November 30, 2013

Andrew, apostle

Romans 10: 9-18

Because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?

As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

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

It’s our turn!

In the Gospel on today’s feast of St. Andrew, Jesus calls Peter and Andrew from their fishing and invites them to be fishers of men. And, amazingly, they say “yes”. What was it about Christ that was so compelling that they would put aside the urgent task of earning their daily bread and focus instead on his message?  Perhaps it was a depth of peace they saw in him that they yearned for themselves. Or a confidence so inspiring that, as Paul says in today’s epistle, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”

Jesus’ message of peace, unity, equality and love must have spoken to the heart’s core of an oppressed people, searching for a savior.  How privileged the apostles were to know Christ and to become the instruments of his mission, to play their part in salvation history.  And now…it’s our turn.

How can people call on Christ in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone to preach?  And who will bring the message to them in word and deed? As Michael Jackson sang, “I’m startin’ with the man in the mirror.”

It’s up to each of us to pick up the mantel of St. Andrew and others and play our part in the great enterprise which is the bringing about of the Kingdom of God.

WE are the “someone”!

—Pam Coster is Executive Director of Charis Ministries. Founded in 2000, Charis Ministries reaches those in their 20s and 30s nationwide, nurturing their faith through retreats based in Ignatian spirituality. www.charisministries.org

Prayer

This last day of the current liturgical year,

let us bless God for all the graces and gifts of this past year of grace and simply say:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and always will be, world without end. Amen!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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November 29, 2013

Luke 21: 29-33

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees;as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

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

Living Sacramentally

In his poem “God’s Grandeur,” Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins observes, “the world is charged with the grandeur of God.” And for all our toil and trade, “nature is never spent.”

If Hopkins is right, then the world is filled with signs of the sacred. Our job, as today’s gospel reveals, is to read those signs and know that God is with us now and forever.

There are days when the signs are obvious: in the sunrise, wide-eyed wonder of a child, compassion of a friend, reaction of someone surprised by our care.

And then there are the other days—when the signs hide behind the clouds and the calamities, heartbreak, and frustrations of life.

These are the days when we are challenged to see with the eyes of faith. To turn “seeing is believing” into “believing is seeing.” To live sacramentally.

Living sacramentally is not merely about recognizing God in what we see, smell, touch, taste, and hear. It’s about being a living sacrament of God ourselves—in our homes, places of work, neighborhoods, churches, and communities. It’s about loving others, spreading peace and joy, being decent and ethical, fighting for people’s rights, caring for the Earth, and serving those in the greatest need?

Today and every day, how can we live more sacramentally?

—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.

Prayer

St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises offers a wide range of practices for developing a healthy spiritual life. One of them is the Examination of Conscience, or the Daily Examen—a restful prayer that invites us to evaluate the hours of the day in light of three central questions: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I do for Christ?

Daily Examen

God, I believe that at this quiet moment I am in your presence and you are now loving me. Come Holy Spirit.

God, I acknowledge your love for me in the various gifts for which I am very grateful. Thanks be to God.

God, help me now to review the events of this day in order to recognize you in all parts of my life. Lord, I want to see.

God, please forgive the times I have fallen short, and strengthen my attempts to follow you. Lord have mercy.

God, enlighten me so that my future choices praise, reverence, and serve you above all else. Show me your way.

Conclude with an Our Father…

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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November 28, 2013

Proper Mass in Thanksgiving to God

Sirach 50: 22-24

And now, bless the God of all,

who has done wondrous things on earth;

Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,

and fashions them according to his will!

May he grant you joy of heart

and may peace abide among you;

May his goodness toward us endure in Israel

to deliver us in our days.

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

The Lord Gives, Thanks Give

The Lord gives us all that we are and all that we have.

The Lord gives us every moment and every breath.

The Lord gives us life and love.

Sing psalms of thanksgiving to the Lord!

I love thee, O LORD, my strength.

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat,
and my mouth praises thee with joyful lips,
when I think of thee upon my bed,
and meditate on thee in the watches of the night;
for thou hast been my help,
and in the shadow of thy wings I sing for joy.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to thy name, O Most High;
to declare thy steadfast love in the morning,
and thy faithfulness by night.
For thou, O LORD, hast made me glad by thy work;
at the works of thy hands I sing for joy.
How great are thy works, O LORD!

