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"Prayer is our continuing response to God's continuing call to mission."
— You are Sent, Constitution of the School Sisters of Notre Dame


Liturgical Reflections

Mary in the Garden imagePrayer brings our whole religious life into focus; it supports the rhythm of our lives emphasizing now the person, now the community, now the world we serve. Thus, prayer is our continuing response to God's continuing call to mission."

You Are Sent, Constitution of the School Sisters of Notre Dame

Sister Rea McDonnell, SSND, offers reflections on the Liturgical Readings for each day. If you wish to share your own reflections or have comments or questions, please feel free to email Sister Rea. For information about Sister Rea's publications, visit our online gift shop. 

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June. 28-July

Sunday, June 28, 2015 -  Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5: 21-43

“God did not make death,” proclaims the first Word of the Lord to us today.  God created us for “incorruption,” the author continues.  When the Word became flesh, he showed in a most tangible way how God heals the sick and raises the dead. Hopefully, your presider will read the whole gospel for today, not the shortened form.  A woman who suffered an issue of blood for 12 years interrupts Jesus’ going with Jairus to heal his daughter. Jesus breaks the law passively, when an “unclean” woman touches him, and actively, when he touches Jairus’ child.  For this they will kill him.  He is, teaches Paul, so generous.  “Though he was rich, for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” 

“Who touched me?” Jesus asks.  When have you touched Jesus?  What happened?
When have you personally experienced Jesus’ generosity?  How has his being ever so human enriched your life and spirituality, your relationship with God? How will you respond?

“Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning…You have turned our mourning to dancing.” (Ps 30).  Yes, you have!  Please let all the grieving people of our world know that, know you.

Monday, June 29, 2015 - Peter and Paul, Apostles    

Acts 12: 1-11; Psalm 34; 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 17-18; Matthew 16: 13-19

Our first two readings tell of the rescue of Peter from prison and Paul “from every evil attack.”  The gospel narrates Jesus’ question to his friends and to us: “Who do you say that I am?”  Saving, remember, does not mean rescue, but being set free.  Peter was rescued, literally, but Paul was left to his attackers so often, according to Acts.  The psalm’s antiphon resolves the apparent conflict: “God set me free from all my fears.”  The psalmist continues: “Look to God and be radiant.”

Who is Jesus for you now?  When you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, what happens to your fears?  Ask the Spirit to remind you of some times when you were radiant.  Listen. Wait.  What makes you radiant?  Ask for the gift of radiant peace and joy.  Your radiance will be an instrument of evangelization.

You are the light of the world, Jesus, and you chose us to be your light in our world, as really as you called Peter and Paul apostles. Let our experience of you deepen. Send us.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 

Genesis 19: 15-29; Psalm 26; Matthew 8: 23-27

The context of our first reading shows us how to pray.  God wants to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness, and Abraham pleads for them. And won’t stop pleading! Now the men of Sodom try to attack the guests of Lot. Angels warn Lot to take his family to another town before God destroys Sodom whose men violate the culture of hospitality. But Lot lingers and, like Abraham, argues. At last he flees, but, looking back, Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt.  The psalm’s refrain, after all this destruction, is: “O Lord, your kindness is before my eyes.” In the storm at sea the disciples cry out in terror: “Lord, save us!  We are perishing!” 

Do you linger, and/or argue with God or God’s messengers? When and why do you think God gets angry? How does the possibility of God’s anger make you feel? How does the hospitality or lack of it in our countries make God feel? Discuss this with Jesus. Be sure to listen. “Looking back” is not good for Lot’s wife, but is an important part of  prayer, a feeling once again that radiant joy, or a healing of memories.

Set us free, we beg you, Jesus, from any fear of God lurking in our hearts.  Send us to hand on the good news of God’s abundant and faithful mercy, God’s kindness.

