February 28, 2013

Luke 16: 19-31

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.

The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’

But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’

He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’

He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Sharing Our Gifts

My Dad loved classical music and wanted his children to have some exposure to it. It wasn’t forced on us, but in the background of Sunday afternoons he’d have it playing in the living room as he read the paper. It seeped into our souls. Today I play classical music on the iPad as I read the New York Times on the screen. I had a comfortable life then; I’ve a comfortable life now.

Artur Rubenstein, a renowned pianist, came to our city when I was a boy. On a winter night Dad took me and my sister, with whom I shared a seat, to the standing-room-only concert. We were dressed in our best, me 10, she 11, and Dad 38. As we walked to the concert hall from the car I heard and saw a boy, my age, with his shoeshine kit.

He was smiling and offering to shine shoes for a quarter. I wanted to run past that kid for it was uncomfortable. Why him? Not me? Why me, not him? After the concert, he was still there, now begging to shine shoes. He was crying. The message was clear that he had to bring money home. Dad gave me money to give to him. I did it quickly and moved on.

Dad and I gave from our surplus and that was good, but the memory of the boy crying out in the night lingered and lingers on. Today’s Gospel stirs up this memory and a belief held that giving from one’s surplus is good and, yet, this is not enough. A point of the rich man and Lazarus story is to consider ALL the gifts we have been given by God, Our Father, not just the table droppings.

Everything we have is gift to be given away to those whom we know and to the strangers we are yet to meet. The “surplus” and “substance” of our very lives are gifts from Him to be used, to be broken out, to be passed around and shared. Jesus cares for all God’s people through us who are storehouses of gifts.

Whose voices are crying out to me today in need of what I have been given by the Father? How does what I have flow to those in need? What can we celebrate? What are the blocks?

—Fr. Walter Deye, S.J., Socius/Executive Assistant to the Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.

Prayer

Jesus, I’m tired of the “lava waste” of my life. Help me these holy days to stop and listen to the music. Water the roots of my heart; strengthen my relationships with your good grace. Make my soul sing in the midst of all the life and love you offer just today.

—Fr. Walter Deye, S.J., Socius/Executive Assistant to the Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.


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February 27, 2013

Matthew 20:17-28

While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”

But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Sharing God’s Love

We have all heard the term “helicopter parents.” Educators are well familiar with such parents. They truly want the best for their children, but they feel bound to make certain everything in their child’s life goes “just right.” But isn’t it through the bumps and bruises, the mistakes and failures of life that we learn so much and become better people?

In today’s gospel, the mother of the sons of Zebedee might be the first recorded helicopter parent as she asks Jesus to seat her two sons in the places of highest honor in his kingdom. Jesus will have none of it. Rather, he says “Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave.”

God, Our Father, calls us forth to a life of service with infinite, absolute, unconditional, and unrelenting love. This is a love which is so true and respectful of us that he allows us to make mistakes and even sin against him. His greatest desire is that we choose to share in his divinity and in turn share his love with every person he puts in our lives.

—David McNulty, Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, only through your grace can we keep our focus on what really matters — service to others. We ask that your Spirit helps us to discern a healthy self-interest in contrast to a self-centered interest. Help us to be more concerned with doing right rather than being right. And increase our trust in your promise that the fullness of life belongs to those dedicated to serving others.

 

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 26, 2013

Matthew 23: 1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.

They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students.

And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Serving Others

Many people confuse authority and power with the ability to influence or control others. Frequently we consider a person to be important if he or she is a politician, a player of professional sports, a musician, a TV or movie star, or is very wealthy. Often we do not look closely at the character of the celebrity or “important” person. Is the person honest and trustworthy? Does the person care about and help others? Is the person working for the Kingdom of God and all humanity, or only for selfish ends?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus explains how we should understand authority and power. To put it simply, authority and power are not about the ability to influence or control others, but rather about serving others. Jesus cautions us not to be like the scribes and Pharisees, religious people who were hypocritical and liked to hold places of honor and have titles. They preached and spoke the correct words but did not live them out. They liked to be thought of well by others, but would not lift a finger to help them.

