Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Reflection for April 13, 2017

Holy Thursday
EX 12: 1-8, 11-14
PS 116: 12-13, 15-16BC, 17-18
1 COR 11: 23-26
JN 13: 34
JN 13: 1-15

Jesus is apt to come, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable moments. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, supper time, or walking along a road...He never approached from on high, but always in the midst, in the midst of people, in the midst of real life and the questions that real life asks.
                                                                                                         --Frederick Buechner

Reflection for April 12, 2017

Wednesday of Holy Week
IS 50: 4-9 A
PS 69: 8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34
MT 26: 14- 25

"Were you There" is a notorious hymn sung throughout Christian churches during Holy Week. The lyrics repeat a series of questions, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they nailed him to the tree? Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?" When the choir at my parish began to sing this hymn on Palm Sunday, the haunting questions took on a new timbre of urgency.  I do not think the hymn is intended to provide a hypothetical scenario for us.  Rather, the chilling questions are meant to shake our soul and remind us that Jesus Christ -- the executed God -- continues to be crucified in our midst.
The idea of "the crucified people," is not wholly new to our theological vocabulary. Various liberation theologians, including Jon Sobrino and Ignacio Ellacuria, brought the term to the forefront of liberationist discourse with the following argument: Jesus Christ, God incarnate, identified himself with the poor, the outcast, and the marginalized during his ministry. Because of this, the Messiah was crucified; God was publicly executed. The task of our Christian discipleship today is defined in light of this fact. In Jesus the Liberator, Jon Sobrino writes, "Galilee is the setting of Jesus’ historical life, the place of the poor and the little ones. The poor of this world—the Galilee of today—are where we encounter the historical Jesus and where he is encountered as liberator. And this Galilee is also where the risen Christ who appears to his disciples will show himself as he really is, as the Jesus we have to follow and keep present in history: the historical Jesus, the man from Nazareth, the person who was merciful and faithful to his death on the cross, the perennial sacrament in this world of a liberator God" (Jesus the Liberator, 273).
In other words, the lives, sufferings, and death of the marginalized, the persecuted, and the oppressed illuminate the meaning of Christ's own life, suffering, and death (and vice versa).  And yet I worry this statement has become too commonplace for those who exist in the confines of liberal academia. We write about it. We talk about it. We employ the term "the crucified people" in a way that groups the oppressed in an abstract category and renders it meaningless. But do we sit with this term? Do we let it break open the content of our spirituality? Are we brought to repent for how many times Christ continues to be crucified among us? In a recent segment of Catholic Women Preach, M. Shawn Copeland asks us, "If our God so suffers, is so exposed to the brutality and power of the world, what shall become of us? It is a daring and daunting theological prospect—for God and for us. For as we believe that our God suffers, we who confess, who worship, who love are called to a share in the suffering of Jesus, a share in the suffering of the peoples of our world."
Are you prepared to enter into the passion of Christ?
Were you there when they crucified God? Did you stand by idly? Or were you compelled to action?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Reflection for April 11, 2017

Tuesday of Holy Week
IS 49: 1-6
PS 71: 1-2, 3-4A, 5AB- 6AB, 15 and 17
JN 13: 21- 33, 36- 38

From Creighton University's Online Ministries:

The message during Holy week is one of the most powerful Jesus delivers. God loves us as imperfect human beings. I imagine Jesus eating, laughing, the disciples toasting one another as they share time and stories with one another. It is a celebration of being together and yet Jesus knows what will happen. In this story I feel the all encompassing love and forgiveness of Jesus.  I also feel the tremendous sadness for what is yet to come. In this case as most betrayals, they are not pre-meditated or a pre-contemplative action.

I can relate.

