Continuing the good work

When Jesus realizes that the Pharisees want to put him to death, he doesn’t stay and continue to argue with them. Instead, he withdraws, but continues his ministry and heals all those who come to him.  Matthew connects this to what is known as the First Servant Song in Isaiah, where Jesus is the servant of God who brings hope to the Jews (to whom Isaiah was speaking) and the Gentiles (who are specifically mentioned).  How telling this is! Even in the midst of hatred and threats against him, Jesus continued to do the will of God and minister to those in need.

Are there people in your life who seem to always be against you?  How can you continue following Christ in spite of what others may say?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


What are you hungry for?

Hunger. It isn’t the same for everyone. In this Gospel account, the Pharisees hunger for the law. Their bellies are full but their rules must be satisfied. Rules inform the difference between righteous and sinner, between “us” and “them.” They seek stability, which is not a bad thing. However, they have not recognized the stability they seek has led them to static rigidity.

The disciples seek sustenance. Do we find it interesting that those closest to Jesus feel hunger? Following Jesus, doing what Jesus does, loving who Jesus loves is hard work and can leave one famished. Why didn’t Jesus just multiply some loaves and fish and feed them? Instead, Jesus walks with his friends through a field of grain where they are able to feed themselves. Sustainability may be questioned from time to time, but mature disciples know where and how to find food.

Like the Pharisees and the disciples, I might focus on my own hunger and ask what it is that I seek: stability or sustainability. Yet, the key of this story is the revelation of Jesus’ hunger. Jesus hungers for Sabbath. Sabbath is space and time to realize what is needed in my lifeworld is the holy embedded within. The fruit of that place is mercy. Jesus’ hunger demands radical courage and always pushes me to the streets.

—Carol Ackels is director of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute in Dallas. She serves as retreat director of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius offered in various formats, and is co-author of Finding Christ in the World, a twelve week Ignatian retreat.

 


All is done through God’s grace

“O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.” I know Isaiah is talking about God’s relationship with the Jewish community overall, but I take these verses personally. As a busy, 21st century, Type A, can-do attitude type, I tend to roll through life with the subconscious mindset that I’m in control. But, really, what do I have that was not given to me? I didn’t raise or educate myself, or choose to be born in a prosperous country, select my own DNA, you name it. All is gift. And Isaiah is right: it’s through God, and God’s grace, that all that we have done is accomplished. Why not spend a minute or two gratefully calling to mind God’s graces in your own life, and some of those folks who have mediated that grace.

—Chris Lowney is author of various books. His most recent is Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World) published by Loyola Press.

 

 

 

 


Through the Eyes of a Child

In today’s reading, Jesus advises the Scribes and Pharisees that being wise and intelligent may not be the best way of seeing the world. Looking at Jesus through eyes of judgment, they were quick to blame and criticize him. They did not know the Son or the Father. Where was their child-like innocence hiding?

Little children see a different world than we adults do. They have total trust in their parents. They believe the impossible and say innocent prayers. Jesus is very real to them. They stoop to admire small wonders on the sidewalk. They delight in simplicity. Joy is the air they breathe.

Today can you find God in all things by paying attention to small wonders God places before you? Practice taking delight in the awe-someness of God’s creation. Be joyful. Remove your adult Pharisee eyes, and you shall see what the Son chooses to reveal to you.

—Diane Amento Owens is a spiritual director who encourages her directees to see the world through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.

 

 

 


Shaking up our lives

When I was in the novitiate, I invented a fictional novice, let’s call him “Little Luke,” who I used to convince people to join me in activities. “If Little Luke was here,” I would say, “he would come to the movies with me!” It worked surprisingly well.

But in today’s Gospel, Jesus bemoans the way we often respond to calls for repentance. Despite abundant evidence, we choose the comfort of stasis over the uncomfortability of change. Jesus’ anger grows out of the fact that the life into which he invites us is abundant in grace, if only we would choose it. Despite presenting for us the option that Little Luke would choose, we refuse to say yes.

What part of your life might you invite Jesus to shake up today?

