July 24, 2017

Ex 14: 5-18

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials were changed toward the people, and they said, “What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?” So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out boldly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers.”

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.

Keeping the faith

The Israelites are having second thoughts. Despite risking everything for freedom, after seeing great signs and wonders through Moses, they have reached a point of no return and now the full force of their enslavement is bearing down.

It is amazing how easily, how quickly the richness and vibrancy of faith can drain from our cupped hands. With near certainty, we can expect our worst attachments to revisit, even after we are fully dedicated to the liberation God offers us in faith.

But God is unphased by these dark forces. He might even be extra motivated by them. “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I receive glory through Pharaoh and his chariots and charioteers.”

Picture those things that are most scary, most intense, and most likely to bring us to abandon what is true and good. Can you see the chariots? Ego, addiction, power, anger, selfishness, racism, greed, vanity, insecurity, pettiness… Yeah, those things. God intends to flat out massacre them, to make a mess of our scariest temptations and for their defeat to burn as a persisting flame of glory within us. “Stand your ground …”

—Sean Agniel is ending a term as the provincial’s assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the U.S. Central and Southern Province. This summer he will begin working at St. Louis University High School as the advancement chief of staff.

Prayer

“…Thus, as far as we are concerned, we should not want health more than illness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one, and similarly for all the rest, but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.”

—First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius Loyola as paraphrased by David L. Fleming, SJ

 

 

 

 

 

 


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July 23, 2017

Wis 12: 13. 16-19

For neither is there any god besides you, whose care is for all people,
to whom you should prove that you have not judged unjustly;
For your strength is the source of righteousness,
and your sovereignty over all causes you to spare all.
For you show your strength when people doubt the completeness of your power,
and you rebuke any insolence among those who know it.
Although you are sovereign in strength, you judge with mildness,
and with great forbearance you govern us;
For you have power to act whenever you choose.
Through such works you have taught your people
that the righteous must be kind,
and you have filled your children with good hope,
because you give repentance for sins.

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.

God’s merciful power

We often project our notions of power onto God and then attempt to enlist God as we imagine him into our battles, eagerly expecting the divine power to be deployed to root out and destroy what we consider evil. But God is God, and his power will not be domesticated by our petty battles. Indeed, the divine power is immense and marked not by petty vindictiveness but rather by overwhelming magnanimity. God rules with forbearance and mercy, provisions for repentance and forgiveness.

—Fr. Martin Connell, SJ is Professor of Education at John Carroll University and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.

Prayer

Merciful Lord, it does not surprise me that you forget completely the sins of those who repent. I am not surprised that you remain faithful to those who hate and revile you. The mercy which pours forth from you fills the whole world. It was by your mercy that we were created, and by your mercy that you redeemed us by sending your Son.

—St. Catherine of Siena

 

 

 

 

 

 


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July 22, 2017

St. Mary Magdalene, disciple of the Lord

Jn 20: 1-2. 11-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.

But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

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.

Witness to the Resurrection

Our church today celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the disciple who followed Jesus through his earthly ministry and, in today’s Gospel, was the first to encounter the risen Christ.  Mary returns to the tomb to prepare Jesus’s body according to Jewish burial customs of the time.  While the other disciples see the empty tomb and leave, Mary remains, weeping for her beloved Jesus.  It is here, in the midst of her suffering, that Jesus comes to her.  It is not until Jesus says her name that she recognizes that he is the Lord.

Isn’t this what we all want: to be called by name by someone who we love?  Jesus spoke to Mary, inviting her to rethink the relationship she had with him.  He tells her to “stop holding on to [him],” and sends her on a mission to tell the other disciples.  Mary goes from being someone who followed Jesus to someone sent out to spread the good news to others.

How are we being invited to be like Mary Magdalene?  How can we take the words of Jesus that we have received and take them out into the world?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

St. Mary Magdalene, you followed Jesus throughout his ministry and were the first to see him after his Resurrection.  Intercede for us that we may be open to Jesus’s call in our lives so that we can follow him as true disciples.  Amen

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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July 21, 2017

St.  Lawrence of Brindisi

Mt 12: 1-8

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests.

Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

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.

God desires hesed

Two weeks ago (on July 7), Jesus gave the Pharisees homework: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:13). Apparently they have not completed the assignment, so Jesus repeats the lesson today.

