Thursday, 21 March 2013

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

GN 17:3-9

PS 105:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

JN 8:51-59

The readings for the day can be found here.

“My covenant with you is this:
you are to become the father of a host of nations”

That was God’s fantastic promise to Abraham while Abraham was at the ripe old age of 99 and his wife Sara was a young at heart 90.  And it truly was a fantastic promise!  Imagine having lived your entire life trying and failing to have children.  Imagine the pain, the grief, the frustration, and the powerlessness of being unable to bring a new life into the world. Of not having an heir to carry on the family name, in a society and during a time when lineage was of the utmost importance. Of watching your friends and neighbors have children who grow up and have children of their own.

Then, one day, God tells you that you will father nations, that “kings will stem from you”, and that you and your descendants will be given the whole land of Canaan.  What would be your reaction? Shock? Amazement? Even a healthy dose of skepticism? And yet, Abraham believed wholeheartedly in God.  And God rewarded that belief, and kept his covenant to Abraham.  In fact, God is still keeping his covenant to us, the many descendants of Abraham, to this very day.  This covenant “which he made binding for a thousand generations”.

So, what does God ask of us in return? God simply asks that we keep his covenant.  That we “look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly.  Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought”.  That “whoever keeps [his] word will never taste death”.

Now is an opportune time to reflect on the commitment we made to God at the beginning of these 40 Lenten days.  Whether we are making sacrifices, living simply, or serving others, let us remember to do these services not just for ourselves or one another, but as a way to serve God.  As a way to honor and thank Him for His ultimate sacrifice – for the proof of His covenant to us – His son dying on the cross for our sins.

Caroline Kaikati is Program Manager with Corporate and Foundation Relations in the Advancement division.

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2013 Season of Lent | Leave a comment

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

DN 3:14-20, 91-92, 95

DN 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

JN 8:31-42

The readings for the day can be found here.

Today marks the beginning of spring this year.  It is also the spring or “vernal” equinox; that is, when day and night are briefly equal in length before giving way to brighter, longer days with more warming sunlight.

It seems fitting, then, that the word “Lent” means “spring,” the “spring season” or “to lengthen.”  Just as winter fades away and spring arrives, so must we let our dark, cold pasts turn to history as we embrace a brighter future with God more squarely in the center.

Looking at today’s scripture from Daniel, we see a King Nebuchadnezzar trying to inject himself into the center of Babylonian life instead of God.  Despite earlier revelations about the will of the one true God, as described to him by Daniel in chapter two, the King builds a giant golden statue in honor of himself and his false god.  He decrees that all people in Babylonia, including the many Jews whom he enveloped into his kingdom by invading Jerusalem, worship his golden idol or “be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace.”

But the merciless King nonetheless meets resistance from the Jews, including Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  They refuse to worship the false god out of confidence that their God will deliver them from death.  And to the King’s astonishment, the three Jews do indeed thwart death and walk amongst the flames of the furnace “unfettered and unhurt,” accompanied by an angel of God.

Sadly, King Nebuchadnezzar needed concrete proof of God’s sovereignty, as we likewise do often, in order to begin self-denial and conversion.  In this and all Lenten seasons we are called to begin our conversion, self-denial and repentance through bold faith in God lest we become blinded like the King.  There are countless wise men and women in our lives who are witnesses to God’s power but whose importance to the world and to our souls we downright ignore.  Fortunately, God is accustomed to our blindness and constantly reopens our eyes.

In the passage from the Gospel of John, we see another example of the danger of denying God and believing lies instead.  While talking with some Jews who apparently “believed in him,” Christ is met with profound anger and resistance as he explains how they are “trying to kill [him], because [his] word has no room among [them].”  In this instance, their golden statue is a blind faith in Abraham and immovable tradition.  They cannot see the truth that God sent Jesus to them and that “before Abraham came to be, I AM.”  Later on in this Gospel, the Jews’ ignorance brings them call Jesus “possessed” and to “pick up stones to throw at [him].”  Likewise, King Nebuchadnezzar turns uncontrollably to violence against Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

Perhaps if we are to allow springtime to brighten our darkened spiritual hearts we must first identify the golden statues in our lives.  What or whom do you serve above God, above all else?  Next, we must destroy our false idols before they drive us to further deny God’s truth and grace.

As disciples of Christ, we are called to “remain in [Christ’s] word” in order to know the freeing truth that “the God of our fathers” is “praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”  Through faith, we are protected from fiery furnaces, stones and creating golden statues.

So on this first day of spring, let us choose to be what we already are through Christ—sons and daughters in God’s household forever.  Let us remember that Christ’s death on the cross—a death which begets salvation and unconditional love—is all the proof we need for our spiritual springtime to take hold.

