Come down

Zacchaeus’s encounter with Jesus resonates deeply in our world where being at the “top” and the accumulation of wealth and prestige are given preference. Curious about Jesus, Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector despised by his fellow Jews, climbs to the top of the tree to see him better.

How often do we also “climb up” to “see” better? Not only do we often seek wealth, honor and prestige, but we also prop ourselves up by them. We justify this by saying that they are helpful tools to do good. Regardless, why do we “climb up,” if Jesus’ invitation is to “come down”?

Like Zacchaeus, Jesus calls us by name. To surrender our self-love and self-interest. To be in solidarity with others in the gritty reality of our world.

Will I give up my wealth, honor and pride to join Jesus in making our world more humane and just? How might Jesus be calling me, with my imperfections and limitations, to participate in his redeeming and liberating mission?

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.

 

 

 

 


Asking for what we lack

This is the second reflection I’ve written on this Gospel for this site. If you receive these reflections through your inbox, perhaps you noticed. Last Monday’s reflection was meant for today. I submitted the wrong one. Checking the app that morning, I thought, “Oh no! How could this happen? We have to fix this before everyone sees it!”

Then, I thought of today’s Scripture. (Again.) The blind man is aware of what he lacks, and he asks Jesus, in front of everyone, for what he’s missing. I, on the other hand, don’t want to be lacking anything, and as a people-pleasing perfectionist, I certainly don’t want people to know when I make a mistake.

So, (again), I imagined Jesus asking, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I ask for the grace I seek, a grace which I spend most of my time pretending I don’t need, “Lord, let me see that it is okay to not have it all together all the time.”

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.

 


Small acts of kindness

“Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.”

Recently, some students and I were talking about loving others. The conversation turned to laundry. Jesuits and undergraduates alike sometimes face the dilemma of what to do with laundry that someone else has left. Get angry, and just throw it on the floor in a pile? Or, put that energy into quietly folding that known-or-unknown person’s laundry? Suddenly, everyone had a story of how someone’s unexpected—and perhaps unwarranted–kindness had helped them feel loved. The truth of today’s Gospel seems to unfold when we choose to love in small matters such as these. It forms a habit of heart that makes us more likely to love without seeking a return. When, in larger matters, we then respond in the same way, our love, talents and Christ-likeness shine through. We realize that no God-given gift is too small when undertaking the great responsibility of sharing the love and joy of Christ with each other.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

 


Answered prayers

The woman in today’s Gospel reminds me of every young child I have ever met, determined to get his or her way through sheer determination and the gradual wearing down of exasperated parents.  Although we are no longer small children asking for a piece of candy, a new toy, or an extra story at bedtime, the desires of our heart are still things that we should bring to God, who loves us even more than any earthly parent can.

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to name the grace that we seek, that which we want and desire, at the beginning of each prayer period. In asking for what we desire, though, we must be attentive to God’s answer.  Perhaps the grace we are granted may look different than what we expect.  A prayer for increased patience might be answered through those people in our lives who irritate us, requiring a greater dose of patience than we knew we contained.

What is the grace that you need from God today?  How can you be attentive to the ways that grace may be given to you?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


Finding God

On a recent morning I walked through a crowded college campus during a class break while hurrying to a meeting. A horde of students hung around the central campus plaza, glued to their cellphones. Some seemed to be listening to music; others were frantically texting with friends, perhaps afraid of what they might have missed during class. One student was laughing out loud while reading some tweet; I imagined another was keeping in the loop with a good friend.

St. Ignatius challenges us to “find God in all things” – to tease out God’s presence embedded within all the activities we cram into our daily living. Throughout the coming weekend, as I look forward to Thanksgiving Day, where and how do I meet and find God through those I tweet with, folks I work and study with, those I live with? This season of thanksgiving reminds me to be truly grateful for my time and talents, for the opportunities and blessings I receive, for God’s loving, life-giving presence within my heart … in all I accomplish each day. For all of this energy and activity — thank you, my God!

—The Jesuit prayer team from the Jesuit Community at St. Camillus in Wauwatosa, WI.