The lesson comes straight from the Pharisees’ Scriptures, in Hosea 6:6. There God tells the people what God wants: mercy, or in Hebrew, hesed. The meaning of hesed is actually quite complex. Besides “mercy,” it encompasses “kindness,” “steadfast love,” and “compassion.”

Today, Jesus links hesed with the sabbath. God expects us to work hard, but God also knows we need time to rest. So in an act of hesed, God gives us the sabbath. For the disciples, God’s merciful, loving kindness allows them to pick grain and eat. We are coming up on a sabbath ourselves; how is God inviting you to be kind to yourself and rest?

—Dan Everson, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province, studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Come, my friend, the Bride to meet,
The holy Shabbat let us now greet.

“Keep” and “Remember” in one Divine word.
Our people at Sinai God’s command heard.
Our God is one; and One is God’s name,
God’s is the glory! God’s is the fame!

To greet Shabbat now let us go;
Source of blessing, it has ever been so.
Conceived before life on earth began,
Last in God’s work, first in God’s plan. 

Yerushalayim, Shrine of our “King,”
Arise from your ruins, arise and sing.
Enough have you dwelled in the vale of tears,
Your God will mercifully dispel your fears. 

Shake off your dust, arise from the mire;
Dress, my people, in your proudest attire.
Through a descendant of David, the poet-King,
Redemption and freedom God will bring.

—English translation of Lecha Dodi, the Jewish liturgical song sung to welcome the sabbath

 

 

 

 


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July 20, 2017

Mt 11: 28-30

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

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.

Rest from the busyness

“I’m good. Busy.”  It’s almost an automatic response when someone asks how we are doing.  We may be busy with work projects, or shuttling kids in carpool, or trying to keep up with household chores.  Being busy can be seen as a sign that we are doing something, or accomplishing something.  In a world driven by calendars and to-do lists, it can be hard to know what to do with oneself when we aren’t checking something off of a list.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers us something that can seem illusive in our busy lives: rest.  Jesus doesn’t care about the things we are doing, he simply offers the invitation to come to him “and you will find rest for yourselves.”  He offers to take our burdens, those things that weigh heavily on our hearts and minds, and give us his yoke, which is light.  As hard as it can be to give up the busyness, are we able to allow ourselves some quiet time to simply rest in Jesus?

—Jim and Lauren Gaffey.  Jim is a science teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep.  Lauren is the Charis Ministries Program Coordinator for the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, and does work for the Midwest Jesuits.  

Prayer

My God, I believe most firmly
that you watch over all who hope in you,
and that we can want for nothing
when we rely upon you in all things.
Therefore I am resolved for the future
to have no anxieties,
and to cast all my cares upon you.

—St. Claude de la Colombiere, SJ, excerpt of An Act of Hope and Confidence in God

 

 

 


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July 19, 2017

Ex 3: 1-6. 9-12

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

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.

Taking on a new mission

Throughout history, God appears to people to give them an important job to do to collaborate in building God’s kingdom here on earth.  This is the case with Moses in today’s reading, as God asks him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  God promises fidelity and accompaniment after Moses questions his ability to do what is asked.  We know that God has been active throughout our lives as well, often asking us to take on a new venture or mission.  In the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to look at the times and ways in which God has been active and present throughout our lives.  

Sometimes we are ready to jump in feet first to a new mission (a job, a new addition to the family, meeting a need in our workplace, neighborhood or church community).  Sometimes we may feel hesitant, inadequate, or insecure when God is asking us to take on a new mission.

In what situation have I heard God’s voice calling or nudging me lately?  What are my feelings in response?  Can I truly trust in God’s promise of accompaniment in my life, particularly in a new mission as Moses is asked?

—Colleen Chiacchere directs Magis Catholic Teacher Corps, the post-graduate teaching service program, at Creighton University.

Prayer

Lord God, you invite us to collaborate with you in building your kingdom here on earth.  Help us to be attentive to the quiet whisper of your voice as we discern what you call us to do.  

 


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July 18, 2017

St.  Camillus de Lellis

Ex 2: 1-15a

Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman.The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and saw their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsfolk. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, he saw two Hebrews fighting; and he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow Hebrew?” He answered, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Then Moses was afraid and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh. He settled in the land of Midian, and sat down by a well.

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.