The Pope’s intention for our prayer: That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015 - Canada Day

Genesis 21: 5, 8-20; Psalm 34; Matthew 8: 28-34

On this day of celebration in Canada, we will use for our prayer the prayer “for civic occasions”, and will repeat it on July 4.  Our attention today is turned to Abraham’s two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, playing together.  This arouses Sarah’s jealousy and she wants Hagar and her son Ishmael cast out. God promises the distressed Abraham that Ishmael will be the progenitor of a great nation. Once again Abraham must trust. Hagar is sent into the desert and when her water runs out she leaves her son under a tree and sits apart, weeping and praying not to see her son’s death.  God consoles her and provides a well of water for her in the desert, a holy place for Muslims today.  God heard the cry of the poor, the outcast Hagar. Jesus hears the fierce cries of two Gadarene demoniacs [Gerasene in Mark, pagan and outcasts], and frees them from their demons.

Abraham’s is a household divided, all too common in our day.  Isaac is father of the Israel, and Ishmael the father of Arabs. Once they played together, but for too many centuries they have engaged in caution and outright war.  Where might your own family tree need healing, unity and peace?  Pray for your family, alive and dead, and thank God that all our ancestors are now one in Christ.

O God, you guide all in wisdom and love. Accept our prayers for our nation[s]. Grant wisdom to our leaders and integrity to our citizens. Secure for us harmony and justice that we may live in unity and peace.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Genesis 22: 1-19; Psalm 116; Matthew 9:1-8

God has promised a nation springing from Ishmael; it seems Isaac will have a different fate. Here God commands that Abraham offer Isaac as a burnt offering.  Father and son walk together to the place of sacrifice, with Abraham assuring the boy that God would provide the lamb.  His knife is stopped only by an angelic intervention, and God renews the promise of a great nation.  The psalm antiphon is “I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.” Jesus asks what is easier, to say “your sins are forgiven” or “stand up and walk”? Walking seems to be a theme.

Can you take a walk and pray today?  Some of you are in wheelchairs, bedridden. Others of you may have paralyzed parts of our psyches. Some of you may be afraid to walk with God, afraid of what sacrifice might be demanded.  Lay your fears, your complaints, your sins, your paralysis as an offering to God.  God doesn’t only want the “good stuff.” God wants all of you just as you are.  How will you respond?

You have delivered us from death, freed our eyes from tears.  We walk before you, God of freedom, and ask that all the heart broken, the hungry, the rejected may join us your land of the living.

Friday, July 3, 2015 - Thomas, Apostle

Ephesians 2: 19-22; Psalm 117; John 20: 24-29

We are “no longer strangers and aliens, but citizens with the saints and members of God’s own household.”  Why such a first reading for Thomas? Because he may have felt alienated from his community, especially after the Easter night appearance--which he missed. What a blessing for us, however, that we can contemplate the compassion of Jesus for this friend. Who else is invited to touch him?

When have you felt alienated, strange, even in your own family, community, parish?  Imagine Jesus standing before you right now and holding out his wounded hands to you, his friend and member of God’s own household.  Remember that the Spirit teaches us through our imaginations.  What does Jesus say to you?  What do you do with those hands of his? Contemplate this invitation to intimacy.

Jesus, send us your Spirit of courage to welcome all who are strangers, or strange to us. Let no one who flees to our wealthy countries be rejected, as you never reject the alienated.

Saturday, July 4, 2015 - Independence Day in the US

Genesis 27:1-5, 9-10, 15-29; Psalm 135; Matthew 9: 14-17

How ironic that we would call this independence day.  The first reading challenges US citizens with a story of cheating.  We hear that Jacob cheats his brother out of his birthright by lying to his blind father Isaac. And we? Driven by fear of terrorism, we are hardly independent, acting deceptively when we wage war with our own weapons of mass destruction.  We have cheated the poor, the former slaves, the immigrants out of their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Who will save us from the violence of our world?  Only Christ Jesus, the bridegroom mentioned in the gospel. He is always with us, faithfully loving us, even in our most awful crimes against humanity.