 

 

 


Co-laborers in the kingdom

Earlier in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tries to explain what the kingdom of God is like. Using images of the mustard seed and yeast, Luke leaves his readers with the sense that despite small beginnings, the kingdom will indeed grow.

For his hearers, who expect a Messiah to come in a visible display of power, Jesus tries to rid them of the notion that the kingdom will suddenly appear by fiat, and that we can concern ourselves merely with the timing of it all. Rather, Jesus points to the cross as the path through which God’s reign would come.

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius describes God as one who “labors” with us. Like the one who plants the seeds or mixes the yeast with flour, we are called to be co-laborers with God in the here and now.

What are the signs of the kingdom’s presence in your life and community? How can your labor today be leaven for the kingdom?

—Marty Kelly is an Associate Chaplain at College of the Holy Cross and a Regional Coordinator for Contemplative Leaders in Action in Boston.

 

 

 

 


Gratitude

Today’s Gospel offers us the familiar story of ten lepers healed by Jesus, one of whom returns to thank him. In Jesus’ day and culture, leprosy had more than a disfiguring physical effect. The disease excluded the sufferers from the worshipping community, ostracizing them as spiritually unclean. Imagine the shame and loneliness associated with what we today call Hansen’s disease. Jesus healed more than these lepers’ skin; He restored their hearts and souls.

Only one leper is grateful enough to thank God. We might ponder with Jesus: “where are the other nine?” Did they feel entitled to the healing? Did they not appreciate the far-reaching benefits this healing would have for them?

Today’s Gospel can lead us to ponder several questions:

  • How has Jesus already healed my body (perhaps through certain medications or a surgeon’s scalpel), my heart (maybe through a compassionate counselor or trusted friend), my soul (through the sacrament of Reconciliation)? Where is more healing needed?
  • Is a “gratitude attitude” basic to my spiritual life? As each day draws to a close, do I review it through the lens of thankfulness for God’s presence, action and goodness?

—Fr. Rob Kroll SJ is the Superior of the Prep Jesuit Community and teaches Theology and French at Creighton Prep.  


Personal relationship with God

At the heart of Ignatian spirituality is a personal relationship with God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus addresses his disciples, telling them what this relationship entails. Often we expect something in return for our good deeds, for our faith commitment. Yet, Jesus critiques this sort of thinking, characteristic of the Pharisees in his time who considered their fulfillment of the law as a guarantee of their eternal reward. Jesus reminds us that our discipleship is not a matter of seeking rewards or returns for our good deeds; rather, it is one of deep love and humble, selfless service.

Do I expect certain “returns” in my relationship with God? Or is God’s love and grace enough for me?

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ask for the grace we seek

Today’s Gospel holds a special place in my heart. As a high school campus minister, I heard this passage read as part of evening prayer on 18 Kairos retreats. We used this Gospel story for two primary reasons: first, to introduce students to Ignatian contemplation, using their imagination to enter into the story, and secondly, to underscore St. Ignatius’s encouragement to retreatants to ask God for the grace we seek.

In prayer, it can feel so daring to ask for what we need. And yet, this is an essential dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises and of the spiritual life more broadly. We are invited to befriend our deepest desires, to turn to God and name that which we seek.

Here, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus asks the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I imagine Jesus is asking me, “What do you want me to do for you?”

How do I respond?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.

 

 

 


On the lookout for God

“I will remember you upon my couch, and through the night-watches I will meditate on you.”

In the age of television “binge-watching,” I couldn’t help but imagine that this line from today’s psalm, as translated here, might suggest that even a “couch potato” could be thirsting for God. I’ve developed a habit of trying to hear God’s voice, wherever it can be found, including in movies, TV, literature and popular music. I am attracted by the common, ordinary human sentiment these stories contain. The desire for God leaping from the screen! Seeing that, I cannot remain a passive consumer. Instead, I become an active evangelist for the God I meet there, the “couch” only a place of watchful waiting for a message that must be shared with the real people God gives to me, who, in turn, share their God-story with me. Together we can cultivate a habit of awareness, always on the lookout for God, from couch to church to commonplace–a community constantly anticipating God’s arrival, God’s presence.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

 

 

 

 


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Come down

Zacchaeus’s encounter with Jesus resonates deeply in our world where being at the “top” and the accumulation of wealth and prestige are given preference. Curious about Jesus, Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector despised by his fellow Jews, climbs to the top of the tree to see him better.