Jesus emphasized that his disciples—including us—should be prayerful and honest. We should not take titles or think of ourselves as better than others. Jesus wants us to remember that a title can separate us from others. A title can also lead us to think we are better than others. Jesus underscores the fact that all human beings are equal and children of God. Human beings have only one teacher and master: Jesus the Christ. With the knowledge that all human beings are equal and no one is master over another, Jesus wants us to discern that the greatest among us must be the servant of all.

What ways can I be a better servant of God and God’s people today?

—Br. John Moriconi, S.J., Provincial’s Secretary, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, regardless of our circumstances, despite our status in life, or other’s perspective about us, we believe that you call us to “greatness.”  As we move through our day, guide us to be attentive to those “great” moments when we realize the opportunity to serve another. And when our day comes to a close, inspire us, Lord, to evaluate the merits of the day by answering one overarching question: How well did I serve today?”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 25, 2013

Luke 6: 36-38 

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Jesus Tells Us the Truth about Ourselves

When I was a principal of one of our high schools, I kept a copy of the children’s book The Emperor’s New Clothes on the shelves behind my desk. Briefly, the plot of the story is that a vain and officious emperor was fooled by two conmen into buying a set of clothes out of a fabric invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent. As the conmen simulate dressing the emperor in his new suit, his ministers look on aghast that he is in fact naked, but they didn’t want to say anything for fear they would be called incompetent and lose their positions.

Bolstered by his ministers’ dishonest flattery, the emperor decides to go out and greet his subjects in his new outfit to see if they are intelligent enough to see the rich suit. In fact, the people don’t want to be labeled as stupid and so they all applauded as the pompous emperor walked down the street.

Then suddenly a little boy who hadn’t been concerned about professing obvious falsity in order to “fit in” yelled out, “But he’s not wearing anything!” The whole house of cards came crashing down and the humiliated emperor realized his foolish snobbery.

Jesus effectively does the same thing as the tale’s little boy in the gospel today. He tells the people the truth that they are not the only ones God considers special, and then he provides examples from their own scriptures. This infuriates them and they try to kill him! It’s scary to think of the lengths we will go to protect our illusions of who we are. When we choose the illusory self over the truth that Jesus tells us, then he can only leave us to our own foolish delusions. When we selfishly act as if God favors us over others, we refuse to hear Jesus calling us out of ourselves. Since we are not listening, it is as if Jesus went away.

What truth is Jesus trying to tell you about yourself, your real self, not the illusion you hold up for others?

—Fr. James Prehn, S.J., Vocations Director for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits. For more information on Jesuit vocations, click here.

Prayer

Lord, if we fall into behavior motivated by a self-preoccupation for approval, status, or financial gain, help us to recognize the emptiness of this pursuit. Let your Spirit speak to us through those who love us, through the reading of your Word, and through the various gifts that fill our lives. Lord, please guide us toward an authentic life and empower us to reject those illusions that place image over substance.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 24, 2013

Luke 9: 28b-36

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said.

While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Seeing As God Sees

Have you ever had the experience when you saw someone differently, if only for a moment? You saw them with more compassion, more generosity. Maybe it was your spouse or your child, maybe a best friend, or maybe a perfect stranger on a bus. Grace moved your heart to see with new eyes. I like to believe that what happens in those moments when compassion and generosity and kindness move us to see differently that we are getting a glimpse of how God sees that person.

Lent ought to be about moving more deeply into that vision, to see as God sees. It may sound like a preposterous idea. And yet if we take Jesus seriously, if we take Jesus at his word, he is continually inviting us into his life, his way of seeing things. Jesus is always asking us, “Don’t you want to be my companion? Don’t you want to be my follower?” And when you follow as Peter, James, and John do in today’s gospel, you’ll see life differently. You’ll see yourself differently. You’ll see the world differently.

I’m convinced that in the gospel stories when people look into the eyes of Jesus they all see the same thing. In my imagination, when people look into the eyes of Jesus what they see is themselves. They see themselves as they can be. They see themselves freed up from sin and death and everything that holds them back from living the life that God dreams for them.

