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June 25, 2018

Mt 7:1-5

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

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.

How ridiculous we are to judge

What vivid imagery Jesus invokes in today’s Gospel reading!

As the son of a carpenter, perhaps His father asked for Jesus’ help one afternoon in toting some wood. We might imagine an adolescent Jesus proudly stepping up to the plate to haul the biggest board that he could muster – only to be rendered temporarily useless by the tiniest fraction – a mere splinter – of it.

I suspect that we’ve all been there and don’t need any help in conjuring up the pain. But a splinter in one’s eye … how does that even happen? And, who, having acquired a splinter in his eye, ever needed anyone else’s help to realize his predicament? (What could be more ridiculous than that?)

Well, this … says Jesus: a person with a wooden beam sticking out of his eye who takes the occasion to scrutinize someone else’s infirmity.

(Ludicrous, right?)

Precisely – just like judging another person.

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

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to recognize the errors of my ways, or the splinters in my eye.  Give me the humility to respond to criticism and the strength to change my actions to be more in line with how you would like me to live.  Remind me that you alone are our judge. Amen.

 —The Jesuit Prayer team


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June 24, 2018

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Is 49:1-6

Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.

And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.”

And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

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.

Tearing down divisions

We are all created in the image and likeness of God. More than ever, these words should remind us that we have a responsibility to serve our brothers and sisters, because we are made for action. Even when we feel that we are “laboring in vain” God has created us as specialized instruments for his arsenal. We should not presume that these are merely instruments of war, however. Notice that the following lines are about building and restoring community. Today, no message could be more pertinent as look at our wider political climate. Too often we are separated by ideology and not united to build and serve the kingdom of God.

Let us rise to the call of being the “light to the nations” and work for peace and the common good, tearing down divisions so that God’s salvation might reach the ends of the earth.

—Fr. R.J. Fichtinger, SJ, is a priest of the Midwest Province.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you call us to work for peace and justice in our communities, both locally and globally.  Open our hearts to those with whom we disagree, help us to build bridges toward our opponents so that we can work together to bring about your kingdom on earth.  May we allow ourselves to be your instruments in our world. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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June 23, 2018

Mt 6:24-34

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’

For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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.

Trusting in God’s providence

Today’s Gospel invites us to consider how we position ourselves before the Lord’s providence. It is not so much a condemnation of the capitalist economic system, which when lacking God indeed allows for money to replace God in our hearts, as much as an invitation to clarify our priorities.

Jesus exhorts us to “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” This is our vocation as children of God. However, the reality and urgency of the concrete needs of our world, such as food and clothing, sometimes blur or even supersede that vocation. Then, providing for them becomes the only driver of our lives.

The search for the Kingdom is, on the contrary, a search for a fraternal and just coexistence, where we all can live as brethren and care for the needs of each other, and where nobody would need to worry about tomorrow.

How do I understand and live my trust in God’s Providence?

—Fernando Luis Barreto Mercado, SJ, is a member of the USA Central and Southern Province. He will be ordained a priest at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 28.

Prayer

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
with the lyre make music to our God,
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
provides rain for the earth,
makes grass sprout on the mountains,
Who gives animals their food
and young ravens what they cry for.
He takes no delight in the strength of horses,
no pleasure in the runner’s stride.
Rather the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
those who put their hope in his mercy.

—Psalm 147:7-11

 


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June 22, 2018

Mt 6:19-23

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

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.

Treasures of heaven

Jesus tells us not to store up treasures on earth, but instead to store up treasures in heaven. Wealth does not satisfy. Money is only a means to other ends, many of which give only the illusion of happiness: status, security, or material pleasures. St. Ignatius of Loyola advocated that we be indifferent to all created goods, not only because they can take our attention away from God, but also because they do not truly satisfy our deepest longings.

What are the “treasures of heaven”? Jesus does not give us a list, but we know that they are goods that endure because God preserves them forever. St. Paul says that love “endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7). Our wealth, health, youthful good looks, status, and power will all fade away, but the love and relationships we create together will never leave us, because God will always preserve that love.