Chris “Toph” Hampson graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree.  Toph was a member of the Micah Program during his time at SLU and served as an R.A. for that community in Marguerite Hall during his Junior year.  While at SLU, he also studied Spanish and International Studies and spent a semester abroad in 2007 in El Salvador, Central America, through the Casa de la Solidaridad program.

Posted in 2013 Season of Lent | Leave a comment

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

2 SM 7:4-5A, 12-14A, 16

PS 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 AND 29

ROM 4:13, 16-18, 22

MT 1:16, 18-21, 24A

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

Today as we celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph and the Gospel readings which give some insight into his reaction as he received the information about Mary being with child. The Gospel says Joseph intended to quietly divorce Mary so as not cause her undue shame. Later when the angel of the Lord appeared to him, in a dream he did as commanded and took Mary into his home. Joseph’s obedience serves as an example of his unconditional service to God and family.

Apparently, Joseph did not act impulsively, as we sometimes do when we are presented with unwelcome news.  His patients allowed the voice of the angel to be heard. He obeyed and became the guardian to Mary and her child.

Lent provides us an opportunity to reflect on, and listen for those times when God commands us to act differently than how we want. There is no mystery as to how God speaks us. His words are reflected in the lives of the saints, including St. Joseph. What God wanted of them seldom appeared easy, but faith, humility, obedience and love for their Savior Jesus Christ, gave them the strength to persevere through adversity.

St. Joseph’s story speaks to us about absolute trust in God’s will, and listening for His voice that guides us to become His instrument for the greater good.

 

Sgt. Pat Signorino is a Field Supervisor in the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

 

Posted in 2013 Season of Lent | Leave a comment

Monday, 18 March 2013

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

DN 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62

PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

JN 8:12-20

The readings for the day can be found here.

Lenten reflection March 18th: Light of the World

We do not have all the facts. Often, for example, we do not know the answers on an exam; we do not know when (or how) we are going to pay off college loans; we are afraid of our post-grad future; we do not take risks because we do not want to lose money or relationships or reputations. Intelligent as we are, darkness inhibits us in many ways. As Jesus states in today’s Gospel, we cannot know where we are going, only God can know. We judge others out of protection from the unknown. Often we don’t take those small steps towards better relationships or better lifestyle choices because of fear and because of judgements. But Jesus states in the Gospel, “I am the light of the world!…If you know me, you would know my Father.” This is good news for us, especially during Lent, because as human beings, become entrenched in our own darkness. In this passage, Jesus offers clarity and solidarity, a fresh start to become reborn or reacquainted with God.

In the Old Testament reading for today, Suzanna is wrongly accused of having slept with a man in her husband’s garden, while two judges watched from a distance. The judges lie about the event because Suzanna did not pursue their lustful intentions toward her. They testify against her and attempt to have her killed. Due to her continuous faith and her reliance on God during her time of trouble, God listens and inspires Daniel to speak in court on her behalf. Historically, for Daniel to stand up for Suzanna required a tremendous amount of fortitude and prudence. He struck down the judges and called out their deceit.

In light of International Women’s Day on March 8th, I noticed two relating themes from this Old Testament reading: feminism and truthfulness. After reading the passage, this might be counterintuitive; however, Suzanna shows strength only a woman historically could in her situation. She shows unwavering faith in the Lord that is both admirable and liberating. Moreover, Daniel is a symbol for those with power, not just the historically patriarchal societies, to stand up for the powerless and to exemplify the great need society has for wise leadership. In the text, he and Suzanna are feminists as well as liberators, showing others in power how to know truth and to seek justice by liberating the powerless.

In light of these readings during the Lenten season, develop an openness to others; identify your fears and your sins. Ask yourself, how can I learn to forgive and accept the truth? How can I live out the virtues of prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice? How can I exercise my voice for the powerless in society?

Pray for greater leadership in our society and in the new leadership within the Catholic Church.

Pray for the empowerment and equality of all minorities.

Pray for better introspection and external awareness of God’s call to you.

Hopefully, during this week of Lent, you can be strengthened and reaffirmed in your Lenten promise, bringing you closer to Jesus, who is the light of the world.

Gretchen Landgraf is a Junior majoring in Theology and Pre-Med.

Posted in 2013 Season of Lent | Leave a comment

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Fifth Sunday of Lent

IS 43:16-21

PS 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

PHIL 3:8-14

JN 8:1-11

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

Each year when February comes around so start the conversations amongst ourselves of what one is giving up for Lent; what one is going to do differently for 40 days; what sacrifice will one put themselves through to participate in Lent as our faith calls us to. “What are you giving up for Lent?” Maybe it’s candy, chocolate, caffeine, meat, or making the commitment to attend daily mass, go to reconciliation, spend more time in prayer and reflection.