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my soul!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to thee, O LORD, among the peoples,
I will sing praises to thee among the nations.
For thy steadfast love is great above the heavens,
thy faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

—Ted Munz, S.J., Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

O God, when I have food.
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
Those who cry out for what we take for granted.

—Samuel Pugh


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November 27, 2013

Luke 21: 12-19

But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

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

Into God’s Embrace

I have always understood Jesus’ words in today’s gospel as a reference to what will happen at the end of time. Reflecting on them today, however, I think of them as being far more immediate. We are all faced with events and situations in life that make us think it is the end of our world. Disasters and crises like the typhoon in the Philippines, a marriage gone bad, a loved one facing serious disease and possible death; these are examples of hardships that literally change our world and lives.

Times such as these are miserable and painful. We feel abandoned and lost. We wonder which end is up. We even ask ourselves how God could possibly allow such terrible things to happen. We are most vulnerable and our wounds are open for all to see. This is exactly why Jesus speaks to us about these times in our lives.

Jesus assures us of his constant presence. He encourages us to persevere. It is even possible that our deepest experience of God’s love comes to us through these experiences.

In the Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius advises us not to seek health rather than sickness, wealth rather than poverty or honor rather than dishonor. Rather we ought to only seek that which brings us closer to God. In fact, sickness and poverty and dishonor all have the potential to bring us closer to the loving embrace of God.

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

Prayer

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there was one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

 So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,
“The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you.”

Footprints in the Sand, by Mary Stevenson


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November 26, 2013

Luke 21: 5-11

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said,“ As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”

And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.“ When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from 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

Passion and Joy

As part of my formation in the Jesuits, I studied philosophy and theology at Loyola University of Chicago. I loved everything about Loyola; however I really struggled in my studies of philosophy. Today we celebrate the feast of St. John Berchmans, S.J. I had a special devotion to Berchmans when I began my study of philosophy. Like, St. John Berchmans, who died in his third year of philosophy studies in Rome in 1621, I felt like I was dying when I was studying philosophy in Chicago in 2009!

In all seriousness, what St. John Berchmans is known for as a saint is his how he lived his life. Berchmans embodied the “joyful noise” we read about in today’s psalm. His deep love for God lead him to find joy in even the mundane tasks of life, like studying philosophy! By Berchmans’ example, we are called to make a joyful noise to God with our lives as well. His life reminds us to look for the joy and passion in our life and to play there.  We can draw strength and support from God’s graces at work in our life. It is from our passion and joy that we can find God and follow God through the mundane and hardships of our life.

Now that I am back in the classroom studying theology, I look to Berchmans again to try and follow in his footsteps. I hope and pray that through the intercession of St. John Berchmans, you can draw closer to God and find support from God’s graces found in your passion and joy.

St. John Berchmans, pray for us!

—Adam DeLeon, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying theology in preparation for ordination at Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA.

Prayer

Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, I choose you this day to be my queen, my patroness, and my advocate, and I firmly resolve never to leave you, and never to say or do anything against you, nor ever permit others to do anything against your honor.

Receive me, then, I beg of you, as your servant forever. Help me in my every action and abandon me not at the hour of my death. Amen.

—St. John Berchmans, S.J.


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November 25, 2013

Luke 21: 1-4

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury;he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them;for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

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

Where Does God Draw Our Hearts Today?

One thing I love about Ignatian Spirituality is that it asks us to use our imaginations. As a person who finds it hard to move from my head to my heart, I have appreciated the call to imagine. Ignatius asks us to imagine the scene, notice the smells and the sounds, and become one of the characters in the scripture passage. So I try, and interestingly, I find myself allowing Jesus into my heart.

In today’s gospel we hear a short story about a poor widow who gave out of her poverty. Entering into this passage in my imagination I plan to be the poor woman. However, as I allow myself to be drawn into the passage, I end up a rich person in the crowd. I wasn’t the humble widow I had hoped to be. Rather, I was one of the people with whom Jesus found fault. In my imagination I am standing in line, following the rules, preparing to put my gift in the treasury. I am with my friends, money in hand. I am immune to my need for God.

Then I notice a smelly, poorly dressed woman making her way to the front. I don’t see Jesus. I don’t notice he is there. I am more interested in fulfilling my obligation than trusting in God. Yet I’m drawn to the smelly, older woman making her way to the treasury. I notice, right after she puts her money in the bowl, she smiles trustingly at Jesus and walks away. I feel myself slowly become aware that I want to be like her, I want to trust God with all that I have.