—Marina McCoy is an associate professor of philosophy at Boston College.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

 

 

 


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June 21, 2018

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Mt 6:7-15

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

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 Daily Bread

When the Missionaries of Charity first came to New York City, I read that they did not have a refrigerator in their modest quarters in a poor section of the Bronx. They accepted only as much food as they could consume in a day, and constantly witnessed to their total dependence on God.

For those of us not called to lives of evangelical poverty, the constraints of work and family obligations dictate how often we shop for food and what we buy. Our refrigerators and freezers help us avoid waste and plan for the unexpected.

But we all need reminders of our total dependence on God. Give us this day our daily bread reminds us to ask for what we need today and trust God for the future. Our daily bread reminds us of our connection to the Body of Christ. Bread focuses on what we really need, not what we think we want. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

—Barbara Lee is a spiritual director, an Ignatian Volunteer, and the author of God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet: Discovering the Spiritual Graces of Later Life published by Loyola Press

Prayer

Our Father in Heaven, your name is holy. Let us experience your kingdom on earth by doing your will. Give us what we need today and make us more aware of the needs of others. Give us the grace to forgive and to ask forgiveness. Help us recognize the temptations of evil and to praise you forever. For yours are the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.   

—Barbara Lee

 


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June 20, 2018

Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

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.

Genuine acts of love for God

We’re used to hearing this passage at the beginning of Lent, yet here we are in the midst of Ordinary Time. Perhaps it can be a reminder now, to take stock of our spiritual practices. Here Jesus is telling his followers, as he’s telling us today, to make an examination of our pieties and devotional practices. Do we do them so others may see our “holiness”? That would make them insincere and the only reward we would get would be the attention. But if we’re even willing to do them away from the eyes of others, in secret before God, we can trust their genuineness.

The truth is, all we need to worry about is what God sees in our hearts. God doesn’t care for us to go through religious motions with half-filled hearts, just as my wife wouldn’t appreciate insincere, hollow words or actions. Practices of love must always be for the building of the relationship, not the self.

What practices do you have that deepen your relationship with God?

—Andy Otto is a pastoral associate at St. Thomas More Jesuit Church and a retreat director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA. He is the author of God Moments.

Prayer

How do you, Lord, look at me?
What do you feel in your heart for me?

—John Eagan, SJ

 

 

 

 

 


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June 19, 2018

Mt 5:43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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.

Everyone deserves love

I imagine that some people see me as an enemy.

I’ve hurt people. I’ve been a bully. I’ve broken hearts. I have the capacity to use people. I’ve robbed people of joy, I’ve dashed hopes, and I’ve caused people to question the sincerity of my love. I’ve asked for forgiveness and trust in God’s mercy, but still…

Jesus demands that we love those who have caused us pain. It can feel like an impossible task.

I wonder though, whether his commandment to love our enemies comes easier when I remember how desperately I need to be loved – even by those people who have good reason not to love me anymore.

It’s brave to ask for love, and everyone asks somehow. I can choose to love my enemies, because just like me, they deserve it too.

—Eric Immel, SJ, is the Associate Dean for Student Success at Arrupe College and an editor for The Jesuit Post.

Prayer

Jesus, Prince of Peace,
you have asked us to love our enemies
and pray for those who persecute us.
We pray for our enemies and those who oppose us.
With the help of the Holy Spirit,
may all people learn to work together
for that justice which brings true and lasting peace.
To you be glory and honor for ever and ever.  

—Prayer for our Enemies, from the USCCB website


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June 18, 2018

Mt 5:38-42

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

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.

Jesus’ message is countercultural

“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was not encouragement to take revenge but was meant to put a limitation on one’s retaliation. We live in a world that calls on us to seek revenge and retaliation when we have been wronged, but Jesus calls us to a very different kind of response, one that requires great inner strength, self-respect and respect for the dignity of our attacker. He calls us to mercy and love.

We have more than enough evidence in our world of the never-ending cycle of hate, mistrust and violence. Not many ever seems to try Jesus response of mercy and love. G.K. Chesterton once said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. How different would the world be if we responded to hate, mistrust and violence with forgiveness and by doing a sacrificial good for that person? Jesus gave us the ultimate example of responding with love and mercy with his willingness to suffer and die on the cross for the sins of mankind.