I would like to propose asking the question, “what are you giving up for Lent?” in a different way. Consider asking yourself “how do I plan to allow myself to be transformed during lent?” What do you need to sacrifice to allow God to transform you? How will the actions of giving up candy, chocolate, caffeine or upholding the commitment to attend daily mass, going to reconciliation spiritual transform you?

In the first reading today, God is calling us to personal transformation. We are invited to let God into ourselves. To let Him make a path in through our past and brokenness so that new life might be created for the future

“Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way in the wasteland, rivers.”

God is calling us to learn from our past—identify the things that diminish our capacity for life and love. He is inviting us to the things that give us life—that allow us to flourish. During Lent, we are called to let go (sacrifice) the things that diminish our capacity to move forward and to identify what gives us life so that we may use those life-giving things to be transformed.

We are not left without broad instructions on how to go about engaging this call to transformation. The second reading teaches us that this transformation –this call to being new—is through Christ.

“For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…”

We learn from the second reading that as Christians we called to pursue God’s upward calling in our life and that involves leaving behind those life-diminishing things.

“Forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus. “

Luckily, the Gospel today provides us some insight on this path we are called to pursue for the prize of God’s upward calling—humility.

Humility is from the Latin word, humilis—“of the ground.” If you notice in the Gospel reading, no one bends down to see what Jesus writes in the ground. They remain standing, asking for his permission to stone a woman so they could have some charge to bring against him. They were so concerned with openly humiliating him. Jesus in turn called them to humility by challenging them “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

God invites us to the ground during Lent to learn important truths about ourselves and explore the places within ourselves that we do not want to. Lent calls us to our brokenness and challenges us to engage in the humble work of reconciliation. God invites us to discover our true selves. To do that, we must remove what prevents that—our sacrifices—and identify and enhance the things that allow us to flourish.

As we enter the 5th week of Lent, approach Holy Week and anticipate Easter, how have you been transformed? How have you let God into your life, through your brokenness, and engaged in the humble work of reconciliation?

 

Jenny Mohan is Director of Social Ministry at St. Francis Xavier College Church.

Posted in 2013 Season of Lent | Leave a comment

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

JER 11:18-20

PS 7:2-3, 9BC-10, 11-12

JN 7:40-53

The readings for the day can be found here.

Just a few days into Pope Francis’ papacy, the media have already unleashed a flood of stories about the new pope, most of them quite positively reporting on such mundane things as him taking the subway to work and paying his hotel bill after the conclave as evidence of his down-to-earth style. The sensationalism and scandal-mongering of the media aside, I suspect there is something of the “sensus fidelium” in people that is able to sniff out authenticity and see the relationship between claiming to be a follower of the humble Christ and actually living humbly with the people whom he serves as shepherd. The fact that Jesus had a lot of not-so-nice things to say to the religious authorities of his day points us in the direction of what good religious authority looks like – humility, charity, respect – and by all accounts, our new Pope seems to have a long history of staying close to his people.

Maybe that’s why when I first read the readings for today, I couldn’t get past how the Pharisees hit upon a strikingly elitist tone with their declaration that “This crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.” (JN 7:49) Is this simply a claim of superiority by religious officials or scholars, looking down their noses at “the great unwashed,” people whose daily lives were not focused on rigorously studying the law or upholding the details of purity codes? Or, as is far more common in John’s gospel, a grand bit of irony that links the reader to not only the chapter of Jeremiah from which today’s first reading was taken (Jer 11:3 – “Cursed be anyone who does not observe the words of this covenant”) but the “Twelve Curses” in Deuteronomy 27, which conclude with “Cursed be anyone whose actions do not uphold the words of this law!” Those curses are levied against those who tear apart the network of right relationships that should exist in a healthy community, whether through use of sexuality that damages relationships with family members or through practices that deprive neighbors of their dignity and their rights.

Meanwhile, Jesus is being pursued by the religious authorities because he healed a man on the Sabbath (see JN 5:1-18) – restored the health and dignity of one who had been suffering for thirty-eight years, and all that the religious authorities can see is a man carrying his mat on a day when he is not supposed to do so. In light of the twelve curses from Deuteronomy, then, who is really mistaken – those in the crowd who “do not know the law” but rightly imagine a God whose will is for healing and wholeness, or those who intimately know the law but imagine a God whose will is for obedience to rules but does not care for people?

