Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reflection for Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday of Holy Week

"Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum" is a Latin phrase meaning "Make our hearts like Yours". Derived from the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it centers the call of this year's Lenten journey as spoken by the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
At first glance, the readings today almost seem contradictory. Isaiah 49: 6 states, "I will make you a light to the nations..." On the other hand, the Gospel of John foretells the infamous denial by Peter, who would later become the Rock of the Church. Why is that these two readings today are spoken especially as a prelude to the holiest week of the year? This ironic juxtaposition literally crucifies us in the decision of if we are going to follow Christ or keep going through our mistakes without repentance or second thought. For me, it forces me to reflect on how and if my thoughts and actions have allowed Christ's light to shine through me.
How often have I chosen to judge?
How much have my own insecurities afflicted others?
I think the best imagery that I could communicate this allegorical crucifixion is imagining myself being completely immobilized by stakes of doubt and fear at my throat- cutting off my sense of rationality- but I know simply kicking at the base of one of the stakes would free me from this prison. So, do I stay immobilized in my cage of doubt and fear and use them as comfortable crutches? See, we are at a crossroads between decisions. Do I find security in my doubt and fear? Or do I find it in God?
Regardless, we have to realize that there is hope. There is always hope. Every Peter in us has this gift of hope for the taking.
It is in the Lord that we take refuge (Ps 71:1). It is He who has called us from birth and in our mother's womb He gave us our name (Is 49:1). The significance of naming is a motif that has also been seen in Genesis when Adam names all of creation. Naming creates ownership and a sense of care. Thus, we are His, and we are moved and stirred in the hearts crafted by Him to turn to Him and find "recompense with my God" (Is 49:4). The season of Lent always starts with Ash Wednesday, and we are quickly coming to the "big event." The anticipation is building- just like Christmas! Staying within our crucifixion or believing through Jesus' Crucifixion gives our hearts formation for the better or worse in preparation for the Resurrection.
Now, reflect back to the beginning of Lent.
Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.
Connect the puzzle.
Remember that you belong to God and to God you shall return.
Hear His call.
Remember to turn your hearts to God and your heart will be like His.

Anne Yoon is a junior majoring in Chemistry and serves as a Resident Advisor for the Diversity & Unity Learning Community housed in the Griesedieck Complex.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Reflection for Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday of Holy Week
IS 42: 1-7
PS 27: 1, 2, 3, 13-14
JN 12: 1-11

Imagine for a second that you are dead, completely and utterly lifeless. You wait in your tomb as spider webs grow around you. Then one day, your tomb is opened, light shines forth upon you, and a man commands you to live again. You breathe life in, and exit the place of your burial. This is the story of Lazarus, and it is the story of each of us. We have a Christ who comes into the darkest and most disgusting places in our heart and commands life into them.
In today’s Gospel, John continues the story of Lazarus when Lazarus is seen at table with Jesus. To be at table with Jesus is no difficult task. In fact, the tax collectors, prostitutes, and societal scumbags were the most common to recline with him. But instead of focusing on these other guests, we must focus on Jesus and ourselves.
We have once been in the grave. We have seen the despair of sin and vice and the hopelessness of suffering. In some sense, we know death like Lazarus knows death. Christ opens our tombs and calls us to life. He breathes a new joy into us. He wipes off the dust surrounding our bodies, and invites us to flourish with him.
Now for the first time since our resurrection, we meet with the man who brought us back to life, and we enjoy an intimate dinner with him, along with our close friends and family. The man who gave us life presents us with an opportunity to know him and to be his friend. How amazing is it to build a relationship with the man who performs the greatest miracles? This is the experience of Lazarus.

Placing yourself in the seat of Lazarus at table with Christ, think about how you would act…
How would I thank Jesus for giving me new life?
What would Jesus ask of me?
What would I think when Mary pours oil over Jesus’ feet?
Would I be angry when Judas asks to sell the oil?
Would I be one to turn on Jesus at his crucifixion in just a few days?