Are you willing to respond with mercy and love next time you have been wronged? How can you start to move in that direction?

—Chris LaMothe teaches theology at Jesuit High School in New Orleans.

Prayer

Father, forgive them for the do not know what they do.

—Luke 23:34

 

 

 


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June 17, 2018

Mk 4:26-34

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

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.

Recognizing God’s gifts

The Kingdom of God is like seeds that, once planted, grow on their own without human intervention. Our role is to plant the seeds and harvest the fruit but to leave the spiritual maturation to God. Like the birds who nest in the shade of the mustard bush, our role is simply to use the gifts God has already given us. It can be very easy to believe that we are responsible for our own successes. We sometimes lack the humility that comes from knowing that everything we have is a gift from God. But with that humility can also come great freedom as we increasingly rely on God’s power rather than our own.

How can I be more grateful in my life for my talents, my fortunes and my successes? Where do I need to ask for God’s grace in my life rather than continue to struggle on my own?

—Fr. Philip Sutherland, SJ, is a priest of the USA West Province and doctoral student in philosophy at Marquette University.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 


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June 16, 2018

Mt 5:33-37

“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

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.

Saying yes to God

Jesus’ prohibition against oaths in today’s Gospel emphasizes our utter poverty in offering collateral to back up what we swear to do. The heavens and the earth, and even our own body, are ultimately only lent to us so that we, in the words of St. Ignatius Loyola, “may accomplish the end for which we are created” each day: to attain salvation and glorify God. The complete sacrifice of Elisha in the first reading today (1 Kgs 19:19-21) models how ready we ought to be to drop everything and watch it all go up in smoke when God calls us away from our paltry ways of doing things into his ever greater Way.

How can I say “yes” to God today? Lord Jesus, help me to mean it.

—Fr. Michael Wegenka, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. He was ordained to the priesthood last weekend. His first assignment as a priest will be at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Grand Coteau, La.

Prayer

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing.

—Excerpt from the Wesley Covenant Prayer

 

 


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June 25, 2018

Mt 7:1-5

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

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.

How ridiculous we are to judge

What vivid imagery Jesus invokes in today’s Gospel reading!

As the son of a carpenter, perhaps His father asked for Jesus’ help one afternoon in toting some wood. We might imagine an adolescent Jesus proudly stepping up to the plate to haul the biggest board that he could muster – only to be rendered temporarily useless by the tiniest fraction – a mere splinter – of it.

I suspect that we’ve all been there and don’t need any help in conjuring up the pain. But a splinter in one’s eye … how does that even happen? And, who, having acquired a splinter in his eye, ever needed anyone else’s help to realize his predicament? (What could be more ridiculous than that?)

Well, this … says Jesus: a person with a wooden beam sticking out of his eye who takes the occasion to scrutinize someone else’s infirmity.

(Ludicrous, right?)

Precisely – just like judging another person.

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

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to recognize the errors of my ways, or the splinters in my eye.  Give me the humility to respond to criticism and the strength to change my actions to be more in line with how you would like me to live.  Remind me that you alone are our judge. Amen.

 —The Jesuit Prayer team

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June 24, 2018

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Is 49:1-6

Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.

And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.”

And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

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.

Tearing down divisions

We are all created in the image and likeness of God. More than ever, these words should remind us that we have a responsibility to serve our brothers and sisters, because we are made for action. Even when we feel that we are “laboring in vain” God has created us as specialized instruments for his arsenal. We should not presume that these are merely instruments of war, however. Notice that the following lines are about building and restoring community. Today, no message could be more pertinent as look at our wider political climate. Too often we are separated by ideology and not united to build and serve the kingdom of God.

Let us rise to the call of being the “light to the nations” and work for peace and the common good, tearing down divisions so that God’s salvation might reach the ends of the earth.

—Fr. R.J. Fichtinger, SJ, is a priest of the Midwest Province.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you call us to work for peace and justice in our communities, both locally and globally.  Open our hearts to those with whom we disagree, help us to build bridges toward our opponents so that we can work together to bring about your kingdom on earth.  May we allow ourselves to be your instruments in our world. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

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June 23, 2018

Mt 6:24-34

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’

For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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.

