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November 30, 2017

St. Andrew, apostle

Mt 4: 18-22

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”

Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

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

Putting down my nets

St. Ignatius invites us to use our imaginations to pray ourselves right into the Gospels. By using all of our senses, we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel the story unfold. When I pray with today’s text, I imagine myself as Zebedee, in my boat on the Sea of Galilee with my sons. I see Jesus walking along the shore. I feel the breeze blowing across the water. I smell the wet fishing nets.

Suddenly, I hear Jesus calling to Peter and Andrew, to James and John, “Come, follow me!” I watch as all four immediately leave what they are doing and follow Jesus. And I think, “Yo, guys—what about me? What am I supposed to do with this boat all by myself?”

Finally I wonder, what is God calling me to do? Today. Now. Am I ready to “put down my nets” and respond wholeheartedly to God’s call?

—Michael Sarafolean is an Ignatian Associate in St. Paul, MN, and a member of Saint Thomas More Catholic Community, the Jesuit parish of the Twin Cities.

Prayer

Lord, grant me the grace to know you more intimately, to love you more intensely, and so to follow you more closely.

—Based on Spiritual Exercise #140 of St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 


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November 29, 2017

Lk 21: 12-19

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.

You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

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

Speak truth in love

Arrest. Persecution. Testifying before kings. Death. How privileged many of us are to live lives of faith free from such terrifying threats. We do not need to be martyrs, however, to face the real risk of discipleship. In moments major and mundane, we encounter invitations to speak truth to power – to stand on the side of the good and the loving, even when doing so might make us feel vulnerable and alone. This can cause complications at work and at home, with friends and others with whom we are at odds. The challenge for us disciples-in-progress is to trust, deep in our bones, God’s wisdom. If we stay rooted in that wisdom, the Spirit will grant us the words to speak.

How is God calling me to speak truth in love today? How can I trust the Spirit to guide my voice at home, at work, and in the world?

—Katie Davis is a former member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and JVC Magis currently working as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.  She serves on the Advisory Board for Jesuit Connections in Chicago and the Chicago Women’s Team for the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

Prayer

Holy Wisdom,
Who calls us to love and speak truth,
Help us to be rooted in You,
Especially in moments of vulnerability and challenge,
Through Jesus our Companion,
Amen.

—Katie Davis

 


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November 28, 2017

Lk 21: 5-11

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”

And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.”

Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

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

Travelling light

Toward the end of my first year as a Jesuit novice, I was sent out on my poverty pilgrimage: a thirty-six day journey around the country with empty pockets, learning to count on the generosity of others to keep me fed and moving along. I was advised to “travel light” to learn greater dependence on God whatever I might encounter along the way. Fearful at first, I quickly found that traveling light made it a lot easier to turn to God with my needs as they came up.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus doesn’t preach that the future will be free from upsetting surprises, but he does reassure his audience not to be led by their fears. When it feels like the earth opens beneath us with a scary diagnosis, or we weather a famine of sadness or despair, or feel plagued by loneliness or depression, a close friendship with the Lord is our lifeline in times of trial.

—Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a scholastic of the West Province currently in Regency in the Advancement Office at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California.

Prayer

Take my heart, O Lord, take my hopes and dreams.
Take my mind with all its plans and schemes.
Give me nothing more than your love and grace.
These alone, O God, are enough for me.

—From These Alone Are Enough by Dan Schutte, based on the Suscipe of St. Ignatius Loyola, © 2004, published by OCP


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November 27, 2017

Lk 21: 1-4

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

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

Our gifts are worthy

Our Gospel today is a familiar one. We typically hear this story from the perspective of the person giving from his/her surplus wealth being called out for not being as generous as the widow giving from her poverty.  The call to be generous with our time, talent, and treasure is certainly a lesson we ought to take to heart.

Today, however, as I contemplated this passage, placing myself in the scene, I found myself drawn for the first time to the widow.  We know the end result of her discernment–a generous gift of all that she had–but I wonder about her thoughts leading up to the action.  Did she desire to give something, but didn’t feel like she had anything to offer?  What was it like for her to see others give vast sums of money?  Did she recognize her own gift as supremely generous, or did she feel it was insignificant?