Praying with this gospel, rather than reading it, draws my heart. I come to know Jesus and I come to know something about myself.

Where does God draw our hearts today? How can we let the widows actions challenge us to trust God more fully?

—Sharron Deax Hanisch earned a Master of Theological Studies degree from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (formerly Weston Jesuit School of Theology). She is the mother of four children and a teacher at the School of Lectio Divina, St. Joseph Monastery, Tulsa, OK

Prayer

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

—Thomas Merton, Prayer for Trust


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November 24, 2013

Christ the King Sunday

Luke 23: 35-43

And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

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

Viva Cristo Rey!

This weekend marks the end of the Church year as we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. Just why does the church year end with this feast? Pope Francis and Pope Benedict before him provide us with helpful answers. Pope Benedict writes that, more than any formulation of doctrine or moral code, our faith in God is built on an event and a person.

Pope Francis regularly echoes this truth as he invites us to enter more closely into relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus walks with us in both difficulty and success; Jesus is the anchor of all we are and all we strive to become as persons of faith and hope, persons of service and love. The truth is that all the personal and family and political realities of our world really do hold together in Christ Jesus. As St. Paul reminds us today: Whether Jew or Greek, male or female, from east or west, you and I are truly made in God’s image. All those faith-filled family members and friends, those mentors and models and total strangers down through history remind us that God’s reign is surely all-inclusive.

Luke’s gospel on this feast of Jesus, the Messiah King, turns royal ideology on its head. As he comes before us nailed to the cross, the official inscription says that Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews. Suddenly one of the criminals crucified with Jesus joins the mockery while the other thief defends Christ’s innocence and speaks to him directly.

This “good thief” simply calls out: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” This is a startling act of faith. And Jesus’ response goes beyond the criminal’s wildest dreams: “I assure you: today you will be with me in paradise.”

Don’t you and I hope and pray to hear those same life-giving words whenever we approach the other side of life? Between that ultimate moment and our lives today, we continue to find ways to let the presence and action of Jesus come alive in our daily living. We also celebrate the possibility that the values of the gospel WILL make a difference for our family and neighborhood, indeed for all the nations of the world. Let us celebrate! Let us give thanks!

As this year of faith comes to an end, how can I trace God’s presence in my personal life and family history? How has God’s powerful grace made an impact in my heart? And how have I shared that impact with those I live with, work with, meet on the streets? And for the future..??

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

“Viva Cristo Rey! – Long Live Christ the King!”

Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, S.J. said these words as he extended his arms in the form of a cross and was executed by a firing squad on Nov. 23, 1927 in Mexico City for being a priest.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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November 23, 2013

St. Miguel Augustín Pro, S.J., Martyr of Mexico

Luke 20: 27-40

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”

Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”

Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

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

New and Abundant Life

I love to walk in the local botanic garden. The minute I step inside, tension leaves me. God’s creation acts as a salve and even my deepest distress is soothed. Things are put in their proper perspective when compared to the forces of nature. Right now, the last of the spectacular fall colors are leaving the trees and a calm waiting is beginning. There is promise in the leaves that fall to the soil to fertilize the future.

For me, the garden is a place that brings today’s Gospel home in a real way:  “…he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive”. The plants are our teachers.  There is life even in what seems to be death.  The seasons change but always within that change is the life force of the Spirit.

Time is such a task master for our society that the notion of a God who does not count the minutes, a God who is timeless and limitless, whose ways are not our ways, is hard to accept.  Can we truly believe that nothing and no one is lost? Can we know, in our heart of hearts, that those who have gone before us live in the Lord and that we, too, are on a journey to that sacred union? Nature reveals the truth of Christ’s promise – that death can bring new and abundant life. What a difference that makes in dying. What a gift.

—Pam Coster is Executive Director of Charis Ministries. Founded in 2000, Charis Ministries reaches those in their 20s and 30s nationwide, nurturing their faith through retreats based in Ignatian spirituality. www.charisministries.org

Prayer

Amen to the God beyond us, the God of power and wonder, mystery and surprise, more immense than the universe, more vast than the sky.

Amen to the God who lives among us, who creates community, who reconciles our differences, who calls us to be Church.

Amen to the God who dwells within us, in the secrecy of our self, who call us to be one with him, now and forever.

— Fr. J. Michael Sparough, S.J.


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November 22, 2013

Luke 19: 45-48

Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.