Hope for a better future

Too many people in our world know what it is like to have to say goodbye to their young children in the hope of giving them a better future. During the school year, I volunteer at a shelter for unaccompanied minors, children 17 and under who have entered the United States without documents and without their parents. Some of the children are as young as 7 or 8, perhaps led north by an older sibling or cousin. In many cases, their parents have faced the brutal choice either of sending their children north alone to seek a better future, or of going themselves to work in the United States and working to find a way to bring their children north after.

We know the story of Moses: God has plans for the young child, and plans for his people. But the journey of the people of God continues today, in the plight of many of the poor in our world.  We know that the final chapter of God’s plan is not yet written.

—Joe Lorenz, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Northeast Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, we thank you for the gift of families. Show mercy to those who travel in danger, and lead them to a place of safety and peace. Comfort those who are alone and afraid because their families have been torn apart by violence and injustice…Open our hearts so that we may provide hospitality for all who come in search of refuge. Give us the courage to welcome every stranger as Christ in our midst. Amen.

—Prayer for Migrant Families, ©2010, USCCB


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July 17, 2017

Mt 10: 34 – 11:1

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.

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.

Making Christ our axis

I once had a mentor who used to say, “My children do not belong to me. They belong to God.” We did not have children at the time, but this maxim stuck with me when our first child was stillborn, and with each of four live births that followed.

The first loss was devastating. There were also many graces, especially the truth behind, “my children do not belong to me….” We are given the privilege of loving children, of also loving mother and father, sisters and brothers, in and through and on behalf of Christ.

Relationships with kids or spouse or friends or community members can easily become idols. Living our baptism means making Christ the axis on which our life and love turn, rather than any other relationship. And so, it can feel that Christ has brought a sword. But isn’t this necessary? For if we have given our children Christ’s “cup of cold water” in baptism, then our task of parenting is to prepare them to know his death, which they received in baptism. And also, to desire the newness of life that we cannot receive from each other; only from knowing and following Christ. (Rom 6:3-4)

—Sean Agniel is ending a term as the provincial’s assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the U.S. Central and Southern Province. This summer he will begin working at St. Louis University High School as the advancement chief of staff.

Prayer

Lord, grant that I may see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly.

—St. Ignatius Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises


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July 16, 2017

Mt 13: 1-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away.

Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.

The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it. “Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

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.

Tilling the soil of our hearts

I learned any number of Swahili proverbs during three years as a missionary in Tanzania. One of them commended hard work: “The hoe in the soil brings health to the body.” I think of that proverb when I hear today’s Gospel. We don’t have to be content with the tough soil of hardened hearts; we can do some spiritual tilling to prepare them so that the divine word which Jesus sows may grow in us, yielding a bountiful harvest. “The spiritual tilling of the hardened heart brings health to the soul.”

—Fr. Martin Connell, SJ is Professor of Education at John Carroll University and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.

Prayer

O that today you would hear God’s voice,
“Harden not your hearts, as on that day in the desert,
when your parents put me to the test.”

—David Haas, © 1983, 1994, GIA Publications, Inc.

 


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July 15, 2017

St. Bonaventure

Mt 10: 24-33

“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Speak in the light

“Therefore do not be afraid of them.”  Jesus’s words in today’s Gospel appear many times throughout the Gospels.  In this context, he is telling his disciples, and all of us, that we shouldn’t be afraid to proclaim the good news of Jesus.  He tells us: “what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”

For most Christians today, we are not afraid of physical persecution for our beliefs.  But there are still many times in our lives that we may be afraid to talk about God, or about our faith.  Perhaps we are afraid of being ostracized by friends, coworkers, or even family.  Maybe we want to avoid being lumped in with groups of people we may not fully agree with.  Whatever the reason, Jesus’s challenge to the disciples 2000 years ago remains a challenge for us today.  

How can you “speak in the light” the truth of who Jesus is in your life?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

If you would speak of me, live all your life in me.
My ways are not the ways that you would choose;
My thoughts are far beyond yours, as heaven from earth:
If you believe in me my voice will be heard.

All that is hidden will be made clear.
All that is dark now will be revealed.
What you have heard in the dark proclaim in the light;
What you hear in whispers proclaim from the housetops.

—Bernadette Farrell, All That is Hidden © 1986, 1988, OCP

 

 


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July 24, 2017

Ex 14: 5-18

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials were changed toward the people, and they said, “What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?” So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out boldly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers.”