In our lives, how often do we do nothing because we feel like we have nothing to offer?  Perhaps we feel our contributions are too minor, or not worthy.  The widow likely never realized the significance of her gift.  How can we move beyond the self-doubt that our gifts and talents are not worthy and share as generously of ourselves as we are able?

—Lauren Gaffey is the Charis Ministries Program Director for the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, and coordinates Jesuit Connections in Chicago for the Midwest Jesuits.  

Prayer

All that we have and all that we offer
comes from a heart both frightened and free.
Take what we bring now, and give what we need
All done in his name.

—Refrain of All That We Have, Gary Ault © 1969, 1979, Damean Music

 

 


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November 26, 2017

SOLEMNITY OF  CHRIST THE KING

Mt 25: 31-46

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

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

Lord, when did we see you hungry?

I celebrated my first Mass on this great feast of Christ the King. As an ordination gift, my brothers and sisters presented me with a commitment ring. Inscribed inside is the question asked twice in today’s Gospel: “Lord, when did we see you hungry?” It’s a daily reminder that Our King comes to us in the distressing disguise of the poor.

The irony of this question is that both the righteous and the lost ask it. Neither realize that the daily acts of kindness for the least of our brothers and sisters are the real test of whether our faith in Jesus is sincere or bogus.

We who call ourselves Christians have heard this parable for the last 2,000 years. We can’t claim ignorance. One day we will stand before the throne of grace, and we pray that we will not have left Our King hungry, thirsty, naked or alone.

—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ, is a retreat master, writer, and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL. His weekly video reflections can be seen at heartoheart.org

Prayer

Gracious Lord, I pray for the grace to hold You first above all else.
Free my mind to think of you before all else,
my heart to love you above all else,
my wallet to serve you above all else.
Open my eyes to see You in the hungry,
My ears to hear You in the cries of the thirsty,
My hands to serve You in the needy –
For whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters
We know now we do for You.

—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ

 


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November 25, 2017

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Lk 20: 27-40

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”

Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”

Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

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

Limitless God

The Sadducees in today’s Gospel shows the danger of trying to fit God into a man-made box.  We often attempt to put rules on what God can or can’t do, based on our limited understanding of the divine.  “God can’t really love me because I’ve made too many mistakes.”  “God can’t forgive him for that kind of sin.”  “God must love her because she is successful and powerful.”  Fortunately, God isn’t bound by the limitations of our thinking.

As we approach the feast of Christ the King tomorrow, and the last week of the liturgical year, our Scriptures invite us to reflect on Jesus, King of both heaven and earth, and the eternal life to which he invites each of us.  Our God is God of the living, “for to him all are alive.”

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord God, you call each of us by name and invite us to eternal life with you in heaven.  Expand our hearts to deepen our relationship with you so that we may be united with you both today and in eternal life.  We pray this through Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns forever and ever.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 


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November 24, 2017

St. Andrew Dung-Lac, S.J. and Vietnamese martyrs

1 CHR 29:10BCD, 11ABC, 11D-12A, 12BCD

R. (13b) We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Blessed may you be, O LORD,
God of Israel our father,
from eternity to eternity.”

R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power,
majesty, splendor, and glory.
For all in heaven and on earth is yours.”

R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Yours, O LORD, is the sovereignty;
you are exalted as head over all.
Riches and honor are from you.”

R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“You have dominion over all,
In your hand are power and might;
it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all.”
R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.

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

Giving Continued Thanks

It is the day after Thanksgiving, for many a day to rest, a time to savor the conversations and interactions enjoyed yesterday with family and friends. This coming Sunday we celebrate the feast of Christ the King – Jesus, the Lord of time and history, whose life, death, and resurrection mark who we are as baptized Christian persons. No doubt yesterday brought opportunities to speak with family and good friends about all the adventures of these past weeks and months.

These recent experiences mark the ways we have used our time and talents in the service of others, various situations in which we have brought comfort and support, joy and hope into the lives of family and friends. Whether you thought about it or not, these conversations do in fact “bless and praise the name of God,” as today’s verses from the Book of Chronicles suggest.

