August 31, 2015

Lk 4: 16-30

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’”

And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

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-translation

The Agenda

Even before I met a Jesuit, I took up St. Ignatius’ admonition: “go…and set the world on fire.” Change the world – that’s what I wanted to do!

Then I grew up. Somewhere along the way, I realized that passion alone was not enough. I needed an agenda that would channel my zeal. And that is when today’s Gospel became real for me. Question: “So how, exactly, do you plan to set the world on fire?” Answer: “Preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, give sight to the blind, and set at liberty those who are oppressed.”  And lest anyone was dozing during the day’s reading, Jesus’ homily made it clear. He would not be working flashy miracles in their midst; rather, Jesus would minister to the least, the lost, and the last.

Not a bad agenda. So how does his agenda inform my agenda today?

—Howard Craig is the provincial assistant for Advancement on behalf of the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes, to discern and test the spirits that help me read the signs of the times, to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others. Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave Ignatius.

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ


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August 31, 2015

Lk 4: 16-30

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’”

And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

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-translation

The Agenda

Even before I met a Jesuit, I took up St. Ignatius’ admonition: “go…and set the world on fire.” Change the world – that’s what I wanted to do!

Then I grew up. Somewhere along the way, I realized that passion alone was not enough. I needed an agenda that would channel my zeal. And that is when today’s Gospel became real for me. Question: “So how, exactly, do you plan to set the world on fire?” Answer: “Preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, give sight to the blind, and set at liberty those who are oppressed.”  And lest anyone was dozing during the day’s reading, Jesus’ homily made it clear. He would not be working flashy miracles in their midst; rather, Jesus would minister to the least, the lost, and the last.

Not a bad agenda. So how does his agenda inform my agenda today?

—Howard Craig is the provincial assistant for Advancement on behalf of the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes,
to discern and test the spirits that help me read the signs of the times,
to relish the things that are yours,
and to communicate them to others.
Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave Ignatius.

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ


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August 30, 2015

James 1: 17-18. 21b-22. 27

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by 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-translation

For Others

Social scientists note that there are definite stages in the development of human moral character.  Children need well-defined rules of behavior with the promise/threat of rewards/punishment as a consequence of misbehavior. With more life-experience and a growing sense of personal selfhood, one tends to balance strict obedience to rules with heightened awareness of the inevitable complexity of real-life situations. One thus feels free to bend the rules occasionally for the sake of what is thought to be a higher good (either for the self or for others).

Self-deception, of course, can always play a role here. But in today’s Gospel passage, Jesus takes that chance in chastising the Scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy in rigidly conforming to prescribed Jewish rituals simply to gain favor with one another.  One should rather seek moral perfection in serving the needs of others as the second reading for this Sunday (James 1:27) recommends.

—Fr. Joseph Bracken, S.J. is an emeritus professor of theology at Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH.

Prayer

Lord, make us mindful of all your gifts.
May we be content and grateful,
giving our love and lives to you all our days.
Fill us with grateful hearts,
and remind us constantly of all you have given us.
May we never take for granted your love
and your generosity and your goodness. Amen.

—The Jesuit prayer team


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August 29, 2015

Martyrdom of  St. John the Baptist

1 Thes 4: 9-11

Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you,

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-translation

Living Our Baptism

John, son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, was minding his own business when he came to understand that God wanted him to do something quite different with his life. So he went to the desert where he gradually learned that he was to preach a baptism of repentance. John is described as “the voice of one crying in the desert.” John’s prophetic preaching  eventually brought him to the Jordan river, where he meets Jesus, his cousin. “Behold the Lamb of God,” John shouts, as Jesus asks him for baptism. Eventually John is imprisoned and then beheaded at Herod’s command, as Mark’s gospel account describes.

Today’s reading from Thessalonians helps us understand John’s life of brotherly love. God used John to introduce the life and purpose, the ministry and mission of Jesus as our Savior, the redeemer of the world. John’s life of faith invites us “to love one another” and  “to make even greater progress.” What small steps can I take today to live out my own baptism in love and in service?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

God our Father, you called John the Baptist to be the herald of your son’s birth and death.
As he gave his life in witness to to truth and justice, so may we strive to profess faith in your gospel.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—The Roman Sacramentary.