I wish I could be present for the conversations that Jesus and Lazarus had while at table that day. And I realize I can, for I am Lazarus and Christ has invited me to recline with him. Jesus not only performs miracles, but he seeks intimate relationships with us. Like Lazarus, we all are called to 
be at table with the Christ.

Brad Giacone is a freshman pre-law student studying Economics and International Business.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reflection for Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
MK 11: 1-10
IS 50: 4-7
PS 22: 8-9, 17-18, 19-20. 23-24
PHIL 2: 6-11
MK 14: 1 - 15: 47

Today’s reading of Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem for the Passover, and of Mark’s recounting of the Passion and death of Jesus has always struck me as a jarring juxtaposition.  We begin as Jesus is greeted as a heroic figure, the redeemer of the people of Israel.  By the end of the gospel Jesus has been executed in a deliberate attempt to destroy him and what he stood for.  It is easy for me, living in the 21st century, to ignore this tension because I know that Jesus doesn’t stay dead.  I know and believe in the resurrection so it is all too easy for me to also believe that Jesus never really died. Today, we just stopped the story before getting to the good part.  And recognizing that is instructive.

It challenges me to try and live in that moment when Jesus did die and to reflect on his life from that perspective. The way our readings end, either Jesus is not the messiah come to deliver the people of Israel, or the messiah and deliverance do not look like what we expect them to. Rather than allowing my ideas of what kingship looks like to influence what I believe about Jesus, I must allow this story to influence what I think kingship looks like.  

The first and second reading both reinforce this. Isaiah speaks of the suffering servant, “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting”.  The letter to the Philippians identifies humility and obedience as the qualities that Jesus is exalted for.  Neither of these are what I associate with kingship and with the figures being alluded to in the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem.  Kings Solomon and David are known for their military victories and making Israel a regional political power.  they are also the archetype for divine kingship on the minds of every person celebrating as Jesus enters Jerusalem.  This time it ends differently, in a tomb instead of a palace.

This is not how it was supposed to go. The Messiah – The Son of David was supposed to restore the good-ole days. Yet God is not bound by our expectations and rules.  I re-encounter this fact every Sunday, and especially during Easter when so many of our stories are contain this theme. The Son of David washing the disciples’ feet.  Peter denying Jesus and going on to become the rock the Church is built on. The multiple renditions of Jesus’s death on the cross as a convicted criminal.  The challenge is not to figure out how God is going to act, but being present to and recognizing God's Grace at work in our lives.

John Burke is the Campus Minister for Faith and Justice.

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.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Reflection for Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
JN 7: 40-53

For my reflection I am going to be focusing on the verse read before the gospel. Today it is from Luke 8:15- “But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are they who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.” Often times it is habit to feel like we have been placed on bad soil. It is easy to look at all of the parts of our lives that are not what we hoped for them to be and wish that they were different. This is where I ask you to realize that we have been placed on good soil. God has picked each and every one of us and placed us on good soil. While we should be joyful that God loves and cares for each one of us, we need to look past the fact that we have been placed on good soil and realize what we can do because of that fact. Like any plant, you can place it on the best soil in the world but if you neglect it- it will wither and die. Plants need help to thrive. Just to name a few, they need water, sunlight and pruning. We too need help to thrive. We cannot solely rely on the fact that we have been created in the image and likeness of God- we must do more. However, that is easier said than done- especially during Lent… or so we thought.

Here on this good soil at SLU we have countless opportunities to grow in our faith, especially during Lent! We should water ourselves with the knowledge of our professors, fellow faculty or staff members, fellow students, or community members. SLU attracts some truly wonderful people that we can share in experiences with and ultimately learn from. We should let the light of our faith shine on us. Some of the most moving experiences I have had have taken place sitting in College Church. As you navigate through campus during the day, take a couple minutes to sit and be still in our beautiful church. Finally, there is pruning. Now, we shouldn’t simply prune all of the “bad” parts out of our lives. Often times we can learn great lessons from these parts of our lives we consider being “bad.” Instead, prune out the distractions from Christ in your life. Make a conscious effort to find out what is separating you from being fully present in your faith life.