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

Get to Know Jesus

A young seminarian once asked Frank Sheed for advice on how to be a good priest. “Get to know Jesus,” replied the great Catholic publisher and apologist. “I mean really get to know him, not just about him, and you’ll know the essence of your faith and how to live it through your vocation.”

Today’s reading helps us know Jesus, and ultimately ourselves, better. Entering the scene, we see Jesus “clean house”—and not just any house, God’s house. It’s unclear as to how physical Jesus got, but it’s easy to imagine tables being overturned, coins flying, and shamed merchants shuffling out of the temple.

How do you relate to this Jesus?

Many favor the Jesus who heals, feeds, forgives, accompanies. I do too, but I have always gravitated toward this Jesus—the one who says it like it is, challenges leaders and rules that put people second, and shakes from his sandals the dust of any town that rejects him or his disciples.

Is it possible that the healing Jesus is the same as the radical Jesus? Is it possible that the Jesus who comforts also agitates?

Just before Jesus cleanses the temple, he enters Jerusalem to a crowd chanting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” When the Pharisees tell Jesus to order his disciples to stop, Jesus responds, “if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Then he weeps over Jerusalem and admonishes the people for failing to see God in their midst. Jesus is a compassionate king who focuses on what really matters.

Jesus, therefore, is a threat to those in power. But he’s not interested in politics and power plays. His focus is on the Kingdom, and in this case, the temple as a house of prayer where he and the people connect with God.

Whether healing, feeding, forgiving, admonishing, or turning tables, Jesus is one and the same. He is on mission, and he does what is required to serve that mission. Jealous leaders wanted to kill him, but they couldn’t because the people were “spellbound” by his words and deeds. Or, as some translations have it, the people “hung on his words.”

What if we hung on Jesus’ words? What if we got to know him, not just about him? How, then, might we live our faith and be on mission?

—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.

Prayer

Lord, above all we really do want to get to know you, not just about you. Could it be that we will know you in how we treat the least of our brothers and sisters this day? How we treat the people who irritate us by their annoying ways; the person who does nothing to advance our tasks but needs our help? What about the person who needs to hear the truth? Will we care enough to speak with courage and consideration? Lord, the day is filled with opportunity to know you. We are ready!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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November 21, 2013

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 19: 41-44

As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”

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

See with the Eyes of Faith

Jesus weeps over Jerusalem in today’s Gospel, which is toward the end of Luke 19, and following Jesus’ entry into the city. Jesus laments that Jerusalem cannot see that salvation has drawn near. All the prophets and Scripture have pointed to this time and moment when the Messiah arrives in the city, greeted with crowds singing “Hosanna” and strewing the path with palms for the teacher who is seated on a donkey.

Jerusalem’s failure to see is in contrast to Zacchaeus, the wealthy tax collector, whose story opens Chapter 19 in Luke. Zacchaeus is short of stature, and he cannot see Jesus, so he climbs a sycamore tree. Zacchaeus does what is necessary to see that salvation has come. And, indeed, Jesus affirms him with the words, “Today salvation has come to your house.”

Judgment comes to Jerusalem, which should see but does not; salvation comes to Zacchaeus, who cannot see but does. We have choices.

Do we have a deep-down desire to see with eyes of faith like Zacchaeus, who longs for salvation and the coming of the Lord? If so, salvation comes. Or, have we shut out our deep desires and closed our eyes to the coming of the Lord?  If so, judgment awaits.

—Ted Munz, S.J., Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Mother of the silence that preserves the mystery of God, deliver us from the idolatry of the present, to which those who forget are condemned. Purify the eyes of pastors with the balm of memory:that we might return to the freshness of the beginning, for a praying and penitent Church.

Mother of the beauty that blossoms from fidelity to daily work, remove us from the torpor of laziness, of pettiness, and defeatism. Cloak Pastors with that compassion that unifies and integrates: that we might discover the joy of a humble and fraternal servant Church.

Mother of the tenderness which enfolds in patience and mercy, help us burn away the sadness, impatience, and rigidity of those who have not known what it means to belong.

Intercede with your Son that our hands, our feet and our hearts may be swift: that we may build the Church with the truth in charity.

Mother, we will be the People of God, on pilgrimage towards the Kingdom. Amen.

— Pope Francis


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Welcome to FaithCP

Creighton Prep and the Midwest Jesuits have partnered to create FaithCP, a daily resource for prayer. FaithCP provides daily scripture, reflections, and prayers grounded in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.


