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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


 And so shall the peace of God, which exceeds all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus 

Philippians 4:7

 Reflection by:  Sharon Nelsen

I was on the phone conversing with my friend who said, “I had the most unusual experience yesterday; I felt enveloped in peace at the same time I was experiencing a deep sadness.”

For the past thirty years he has worked with at-risk youth, and presently is entrusted with youth on probation, so I certainly related to his experience of deep sadness.  He works in areas many of us are not inclined to drive through, much less stop and visit the families that live there.

His comment inspired me to think about how I view peace.  I realized that often I think of peace as that sense experienced when everything works out well; when a challenging situation has good results; when what I have hoped and hoped for, finally happens.  Is that the peace promised and given to us by Jesus?  The peace bestowed not as the world gives?  I would name what I experience, “relief,” for it is the same sense I have when the ache in my shoulder goes away.

I went to the Gospel of John where we find so many comforting, challenging words of Jesus.  The first passage I read showed me that the Peace Jesus gives us is connected to who we are.  Knowing our identity and that God's desire is to preserve us from evil, is perhaps our foundation for receiving this peace,  a peace that exists because it is based on truth, the Truth that is grounded in the reality that we are not OF this world, but here to sanctify it in the power of Jesus.  

(John 17.14-18)  “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them.  For they are not of the world, just as I, too, am not of the world.  I am not praying that you would take them out of the world, but that you would preserve them from evil.  They are not of the world, just as I also am not of the world.  Sanctify them in truth.  Your word is truth.  Just as you have sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

Another aspect of this peace is, as in my friend's experience of deep sadness and comforting peace, that it can coexist with all circumstances of our lives.  (John 16.33)  “These things I have spoken to you, so that you may have peace in me.  In the world, you will have difficulties.  But have confidence:  I have overcome the world.”

And yet another mark of this peace is that it sets us apart, again because we rely not on passing circumstances but on the transforming power of God.   (John 16.20)  “Amen, amen, I say to you, that you shall mourn and weep, but the world will rejoice.  And you shall  be greatly saddened, yet your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” 

It is a peace we lose only through sin.  This thought came to me as another friend and I were chatting about his work experience:  He said.  “I can't do less.  I have realized that even though it is tiring, challenging and sometimes seems impossible, I need to stay with my job.  Years ago, I got tired of it.  I took another job that was a lot less work, thinking this would give me a respite.  But I had no peace. I was miserable.  I had less demands upon me, but I was upset all the time.  So, I went back to my former job.  I am sometimes tired, worn out by the demands, frustrated by the slowness of some aspects of it, yet I am at peace.  This is who I am and I can't settle for less.”

My friend illustrated in a most powerful way, what sin is.  So often we think of sin as a list of do nots
and weaknesses, when actually, it is a deliberate, knowledgable choice; we decide to settle for less even though we know what we are called to do.  We'd like an extended vacation and we're tempted to take it.  When Jesus lived His Truth,   “ ... many of his disciples went back, and they no longer walked with him.  Therefore, Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” Then Simon Peter answered him:  “Lord to whom would we go?  You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6.67- 69) When we are trying to live our true calling, where else do we have to go except to the Source, who strengthens us constantly with His Eternal Peace, the first gift He gave as Risen Lord:  (John 20.19)  “Then, when it was late on the same day, on the first of the Sabbaths, and the doors were closed where the disciples were gathered, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and he said to them: 'Peace to you.' ”

Nothing had changed in external circumstances;  everything changed internally with the Presence and the Promise of the Risen Lord because His Peace transcends the physical stage of tranquility; it is an  internal dynamic that empowers us to endure.  It is a gift grounded in truth, not circumstances, that we can receive in the midst of our trials.  It is a gift that only our choice to settle for less can affect, and even then its very absence is often the most effective message to return to truth.  In that way and in others beyond our full understanding, this Peace of Christ is our protector.   “Be anxious about nothing.  But in all things, with prayer and supplication, with acts of thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.  And so shall the peace of God, which exceeds all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4.6-7)  And not only guard, but elevate, encourage, inspire, put things in perspective:  “And let the peace of Christ lift up your hearts.  For in this peace, you have been called, as one body.  And be thankful.”  (Col. 3.15)

Peace is wonderfully contagious.  If you've ever been upset and you move into the presence of a peace-filled person, somehow, you catch that peace.  It goes beyond words, answers, solutions, or any changes in circumstances. It's just there, and you know it.   A world filled with individual bearers of this Peace of Christ, can be powerfully contagious.  With that in mind, let us greet each other this Lent with the prayer of 1Peter 1.2:  “May grace and peace be multiplied for you.”   

