Reading the stories in the New Testament about what happened to individual people when they met Jesus, we glimpse the powerful impact of those encounters.
From the lowly shepherds and wise magi visiting Jesus at his birth to his meeting with Mary Magdalene in the garden after his resurrection, we realize each person was deeply affected by being in his presence. Scripture recounts the many times Jesus healed people physically. He also raised sons, daughters, and friends back to life. As we slow down and think more deeply, we conclude not only their lives were transformed but the lives of those around them were most likely totally changed as a result of encountering Jesus.
Vocations, or calls from God to respond to our life’s purpose, are grounded in encounters with Jesus. These encounters include those we meet with great awareness and encounters with him we only later discover were hidden in the shadow of a deeper conversation we had with a friend, a parent, a co-worker, our boss, or a spiritual director. We can experience the encounter as an ordinary happening or something that profoundly touched our hearts when we read it in an online blog or saw the powerful witness of someone giving her or his life for others.
The Spirit of Jesus can work anywhere, anytime, and through anyone or any circumstance in our lives. As those who were lame, blind, or in need of instruction clamored to be in the presence of Jesus once they heard about what he did, we also have opportunities of encounter. May we ready our hearts to pay attention to them. They may look differently than they did in Jesus’ time, but the encounters with him are no less real.
As the Psalmist said, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts,”
El Encuentro que nos Transforma
Al leer las historias en el Nuevo Testamento sobre los acontecimientos a las personas cuando conocieron a Jesús, divisamos el impacto poderoso de esos encuentros.
Desde los humildes pastores y los magos sabios visitando a Jesús en su nacimiento hasta su encuentro con María Magdalena en el jardín después de su resurrección, nos damos cuenta de que cada persona estaba profundamente afectada por estar en su presencia. Las escrituras relatan las muchas veces que Jesús sanó físicamente a las personas. También resucitó a vida a hijos, hijas, y amigos. Mientras reducimos nuestros pasos, y pensamos más profundamente, llegamos a la conclusión de que no solo sus vidas fueron transformadas, sino que las vidas de quienes los rodeaban probablemente fueron totalmente cambiadas como resultado de encontrarse con Jesús.
Las vocaciones, o los llamados de Dios para responder al propósito de nuestra vida, están asimentadas en encuentros con Jesús. Estos encuentros incluyen aquellos con los que nos encontramos con gran conocimiento y los encuentros con él solo descubrimos más tarde se ocultaron en la sombra de una conversación más profunda que tuvimos con un amigo, un padre, un compañero de trabajo, nuestro jefe, o un director espiritual. Podemos experimentar el encuentro como un acontecimiento ordinario o algo que conmovió profundamente nuestros corazones cuando lo leemos en un blog en línea o vimos el poderoso testimonio de alguien que da su vida por los demás.
El Espíritu de Jesús puede trabajar en cualquier lugar, en cualquier momento, y a través de cualquier persona o cualquier circunstancia en nuestras vidas. Como aquellos que eran cojos, ciegos, o que necesitaban instrucción clamaban estar en la presencia de Jesús una vez que escucharon sobre lo que él hizo, también tenemos oportunidades de encuentro. Que preparemos nuestros corazones para ponerles atención. Es posible que tengan una apariencia diferente a las del tiempo de Jesús, pero los encuentros con él no son menos reales.
Como dijo el Salmista: "Si hoy oyes su voz, no endurezcas tu corazón,"
Alleluia! It’s True!
(Inspired by the Easter Gospel readings)
Could it be?
Dare I trust?
Dare we risk?
We had hoped for so long
Have felt betrayed and
done our share of betraying
it could be true
They say they saw him
And they are glowing
They are different somehow
not cowering like the rest of us
They don’t just believe
I can see it
They know in their bones
He is alive
Angels spoke to them
She saw him at the tomb
and he sent her to us
They actually broke bread with him
Could it be?
It is all coming together
Everything he said that sounded so crazy
now is falling into place
And, wait, who is that coming into our room?
How did he get in here –
the door is closed
He looks so familiar
and yet I cannot place him
Those terrible, awful nail marks
It is him
He is eating, drinking
smiling at us
He is alive as they said
O God of our ancestors
You have raised him
It is true
Now I know
And now that I know
I have to leave this safe room
No, I want to leave this safe, closed room
I want to share this news
The nails didn’t do it
The shameful crucifixion didn’t destroy him
And all that is death dealing
in our world
cannot destroy us
We are on the side of
the one who was raised from the dead
And he has called us to go forth
And has given us a Word of life to preach
to a hurting world
Death does not have the final power
Hope and life remain
I know it now
Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP
I look upon you with such love. You are so hard on yourself. You feel guilty for all you do not do, and for some of the things you do. I see it. I know you. You can’t hide anything from me and you don’t need to. You are safe with me. I don’t condemn you. I want to cheer you on. I want you to be all that I made you to be. I see the goodness inside you even when you don’t see it yourself. I do call you to be more, but out of love, out of knowing the goodness that is within you.
