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Gospel of Luke - Part 3 - Presenter: Dawn Mayer - March 15, 2020
by Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

Dawn continued her presentation in March with more stories and parables from the Gospel of Luke. As in previous presentations, Dawn explained how the beliefs, perceptions and laws of Jesus’ time affected people in the story. Listening to the stories sequentially, it was easier to focus on the lesson that was being presented.

One of the stories we discussed was about the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus was a beggar outside the rich man’s gate. He longed to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. When Lazarus died, he was taken to the bosom of Abraham. When the rich man died, he was taken to Hades.

Something I hadn’t caught before was that the rich man doesn’t have a name in the story. Another point made during our discussion was about the gate; maybe the rich man is actually the one on the outside. The lesson from this story is timeless. The one who is lost is the one who cannot see the poor person begging at the gate.

The Gospel of Luke enfolds in 10 meals. There are two types of meals during Jesus’ time; symposium and hospitality. A symposium meal is a more formal meal used for teaching or performance. A hospitality meal is more informal. One of the stories we talked about included a hospitality meal. It was the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector. Zacchaeus climbed up a Sycamore tree trying to get a glimpse of Jesus. As Jesus was passing by, He noticed Zacchaeus in the tree and told him to come down. Jesus wanted to have dinner at Zacchaeus’ house.

Because of this encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus returned money to the people he overtaxed. Zacchaeus gave back four times the amount that he overcharged, which was significantly more than the expected amount. In the story of Zacchaeus, the Gospel of Luke shows inclusiveness. Even though Zacchaeus was not on Abraham’s ancestral tree, Jesus declared that Zacchaeus was a descendant of Abraham because Zacchaeus repented for his sins. Jesus came to save all, including sinners.

As we progressed through the Gospel of Luke, we came to the chapters about Jesus' death and resurrection. Several things stood out for me when we talked about these chapters in Luke’s Gospel. One was the details Dawn shared with us which helped me picture the Jerusalem of Jesus' time. We heard about Jesus' procession into Jerusalem. Crowds were chanting Psalm 118. Many Jewish people had traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast. Additional Roman soldiers had also come to Jerusalem to keep order.

Another thing that caught my interest was that Luke is kinder to the people he writes about. Luke gives special consideration or a possible reason for the person’s behavior. A few examples are Judas, the repentant thief and the disciples falling asleep in the garden. Luke wrote that the devil entered into Judas, showing there was an influence in Judas' betrayal of Jesus. The repentant thief recognized that Jesus was the Son of God and asked Jesus to remember him. The disciples were sleeping from grief while Jesus was praying in the garden, even though Jesus had asked them to pray.

We talked about one of my favorite stories that happened after Jesus resurrection'. It was the
story where the disciples met Jesus on the road to Emmaus. The disciples didn’t recognize it was Jesus until He broke bread with them. At the Last Supper, Jesus taught His apostles to "Do this in remembrance of me". At Mass, we don’t just remember the Last Supper, we believe that in the Eucharist, Jesus is made present in the bread and wine.

When the disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, I'm sure they were amazed and ecstatic to see Jesus again. At this time, we are not allowed to gather for Mass to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. I've been thinking about the disciples and their joy at seeing Jesus after His resurrection. I'm going to feel a little bit of that joy when we can physically be present at Mass again. I will appreciate receiving the Eucharist all the more after so many weeks. Until that time, I know that Jesus is with me and all of you. And with everyone.

Gospel of Luke - Part 2 - Presenter: Dawn Mayer - February 15, 2020
by Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

Dawn continued her presentation in February with more information about the Infancy Narrative. I've heard the story of Jesus’ birth from the time I was a child. One memorable part of the story is Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem to be counted for the census. I assumed the Infancy Narrative included the census in multiple Gospels, but was surprised to find that it is only in the Gospel of Luke. However, there is nothing in Luke’s Gospel about the Magi visiting baby Jesus.

The content and placement of the genealogy in the Gospel of Luke is important. Jesus' genealogy appears in the Gospel of Luke after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. When Jesus was baptized, God said "This is my beloved Son" signifying that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus' baptism also shows that He is human; He is one of us. The genealogy of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel is traced back to Adam. Luke wanted to show that Jesus came for all people, not just the Jews.

Another familiar story in the Gospel of Luke talks about Joseph, Mary and Jesus making a pilgrimage to the Temple. After a day’s travel towards home, Joseph and Mary realized that Jesus was not with them so they returned to Jerusalem to find Jesus teaching in the Temple.

