September 26, 2017

Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Lk 8: 19-21

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

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.

Doing God’s will

Today’s Gospel reminds us of the need to seek and to do God’s will. Jesus calls us to both listen to and act on the word of God. At times, however, discerning the will of God can seem like a challenge. It can seem as if God’s will is a divine mystery that we must skillfully solve.

However, Jesus has already revealed God’s will to us. God’s will is love and mercy itself. Therefore, when we find ourselves discerning what to do with our lives, discerning how to carry out God’s will, we must always ask how our decisions are both loving and merciful. If we let love and mercy govern our lives, we can rest assured that we are on the path to fulfilling the will of God. Of course, being loving and merciful is often more challenging than it sounds. So today we might ask for the grace to understand how we can act with more genuine love and mercy.

—Tom Elitz, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Maryland Province currently studying philosophy at Fordham University.

Prayer

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments, we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence, submit ourselves to your holy will, which is love and mercy itself.

—St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

 


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September 25, 2017

Lk 8: 16-18

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”

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

Inner light

To appreciate Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel, one must keep recall the context of the ancient world.  Electricity was unknown, so all light came from either the sun or fire.  Darkness often permeated public places, and especially homes.  Light offered comfort, or at least an opportunity to see what was happening around oneself.  Each of us has an inner light that is not conditioned by anyone or anything else.  No matter how others impact your feelings, know that Christ resides in you and that your inner light burns brightly.

If you spend even a bit of time each day in contemplation, you will develop a wisdom which enkindles your inner light.  You can build upon that wisdom and share it with those around you.  Share it in a way that inspires others to do good.  Goodness, like wisdom, does not require perfection…but only our best effort.  Jesus does the rest.

—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.  He is grateful to Brian Shircliff for his input on today’s reflection.

Prayer

We are the light of the world,
may our light shine before all,
that they may see the good that we do,
and give glory to God.

—Excerpt of We Are the Light of the World, Jean Greif, © 1983 Vernacular Hymns Publishing Co.

 


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September 24, 2017

Is 55: 6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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.

The true Jesus

We should not let the words of Scripture remain mere words, but, as we would do with a letter from someone who loves us very much, we should let these words penetrate into our imagination to the point that we can “see,” “hear,” and “touch” the word of life (cf. 1 John 1:1-3). We must do so in obedience to the word which surpasses us, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways” (Is 55:8).

Psalm 135:15-18 should warn us that, through our imagination, we can craft false gods—even ones that we might call “Jesus”—that can lead us astray. Let us let the Jesus of the Bible scandalize us when we realize that he is not the “god” that we would have imagined on our own. And let us let that Jesus, who reveals to us the one true God, be the Lord of our imagination rather than any other “Jesus” we would fashion for ourselves.

—Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ, is a newly ordained priest of the USA Central and Southern Province, currently serving as the associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church in New Orleans.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God and that you make known to us everything that you have heard from the Father, things that we would never have known if you had not revealed them to us. Please help me in my unbelief, because so often what you reveal about God through your life is a scandal to me.

Please help me to know that “your ways are not my ways,” and help me to hold onto your grace most especially in those places where the divine life that you offer is most incomprehensible to me. Then, perhaps, with your help, I will no longer just say, “Lord, Lord,” but might finally begin to “do the will of our Father in heaven,” and so live the life that you offer, abiding in you as you abide in the Father.

—Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ

 

 

 

 


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September 23, 2017

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Lk 8: 4-15

When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.”

As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away.

As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

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.

Fertile soil

When we hear the parable of the sower in today’s Gospel, we know we want to be the good, rich soil. We want to be the person who, having heard the word of God, “embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”  But we also know that there are times in life when we may be more like the other types of soil. Perhaps we are the seed sown on rocky ground when we don’t work to deepen our relationship with God through personal prayer.  We might be the seed sown among thorns when we allow our desire for more money, or prestige, or power, to become more important than our desire to follow Christ. But just as seeds are resilient and do what is necessary to grow, the good news is that God is always giving the seeds of our faith more opportunities to bloom and flourish.