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August 28, 2015

Mass of the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:4-13

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

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-translation

Diversity and Community

Today the Prep community will be celebrating our annual Mass of the Holy Spirit.  Just like the community at Corinth, we too have been blessed with a diversity of gifts, talents, and forms of service, all of which originate from the Holy Spirit.  God has blessed us abundantly with 1024 students who are each created in the image and likeness of God and who each contribute unique gifts and talents to our community.  And during today’s Mass we will have a “missioning” ceremony where student representatives from 70 different Prep clubs, activities, and teams, will receive a cross and a blessing.

I think this is a good reminder for us of the many parts that form our one Christian community.  No one group, club, team, or activity makes up Prep.  We all need each other and it is important for us to recognize the gifts and talents that each of us contributes to the community….from the varsity athlete, to the retreat leader, to our academic and fine arts groups, etc.  Whenever we “downplay” a particular member of our community, our entire school suffers.  So let’s pray in thanksgiving for the diversity of gifts that God has bestowed upon us and pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to unite the Creighton Prep community.

-Dave Lawler is Prep’s Director of Campus Ministry. 

Prayer

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

—St. Augustine of Hippo


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August 27, 2015

St. Monica

1 Thessalonians 3:7-13

For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

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-translation

 

Faith, Love, and Holiness

In today’s first Reading, St. Paul offers us an example of prayer for a job well done.  Timothy reports the Gospel has taken root in Thessalonica after much effort and many trials, so Paul expresses “thanksgiving” for God’s good work with the church, finds joy, and takes encouragement [3:9].

Paul offers a threefold prayer of solidarity with those who have experienced and taken in the Gospel he shared.  He prays that the “faith and love” [3:6] received may increase the bonds between the church and himself, that the church may “abound in love” among its members and its neighbors, and that “holiness” may deepen in them uniting them with their “God and Father” ever more [3:11-13].

I too can pray for those I’ve built up through the Gospel, those I’ve evangelized, by giving thanks for God’s work in me, praying for increased solidarity between me and those I’ve helped, praying that those I’ve helped may build up others in response, and in turn deepen their relationship with God in faith and love.

-Fr. Nathan Wendt, S.J. is Creighton Prep’s Assistant to the President. 

Prayer

An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! … And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ.

-Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel


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August 26, 2015

Psalm 139:7-12

Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence where can I flee?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.

If I take the wings of the dawn,
if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall guide me,
and your right hand hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall hide me,
and night shall be my light”–
For you darkness itself is not dark,
and night shines as the day.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All1 rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation

Good Days and Bad Days

Today this psalm of marvel sits between St. Paul exhorting and encouraging the Thessalonians with great fondness, reminding them of the example he and his companions set for good gospel living, and Jesus with great distress exhorting and lamenting the bad examples of the Pharisees. Jesus goes on to ask “how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling?” (Mt 23:37)

I am grateful for the good days when I participate in graced moments, able to “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his kingdom and glory” (1Thes2:12).  I also have bad hypocritical days when I don’t act with transparency and integrity, or I perpetuate unhealthy patterns of behavior in my relationship with family, friends or neighbors. On those unworthy days I want to flee from God’s presence, yet the psalmist reminds me I am pursued by Love to the ends of the earth.

The realization that I am a loved sinner is the grace of the first week of the Spiritual Exercises.  St. Ignatius instructs me to pray for “shame and confusion” for my sins. Another way to pray this is to ask for “deep embarrassment over my actions and amazement at God’s goodness and mercy.”  It is part of human nature to have both good days and bad. It is part of God’s nature to search and know us and reach out to us through every means possible, to show us that we are each loved beyond measure every day.

—Jenene Francis is the provincial assistant for pastoral ministries for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

I cry with wonder accompanied by surging emotions as I pass in review all creatures. How is it that they have permitted me to live, and have sustained me in life? Why have the angels, though they are the sword of God’s justice, tolerated me, guarded me, and prayed for me? Why have the saints interceded for me and asked favors for me?

And the heavens, sun, moon, stars, and the element; the fruits, birds, fishes, and other animals – why have they all been at my service?  How is it that the earth did not open to swallow me up, and create new hells in which I would be tormented forever?  I extol the mercy of God our Lord, pouring out my thoughts to him and giving thanks to him that up to this very moment he has granted me life. I will resolve with his grace to amend for the future.