Take some time this weekend to ponder God’s particular gifts and graces in your personal life. Note how relationships have been strengthened. Take note of how a personal struggle has been resolved. Bless God for the strength of family and the gift of new friends. It is the grace and growth of these past months that we bring to our God this Thanksgiving weekend. May Jesus Christ–whose life, death, and resurrection give us so much hope–strengthen my heart and bless all I accomplish for the greater glory of God!

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

Prayer

More than ever I find myself in the hands of God.
This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth.
But now there is a difference;
the initiative is entirely with God.
It is indeed a profound spiritual experience
to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ

 


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November 23, 2017

U.S. Thanksgiving Day / Bl Miguel Augustín Pro, SJ

Lk 17: 11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

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

Posture of gratitude

The nine lepers who obey Jesus’ instructions to “go show yourselves” do indeed experience physical healing. Yet, there seems to be something more that the grateful leper has received.

To be moved interiorly toward gratitude and to express praise to God can draw us closer, and keep us in humble and right relationship going forward. Therein lies the added blessing of the faith-filled leper.

Perhaps since it is easy to find ourselves among the “other nine,” St. Ignatius placed gratitude as the first movement of the daily Examen. As we in the United States assume the posture of the grateful leper today on Thanksgiving, may we be drawn deeper into relationship and may the Spirit stir in us a desire to love and serve God more generously. May we, too, place gratitude at the center of our prayer in order to sustain us on the journey ahead.

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

Prayer

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Creator God,
In a spirit of gratitude, we celebrate with family and friends.
We give thanks for those who are good to us.
We give thanks for those who were there to comfort
during trying situations.
And we give thanks for those
who remind us of your presence.
On this Thanksgiving Day, as we give thanks
for the light of your love, help us to be mindful
of those who will need us tomorrow.
Amen.

—Fr. James F. Keenan, SJ

 


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November 22, 2017

St. Cecilia

2 Mc 7: 1, 20-31

It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and thongs, to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh.

The mother was especially admirable and worthy of honorable memory. Although she saw her seven sons perish within a single day, she bore it with good courage because of her hope in the Lord. She encouraged each of them in the language of their ancestors.

Filled with a noble spirit, she reinforced her woman’s reasoning with a man’s courage, and said to them, ‘I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of humankind and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws.’

Antiochus felt that he was being treated with contempt, and he was suspicious of her reproachful tone. The youngest brother being still alive, Antiochus not only appealed to him in words, but promised with oaths that he would make him rich and enviable if he would turn from the ways of his ancestors, and that he would take him for his Friend and entrust him with public affairs.

Since the young man would not listen to him at all, the king called the mother to him and urged her to advise the youth to save himself. After much urging on his part, she undertook to persuade her son. But, leaning close to him, she spoke in their native language as follows, deriding the cruel tyrant: ‘My son, have pity on me. I carried you for nine months in my womb, and nursed you for three years, and have reared you and brought you up to this point in your life, and have taken care of you.

I beg you, my child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. And in the same way the human race came into being. Do not fear this butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God’s mercy I may get you back again along with your brothers.’

While she was still speaking, the young man said, ‘What are you waiting for? I will not obey the king’s command, but I obey the command of the law that was given to our ancestors through Moses. But you, who have contrived all sorts of evil against the Hebrews, will certainly not escape the hands of God.

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

Faithful in big and little ways

Temptations. They come in so many forms. I still remember when a high school classmate offered to pay me to write his term paper. I really needed the money, but I knew I had to say no.

Today’s Gospel parable (Lk 19:11-28) reminds us that if we’re not faithful in little things, it’s tough to do what’s right when faced with the bigger stuff. Our story from Maccabees shows us the extreme – there’s nothing bigger than facing death for our beliefs.

But this family is faithful in big and little ways. They follow the smaller details of the law, but also understand who it is that gives them “both breath and life.”

Temptations can be tough, but we can trust – as this exemplary woman in today’s reading does – that the merciful God who set everything in order will save us in the end. We don’t have to be afraid.

—Rita Zyber is RCIA and Confirmation Coordinator at St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

O God, give me the courage and strength to be worthy of being called a Christian.

—Karl Rahner, SJ

 

 

 

 


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November 21, 2017

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lk 19: 1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.

All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

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

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.