How often do we also “climb up” to “see” better? Not only do we often seek wealth, honor and prestige, but we also prop ourselves up by them. We justify this by saying that they are helpful tools to do good. Regardless, why do we “climb up,” if Jesus’ invitation is to “come down”?

Like Zacchaeus, Jesus calls us by name. To surrender our self-love and self-interest. To be in solidarity with others in the gritty reality of our world.

Will I give up my wealth, honor and pride to join Jesus in making our world more humane and just? How might Jesus be calling me, with my imperfections and limitations, to participate in his redeeming and liberating mission?

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.

 

 

 

 


Asking for what we lack

This is the second reflection I’ve written on this Gospel for this site. If you receive these reflections through your inbox, perhaps you noticed. Last Monday’s reflection was meant for today. I submitted the wrong one. Checking the app that morning, I thought, “Oh no! How could this happen? We have to fix this before everyone sees it!”

Then, I thought of today’s Scripture. (Again.) The blind man is aware of what he lacks, and he asks Jesus, in front of everyone, for what he’s missing. I, on the other hand, don’t want to be lacking anything, and as a people-pleasing perfectionist, I certainly don’t want people to know when I make a mistake.

So, (again), I imagined Jesus asking, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I ask for the grace I seek, a grace which I spend most of my time pretending I don’t need, “Lord, let me see that it is okay to not have it all together all the time.”

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.

 


Small acts of kindness

“Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.”

Recently, some students and I were talking about loving others. The conversation turned to laundry. Jesuits and undergraduates alike sometimes face the dilemma of what to do with laundry that someone else has left. Get angry, and just throw it on the floor in a pile? Or, put that energy into quietly folding that known-or-unknown person’s laundry? Suddenly, everyone had a story of how someone’s unexpected—and perhaps unwarranted–kindness had helped them feel loved. The truth of today’s Gospel seems to unfold when we choose to love in small matters such as these. It forms a habit of heart that makes us more likely to love without seeking a return. When, in larger matters, we then respond in the same way, our love, talents and Christ-likeness shine through. We realize that no God-given gift is too small when undertaking the great responsibility of sharing the love and joy of Christ with each other.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

 


Answered prayers

The woman in today’s Gospel reminds me of every young child I have ever met, determined to get his or her way through sheer determination and the gradual wearing down of exasperated parents.  Although we are no longer small children asking for a piece of candy, a new toy, or an extra story at bedtime, the desires of our heart are still things that we should bring to God, who loves us even more than any earthly parent can.

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to name the grace that we seek, that which we want and desire, at the beginning of each prayer period. In asking for what we desire, though, we must be attentive to God’s answer.  Perhaps the grace we are granted may look different than what we expect.  A prayer for increased patience might be answered through those people in our lives who irritate us, requiring a greater dose of patience than we knew we contained.

What is the grace that you need from God today?  How can you be attentive to the ways that grace may be given to you?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


Finding God

On a recent morning I walked through a crowded college campus during a class break while hurrying to a meeting. A horde of students hung around the central campus plaza, glued to their cellphones. Some seemed to be listening to music; others were frantically texting with friends, perhaps afraid of what they might have missed during class. One student was laughing out loud while reading some tweet; I imagined another was keeping in the loop with a good friend.

St. Ignatius challenges us to “find God in all things” – to tease out God’s presence embedded within all the activities we cram into our daily living. Throughout the coming weekend, as I look forward to Thanksgiving Day, where and how do I meet and find God through those I tweet with, folks I work and study with, those I live with? This season of thanksgiving reminds me to be truly grateful for my time and talents, for the opportunities and blessings I receive, for God’s loving, life-giving presence within my heart … in all I accomplish each day. For all of this energy and activity — thank you, my God!

—The Jesuit prayer team from the Jesuit Community at St. Camillus in Wauwatosa, WI.