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Journaling with Sharon: Lenten Pondering

 By: Sharon Nelsen

Pondering leads to performance. 
Performance does not take us always to understanding, knowing, holding onto the revelations we receive.  Sometimes we rush into things and then wonder afterwards if what we did was the Father's
Will or our own inclination.

Mary pondered the word in her heart.  Her response, her action, her performance flowed out of that process and bore fruit.

I pray:  Dear Mary, teach me how to ponder the word of God.
And I ask:
What are the elements of pondering?

1)      Listening, which requires
- hearing
- being open to the “message” --that which stirs my heart
- concentrating on that message long enough to recall it

2)      Repeating the message to myself until it is part of my long-term memory
- as I go about my daily tasks
- writing it down AND re-reading it

3)      Savoring the message
- in a quiet place set aside
- repeat, repeat, repeat until I “taste” the words
- connect its message, its meaning to my present situation

4)      Acting on the message
-praying for confidence
-discerning choices
-proceeding in trust

In the January issue of “Give us This Day,”  there was a quote from Maisie Ward, co-founder of Sheed and Ward Publishing, that spoke to me about pondering:

“It is the chief characteristic of a life lived for God 
that there is time in it for everything that matters.”

Pondering matters.  I decided to focus on pondering for Lent, which fit well with the “Exercise in Love” that was already included in my Lenten journey.   Perhaps the Lord had more for me to ponder? 

With that in mind, I re-read each entry in my January journal.  I became aware that particular phrases really moved me as I re-read.  I decided to collect them into Lenten pondering, mindful that God will not overburden me.  I also trust  that God will lead me to a particular item on the list as I am faithful to this forty day exercise, so I am not concerned about the sequence as I recorded it.


1. Pray for constancy.

2. To experience “Boundless Love” (St. Catherine of Siena's phrase), turn to God
- in my loneliness
- when I feel overwhelmed
- in my deepest desires

3. “We have this confidence in Him, that if we ask anything according to His Will, He hears us.” (1John 5.14 NAB) “And this is the confidence which we have toward God: that no matter what we shall request, in accord with his will, he hears us.” (NRSV)

4. May my worldly wants decrease and God's desires for me increase.

5. “Listen for the truth of a thing and obey what makes your heart more human.” 
(Joan Chittister, OSB)

6. Constantly trust in God's Goodness, in God, Goodness Itself.

7. No one can walk your path for you.

8. “Exercise in Love.”

            If you are so inclined, ask the Holy Spirit  to assist you in making your own Lenten Pondering List  from the words that seem to keep coming back to you, stand out a little, bring comfort, move you in some way.

            We have a great model and a loving companion for our Lenten Journey:
Dear Mary, 

Teach us how to ponder God's word to us.
Be with us so that with you, 
We may be blessed,
Believing what we hear,
And acting upon it.


Full Fishing Nets

Sunday Feb 7, 2016

A Reflection on Luke 5:1-11, N.A.B.

By: Larry T

Galileans ate little meat besides fish. So fishing on Lake Gennesaret, also known as the Sea of Galilee or the Sea of Tiberias, was big business. The shoals just offshore were a fisherman’s paradise. In Jesus’ day, hundreds of fishing boats trawled the lake. Simon, Andrew (Mark 1:16), James, and John had fished the entire night casting umbrella shaped fishing nets from the side of their boats into usually productive waters without catching a single fish. Imagine their weariness and frustration.

This Sunday we read about how these empty-handed fishermen first listened to Jesus teach the crowd about the Kingdom of God, then reluctantly followed his instructions to “Put into deep water” where they caught so many fish that their nets were tearing and their boats were in danger of capsizing from the weight. Aside from being a really great fish story, what is the point of this Gospel reading? What can we learn from it?