When people look into the eyes of Jesus, when Peter, James, and John looked into the eyes of Jesus on the mountain at the moment of transfiguration, I think they felt a thrill of liberation and a sense of mission to step into what it is that God desires for them. May we know that grace.

—Fr. Patrick McGrath, S.J., President of Loyola Academy

Prayer

Lord, in so many ways we realize our frailties in your apostle, Peter. Though he witnesses your glorious Transfiguration, he, nonetheless, eventually denies that he even knows you. While we truly believe that you have interceded in our lives, we will still question your faithfulness and grow discouraged by your seeming absence. Lord, we recommit to you this day. We ask that our faith becomes the constancy in our life and that nothing undermines our trust in you.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 23, 2013

Matthew 5: 43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

We Are Loved and Forgiven

“Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.” This is tough!

How can we learn to imitate the Lord, who, from the Cross, prayed for his persecutors?

In the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises, the retreatant prays over the horror of sin. Look what Satan’s pride wrought. Consider all the suffering and injustice in the world because of sin. But finally, the retreatant is called to reflect on the horror of his or her own sins, sins for which the Lord gave his life on the Cross. Overwhelming shame and sorrow often follows this kind of meditation.

More overwhelming than the horror of our sinfulness that nailed Jesus to the Cross is the grace of knowing that we are still loved and forgiven by our dear Lord, who gave his life that we might live. This grace brings joy and freedom. When we see the sins of our enemies, we can see the same sins in ourselves, and because we live in the freedom of redemption, we can freely love and forgive our enemies.

—Fr. Ted Munz, S.J., Treasurer, Chicago-Detroit & Wisconsin Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, we need your help if we are to forgive those who have neglected, betrayed, or caused profound disappointment in us. While it can seem impossible to pray for those who have hurt us, we choose to take small steps in this direction. Even though we may prefer to resist your invitation to pray for our enemies, we will move forward guided by your mercy for all.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 22, 2013

Chair of Peter

Matthew 16: 13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Repent and Move Ahead

By this time in Matthew’s narrative, Jesus has a very familiar relationship with his disciples. He wouldn’t have asked a question like this except of trusted friends. As you read this passage, try to picture the scene, listen to the conversation between Jesus and the men he’d gathered around him as disciples, imagine the feelings it must have stirred up . . .

The first answers were simply reports of what others were saying: no opinions offered, no judgments made—they weren’t committing themselves. But Jesus didn’t let them off the hook. “But you,” he said, “who do you say that I am?” Picture their faces: surprise? fear? confusion? embarrassment? Probably all of the above. They must have looked to their natural leader, Peter, because after a moment he voiced for the first time what you and I believe without hesitation—and it changed his life instantly and profoundly, as it has changed ours: “You are the Christ . . .”

Watch Jesus’ face light up with joy as he recognizes the first dawn of real faith among these good men and breathes: “Blessed are you!!!” He greets our faith with no less joy: it is the same gift of his Father and ours. Imagine how Peter felt to be so affirmed. Think how often, later, in his moments of weakness and failure, Peter must have found in this memory the power to repent and move ahead. As do we. As does Christ’s Church, built on Peter “the Rock.”

—Fr. John J. O’Callaghan, S.J., Vice-President for Mission & Ministry, Loyola University Medical Center

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me enter into that peace which consists in having put my life in your hands.

—Carlo Maria Martini, S.J.


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February 21, 2013

Matthew 7: 7-12

Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Ask, Seek, Knock

Jesus says: “Ask and it will be given to you…seek…knock and the door will be opened to you.” How do we hear this in our 21st Century when we want or need to see someone in a personal way? Often we are instructed: “When you arrive, ring the bell and you will be let in!” So, we arrive at our friends or appointment and we encounter a door with buzzers and cameras. We wait to be admitted and meet security face-to-face. We need to show our license and get a badge. God forbid a metal detector and electronic scan! The initial invitation or directions didn’t seem so complicated. Our world has gilded itself with an excess of barriers before a personal encounter, only to increase the wait.