As a child growing up with a brother and sister there were many opportunities for betrayal and denial. Innocent as they were it begins to painfully paint the picture of my imperfect soul. Friendship…hurting one friend to be with another.
Again painfully portraying my imperfection. I could go on. Fortunately those experiences with reflection, prayer and asking God to forgive moves me forward. These experiences teaches me to be a better person today and tomorrow. I want that next opportunity.   So during this Holy Week I take a step toward God, kneel to the ground and humbly ask for forgiveness and strength and God’s everlasting love to carry on.  I celebrate the opportunity to be an imperfect human.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Reflection for April 10, 2017

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


Yesterday, dozens of Coptic Christian churchgoers were killed in two simultaneous bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, Egypt. As the so-called, self-proclaimed caliphate of ISIL claims responsibility for the attack, Christians and people of good will the world over mourn the loss of these Palm Sunday martyrs, their martyrdom made all the more significant in light of this holy day.

Almost two millennia ago, Jesus, aware that a public struggle with the authorities awaited him, entered Jerusalem riding a donkey, greeted in triumph by the same citizens who days later will call for his execution. The public greeted him in a fashion typical of someone highly favored, waving palm fronds, a symbol of triumph, and laying them at his feet. Jesus of Nazareth, the prophet, rabbi, and healer, did not hide or shrink from the authorities he knew would challenge his public ministry. And people were glad for it. In those days, palms were also the symbol of Palestinian resistance to the Roman occupation of their homeland. The followers of Jesus wanted the new earth he preached as much as the new heaven.

Today the world still wants, still welcomes, still seeks out those voices that call for justice, for peace, for the rights of peoples to live without persecution. Where do we find them? Who is willing the pay the cost of speaking and living their truth boldly in public despite the threats to their life? Could any one of us reading these words know them as descriptive of oneself?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Reflection for April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
MT 21: 1-11
IS 50: 4-7
PS 22: 8-9, 17- 18, 19- 20, 23- 24
PHIL 2: 6- 11
PHIL 2: 8-9
MT 26: 14 ---- 27: 66 or MT 27: 11-54

An image is worth a thousand words.  Jesus’ ‘triumphal’ entry into Jerusalem riding a donkey was revolutionary and comforting. Many, and probably the powerless, surely understood this image of humble entry.  
Then and now, the world needs new images of power and authority. Jesus-incarnated taught and modeled inner authority and spiritual power, not imposed nor coercive. It is inclusive, convinces by its own merits and the evident truth, and moves hearts. It is Grace incarnate.
Throughout history, multitudes of people have been abused by dominative power, whether by royalty, armies, dictators, religious practices or more recently, multi-national corporations and the effects of neo-liberal globalization. In light of this, it is stunning to see the One who healed, forgave sins, performed miracles and converted hearts—who truly had Power—enter the great city not on horse and chariot, but on a donkey, as Luke and Mark state, one which no one has ever ridden. It is a new Way.
Jesus initiated the Kingdom of God, one where authority is shown by washing the feet of others.  It’s fair to say that the Kingdom of God is yet elusive and naïve to many Catholics and Christians. It has been relegated by many to life-after-death and thus lost relevance now.  
In our work for justice, we need to follow the new Way of the Kingdom. As with Jesus riding a donkey, or even more startling, One hanging on a Cross, it feels ineffective, inefficient, and powerless. But the Resurrection and Pentecost confirmed this new Power—flowing from and communicating life, love, communion—is The Way to stand in this world.  Paul learned and taught this Christian paradox: “when I am weak, I am strong”—in Christ.  
Reflection questions:
  • Where do you witness "imposed or coercive" power in our world today? Where do you witness inclusive models of power and leadership?
  • How can you, in your work for justice, model life, love, and communion?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Reflection for April 8, 2017

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent
EZ 37: 21- 28
JER 31: 10, 11- 12ABCD, 13
EZ 18: 31
JN 11: 45- 56

“It is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” (JN 11:50)

A cultural theorist named René Girard has made much of this very pattern of sacrificing one for the good of the many, a pattern which he sees working, usually invisibly, across literature and religion and mythology: the creation of unity among disparate groups as a result of the unanimous expulsion or death of an outsider, a scapegoat. If you have read the Oedipus trilogy or Freud’s Totem and Taboo, if you have read the graphic novel Watchmen or seen the Avengers movie, you have encountered the idea of shared opposition to a common foe bringing disparate peoples together. It doesn't work for very long, but it does work, as long as you are ok with constantly having (and destroying) an "other" over against whom you define yourself.

