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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Reflection for March 28, 2017

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
EZ 47: 1-9, 12
PS 46: 2-3, 5-6, 8-9
PS 51: 12A, 14A
JN 5: 1-16

The Struggle to “Be Well”
In the Gospel for today, Jesus asks the simple question to a disabled man, “Do you want to be well?”  Rather than answering Jesus directly, he tells Jesus of the predicament of reaching the healing pools before others get their opportunity to do so.  Jesus then relieves all of this man’s worries by saying to “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”  This is a classic telling of Jesus healing one of his people with nothing but touch (or in this case, words).  Yet there is much power held in that one question that Jesus asks. “Do you want to be well?” 
            My name is Zayna Abusada, and I am a senior here at SLU studying history and theology.  As of this moment, I have about two months until I go off into the yet unknown and graduate from a place I’ve called home for four years.  As such, I have asked myself many questions like the one Jesus asks the disabled man: Do you want to be well?  For me, this does not necessarily mean physically well.  This is instead Jesus asking us if we want to be spiritually well in our minds, hearts, and souls.  Do we, as children of Him, truly want to be well within Him so that we can enjoy the closeness of our Savior?
            This Lent, this may be a good thing to ask ourselves.  Lent seems to be all about spiritual reconstruction in order to give our lives greater devotion to God in the hope that we can rejuvenate our faith in a way to match the message of the longest waiting period of the liturgical year.  Many of us (including myself) ask what we can do to give up or do in order to gain repentance or become better people in the anticipation of Jesus’ Passion, death, and Resurrection.  However, maybe the question we should truly be asking is not what we can do to repent to God during Lent, but whether or not we want to be well within this season in order to enjoy the spirituality of it. This may be as simple as taking more time to reflect and pray throughout the day during Lent, and then perhaps carrying that habit all the liturgical seasons after.  Or maybe it is a drastic as doing an entire spiritual overview of your life thus far, going to Reconciliation, and making a plan about how you as a Christian are going to move forward in a healthier spiritual direction with your mind, body, and soul after this Lenten season, no matter what that may be.
            “Being well” has a different meaning and connotation for all of us.  Yet, “be well” is a common blessing amongst loved ones when one is going through a hardship.  The people around us want us to be well, both with ourselves and with God.  This Lenten season, let us listen to ourselves more about being well in mind, body, and spirit, seeking the voice that Jesus has inside all of us asking us, “do you want to be well?”  When you decide that you do, or even if you struggle to do so, Jesus will always be there to help us rise, pick up our burdens, and walk with Him. 
Blessings and Love,


Monday, March 27, 2017

Reflection for March 27, 2017

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
IS 65: 17-21
PS 30: 2 and 4, 5-6, 11-12A and 13 B
AM 5: 14
JN 4:43-54

Lent is a time of deep reflection. A time to challenge ourselves to be more intentional with our faith. A period to dive deeper into relationship with our heavenly Father. An opportunity to be vulnerable with God about the struggles and challenges we face each day.  Those crosses that we carry in our earthly lives.
The beauty of lent however, is through that time of vulnerability and reflection we come to find that though we carry our own crosses, in the end Jesus Christ carried the biggest cross of all. He carried it humbly and without objection in order to rescue us from our sins and struggles. Furthermore, granting us eternal life with Him and the heavenly Father. Today’s readings are a glance of the beauty, peace, and joy that we will see and feel come Easter morning, and even more so the day we will be welcomed into eternal life in God’s Kingdom of Heaven.
As you begin this new week of Lent, I implore us all to reflect more on the mercy God has already shown in our life. Each day it is easy to lose focus on what is truly important. Today, stop and reflect. Take the time to see ways in which God has planted small joys and moments of love in your life when everything else seems to be going wrong. Remember the mercy God placed on your heart during your lowest, hardest moments. Then finally, end your reflection in worship. Worship God the Father for sending his only son to RESCUE US! To die on the cross in order to give us eternal peace, love, and life.
Our day to day stresses and our earthly crosses will one day fade away. Therefore today, start living for tomorrow. Live for the day that your relationship with God can be celebrated in His glory, where “no longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there,” but “they shall live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant.”
Live each day joyfully and passionately for our God!

My name is Madeline Wappelhorst and I am a sophomore Nursing student with a minor in Health Care Ethics.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Reflection for March 26, 2017

Fourth Sunday of Lent
1 SM 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A
PS 23: 1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6
EPH 5: 8-14
JN 8: 12
JN 9: 1-41 or JN 9: 1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

The theme of darkness and light shows up a lot in these readings – God seeing the potential in young David, the Ephesians’ warning that living in view of God makes demands of your life. Today’s gospel, the story of the man born blind, has always left me feeling uneasy for a few reasons. Of course, it performs its message about blindness and sight by presenting the Pharisees as simply unable to see what is right in front of them: the recovery of sight by the man born blind. Multiple times they are looking for some explanation beyond the simple brute force that the man formerly could not see and now he could. Maybe something that makes me uneasy about the story is that I feel my own closeness to the Pharisees – I would probably also be thinking of alternative ways of explaining that which makes no sense to me. And woe to me (and perhaps a lot of us) who spend a lot of time in the echo chamber of people who think/look like me; I have built up such a confirmation bias of people who agree with me, and it can be hard to get out of that bubble.

On that front, the line from Jesus early in the story has always baffled me; when asked if the man himself had sinned or if his parents had sinned, Jesus (*mercifully*) breaks down that blame game, but he replaces it with something worse: this guy was born blind because God wanted to use him to show off the glory of God. Well and good to be useful to God, but did God plan (“why did this happen?”) for this guy to spend decades being blind just so Jesus could show people a sign? The Pharisees pick up on the same idea as the disciples, that this guy was born blind as a punishment, an excuse they invoke at the end of the story so they do not have to take him seriously.

Whatever the evangelist had in mind, all of us have worldviews to which we are attached, so we often fight against any new information that does not feel like it fits, like a Procrustean beg, stretching or chopping out voices that we want to emphasize or ignore. “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Obviously we cannot accept everything, and we continue to have to make leaps of faith to know what to believe, but believing that we come into any situation having fully understood it is a weakness, not a strength.