Two things caught my attention about this story from Dawn’s presentation. I’m sure I’m not the only person who wondered how Joseph and Mary left Jerusalem without their only son. Dawn shared a theory with the group. Jesus was of age (12) so Mary thought He was traveling with the men. Joseph thought that Jesus was with the women and children. The other point that stayed in my mind was that Jesus didn’t waste any time in beginning His ministry. Since He was of age, Jesus went to take His place in His Father’s house and began His ministry as a teacher.

The Gospel of Luke is a social Gospel, showing that we have a responsibility to care for others. Listening to the stories of healing in the Gospel of Luke, one might notice the strong faith and determination of the people who came to Jesus for healing.

One example is the story of Jesus healing a leper. Lepers were not allowed to be around people. By healing the leper, Jesus restored the man to the community. Another story tells of Jesus healing a paralyzed man. The man’s friends took some tiles off the roof of the home where Jesus was speaking and lowered the man through the hole. Jesus healed the paralyzed man and restored him to his family.

We also heard a healing story within another healing story. Jesus was on his way to heal the 12-year old daughter of Jairus. As he passed by a woman who had a hemorrhage for 12 years touched his garment. Jesus felt the healing power leave Him, stopped and asked "who touched me". The woman admitted she touched Jesus’ garment knowing she would be healed. Jesus helped the kneeling woman to her feet and told her that her faith had healed her.

In the Gospel of Luke, there are parables that Jesus shared with the people. Each parable held a lesson. We looked at the parable about the Good Samaritan. Samaritans were an enemy of the Jewish people. In this story, the Samaritan helped a man who had been beaten and left for dead after two others had passed by the man without giving any assistance. The Samaritan also paid for the man to be taken care of at an inn until he returned. The Samaritan was a true neighbor to the man who had been beaten. In the parables about "the lost" - lost sheep, lost coin, lost brother - Jesus shows that wholeness is restored. The lost sheep is restored to the flock, the coin is restored to the woman and the brother is restored to his family.

My favorite part of Dawn’s presentations on the Gospel of Luke has been learning the history around the Gospel stories. Also, I've enjoyed hearing the explanations of why a specific piece of a Gospel story is important to the people of Jesus' time.

Because of these presentations, I've looked at familiar Gospel stories in a new light. Taken together, the healing stories show how many people sought out Jesus and how they were healed because of their strong faith or the faith of another. At first glance, the parables may not seem relevant to us today, but the lessons they teach can be applied to today’s world. The parable of the lost sheep teaches that everyone is valuable. The parable of the lost coin shows us how to take responsibility for our actions. The parable of the lost son shows God’s boundless mercy.

Gospel of Luke - Part 1 - Presenter: Dawn Mayer - January 18, 2020
by Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

For our January, February and March Associate Days, we are learning about the Gospel of Luke. At the beginning of her presentation, Dawn quizzed us on what we knew about this Gospel. Many familiar stories I assumed were in multiple Gospels are only found in the Gospel of Luke. Some examples are the story of Zaccheus, the journey to Emmaus and the story of the Good Samaritan.

At the beginning of 2019, Dawn presented three sessions on the Gospel of John. I enjoyed her presentations last year and was looking forward to learning how the Gospels of John and Luke are alike, how they differ and what is unique about the Gospel of Luke.

There are many things to keep in mind when reading the Gospels. The Gospels were not all written at the same time. One should be aware of what was happening in the world when each Gospel was written. Events that occurred before and during the time of writing may have been a factor in shaping that Gospel.

Understanding history, tradition and the atmosphere of the time is also important when studying the contents of the Gospels. Jesus was a devout Jew who observed the law and visited the temple. He challenged the accepted social rules of His time. He embraced sinners and outcasts. Jesus' message was that ALL people are invited to come to the "Kingdom of my Father".

Dawn reminded us how the Gospels came to exist. After Jesus died, His teachings were passed on through liturgy, hymns and prayers. People told stories about Him. They wanted to share Jesus' message of mercy and forgiveness. In time, stories about Jesus and His teachings were written down.

When Luke’s Gospel was written, he likely had Mark's Gospel as a resource. One theory is that there was also a document of Jesus’ sayings called "Q" that was used by the Gospel writers. Examples of material that may have been in the "Q" document are: the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes.

Knowledge about the author of the Gospel can also help when reading that Gospel. Luke was a physician, highly educated, well-traveled and widely read. Some say that Luke was a Gentile who studied the Jewish faith. Many scholars believe that Luke might have been a companion of Paul and traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys.