—St. Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises,  #60-61


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August 25, 2015

Mt 23: 23-26

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.

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-translation

Mercy and Faithfulness

A frequently sung psalm antiphon invites reads: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”  It echoes the spirit of Matthew’s words in today’s gospel. More important than external observance is the interior spiritual strength of mind and heart. Pope Francis frequently reminds us to take the road of mercy and forgiveness in our interactions with family, friends, and even total strangers. A merciful heart witnesses to a person’s faithfulness, grounded in God’s life and love. A forgiving attitude bespeaks another’s ability to accept me as I am, to walk with me when I am in trouble, when I doubt and even despair.

It can be convenient to put on a happy face and pretend that all is well, but this deception won’t last very long. Jesus reminds us today that it takes both courage and grace to face the demons within, and then to “clean up” the messiness in my relationships with othersespecially with those I live with and love.

So where do I begin…today?

—The Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness; in your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.

—Psalm 51


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August 24, 2015

St. Bartholomew

Jn 1: 45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

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-translation

Missing Jesus

Have you have seen him? “Homeless Jesus” is a bronze sculpture that depicts Jesus as a homeless person, sleeping on a park bench. Installed first in Toronto, a casting was recently installed in front of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, operated by the Jesuits in downtown Detroit. The life-like statue is startling, and can be misinterpreted. Once police received a call from someone who confused the sculpture with a vagrant. You see, the only indication that it represents Jesus is the marks from the nails in the man’s feet. If you don’t look carefully, you may miss him.

It is easy to let our preconceptions cloud our perceptions; to see only what we want to see. Then we can miss seeing Jesus. We miss seeing him on the park bench, in the face of a crying child, perhaps even among our closest friends and loved ones. So how will Jesus reveal himself to me today? Will I see him, or will I miss him?

—Howard Craig is the provincial assistant for Advancement on behalf of the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Who is Jesus to me? Jesus is the Word made Flesh….
Jesus is the Hungryto be fed.
Jesus is the Thirstyto be satiated.
Jesus is the Nakedto be clothed.
Jesus is the Homelessto be taken in.
Jesus is the Sickto be healed.
Jesus is the Lonelyto be loved.
Jesus is the Unwantedto be wanted.
Jesus is the Leperto wash his wounds.
Jesus is the Beggarto give him a smile.
Jesus is the Drunkardto listen to him.
Jesus is the Little Oneto embrace him.
Jesus is the Dumbto speak to him.
Jesus is the Crippledto walk with him.
Jesus is the Drug Addictto befriend him.
Jesus is the Prostituteto remove from danger and befriend her.
Jesus is the Prisonerto be visited.
Jesus is the Old – to be served.

To me Jesus is my God, Jesus is my Spouse, Jesus is my Life, Jesus is my only Love, Jesus is my All in All, Jesus is my Everything.  Amen.

St. Teresa of Calcutta  (Mother Teresa)


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August 23, 2015

Eph 5: 21-32

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.

In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.

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-translation

Self-Giving Love

One can argue that in contemporary society, Paul’s dictum that wives should be subordinate to their husbands is no longer tenable. This objection, however, overlooks the significance of Paul’s words of advice to husbands to love their wives in the way that Christ loved the church. The term “church” here does not signify an ecclesiastical institution presided over by pope and bishops, but rather the community of believers as the Mystical Body of Christ. Just as Christ offers his Body and Blood  under the symbols of bread and wine in the Eucharist to his followers, so also husbands “should love their wives as their own bodies,” that is, give themselves  wholeheartedly to the service of their spouses and children. As one  Catholic layman  remarked, a wife will usually have no  trouble in allowing  her husband to have the last word on important family decisions if she senses that he truly loves her and their children.

—Fr. Joseph Bracken, S.J. is an emeritus professor of theology at Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH.

Prayer

A Couple’s Prayer

God of everlasting joy,
help us to find a new you in the face of routine,
to share our needs with an open heart,
to acknowledge when we have been wrong,
to forgive when we have been forgiven,
to love as your son Jesus taught us to love. Amen.