Our human experience and way of proceeding can get transferred to Jesus and to his Father. This isn’t our God. This isn’t the Father Jesus came to show us. He really means it when he says: “Ask and it will be given to you.” What we are given may be the right fit, but perhaps usually different from what we think is best. Our God is faithful to us and keeps His Word. Ask, seek, knock! We are answered, we are given to, and we are let in through God’s timely ways.

Maybe he’s a little slow in coming to the door, but he isn’t screening us to see if we’ve been naughty or nice. We are in his presence already, but we want him to come to “this door” we present to him and he’s a bit slow in answering. What a woman in Harlem once said may help us: “Now, God’s not a fast person. He is a sure person. Swiftness is not his best thing. So you have to realize that when you ask him to help you it will not be done in the next breath. Sometimes it is, but nine times out of ten it will be done in his time, not your time.” Have faith in and act upon Jesus’ invitation today. God will respond, in his own way and time.

—Fr. Walter Deye, S.J., Socius/Executive Assistant to the Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.

Prayer

Help me out, my Jesus. I knock a lot; I ask for help and seek the light. But I’m impatient with myself and with others. Calm my heart; help me slow down; open me to the gift and grace you offer these days of Lent. Help me trust that, in your way and in your time, all will be well.

—Fr. Walter Deye, S.J., Socius/Executive Assistant to the Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.


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February 20, 2013

Luke 11: 29-32

When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation.

The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Loved Sinners

The father of Ann Grosmaire sat at his daughter’s bedside after she had been shot by her boyfriend. Although she was unconscious and near death, he thought she said “forgive him.” He said “no,” but he kept hearing the same words from her. He later said, “I realized it was not just Ann asking me to forgive Connor, it was Jesus Christ.” Ann died later that week, but this began an amazing story of love and healing for two families. (New York Times Magazine)

In the first reading today we have the story of Jonah announcing to the Ninevites that they must repent or be overthrown. Much to his surprise, they do repent. Is this a story of repentance or of God’s forgiving love?

In the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius has us consider our own sinfulness and how it causes evil and disorder. We pray for the grace of a growing and intense sorrow. St. Ignatius also has us consider how the whole world manifests how much God loves and forgives us. Yes, we are loved sinners whom God will never stop loving.

We might ask a “chicken and egg” question: What comes first, repentance or forgiving love?

—David McNulty, Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, we are full of gratitude and amazement that you seek us with a forgiving heart. Direct our eyes to your eyes on the cross. In that sacred space may we experience the intensity of your love and your plea to stay close by your side. And should we fight against forgiving another, we ask but one thing. Let  your eyes become our eyes.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 19, 2013

Matthew 6: 7-15

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Be in God’s Presence

In today’s familiar Gospel, Jesus instructs us on how to pray. God knows what we need before we ask, so we are encouraged not to babble or drone on when we pray. Instead of using our heads and brains to present many words and thoughts—or a list of needs and wants—to God, we are invited to allow our heart and soul to BE in the presence of God. We are asked to pray from and allow God into the depths of our being.

In the Our Father, Jesus gives us a way to BE in God’s presence. We should begin our prayer by focusing our attention on God (“hallowed be thy name”). Next we should allow our desires to be focused on God’s Kingdom rather than on our own concerns (“thy will be done”). Then we should ask for what we need to help us work for God’s Kingdom (“give us this day”). Remembering that all people—even ourselves—make mistakes and hurt others, we ask God to forgive us and to help us forgive others (“forgive us our trespasses and forgive those who trespass against us”). Finally, we ask for God’s blessing and protection throughout the day (“deliver us from evil”).

This way of praying—of being in God’s presence—will help us to focus our attention on what is really important: attuning our hearts and minds to God. When our hearts and minds are properly focused, we can spend our time and efforts working on bringing God’s Kingdom to fruition.

How can I better attune my heart and mind to God today?

—Br. John Moriconi, S.J., Provincial’s Secretary, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.

Prayer

Lord, when we pray, heighten our trust that you are present to us.  Still our minds and calm our hearts so we can patiently listen to you.  Thank you for this gift of prayer that will move us to a deepened relationship with you.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 28, 2013

Luke 16: 19-31

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.