Sometimes it is hard to look at the pain in yourself, in those around you, in the world. I know. It is overwhelming at times. When I walked the Earth it pained my heart that I could not cure all. It caused me such sadness that my message about God’s reign was twisted and used against me and my followers. It angered me that the poor suffered so much due to the greed of those in power.
It’s not easy being a human being and trying to follow me is it? Sometimes it means you will have to suffer. There are times you will feel like you are being put on a cross.
Maybe you will be judged falsely by those around you.
Maybe a relationship will be ruptured that will not be repaired in this life.
Maybe you have experienced a loss you weren’t sure you could bear.
I know. Look at me up here. I know all your hurt and all your pain and I embrace it. And transform it. An empty tomb is actually a sign of new life.
Pay attention – there is hope in places you might not expect. Look for the signs of new life, within you and around you. I did not stay up on this cross. Yes, it was a shameful, excruciating death. But it passed over. God raised me and God will raise you. Once you accept and know the cross, you do not need to stay there.
Honor what has been, in my witness and in your own life, kiss it, venerate it, bow before it.
And then get ready, because resurrection is on its way!
Composed by Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP
There are times when we absolutely have to die to find new life, and this is something we resist. Because discernment involves the difficult task of making life-changing decisions, we are forced to let go of some possibilities in order to open ourselves to new and abundant life. Here is just a small sampling of death-to-new-life choices we are called to make on our journey of discernment.
The death we may need to embrace might be deciding to quit a secure, high-paying job in order to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the work we love and that uses our talents and strengths to the fullest.
It may mean taking the courageous step of finally ending a relationship that has proved to be a dead end so we can be free to pursue more life-giving relationships.
It may require that we die to an addiction that binds our freedom to be truly intimate with others and to experience the fullness of life in all its joys and sorrows.
If we come from a home with some troubling family dynamics, it may mean finally leaving home by doing the inner work necessary to release and integrate the painful feelings of grief, fear, and anger. Only through this kind of death, will we be able to experience the new life that comes from our ability to trust self and others.
All these choices require dying a death, which is frightening. It seems so much easier to hold on to what we know, even when what we know is killing us. The death and resurrection dynamic, however, gives us the hope that strengthens us to do what must be done.*
What death-to-new-life decision might you be wrestling with? Do you have a spiritual director, counselor, or trusted guide who will gently nudge you toward the death you need to die?
*See Thomas Hart, “Toward a Life-Giving Christian Spirituality: Ten Guiding Principles,” Presence, Vol. 23, No.3, September, 2017.
Yes, the Risen Jesus appeared to his followers in a unique way two thousand years ago. Yet the resurrection of Jesus is also a present-day event happening in our daily lives bringing new energies for life and love in our world today. Listen to one of our novices, Sister Katherine Frazier, share her reflection on John’s Gospel account of Jesus’ resurrection appearance to the Disciples on the sea of Tiberias.
Having trouble viewing the video? Click here to view it on YouTube.
At different times in our life, we all have encountered the frightening face of death. As much as we would like to avoid death and dying, death is an undisputed fact of life. As the poet Emily Dickinson amusingly wrote, “Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me.” While we know the fragility of life and the inevitability of death, death is something that human beings have never been able to accept as something that ought to be.
This Holy Week I had a quite unexpected brush with death. Some dear family members from out of town came to visit. It was a beautiful, blue-sky day and the three of us were enjoying an idyllic afternoon at the lake. Two of us were out on the lake in a paddleboat, while the other was watching birds from the shoreline. All of a sudden, we heard a jarring cry from the middle of the lake “Help, help!” A kayaker had flipped over into the icy water and could not swim. We were the only people out on the lake. We immediately started peddling our paddleboat toward him as fast as we could, while the one on shore jumped into a rowboat and headed toward the capsized kayak. In less than ten minutes we reached the young man who managed to pull his numb body into the row boat. In the safety of our boats, we were all deeply grateful that our sunny, fun-loving lake had not become a watery grave.
Our different scrapes with death push us to ponder more deeply the mysteries of life and death. According to our Easter faith, the basis for hope that death is not only bodily disintegration, but also the triumphant integration of life in eternal fullness is the resurrection of Jesus. As John Sachs asserts, “Jesus’ resurrection was not a personal privilege or reward for Jesus but an act of God ‘for us and for our salvation.’... What the Spirit accomplished in Jesus is the work of the Spirit in all of us.”* This is the reason why Paul gleefully asserts: “Death has been swallowed up in victory” with Christ’s death and resurrection and taunts: “Where, O Death, is your sting?” (I Cor 15:55). For Paul, the resurrection of Jesus is the source and model of our own resurrection.
Today, let the mysteries of death and resurrection help you to ponder what gives real meaning and purpose to your life. Does your Easter faith free you to take risks for the sake of Christ and his Gospel?
*John R. Sachs, The Christian Vision of Humanity: Basic Christian Anthropology (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991), 76.
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Adrian Dominican Sisters
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Get out your bell-bottoms and platform shoes, because DISCO is here!
Okay, so it's a little less dancing, a little more talking... Sisters Lorraine Réaume, OP, and Sara Fairbanks, OP, have a video series called DISCO (Discernment Conversations): Dancing with the questions of life!