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August 31, 2015

Lk 4: 16-30

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’”

And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

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-translation

The Agenda

Even before I met a Jesuit, I took up St. Ignatius’ admonition: “go…and set the world on fire.” Change the world – that’s what I wanted to do!

Then I grew up. Somewhere along the way, I realized that passion alone was not enough. I needed an agenda that would channel my zeal. And that is when today’s Gospel became real for me. Question: “So how, exactly, do you plan to set the world on fire?” Answer: “Preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, give sight to the blind, and set at liberty those who are oppressed.”  And lest anyone was dozing during the day’s reading, Jesus’ homily made it clear. He would not be working flashy miracles in their midst; rather, Jesus would minister to the least, the lost, and the last.

Not a bad agenda. So how does his agenda inform my agenda today?

—Howard Craig is the provincial assistant for Advancement on behalf of the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes, to discern and test the spirits that help me read the signs of the times, to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others. Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave Ignatius.

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

August 31, 2015

Lk 4: 16-30

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’”

And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”

When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage.They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

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-translation

The Agenda

Even before I met a Jesuit, I took up St. Ignatius’ admonition: “go…and set the world on fire.” Change the world – that’s what I wanted to do!

Then I grew up. Somewhere along the way, I realized that passion alone was not enough. I needed an agenda that would channel my zeal. And that is when today’s Gospel became real for me. Question: “So how, exactly, do you plan to set the world on fire?” Answer: “Preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, give sight to the blind, and set at liberty those who are oppressed.”  And lest anyone was dozing during the day’s reading, Jesus’ homily made it clear. He would not be working flashy miracles in their midst; rather, Jesus would minister to the least, the lost, and the last.

Not a bad agenda. So how does his agenda inform my agenda today?

—Howard Craig is the provincial assistant for Advancement on behalf of the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes,
to discern and test the spirits that help me read the signs of the times,
to relish the things that are yours,
and to communicate them to others.
Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave Ignatius.

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ


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August 30, 2015

James 1: 17-18. 21b-22. 27

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by 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-translation

For Others

Social scientists note that there are definite stages in the development of human moral character.  Children need well-defined rules of behavior with the promise/threat of rewards/punishment as a consequence of misbehavior. With more life-experience and a growing sense of personal selfhood, one tends to balance strict obedience to rules with heightened awareness of the inevitable complexity of real-life situations. One thus feels free to bend the rules occasionally for the sake of what is thought to be a higher good (either for the self or for others).

Self-deception, of course, can always play a role here. But in today’s Gospel passage, Jesus takes that chance in chastising the Scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy in rigidly conforming to prescribed Jewish rituals simply to gain favor with one another.  One should rather seek moral perfection in serving the needs of others as the second reading for this Sunday (James 1:27) recommends.

—Fr. Joseph Bracken, S.J. is an emeritus professor of theology at Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH.

Prayer

Lord, make us mindful of all your gifts.
May we be content and grateful,
giving our love and lives to you all our days.
Fill us with grateful hearts,
and remind us constantly of all you have given us.
May we never take for granted your love
and your generosity and your goodness. Amen.

—The Jesuit prayer team


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August 29, 2015

Martyrdom of  St. John the Baptist

1 Thes 4: 9-11

Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you,

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-translation

Living Our Baptism

John, son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, was minding his own business when he came to understand that God wanted him to do something quite different with his life. So he went to the desert where he gradually learned that he was to preach a baptism of repentance. John is described as “the voice of one crying in the desert.” John’s prophetic preaching  eventually brought him to the Jordan river, where he meets Jesus, his cousin. “Behold the Lamb of God,” John shouts, as Jesus asks him for baptism. Eventually John is imprisoned and then beheaded at Herod’s command, as Mark’s gospel account describes.

Today’s reading from Thessalonians helps us understand John’s life of brotherly love. God used John to introduce the life and purpose, the ministry and mission of Jesus as our Savior, the redeemer of the world. John’s life of faith invites us “to love one another” and  “to make even greater progress.” What small steps can I take today to live out my own baptism in love and in service?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

God our Father, you called John the Baptist to be the herald of your son’s birth and death.
As he gave his life in witness to to truth and justice, so may we strive to profess faith in your gospel.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—The Roman Sacramentary.