How can you allow your heart to be fertile soil for God’s word to be planted within you?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord God, you scatter the seeds of your word widely, so that all might have the opportunity to hear them and follow you. Help us to prepare our hearts to be open to your word, so that we can take it in and make it a part of our life. Guide our hearts to a deeper love of you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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September 22, 2017

Lk 8: 1-3

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him,as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

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.

Hearts unfold

This Gospel reads as the note of a traveler noting only essential words and people. Underneath this summary, moments of encounter unfold, but I feel I am left in the dark. The sparse report leaves me with an overwhelming sense of curiosity. Who are these women? What are their stories? How might I come to know them? The word “accompaniment” implies a relationship; how did they come to know Jesus, and Jesus them?

This Gospel invites me to turn inward and outward at once, to perceive my own curiosity and to look to others as a pathway to relationship with Jesus who is here now, with us in the friend, the stranger, the refugee, the child. Who are the people I journey with? Who is healing me? How can I keep them company on the road ahead?

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications offices of the U.S. Central and Southern Province.

Prayer

Lord, I come to you searching, off-balance,
a traveler. I hold you in curiosity; let me be known
to you; let me know you. As I walk,
I search for your face, in the faces
of Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and many others.

I offer you my bold curiosity.
Who are you? Who are these women?
I know their names; let me learn their stories.
Let me see their faces, let me see you in them,
so that we might keep each other company.

—Claire Peterson

 


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September 21, 2017

Feast of St.  Matthew

Mt 9: 9-13

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.

When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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.

Follow Me

I have a print of Caravaggio’s painting “The Calling of St. Matthew” in my home.  The painting depicts Jesus pointing at St. Matthew who has his head down as if he is thinking “you can’t really be calling me?”  The onlookers in the painting have puzzled looks, as if they are thinking, “you really mean this guy?” and Peter is standing in front of Jesus as if he is ready to say “let’s get out of here.”  The scribes and Pharisees must have been thinking the same thing in today’s Gospel, questioning why Jesus is spending time with those people (sinners and tax collectors).  

Perhaps for our prayer today, we can close our eyes and imagine Jesus pointing to us and saying “Follow me.”  Can we put our head in our hands and acknowledge that we are flawed (like Matthew) but still called by Jesus?  Matthew looked up and permitted the gaze of Jesus to transform him.  Can we also permit the mercy of Jesus’ to transform us?

—Mr. Dave Lawler is a Campus Minister at Creighton Prep.   

Prayer

Even if we dare not raise our eyes to the Lord, he always looks at us first. This is our story, and it is like that of so many others.  Each of us can say: “I, too, am a sinner, whom Jesus has looked upon”. 

—Pope Francis 

 

 

 


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September 20, 2017

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon & Paul Chong Hasan & Companions

Lk 7: 31-35

“To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

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.

Like water on a sponge

How could anyone think that John the Baptist was possessed by a demon? Or that Jesus Christ was a drunkard and a glutton? It’s hard to admit, but I can remember times in my life when I felt uncomfortable or even annoyed by “holy people.” And I’m not alone. Reading this passage, I’m reminded of the preposterous things people said about St. Mother Teresa after her death. How could anyone feel anything but love for Mother Teresa?

The Spiritual Exercises may give us some insight. Sometimes our hearts can be so hardened by sin that when we’re presented with good, evil touches our spirit “sharply and with noise and disquiet, as when the drop of water falls on the stone.” But if we are on the road to holiness, good things fall like “water on a sponge.” Is your heart more like a stone or a sponge?

—Sam Mauck is the Director of Catholic Campus & Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Memphis, which is a member of the Charis Ministries Partner Program.

Prayer

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
cry out to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with a song of praise,
joyfully sing out our psalms.
For the LORD is the great God,
the great king over all gods,
Whose hand holds the depths of the earth;
who owns the tops of the mountains.
The sea and dry land belong to God,
who made them, formed them by hand.