The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’

But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’

He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’

He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Sharing Our Gifts

My Dad loved classical music and wanted his children to have some exposure to it. It wasn’t forced on us, but in the background of Sunday afternoons he’d have it playing in the living room as he read the paper. It seeped into our souls. Today I play classical music on the iPad as I read the New York Times on the screen. I had a comfortable life then; I’ve a comfortable life now.

Artur Rubenstein, a renowned pianist, came to our city when I was a boy. On a winter night Dad took me and my sister, with whom I shared a seat, to the standing-room-only concert. We were dressed in our best, me 10, she 11, and Dad 38. As we walked to the concert hall from the car I heard and saw a boy, my age, with his shoeshine kit.

He was smiling and offering to shine shoes for a quarter. I wanted to run past that kid for it was uncomfortable. Why him? Not me? Why me, not him? After the concert, he was still there, now begging to shine shoes. He was crying. The message was clear that he had to bring money home. Dad gave me money to give to him. I did it quickly and moved on.

Dad and I gave from our surplus and that was good, but the memory of the boy crying out in the night lingered and lingers on. Today’s Gospel stirs up this memory and a belief held that giving from one’s surplus is good and, yet, this is not enough. A point of the rich man and Lazarus story is to consider ALL the gifts we have been given by God, Our Father, not just the table droppings.

Everything we have is gift to be given away to those whom we know and to the strangers we are yet to meet. The “surplus” and “substance” of our very lives are gifts from Him to be used, to be broken out, to be passed around and shared. Jesus cares for all God’s people through us who are storehouses of gifts.

Whose voices are crying out to me today in need of what I have been given by the Father? How does what I have flow to those in need? What can we celebrate? What are the blocks?

—Fr. Walter Deye, S.J., Socius/Executive Assistant to the Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.

Prayer

Jesus, I’m tired of the “lava waste” of my life. Help me these holy days to stop and listen to the music. Water the roots of my heart; strengthen my relationships with your good grace. Make my soul sing in the midst of all the life and love you offer just today.

—Fr. Walter Deye, S.J., Socius/Executive Assistant to the Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.


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February 27, 2013

Matthew 20:17-28

While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”

But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Sharing God’s Love

We have all heard the term “helicopter parents.” Educators are well familiar with such parents. They truly want the best for their children, but they feel bound to make certain everything in their child’s life goes “just right.” But isn’t it through the bumps and bruises, the mistakes and failures of life that we learn so much and become better people?

In today’s gospel, the mother of the sons of Zebedee might be the first recorded helicopter parent as she asks Jesus to seat her two sons in the places of highest honor in his kingdom. Jesus will have none of it. Rather, he says “Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave.”

God, Our Father, calls us forth to a life of service with infinite, absolute, unconditional, and unrelenting love. This is a love which is so true and respectful of us that he allows us to make mistakes and even sin against him. His greatest desire is that we choose to share in his divinity and in turn share his love with every person he puts in our lives.

—David McNulty, Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, only through your grace can we keep our focus on what really matters — service to others. We ask that your Spirit helps us to discern a healthy self-interest in contrast to a self-centered interest. Help us to be more concerned with doing right rather than being right. And increase our trust in your promise that the fullness of life belongs to those dedicated to serving others.

 

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 26, 2013

Matthew 23: 1-12

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.

They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students.

And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Serving Others

Many people confuse authority and power with the ability to influence or control others. Frequently we consider a person to be important if he or she is a politician, a player of professional sports, a musician, a TV or movie star, or is very wealthy. Often we do not look closely at the character of the celebrity or “important” person. Is the person honest and trustworthy? Does the person care about and help others? Is the person working for the Kingdom of God and all humanity, or only for selfish ends?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus explains how we should understand authority and power. To put it simply, authority and power are not about the ability to influence or control others, but rather about serving others. Jesus cautions us not to be like the scribes and Pharisees, religious people who were hypocritical and liked to hold places of honor and have titles. They preached and spoke the correct words but did not live them out. They liked to be thought of well by others, but would not lift a finger to help them.