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August 28, 2015

Mass of the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:4-13

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

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-translation

Diversity and Community

Today the Prep community will be celebrating our annual Mass of the Holy Spirit.  Just like the community at Corinth, we too have been blessed with a diversity of gifts, talents, and forms of service, all of which originate from the Holy Spirit.  God has blessed us abundantly with 1024 students who are each created in the image and likeness of God and who each contribute unique gifts and talents to our community.  And during today’s Mass we will have a “missioning” ceremony where student representatives from 70 different Prep clubs, activities, and teams, will receive a cross and a blessing.

I think this is a good reminder for us of the many parts that form our one Christian community.  No one group, club, team, or activity makes up Prep.  We all need each other and it is important for us to recognize the gifts and talents that each of us contributes to the community….from the varsity athlete, to the retreat leader, to our academic and fine arts groups, etc.  Whenever we “downplay” a particular member of our community, our entire school suffers.  So let’s pray in thanksgiving for the diversity of gifts that God has bestowed upon us and pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to unite the Creighton Prep community.

-Dave Lawler is Prep’s Director of Campus Ministry. 

Prayer

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

—St. Augustine of Hippo


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August 27, 2015

St. Monica

1 Thessalonians 3:7-13

For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

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-translation

 

Faith, Love, and Holiness

In today’s first Reading, St. Paul offers us an example of prayer for a job well done.  Timothy reports the Gospel has taken root in Thessalonica after much effort and many trials, so Paul expresses “thanksgiving” for God’s good work with the church, finds joy, and takes encouragement [3:9].

Paul offers a threefold prayer of solidarity with those who have experienced and taken in the Gospel he shared.  He prays that the “faith and love” [3:6] received may increase the bonds between the church and himself, that the church may “abound in love” among its members and its neighbors, and that “holiness” may deepen in them uniting them with their “God and Father” ever more [3:11-13].

I too can pray for those I’ve built up through the Gospel, those I’ve evangelized, by giving thanks for God’s work in me, praying for increased solidarity between me and those I’ve helped, praying that those I’ve helped may build up others in response, and in turn deepen their relationship with God in faith and love.

-Fr. Nathan Wendt, S.J. is Creighton Prep’s Assistant to the President. 

Prayer

An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! … And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ.

-Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel


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August 26, 2015

Psalm 139:7-12

Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence where can I flee?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I sink to the nether world, you are present there.

If I take the wings of the dawn,
if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall guide me,
and your right hand hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall hide me,
and night shall be my light”–
For you darkness itself is not dark,
and night shines as the day.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All1 rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation

Good Days and Bad Days

Today this psalm of marvel sits between St. Paul exhorting and encouraging the Thessalonians with great fondness, reminding them of the example he and his companions set for good gospel living, and Jesus with great distress exhorting and lamenting the bad examples of the Pharisees. Jesus goes on to ask “how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling?” (Mt 23:37)

I am grateful for the good days when I participate in graced moments, able to “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his kingdom and glory” (1Thes2:12).  I also have bad hypocritical days when I don’t act with transparency and integrity, or I perpetuate unhealthy patterns of behavior in my relationship with family, friends or neighbors. On those unworthy days I want to flee from God’s presence, yet the psalmist reminds me I am pursued by Love to the ends of the earth.

The realization that I am a loved sinner is the grace of the first week of the Spiritual Exercises.  St. Ignatius instructs me to pray for “shame and confusion” for my sins. Another way to pray this is to ask for “deep embarrassment over my actions and amazement at God’s goodness and mercy.”  It is part of human nature to have both good days and bad. It is part of God’s nature to search and know us and reach out to us through every means possible, to show us that we are each loved beyond measure every day.

—Jenene Francis is the provincial assistant for pastoral ministries for the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

I cry with wonder accompanied by surging emotions as I pass in review all creatures. How is it that they have permitted me to live, and have sustained me in life? Why have the angels, though they are the sword of God’s justice, tolerated me, guarded me, and prayed for me? Why have the saints interceded for me and asked favors for me?

And the heavens, sun, moon, stars, and the element; the fruits, birds, fishes, and other animals – why have they all been at my service?  How is it that the earth did not open to swallow me up, and create new hells in which I would be tormented forever?  I extol the mercy of God our Lord, pouring out my thoughts to him and giving thanks to him that up to this very moment he has granted me life. I will resolve with his grace to amend for the future.

