Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Is 25:6-10a

Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

Mt 15:29-37

The readings for the day can be found here.

I am an economist. This means that I spend my days (and often my nights) thinking about the problem of scarcity in a world filled with seemingly unlimited needs and desires. I spend my days (and often my nights) thinking about what we might do to limit the constraint of scarcity so that people’s needs and desires might be met. When might free markets best deal with the problem of scarcity, and when might they fail?When might government help alleviate the pain of scarcity, and when might it fail? These are the questions I grapple with day in and day out as an economist, in the constant battle against scarcity.

I am a Christian. This means that I know the ultimate solution to the problem of scarcity. There is no scarcity in Christ Jesus. Born into poverty, in a stable among beasts, a washer of feet, a sailor in a borrowed boat, a rider of a borrowed ass, buried in a borrowed tomb. The apparent scarcity of it all is but an illusion. As the prophet Isaiah proclaimed,

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.

As the Psalmist wrote, if the Lord is my shepherd,

…I shall not want…
…my cup will overflow…
…I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come…

And as Jesus’ disciple Matthew recounted,

…he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.

As I keep watch and wait for the Lord this Advent season, I pray for the wisdom to recognize that the apparent scarcity in my life is but an illusion. I pray for the wisdom to remember that there is no scarcity in Christ Jesus. In Christ Jesus, all are provided for; cups overflow; all are fed to satisfaction. With Christ Jesus in our hearts, we win the battle against scarcity, for ourselves and for all of those with whom we find plenty to share.

 

Dr. Bonnie Wilson is Associate Professor of Economics in the John Cook School of Business.

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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Is 11:1-10

Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

Lk 10:21-24

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

There are several themes that emerged from the selected chapter and verses including unity, togetherness and embracing differences. These were evident in lines such as “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat “and “The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.” While each of these themes resonate with me, the central ideas of justice and “deciding aright for the land’s afflicted” touched me more.  Oftentimes, we talk about diversity and inclusion as the end means and rarely attempt to understand or address the inequities and injustices that exist around us. We embrace diversity and unity, to the point of neutrality, while there are populations who remain marginalized, unevenly compensated, have limited access to resources, and are not afforded the same civil rights as the masses.

I believe that, particularly for younger generations, it has become less challenging to mix, mingle and include others and more of a struggle to understand how and why certain structures have been in place to disenfranchise and disadvantage those others. This is the understanding we need as we move and/or continue to move toward a socially just university community and society.  It is with this understanding and mental awakening that we can begin to know what it means to truly be in solidarity with others.

I trust that we are all responsible for finding our passion and cause…whatever it may be. Because we are taking up air in the Creator’s space and are blessed to do so, I believe that it is our obligation to use our given talents to make someone else breathe easier.  Everyone has their own way of contributing… through education, public service, career discernment, speaking out when necessary, making an unpopular decision, questioning, etc.  Whatever the method, we must rid ourselves of complacency with the status quo and recognize injustices and unrighteousness around and within us —then make a conscious choice to act.  As coined by renowned author and poet, Dr. Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better”. And I would add, “…or attempt.”  As we “lie down with”, “be a guest of”, and “play by”, let us remember that “justice shall be a band around our waist and faithfulness a belt upon our hips.”

 

LaTanya Buck has been the Director of the Cross Cultural Center since 2009.

 

 

 

 

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Monday, 3 December 2012

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest

Is 2:1-5

Ps 122:1-2, 3-4b, 4cd-5, 6-7, 8-9

Mt 8:5-11

The readings for the day can be found here.


Today is the feast day of College Church’s patron saint, St. Francis Xavier. Francis is arguably the best-known Jesuit saint, even more so than his great friend and founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius Loyola. He is best known for his extraordinary missionary activity among the peoples of Asia.

The story begins when Francis Xavier and Ignatius were both were students at the University of Paris. Though resistant at first, eventually Francis joined the small group of friends, led by Ignatius, who become the first Jesuits. A few years later he was sent at the last minute to be superior to the new Jesuit mission in India.

It was while ministering in India that Francis Xavier first heard of the distant land of Japan. He resolved to go and spent more than two years there preaching the Gospel. During his time in Japan he became enchanted by the notion of proclaiming the Christian faith in the great and powerful kingdom of China. Alas, he was never allowed entrance to the kingdom. He died relatively young at 48 years old on an island off the Chinese coast.

