Saturday, March 28, 2015

Reflection for Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

In the gospel today we find the Pharisees discussing the fate of Jesus. And they come to a conclusion:

“So from that day on they planned to kill Him.”

If we aren’t careful, we might just read over that sentence to see what follows. But read that again, slower: “So from that day on they planned to kill Him.” Yes it is a sad sentence, but what this really is, is a death sentence. It is the death sentence of your God. 

Jesus knew that He was going to die for us. He knew that He was on Earth to save us. And He knew that it was not going to be easy. Yet, it is not hard to imagine that He was still upset and scared when the decision was finally made. Imagine how you would feel if you knew people were planning to kill you. Jesus was fully divine, but He was also fully human.

And who was it that made the decision to kill our Lord and Savior? Sure we can blame it on the Pharisees, but (watch out, this might sting) in all reality it was you and I. Christ came to die for our sins and give us eternal life, so with each sin we help to create Jesus’s death sentence.

Now imagine you know for a fact what your mission on Earth is. And you know exactly what it is going to take to complete that mission -- the final step. This line from the gospel may be a death sentence, but it is also the beginning of the end -- the completion of Jesus’s of mission on Earth. He loves us more than we can imagine and this is how He is going to save us.

Lent is a time to reflect on our human nature, and grow closer to Jesus by working with Him to conquer sin. It hurts us to think about the pain we caused Jesus on the cross – that you and I decided Christ’s death sentence -- but in remembering this, we can find incredible humility and humbleness. God loves us so much. And as Catholics what better way to repay Him for our sins, than by giving our selves to Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus loves us more than we can imagine and surrendering to His love in Confession is the perfect way to prepare for the completion of His mission this Easter.

I am sorry for my sins. I am sorry for the pain I caused You on the cross. Teach me humility, and help me to humble myself before You and before others. Rid me of myself, Lord. I belong to You.

H. Parker Davis is a Sophomore Theology and Communication Double Major, Visual Communication Minor.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Reflection for Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
JER 20: 10-13
PS 18: 2-3A, 3BC-4, 5-6, 7
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.

Bryan Melcher is a Sophomore studying Theology.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Reflection for Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

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.

Moira McDermott is a Junior studying Secondary Education and English.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reflection for Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Here we are in the midst of a full season dedicated to reflecting on the passion of Christ. We have a full season to truly grasp the greatness of His love for us – a love that took his perfectly human body to the cross and saved the entirety of the human race from sin. But today – the feast of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord – is a day that we can take a small break to address some of the workings “behind the scenes” of Jesus’ life. Today, we get to reflect on the life of our beautiful Mama Mary. 
Let’s try and jump into this story a little bit: 
You’re a young girl getting ready to marry your fiancĂ©, Joseph. All is well, organized, and planned out. All of a sudden an angel appears and begins commenting on how holy you are. Eventually you calm down about the fact that an ANGEL is telling you how holy you are. THEN, this angel starts saying that you are going to have a son by means of the Holy Spirit. And by the way, He’s going to be the Son of GOD. PS: Your elder cousin Elizabeth is pregnant too. 
Personally, I probably would have freaked out and signed myself up to see a psychologist within ten minutes of this occasion. But our Mother Mary didn’t do this. She had such faith in the Lord that she dove right into the plans that he had for her. Little did she know, that by saying her simple “yes,” she was becoming the mother of the man that would save the human race and would become the future Queen of Heaven and Earth. 

We are all called to be saints and dive into the plans God has for us. Are our instructions going to be stated as obviously as that of Mary? Probably not. But by trusting and leaning into nudges from Him, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, we can encounter our true vocations. Sometimes our vocations scare us. We let our desire for security get in the way. But that fear is a gift. Don’t run from it – embrace it and see what it can teach you. I challenge you to actively address your current vocations (daughter, student, friend, etc.) and take a moment to consider all the possibilities that lay in front of you (career, religious life, single life, marriage, travel, etc.).There’s no need to commit to anything at this second (unless good ol’ Angel Gabriel is pulling at your sleeve). Merely open up your heart and be vulnerable to where God can take you. I promise that in doing so, you – like Mary – will reap benefits far greater than what you could have ever imagined.

Rochelle Reyes is a Sophomore majoring in Physical Therapy and minoring in Theological Studies.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Reflection for Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own"

I AM, He said. What was He exactly? Human and Divine? Savior and redeemer and lover and friend? A preacher and teacher and a son and a Son? He was everything and is everything and will forever be everything. It took a crucifixion for us to realize that He is who He said He is. And He most certainly is. And that is so utterly important to realize, so crucial to this Man’s story and how it plays a role in our lives. With every breath in and every breath out it is important to realize how we feel freed and not crushed by the weight that He nailed to His back and bore for us. But He didn’t stop there, in just saying everything He was in those two simple words. Oh no, He went on to make sure we knew that even He couldn’t do it all alone. He needed help.