John’s Gospel uses this image ironically, as Caiaphas imagines the death of Jesus as a means of placating Rome so they do not “take away both our land and our nation.” (11:48) Of course, Rome DID attack Jerusalem several times, none of which were because of Jesus: the destruction of the Temple in 70AD, the sack of the city in 135, The irony is that Caiaphas does not realize that Jesus’ death is indeed for the life of the nation, not by stifling a troublemaker, but by Jesus being “lifted up” (JN 3:14, 12:32) so as to “draw everyone to myself,” echoing the image from Ezekiel of bringing together those members of the children of Israel who had been scattered by the Exile (586-538 B.C.) to the ends of the known world.

I can't help but think that the unity that Caiaphas tried to create was linked to expelling people who did not fit his vision - that is, uniformity and intolerance of dissent were the content of his version of unity. We are called to unity as well, but not by excising whoever does not look like us, think like us, act like us. On Friday, Campus Ministry celebrated a Way of the Cross with stations based on Catholic Social Teaching and situations of injustice that people face around the world today, situations that continue the crucifixion of the Body of Christ. Do we create negative peace through imposing silence, through stifling cries of pain and critique, through creating spaces of fear? Or do we create positive peace that is messy and complex through its openness to the other, its ability to move and change in response to needs, and its vulnerability to being unsettled by those who are different? As the end of Lent draws close and Holy Week begins, be mindful of how easily we choose the path of peace-through-silencing-outsiders instead of the chaotic peace in which differences are respected and valued.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Reflection for April 7, 2017

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
JER 20: 10-13
PS 18: 2-3 A, 3BC- 4, 5-6, 7
JN 6: 63C, 68 C
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.

Reflection for April 6, 2017

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent
GN 17: 3-9
PS 105: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
PS 95: 8
JN 8: 51- 59

As an undergraduate, one day while finishing my lunch and staring at a large wooden crucifix in the dining room, I thought to myself: How absurd and yet so profoundly beautiful.  Given all the reasons to believe and not believe in this ultimate antidote to death, it was above all the beauty of this mystery of Christian faith unfolding in the experience of lived reality that intensified my desire to believe.  After all, I had fallen in love with the beauty of Christ’s life long before I understood it.

Standing before unsettling mystery, we can either prostrate like Abraham and listen to God’s Spirit stirring in our desires, or we can throw stones in protest like Jesus’ persecutors.

I can bet that a lot of what Jesus said sounded as absurd to his own followers as it did to his opponents.  “[B]efore Abraham came to be, I AM.”  No surprise people wanted to kill him.  But some of Jesus’ followers haunted by Christ’s beauty stopped to listen to what they desired.  As a result, faith and understanding ensued.

Though the disciples who remained with Jesus struggled to comprehend his teachings, their prostrated hearts knew that this Jesus expressed a beauty and attractiveness that satisfied deep desires in ways that nothing else could.  Rather than beholding beauty like a piece of artifact in a museum, the disciples strove to emulate the beauty of Christ’s life in their daily lives, which in turn affirmed the truth and reality of such beauty.

With his own life, Jesus paints for us this beautiful vision:  in him there is immortality, intimate union with God as Father, and glorification.  Do we desire this beauty?  Or, at the very least, do we want to desire this beauty?  If desire at its core is the compass to God’s beauty, then Lent is a time for intense purification of desires so we can better distinguish between authentic and artificial beauty.