Enter, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
we are the people he shepherds,
the sheep in his hands.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah,
as on the day of Massah in the desert.

—Psalm 95:1-8

 

 

 


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September 19, 2017

St. Januarius

Lk 7: 11-17

Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still.

And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

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.

Finding opportunities to serve

Jesus did not act in today’s Gospel because of any one person’s request. Rather, he encountered the burial procession by chance, then spoke and acted from personal desire. What must the mother have thought of Jesus strange admonition not to weep? Before she can even respond to Jesus for what probably sounded to hears as insensitive, she has the overwhelming experience of seeing her son rising out of his coffin.

Jesus’ example shows us that we do not need to wait to be asked to be of service, and that healing can come at any time if we are open to it. The world is full of injustice, natural disaster, and other pains. Opportunities abound and the initiative is ours to take. As each chance to serve in charity and work against injustice arrives, we pray to live with the conviction that Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, is still doing his work of healing around, within, and through us.

—Mike Tedone, SJ, is a Jesuit Scholastic of the West Province in First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Christ’s love is full of tenderness, of solicitude not only for our souls but also for our bodies, for physical pain which he heals even without being asked to; for the sadness of his friends, for the hunger of the poor which he hurries to satisfy; and with what delicacy he defended his hungry disciples when they ate the ears of corn, with what tenderness he prepared breakfast after the night’s fishing!

—St. Alberto Hurtado, SJ

 


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September 18, 2017

Lk 7: 1-10

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.”

And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.

For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

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.

Healing the enemy

In today’s Gospel we see Jesus beingdeliberatelykind to “the enemy.”  Remember that Roman soldiers were an occupying force which terrorized Jewish lands.  Centurions were viewed with disdain by the Jews.  So why would Jesus bother to help this man?  It is important to keep in mind that the centurion did nothing to earn Jesus’ healing power.  Rather, he simply believed; he had faith in the healing power of Jesus.  

The authors of Matthew’s Gospel are attempting to convey a truth which they deeply believed; namely, that faith in Jesus allows us be healed.  We simply must remain open to the process.  It is less about what we do, and more about the depth of our openness to Christ’s presence in our lives.  

Like the centurion, we might ask ourselves, “What aspects of my household or my relationships need healing?”  Then sit quietly and listen for Jesus’ inevitable response.

—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.

Prayer

Lord Christ, help us to see what it is
that joins us together, not what separates us.
For when we see only what it is that makes us different,
we too often become aware of what is wrong with others.
We see only their faults and weaknesses,
interpreting their actions as flowing from
malice or hatred rather than fear.
Even when confronted with evil, Lord,
you forgave and sacrificed yourself
rather than sought revenge.
Teach us to do the same by the power of your Spirit.

—William Breault, SJ

 


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September 17, 2017

Mt 18: 21-35

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.

So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.

When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

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.

Seventy-Seven Times!

Is there no end to the forgiveness which the Lord expects of us?  “Seventy-seven times!”  A lifetime of forgiveness is what we are called to share with others, but truthfully, this is quite a small price to pay.

We recall that Jesus has offered us an eternal outflowing of grace – witnessed most perfectly in the moment of His crucifixion.  Facing his tormentors, He looked down on them with love and said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24)

Though we may never find ourselves in a situation as desolate as one’s own crucifixion, we are aware of people in our lives who have caused us injury – whether it be physical, mental or spiritual – and they may be looking to us for forgiveness.  And so we contemplate…”Who in our lives needs our forgiveness now?   How can I reach out to this person and begin the process of healing?”

—Mr. Rob Chesire is the director of Music Ministry and teaches Choir at Creighton Prep.  

Prayer

Loving God, in the mercy you have shown us, may we find the strength to forgive our brothers and sisters and rebuild that which may have been broken.  Open our hearts to your grace, and help us to become a community whose lives are centered on love and forgiveness. Amen.