Trusting in God’s providence

Today’s Gospel invites us to consider how we position ourselves before the Lord’s providence. It is not so much a condemnation of the capitalist economic system, which when lacking God indeed allows for money to replace God in our hearts, as much as an invitation to clarify our priorities.

Jesus exhorts us to “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” This is our vocation as children of God. However, the reality and urgency of the concrete needs of our world, such as food and clothing, sometimes blur or even supersede that vocation. Then, providing for them becomes the only driver of our lives.

The search for the Kingdom is, on the contrary, a search for a fraternal and just coexistence, where we all can live as brethren and care for the needs of each other, and where nobody would need to worry about tomorrow.

How do I understand and live my trust in God’s Providence?

—Fernando Luis Barreto Mercado, SJ, is a member of the USA Central and Southern Province. He will be ordained a priest at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 28.

Prayer

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
with the lyre make music to our God,
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
provides rain for the earth,
makes grass sprout on the mountains,
Who gives animals their food
and young ravens what they cry for.
He takes no delight in the strength of horses,
no pleasure in the runner’s stride.
Rather the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
those who put their hope in his mercy.

—Psalm 147:7-11

 

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June 22, 2018

Mt 6:19-23

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

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.

Treasures of heaven

Jesus tells us not to store up treasures on earth, but instead to store up treasures in heaven. Wealth does not satisfy. Money is only a means to other ends, many of which give only the illusion of happiness: status, security, or material pleasures. St. Ignatius of Loyola advocated that we be indifferent to all created goods, not only because they can take our attention away from God, but also because they do not truly satisfy our deepest longings.

What are the “treasures of heaven”? Jesus does not give us a list, but we know that they are goods that endure because God preserves them forever. St. Paul says that love “endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7). Our wealth, health, youthful good looks, status, and power will all fade away, but the love and relationships we create together will never leave us, because God will always preserve that love.

—Marina McCoy is an associate professor of philosophy at Boston College.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

 

 

 

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June 21, 2018

St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Mt 6:7-15

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

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 Daily Bread

When the Missionaries of Charity first came to New York City, I read that they did not have a refrigerator in their modest quarters in a poor section of the Bronx. They accepted only as much food as they could consume in a day, and constantly witnessed to their total dependence on God.

For those of us not called to lives of evangelical poverty, the constraints of work and family obligations dictate how often we shop for food and what we buy. Our refrigerators and freezers help us avoid waste and plan for the unexpected.

But we all need reminders of our total dependence on God. Give us this day our daily bread reminds us to ask for what we need today and trust God for the future. Our daily bread reminds us of our connection to the Body of Christ. Bread focuses on what we really need, not what we think we want. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

—Barbara Lee is a spiritual director, an Ignatian Volunteer, and the author of God Isn’t Finished With Me Yet: Discovering the Spiritual Graces of Later Life published by Loyola Press

Prayer

Our Father in Heaven, your name is holy. Let us experience your kingdom on earth by doing your will. Give us what we need today and make us more aware of the needs of others. Give us the grace to forgive and to ask forgiveness. Help us recognize the temptations of evil and to praise you forever. For yours are the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.   

—Barbara Lee

 

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June 20, 2018

Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

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.

Genuine acts of love for God

We’re used to hearing this passage at the beginning of Lent, yet here we are in the midst of Ordinary Time. Perhaps it can be a reminder now, to take stock of our spiritual practices. Here Jesus is telling his followers, as he’s telling us today, to make an examination of our pieties and devotional practices. Do we do them so others may see our “holiness”? That would make them insincere and the only reward we would get would be the attention. But if we’re even willing to do them away from the eyes of others, in secret before God, we can trust their genuineness.

The truth is, all we need to worry about is what God sees in our hearts. God doesn’t care for us to go through religious motions with half-filled hearts, just as my wife wouldn’t appreciate insincere, hollow words or actions. Practices of love must always be for the building of the relationship, not the self.

What practices do you have that deepen your relationship with God?

—Andy Otto is a pastoral associate at St. Thomas More Jesuit Church and a retreat director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA. He is the author of God Moments.

