by Laura Passard Yurko
To me, the theme of this week's Gospel is Awareness. Lazarus is suffering and in need and the wealthy man ignores him - literally steps over him to get into his house.
Whether it's a stranger on the street or a friend or family member who struggles with an addiction, a serious illness or who recently experienced a loss, pain and suffering is uncomfortable - for person experiencing it and for those of us standing by on the outside. We may ask ourselves "What can I really do to help?" We all have reasons for ignoring people or issues in our lives. But, God is asking us to be aware of the humanity that exists in some of the darkest and scariest places and to do what we can, which is, at the very least, to acknowledge that humanity. In the second half of our meeting we heard from local Marriage and Family Therapist Kelly McCann who spoke about Communication. In her introduction she said that some of our most basic human needs are "to be seen, to be heard and to be understood." A smile and a wave or a simple hello is all it takes to connect with a stranger and saying "I'm here and I'm listening" to a friend or simply asking someone what he or she needs are all ways we can connect to the humanity in each other.
I leave you this week with the following prayer entitled "I Need to Be Aware" and hope that you might be more aware as you journey through your life.
Expand my awareness, O God,
by Laura Passard Yurko
Sunday's Gospel (Luke 16:1-13) touches on the subject of money: how we can get caught up in our temporal needs and wants at the sacrifice of our spiritual needs and wants. This is clearly stated by Jesus at the end of the passage, "You cannot serve both God and mammon." But, what exactly is mammon? It's not quite "money." During Thursday's meeting, we were given a supplemental handout taken from Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio's essay "God and Mammon?" which has provided me with a lot of clarity and insight and is the basis for my reflection this week.
Note: Below is the excerpt from our meeting. Any emphasis is mine. To read the essay in its entirety, click on the link above.
We all know mammon has something to do with money. But the word he uses here is not the common word for money. Mammon means unjust gain, greed, or money made as an end in itself, an ultimate value, a controlling force. Some people use money to provide for their family. Others sell out their family, their country, their integrity...for money. This is where money becomes mammon, a relentless god that demands that all bow before it and offer sacrifice.
I think "mammon" can refer to any type of fortune - whether it's a fortune we have or long to have. We are all provided for in one way or another. Yet, when we approach these gifts with fear and anxiety - a fear of loss or insecurity about the future (or in my case a tendency to panic and obsess) - we tend to close ourselves off, protecting these riches from others. In so doing we are serving only ourselves. We need to rid ourselves of that anxiety and move forward with the confidence that we will be taken care of. That, what we have been given must flow through us and be shared with others. Whether it's financial riches, intelligence, compassion, or physical strength (to name only a few) we need to be vessels of God's grace and love - constantly being filled, shared, and never completely empty.
I must trust. I must have faith. I must remain open to accept all that God will provide for me as He does for all of His creation. I must allow all that I receive to flow through me and share these gifts with all I encounter.
Click on the image to read a meditation shared with us by one of our New Moms. It hits on some of the same points discussed during our meeting and those reflected above.
by Laura Passard Yurko
The first year of my daughter's life was one of the darker periods of mine. While I was overjoyed at the sight and touch of my little angel, I struggled everyday. I struggled with being a stay at home mom (something I'd never planned to be), nursing, changing family dynamics and, though not formally diagnosed, what I believe was a mild form of post partum depression. It wasn't until after her first birthday that my depression lifted and in its absence I could see the darkness that had covered my life for so long.
During those first 12 months, every aspect of my life was overwhelming and I was perpetually afraid that my daughter would die - either due to my inability to care for her or by some tragedy. The fear and shame affected every aspect of my life and I tried desperately not to let anyone know. Unfortunately, hiding it from everyone isolated me, which made it all worse.
Re-emerging into life that second year I became much more active and engaged as I embraced my role as Mommy and set out to plan out my daughter’s entire life (ha!). At the end of the year, I found OLQA’s Moms Group. Initially, I went to hear OLQA School Principal, Ms. Ryan, speak. What I couldn’t have imagined finding there was the nourishment of the Small Faith Group.
I have found that the most powerful aspect of our Small Faith Group is when, through reflecting on the Gospel, I hear my story echoed in the voices of the women around me. The struggles I've faced and lessons I've learned are not limited to my personal experiences with them. The details are different, specific to each of us, but the larger lessons are the same. It’s through this sharing that I realize that I am not alone – not now and not ever.
This Thursday’s meeting was the first of our Fall Session. We were delighted to welcome back so many familiar faces and thrilled to welcome so many new moms to our group. As we sat in our group and got to know each other I was struck by the diversity in our paths…the unique journeys that brought us all to this same place. And, now, here we were, supporting each other, sharing with each other, and learning from each other despite being strangers not 24 hours ago. The bonds of motherhood and our relationship with God had led us to this place where we found each other and felt at home.
This week's Gospel revolves around a theme of lost and found. Three stories illustrate this point: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the Prodigal Son. The details of the stories are different, but the lesson remains: each of us matters. We matter to someone, to the world, and, especially, to God.
Whether or not you were lost before you found us, I'm so glad you did.
Reflections inspired by our weekly faith sharing and fellowship.