The consensus is that the Gospel of Luke was written around 80 AD. It was written in Koine Greek for a Greek-speaking audience. It is the longest of the four Gospels and emphasizes chronological and historical accuracy. The Gospel of Luke is more polished than the other Gospels. It contains many literary devices (summaries, speeches, journeys, parallels, canticles) which show that Luke was educated. It has a dedication, to "Most excellent Theophilus", which no other Gospel has.

Luke also wrote the Acts of the Apostles that documented the lives of Peter and Paul. It is recommended that the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles be read together. The Gospel of Luke ends with the journey into Jerusalem where Jesus was put to death. The Acts of the Apostles starts in Jerusalem and tells of the founding and spread of the Christian Church.

Part 1 of Dawn’s presentation ended with the Infancy Narrative. One of my favorite parts of this story is where both Zechariah and Mary were visited by an angel to tell them of a special birth. Both questioned the angel. Zechariah doubted the angel's message because he was an old man and his wife was advanced in years. Therefore, because of his doubt, Zechariah was struck dumb, unable to speak until his son John was born and named. Mary also questioned the angel, but her question was not because of doubt, but because she needed clarification: "How can this be since I have no relations with a man". Mary heard the Word of the Lord and said "yes" to the angel's message.

Stations of the Crib - Sister Janice Keenan, OSF - Saturday November 23, 2019
by Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

In the days leading up to Christmas, people are busy and rushing to get their holiday tasks completed. Many of us lose sight of the fact that this time before Christmas is Advent. Advent is a time to reflect on Jesus' coming into our midst and bringing hope to our troubled world.

Reflecting on the Stations of the Crib and the elements of the familiar Nativity story can speak to us about prayer, pillars of faith, gifts from God and much more. For Sr. Janice's presentation, we received a booklet with the opening prayer and prayers for each of the Stations of the Crib. Sr. Janice expanded on the meaning of each station with a story, song or video and talked about the station’s reflection. A t the end of each station, we prayed the station’s prayer.

The First Station (PROCLAMATION) is a call to prayer and meditation. Hope lets us look at the past and reconcile any hurt. Reflection: What regrets do you have? Have you done something different or changed because of a past regret? What came to mind with this reflection were remarks made under the guise of humor that could have been hurtful to the person on the receiving end.

The Second Station (ANNUNCIATION) is a wake-up call. We are getting ready for a special visitor. Reflection: Is there any place in the home of your heart that you would like to invite Christ into? Sr. Janice used rooms of a home to expand on this reflection. Thinking about a living room suggests talking and spending time with visitors. A possibility during Advent is visiting more often with Christ at Mass or in prayer.

The Third Station (VISITATION) is about having another person recharge our batteries like Mary visiting with her cousin Elizabeth. Reflection: Is there a younger or older person who is a light for you or was at one time in your life? For me, visiting the Sisters in Lemont helps when I need to be uplifted.

The Fourth Station (MAGNIFICATION) is Mary’s Magnificat. Mary proclaims the Lord’s greatness. Reflection: Think of someone who has experienced God’s joy. This was a shared reflection for the group. It inspired me to hear what others say or do to bring joy to the people around them.

The Fifth Station (PROMULGATION) is about finding your voice like Zachariah found his voice when he announced John’s name. Reflection: This station reminds us of our need for silence, reflection and prayer. What helps you to pray? Several examples were given, including reading Scripture, listening to music and observing nature.

The Sixth Station (DECLARATION) tells how Joseph didn’t know what to do when he found out that Mary was pregnant, but he listened to the angel and took Mary into his house as his wife. Reflection: When have you been aware that God has used you in support of Him? Has this surprised you?

The Seventh Station (NATIVITY): Mary gave birth to baby Jesus in a stable. Reflection: What are sacred spaces/Holy places in your life? Examples of sacred spaces were given by the group, some quite majestic like the Grand Canyon and others more subtle like seeing a sunset from the kitchen window.

The Eighth Station (OBSERVATION): Shepherds search for those who are lost. God is willing to go to great lengths to find us. Reflection: Take inventory of people who are distant or far from your love. During our shared reflection, the “lost” people in our lives and those in the world were brought to mind or mentioned to the group and we lifted them up in prayer. Several “lost” people came to mind and stayed in my thoughts the rest of the day.

The Ninth Station (NOMINATION) celebrates the naming of us as a child of God. God’s love is unconditional. We are God’s love to others. Reflection: how are you God’s gift to others? I’ve always enjoyed writing notes and sending cards to people I care about. It brings me joy when someone tells me that a card they received from me brought a smile to their face.

The Tenth Station (MANIFESTATION): What was Mary thinking about the gifts of the Magi? Reflection: What gifts has God given you? What gifts do you give others? As I was taking notes during Sr. Janice's presentation, one of the first gifts that popped into my mind was my gift of writing. I am blessed with this gift and the many gifts God has given me.