Let us remember that while we have been placed on good soil, we must also “embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”

Alé Krudop is a Junior majoring in Education.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Reflection for Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
WIS 2: 1A, 12-22
PS 34: 17-18, 19-20, 21 AND 23
JN 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30

                We are now only a short time from Holy week, and the tension is mounting.  There is a buildup of anticipation and plans of action in today’s readings.  In the first reading, suspense grows as people blinded with wickedness plot ways to put Jesus, this man claiming to be the Son of God, to the test.  In the Gospel, the writers of John tell us that Jesus is aware that, although “his hour had not yet come” (7:30), it must getting close, and so He traveled through Galilee “not openly but as it were in secret” (7:10).
                For me, this act of laying low shines an especially humble and human light on the life of Jesus.  Here is the one prophesized in Isaiah as our “Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, [and] Prince of Peace” (9:5), the one who need only call upon God to send twelve legions of angels for His protection (Mt 26:53)—and He is being cautious, taking the road less traveled, bypassing situations that could potentially start the motions of the Passion before their due time.  There is no blatant testing of God’s will here, but rather patience and trust.  For every challenge and triumph we face, there is a time and a place set by the God who set all things in motion. Lord, during this Lenten season, help us to let go of our perceived control of time and depend on Your hand to guide us.
                In the Gospel, while Jesus is speaking in Jerusalem, the people simplify Jesus based on the little understanding they have of him.  They say He can’t be the Christ because they believe they know where He is from, whereas the Christ will come from an unknown place.  Geographically speaking, perhaps the people of Jerusalem are correct, but they do not grasp who Jesus is.
                We often have the same assumptions about our fellow Billikens on campus.  One question we ask someone we meet is often, “Where are you from?”  Whether or not we are cognizant of it, many of us associate where people came from with who they are.  As we move through college, sometimes these places of origin evolve into a more familiar context, such as an apartment, residence hall or floor.  Lent is a time to look at ourselves holistically, to acknowledge where we come from and realize that it does not have to define where we go from here.  God is with us at our first step just the same as our last.  It is also a time to consider the holistic experience of others as we support each other in our Lenten journey of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.  Lord, let compassion and curiosity flow from us as we seek to understand the deeper experiences of our brothers and sisters.

Ellen Quinn is a senior in the School of Social Work and a student worker with the Center for Service and Community Engagement.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Reflection for Thursday, March 19, 2015

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith.”

Today’s readings remind us that God can use an imperfect person to do His Will.  We are not blessed by God because of actions we make trying to uphold the law, but through our steadfast faith and belief in Him.

How many times have we made resolutions for the New Year only to fail to keep them? Can you remember a time that you promised to do something for someone, but forgot to keep that promise?
Have we made promises of what we might “give up” during this Lenten season or promised to do good deeds, but have already failed?

We look at God’s grace and providence and see that even when we fail, He is there to use us and bless us, if we put our trust in Him.  If we keep our eyes on Him and remember that it was the actions of Christ on the cross that we are made pleasing in His eyes again through forgiveness of our sins, the faith inside us grows and we have a yearning to follow Christ’s teachings because we know it is the true path.   

In the gospel, we see that it took a lot of faith for Joseph to make the decisions he did.  When he found that Mary was “with child,” he knew what was right and decided to divorce her quietly as to not shame her.  Then, once the angel visited him, he trusted God and helped Mary raise Jesus, a son not of his own. 

We need to trust God with all aspects of our lives.  We are not in control of everything. The phrase “stuff happens” is very real, and it is difficult to stay on the straight and narrow path at all times. However, if we keep our faith in Him and trust in His ways, we will find peace knowing that we do not need to be in control or right in everything we do, at all times. God knows we will fail, but He will never let us walk alone.   We need to continue to pray that we will hear God’s word and listen to His guidance in our work, study, and leisure time. In this way, our faith will help us to become more righteous and pleasing to God.