Let us pray for the new Pope – I can’t even imagine the complexity and challenges of his ministry – and for all religious authorities: for the humility and courage to represent the God who calls us into right relationships.

Posted in 2013 Season of Lent | Leave a comment

Friday, 15 March 2013

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

WIS 2:1A, 12-22

PS 34:17-18, 19-20, 21 AND 23

JN 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

The readings for the day can be found here.

Just last night I was hanging around with some close friends and my dear mother (yes, she’s just that cool!).  My mom was so thrilled about how cute Pope Francis was and how much she loved him, and was sharing her excitement with a motley group of college kids.  She wondered where everyone was when they heard the exciting announcement, under the impression that we were all wonderful Catholic boys (not that one was a stark, stern atheist).  We went around sharing where we were and how we found out (in the car on the radio, at home on the news, etc.), and one friend said he was on a forum enjoying everyone making fun of the Pope, laughing at the hypocrisy…The room went silent.

From that moment on, our kitchen was filled, not with tension, but with the inability to jump into the debate my mom and this friend were having about religion, and other things.  They were fully engaged in conversation for the rest of the night!  Though brief moments of arrogance on both parties’ side annoyed me a bit, I admired my mom and my friend for their self-confidence and willingness to share what they believed to be right and good.  Not confidence in who they were, but in what they knew in their hearts was the truth.  This faith simply excited them too much not to engage in a nightlong conversation about who God was, and what it means to be faithful.  Today’s gospel demonstrates an excellent example of self-confidence and faith.

Jesus knows he is wanted by soldiers in Judea, knows that he will be killed if identified by authorities.  Does he shy away from the threat of death, even if it means missing the feast of Tabernacles?  Of course not!  He believes in the community of faith, and their dedication to his mission.  He believes that his Father is with him, and that he is safe and sound.  Most of all, he believes the news he is spreading is far more important than the risk to himself for expressing what he truly believes to be true.

When have you wanted to say something, but held back?  When was the last time your friends were talking about something that made you too uncomfortable to discuss?  What was holding you back from speaking your mind?

There’s no right or wrong answer, just self-awareness.

Both my mom and my friend had established very solidly their beliefs, as I’m sure many of us have.  There comes with our beliefs, however, the desire and drive to share them with others.  I know there have been many times in my life when I wish I had shared my thoughts or opinions on a subject matter.  Heck, last night I wish I could’ve shared my stance on things they were talking about.  Being open to respectfully listening to the beliefs and perspectives of others, I believe it is a beautifully vulnerable and impressive thing to share one’s sincere beliefs with others for the greater good.  Jesus risks his life to preach to a group of people in Galilee!  What amazing faith he must have had in his vocation to do such a thing.  For us, maybe we have to risk how others’ perceive us.  But if we’re honest and passionate about what we have come to believe, we’ve excluded nobody from our worldview.

I challenge everyone during the final weeks of Lent to be even more confident, even more verbal, and especially more engaged in the things you hold deep in your heart to be meaningful and true.  As this season of transformation comes to a close, I hope you can find time to discern if your beliefs bring you life or drain life from you.

“I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent me.”

If our faith in God and his mission for us mirrors Jesus’, it can carry us through moments of despair, or even a simple awkward conversation.  For me, it doesn’t matter if you’re right or you’re wrong – it only matters if you care enough to become intimately and critically involved in your faith life.  That is where you will find strength and confidence in your faith!

Johnny Dolan is the Campus Ministry Retreat Intern.

 

Posted in 2013 Season of Lent | Leave a comment

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

EX 32:7-14

PS 106:19-20, 21-22, 23

JN 5:31-47

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

[John] was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.

As a child, I remember visiting my sister’s godmother. Lydia always smelled of the fragrant spices that she used to craft authentic Chilean food. I sat on her lap in the warm kitchen, wrapped in her arms, surrounded by her love, and listened to her hum songs in my ear. Her simplicity and joy left me at peace.

Jesus recounts testimonies to his divinity in today’s Gospel. John the Baptist testifies with word and action, a “burning and shining lamp” revealing a larger truth than him. Jesus’ works speak to a greater merciful mission. The Scriptures unfold an intricate salvation story. Moses recognizes and passes down a holy plan greater than his understanding.

All these good and beautiful testimonies are never the end of the story. They do not seek the glory. Ultimately, they exist solely to praise and reveal God in the person of Jesus Christ.

The testimonies- especially John the Baptist- remind me of Lydia and other modern-day saints. For a while, I was content to rejoice in her light. Now, I find that she testified to me. My memories of her unconditional love point me beyond this love to the motivator and steady anchor of Lydia’s life- her friendship with Jesus Christ.