 


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September 26, 2017

Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Lk 8: 19-21

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

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.

Doing God’s will

Today’s Gospel reminds us of the need to seek and to do God’s will. Jesus calls us to both listen to and act on the word of God. At times, however, discerning the will of God can seem like a challenge. It can seem as if God’s will is a divine mystery that we must skillfully solve.

However, Jesus has already revealed God’s will to us. God’s will is love and mercy itself. Therefore, when we find ourselves discerning what to do with our lives, discerning how to carry out God’s will, we must always ask how our decisions are both loving and merciful. If we let love and mercy govern our lives, we can rest assured that we are on the path to fulfilling the will of God. Of course, being loving and merciful is often more challenging than it sounds. So today we might ask for the grace to understand how we can act with more genuine love and mercy.

—Tom Elitz, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Maryland Province currently studying philosophy at Fordham University.

Prayer

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments, we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence, submit ourselves to your holy will, which is love and mercy itself.

—St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

 


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September 25, 2017

Lk 8: 16-18

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”

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

Inner light

To appreciate Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel, one must keep recall the context of the ancient world.  Electricity was unknown, so all light came from either the sun or fire.  Darkness often permeated public places, and especially homes.  Light offered comfort, or at least an opportunity to see what was happening around oneself.  Each of us has an inner light that is not conditioned by anyone or anything else.  No matter how others impact your feelings, know that Christ resides in you and that your inner light burns brightly.

If you spend even a bit of time each day in contemplation, you will develop a wisdom which enkindles your inner light.  You can build upon that wisdom and share it with those around you.  Share it in a way that inspires others to do good.  Goodness, like wisdom, does not require perfection…but only our best effort.  Jesus does the rest.

—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.  He is grateful to Brian Shircliff for his input on today’s reflection.

Prayer

We are the light of the world,
may our light shine before all,
that they may see the good that we do,
and give glory to God.

—Excerpt of We Are the Light of the World, Jean Greif, © 1983 Vernacular Hymns Publishing Co.

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

September 24, 2017

Is 55: 6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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.

The true Jesus

We should not let the words of Scripture remain mere words, but, as we would do with a letter from someone who loves us very much, we should let these words penetrate into our imagination to the point that we can “see,” “hear,” and “touch” the word of life (cf. 1 John 1:1-3). We must do so in obedience to the word which surpasses us, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways” (Is 55:8).

Psalm 135:15-18 should warn us that, through our imagination, we can craft false gods—even ones that we might call “Jesus”—that can lead us astray. Let us let the Jesus of the Bible scandalize us when we realize that he is not the “god” that we would have imagined on our own. And let us let that Jesus, who reveals to us the one true God, be the Lord of our imagination rather than any other “Jesus” we would fashion for ourselves.

—Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ, is a newly ordained priest of the USA Central and Southern Province, currently serving as the associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church in New Orleans.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God and that you make known to us everything that you have heard from the Father, things that we would never have known if you had not revealed them to us. Please help me in my unbelief, because so often what you reveal about God through your life is a scandal to me.

Please help me to know that “your ways are not my ways,” and help me to hold onto your grace most especially in those places where the divine life that you offer is most incomprehensible to me. Then, perhaps, with your help, I will no longer just say, “Lord, Lord,” but might finally begin to “do the will of our Father in heaven,” and so live the life that you offer, abiding in you as you abide in the Father.

—Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ

 

 

 

 


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September 23, 2017

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Lk 8: 4-15

When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.”

As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away.

As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

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.

Fertile soil

When we hear the parable of the sower in today’s Gospel, we know we want to be the good, rich soil. We want to be the person who, having heard the word of God, “embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”  But we also know that there are times in life when we may be more like the other types of soil. Perhaps we are the seed sown on rocky ground when we don’t work to deepen our relationship with God through personal prayer.  We might be the seed sown among thorns when we allow our desire for more money, or prestige, or power, to become more important than our desire to follow Christ. But just as seeds are resilient and do what is necessary to grow, the good news is that God is always giving the seeds of our faith more opportunities to bloom and flourish.