Jesus emphasized that his disciples—including us—should be prayerful and honest. We should not take titles or think of ourselves as better than others. Jesus wants us to remember that a title can separate us from others. A title can also lead us to think we are better than others. Jesus underscores the fact that all human beings are equal and children of God. Human beings have only one teacher and master: Jesus the Christ. With the knowledge that all human beings are equal and no one is master over another, Jesus wants us to discern that the greatest among us must be the servant of all.

What ways can I be a better servant of God and God’s people today?

—Br. John Moriconi, S.J., Provincial’s Secretary, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, regardless of our circumstances, despite our status in life, or other’s perspective about us, we believe that you call us to “greatness.”  As we move through our day, guide us to be attentive to those “great” moments when we realize the opportunity to serve another. And when our day comes to a close, inspire us, Lord, to evaluate the merits of the day by answering one overarching question: How well did I serve today?”

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 25, 2013

Luke 6: 36-38 

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Jesus Tells Us the Truth about Ourselves

When I was a principal of one of our high schools, I kept a copy of the children’s book The Emperor’s New Clothes on the shelves behind my desk. Briefly, the plot of the story is that a vain and officious emperor was fooled by two conmen into buying a set of clothes out of a fabric invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent. As the conmen simulate dressing the emperor in his new suit, his ministers look on aghast that he is in fact naked, but they didn’t want to say anything for fear they would be called incompetent and lose their positions.

Bolstered by his ministers’ dishonest flattery, the emperor decides to go out and greet his subjects in his new outfit to see if they are intelligent enough to see the rich suit. In fact, the people don’t want to be labeled as stupid and so they all applauded as the pompous emperor walked down the street.

Then suddenly a little boy who hadn’t been concerned about professing obvious falsity in order to “fit in” yelled out, “But he’s not wearing anything!” The whole house of cards came crashing down and the humiliated emperor realized his foolish snobbery.

Jesus effectively does the same thing as the tale’s little boy in the gospel today. He tells the people the truth that they are not the only ones God considers special, and then he provides examples from their own scriptures. This infuriates them and they try to kill him! It’s scary to think of the lengths we will go to protect our illusions of who we are. When we choose the illusory self over the truth that Jesus tells us, then he can only leave us to our own foolish delusions. When we selfishly act as if God favors us over others, we refuse to hear Jesus calling us out of ourselves. Since we are not listening, it is as if Jesus went away.

What truth is Jesus trying to tell you about yourself, your real self, not the illusion you hold up for others?

—Fr. James Prehn, S.J., Vocations Director for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits. For more information on Jesuit vocations, click here.

Prayer

Lord, if we fall into behavior motivated by a self-preoccupation for approval, status, or financial gain, help us to recognize the emptiness of this pursuit. Let your Spirit speak to us through those who love us, through the reading of your Word, and through the various gifts that fill our lives. Lord, please guide us toward an authentic life and empower us to reject those illusions that place image over substance.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 24, 2013

Luke 9: 28b-36

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said.

While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Seeing As God Sees

Have you ever had the experience when you saw someone differently, if only for a moment? You saw them with more compassion, more generosity. Maybe it was your spouse or your child, maybe a best friend, or maybe a perfect stranger on a bus. Grace moved your heart to see with new eyes. I like to believe that what happens in those moments when compassion and generosity and kindness move us to see differently that we are getting a glimpse of how God sees that person.

Lent ought to be about moving more deeply into that vision, to see as God sees. It may sound like a preposterous idea. And yet if we take Jesus seriously, if we take Jesus at his word, he is continually inviting us into his life, his way of seeing things. Jesus is always asking us, “Don’t you want to be my companion? Don’t you want to be my follower?” And when you follow as Peter, James, and John do in today’s gospel, you’ll see life differently. You’ll see yourself differently. You’ll see the world differently.

I’m convinced that in the gospel stories when people look into the eyes of Jesus they all see the same thing. In my imagination, when people look into the eyes of Jesus what they see is themselves. They see themselves as they can be. They see themselves freed up from sin and death and everything that holds them back from living the life that God dreams for them.