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November 30, 2013

Andrew, apostle

Romans 10: 9-18

Because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent?

As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

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

It’s our turn!

In the Gospel on today’s feast of St. Andrew, Jesus calls Peter and Andrew from their fishing and invites them to be fishers of men. And, amazingly, they say “yes”. What was it about Christ that was so compelling that they would put aside the urgent task of earning their daily bread and focus instead on his message?  Perhaps it was a depth of peace they saw in him that they yearned for themselves. Or a confidence so inspiring that, as Paul says in today’s epistle, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”

Jesus’ message of peace, unity, equality and love must have spoken to the heart’s core of an oppressed people, searching for a savior.  How privileged the apostles were to know Christ and to become the instruments of his mission, to play their part in salvation history.  And now…it’s our turn.

How can people call on Christ in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone to preach?  And who will bring the message to them in word and deed? As Michael Jackson sang, “I’m startin’ with the man in the mirror.”

It’s up to each of us to pick up the mantel of St. Andrew and others and play our part in the great enterprise which is the bringing about of the Kingdom of God.

WE are the “someone”!

—Pam Coster is Executive Director of Charis Ministries. Founded in 2000, Charis Ministries reaches those in their 20s and 30s nationwide, nurturing their faith through retreats based in Ignatian spirituality. www.charisministries.org

Prayer

This last day of the current liturgical year,

let us bless God for all the graces and gifts of this past year of grace and simply say:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and always will be, world without end. Amen!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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November 29, 2013

Luke 21: 29-33

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees;as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

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

Living Sacramentally

In his poem “God’s Grandeur,” Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins observes, “the world is charged with the grandeur of God.” And for all our toil and trade, “nature is never spent.”

If Hopkins is right, then the world is filled with signs of the sacred. Our job, as today’s gospel reveals, is to read those signs and know that God is with us now and forever.

There are days when the signs are obvious: in the sunrise, wide-eyed wonder of a child, compassion of a friend, reaction of someone surprised by our care.

And then there are the other days—when the signs hide behind the clouds and the calamities, heartbreak, and frustrations of life.

These are the days when we are challenged to see with the eyes of faith. To turn “seeing is believing” into “believing is seeing.” To live sacramentally.

Living sacramentally is not merely about recognizing God in what we see, smell, touch, taste, and hear. It’s about being a living sacrament of God ourselves—in our homes, places of work, neighborhoods, churches, and communities. It’s about loving others, spreading peace and joy, being decent and ethical, fighting for people’s rights, caring for the Earth, and serving those in the greatest need?

Today and every day, how can we live more sacramentally?

—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.

Prayer

St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises offers a wide range of practices for developing a healthy spiritual life. One of them is the Examination of Conscience, or the Daily Examen—a restful prayer that invites us to evaluate the hours of the day in light of three central questions: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I do for Christ?

Daily Examen

God, I believe that at this quiet moment I am in your presence and you are now loving me. Come Holy Spirit.

God, I acknowledge your love for me in the various gifts for which I am very grateful. Thanks be to God.

God, help me now to review the events of this day in order to recognize you in all parts of my life. Lord, I want to see.

God, please forgive the times I have fallen short, and strengthen my attempts to follow you. Lord have mercy.

God, enlighten me so that my future choices praise, reverence, and serve you above all else. Show me your way.

Conclude with an Our Father…

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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November 28, 2013

Proper Mass in Thanksgiving to God

Sirach 50: 22-24

And now, bless the God of all,

who has done wondrous things on earth;

Who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb,

and fashions them according to his will!

May he grant you joy of heart

and may peace abide among you;

May his goodness toward us endure in Israel

to deliver us in our days.

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

The Lord Gives, Thanks Give

The Lord gives us all that we are and all that we have.

The Lord gives us every moment and every breath.

The Lord gives us life and love.

Sing psalms of thanksgiving to the Lord!

I love thee, O LORD, my strength.

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat,
and my mouth praises thee with joyful lips,
when I think of thee upon my bed,
and meditate on thee in the watches of the night;
for thou hast been my help,
and in the shadow of thy wings I sing for joy.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to thy name, O Most High;
to declare thy steadfast love in the morning,
and thy faithfulness by night.
For thou, O LORD, hast made me glad by thy work;
at the works of thy hands I sing for joy.
How great are thy works, O LORD!