Why we go through our moments in life and think we can handle anything on our own baffles me. I mean here in John is the savior of the world admitting that He needs help from the Heavenly Father. Yet we somehow think we are better than that and try to take matters into our own hands, hands free of scars from nails that we deserved. And I don’t think that every moment of independence of ours is a blatant slap in the face to God, in fact I very much think the opposite. I believe there is a lot of good in the world and that we often do things with the best of intentions, but it is time to be aware this Lenten season. We simply cannot function on our own. We need other people and we need God. As Easter comes closer, it is time to be increasingly aware of this need for help. In acknowledging our weakness, He will make us strong and lift us up to be everything He has called us to be.

Rachel Mego is a sophomore in the School of Nursing.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Reflection for Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent
JN 8: 1-11

God’s mercy and judgement. While such are very relevant in this Lenten season – this can be an incredibly intimidating subject. Upon reading today’s gospel, many may identify with those men tempted to throw the first stone. For, how often are we quick to judge the people in our lives for the different choices they make? And how seldom do we stop and empathize with them before throwing a judgmental remark their way?

We all have people in our lives who we just do not understand at all. With every remark or decision, they have this keen ability to get under our skin and make us want to throw our hands up in the air and say, “Hey, you know what, that’s just who they are.”

However, in skipping that empathy piece, and simply saying, “That’s just who they are” – are we any different than the men in the story about to stone the woman? The men in the story had labeled the woman as "hopeless" and "irreconcilable." All of us do this in some way or another – on a large or small scale - to people we know or, maybe even more frequently, the strangers we meet everyday.

But, Jesus did not teach us to point fingers at those people and dismiss them as “those sinners.” He taught us to, in turn, look inside ourselves and find a level of connection with them before throwing the first stone.

Empathy- defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

Jesus challenges us to take empathy a step further here – to develop the ability to understand and share the sins of others.

We cannot simply dismiss our neighbors and label them hopeless as “That’s just who they are.” We all are connected in our sinfulness and it is our duty as Christians to delve into the fire and put ourselves into the shoes of the suffering.

Each of us are no better than the most sinful of our neighbors – that’s a hard pill to swallow but that’s essentially Jesus’ message here. We are all sinners – we all have the same tendencies as humans to fall into original sin and to take the wrong path. It is our responsibility as Christians, and brothers and sisters, to aid each other in this difficult life – not to judge and turn a blind eye over to our pride. In failing to do so, we are no better than the sinner we judge.

Jesus challenges us in today’s gospel to have mercy on the least of us and to reserve judgement for the Father. But it is not enough to simply turn away and label our neighbor as “God’s problem.” For God said, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man…but rather in his conversion, that he may live.” The wicked man’s conversion is not only in God’s hands, but in the hands of those around him – all of us. We play a vital role in spreading the Lord’s goodness in the world – even if that requires getting our hands dirty.

Lindsey Cross is a Junior studying Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reflection for Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Regardless of time, culture, and identity---certain thoughts chronically bubble forth from the human psyche. Generation after generation we wonder “Who am I?” and “Why is the sky blue?” and the origins of love.

“We wish to see Jesus” is a soulful request whispered, prayed, proclaimed, and lamented by millions of people.   Consciously or not, most of us have muttered this words at some point in our journey.  At a crossroads, facing great fears or deep in the desert we hunger for road sign (or maybe a color-coded detailed topographic map)!  Some kind of indication Jesus is present with us here and our lives have not veered tragically off-course.

When this group of Greeks came to worship at the Passover Feast and uttered “We wish to see Jesus” we are reminded of the great complexity of faith present for Jesus’ followers even from the earliest days.  We do not know the tone and can’t quite tease out their agenda.  Context tells us some but more importantly we remember in Lent that questions about Jesus’ identity haunt all of us.  

We gather in communities of faith to grapple with ageless questions like,
  • What does it mean to “lose” my life?
  • How can we be a servant and a leader?
  • How do we “glorify God’s name” without disrespecting other traditions?  

These forty days of Lent invite deep reflection for all of us.  I pray you whisper, hope, or pray “We wish to see Jesus” this week and this search for Christ’s light among our campus community!

Rev. Rebecca Boardman serves as the ELCA Lutheran Campus Pastor for SLU & Washington University in St Louis.