When people look into the eyes of Jesus, when Peter, James, and John looked into the eyes of Jesus on the mountain at the moment of transfiguration, I think they felt a thrill of liberation and a sense of mission to step into what it is that God desires for them. May we know that grace.

—Fr. Patrick McGrath, S.J., President of Loyola Academy

Prayer

Lord, in so many ways we realize our frailties in your apostle, Peter. Though he witnesses your glorious Transfiguration, he, nonetheless, eventually denies that he even knows you. While we truly believe that you have interceded in our lives, we will still question your faithfulness and grow discouraged by your seeming absence. Lord, we recommit to you this day. We ask that our faith becomes the constancy in our life and that nothing undermines our trust in you.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 23, 2013

Matthew 5: 43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

We Are Loved and Forgiven

“Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.” This is tough!

How can we learn to imitate the Lord, who, from the Cross, prayed for his persecutors?

In the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises, the retreatant prays over the horror of sin. Look what Satan’s pride wrought. Consider all the suffering and injustice in the world because of sin. But finally, the retreatant is called to reflect on the horror of his or her own sins, sins for which the Lord gave his life on the Cross. Overwhelming shame and sorrow often follows this kind of meditation.

More overwhelming than the horror of our sinfulness that nailed Jesus to the Cross is the grace of knowing that we are still loved and forgiven by our dear Lord, who gave his life that we might live. This grace brings joy and freedom. When we see the sins of our enemies, we can see the same sins in ourselves, and because we live in the freedom of redemption, we can freely love and forgive our enemies.

—Fr. Ted Munz, S.J., Treasurer, Chicago-Detroit & Wisconsin Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, we need your help if we are to forgive those who have neglected, betrayed, or caused profound disappointment in us. While it can seem impossible to pray for those who have hurt us, we choose to take small steps in this direction. Even though we may prefer to resist your invitation to pray for our enemies, we will move forward guided by your mercy for all.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 22, 2013

Chair of Peter

Matthew 16: 13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Repent and Move Ahead

By this time in Matthew’s narrative, Jesus has a very familiar relationship with his disciples. He wouldn’t have asked a question like this except of trusted friends. As you read this passage, try to picture the scene, listen to the conversation between Jesus and the men he’d gathered around him as disciples, imagine the feelings it must have stirred up . . .

The first answers were simply reports of what others were saying: no opinions offered, no judgments made—they weren’t committing themselves. But Jesus didn’t let them off the hook. “But you,” he said, “who do you say that I am?” Picture their faces: surprise? fear? confusion? embarrassment? Probably all of the above. They must have looked to their natural leader, Peter, because after a moment he voiced for the first time what you and I believe without hesitation—and it changed his life instantly and profoundly, as it has changed ours: “You are the Christ . . .”

Watch Jesus’ face light up with joy as he recognizes the first dawn of real faith among these good men and breathes: “Blessed are you!!!” He greets our faith with no less joy: it is the same gift of his Father and ours. Imagine how Peter felt to be so affirmed. Think how often, later, in his moments of weakness and failure, Peter must have found in this memory the power to repent and move ahead. As do we. As does Christ’s Church, built on Peter “the Rock.”

—Fr. John J. O’Callaghan, S.J., Vice-President for Mission & Ministry, Loyola University Medical Center

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me enter into that peace which consists in having put my life in your hands.

—Carlo Maria Martini, S.J.


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February 21, 2013

Matthew 7: 7-12

Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Ask, Seek, Knock

Jesus says: “Ask and it will be given to you…seek…knock and the door will be opened to you.” How do we hear this in our 21st Century when we want or need to see someone in a personal way? Often we are instructed: “When you arrive, ring the bell and you will be let in!” So, we arrive at our friends or appointment and we encounter a door with buzzers and cameras. We wait to be admitted and meet security face-to-face. We need to show our license and get a badge. God forbid a metal detector and electronic scan! The initial invitation or directions didn’t seem so complicated. Our world has gilded itself with an excess of barriers before a personal encounter, only to increase the wait.