Jacob has to suffer many painful consequences for his lies.  Pray for all those who suffer the consequences of our lies: personal lies that hurt family, friends and colleagues; church lies that give scandal; national lies that promote violence and the abuse of power. Pray for God’s mercy. Beg, on behalf of the rich nations, for forgiveness.
O God, you guide all in wisdom and love. Accept our prayers for our nation[s]. Grant wisdom to our leaders and integrity to our citizens. Secure for us harmony and justice that we may live in unity and peace.

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July. 5 - 11

Sunday, July 5, 2015 - Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 2: 2-5; Psalm 123; 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10; Mark 6:1-6

Notice today’s Alleluia verse: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, sending me to bring good news to the poor.”  The opening prayer reminds us of the obedience of Jesus which raises a fallen world. Unlike Abraham’s obedience with Isaac, God is not testing, does not need the suffering and death of Jesus to raise a fallen world.  Jesus’ obedience is to the good news, the mission of God.  If Paul can claim that he is content with “weaknesses, insults, hardships…for the sake of Christ,” discovering that when he is weak then God is strong, how much more Jesus.  God’s “power is made perfect in weakness.” Jesus will die rather than betray the good news. God’s power will bring triumph out of his seeming weakness, failure and death.

To what and to whom are you obedient?  Why?  Ezekiel and Jesus are obedient to God’s mission, the critique of unjust power and the consolation of the little ones. What about Mary?  The townspeople of Nazareth take offense at him.  Her friends, neighbors and kinfolk turn against her son. How will she respond to them?  How will she pray?

Send your Spirit upon us, Jesus, that we may continue your mission.  Give us the gift of obedience to all that is just, trust to accept what we cannot change, courage and creativity to change what we can.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Genesis 28: 10-22; Psalm 91; Matthew 9: 18-26

On Saturday we left Jacob being blessed by his blind father. Then whole chunks of Jacob’s story are passed over in our liturgical readings.  Today God renews the promise made to Abraham of numerous descendants. Here God’s promise is unconditional, and it is Jacob who lays conditions on God.  He is returning to his father’s house many years later, and he hopes to return in peace.  Indeed, after cheating Esau of his inheritance!  In the gospel it is as though editors mixed up Matthew’s and Mark’s stories of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the issue of blood.  Mark is usually briefer and uses “suddenly” to indicate the urgency of the good news. Today Matthew tells both stories in short order and uses “suddenly.”

How “suddenly” do you, can you move?  If you are physically unable, that is one thing, but are there things that keep you mired in your comfort zone?  Show these to Jesus and ask for the grace of wisdom to recognize and the grace to respond immediately when you hear his call.

Thank you, God of our ancestors, for your unconditional blessing of faithful and steady love. Help us to respond to your kindness with mercy for our near and our far neighbors.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Genesis 32: 22-31; Psalm 17; Matthew 9: 32-28

Jacob sends his household across the river.  Were we to read Genesis 32-33 we would learn that Jacob fears Esau’s revenge and wants to preserve his wives and children.  Today’s story is about Jacob’s wrestling with an angel who gives him a new name, Israel, and strikes his hip, causing a permanent limp. What do you think Esau will do when he sees his brother again?  Read Genesis 33: 1-17 for a powerful story of reconciliation, reminiscent of the prodigal son.  Matthew offers a summary statement of all the good the compassionate Jesus is doing: casting out demons, proclaiming good news and curing every kind of disease. Jesus looks on the crowds, “harassed and helpless.” 

Who in your circle seems harassed and helpless?  How could you respond?  Ask for the grace of compassion.  When do you feel harassed?  Look at Jesus looking at you, humbly and tenderly, and offer him every kind of dis-ease in your life.