Dr. Joanne C. Langan, PhD, RN, CNE is the Associate Dean of Undergraduate and Pre-licensure Programs in the School of Nursing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Reflection for Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
IS 49: 8-15
PS 145: 8-9. 13CD-14, 17-18
JN 5: 17-30

“I am the resurrection and the life,” says the Lord;
whoever believes in me will never die.” 
– John 11:25-26

There was a kind-hearted man at my hometown church that gave out bubblegum to the kids on Sundays.  His wife would shake her head and scold him in that playful way that only people who have been married longer than you have been alive can do.  We called him Mr. Bill and he passed away last week.  At the visitation, his wife of 57 years gave kids bubblegum as their parents offered kind words and a hug near his casket.

Death knows no strangers; the curse of sin stretches as far as the eye can see and further still.  We see it in the injustices permeating every screen and newspaper.  We feel its shadow in the halls of our clinical rotations. Many of our majors are aimed, however indirectly, at preventing it, slowing it, cheating it, explaining it, and minimizing its aftershocks.  It figures prominently in the myths of every culture and our own Saint Paul calls it “the last enemy to be destroyed” (1 Cor 15:26).  Death is our chief Adversary and a worthy one at that.

Here is where the Christian story gets good.  Who could defeat such an Enemy? Who could possibly bring about the death of Death?  What is the remedy for this pervasive curse?

Isaiah gives us a proper introduction to such a Hero in his foretelling of the Servant of the Lord who will bring light to the Gentiles and salvation to the ends of the earth. The Creator God speaks through Isaiah to this Servant, giving him “as a covenant to the people,” through whom the lowly will be comforted and the proud will be humbled.

The Psalmist reminds us that this is consistent with the Creator’s character:  He is gracious and merciful; He is kind and compassionate; He is faithful and holy; He is just and near to those who call upon his name.  This is the kind of God we have. 

Finally, our Hero arrives.  But he is not perhaps like we were expecting.  This Hero is bold; he pulls no punches and seems to know none of the social cues needed to massage his message into the hearts of the powerful and the religious (two groups we at SLU should always identify with in his stories).  Our Hero is not content to be a Good Teacher, dispensing affirmations for the best intentions of the pious.  He calls himself the Son of God and the fulfillment of the Creator’s purposes in the world.  

As the judgment-casting stones are gathered, he names himself the True Judge over every person, nation, and culture.  He is to be humanity’s Only Hero, our only hope for resurrection and the only hope for the restoration of our broken world.  Those who will receive him and believe his words will be vindicated and given the Hero’s victory over Death; those who deny him will be condemned.  It is no wonder they killed him. 

Do you know this Jesus? Are there corners of your heart where you resist his Lordship?  Where does Death still reign in your life?  On our campus?  In our city?  Today, in the spirit of Saint Ignatius, let us examine ourselves and allow God to search our hearts.  Lent is a time for turning back and listening again.

The Hero’s voice still calls, still invites you to believe.  He is the Resurrection and the Life.

Kale Uzzle is Team Leader for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at Saint Louis University.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Reflection for Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

This week’s readings feature the ongoing themes of lent: cleansing ourselves to be healed and closer to God. The gospel reading is a familiar story of the man who meets Jesus at a healing pool. He is unable to enter the waters on his own to be healed. “Do you want to be well?” asks Jesus asks him. The man says yes, and he is healed.

Jesus’s question is simple and moving.
“Do you want to be well?”