The Eleventh Station (PRESENTATION): Simeon and Anna waited in the Temple until they met Christ. They were pillars in the Temple that bolstered Mary and Joseph. Reflection: Who are the pillars of your own life’s journey/your faith life? For this reflection, we went around the room and named the pillars of our faith life. My pillars of faith are my parents who prayed with us before we went to sleep at night, took us to Mass every Sunday and sacrificed to give their children a Catholic education.

The Twelfth Station (EVASION) is about Joseph's dream to flee to Egypt to save Jesus from Herod. He trusted that God would take care of Jesus. Reflection: call to mind those in your family or in the human family in special need of the intercession of St. Joseph today and bring them to prayer.

The Thirteenth Station (RESTORATION) is pondering Joseph's words of wisdom to Jesus. Reflection: Are there words of wisdom that have given you hope or direction to keep you properly “oiled” by prayer, compassion and gladness?

The Fourteenth Station (REPUTATION) is about Community. We need to be in relationship with others to complete our journey of faith. Reflection: Who are people in your life who have helped increase your faith? Being an Associate of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago has definitely helped increase my faith.  I enjoy and appreciate every Associate group day.

The Fifteenth Station (DEDICATION): When we welcome Him, God is with us. Reflection: All work is sacred when the work is accomplished with great love. Does your work make visible the presence and power of love to others?

Sr. Janice's presentation was the first time I’ve heard of the Stations of the Crib. Reflecting on the Stations of the Crib, I was reminded of the many places where my life is touched by God. I also felt grateful for the blessings God has given me. After this Associate group day, I found that during the time of Advent, I was a little more focused on Jesus’ coming at Christmas and a little less focused on my task list.

Being an FSC Associate - Dorothea Przybycien

Dorothea Przybycien discusses the importance of St. Francis of Assisi, how she became an FSC Associate and her special connection to the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago.

Celebrating the Feast of St. Francis and the Devotional Renewal
of the Associates of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago - October 5, 2019
by Mary Mosser, FSC Associate

We came together for Mass to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis during which there is an annual devotional renewal of the Associates of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. Mass was celebrated in the Sacred Heart Chapel at the Motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. Our celebrant was Fr. John Nowak, CR.

The first reading was from Habakkuk 2: 2-4. In the reading, Habakkuk cries out to God about the terrible things he sees and experiences. Habakkuk thinks that God doesn’t hear him because God hasn’t done anything about the violence, destruction and misery.

The Gospel from Luke 17: 5-10 was a familiar one. The apostles asked the Lord to increase their faith. The Lord replied to them "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ' Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you."

From the readings, Fr. John was reminded of the movie 'Bruce Almighty'. The movie is about a news reporter named Bruce Nolan, played by Jim Carrey. Bruce feels like his life is going nowhere. He is needled by his co-workers, doesn’t get the anchor position and is fired from his job. Bruce becomes angry and blames God for all of the bad things that happened to him.

Bruce is paged and calls the phone number. There’s a message from someone who seems to know everything that is happening in his life. Bruce drives to the address given to him in the message where he meets a man dressed as a janitor (played by Morgan Freeman) mopping the floor. Bruce asks for directions to the 7th floor. When Bruce gets to the 7th floor, he sees Morgan Freeman in a white suit sitting behind a desk. Morgan Freeman plays God in the movie.

God had a plan for Bruce. Since Bruce doesn’t think that God is doing a good job, God gives Bruce his powers. At first Bruce doesn’t believe what happened then he begins to enjoy his new powers, granting all of his desires. Bruce keeps hearing voices (people praying) and tries to ignore them. God appears and tells Bruce that he has to answer people’s prayers. Bruce creates chaos answering prayers. Finally Bruce gives God back His powers.

After providing us with a summary of the movie, Fr. John’s message was to let God be God. The first reading and Fr. John’s homily were timely reminders that God is listening when we pray, but the answer may not always match the request. After listening to the first reading, the message I received from the Gospel was "don’t give up". Even with a tiny bit of faith, anything can be accomplished with God’s help.

Following Fr. John’s homily, the Associates were called to the front of chapel where we renewed our commitment. Afterwards, the Sisters promised the support of their prayers and community to all of the Associates. The statement of support from the Sisters has always been one of my favorite parts of the Associate renewal.

Each Associate received a gift from the Sisters in honor of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. My gift is a little picture of a bird with the saying "Enjoy Life’s Blessings". Being an Associate of the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago is something I would definitely consider as one of the blessings in my life.