Prayer

How do you, Lord, look at me?
What do you feel in your heart for me?

—John Eagan, SJ

 

 

 

 

 

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June 19, 2018

Mt 5:43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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.

Everyone deserves love

I imagine that some people see me as an enemy.

I’ve hurt people. I’ve been a bully. I’ve broken hearts. I have the capacity to use people. I’ve robbed people of joy, I’ve dashed hopes, and I’ve caused people to question the sincerity of my love. I’ve asked for forgiveness and trust in God’s mercy, but still…

Jesus demands that we love those who have caused us pain. It can feel like an impossible task.

I wonder though, whether his commandment to love our enemies comes easier when I remember how desperately I need to be loved – even by those people who have good reason not to love me anymore.

It’s brave to ask for love, and everyone asks somehow. I can choose to love my enemies, because just like me, they deserve it too.

—Eric Immel, SJ, is the Associate Dean for Student Success at Arrupe College and an editor for The Jesuit Post.

Prayer

Jesus, Prince of Peace,
you have asked us to love our enemies
and pray for those who persecute us.
We pray for our enemies and those who oppose us.
With the help of the Holy Spirit,
may all people learn to work together
for that justice which brings true and lasting peace.
To you be glory and honor for ever and ever.  

—Prayer for our Enemies, from the USCCB website

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June 18, 2018

Mt 5:38-42

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

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.

Jesus’ message is countercultural

“An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was not encouragement to take revenge but was meant to put a limitation on one’s retaliation. We live in a world that calls on us to seek revenge and retaliation when we have been wronged, but Jesus calls us to a very different kind of response, one that requires great inner strength, self-respect and respect for the dignity of our attacker. He calls us to mercy and love.

We have more than enough evidence in our world of the never-ending cycle of hate, mistrust and violence. Not many ever seems to try Jesus response of mercy and love. G.K. Chesterton once said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. How different would the world be if we responded to hate, mistrust and violence with forgiveness and by doing a sacrificial good for that person? Jesus gave us the ultimate example of responding with love and mercy with his willingness to suffer and die on the cross for the sins of mankind.

Are you willing to respond with mercy and love next time you have been wronged? How can you start to move in that direction?

—Chris LaMothe teaches theology at Jesuit High School in New Orleans.

Prayer

Father, forgive them for the do not know what they do.

—Luke 23:34

 

 

 

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June 17, 2018

Mk 4:26-34

He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.”

He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

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.

Recognizing God’s gifts

The Kingdom of God is like seeds that, once planted, grow on their own without human intervention. Our role is to plant the seeds and harvest the fruit but to leave the spiritual maturation to God. Like the birds who nest in the shade of the mustard bush, our role is simply to use the gifts God has already given us. It can be very easy to believe that we are responsible for our own successes. We sometimes lack the humility that comes from knowing that everything we have is a gift from God. But with that humility can also come great freedom as we increasingly rely on God’s power rather than our own.

How can I be more grateful in my life for my talents, my fortunes and my successes? Where do I need to ask for God’s grace in my life rather than continue to struggle on my own?

—Fr. Philip Sutherland, SJ, is a priest of the USA West Province and doctoral student in philosophy at Marquette University.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

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June 16, 2018

Mt 5:33-37

“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

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.

Saying yes to God

Jesus’ prohibition against oaths in today’s Gospel emphasizes our utter poverty in offering collateral to back up what we swear to do. The heavens and the earth, and even our own body, are ultimately only lent to us so that we, in the words of St. Ignatius Loyola, “may accomplish the end for which we are created” each day: to attain salvation and glorify God. The complete sacrifice of Elisha in the first reading today (1 Kgs 19:19-21) models how ready we ought to be to drop everything and watch it all go up in smoke when God calls us away from our paltry ways of doing things into his ever greater Way.

How can I say “yes” to God today? Lord Jesus, help me to mean it.

—Fr. Michael Wegenka, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. He was ordained to the priesthood last weekend. His first assignment as a priest will be at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Grand Coteau, La.

Prayer

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing.

—Excerpt from the Wesley Covenant Prayer

 

 

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