Lent is a time of becoming well by letting go of the things in our life that prohibit our full relationship with God and cultivating the things in our life that lead us closer to God. To live closer to God means that we need to identify what turns us away from God.
What may turn us away may be observed externally, like the sick man’s visible illness; however, we may have invisible needs for healing as well. At lent, I reflect most on the illnesses that we hold inside of ourselves that are only known to God. I think about our shame, self-loathing, jealously, insecurity, and fear that keep us from giving to others and acting.
The invitation of Lent to pray, fast, and engage in almsgiving provides an opportunity to answer God with “Yes, I want to be healed.” Our healing may not be as obvious as the man at the pool, but through our actions and being present to others. We need to be active in our own healing and the healing of others.
How may you act as Christ for others in support of their Lenten journey of healing?

Katie Hoff
Organizational Effectiveness Specialist
Learning & Development, Human Resources

Katie strives to bring out the best in SLU’s Faculty and Staff by helping them to achieve their learning and development goals through leadership programs, workshops, and recognition programs.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Reflection for Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
IS 65: 17-21
PS 30: 2 AND 4, 5-6, 11-12A, 13B
JN 4: 43-54

Choose Joy.  
Joy is often not the first word that comes to mind when thinking of Lent, but joy is ultimately what God is calling us to in our journey to the Cross and Resurrection.  The reading today from Isaiah encourages us to choose joy.
In the passage from Isaiah the word joy or rejoicing is used on three separate occasions.  
there shall always be rejoicing and happiness
in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy
and its people to be a delight;
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and exult in my people.
Like much of Isaiah, this passage speaks to ancient truths and wisdom and of God’s promise for the future.  Joy is evident in the luminous language of abundant life.  It’s important to recognize what is really meant by joy.  Joy is not happiness. Happiness is often contingent on external factors.  My own happiness is affected by how much sleep I had last night, the weather, if I’ve had my morning (or afternoon) cup of coffee, traffic, etc.  Happiness changes day to day, sometimes even throughout the day.  Joy is more enduring and internal rather than external. Joy goes much deeper. Joy is at the core of who we are and central to our identity.   Essentially joy is our way of being.  Sometimes what makes us joyful doesn’t always make us happy, in fact it may even feel unsettling.  As theologian Fr. Michael Himes says; “It’s what constantly moves us forward, makes us grow, expands our horizons, and deepens our perceptions… It’s an impulsion, a pressure to move forward, to do more, to expend oneself more deeply, more richly, to open one’s talents even more widely than one had before.”
When I think of a significant source of joy in my life I think of my partner, Brandon.  We have been married for almost 7 years.  Overall these have been joyful years.  Together we’ve known delight and difficulty; but what sustains us is joy.  Marriage calls me to be a better person, to move forward and grow.  That doesn’t always make me happy, though.  I’m often quite stubborn, weary, or complacent.  I don’t always enjoy being challenged but taking in the long view Brandon and I almost always benefit from the ways we compassionately encourage each other to deepen our perceptions of ourselves and our relationship.  In this relationship (and any meaningful relationship) joy is a choice.  It is innate to who I am, yet requires continual attention.
This sense of joy is what God made us for; “I create Jerusalem to be a joy”.  Joy is God’s invitation to unfold into our most authentic selves.  Joy is a daily choice, one that is often difficult to choose.  Weariness and complacency can creep in.  Lent is the time to explore and (re)discover that joy.
How do you experience joy in its deepest sense?  What ways can you continue to choose joy?

(Henri Nouwen, Here & Now, image source maiedae.com)

Cynthia Enghauser is Campus Minister at the School of Nursing.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Reflection for Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Lent
2 CHR 36: 14-16, 19-23
PS 137: 1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
EPH 2: 4-10
JN 3: 14-21

In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals the man who was born blind (John 9: 1-41). The symbolism in this well-known story is easily recognized: sight and blindness, light and darkness, Baptism, enlightenment, and discipleship.

Jesus gave the man sight, but things were not immediately easier, nor presumably better, for him.  The man was kicked out of his community, and even his parents distanced themselves from him.  His parents were able to talk about their son when he was without sight, but out of fear, they were not able to talk about him after he was healed.  “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.  We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes.  Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself” (John 9:20-21).  Fear keeps us from speaking up, and instead, we remain silent. 