How can you allow your heart to be fertile soil for God’s word to be planted within you?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord God, you scatter the seeds of your word widely, so that all might have the opportunity to hear them and follow you. Help us to prepare our hearts to be open to your word, so that we can take it in and make it a part of our life. Guide our hearts to a deeper love of you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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September 22, 2017

Lk 8: 1-3

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him,as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

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.

Hearts unfold

This Gospel reads as the note of a traveler noting only essential words and people. Underneath this summary, moments of encounter unfold, but I feel I am left in the dark. The sparse report leaves me with an overwhelming sense of curiosity. Who are these women? What are their stories? How might I come to know them? The word “accompaniment” implies a relationship; how did they come to know Jesus, and Jesus them?

This Gospel invites me to turn inward and outward at once, to perceive my own curiosity and to look to others as a pathway to relationship with Jesus who is here now, with us in the friend, the stranger, the refugee, the child. Who are the people I journey with? Who is healing me? How can I keep them company on the road ahead?

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications offices of the U.S. Central and Southern Province.

Prayer

Lord, I come to you searching, off-balance,
a traveler. I hold you in curiosity; let me be known
to you; let me know you. As I walk,
I search for your face, in the faces
of Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and many others.

I offer you my bold curiosity.
Who are you? Who are these women?
I know their names; let me learn their stories.
Let me see their faces, let me see you in them,
so that we might keep each other company.

—Claire Peterson

 


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September 21, 2017

Feast of St.  Matthew

Mt 9: 9-13

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.

When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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.

Follow Me

I have a print of Caravaggio’s painting “The Calling of St. Matthew” in my home.  The painting depicts Jesus pointing at St. Matthew who has his head down as if he is thinking “you can’t really be calling me?”  The onlookers in the painting have puzzled looks, as if they are thinking, “you really mean this guy?” and Peter is standing in front of Jesus as if he is ready to say “let’s get out of here.”  The scribes and Pharisees must have been thinking the same thing in today’s Gospel, questioning why Jesus is spending time with those people (sinners and tax collectors).  

Perhaps for our prayer today, we can close our eyes and imagine Jesus pointing to us and saying “Follow me.”  Can we put our head in our hands and acknowledge that we are flawed (like Matthew) but still called by Jesus?  Matthew looked up and permitted the gaze of Jesus to transform him.  Can we also permit the mercy of Jesus’ to transform us?

—Mr. Dave Lawler is a Campus Minister at Creighton Prep.   

Prayer

Even if we dare not raise our eyes to the Lord, he always looks at us first. This is our story, and it is like that of so many others.  Each of us can say: “I, too, am a sinner, whom Jesus has looked upon”. 

—Pope Francis 

 

 

 


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September 20, 2017

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon & Paul Chong Hasan & Companions

Lk 7: 31-35

“To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

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.

Like water on a sponge

How could anyone think that John the Baptist was possessed by a demon? Or that Jesus Christ was a drunkard and a glutton? It’s hard to admit, but I can remember times in my life when I felt uncomfortable or even annoyed by “holy people.” And I’m not alone. Reading this passage, I’m reminded of the preposterous things people said about St. Mother Teresa after her death. How could anyone feel anything but love for Mother Teresa?

The Spiritual Exercises may give us some insight. Sometimes our hearts can be so hardened by sin that when we’re presented with good, evil touches our spirit “sharply and with noise and disquiet, as when the drop of water falls on the stone.” But if we are on the road to holiness, good things fall like “water on a sponge.” Is your heart more like a stone or a sponge?

—Sam Mauck is the Director of Catholic Campus & Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Memphis, which is a member of the Charis Ministries Partner Program.

Prayer

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
cry out to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with a song of praise,
joyfully sing out our psalms.
For the LORD is the great God,
the great king over all gods,
Whose hand holds the depths of the earth;
who owns the tops of the mountains.
The sea and dry land belong to God,
who made them, formed them by hand.