Quang D. Tran, S.J.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Reflection for April 5, 2017

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
DN 3: 14- 20, 91-92, 95
DN 3: 52, 53, 54, 55, 56
LK 8: 15
JN 8: 31-42

I recently saw a banner in a local church that said “Redesigned by Christ”.  It struck me that there were areas of my life that have been and still could be redesigned by Christ.  His design of me was perfect but I felt the need to tweak it in an effort to control certain aspects of my life.  Of course, I know what is best for me, right? 
We feel the need to control many aspects of our lives and at times find that we are successful but only to a point.  Finances, health, peace of mind, relationships all can be stable and with a sudden miss-step, all is lost and we cannot find a way to re-gain control.  
Once we’ve lost control, what we should seek is for Christ to redesign our perspective and to offer up the situation to Him. But it is not easy to let go of a situation that we believe has a huge impact on our lives.  When we give total control to Christ in any situation and seek His guidance we re-gain the stability we felt was lost. 

Christ gave up total control to our Heavenly Father to die on the cross for us.  Could there be any situation we face any more difficult than that?  I am challenged and challenge all of us to give control of every aspect of life each day to Christ so that we not only find peace and stability but also know the will of God in our lives.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Reflection for April 4, 2017

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
NM 21: 4-9
PS 102: 2-3, 16-18, 19-21
JN 8: 21-30


This difficult gospel reading from John 8 is a great example of how the gospel writers—especially John—use language from the Old Testament (especially in its Greek version) to speak about Jesus. For example, when John writes about Jesus being “lifted up” or about Jesus saying mysteriously “I AM,” he is using language from the Old Testament along with the powerful associations those words have in the Torah or the Prophets (especially Isaiah) to speak of Jesus as the church came to understand him in the light of his death and resurrection.
Take the language about being “lifted up.” That strange language comes up three times in the Gospel of John, and when we become familiar with the whole of that gospel, we come to realize that the phrase (a single verb in Greek--hypsothēnai) means two kinds of being “lifted up”—lifted up on the cross and lifted up in resurrection. John loves that word because for him the death and resurrection of Jesus go together. The first lifted-up saying in John appears in John 3:13, which alludes to this Sunday’s first reading. There, in Numbers 21, the lifting up refers to God’s instruction to Moses to mount a bronze serpent on a pole and lift it up so that all those suffer the punishing snakebites might look at the snake and be healed from the effects of the bite. To quote John 3:13, “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” That is a very shorthand way of referring to Christian faith in the crucified and risen Lord as seeing the death and resurrection as a sign of the Father’s love expressed in the self-sacrifice of Jesus. Another place in the Old Testament that provides a powerful context for understanding Jesus’ suffering and glorification is Isaiah 52:13-15. This passage introduces the fourth Suffering Servant Song, which Christians understood as fulfilled in the death and glorification of Jesus.
The second “lifted up” saying occurs in today’s gospel reading, John 8:28— “So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me.’” That mysterious “I AM” embedded in this verse (capitalized by the editors to catch our eye) provides another example of language that only makes sense when you hear it as a reference to places in the OT where “I am” is a name for God. Here again, Isaiah is the source. Several times in this prophet “I AM” is the way God names himself, reminiscent of the “I am who am” as God’s self-identification in the revelation to Moses in the burning bush episode in Exodus 3. (See Isaiah 43:43:10-11, 25; 51:12). The point is that truly “see” Jesus is to know him as the divine Son of God, sent by the Father to represent him fully in his life, death, and resurrection. And see the I AM in Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman (4:26), at 13:19, and in his confrontation with the posse in the garden (18:5, 6, and 8).
The third “lifted up” saying comes in Jesus’ speech in John 12:32-34, which begins with this assertion: “‘And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.’ He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.” Of course the words about drawing everyone to himself also imply the effect of his risen life.
So, as we approach the accounts of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus this Lent, we can recall these I AM and lifted-up sayings to help us do what St. Ignatius invites us to do in his Spiritual Exercises, when he advises retreatants, as they contemplate the passion account, to watch how Jesus’ divinity “hides itself; that is, how he could destroy his enemies but does not; and how he allows his most holy humanity to suffer so cruelly.” John, with language soaked with Old Testament associations, helps us pray about Jesus’ suffering and glorification with both the human and divine dimensions in mind.