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my soul!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to thee, O LORD, among the peoples,
I will sing praises to thee among the nations.
For thy steadfast love is great above the heavens,
thy faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

—Ted Munz, S.J., Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

O God, when I have food.
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
Those who cry out for what we take for granted.

—Samuel Pugh


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November 27, 2013

Luke 21: 12-19

But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

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

Into God’s Embrace

I have always understood Jesus’ words in today’s gospel as a reference to what will happen at the end of time. Reflecting on them today, however, I think of them as being far more immediate. We are all faced with events and situations in life that make us think it is the end of our world. Disasters and crises like the typhoon in the Philippines, a marriage gone bad, a loved one facing serious disease and possible death; these are examples of hardships that literally change our world and lives.

Times such as these are miserable and painful. We feel abandoned and lost. We wonder which end is up. We even ask ourselves how God could possibly allow such terrible things to happen. We are most vulnerable and our wounds are open for all to see. This is exactly why Jesus speaks to us about these times in our lives.

Jesus assures us of his constant presence. He encourages us to persevere. It is even possible that our deepest experience of God’s love comes to us through these experiences.

In the Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius advises us not to seek health rather than sickness, wealth rather than poverty or honor rather than dishonor. Rather we ought to only seek that which brings us closer to God. In fact, sickness and poverty and dishonor all have the potential to bring us closer to the loving embrace of God.

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

Prayer

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there was one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

 So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,
“The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you.”

Footprints in the Sand, by Mary Stevenson


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November 26, 2013

Luke 21: 5-11

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said,“ As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”

And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them.“ When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from 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

Passion and Joy

As part of my formation in the Jesuits, I studied philosophy and theology at Loyola University of Chicago. I loved everything about Loyola; however I really struggled in my studies of philosophy. Today we celebrate the feast of St. John Berchmans, S.J. I had a special devotion to Berchmans when I began my study of philosophy. Like, St. John Berchmans, who died in his third year of philosophy studies in Rome in 1621, I felt like I was dying when I was studying philosophy in Chicago in 2009!

In all seriousness, what St. John Berchmans is known for as a saint is his how he lived his life. Berchmans embodied the “joyful noise” we read about in today’s psalm. His deep love for God lead him to find joy in even the mundane tasks of life, like studying philosophy! By Berchmans’ example, we are called to make a joyful noise to God with our lives as well. His life reminds us to look for the joy and passion in our life and to play there.  We can draw strength and support from God’s graces at work in our life. It is from our passion and joy that we can find God and follow God through the mundane and hardships of our life.

Now that I am back in the classroom studying theology, I look to Berchmans again to try and follow in his footsteps. I hope and pray that through the intercession of St. John Berchmans, you can draw closer to God and find support from God’s graces found in your passion and joy.

St. John Berchmans, pray for us!

—Adam DeLeon, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying theology in preparation for ordination at Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA.

Prayer

Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, I choose you this day to be my queen, my patroness, and my advocate, and I firmly resolve never to leave you, and never to say or do anything against you, nor ever permit others to do anything against your honor.

Receive me, then, I beg of you, as your servant forever. Help me in my every action and abandon me not at the hour of my death. Amen.

—St. John Berchmans, S.J.


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November 25, 2013

Luke 21: 1-4

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury;he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them;for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

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

Where Does God Draw Our Hearts Today?

One thing I love about Ignatian Spirituality is that it asks us to use our imaginations. As a person who finds it hard to move from my head to my heart, I have appreciated the call to imagine. Ignatius asks us to imagine the scene, notice the smells and the sounds, and become one of the characters in the scripture passage. So I try, and interestingly, I find myself allowing Jesus into my heart.

In today’s gospel we hear a short story about a poor widow who gave out of her poverty. Entering into this passage in my imagination I plan to be the poor woman. However, as I allow myself to be drawn into the passage, I end up a rich person in the crowd. I wasn’t the humble widow I had hoped to be. Rather, I was one of the people with whom Jesus found fault. In my imagination I am standing in line, following the rules, preparing to put my gift in the treasury. I am with my friends, money in hand. I am immune to my need for God.

Then I notice a smelly, poorly dressed woman making her way to the front. I don’t see Jesus. I don’t notice he is there. I am more interested in fulfilling my obligation than trusting in God. Yet I’m drawn to the smelly, older woman making her way to the treasury. I notice, right after she puts her money in the bowl, she smiles trustingly at Jesus and walks away. I feel myself slowly become aware that I want to be like her, I want to trust God with all that I have.