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

 


The difficulties of discipleship

Oh, no.

I’m sitting in the airport awaiting the final boarding of a flight that begins our summer vacation – back-to-back weeks with my extended family (week 1) and my wife’s extended family (week 2). I decide to take a peek ahead at the readings for today, and there it is:

“For I have come to set a man against his father, 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.”

Oh, Jesus, please not now … we’re on vacation!

The conditions of discipleship, Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel, are potentially harsh. But the rewards are equally great: “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.”

Almost without fail, it’s not my great love of Jesus that finds me pitted against one (or more) of my relatives. Rather, it is my excessive love of self. This week and next, a glass of water for the disciples and prophets in my midst – whether they look thirsty or not!

—Corey Quinn is the president of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis.

 

 


Creative Apostles

Do you feel like an apostle? What is an apostle anyway? ‘One who is sent’. Those twelve encountered Jesus and it changed their lives: God’s forgiving, healing and transforming love became real to them in Jesus. And they had to go off – tell the world!

If you are reading this, in some way, maybe very deeply, you too have ‘encountered Jesus’. You’ve made the breakthrough, you’re no longer indifferent, floating along; now Jesus is more and more ‘pulling’ you along in mysterious ways.

How to share this will people around you? Each generation has to find ways to do it. But make no mistake about it – if you’ve encountered Jesus, this didn’t happen just for you. Like anything really good, it’s meant to be shared. Talk to others who have encountered Jesus, we’re in this together in the church. Be creative apostles!

—Fr. Mark Henninger, SJ, is a spiritual care chaplain at Loyola University Medical Centerin Maywood, IL.

 

 


Sent in spite of our imperfections

It is likely that we can all relate to Isaiah’s feelings of unworthiness.  Perhaps we receive praise at work for something we consider simply doing our jobs.  Maybe we have a friendship in which we seem to get more than we give. It could be an act of service that makes us feel that we gained more than those whom we served.  Or perhaps, like Isaiah, we feel that our broken, fragile, imperfect selves are not worthy of God’s infinite love for us.

Just as Isaiah is forgiven of his sins, we too are offered this mercy in our own lives.  Immediately after being forgiven, God calls Isaiah and Isaiah feels ready to accept his mission.  God wants to send each of us, not necessarily in the same way as the prophet Isaiah, but in a way that allows our lives to be lived out in service of God.  

If we are to be co-laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, how can we overcome our feelings of inadequacy and respond to God “Here am I; send me”?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 


Wise as serpents, innocent as doves

Reflecting on this Gospel passage, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that Jesus called his followers to foster two competing qualities: a tough mind and a tender heart. Jesus sends his friends into the world – the real world in real time with real people. The world of complex issues with conflicting demands, where relationships might be strained, broken and in need of healing.

Mature disciples engage in hard, serious thinking rather than settle for convenient answers. And the mature have hearts shaped with tenderness open to the beauty of loving others. Tough mindedness without tenderheartedness is cold and hard. Tenderheartedness without tough mindedness is sentimental and aimless. Jesus demands both. We must courageously combine the tough and tender to allow God to surround us with justice and grace.

—Carol Ackels is director of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute and co-author of Finding Christ in the World, a twelve week Ignatian retreat.

 


Our loving parent

“Yet I was I who taught Ephraim to walk…” Too bad they didn’t have bicycles in Hosea’s day. Because parents hardly “teach” kids to walk; that miracle kind of happens on its own. But riding a bike? Dad or Mom running alongside, offering encouragement, teaching us to keep pedaling, patching up skinned knees, and reveling in our successes? Hosea’s inspired imagery portrays God as doing what great moms and dads do: teaching, fostering, stooping down to heal, drawing a child close “with bands of love.”

Take a moment today to recall the qualities manifested by your own mom or dad during episodes of great parenting: Hosea is telling you that our God likely manifests those very same qualities. I’m thinking of the way my Abba taught me how to ride a bike; what are you thinking of?

—Chris Lowney is author of various books. His most recent is Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World) published by Loyola Press.