Dennis Hamm, S.J.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Reflection for April 3, 2017

Monday of the Fifth Week of  Lent
DN 13: 1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 or DN 13: 41C- 62
PS 23: 1-3 A, 3B- 4, 5, 6
EZ 33: 11
JN 8: 1-11

Boldly Challenging Injustice

By Fr. Bill Ryan, S.J.
The readings for today are stories – one from the Old Testament and one about Jesus, who loved to teach in parables.   Jesus and Daniel both stand up to the powerful and challenge injustice – here specifically against women.
Susanna’s story is dramatic – she is a beautiful young married woman entrapped by two respected elders – exploiting their trust to get access to her and satisfy their lust.  If she doesn’t comply, they will falsely accuse her of sinning with a young man.
Sadly, as often happens, the elders are trusted more than the young Susanna. She is condemned to death.  In answer to her prayers, a young boy, Daniel, moved by the Spirit, defiantly cries out, despite possible reprisals, “I will have no part in the death of this woman.”  His outburst and actions save Susanna’s life.
The gospel reading tells us how Jesus reacts to the Pharisees who are ready to stone a woman to death because she was caught in adultery.  He does not scold them, but says:  “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  One by one they fade away and Jesus asks, “Woman, where are they?  Has no-one condemned you?”  She replies, “No-one sir.”  Jesus wants to uphold and affirm her.  He says, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
Our faith, moved by the Spirit, calls us to rise up and boldly challenge the glaring injustices we see, despite potential threats from those who hold the power.
Reflection questions:
  • What are the experiences of migrants and refugees in your community?
  • How can you be a giver of “life and “hope” to them?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Reflection for April 2, 2017

Fifth Sunday of Lent
EZ 37: 12-14
PS 130: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8
ROM 8: 8-11
JN 11: 25A, 26
JN 11: 1-45 or JN 11: 3-7, 17, 20-27, 33B- 45

From Creighton University's Online Ministry:

The Prophet Ezekiel is transported to a bone-yard of sorts. The voice of the Lord tells the prophet to call these bones back to sinews and flesh. He does so and shaking, rattling and rising begin to occur. This is not a bad day’s work for the prophet.
He is told that the bones are the people of Israel in exile which has been a death. These reborns will take their place in their true land. What seemed to be dead was really asleep and the warm breath of God has awakened their spirits.
This is the third and final week of the “Scrutinies” for those soon to enter into the Catholic Church. Jesus has been presented to them in the two previous liturgies as “Living Water” and “Light of the World”. Today Jesus is presented as the “Resurrection”. Next weekend we will celebrate Palm Sunday at the beginning of Holy Week. Those seeking an entrance into the Catholic church and all other believers are invited to ponder their following of Jesus through His death to our resurrection.
Those who decide to follow Jesus will have to live the challenges from all sides. There will be invitations to reconsider and follow other forms of living. Snow-like coverings will attempt to freeze out what is always growing in the believers and that is faith. Those deciding to follow Jesus can not take the Jerusalem by-pass and meet up at the Resurrectional reunion.
In today’s Gospel, the disciples agree reluctantly to go with Jesus back to Judea where the Jews had been planning recently to kill Jesus. “Might as well go with him,” they decide. His friend Lazarus has been reported to be sick and Jesus delays going to visit him and his two sisters, Mary and Martha.
As with the Gospel stories of the past two weeks, there is a literary or dramatic tension created for the single purpose of Jesus revealing God’s glory. The writer of the Gospel creates or reveals a situation where Jesus will be able to call his listeners, (watchers) to a decision of belief. In last-week’s story, being healed from blindness was really about believing as seeing. This-week’s Gospel intensifies the theme. Lazarus was in the tomb and smelled like it. Jesus brings him back to life, but for John’s Gospel, believing is what living is. As the man who was born blind was a symbol or type of all human’s being blind to the presence of God in Christ, so Lazarus is a symbol of humanity’s being called out of eternal “not-living” and into the light of faith.
Jesus was seen to love this Lazarus, this symbol of us all. Jesus ordered that Lazarus, we, be untied and set to go free. Freedom for John’s Jesus is seeing and living out the relationship which Jesus has been “sent” to offer us. “Now many of the Jews who had come out to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.” They, as with Lazarus, are brought out of their tombs of death, which for John, is unbelief, just as with those who said they could see, were, for John’s Jesus, blind.
When a person is blind, she or he cannot do all the things they would like to be able to do. When one is dead, the things of life are denied them. There are many forms of death and of blindness for us. As Light, Jesus does not say that everything will be clear as day. As Resurrection, Jesus does not take away all forms of death and confinement, but keeps calling us to “Come out and play.” The evening before I pronounced my vows in the Jesuits, I was praying in the chapel and I was trying to be honest about my fears of doing this. What I came to was my simple words, “Jesus, I will follow you, but just don’t hurt me, okay?” Being a believer is not an easy way out. Lazarus got his “wake-up call” to come back into the human experience for a while. Jesus is Himself, heading for a big hurt in Jerusalem. Those who believe do so despite their desires to avoid the hurts of being human.
Jesus does offer Himself as The Resurrection and after our praying for faith, we will be invited by the liturgy and our living out our belief, to follow Him where ever our human pains of hurt and loss take us. He promises to be with us and breathing new life back into our personal “Bonehouse”.
“With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” Ps. 130