Praying with this gospel, rather than reading it, draws my heart. I come to know Jesus and I come to know something about myself.

Where does God draw our hearts today? How can we let the widows actions challenge us to trust God more fully?

—Sharron Deax Hanisch earned a Master of Theological Studies degree from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (formerly Weston Jesuit School of Theology). She is the mother of four children and a teacher at the School of Lectio Divina, St. Joseph Monastery, Tulsa, OK

Prayer

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

—Thomas Merton, Prayer for Trust


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November 24, 2013

Christ the King Sunday

Luke 23: 35-43

And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

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

Viva Cristo Rey!

This weekend marks the end of the Church year as we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. Just why does the church year end with this feast? Pope Francis and Pope Benedict before him provide us with helpful answers. Pope Benedict writes that, more than any formulation of doctrine or moral code, our faith in God is built on an event and a person.

Pope Francis regularly echoes this truth as he invites us to enter more closely into relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus walks with us in both difficulty and success; Jesus is the anchor of all we are and all we strive to become as persons of faith and hope, persons of service and love. The truth is that all the personal and family and political realities of our world really do hold together in Christ Jesus. As St. Paul reminds us today: Whether Jew or Greek, male or female, from east or west, you and I are truly made in God’s image. All those faith-filled family members and friends, those mentors and models and total strangers down through history remind us that God’s reign is surely all-inclusive.

Luke’s gospel on this feast of Jesus, the Messiah King, turns royal ideology on its head. As he comes before us nailed to the cross, the official inscription says that Jesus claimed to be the King of the Jews. Suddenly one of the criminals crucified with Jesus joins the mockery while the other thief defends Christ’s innocence and speaks to him directly.

This “good thief” simply calls out: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” This is a startling act of faith. And Jesus’ response goes beyond the criminal’s wildest dreams: “I assure you: today you will be with me in paradise.”

Don’t you and I hope and pray to hear those same life-giving words whenever we approach the other side of life? Between that ultimate moment and our lives today, we continue to find ways to let the presence and action of Jesus come alive in our daily living. We also celebrate the possibility that the values of the gospel WILL make a difference for our family and neighborhood, indeed for all the nations of the world. Let us celebrate! Let us give thanks!

As this year of faith comes to an end, how can I trace God’s presence in my personal life and family history? How has God’s powerful grace made an impact in my heart? And how have I shared that impact with those I live with, work with, meet on the streets? And for the future..??

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

“Viva Cristo Rey! – Long Live Christ the King!”

Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, S.J. said these words as he extended his arms in the form of a cross and was executed by a firing squad on Nov. 23, 1927 in Mexico City for being a priest.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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November 23, 2013

St. Miguel Augustín Pro, S.J., Martyr of Mexico

Luke 20: 27-40

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”

Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”

Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

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

New and Abundant Life

I love to walk in the local botanic garden. The minute I step inside, tension leaves me. God’s creation acts as a salve and even my deepest distress is soothed. Things are put in their proper perspective when compared to the forces of nature. Right now, the last of the spectacular fall colors are leaving the trees and a calm waiting is beginning. There is promise in the leaves that fall to the soil to fertilize the future.

For me, the garden is a place that brings today’s Gospel home in a real way:  “…he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive”. The plants are our teachers.  There is life even in what seems to be death.  The seasons change but always within that change is the life force of the Spirit.

Time is such a task master for our society that the notion of a God who does not count the minutes, a God who is timeless and limitless, whose ways are not our ways, is hard to accept.  Can we truly believe that nothing and no one is lost? Can we know, in our heart of hearts, that those who have gone before us live in the Lord and that we, too, are on a journey to that sacred union? Nature reveals the truth of Christ’s promise – that death can bring new and abundant life. What a difference that makes in dying. What a gift.

—Pam Coster is Executive Director of Charis Ministries. Founded in 2000, Charis Ministries reaches those in their 20s and 30s nationwide, nurturing their faith through retreats based in Ignatian spirituality. www.charisministries.org

Prayer

Amen to the God beyond us, the God of power and wonder, mystery and surprise, more immense than the universe, more vast than the sky.

Amen to the God who lives among us, who creates community, who reconciles our differences, who calls us to be Church.

Amen to the God who dwells within us, in the secrecy of our self, who call us to be one with him, now and forever.