Our human experience and way of proceeding can get transferred to Jesus and to his Father. This isn’t our God. This isn’t the Father Jesus came to show us. He really means it when he says: “Ask and it will be given to you.” What we are given may be the right fit, but perhaps usually different from what we think is best. Our God is faithful to us and keeps His Word. Ask, seek, knock! We are answered, we are given to, and we are let in through God’s timely ways.

Maybe he’s a little slow in coming to the door, but he isn’t screening us to see if we’ve been naughty or nice. We are in his presence already, but we want him to come to “this door” we present to him and he’s a bit slow in answering. What a woman in Harlem once said may help us: “Now, God’s not a fast person. He is a sure person. Swiftness is not his best thing. So you have to realize that when you ask him to help you it will not be done in the next breath. Sometimes it is, but nine times out of ten it will be done in his time, not your time.” Have faith in and act upon Jesus’ invitation today. God will respond, in his own way and time.

—Fr. Walter Deye, S.J., Socius/Executive Assistant to the Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.

Prayer

Help me out, my Jesus. I knock a lot; I ask for help and seek the light. But I’m impatient with myself and with others. Calm my heart; help me slow down; open me to the gift and grace you offer these days of Lent. Help me trust that, in your way and in your time, all will be well.

—Fr. Walter Deye, S.J., Socius/Executive Assistant to the Provincial, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.


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February 20, 2013

Luke 11: 29-32

When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation.

The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Loved Sinners

The father of Ann Grosmaire sat at his daughter’s bedside after she had been shot by her boyfriend. Although she was unconscious and near death, he thought she said “forgive him.” He said “no,” but he kept hearing the same words from her. He later said, “I realized it was not just Ann asking me to forgive Connor, it was Jesus Christ.” Ann died later that week, but this began an amazing story of love and healing for two families. (New York Times Magazine)

In the first reading today we have the story of Jonah announcing to the Ninevites that they must repent or be overthrown. Much to his surprise, they do repent. Is this a story of repentance or of God’s forgiving love?

In the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius has us consider our own sinfulness and how it causes evil and disorder. We pray for the grace of a growing and intense sorrow. St. Ignatius also has us consider how the whole world manifests how much God loves and forgives us. Yes, we are loved sinners whom God will never stop loving.

We might ask a “chicken and egg” question: What comes first, repentance or forgiving love?

—David McNulty, Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Lord, we are full of gratitude and amazement that you seek us with a forgiving heart. Direct our eyes to your eyes on the cross. In that sacred space may we experience the intensity of your love and your plea to stay close by your side. And should we fight against forgiving another, we ask but one thing. Let  your eyes become our eyes.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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February 19, 2013

Matthew 6: 7-15

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)

Be in God’s Presence

In today’s familiar Gospel, Jesus instructs us on how to pray. God knows what we need before we ask, so we are encouraged not to babble or drone on when we pray. Instead of using our heads and brains to present many words and thoughts—or a list of needs and wants—to God, we are invited to allow our heart and soul to BE in the presence of God. We are asked to pray from and allow God into the depths of our being.

In the Our Father, Jesus gives us a way to BE in God’s presence. We should begin our prayer by focusing our attention on God (“hallowed be thy name”). Next we should allow our desires to be focused on God’s Kingdom rather than on our own concerns (“thy will be done”). Then we should ask for what we need to help us work for God’s Kingdom (“give us this day”). Remembering that all people—even ourselves—make mistakes and hurt others, we ask God to forgive us and to help us forgive others (“forgive us our trespasses and forgive those who trespass against us”). Finally, we ask for God’s blessing and protection throughout the day (“deliver us from evil”).

This way of praying—of being in God’s presence—will help us to focus our attention on what is really important: attuning our hearts and minds to God. When our hearts and minds are properly focused, we can spend our time and efforts working on bringing God’s Kingdom to fruition.

How can I better attune my heart and mind to God today?

—Br. John Moriconi, S.J., Provincial’s Secretary, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits.

Prayer

Lord, when we pray, heighten our trust that you are present to us.  Still our minds and calm our hearts so we can patiently listen to you.  Thank you for this gift of prayer that will move us to a deepened relationship with you.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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