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Reflection for April 1, 2017

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
JER 11: 18-20
PS 7: 2-3, 9 BC- 10, 11-12
LK 8: 15
JN 7: 40- 53

From the Ignatian Solidarity Network's Lenten Reflection series, Rise Up
We are always in danger of normalizing injustice, or believing it to be inevitable.
We hear of Jesus’ crucifixion so often that we are tempted to think there was unshakable unanimity amongst the leaders of Jesus’ day that he was a threat to the power structure and must be arrested. Yet today’s readings remind us that there were dissenting voices.
Here at the border, every day we witness the abuses in the immigration detention and deportation process. In US detention centers, immigrants are subjected to degrading treatment with little oversight. Earlier this year, an individual who had been through our comedor sought asylum in the US and was put in solitary confinement in Eloy Detention Center without access to needed medical care. Instead of accepting this treatment as normal, we spoke out against the injustice and, at our encouragement, an official responsible for oversight decided to respond. Although she was initially skeptical of his account, like Nicodemus, she decided to hear and find out. Thanks to a dissenting voice, he received the treatment he needed and he no longer had to live every day of his time in detention in fear.
We must be the dissenting voices that shed light on the abnormality of injustice, prophesy to the fact that a better world is possible, and encourage our government officials and representatives to do the same.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Reflection for March 31, 2017

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
WIS 2: 1A, 12-22
PS 34: 17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23
MT 4:4B
JN 7: 1-2, 10, 25-30

Lent is our pilgrimage, our journey with Jesus toward Holy Week and the beauty of the Resurrection.  In today’s Gospel, we also accompany Jesus on his pilgrimage.  Pilgrimages are journeys of the body, the mind, and the soul.  We walk in other’s footsteps.  We may walk a new path.  As a community we learn what it is to walk in faith.  We experience both the joys and the challenges of a journey.  I, too, experienced all of these elements as I participated in the MAGIS/World Youth Day Pilgrimage in Poland with 20 of our students last July.  I want to share with you the reflection for today that I have written for the Polish Jesuit Pray as You Go.

Lord, please help me to enter into prayer with a focus on my fears and worry about control in my life and how to resolve that by reaching out to Jesus.  Help me to be firm in my faith as I see Christ in others.