It is worth noting that the actual story of the healing is described in just two verses in John’s Gospel.  Then for the next thirty-nine verses, the controversy surrounding how the man was healed, why was he healed, who healed him, and what were the healer’s origins are described.  Let us not get so wrapped up in the little things that we lose sight of the big things!  We are called to open our eyes.   We should have our eyes wide open to witness the injustices in the world.  Today’s Gospel reading also calls us to listen.  When we are out in the world, we should listen to those who are hurting, acknowledging that we all have differing needs.  We have faith in things that we cannot see.  We have faith in God who is understanding of our particular life circumstances.  God may or may not change our circumstances, but will help us to get through them and make sense of the situation. 

The man who was born blind gained both light and sight. The Pharisees had light, but they continued to rule in darkness.  But we are all a community-- the man born blind, his parents, the Pharisees, and the rest of us.  We open our eyes and ears, we observe, we reflect, we learn, and we have faith.  

Leah Sweetman is the Assistant Director for Service Learning at SLU's Center for Service and Community Engagement.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Reflection for Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. 
I’m one of those people that if I don’t recognize an incoming phone number on my phone I won’t answer it. I just let it go to voicemail with the intention that I’ll get back to it later if it’s important and I feel like it. How many times have we done this with God in our lives? 
When I was in my RCIA classes nine years ago I remember a lot of talk about listening to the Lord. I didn’t really understand that concept until two years ago yesterday when I distinctly remember hearing God talk to me for the first time in my Catholic life. I was standing in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Pope Francis had just been elected and I was on pilgrimage. My major prayer intention was about whether or not to take a job out of state. I vividly remember hearing “I will take care of you child no matter where you go.” I felt so many emotions at that point. Joy in the fact that I had finally heard God’s voice and my prayer was answered but at the same time I was so fearful that I had just heard God’s voice. I didn’t expect my answer to be that clear to me. I spent a lot of time after that night waiting to hear God talk to me like that again but I haven’t.  Or have I?
So many of us want a direct answer from God that when we go to him with our prayers and problems and don’t get that direct answer we get discouraged or disappointed that He hasn’t spoken to us. Maybe like the unknown phone number he has been calling to us and we have ignored it. Perhaps He spoke to us in a prayer we’ve read and we just glossed over the words. Maybe a priest has said something in a homily that we can relate to or has answered a question we’ve had. Maybe there has been a new person placed in our lives yet we don’t know why they are there. Many times we have not heard God speak to us because instead of having an open heart it has been closed with sin. This is why reconciliation is important not just during Lent but all year round. We move the sin aside to give space for the Lord to come to us. Jesus said “You have not chosen me. I have chosen you.”
This Lenten season let us pay close attention to the world around us. Who knows where and how God will be trying to speak to us and when He does, you may be surprised by what you hear. 

Lindsey Joyce is a graduate student at the School of Nursing studying in the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Educator program. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Reflection for Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday of the Third Week of Lent
HOS 14: 2-10
PS 81: 6C-8A, 8BC-9, 10-11AB, 14 AND 17
MK 12: 28-34

The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”

This is at the core of what it means to live as a Christian and what we are called to reflect upon every day of year.

As we are approaching the second half of the Lenten season, this gospel reading is an important reminder of what our Lenten promises are calling us to. Often our Lenten promises become something of a personal challenge or struggle. But is this really the purpose of Lent?

I ask myself, how can I love the Lord with ALL my heart, soul, mind, and strength? How would God ask me to love him?

Secondly, how do I love my neighbors as myself?

God is our constant companion, always beside us walking along the way. One of the greatest gifts is just to be and be present. Just by opening our eyes and ears to see God and hear God, we are invited into a loving relationship with him. Time and presence are the greatest gifts. They also allow us to hear his will for us. God desires our happiness and freedom. By listening and understanding, we can enter into God’s love more fully and take on his will.