—St. Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises,  #60-61


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August 25, 2015

Mt 23: 23-26

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.

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-translation

Mercy and Faithfulness

A frequently sung psalm antiphon invites reads: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”  It echoes the spirit of Matthew’s words in today’s gospel. More important than external observance is the interior spiritual strength of mind and heart. Pope Francis frequently reminds us to take the road of mercy and forgiveness in our interactions with family, friends, and even total strangers. A merciful heart witnesses to a person’s faithfulness, grounded in God’s life and love. A forgiving attitude bespeaks another’s ability to accept me as I am, to walk with me when I am in trouble, when I doubt and even despair.

It can be convenient to put on a happy face and pretend that all is well, but this deception won’t last very long. Jesus reminds us today that it takes both courage and grace to face the demons within, and then to “clean up” the messiness in my relationships with othersespecially with those I live with and love.

So where do I begin…today?

—The Jesuit prayer team

Prayer

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness; in your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.

—Psalm 51


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August 24, 2015

St. Bartholomew

Jn 1: 45-51

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.”And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

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-translation

Missing Jesus

Have you have seen him? “Homeless Jesus” is a bronze sculpture that depicts Jesus as a homeless person, sleeping on a park bench. Installed first in Toronto, a casting was recently installed in front of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, operated by the Jesuits in downtown Detroit. The life-like statue is startling, and can be misinterpreted. Once police received a call from someone who confused the sculpture with a vagrant. You see, the only indication that it represents Jesus is the marks from the nails in the man’s feet. If you don’t look carefully, you may miss him.

It is easy to let our preconceptions cloud our perceptions; to see only what we want to see. Then we can miss seeing Jesus. We miss seeing him on the park bench, in the face of a crying child, perhaps even among our closest friends and loved ones. So how will Jesus reveal himself to me today? Will I see him, or will I miss him?

—Howard Craig is the provincial assistant for Advancement on behalf of the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Who is Jesus to me? Jesus is the Word made Flesh….
Jesus is the Hungryto be fed.
Jesus is the Thirstyto be satiated.
Jesus is the Nakedto be clothed.
Jesus is the Homelessto be taken in.
Jesus is the Sickto be healed.
Jesus is the Lonelyto be loved.
Jesus is the Unwantedto be wanted.
Jesus is the Leperto wash his wounds.
Jesus is the Beggarto give him a smile.
Jesus is the Drunkardto listen to him.
Jesus is the Little Oneto embrace him.
Jesus is the Dumbto speak to him.
Jesus is the Crippledto walk with him.
Jesus is the Drug Addictto befriend him.
Jesus is the Prostituteto remove from danger and befriend her.
Jesus is the Prisonerto be visited.
Jesus is the Old – to be served.

To me Jesus is my God, Jesus is my Spouse, Jesus is my Life, Jesus is my only Love, Jesus is my All in All, Jesus is my Everything.  Amen.

St. Teresa of Calcutta  (Mother Teresa)


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August 23, 2015

Eph 5: 21-32

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish.

In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.

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-translation

Self-Giving Love

One can argue that in contemporary society, Paul’s dictum that wives should be subordinate to their husbands is no longer tenable. This objection, however, overlooks the significance of Paul’s words of advice to husbands to love their wives in the way that Christ loved the church. The term “church” here does not signify an ecclesiastical institution presided over by pope and bishops, but rather the community of believers as the Mystical Body of Christ. Just as Christ offers his Body and Blood  under the symbols of bread and wine in the Eucharist to his followers, so also husbands “should love their wives as their own bodies,” that is, give themselves  wholeheartedly to the service of their spouses and children. As one  Catholic layman  remarked, a wife will usually have no  trouble in allowing  her husband to have the last word on important family decisions if she senses that he truly loves her and their children.

—Fr. Joseph Bracken, S.J. is an emeritus professor of theology at Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH.

Prayer

A Couple’s Prayer

God of everlasting joy,
help us to find a new you in the face of routine,
to share our needs with an open heart,
to acknowledge when we have been wrong,
to forgive when we have been forgiven,
to love as your son Jesus taught us to love. Amen.


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