As a young Jesuit the exciting and, frankly, romanticized exploits of St. Francis Xavier struck a deep chord with me. Now, however, I am fascinated not by the accomplishments of Francis, but instead by the very incompleteness of his labors. An argument could be made that “success” eluded St. Francis Xavier his entire time in Asia. He did not convert emperors or bring entire nations to Christ as he had dreamed. His great desire to proclaim the Gospel in China remained unfulfilled. Future generations would nurture and harvest what Francis had planted, but that only came much later.

That sense is consistent with our own experience, especially as we get older. There is much that will remain unsaid and undone no matter how long we live. Many of our most cherished dreams will never be attained. Our lives are more like that of Francis than we care to admit. The labors we devote ourselves to may appear quite meager in the long run.

However, what our patron saint might tell us is that discipleship is not about success or accomplishment. Like Francis Xavier, we are called to be faithful rather than productive. His vineyard was Asia, ours is a bit smaller. No matter. All that is important is our willingness to respond to Christ as he did: totally and completely; in our own time and in our own place.

Fr. Dan White, S.J. is Pastor at Saint Francis Xavier College Church.

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Sunday, 2 December 2012

First Sunday of Advent

Jer. 33:14-16

Ps 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

1 Thes 3:12-4:2

Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

The first Sunday of Advent this year, 2 Dec., is an already busy time for us involved in a University academic year: exams loom in the near future, final papers, and quizzes come rapidly, we’re preparing to wrap it up so many can go home for Christmas with our families and friends for a much-needed, much-anticipated, break.

In all of this, though, Christians—all men and women of faith–can still make some space and take some time in Advent to prepare for the birth of Jesus  and, also to prepare for the return of Jesus at the end of time.

In the readings for the first Sunday of Advent 2012, Jeremiah tells us The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah…

And Luke, in the Gospel, encourages us with the same sense of urgency: Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man…

Last year, at approximately this time, we recommended Longing for the Lord: an Advent Examen, by Fr. Joe Tetlow, SJ, a prayer and process recalling St. Ignatius and his examen, linking the Ignatian Examen with another treasure of Church tradition, the O Antiphons from the Liturgy of the Hours for the week before Christmas. The O Antiphons give us a way of looking at Jesus and finding the events in his life that speak to us… The web site for your own thought, prayer and reflection can be found at: www.jesuitsmissouri.org/examen

Among all the other things we’re called, or expected, or need to do as we wrap up a calendar year, and bring to a close the first semester of this academic year, and get ready for the holidays—the holy days–this examen gives us the opportunity to take some time, to make some time, to prepare for a new beginning…to understand that the long-promised days are surely coming… The examen gives us the chance step back a bit, take stock of ourselves, and really prepare for what is to come…

Advent 2012 begins for Christians on Sunday 2 December, and ends Monday, 24 December, and gives us the opportunity to alter our schedules and to prepare our lives, before the routine sets in again.

Have a blessed Advent.  Let’s always remember to pray for each other…  May God bless each of you, and all of us.

=====================================================================

First Sunday of Advent 2 Dec ‘12

REFLECTION:  PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT

All of our preparations for Christmas and the holidays notwithstanding, this and every Advent is a time re-alerting us to promises made and promises kept–promises made to the house of Israel and Judah, promises kept in the birth and life of Jesus.  In those times, we shall all be safe, we shall all be secure, we’re promised.

As we make our own preparations in these days leading up to Christmas, we can learn—appropriate for members of a university community—the ways of the Lord: how we can walk the paths of the Lord, how we can keep the covenant God first made with our forebears, millennia ago.

St. Paul prays we may grow in love for one another, that our hearts will be strengthened, all prayers appropriate for this or any other season, all prayers appropriate for whatever community we call our own, words to live by, for now, for ever.