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.

Keeping the faith

The Israelites are having second thoughts. Despite risking everything for freedom, after seeing great signs and wonders through Moses, they have reached a point of no return and now the full force of their enslavement is bearing down.

It is amazing how easily, how quickly the richness and vibrancy of faith can drain from our cupped hands. With near certainty, we can expect our worst attachments to revisit, even after we are fully dedicated to the liberation God offers us in faith.

But God is unphased by these dark forces. He might even be extra motivated by them. “The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I receive glory through Pharaoh and his chariots and charioteers.”

Picture those things that are most scary, most intense, and most likely to bring us to abandon what is true and good. Can you see the chariots? Ego, addiction, power, anger, selfishness, racism, greed, vanity, insecurity, pettiness… Yeah, those things. God intends to flat out massacre them, to make a mess of our scariest temptations and for their defeat to burn as a persisting flame of glory within us. “Stand your ground …”

—Sean Agniel is ending a term as the provincial’s assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the U.S. Central and Southern Province. This summer he will begin working at St. Louis University High School as the advancement chief of staff.

Prayer

“…Thus, as far as we are concerned, we should not want health more than illness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one, and similarly for all the rest, but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.”

—First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius Loyola as paraphrased by David L. Fleming, SJ

 

 

 

 

 

 


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July 23, 2017

Wis 12: 13. 16-19

For neither is there any god besides you, whose care is for all people,
to whom you should prove that you have not judged unjustly;
For your strength is the source of righteousness,
and your sovereignty over all causes you to spare all.
For you show your strength when people doubt the completeness of your power,
and you rebuke any insolence among those who know it.
Although you are sovereign in strength, you judge with mildness,
and with great forbearance you govern us;
For you have power to act whenever you choose.
Through such works you have taught your people
that the righteous must be kind,
and you have filled your children with good hope,
because you give repentance for sins.

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.

God’s merciful power

We often project our notions of power onto God and then attempt to enlist God as we imagine him into our battles, eagerly expecting the divine power to be deployed to root out and destroy what we consider evil. But God is God, and his power will not be domesticated by our petty battles. Indeed, the divine power is immense and marked not by petty vindictiveness but rather by overwhelming magnanimity. God rules with forbearance and mercy, provisions for repentance and forgiveness.

—Fr. Martin Connell, SJ is Professor of Education at John Carroll University and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.

Prayer

Merciful Lord, it does not surprise me that you forget completely the sins of those who repent. I am not surprised that you remain faithful to those who hate and revile you. The mercy which pours forth from you fills the whole world. It was by your mercy that we were created, and by your mercy that you redeemed us by sending your Son.

—St. Catherine of Siena

 

 

 

 

 

 


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July 22, 2017

St. Mary Magdalene, disciple of the Lord

Jn 20: 1-2. 11-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.

But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

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.

Witness to the Resurrection

Our church today celebrates the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the disciple who followed Jesus through his earthly ministry and, in today’s Gospel, was the first to encounter the risen Christ.  Mary returns to the tomb to prepare Jesus’s body according to Jewish burial customs of the time.  While the other disciples see the empty tomb and leave, Mary remains, weeping for her beloved Jesus.  It is here, in the midst of her suffering, that Jesus comes to her.  It is not until Jesus says her name that she recognizes that he is the Lord.

Isn’t this what we all want: to be called by name by someone who we love?  Jesus spoke to Mary, inviting her to rethink the relationship she had with him.  He tells her to “stop holding on to [him],” and sends her on a mission to tell the other disciples.  Mary goes from being someone who followed Jesus to someone sent out to spread the good news to others.

How are we being invited to be like Mary Magdalene?  How can we take the words of Jesus that we have received and take them out into the world?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

St. Mary Magdalene, you followed Jesus throughout his ministry and were the first to see him after his Resurrection.  Intercede for us that we may be open to Jesus’s call in our lives so that we can follow him as true disciples.  Amen

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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July 21, 2017

St.  Lawrence of Brindisi

Mt 12: 1-8

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests.

Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

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.

God desires hesed

Two weeks ago (on July 7), Jesus gave the Pharisees homework: “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9:13). Apparently they have not completed the assignment, so Jesus repeats the lesson today.