Enter, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
we are the people he shepherds,
the sheep in his hands.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah,
as on the day of Massah in the desert.

—Psalm 95:1-8

 

 

 


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September 19, 2017

St. Januarius

Lk 7: 11-17

Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still.

And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favorably on his people!” This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

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.

Finding opportunities to serve

Jesus did not act in today’s Gospel because of any one person’s request. Rather, he encountered the burial procession by chance, then spoke and acted from personal desire. What must the mother have thought of Jesus strange admonition not to weep? Before she can even respond to Jesus for what probably sounded to hears as insensitive, she has the overwhelming experience of seeing her son rising out of his coffin.

Jesus’ example shows us that we do not need to wait to be asked to be of service, and that healing can come at any time if we are open to it. The world is full of injustice, natural disaster, and other pains. Opportunities abound and the initiative is ours to take. As each chance to serve in charity and work against injustice arrives, we pray to live with the conviction that Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, is still doing his work of healing around, within, and through us.

—Mike Tedone, SJ, is a Jesuit Scholastic of the West Province in First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Christ’s love is full of tenderness, of solicitude not only for our souls but also for our bodies, for physical pain which he heals even without being asked to; for the sadness of his friends, for the hunger of the poor which he hurries to satisfy; and with what delicacy he defended his hungry disciples when they ate the ears of corn, with what tenderness he prepared breakfast after the night’s fishing!

—St. Alberto Hurtado, SJ

 


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September 18, 2017

Lk 7: 1-10

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.”

And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.

For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

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.

Healing the enemy

In today’s Gospel we see Jesus beingdeliberatelykind to “the enemy.”  Remember that Roman soldiers were an occupying force which terrorized Jewish lands.  Centurions were viewed with disdain by the Jews.  So why would Jesus bother to help this man?  It is important to keep in mind that the centurion did nothing to earn Jesus’ healing power.  Rather, he simply believed; he had faith in the healing power of Jesus.  

The authors of Matthew’s Gospel are attempting to convey a truth which they deeply believed; namely, that faith in Jesus allows us be healed.  We simply must remain open to the process.  It is less about what we do, and more about the depth of our openness to Christ’s presence in our lives.  

Like the centurion, we might ask ourselves, “What aspects of my household or my relationships need healing?”  Then sit quietly and listen for Jesus’ inevitable response.

—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.

Prayer

Lord Christ, help us to see what it is
that joins us together, not what separates us.
For when we see only what it is that makes us different,
we too often become aware of what is wrong with others.
We see only their faults and weaknesses,
interpreting their actions as flowing from
malice or hatred rather than fear.
Even when confronted with evil, Lord,
you forgave and sacrificed yourself
rather than sought revenge.
Teach us to do the same by the power of your Spirit.

—William Breault, SJ

 


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September 17, 2017

Mt 18: 21-35

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.

So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.

When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

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.

Seventy-Seven Times!

Is there no end to the forgiveness which the Lord expects of us?  “Seventy-seven times!”  A lifetime of forgiveness is what we are called to share with others, but truthfully, this is quite a small price to pay.

We recall that Jesus has offered us an eternal outflowing of grace – witnessed most perfectly in the moment of His crucifixion.  Facing his tormentors, He looked down on them with love and said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24)

Though we may never find ourselves in a situation as desolate as one’s own crucifixion, we are aware of people in our lives who have caused us injury – whether it be physical, mental or spiritual – and they may be looking to us for forgiveness.  And so we contemplate…”Who in our lives needs our forgiveness now?   How can I reach out to this person and begin the process of healing?”

—Mr. Rob Chesire is the director of Music Ministry and teaches Choir at Creighton Prep.  

Prayer

Loving God, in the mercy you have shown us, may we find the strength to forgive our brothers and sisters and rebuild that which may have been broken.  Open our hearts to your grace, and help us to become a community whose lives are centered on love and forgiveness. Amen.

 


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