Archives: June 2016

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  

This Sunday we celebrate the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Our Gospel this Sunday taken from the Gospel of Luke.  It is the well know story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair and then anointed them with oil.   Observing this scene, the Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner said to himself:  “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,  that she is a sinner.”   The Pharisee’s thoughts prompted Jesus to tell a story about two people whose debts were forgiven.   He then asked the Pharisee:  “Which of them will love him (the creditor) more?”  The Pharisee rightly answered:  “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”   Jesus then went on to say of the woman:  “So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she has shown great love.”     Interestingly, the Pharisee could only see the woman as a sinner.  Jesus on the other hand was able to see her as woman of great love.   The story invites us to remember and to trust in God’s mercy.  It also challenges us to reflect on those times when we have pigeonholed someone based on an impression we have of them. 

Our first reading this Sunday is from the second book of Samuel.  In it the prophet Nathan, speaking in the name of the Lord, rebuked David for taking Bathsheba to be his wife after having conspired to have her husband, Uriah, killed.   When David acknowledged his sin, Nathan responded:  “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin:  you shall not die.”  

Our second reading this weekend is from the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians.   In it Paul reminds us that we are justified by our faith in Jesus Christ, and not by any actions of our own.   Paul summarizes this belief succinctly:  “We who know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in the Christ Jesus and not by works of the law. Because by works of the law no one will be justified”    

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. When have you experienced God’s forgiveness in your life?
  2. When have you been able to forgive someone else?  What made it possible for you to forgive?
  3. Justification by faith in Jesus Christ sounds kind of protestant, doesn’t it?   What does this mean to you?   

What does it take to change a life? One formula includes willing students, committed volunteer mentors and supportive administrators. Two years ago the Basilica entered into a new partnership called, “Hennepin Connections,” with our neighbor, Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). The premise was simple—pair one volunteer mentor with one MCTC student who had experienced homelessness or poverty.

Mentors were asked to provide support and encouragement to students to help them stay in school and graduate. In its initial year, nine volunteers participated. Students who completed the year received a $1,500 scholarship. The start-up was intentionally small in order to learn if this idea would work and what was needed by the volunteers and students for these relationships to be successful. 

In year two, the goal was to grow to 15 students. This May, that goal was exceeded when 17 students and mentors completed Hennepin Connections—now “the buzz” at the college. Andrea Nelson is the Advancement Officer for the MCTC Foundation and recently attended the closing gathering for mentors and mentees. Describing a powerful goodness in the room, Andrea was struck by the volunteer mentors’ comments. “They expressed gratefulness for the friendships and relationships they had forged, and they talked about building a relationship with someone that they didn’t even know a year ago. How often do people of different experiences and different ethnic backgrounds come together and share deep and meaningful conversations?” The surprise for Andrea was that the mentors learned as much as their mentees.

The success of Hennepin Connections means more volunteer mentors are needed. Mentors commit for a school year from September to May, and training and support are provided. Current mentors said it’s important to view the role as a guide, someone who assists as an advisor, and good listening skills are a must.

A volunteer mentor since the start, parishioner Steve Kattke is a strong advocate who actively encourages others to get involved. He shared that it may be hard to understand the barriers students are working to overcome and stressed that a mentor makes a difference. Students struggle with issues like transportation, a place to sleep, or finances while working to achieve their educational goals.

Parishioner Marsha Carlson was a new mentor this year. Last fall, after continuing to hear that students still needed mentors, Marsha joined after the program had begun and jumped right in. Marsha said, “It was easy. At first, we met at MCTC which is across the street the Basilica, and that is how we got to know each other. After that, we would meet or talk on the phone about once a week to check in on how things were going.”
Marsha knew when her mentee had tests and knew when she was struggling. As a mentor, Marsha offered resources and emotional support, and she felt a real bond with her mentee. Over Christmas, Marsha was out of town but kept in touch with her mentee. Her mentee was surprised that Marsha kept calling even while traveling. After the program ended, Marsha learned what meant the most to her mentee was knowing someone besides her family and friends cared about how she was doing.

Serving as a mentor opened Marsha’s eyes to the realities of homelessness. She watched students struggling to achieve their educational goals, but they also worried about where they would sleep that night. Marsha described being a mentor as an amazing experience and definitely worth her time. She plans to serve as a mentor again next year.

Are you called to consider serving as a mentor with Hennepin Connections? This one-on-one ministry is life changing for everyone involved. To learn more, contact Janice Andersen, Director of Christian Life.