The lesson comes straight from the Pharisees’ Scriptures, in Hosea 6:6. There God tells the people what God wants: mercy, or in Hebrew, hesed. The meaning of hesed is actually quite complex. Besides “mercy,” it encompasses “kindness,” “steadfast love,” and “compassion.”

Today, Jesus links hesed with the sabbath. God expects us to work hard, but God also knows we need time to rest. So in an act of hesed, God gives us the sabbath. For the disciples, God’s merciful, loving kindness allows them to pick grain and eat. We are coming up on a sabbath ourselves; how is God inviting you to be kind to yourself and rest?

—Dan Everson, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province, studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Come, my friend, the Bride to meet,
The holy Shabbat let us now greet.

“Keep” and “Remember” in one Divine word.
Our people at Sinai God’s command heard.
Our God is one; and One is God’s name,
God’s is the glory! God’s is the fame!

To greet Shabbat now let us go;
Source of blessing, it has ever been so.
Conceived before life on earth began,
Last in God’s work, first in God’s plan. 

Yerushalayim, Shrine of our “King,”
Arise from your ruins, arise and sing.
Enough have you dwelled in the vale of tears,
Your God will mercifully dispel your fears. 

Shake off your dust, arise from the mire;
Dress, my people, in your proudest attire.
Through a descendant of David, the poet-King,
Redemption and freedom God will bring.

—English translation of Lecha Dodi, the Jewish liturgical song sung to welcome the sabbath

 

 

 

 


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July 20, 2017

Mt 11: 28-30

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

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.

Rest from the busyness

“I’m good. Busy.”  It’s almost an automatic response when someone asks how we are doing.  We may be busy with work projects, or shuttling kids in carpool, or trying to keep up with household chores.  Being busy can be seen as a sign that we are doing something, or accomplishing something.  In a world driven by calendars and to-do lists, it can be hard to know what to do with oneself when we aren’t checking something off of a list.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers us something that can seem illusive in our busy lives: rest.  Jesus doesn’t care about the things we are doing, he simply offers the invitation to come to him “and you will find rest for yourselves.”  He offers to take our burdens, those things that weigh heavily on our hearts and minds, and give us his yoke, which is light.  As hard as it can be to give up the busyness, are we able to allow ourselves some quiet time to simply rest in Jesus?

—Jim and Lauren Gaffey.  Jim is a science teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep.  Lauren is the Charis Ministries Program Coordinator for the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, and does work for the Midwest Jesuits.  

Prayer

My God, I believe most firmly
that you watch over all who hope in you,
and that we can want for nothing
when we rely upon you in all things.
Therefore I am resolved for the future
to have no anxieties,
and to cast all my cares upon you.

—St. Claude de la Colombiere, SJ, excerpt of An Act of Hope and Confidence in God

 

 

 


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July 19, 2017

Ex 3: 1-6. 9-12

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

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.

Taking on a new mission

Throughout history, God appears to people to give them an important job to do to collaborate in building God’s kingdom here on earth.  This is the case with Moses in today’s reading, as God asks him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  God promises fidelity and accompaniment after Moses questions his ability to do what is asked.  We know that God has been active throughout our lives as well, often asking us to take on a new venture or mission.  In the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to look at the times and ways in which God has been active and present throughout our lives.  

Sometimes we are ready to jump in feet first to a new mission (a job, a new addition to the family, meeting a need in our workplace, neighborhood or church community).  Sometimes we may feel hesitant, inadequate, or insecure when God is asking us to take on a new mission.

In what situation have I heard God’s voice calling or nudging me lately?  What are my feelings in response?  Can I truly trust in God’s promise of accompaniment in my life, particularly in a new mission as Moses is asked?

—Colleen Chiacchere directs Magis Catholic Teacher Corps, the post-graduate teaching service program, at Creighton University.

Prayer

Lord God, you invite us to collaborate with you in building your kingdom here on earth.  Help us to be attentive to the quiet whisper of your voice as we discern what you call us to do.  

 


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July 18, 2017

St.  Camillus de Lellis

Ex 2: 1-15a

Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman.The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and saw their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsfolk. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, he saw two Hebrews fighting; and he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow Hebrew?” He answered, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Then Moses was afraid and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh. He settled in the land of Midian, and sat down by a well.

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.