 


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Continuing the good work

When Jesus realizes that the Pharisees want to put him to death, he doesn’t stay and continue to argue with them. Instead, he withdraws, but continues his ministry and heals all those who come to him.  Matthew connects this to what is known as the First Servant Song in Isaiah, where Jesus is the servant of God who brings hope to the Jews (to whom Isaiah was speaking) and the Gentiles (who are specifically mentioned).  How telling this is! Even in the midst of hatred and threats against him, Jesus continued to do the will of God and minister to those in need.

Are there people in your life who seem to always be against you?  How can you continue following Christ in spite of what others may say?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


What are you hungry for?

Hunger. It isn’t the same for everyone. In this Gospel account, the Pharisees hunger for the law. Their bellies are full but their rules must be satisfied. Rules inform the difference between righteous and sinner, between “us” and “them.” They seek stability, which is not a bad thing. However, they have not recognized the stability they seek has led them to static rigidity.

The disciples seek sustenance. Do we find it interesting that those closest to Jesus feel hunger? Following Jesus, doing what Jesus does, loving who Jesus loves is hard work and can leave one famished. Why didn’t Jesus just multiply some loaves and fish and feed them? Instead, Jesus walks with his friends through a field of grain where they are able to feed themselves. Sustainability may be questioned from time to time, but mature disciples know where and how to find food.

Like the Pharisees and the disciples, I might focus on my own hunger and ask what it is that I seek: stability or sustainability. Yet, the key of this story is the revelation of Jesus’ hunger. Jesus hungers for Sabbath. Sabbath is space and time to realize what is needed in my lifeworld is the holy embedded within. The fruit of that place is mercy. Jesus’ hunger demands radical courage and always pushes me to the streets.

—Carol Ackels is director of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute in Dallas. She serves as retreat director of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius offered in various formats, and is co-author of Finding Christ in the World, a twelve week Ignatian retreat.

 


All is done through God’s grace

“O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.” I know Isaiah is talking about God’s relationship with the Jewish community overall, but I take these verses personally. As a busy, 21st century, Type A, can-do attitude type, I tend to roll through life with the subconscious mindset that I’m in control. But, really, what do I have that was not given to me? I didn’t raise or educate myself, or choose to be born in a prosperous country, select my own DNA, you name it. All is gift. And Isaiah is right: it’s through God, and God’s grace, that all that we have done is accomplished. Why not spend a minute or two gratefully calling to mind God’s graces in your own life, and some of those folks who have mediated that grace.

—Chris Lowney is author of various books. His most recent is Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World) published by Loyola Press.

 

 

 

 


Through the Eyes of a Child

In today’s reading, Jesus advises the Scribes and Pharisees that being wise and intelligent may not be the best way of seeing the world. Looking at Jesus through eyes of judgment, they were quick to blame and criticize him. They did not know the Son or the Father. Where was their child-like innocence hiding?

Little children see a different world than we adults do. They have total trust in their parents. They believe the impossible and say innocent prayers. Jesus is very real to them. They stoop to admire small wonders on the sidewalk. They delight in simplicity. Joy is the air they breathe.

Today can you find God in all things by paying attention to small wonders God places before you? Practice taking delight in the awe-someness of God’s creation. Be joyful. Remove your adult Pharisee eyes, and you shall see what the Son chooses to reveal to you.

—Diane Amento Owens is a spiritual director who encourages her directees to see the world through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.

 

 

 


Shaking up our lives

When I was in the novitiate, I invented a fictional novice, let’s call him “Little Luke,” who I used to convince people to join me in activities. “If Little Luke was here,” I would say, “he would come to the movies with me!” It worked surprisingly well.

But in today’s Gospel, Jesus bemoans the way we often respond to calls for repentance. Despite abundant evidence, we choose the comfort of stasis over the uncomfortability of change. Jesus’ anger grows out of the fact that the life into which he invites us is abundant in grace, if only we would choose it. Despite presenting for us the option that Little Luke would choose, we refuse to say yes.

What part of your life might you invite Jesus to shake up today?