1 While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.
2 He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.
3 Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
4 After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
5 Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”
6 When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing.
7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
9 For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him,
10 and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
11 When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.
-Luke 5:1-11, N.A.B.

We can only guess at what Jesus taught the people about the Kingdom of God, but the power of his reputation and teaching was enough to convince these bone weary fishermen to obey his request to “Put out into deep water . . .” Astounded and excited at the size of their catch Simon Peter threw himself at Jesus’ feet and exuberantly blurted out, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” We should understand Simon Peter’s declaration that he was a sinner not primarily in moral terms but as an expression of awe before the power of the Holy One of God. These fishermen abandoned their belongings and family to follow Jesus because they believed him to be the Anointed One. They became part of the foundation on which Jesus was to build the Kingdom of God on earth.

What was the world like in their time? It was a dangerous, brutal, and violent time. Robbery, murder, extortion, assassinations, and public executions were common happenings. Taxes levied by the Romans drove many people into poverty and even slavery. Corrupt politicians and public officials added to the people’s misery. Judaism had divided into four factions: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots. And the militant Zealots were determined to overthrow the Roman Empire and expel it from the Holy Land by force of arms. What did Jesus bring to this world? Did He bring world peace? Did He bring universal prosperity? Did He overthrow the Roman Empire and restore the Davidic Kingdom thereby eliminating oppression? Did He eliminate corruption? If not, what did Jesus bring to the world of his time, to the world of our time?

Concerning what Jesus brought to the world, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we may call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith, hope, and love. It is only because of the hardness of our heart that we think this is too little. Yes, indeed, God’s power works quietly in this world, but it is the true and lasting power. Again and again, God’s cause seems to be in its death throes. Yet over and over again it proves to be the thing that truly endures and saves. The earthy kingdoms that Satan was able to put before the Lord at that time have all passed away. Their glory, beliefs, and common opinions, have proven to be a mere semblance. But the glory of Christ, the humble, self-sacrificing glory of his love, has not passed away, nor will it ever do so.”

On the surface our world might seem to be crumbling. Everywhere we look we see abortion, wars, terrorism, corruption, murder, immorality, drug abuse, and refugees fleeing for their lives in unprecedented numbers, and so on. If we aren’t careful we could easily be convinced that our civilization is circling the drain. That is, unless we remember that “the glory of Christ, the humble, self-sacrificing glory of his love, has not passed away, nor will it ever do so.”

Monday, February 1, 2016

An Excercise in Love

A reflection on 1 Cor. 12:31-13:13 (NAB)

 By Sharon Nelsen

This morning as I pondered the second reading, I decided to write out this well-known love passage of Paul, substituting my name for the word “love.” 

Sharon is patient,
Sharon is kind.
Sharon is not jealous...

With each movement of my pen, the truth of those attributes active within me became more tangible.  By the time I got down to

Sharon never fails,

I realized that if I graded myself on a scale of one to ten from the mighty list of Paul, I would get a five at best in any of them and that only because over the years, a bit of the Love of God has seeped into me in spite of my resistance.  A more accurate writing of the passage would be:

Sharon is sometimes patient,
Sharon is sometimes kind.
Sharon still gets jealous...

And often, Sharon fails.

But the exercise encouraged me to regard Love more practically,  moving me from the concept to the flesh and blood reality of myself in a real world.    I think that God is giving me good material for a nightly examen and I trust that the Holy Spirit will set a fire of light to those areas in which I am doing better, and those that are flashing “Serious work needed here.”

I continued the process through the whole passage that concludes with 13.13,  and which includes a nearly complete compatibility with Paul's words:

When I was a child I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child,
When I became a woman, I put aside childish things...

Presently, I know  partially;
Then I shall know fully
as I am fully known.  (Another invitation to ponder--what does it mean to be “fully known?”)

Today I have received my Lenten assignment that I hope will go full circle from concept to present  reality, to eternal truth:

“Faith, Hope, Love remain these three.  But the greatest of these is Love.”