Prayer

You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

—Micah 6:8

 

 


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November 30, 2017

St. Andrew, apostle

Mt 4: 18-22

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”

Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

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

Putting down my nets

St. Ignatius invites us to use our imaginations to pray ourselves right into the Gospels. By using all of our senses, we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel the story unfold. When I pray with today’s text, I imagine myself as Zebedee, in my boat on the Sea of Galilee with my sons. I see Jesus walking along the shore. I feel the breeze blowing across the water. I smell the wet fishing nets.

Suddenly, I hear Jesus calling to Peter and Andrew, to James and John, “Come, follow me!” I watch as all four immediately leave what they are doing and follow Jesus. And I think, “Yo, guys—what about me? What am I supposed to do with this boat all by myself?”

Finally I wonder, what is God calling me to do? Today. Now. Am I ready to “put down my nets” and respond wholeheartedly to God’s call?

—Michael Sarafolean is an Ignatian Associate in St. Paul, MN, and a member of Saint Thomas More Catholic Community, the Jesuit parish of the Twin Cities.

Prayer

Lord, grant me the grace to know you more intimately, to love you more intensely, and so to follow you more closely.

—Based on Spiritual Exercise #140 of St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

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November 29, 2017

Lk 21: 12-19

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.

You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

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

Speak truth in love

Arrest. Persecution. Testifying before kings. Death. How privileged many of us are to live lives of faith free from such terrifying threats. We do not need to be martyrs, however, to face the real risk of discipleship. In moments major and mundane, we encounter invitations to speak truth to power – to stand on the side of the good and the loving, even when doing so might make us feel vulnerable and alone. This can cause complications at work and at home, with friends and others with whom we are at odds. The challenge for us disciples-in-progress is to trust, deep in our bones, God’s wisdom. If we stay rooted in that wisdom, the Spirit will grant us the words to speak.

How is God calling me to speak truth in love today? How can I trust the Spirit to guide my voice at home, at work, and in the world?

—Katie Davis is a former member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and JVC Magis currently working as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.  She serves on the Advisory Board for Jesuit Connections in Chicago and the Chicago Women’s Team for the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

Prayer

Holy Wisdom,
Who calls us to love and speak truth,
Help us to be rooted in You,
Especially in moments of vulnerability and challenge,
Through Jesus our Companion,
Amen.

—Katie Davis

 

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November 28, 2017

Lk 21: 5-11

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?”

And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.”

Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

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

Travelling light

Toward the end of my first year as a Jesuit novice, I was sent out on my poverty pilgrimage: a thirty-six day journey around the country with empty pockets, learning to count on the generosity of others to keep me fed and moving along. I was advised to “travel light” to learn greater dependence on God whatever I might encounter along the way. Fearful at first, I quickly found that traveling light made it a lot easier to turn to God with my needs as they came up.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus doesn’t preach that the future will be free from upsetting surprises, but he does reassure his audience not to be led by their fears. When it feels like the earth opens beneath us with a scary diagnosis, or we weather a famine of sadness or despair, or feel plagued by loneliness or depression, a close friendship with the Lord is our lifeline in times of trial.

—Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a scholastic of the West Province currently in Regency in the Advancement Office at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California.

Prayer

Take my heart, O Lord, take my hopes and dreams.
Take my mind with all its plans and schemes.
Give me nothing more than your love and grace.
These alone, O God, are enough for me.

—From These Alone Are Enough by Dan Schutte, based on the Suscipe of St. Ignatius Loyola, © 2004, published by OCP

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November 27, 2017

Lk 21: 1-4

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

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

Our gifts are worthy

Our Gospel today is a familiar one. We typically hear this story from the perspective of the person giving from his/her surplus wealth being called out for not being as generous as the widow giving from her poverty.  The call to be generous with our time, talent, and treasure is certainly a lesson we ought to take to heart.

Today, however, as I contemplated this passage, placing myself in the scene, I found myself drawn for the first time to the widow.  We know the end result of her discernment–a generous gift of all that she had–but I wonder about her thoughts leading up to the action.  Did she desire to give something, but didn’t feel like she had anything to offer?  What was it like for her to see others give vast sums of money?  Did she recognize her own gift as supremely generous, or did she feel it was insignificant?

In our lives, how often do we do nothing because we feel like we have nothing to offer?  Perhaps we feel our contributions are too minor, or not worthy.  The widow likely never realized the significance of her gift.  How can we move beyond the self-doubt that our gifts and talents are not worthy and share as generously of ourselves as we are able?