If called to testify to our faith today, we choose to act as a burning and shining lamp pointing to Love.

If recognizing testimony today, we are filled with thankfulness and joy at the continued presence of Love in each moment of our life.

 

Trish Schafer is a junior studying Nursing.

 

Posted in 2013 Season of Lent | Leave a comment

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

IS 49:8-15

PS 145:8-9, 13CD-14, 17-18

JN 5:17-30

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

Today’s readings fill me with hope despite my human tendency to dwell in the darkness – the desert of doubt.  Too often, we visualize God through the lens of our human shortcomings – our tendency to be so busy that we do not consider the pain in others; our inability to walk in deep and abiding love with our students and colleagues, and our doubt in the faithfulness of family and friends.  We have difficulty accepting God’s faithfulness to us and question his attention to all aspects of our lives because our sight is clouded by our imperfections in these areas. We consider the challenges and tragedies of life with far more frequency than we do the joy of God’s presence and the hope of salvation through God’s infinite mercy.  We find it difficult to love each other unconditionally and we are often unwilling to believe that God loves us without exception.

The hope of today’s readings is that God is faithfully present in our lives.  Each Lent we are reminded that God gave his beloved Son over to death so that we could live in the fullness of God’s love.  Today’s readings remind us of God’s infinite mercy, tenderness and limitless caring for our spiritual, physical and emotional needs.  We look to Easter and the knowledge of the joy of resurrection.  In the meantime God gives us countless examples of his love for us: a gloriously colorful sunrise the day after a dear friend’s death; a daffodil in bloom in the midst of snow; the touch of a friend seeking to ease our pain; the kiss of a puppy, and the laughter of a young child.  These are the springs of water to which God guides us and through which God is near to us.  God is always faithful and loving; we need only to quiet our lives enough to recognize that truth.

Darina Sargeant is Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training.

 

 

 

Posted in 2013 Season of Lent | Leave a comment

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

EZ 47:1-9, 12

PS 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9

JN 5:1-16

The readings for the day can be found here.

Of the weekend’s readings, the gospel parable of the prodigal son stood out the most to me. While my parish priest took to the opportunity to teach of unconditional forgiveness of our sins, I could not help but think of a different message, a message of independence and dependence.

For the sake of thoroughness, I would like to first take a brief moment to review the gospel parable. It starts with a wealthy landowner, who has two sons. One of the sons asks his father for his share of the inheritance, in order to sojourn and create his own experiences. Without hesitation, the father relinquishes the son’s allocated inheritance, while the second son remains with his father, in order to tend to the property. While living off his father’s inheritance, the son spends the fortune on cyrenaic indulgences.  Ultimately, the son exhausts his father’s riches and is forced to maintain a meager job, even though he is still starving, thirsty and lonely. Eventually, the son overcomes his sense of pride, deciding to return to his father. Upon returning, the father welcomes his son and celebrates his arrival with a lavish ceremony. After hearing of his brother’s return, the father’s second son objects to the ceremony, due to the newly returned son’s apparent stupidity and mismanagement of the inheritance. In reply, the father informs the second son that he also had equal claim to all of the father’s possessions, but rather chose to remain at home. As opposed to sulking, the father invites the second son to partake of the festivities, in celebration of the son’s arrival.

Now that we have an equal understanding of the prodigal son, I wish to offer my interpretation and, hopefully, impart a unique understanding of the prodigal son during this Lenten season. As mentioned above, this parable inspires me to explore the relationship between God and us. One could interpret this parable as a message that God is our advocate, protectorate, life source, etc. While that all may be very true, the fact of the matter is that we, as humans, have a natural proclivity to act as independent units. As students, we sometimes wish to develop independent lines of thought from our professors. As children, we seek independence from our parents. Independence seems to be a characteristic that we strive to achieve. Yet, as we see in the parable, the son elects to lead an independent lifestyle, but is forced to reconcile and admit dependence upon the father. While one could interpret this as a message of our dependence on God, I see a story of self-discovery. The prodigal son, for me, is a message of finding oneself, ending in the son’s realization that he leads a higher quality life with the father. We are not necessarily dependent upon God, as the son is not completely dependent upon the father. Rather, the parable teaches that we are able to live independently through our dependence upon God, as the sons are to their father. That means partaking in God’s vast resources, as we recognize that we only live fully through him. Even thought our dependence may produce contradictory actions to God’s wishes, we can use this Lenten time to examine our actions and intentions, in order to become conscious of our dynamic relationship with God in our lives.

Michael Meyer is a Biology and International Studies major.

Posted in 2013 Season of Lent | Leave a comment