Hope for a better future

Too many people in our world know what it is like to have to say goodbye to their young children in the hope of giving them a better future. During the school year, I volunteer at a shelter for unaccompanied minors, children 17 and under who have entered the United States without documents and without their parents. Some of the children are as young as 7 or 8, perhaps led north by an older sibling or cousin. In many cases, their parents have faced the brutal choice either of sending their children north alone to seek a better future, or of going themselves to work in the United States and working to find a way to bring their children north after.

We know the story of Moses: God has plans for the young child, and plans for his people. But the journey of the people of God continues today, in the plight of many of the poor in our world.  We know that the final chapter of God’s plan is not yet written.

—Joe Lorenz, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Northeast Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, we thank you for the gift of families. Show mercy to those who travel in danger, and lead them to a place of safety and peace. Comfort those who are alone and afraid because their families have been torn apart by violence and injustice…Open our hearts so that we may provide hospitality for all who come in search of refuge. Give us the courage to welcome every stranger as Christ in our midst. Amen.

—Prayer for Migrant Families, ©2010, USCCB


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July 17, 2017

Mt 10: 34 – 11:1

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.

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.

Making Christ our axis

I once had a mentor who used to say, “My children do not belong to me. They belong to God.” We did not have children at the time, but this maxim stuck with me when our first child was stillborn, and with each of four live births that followed.

The first loss was devastating. There were also many graces, especially the truth behind, “my children do not belong to me….” We are given the privilege of loving children, of also loving mother and father, sisters and brothers, in and through and on behalf of Christ.

Relationships with kids or spouse or friends or community members can easily become idols. Living our baptism means making Christ the axis on which our life and love turn, rather than any other relationship. And so, it can feel that Christ has brought a sword. But isn’t this necessary? For if we have given our children Christ’s “cup of cold water” in baptism, then our task of parenting is to prepare them to know his death, which they received in baptism. And also, to desire the newness of life that we cannot receive from each other; only from knowing and following Christ. (Rom 6:3-4)

—Sean Agniel is ending a term as the provincial’s assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the U.S. Central and Southern Province. This summer he will begin working at St. Louis University High School as the advancement chief of staff.

Prayer

Lord, grant that I may see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly.

—St. Ignatius Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises


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July 16, 2017

Mt 13: 1-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away.

Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!” Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.

The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: ‘You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.’

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it. “Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path.

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

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.

Tilling the soil of our hearts

I learned any number of Swahili proverbs during three years as a missionary in Tanzania. One of them commended hard work: “The hoe in the soil brings health to the body.” I think of that proverb when I hear today’s Gospel. We don’t have to be content with the tough soil of hardened hearts; we can do some spiritual tilling to prepare them so that the divine word which Jesus sows may grow in us, yielding a bountiful harvest. “The spiritual tilling of the hardened heart brings health to the soul.”

—Fr. Martin Connell, SJ is Professor of Education at John Carroll University and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.

Prayer

O that today you would hear God’s voice,
“Harden not your hearts, as on that day in the desert,
when your parents put me to the test.”

—David Haas, © 1983, 1994, GIA Publications, Inc.

 


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July 15, 2017

St. Bonaventure

Mt 10: 24-33

“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Speak in the light

“Therefore do not be afraid of them.”  Jesus’s words in today’s Gospel appear many times throughout the Gospels.  In this context, he is telling his disciples, and all of us, that we shouldn’t be afraid to proclaim the good news of Jesus.  He tells us: “what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”

For most Christians today, we are not afraid of physical persecution for our beliefs.  But there are still many times in our lives that we may be afraid to talk about God, or about our faith.  Perhaps we are afraid of being ostracized by friends, coworkers, or even family.  Maybe we want to avoid being lumped in with groups of people we may not fully agree with.  Whatever the reason, Jesus’s challenge to the disciples 2000 years ago remains a challenge for us today.  

How can you “speak in the light” the truth of who Jesus is in your life?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

If you would speak of me, live all your life in me.
My ways are not the ways that you would choose;
My thoughts are far beyond yours, as heaven from earth:
If you believe in me my voice will be heard.

All that is hidden will be made clear.
All that is dark now will be revealed.
What you have heard in the dark proclaim in the light;
What you hear in whispers proclaim from the housetops.

—Bernadette Farrell, All That is Hidden © 1986, 1988, OCP

 

 


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