Give us peace to heal our harassment and the gift of hope when we feel helpless.  Especially give peace and hope to those peoples experiencing war, famine, thirst, injustice.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Genesis 41:55-57, 42:5-7, 17-24; Psalm 33; Matthew 10:1-7

A bit of a parallel here in the twelve sons of Jacob and the twelve whom Jesus calls to cast out demons and cure every disease.  He sends them out to proclaim, “The kin-dom of heaven has come near.” The kin-dom of God is already, centuries earlier, at work like the mustard seed in the heart of Joseph who has stored Egypt’s grain for a time of famine. Jacob’s sons come to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph recognizes them, hears their remorse for selling him into slavery, turns away from them, and weeps.

Remember how before and during the Vatican Council the whole church prayed for a kingdom of truth and justice, of love and peace?  What does the kingdom of God, the reign of God, the kin-dom of God mean to you now?  To whom could you proclaim it today, perhaps by sharing what you learned in this meditation or perhaps by your actions?

Grant a new heart to us, God of truth and justice, peace and love. We have often betrayed our kin, brothers and sisters, your children who need our justice and love.  Forgive us!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Genesis 44: 18-21, 23-29, 45:1-5; Psalm 105; Matthew 10: 7-15 

Joseph insists that his youngest brother Benjamin come to Egypt and Jas so hesitant to part with him. When all his brothers are before him Joseph demands privacy and reveals himself to his brothers, weeping, saying, “Come closer to me….do not be distressed or angry with yourselves.”  Jesus in his missionary sermon tells the apostles to wish peace on every house they enter.  If they are not welcomed they must shake the dust from their feet and move on. Peace is in progress. 

Peace is on the move, reconciliation is a chief reality of the kin-dom of God. Listen to God say directly to you: “Come closer to me…do not be distressed or angry with yourself.”  How does that feel to you?  Will you come closer? All is forgiven.  Ask to believe that and surrender any anger or shame you feel for being downright sinful or simply human.

A broken, contrite heart you never spurn. More, you invite us as loved sinners to come ever closer to you. Thank you!  Help us be merciful to those who hurt us.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30; Psalm 37; Matthew 10:16-23

Jesus warns, “Brother will betray brother…”  We have just seen such betrayal in the Joseph story which concludes with the tearful reunion of Joseph and his father Jacob.  Jacob brings everyone and everything with him to Egypt, as once Abraham left the land of Ur, trusting only God.  God now promises Jacob yet again that he will sire a great nation, just as Abraham was promised.  More than being great, Jesus promises us that the Spirit of God will give us the words to refute those who persecute us.  And so much more!

When have you felt betrayed?  Persecuted?  How did you pray then?  (Remember, cursing psalms are part of Scripture!)  How did God respond to you when you felt so stripped?  How will you respond to God? Pray for all those who are being persecuted right now around the world because of their faith, their justice, their work for peace and reconciliation.

Thank you for calling us to be ambassadors of reconciliation.  Holy Spirit, do not let us deny the conflicts that we bury and let smolder.  Guide us into truth, and into true peace.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Genesis 49: 28-31, 33, 50:15-26; Psalm 105; Matthew 10: 24-33

As we finish our piecemeal reading of Genesis we hear of Jacob’s death, and how the lying continues. The brothers wonder whether now Joseph will exact revenge on them.  They tell Joseph that Jacob was begging Joseph to forgive their treachery.   They do admit their crime however.  The reconciliation continues. Joseph begins to weep, and then his brothers with him. Joseph says, “Do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God?” Jesus too warns that if the master is so shamefully maligned, how much more those of his household.  “Do not be afraid,” Jesus says, but “What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light.”  

Lying, cover ups, twisting of the truth, judging and maligning we have always with us.  When have you been guilty of deception?  How did you/will you talk about this with Jesus?  When have you heard him speaking in the dark, in your pain, your spiritual darkness, your religious experience?  Pray not to cover up, manipulate, or deny truth.

Holy Spirit, flood us with the light of truth today – us sitting at our computers, our leaders in the church and government, addicts, swindlers – help us all be unafraid to walk in the truth.

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