Finally, today’s Gospel calls us to read the signs of the times, now and in the future, on campus and globally …an encouragement St. Ignatius made hundreds of years ago, as well …as we receive in fact what we’ve asked for in faith.  Advent calls us to read the signs of the times announcing the coming of Jesus, when the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Our scriptures, now and throughout Advent, tells us that Jesus coming to us will be a fearful time for those who do evil, a time of great happiness for those who remain faithful, to Jesus, to the promises God made in the Covenant…

For those who keep the faith, nothing will surprise us…and the Gospel tells us we all need to be alert, to be on the watch.  Jesus tells us to pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man….so we won’t be surprised.  The day and the hour are not known, an even more compelling reason to keep the faith, to try to do God’s will, to be ready.

As we enter this glorious season of Advent, preparing for the Lord to come to us, once and again, we can all ask ourselves how we will keep the faith, how we will remain alert and awake, how we will be watchful of the signs of the times…do not become drowsy. This season is a great opportunity for us to begin to answer those questions.

Enter Advent profitably, developing a healthy relationship those you love, with God, in your hearts, in your minds, in your body, in your spirit.  We can all realize and keep the promises…

God bless you…

 

Lawrence Biondi, SJ has been the President of Saint Louis University since 1987.

 

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Welcome!

Thank you for visiting Saint Louis University’s 2012 Advent website, hosted by the Division of Mission and Ministry and the Department of Campus Ministry.  We hope that this series of daily reflections by students, faculty, and staff from across the SLU community can assist you in deepening your experience of the Advent season – a season of conversion, renewal, and faith.

We are all scrambling to finish papers, meet deadlines, and complete programs as the semester ends, but we are also preparing for something new to begin – not just getting our decorations up and mailing our cards in time to reach loved ones, not just planning for another semester and a new year, but the newness of God breaking into all that is stale and tired and death-dealing in our world.  Advent reminds us that there is another kind of preparation to be done – opening ourselves to being challenged by the gospel and to hearing the call to renewed fidelity to the will of God for ourselves and for the world.

It is easy to criticize the crass commercialism of secular preparations for Christmas, but we do well to not merely respond with a false dichotomy of “sacred” and “secular,” or worse, “spiritual” and “material.”  We do not offer these reflections to lift us out of our daily lives, but to plunge us more deeply into the sacramental imagination – the kairos in every chronos, “finding God in all things.”  Advent is certainly a time for reviewing our “spiritual” lives, our interior dispositions, our times in prayer, but also for renewing our participation in the life of God in the world by our public choices with our friends and colleagues, our classmates, the strangers and outsiders whom we exclude or embrace in our regular lives.

This year, the Jesuits of the Missouri Province offer an Advent Examen developed by Fr. Joe Tetlow, S.J., a prominent expert on Ignatian spirituality.  We invite you to visit their web page for this resource - http://www.jesuitsmissouri.org/examen/ – and to make use of the daily reflections there and on this page as a tool for recognizing the presence of God in your daily life.

Thank you again for visiting this site.  We encourage you to read each day’s reflection and to invite your friends to visit as well.  We wish you joy and courage in these next weeks and assure you of our prayers for you and your loved ones.

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Daily Reflection: December 24, 2011

Saturday of the fourth week of Advent

Christmas Eve

2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

Ps 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29

Lk 1:67-79

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

Thank you for staying and praying with us on our Advent web site these past four weeks. We pray your prayer has been enriched by the reflections of our colleagues.

Today, the day before Christmas, the last day of Advent, we approach Jesus, the One we’ve been anticipating, the One for Whom we’ve been waiting, the One for Whom we’ve been praying: God, entering our lives.   Advent helps us prepare a place for Jesus, to welcome Him, All of the ancient prophecies come to their culmination…

Today, if not before, we can let go of all of the busy-ness in our preparations for Christmas, we can stop rushing around.  We can really prepare for Christmas.  Today, certainly, at some point, we can let go of all of the shopping, eggnog, planning, buying, cooking, wrapping, banking, Santa, cards, trees, wreaths, gifts, decorating, dinners, cookies, and more, or, at least, put it all in a different perspective.  We could even, hard as it may be to imagine, leave some things undone…waiting, not finished, much as we are still waiting, still as we are certainly not finished.

We need to be awake and alert, we’re approaching the hour.

Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, observed that It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope… and that is our prayer for you. Let’s continue to pray for each other.