Our personal relationship with God is something so important and sacred but through its nurturing we discover God calls us to bigger and greater love that cannot possibly end in ourselves.

God is not only our constant companion, God is open, present, and real in everyone we meet. As we hear in the responsorial psalm, Do we dare to hear God’s voice in one another?  In a way, by loving one another, we love God even more.  We are called to accompany one another along the way, just as God is with us.

So as we enter the second half of the Lenten season, I ask myself these questions:
Are my Lenten practices allowing me to find God in myself and others?
Can I let go of perfection and completion of my Lenten practice and remember the real importance of Lent?

How can I better love the God within myself and others with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength?

Nicole McCoy is a Senior in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Reflection for Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

In today’s passage, Jeremiah 7:23-28, God commands His people to be humble, listen to His voice and do what He says, and they will prosper. Yet, the people don’t listen, they are unwilling to change, and they don’t obey.  Why is it so hard for us to hear God’s words and give Him control of our lives?

Over the last couple of years I have experienced several difficult and painful life situations.  Things that I thought were lifelong and secure crumbled at my feet.  At the beginning, I struggled with feeling God’s presence in my life.  I read my daily devotional that assured me of God’s love and hope for the future. Yet, I still felt alone. I resisted letting go of my anxieties and fears and giving them to God because I thought I could handle them myself.  I wasn’t going to be weak.  However, as time went on, I realized that my weakness wasn’t in letting go, but in holding on.  I slowly began to give my fears and worries to God.  The more I trusted, the more I became aware of the many blessings around me: the giggles of my grandchildren; the text from an old friend that just said hi, I’m thinking about you; or the chance for me to bring joy to someone else’s day.  I have learned that God’s grace and peace come in all shapes and sizes and at the most unexpected times if you only open your heart and listen to His words.

The Lenten season is a time of prayer, refection and fasting that brings us closer to God. In Joel 2:12-13, the Lord tells us to return to Him with our whole heart for He is gracious, compassionate and abounding in love.  As we prepare for Easter Sunday, I encourage you to humble yourself in God’s grace, reflect on the meaning of this season in your life and remember his promise.

                    Hymn of Promise
In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter, there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.
In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

Jami Curley is an Associate Professor and Director of Field Education in the School of Social Work.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Reflection for Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
DN 3: 25, 34-43
PS 25: 4-5AB, 6 AND 7BC, 8-9
MT 18: 21-35

“Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?”

The Gospel for today focuses on forgiveness. It is human nature to sin. Sometimes, we do not even realize we are sinning. We are faced with decisions to sin or not every single day. Think of your sins that have accumulated today, this year, and over your entire life. It is impossible to count because we do not keep a journal of them. Although we are not keeping track, God remembers every single moment we said yes to sin, yet He forgives us anyway. 

Every minute of the day, humans around the world experience suffering due to harm that others inflict on them. Many live for years holding onto hatred toward people for hurting them or their loved ones. We sometimes hold on exhaustingly tight, that forgiveness seems out of reach. I visualize the act of forgiveness being a glass wall separating me from freedom, life, and growth. The longer I hold onto my grudge, anger, and frustration toward another, the further my sadness and hurt grows. Then, I remember that I have the power to break through the glass wall, to overcome my grudge, and to move forward. Forgiveness is a choice. We have a choice to remain in the difficulty of “unforgiveness” or to conquer it.

Many of us forget that forgiveness does not mean we are okay with what is wrong. Forgiveness is knowing people sinned and caused us harm, but saying, “You were wrong and it hurt, but I sin too, and I forgive you.” As we know, this is not as easy as it sounds. God expects us to forgive others seven times seventy times, because He is able to forgive us, even for the darkest of sins. C.S. Lewis states it simply, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

Who do we need to forgive this Lent? Break through the wall that is separating you from a happier version of you. Find the beauty in being able to forgive. God is giving us permission to let go. Let’s reduce the debt of sin in the world by simply being kind to others just as God is kind to us. Be thankful for your teachers and the hard work they put forth as they facilitate our growth; be patient with the slow driver in front of you; be aware of people around you, keeping in mind that we have the potential to influence one’s happiness; and forgive others, remembering that each of us is imperfect, but worthy of mercy. 