—Lauren Gaffey is the Charis Ministries Program Director for the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, and coordinates Jesuit Connections in Chicago for the Midwest Jesuits.  

Prayer

All that we have and all that we offer
comes from a heart both frightened and free.
Take what we bring now, and give what we need
All done in his name.

—Refrain of All That We Have, Gary Ault © 1969, 1979, Damean Music

 

 

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November 26, 2017

SOLEMNITY OF  CHRIST THE KING

Mt 25: 31-46

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

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

Lord, when did we see you hungry?

I celebrated my first Mass on this great feast of Christ the King. As an ordination gift, my brothers and sisters presented me with a commitment ring. Inscribed inside is the question asked twice in today’s Gospel: “Lord, when did we see you hungry?” It’s a daily reminder that Our King comes to us in the distressing disguise of the poor.

The irony of this question is that both the righteous and the lost ask it. Neither realize that the daily acts of kindness for the least of our brothers and sisters are the real test of whether our faith in Jesus is sincere or bogus.

We who call ourselves Christians have heard this parable for the last 2,000 years. We can’t claim ignorance. One day we will stand before the throne of grace, and we pray that we will not have left Our King hungry, thirsty, naked or alone.

—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ, is a retreat master, writer, and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL. His weekly video reflections can be seen at heartoheart.org

Prayer

Gracious Lord, I pray for the grace to hold You first above all else.
Free my mind to think of you before all else,
my heart to love you above all else,
my wallet to serve you above all else.
Open my eyes to see You in the hungry,
My ears to hear You in the cries of the thirsty,
My hands to serve You in the needy –
For whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters
We know now we do for You.

—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ

 

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November 25, 2017

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Lk 20: 27-40

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.”

Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”

Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

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

Limitless God

The Sadducees in today’s Gospel shows the danger of trying to fit God into a man-made box.  We often attempt to put rules on what God can or can’t do, based on our limited understanding of the divine.  “God can’t really love me because I’ve made too many mistakes.”  “God can’t forgive him for that kind of sin.”  “God must love her because she is successful and powerful.”  Fortunately, God isn’t bound by the limitations of our thinking.

As we approach the feast of Christ the King tomorrow, and the last week of the liturgical year, our Scriptures invite us to reflect on Jesus, King of both heaven and earth, and the eternal life to which he invites each of us.  Our God is God of the living, “for to him all are alive.”

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord God, you call each of us by name and invite us to eternal life with you in heaven.  Expand our hearts to deepen our relationship with you so that we may be united with you both today and in eternal life.  We pray this through Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns forever and ever.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

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November 24, 2017

St. Andrew Dung-Lac, S.J. and Vietnamese martyrs

1 CHR 29:10BCD, 11ABC, 11D-12A, 12BCD

R. (13b) We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Blessed may you be, O LORD,
God of Israel our father,
from eternity to eternity.”

R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power,
majesty, splendor, and glory.
For all in heaven and on earth is yours.”

R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Yours, O LORD, is the sovereignty;
you are exalted as head over all.
Riches and honor are from you.”

R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“You have dominion over all,
In your hand are power and might;
it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all.”
R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.

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

Giving Continued Thanks

It is the day after Thanksgiving, for many a day to rest, a time to savor the conversations and interactions enjoyed yesterday with family and friends. This coming Sunday we celebrate the feast of Christ the King – Jesus, the Lord of time and history, whose life, death, and resurrection mark who we are as baptized Christian persons. No doubt yesterday brought opportunities to speak with family and good friends about all the adventures of these past weeks and months.

These recent experiences mark the ways we have used our time and talents in the service of others, various situations in which we have brought comfort and support, joy and hope into the lives of family and friends. Whether you thought about it or not, these conversations do in fact “bless and praise the name of God,” as today’s verses from the Book of Chronicles suggest.

Take some time this weekend to ponder God’s particular gifts and graces in your personal life. Note how relationships have been strengthened. Take note of how a personal struggle has been resolved. Bless God for the strength of family and the gift of new friends. It is the grace and growth of these past months that we bring to our God this Thanksgiving weekend. May Jesus Christ–whose life, death, and resurrection give us so much hope–strengthen my heart and bless all I accomplish for the greater glory of God!