 

REFLECTION ON THE READINGS

Jesus is close…this is the day and the hour.  Our readings prepare us further, telling us more about the Lord, more about Jesus and why He came to us in the first place.  We hear that God has come to his people and set them free…He has raised up for us a mighty Savior… We recall the first covenant; that God has promised to save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us…

Today, in these last few hours before the Christmas season begins, we can pray, fast, repent, read the Bible, and be quiet.  Today we can thank God for Jesus, the real gift we will receive, for the promise of peace He brings, for the gift of freedom He offers us.   Today we can realize the goal of our prayerful preparation.

In our readings, God restates His gifts to David, His gifts to us, leading us to the real gift Jesus is for us–the gift of freedom.  Jesus will set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.

Expecting, hoping, waiting, praying…Jesus is coming! May we be delivered from “holiday” distractions; may we enter holy day reflection and prayer; may we stand with those who welcome Jesus to the world.

May this Christmas fill you with the gift of peace we’ve been promised, and the understanding of the freedom that is ours because of Jesus. May we welcome Jesus into our homes, into the church, into our lives, and may our lives and homes and church be transformed by Jesus.

May Jesus give us all new avenues of peace, new hope for prosperity, and new zeal for justice for all who lack the opportunities, the blessings, often even the basics, we enjoy.

Merry Christmas!

 

Paul Stark, SJ is Vice President for Mission and Ministry.

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Daily Reflection: December 23, 2011

Friday of the fourth week of Advent

Mal 3:1-4, 23-24

Ps 25:4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14

Lk 1:57-66

The readings for the day can be found here.

God works in mysterious ways. Especially when it comes to the people through whom He works to get His messages across.

This past summer I was a counselor at a Christian sports camp for children ages 7-11 years old. It was one of the most exhilarating and challenging experiences of my life, but it turned out to be one of the best jobs I have ever had. God taught me so much this past summer, and the majority of it was through all of the campers. One eleven year old in particular touched my heart in a way that I will never forget. She arrived at camp not really wanting to be there; I eventually came to find out that her mother had recently passed away, and was also facing other difficulties that I could never even imagine living with when I was eleven . Throughout her time at camp, God worked through her and opened my eyes to see the glory of God’s grace and forgiveness right in front of me. She left those camp gates forever changed and so did I.

In today’s reading, the Lord uses baby John as a sign that the He is there and will reveal himself in the most unlikely of ways. He is a symbol of hope that God is present with the people. During the Christmas season, baby Jesus is that symbol of hope. He represents the start of a new beginning, a time for people to be redeemed and experience the love and grace of Jesus Christ. That it all started with the most unlikely of circumstances, with a baby in a manger, a baby who continues to resonate God’s presence around the world today, is one of the best messages of all.

Victoria Glatz is a junior Nutrition and Dietetics major.

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Daily Reflection: December 22, 2011

Thursday of the fourth week of Advent

1 Sm 1:24-28

1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd

Lk 1:46-56

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

We Are Filled With Joy

Pressed by the haste of everyday life we are neither used to the patient prayer of Hannah, nor comfortable with the faithful submission of Mary. Before we will praise the Lord we demand that He grant our request. Before we will worship Him we require that He please us. He is not always in the business of pleasing us. What He asks of us is patience and trust, patience like Hannah, trust like Mary.

Waiting only seemed to deepen Hannah’s conviction that the God to whom she prayed was faithful. She did not pray or hope because God had given her reason to expect a son—He did not promise a son. She prayed trusting His goodness, leaning on His love. So it was that the heart swollen with gratitude eventually burst forth in praise. “My heart rejoices in the LORD,” she declared.

Mary too received her wondrous news with a song; “My spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Oh yes, there was the little trouble of the sword that would pierce her soul, but that mattered little (Lk. 2:35). God had “looked upon His lowly servant,” and she was filled with joy.

Despite the trials we face, God knows our hearts well enough to call forth sweet melodies from brokenness. It is He who gives “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that [we] might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified” (Is. 61:3).

He alone can promise the piercing sword and elicit praise. We must pray, wait, trust, and rejoice always in the Lord for He has done great things for us.

 

Hudson Russell Davis is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University.

