resources, our comfort for the good of our brothers and sisters.
In our lives as Sisters of the Holy Redeemer . . .
We look back over this past week and notice how faith has inspired works:
Last weekend, individuals in Florida made their second-year commitment as Redeemer Associates. These individuals felt attracted to the spirituality of our Congregation and wish to live it in their own lives according to their abilities. This commitment is to prayer and service – faith and action. One of the Sisters was present to witness this ceremony and offer her support.
On September 9th we celebrated the birthday of one of the Sisters and our Foundress, Mother Alphonse Marie (she would be 201!). We celebrated the lives of two individuals who have responded to God’s call, in faith, to live lives of service and love.
Our Postulant attended the first session of inter-congregational classes for postulants and novices in the Philadelphia area. Here they can gather together to share their faith and encourage one another as they prepare for lifetimes of loving service.
This week we joined the nation in remembering Labor Day and the 14th memorial of 9-11. These were times to remember and honor all the people who have given their energy and lives to serve and help others. We remember our own call to work for justice and peace whatever our ministries may be.
Several Sisters enjoyed vacation as the summer season comes to a close. The gift of rest and recreation reminds us that God set aside a day from self-giving creative energy to rest. We celebrate these times to renewed and refreshed for the work ahead.
In your life . . .
Be encouraged to take a day of rest – a sabbath day – to be seeped in God’s love. Recall times when your faith in God’s love inspired and encouraged you to give of yourself to be present to another.
Blessings on your week!