 

 

 


Co-laborers in the kingdom

Earlier in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tries to explain what the kingdom of God is like. Using images of the mustard seed and yeast, Luke leaves his readers with the sense that despite small beginnings, the kingdom will indeed grow.

For his hearers, who expect a Messiah to come in a visible display of power, Jesus tries to rid them of the notion that the kingdom will suddenly appear by fiat, and that we can concern ourselves merely with the timing of it all. Rather, Jesus points to the cross as the path through which God’s reign would come.

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius describes God as one who “labors” with us. Like the one who plants the seeds or mixes the yeast with flour, we are called to be co-laborers with God in the here and now.

What are the signs of the kingdom’s presence in your life and community? How can your labor today be leaven for the kingdom?

—Marty Kelly is an Associate Chaplain at College of the Holy Cross and a Regional Coordinator for Contemplative Leaders in Action in Boston.

 

 

 

 


Gratitude

Today’s Gospel offers us the familiar story of ten lepers healed by Jesus, one of whom returns to thank him. In Jesus’ day and culture, leprosy had more than a disfiguring physical effect. The disease excluded the sufferers from the worshipping community, ostracizing them as spiritually unclean. Imagine the shame and loneliness associated with what we today call Hansen’s disease. Jesus healed more than these lepers’ skin; He restored their hearts and souls.

Only one leper is grateful enough to thank God. We might ponder with Jesus: “where are the other nine?” Did they feel entitled to the healing? Did they not appreciate the far-reaching benefits this healing would have for them?

Today’s Gospel can lead us to ponder several questions:

  • How has Jesus already healed my body (perhaps through certain medications or a surgeon’s scalpel), my heart (maybe through a compassionate counselor or trusted friend), my soul (through the sacrament of Reconciliation)? Where is more healing needed?
  • Is a “gratitude attitude” basic to my spiritual life? As each day draws to a close, do I review it through the lens of thankfulness for God’s presence, action and goodness?

—Fr. Rob Kroll SJ is the Superior of the Prep Jesuit Community and teaches Theology and French at Creighton Prep.  


Personal relationship with God

At the heart of Ignatian spirituality is a personal relationship with God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus addresses his disciples, telling them what this relationship entails. Often we expect something in return for our good deeds, for our faith commitment. Yet, Jesus critiques this sort of thinking, characteristic of the Pharisees in his time who considered their fulfillment of the law as a guarantee of their eternal reward. Jesus reminds us that our discipleship is not a matter of seeking rewards or returns for our good deeds; rather, it is one of deep love and humble, selfless service.

Do I expect certain “returns” in my relationship with God? Or is God’s love and grace enough for me?

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ask for the grace we seek

Today’s Gospel holds a special place in my heart. As a high school campus minister, I heard this passage read as part of evening prayer on 18 Kairos retreats. We used this Gospel story for two primary reasons: first, to introduce students to Ignatian contemplation, using their imagination to enter into the story, and secondly, to underscore St. Ignatius’s encouragement to retreatants to ask God for the grace we seek.

In prayer, it can feel so daring to ask for what we need. And yet, this is an essential dynamic of the Spiritual Exercises and of the spiritual life more broadly. We are invited to befriend our deepest desires, to turn to God and name that which we seek.

Here, in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus asks the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I imagine Jesus is asking me, “What do you want me to do for you?”

How do I respond?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.

 

 

 


On the lookout for God

“I will remember you upon my couch, and through the night-watches I will meditate on you.”

In the age of television “binge-watching,” I couldn’t help but imagine that this line from today’s psalm, as translated here, might suggest that even a “couch potato” could be thirsting for God. I’ve developed a habit of trying to hear God’s voice, wherever it can be found, including in movies, TV, literature and popular music. I am attracted by the common, ordinary human sentiment these stories contain. The desire for God leaping from the screen! Seeing that, I cannot remain a passive consumer. Instead, I become an active evangelist for the God I meet there, the “couch” only a place of watchful waiting for a message that must be shared with the real people God gives to me, who, in turn, share their God-story with me. Together we can cultivate a habit of awareness, always on the lookout for God, from couch to church to commonplace–a community constantly anticipating God’s arrival, God’s presence.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.