In today’s Gospel from John, we see that Jesus “went up, not openly but as it were in secret.”  He knew that the Jews were trying to kill Him and He did not have control over the situation.  Jesus was probably afraid, as you often are. Afraid of others, afraid of new situations, afraid of doing the wrong thing.  How can Jesus’ fear help you understand your own fears and also help you to give control to God over your life, just as Jesus did?  Spend a few moments reflecting on this.

With fear comes doubt and with doubt comes lack of faith.  “Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?”  Imagine that the authorities were fearful of Jesus.  They could have realized that he was the Christ but their fears and doubts may have led to a lack of faith.  Are there ever times when your fears and loss of control lead to doubts in your life and cause you to not live out your faith?

As I walked through Krakow during the week of World Youth Day, I was separated from my group and I got lost.  I ended up walking about 12 miles that day.  Fear had overtaken me.  Doubt about whether I could continue surrounded me.  I had lost control and I forgot who was there for me.  “You know me and also know where I am from.”  As I tried to find my way to the train station, I ran into others who helped me.  They were the face of Christ to me on my own pilgrimage and they helped me remember who was in control.  As I met five sets of people who helped me find my way, I began to realize that I knew Christ and He was present right there for me.  My fears and doubts left me.  Reflect on Christ’s presence to you through others.

Pray that you might recognize the face of Christ in the other through each encounter, through each leg of your journey, no matter how large or small.  Find a place of peace for your fears and doubts and always reflect on the ways you are loved through others and through Christ’s presence in your life.

Sue Chawszczewski, Ph.D.
Director of Campus Ministry

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Reflection for March 30, 2017

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
EX 32: 7-14
PS 106: 19-20, 21-22, 23
JN 3: 16
JN 5: 31-47

We search for acceptance among others, but often feel rejection.  We want to be accepted among co-workers, classmates, or members within a particular community.  However, we sometimes encounter situations in which we feel rejected such as when people glare at us with judgmental looks, respond with hurtful comments, or label us “weird.”  We make an effort to be ourselves, but feel upset when others turn the other way. 

Just as we occasionally feel rejected, Jesus experiences the same feelings in today’s gospel.  He cries, “I came in the name of my father but you do not accept me.”  Jesus was sent on earth by his father seeking acceptance by his brothers and sisters on earth, yet felt shunned.  Many people did not believe that he was the son of God and failed to recognize his works as signs of his divinity. As a result, Jesus was misunderstood by many people whom he interacted.  We relate to Jesus’ feelings of rejection.  We pray to him knowing that he is the one who always showers us with love and acceptance.  We also pray that he connects us with those on earth who emulate this same type of acceptance.

Valerie Zecca is a senior studying Speech Pathology.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Reflection for March 29, 2017

Wednesday of Fourth Week of Lent
IS 49: 8-15
PS 145: 8-9, 13CD- 14, 17-18
JN 11: 25A, 26
JN 5: 17- 30

“I do not seek my own will, but the will of the one who sent me."

As I read today’s readings I couldn’t help but think about how much time I spend worrying. Worrying about whether or not I will do well on my next exam. Worrying about whether or not I will get hired for a summer job. Worrying about whether or not I’ve called my parents enough. In other words, I spend a lot a time worrying about whether or not I have made the right decisions concerning what I want to do with my own life. Today’s readings, however, forced me to take a step back and remember I am not here to forge my own path, rather God has laid a path for me. I am not here to live out my own will, but to strive to seek the will God laid out for me.
            This is by no means easy. I often find myself wondering why God would forge a path specifically for me when there are billions of other people in the world, but as God reminds us in the first reading, he will never forget us. He is always watching over us, loving us, and guiding us down the path He intends us to follow. It is one thing to say that, but it is a very different thing to trust in God’s will, to stop worrying, and to let go of our own desires. So, as we approach these last weeks of lent, let us seek not our own will, but God’s. Let us try to trust in God wholly and completely. Let us open ourselves to God’s love and await the many blessings he has planned for us.

Sidney Smith is a Freshman Nursing major.