What can we let go of today that will help us feel free when we wake up on Easter Sunday? 

Kaitlyn Vokaty is a senior studying Occupational Therapy. She is a Publicity co-chair and a Facilitator in Christian Life Communities. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Reflection for Sunday, March 8, 2015

Third Sunday of Lent
EX 20: 1-17
PS 19: 8, 9, 10, 11
1 Cor 1: 22-25
JN 2: 13-25

The Gospel today presents a side of Jesus that isn’t very attractive.  It stands in stark contrast to the popular and familiar view of Jesus' character.  Isn’t Jesus supposed to be gentle and soft-spoken?  Didn’t he preach turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, and praying for those who persecute you? But here, Jesus appears with his sleeves rolled up, ready for a fight. His aggressive behavior doesn't show him to be the loving teacher, healer, and shepherd whom we find attractive. 

It’s true, Jesus was a nice guy, but we can also conveniently forget that he had an edge.  During his public ministry, he is constantly disrupting things and calling into question the status quo. Remember the time he entered a house to eat with some Pharisees but refused to wash before dinner? Before the food was even served, Jesus called his hosts hypocrites and pronounced woe upon them. We belong to one disruptive Lord—bent on overturning anything that hinders us from appropriate devotion and service to God and to one another. Jesus continues to stir the pot to make us clean, whole, and faithful. 

Dietrich Bonheoffer, a theologian and martyr during WWII, wrote The Cost of Discipleship in which he says that Christians today are living by cheap grace instead of costly grace. Cheap grace is the attempt to lower standards of the gospel by ignoring cost of the cross and down-playing the need for repentance and change. It embraces an easy discipleship that requires little commitment. It assumes you can live in God's sanctuary, where Jesus fulfills the law, but you can remain independent of the commands and desires of Jesus.  When Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, he said, "Go now and leave your life of sin." His grace was freely given, but it included an expectation that her life would radically change. Costly grace means we must change our habits, thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and relationships according to the will of Jesus. Nothing can remain the same because we are no longer the same.

During this season of Lent, will we let ourselves be disrupted?

Fr. John Vowells, S.J. is the Campus Minister for the School of Law.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Reflection for Saturday, March 7, 2015

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent
MI 7: 14-15, 18-20
PS 103: 1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
LK 15: 1-3, 11-32

“Your brother was dead has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”

Ah, the prodigal son parable.  I toss the word “prodigal” around in my daily life fairly loosely. My “prodigal roommate” will return to our room after long expanses of time in the library, or my “prodigal Nalgene” always seems to find its way back to me no matter how many times I’ve left it in the biology labs.

The two words used to describe the prodigal son that particularly resonate with me are “lost” and “dead.” We all know how it feels to be lost – I chronically have no idea where I’m going, but I also often lose sight of things that are important. I am the prodigal son as he demands his inheritance when I take my gifts, talents, and passions and use them exclusively for self-promotion and personal gain. I am the prodigal son as he squanders his money when I over-invest myself in clubs and organizations with the intention building my resume. I am the prodigal son as he longs to eat from the pig trough when I allow myself to prioritize earthly pleasures and successes over the deep joy found in genuine fellowship and friendship.

And “dead.” How often do we find ourselves dormant in our faith? In our relationships? In our lives? I see the Lenten season as a challenge for action. So let us come ALIVE this Lenten season. Let us turn that love, compassion, and humility the father has for his sons to our own brothers and sisters. Our father is waiting with open arms. He celebrates our return.

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” – Thomas Merton

Meg Buckley is a junior in the College of Public Health and Social Justice.