 

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Daily Reflection: December 21, 2011

Wednesday of the fourth week of Advent

Sg 2:8-14 OR Zep 3:14-18a

Ps 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21

Lk 1:39-45

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

The first reading comes from the Song of Songs, a book known for its themes of love.  We are called to “arise and come”… the winter has passed, and the rains are over and gone.  The tumult of yesterday is over, we are now able to open our eyes and live for today.  We must notice the beautiful graces God has given us today. We must embrace all of the love in our lives: the love we receive from God and also the love we receive from those we surround ourselves with.  While we await the coming of the Lord, we must also embrace everything in bloom today.  Let God hear your voice, so sweet and lovely.  Allow God to know what you are thankful for today. Sing to God your song of praise for your life, your happiness, and your faith.  Allow yourself to be filled with the Holy Spirit and rejoice.

While we prepare for both the spiritual coming of the Lord and the approaching holiday to be spent with family and friends, may we pause.  May we open our eyes to the people we have been blessed with; may we open our eyes to gifts we have been given; may we embrace the love, joy, hope, and happiness that fill the air.  And may we rejoice over this and sing a new song to the Lord. Thank God for the Holy Spirit for the gift of life and all of its blessings.  Do not get wrapped up in the consumerism of the season, but rather embrace the fruitfulness of today.  Finally, never forget the glory of the season: embrace the coming of God’s only Son, for those who believe in the Lord will be fulfilled.

 

Perry Cole is a senior from St. Louis, Missouri.  She studies Theological Studies, Political Science, and Women’s Studies.  She is also president of Alpha Phi Omega, the national service fraternity on campus.

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Daily Reflection: December 20, 2011

Tuesday of the fourth week of Advent

Is 7:10-14

Ps 24:1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

Lk 1:26-38

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

Placing my hand gently on the pregnant abdomen of my daughter-in-law yesterday, I waited in anticipation of the movement I had imagined for many weeks. I knew what to expect, both as a pediatrician and as a father – that quick movement that came decisively, not in response to urging, but an early indication of free will and future independence.  Waiting.  Then when all became silent and still in the room, the quick rustle of movement hit my hand triggering a rush of hope and joy, and finally further anticipation of his eventual birth.

Feeling fetal movements has been a meaningful reminder of the hope of future generations for parents and grandparents throughout history.  While the most celebrated fetal movement in history is probably Elizabeth’s report of John moving in her womb when in the presence of the pregnant Mary (Luke 1:39-44), certainly Mary herself experienced Jesus moving inside her.  It is easy to imagine a loving family sitting around Mary, perhaps with one or more asking to place her, or his, hand on her pregnant abdomen, and then reporting with joy the thrill of feeling the fetal movements for the first time.   The emotions and thoughts of Mary’s family members, perhaps including a future grandparent like me, were probably much like those at the Trevathan home last night.  Yet we know that Mary’s perceptions and thoughts were unique among pregnant women, for she knew that the baby she carried was special.

Mary’s hymn of praise (Luke 1:46-55) reveals a deep understanding of her unborn child’s impact on human history.  Jesus was not only destined to bring healing and mercy to the world, He was destined to right wrongs – to bring justice to an unjust world.  In a world where Mary undoubtedly saw the rich benefit from the work of the poor, and the powerful grow strong and fat while the poor went hungry, she knew that her Son, like His Father, would “lift up those of lowly position…. fill the hungry with good things, and send the rich away empty.”

In spite of our advanced technology, the world visible to public health leaders looks much like the world viewed by Mary 2000 years ago.  In many parts of the world, including my own city of St Louis, the poor are suffering while many of the rich watch without action, or simply deny that the poor exist.  Babies die from preventable diseases.  Mothers and children are homeless and hungry, while the rich assert their own right to be greedy.  How should a Christian public health leader reflect the social justice of Jesus in our world?  The answers are clear for me and for other Christians in public health.  For all of us who are public health professionals at Saint Louis University, I pray that in spite of distractions that we will have the courage to fulfill our mission – “the pursuit of truth, for the greater glory of God, and service to humanity,” and in doing so that we will pursue the social justice in our world envisioned by Mary while she was pregnant with our Lord.

 

Edwin Trevathan, M.D., M.P.H. is the Dean of the School of Public Health

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