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

 


The difficulties of discipleship

Oh, no.

I’m sitting in the airport awaiting the final boarding of a flight that begins our summer vacation – back-to-back weeks with my extended family (week 1) and my wife’s extended family (week 2). I decide to take a peek ahead at the readings for today, and there it is:

“For I have come to set a man against his father, 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.”

Oh, Jesus, please not now … we’re on vacation!

The conditions of discipleship, Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel, are potentially harsh. But the rewards are equally great: “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.”

Almost without fail, it’s not my great love of Jesus that finds me pitted against one (or more) of my relatives. Rather, it is my excessive love of self. This week and next, a glass of water for the disciples and prophets in my midst – whether they look thirsty or not!

—Corey Quinn is the president of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis.

 

 


Creative Apostles

Do you feel like an apostle? What is an apostle anyway? ‘One who is sent’. Those twelve encountered Jesus and it changed their lives: God’s forgiving, healing and transforming love became real to them in Jesus. And they had to go off – tell the world!

If you are reading this, in some way, maybe very deeply, you too have ‘encountered Jesus’. You’ve made the breakthrough, you’re no longer indifferent, floating along; now Jesus is more and more ‘pulling’ you along in mysterious ways.

How to share this will people around you? Each generation has to find ways to do it. But make no mistake about it – if you’ve encountered Jesus, this didn’t happen just for you. Like anything really good, it’s meant to be shared. Talk to others who have encountered Jesus, we’re in this together in the church. Be creative apostles!

—Fr. Mark Henninger, SJ, is a spiritual care chaplain at Loyola University Medical Centerin Maywood, IL.

 

 


Sent in spite of our imperfections

It is likely that we can all relate to Isaiah’s feelings of unworthiness.  Perhaps we receive praise at work for something we consider simply doing our jobs.  Maybe we have a friendship in which we seem to get more than we give. It could be an act of service that makes us feel that we gained more than those whom we served.  Or perhaps, like Isaiah, we feel that our broken, fragile, imperfect selves are not worthy of God’s infinite love for us.

Just as Isaiah is forgiven of his sins, we too are offered this mercy in our own lives.  Immediately after being forgiven, God calls Isaiah and Isaiah feels ready to accept his mission.  God wants to send each of us, not necessarily in the same way as the prophet Isaiah, but in a way that allows our lives to be lived out in service of God.  

If we are to be co-laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, how can we overcome our feelings of inadequacy and respond to God “Here am I; send me”?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 


Wise as serpents, innocent as doves

Reflecting on this Gospel passage, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that Jesus called his followers to foster two competing qualities: a tough mind and a tender heart. Jesus sends his friends into the world – the real world in real time with real people. The world of complex issues with conflicting demands, where relationships might be strained, broken and in need of healing.

Mature disciples engage in hard, serious thinking rather than settle for convenient answers. And the mature have hearts shaped with tenderness open to the beauty of loving others. Tough mindedness without tenderheartedness is cold and hard. Tenderheartedness without tough mindedness is sentimental and aimless. Jesus demands both. We must courageously combine the tough and tender to allow God to surround us with justice and grace.

—Carol Ackels is director of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute and co-author of Finding Christ in the World, a twelve week Ignatian retreat.

 


Our loving parent

“Yet I was I who taught Ephraim to walk…” Too bad they didn’t have bicycles in Hosea’s day. Because parents hardly “teach” kids to walk; that miracle kind of happens on its own. But riding a bike? Dad or Mom running alongside, offering encouragement, teaching us to keep pedaling, patching up skinned knees, and reveling in our successes? Hosea’s inspired imagery portrays God as doing what great moms and dads do: teaching, fostering, stooping down to heal, drawing a child close “with bands of love.”

Take a moment today to recall the qualities manifested by your own mom or dad during episodes of great parenting: Hosea is telling you that our God likely manifests those very same qualities. I’m thinking of the way my Abba taught me how to ride a bike; what are you thinking of?

—Chris Lowney is author of various books. His most recent is Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World) published by Loyola Press.