On this fifth Sunday of Easter, we hear rich words that should gladden our hearts and fill us with energy for the Gospel mission of Jesus!
The two lines from the Gospel that jump out at me are:
I recently heard a lovely story of a small boy who packs his backpack with Twinkies and juice boxes and goes to leave the house.
His Mom says, “Where are you going?” The boy says, “I am going to find God.”So off he goes.
He ends up in a local park and sits on a bench next to a homeless woman.
He takes out a Twinkie and a juice box and starts to unwrap them.
The woman watches and smiles at him and he laughs and offers her a Twinkie and a juice box. They both eat, talk, laugh and enjoy each other.
Soon, the boy says goodbye and sets off for home. The woman leaves and goes off to find her friends.
When the boy gets home his mother asks, “Did you find God?”
He says enthusiastically, Yes, and God is a woman!”
The homeless woman meets up with her friends and says, “I met God in the park today – and he is a little boy!”
These two lines that I heard in the Gospel today are illustrated by this story:
“Where I am you also may be” and “Whoever believes in me will do the work that I do.”
Both the boy and the woman manifested God where they were, what they were doing, and how they related to each other.
Each of these phrases is essential for us. We bring Christ wherever we are.
We are given the work to carry on the mission of Christ in our time and in various ways.
This is so well illustrated in a poem prayer by Teresa of Avila:
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
On this Fifth Sunday of Easter in the Eastern Church, the feast of St. Photine is celebrated. St. Photine is the name given to the Samaritan Woman whom Jesus spoke with at the well. The name means “luminous one” because she heard the words of Christ and recognized him as the savior.
We don’t celebrate or name her in the western church. In one way we celebrate her as a critical person in the Gospel, and in another way she is invisible.
Yet, this woman is a major evangelizer and a prophet. It is through her words and witness that a whole village comes to believe in the Christ of the living water.
Think of what you do each day to witness Christ to others. Think of the things you say and do to advance the mission of Jesus. Just like those in our first reading from Acts, “we devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” to continue to spread the word of God and increase the number of the disciples in our families, our work, and ministries.
We know that the women of Scripture have played pivotal roles as prophets, preachers, evangelizers, deacons, and leaders of prayer and Christian communities.
Today we continue to have opportunities and obligations to step up and lead in those same roles. People so often tell me that they are grateful for the leadership of women in the Church and that they are eager to hear their voices more often.
As hard as it is, we need to seek those roles and see ourselves as prophets manifesting the Word of God to all. And we must help others do the same.
As Jesus said, “Where I am you also may be.”
and “Whoever believes in me will do the work I do.”
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” It is up to us! Amen
I would like to leave you with two questions for reflection:
· Who were the prophets you met this week who manifested God to you?
· In what ways were you a prophet for others?
Donna L. Ciangio, OP
Donna L. Ciangio, OP
Sr. Donna is a Dominican Sister of Caldwell, New Jersey and holds a doctorate from Drew University. She is the director of Church Leadership Consultation and works internationally and nationally in promoting parish vitality and pastoral direction, congregational and leadership development, faith formation, Small Christian Communities, consulting with parishes and dioceses, and in many other areas. She served as the International Coordinator for Renew and the Director of Pastoral Services of the National Pastoral Life Center and as parish consultant for the Jesuit Conference USA.
Sister Donna serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Rose of Lima Church in Short Hills, New Jersey, is an adjunct professor in Drew University’s Doctor of Ministry program; and a consultant for RCL Benziger Publishing Company.
Her articles have appeared in Today’s Parish, Ligourian, CHURCH Magazine, and in publications from Crossroads, Paulist Press, and St. Anthony Messenger Press. Her current book is “Open Our Hearts: A Small Group Guide for an Active Lent” a faith sharing book (with Rev. Thomas Iwanowski) from Ave Maria Press and the most recent article, The Parish as a School of Discipleship, in Catechetical Leader, May 2014. Her most recent Lent book is entitled Conversations that Matter, Lent and Advent small group participants’ booklets.
Sr. Donna also serves on the Board of Trustees of Caldwell University and the Center for Ministry Development.
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