Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Reflection for Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday of Holy Week

One of my favorite forms of praying with scripture is the Ignatian tradition of contemplative, imaginative prayer. Here, we are invited to listen to the scriptures and imagine ourselves within the stories we hear.

Reading today’s scriptures it can be easy to hear these words and imagine ourselves standing strong with the prophet, the psalmist, or among the disciples who cannot fathom betraying Christ. We would like to find ourselves blameless and innocent. We would like to say that morning after morning we open our ears and hearts to God and stand strong as Isaiah and the psalmist do. Doing so is comfortable.

Much more difficult however, is to identify with Judas, or later this week with Peter, who betray Christ, or to see ourselves as those who rebuke the prophet or the psalmist. Doing so requires a difficult evaluation of our own sinfulness. It requires that we confront the ways in which we have rebelled and turned our backs on Christ.

We may initially gawk at such a suggestion. “I have not plucked anyone’s beard, put gall in anyone’s food, nor exchanged someone’s life for a bag of silver!” We say to ourselves. Yet we cannot escape the scriptures through such a literal reading.

When we allow ourselves to identify with someone like Judas, we are challenged to honestly look at our daily actions and inactions and see where we fail to follow Christ. We realize the many ways we ignore the voices and needs of the poor, the marginalized, the minoritized, and the oppressed. We are confronted with the ways in which we are complicit with the structures that create such poverty, marginalization, minoritization, and oppression. We are troubled by the ways we have failed to advocate alongside our sisters and brothers. The list goes on and we find that doing so is uncomfortable.

Reflecting on our sinfulness, on the ways we have failed, is hard. We would much rather skip this part and fast-forward to Easter Sunday when Christ rises, defeats sin and death, and all seems right with the world. Yet, today’s readings remind us of the harsh reality of being a follower of Christ – a reality that is not always comfortable. They remind us that to do so, to follow Christ, requires much of us. It requires us to open our ears and hearts each day to hear Christ’s call. It requires that we respond to that call through speaking and acting against injustice as Isaiah, the psalmist, and Christ do. And it requires us to do so even when doing so puts us at risk of the rebuke and rejection we hear of so clearly in today’s scriptures.

Amelia Blanton Hibner is Program Coordinator in the School of Social Work.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Reflection for Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tuesday of Holy Week

JN 13:21-33, 36-38

We are called this Tuesday of Holy Week to sing of the salvation Jesus has promised us.  Each and every one of us has been chosen to join God in heaven and that should give us strength and hope for the future.  But what does that truly mean in our daily lives?  If we are already saved, then what are we striving for and why are we often still troubled and tested?

These are great questions to discern, but to me, these questions and the answers I have come to know have helped me to form a much more intimate understanding of my relationship with God.  Each day we have choices to make that end up forming who we are and how we act.  We cannot simply know that we are saved and then do whatever we want.  We should be rejoicing in our salvation through way we conduct ourselves.  By choosing to live our lives in the way Jesus intends, we are singing in thanksgiving of the sacrifices of Jesus.  Sounds pretty simple, right? Not so much.  There will still be trials and tribulations in this world and you may not always be going with the norm of society by acting like Jesus would, but it is still the right thing to do.  Today we hear about how even Peter, who is often seen as Jesus’s closest Apostle, denied Jesus three times, which just further proves that no one is perfect.  We are all sinners and that is simply part of our humanity, but that is what makes this Holy Week so beautiful.  Jesus died for our sins so that we can be saved.  So, how do we live this out?  We need to actively work on our relationship with God and intentionally act in the way of Jesus and when we mess up, we can come to God for forgiveness.  Peter was Jesus’s beloved friend and even he messed up from time to time, so how are we expected to be any different?  We aren’t.  We are expected to find hope in the promise of salvation and love in the way of Jesus.  Each and every day we can choose to live in this way and become closer to God.  So in short, yes, we have been saved in the moment Jesus died on the cross, but we can rejoice in this truth by living the way God intended and turning to our faith in times of distress.

God, today we ask you to be with us as we reflect on the beauty of our promised salvation.  Thank you for being with us in this time of discernment and for sending your Son to die for our sins.  As we go forth in this Holy Week, we ask for You to help us recognize You in the people and situations we encounter.  Help us to sing Your praises each and every day.  In Your name we pray, Amen.

Miranda Reeder is a senior nursing major and a Campus Ministry intern.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Reflection for Friday, March 23, 2018

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

JN 10:31-42

“In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice”

Surrounded. In each of the readings today we have figures that are surrounded. Jeremiah can hear the “whispers of many” waiting for “any misstep.” Waiting for the opportunity when he will be moved, so they can take “vengeance on him.” Destroying floods and the snares of death surround the psalmist. Everywhere the psalmist looks, death and destruction lurks. Jesus stands cornered by a group of angry Jews, preparing to stone him.

Jesus asks, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” For each of these characters the good works of the Lord have pushed them into a corner. Escape seems unlikely. What do they do?
“In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.”

As the powers of death surround, they call upon the Lord and he hears them. The Lord hears us. This is something we can take into our everyday life. As we prepare to enter Holy Week remember, “The Lord is with us.” We can keep experiencing the tragedy of the passion, but remember that the Lord, “like a mighty champion” will come again.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Reflection for Thursday, March 22, 2018

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

JN 8:51-59

The thing about promises is that they are easy to make and hard to keep.
“I promise to call home twice a week,” “I promise to write this paper two weeks before it is due.” “I promise to spend more time with a friend I have not seen in a while.” We make these promises both to others and to ourselves. Yet, often, we find these promises a burden to keep and they slip to the wayside.

In today’s first reading, God promises Abram a collection of earthly substances-a changed name to Abraham, fertility, the land of Canaan, and countless descendants. In turn, God asks that Abraham make a promise to follow God, worshiping him and keeping faith and trust in God’s love.  
Jesus expands on this promise, offering much more than earthly pleasures. In the Gospel today, Jesus exclaims, “Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.” More than land and fertility, Jesus is offering us a promise of eternal life- a salvation with Him. We trust that Jesus will keep this promise. Have we any doubts, just look to the cross. Jesus kept his promise until the horrific end.

When we begin Lent, we make promises both to God and to ourselves. We promise to fast, pray, and almsgive. We promise a sacrifice, whether that be candy or social media or swearing. We may also promise a commitment, such as eating healthy, exercising daily, doing homework ahead of schedule.

With Easter approaching in a little over a week, we may have forgotten some of these initial promises we made. However, it is not too late to renew them. We know that soon Jesus will sacrifice His life in order to fulfill His promise to us. Let us continue to reflect on the sacrifices we make to keep our own promises and pray that God will give us the strength to make and keep our promises.