— Fr. J. Michael Sparough, S.J.


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November 22, 2013

Luke 19: 45-48

Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.

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

Get to Know Jesus

A young seminarian once asked Frank Sheed for advice on how to be a good priest. “Get to know Jesus,” replied the great Catholic publisher and apologist. “I mean really get to know him, not just about him, and you’ll know the essence of your faith and how to live it through your vocation.”

Today’s reading helps us know Jesus, and ultimately ourselves, better. Entering the scene, we see Jesus “clean house”—and not just any house, God’s house. It’s unclear as to how physical Jesus got, but it’s easy to imagine tables being overturned, coins flying, and shamed merchants shuffling out of the temple.

How do you relate to this Jesus?

Many favor the Jesus who heals, feeds, forgives, accompanies. I do too, but I have always gravitated toward this Jesus—the one who says it like it is, challenges leaders and rules that put people second, and shakes from his sandals the dust of any town that rejects him or his disciples.

Is it possible that the healing Jesus is the same as the radical Jesus? Is it possible that the Jesus who comforts also agitates?

Just before Jesus cleanses the temple, he enters Jerusalem to a crowd chanting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” When the Pharisees tell Jesus to order his disciples to stop, Jesus responds, “if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Then he weeps over Jerusalem and admonishes the people for failing to see God in their midst. Jesus is a compassionate king who focuses on what really matters.

Jesus, therefore, is a threat to those in power. But he’s not interested in politics and power plays. His focus is on the Kingdom, and in this case, the temple as a house of prayer where he and the people connect with God.

Whether healing, feeding, forgiving, admonishing, or turning tables, Jesus is one and the same. He is on mission, and he does what is required to serve that mission. Jealous leaders wanted to kill him, but they couldn’t because the people were “spellbound” by his words and deeds. Or, as some translations have it, the people “hung on his words.”

What if we hung on Jesus’ words? What if we got to know him, not just about him? How, then, might we live our faith and be on mission?

—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.

Prayer

Lord, above all we really do want to get to know you, not just about you. Could it be that we will know you in how we treat the least of our brothers and sisters this day? How we treat the people who irritate us by their annoying ways; the person who does nothing to advance our tasks but needs our help? What about the person who needs to hear the truth? Will we care enough to speak with courage and consideration? Lord, the day is filled with opportunity to know you. We are ready!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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November 21, 2013

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Luke 19: 41-44

As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”

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

See with the Eyes of Faith

Jesus weeps over Jerusalem in today’s Gospel, which is toward the end of Luke 19, and following Jesus’ entry into the city. Jesus laments that Jerusalem cannot see that salvation has drawn near. All the prophets and Scripture have pointed to this time and moment when the Messiah arrives in the city, greeted with crowds singing “Hosanna” and strewing the path with palms for the teacher who is seated on a donkey.

Jerusalem’s failure to see is in contrast to Zacchaeus, the wealthy tax collector, whose story opens Chapter 19 in Luke. Zacchaeus is short of stature, and he cannot see Jesus, so he climbs a sycamore tree. Zacchaeus does what is necessary to see that salvation has come. And, indeed, Jesus affirms him with the words, “Today salvation has come to your house.”

Judgment comes to Jerusalem, which should see but does not; salvation comes to Zacchaeus, who cannot see but does. We have choices.

Do we have a deep-down desire to see with eyes of faith like Zacchaeus, who longs for salvation and the coming of the Lord? If so, salvation comes. Or, have we shut out our deep desires and closed our eyes to the coming of the Lord?  If so, judgment awaits.

—Ted Munz, S.J., Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits

Prayer

Mother of the silence that preserves the mystery of God, deliver us from the idolatry of the present, to which those who forget are condemned. Purify the eyes of pastors with the balm of memory:that we might return to the freshness of the beginning, for a praying and penitent Church.

Mother of the beauty that blossoms from fidelity to daily work, remove us from the torpor of laziness, of pettiness, and defeatism. Cloak Pastors with that compassion that unifies and integrates: that we might discover the joy of a humble and fraternal servant Church.

Mother of the tenderness which enfolds in patience and mercy, help us burn away the sadness, impatience, and rigidity of those who have not known what it means to belong.

Intercede with your Son that our hands, our feet and our hearts may be swift: that we may build the Church with the truth in charity.

Mother, we will be the People of God, on pilgrimage towards the Kingdom. Amen.

— Pope Francis


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