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

Prayer

More than ever I find myself in the hands of God.
This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth.
But now there is a difference;
the initiative is entirely with God.
It is indeed a profound spiritual experience
to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ

 

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November 23, 2017

U.S. Thanksgiving Day / Bl Miguel Augustín Pro, SJ

Lk 17: 11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

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

Posture of gratitude

The nine lepers who obey Jesus’ instructions to “go show yourselves” do indeed experience physical healing. Yet, there seems to be something more that the grateful leper has received.

To be moved interiorly toward gratitude and to express praise to God can draw us closer, and keep us in humble and right relationship going forward. Therein lies the added blessing of the faith-filled leper.

Perhaps since it is easy to find ourselves among the “other nine,” St. Ignatius placed gratitude as the first movement of the daily Examen. As we in the United States assume the posture of the grateful leper today on Thanksgiving, may we be drawn deeper into relationship and may the Spirit stir in us a desire to love and serve God more generously. May we, too, place gratitude at the center of our prayer in order to sustain us on the journey ahead.

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

Prayer

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Creator God,
In a spirit of gratitude, we celebrate with family and friends.
We give thanks for those who are good to us.
We give thanks for those who were there to comfort
during trying situations.
And we give thanks for those
who remind us of your presence.
On this Thanksgiving Day, as we give thanks
for the light of your love, help us to be mindful
of those who will need us tomorrow.
Amen.

—Fr. James F. Keenan, SJ

 

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November 22, 2017

St. Cecilia

2 Mc 7: 1, 20-31

It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and thongs, to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh.

The mother was especially admirable and worthy of honorable memory. Although she saw her seven sons perish within a single day, she bore it with good courage because of her hope in the Lord. She encouraged each of them in the language of their ancestors.

Filled with a noble spirit, she reinforced her woman’s reasoning with a man’s courage, and said to them, ‘I do not know how you came into being in my womb. It was not I who gave you life and breath, nor I who set in order the elements within each of you. Therefore the Creator of the world, who shaped the beginning of humankind and devised the origin of all things, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws.’

Antiochus felt that he was being treated with contempt, and he was suspicious of her reproachful tone. The youngest brother being still alive, Antiochus not only appealed to him in words, but promised with oaths that he would make him rich and enviable if he would turn from the ways of his ancestors, and that he would take him for his Friend and entrust him with public affairs.

Since the young man would not listen to him at all, the king called the mother to him and urged her to advise the youth to save himself. After much urging on his part, she undertook to persuade her son. But, leaning close to him, she spoke in their native language as follows, deriding the cruel tyrant: ‘My son, have pity on me. I carried you for nine months in my womb, and nursed you for three years, and have reared you and brought you up to this point in your life, and have taken care of you.

I beg you, my child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. And in the same way the human race came into being. Do not fear this butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God’s mercy I may get you back again along with your brothers.’

While she was still speaking, the young man said, ‘What are you waiting for? I will not obey the king’s command, but I obey the command of the law that was given to our ancestors through Moses. But you, who have contrived all sorts of evil against the Hebrews, will certainly not escape the hands of God.

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

Faithful in big and little ways

Temptations. They come in so many forms. I still remember when a high school classmate offered to pay me to write his term paper. I really needed the money, but I knew I had to say no.

Today’s Gospel parable (Lk 19:11-28) reminds us that if we’re not faithful in little things, it’s tough to do what’s right when faced with the bigger stuff. Our story from Maccabees shows us the extreme – there’s nothing bigger than facing death for our beliefs.

But this family is faithful in big and little ways. They follow the smaller details of the law, but also understand who it is that gives them “both breath and life.”

Temptations can be tough, but we can trust – as this exemplary woman in today’s reading does – that the merciful God who set everything in order will save us in the end. We don’t have to be afraid.

—Rita Zyber is RCIA and Confirmation Coordinator at St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

O God, give me the courage and strength to be worthy of being called a Christian.

—Karl Rahner, SJ

 

 

 

 

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November 21, 2017

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lk 19: 1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him.

All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

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

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.

Prayer

You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
and what the LORD requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

—Micah 6:8

 

 

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