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July 22, 2018

Mark 6:30-34

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

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.

Seeing with the Heart of Christ

“He saw a vast crowd, and his heart was moved with pity for them,” is the translation of the last verse as we hear it at Mass in today’s Gospel.  Christian wisdom is to see the world around us with the eyes of Christ. St. Ignatius’s work, Spiritual Exercises, is a very good way of allowing Christ to work this miracle in us. Through these exercises, Christ changes the patterns of significance and value that shape our perceptions.

The culture around us, in countless, relentless ways drums into us its own ‘patterns of significance and value.’  We hear messages that“This is fantastic! You gotta have this!” But how is it that just this one image of Christ ‘moved with pity for them’ can move us more deeply? There’s the miracle. And the Spiritual Exercises focus on that miracle: the little calls and inspirations that are often on the periphery of our consciousness and often lost, these are brought into the foreground and treasured. Your heart is changed and you see with the eyes of Christ!

—Fr. Mark Henninger, SJ, is a spiritual care chaplain at Loyola University Medical Centerin Maywood, IL.

Prayer

Lord, we pray for the grace to feel your presence through our thoughts, circumstances, and moments of love that weave in and out of our day. We know that more times than not, the “feeling” is transitory.  And that’s okay.

Our life meaning is not advanced by a feeling, but it is anchored in the guarantee of your personal care for every aspect of our lives. To this claim we cling. Though storms may pound the securities and loves of our lives, we will not be vanquished. We will triumph through a reciprocal faithfulness: you being there for us and we being there for you.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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July 21, 2018

 

Mt 12:14-21

But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, and he ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.

I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

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.

Continuing the good work

When Jesus realizes that the Pharisees want to put him to death, he doesn’t stay and continue to argue with them. Instead, he withdraws, but continues his ministry and heals all those who come to him.  Matthew connects this to what is known as the First Servant Song in Isaiah, where Jesus is the servant of God who brings hope to the Jews (to whom Isaiah was speaking) and the Gentiles (who are specifically mentioned).  How telling this is! Even in the midst of hatred and threats against him, Jesus continued to do the will of God and minister to those in need.

Are there people in your life who seem to always be against you?  How can you continue following Christ in spite of what others may say?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

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, USCCB website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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July 20, 2018

Mt 12:1-8

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests.

Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

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.

What are you hungry for?

Hunger. It isn’t the same for everyone. In this Gospel account, the Pharisees hunger for the law. Their bellies are full but their rules must be satisfied. Rules inform the difference between righteous and sinner, between “us” and “them.” They seek stability, which is not a bad thing. However, they have not recognized the stability they seek has led them to static rigidity.

The disciples seek sustenance. Do we find it interesting that those closest to Jesus feel hunger? Following Jesus, doing what Jesus does, loving who Jesus loves is hard work and can leave one famished. Why didn’t Jesus just multiply some loaves and fish and feed them? Instead, Jesus walks with his friends through a field of grain where they are able to feed themselves. Sustainability may be questioned from time to time, but mature disciples know where and how to find food.

Like the Pharisees and the disciples, I might focus on my own hunger and ask what it is that I seek: stability or sustainability. Yet, the key of this story is the revelation of Jesus’ hunger. Jesus hungers for Sabbath. Sabbath is space and time to realize what is needed in my lifeworld is the holy embedded within. The fruit of that place is mercy. Jesus’ hunger demands radical courage and always pushes me to the streets.

—Carol Ackels is director of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute in Dallas. She serves as retreat director of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius offered in various formats, and is co-author of Finding Christ in the World, a twelve week Ignatian retreat.

Prayer

Jesus, our friend
We struggle with
the mixing of justice and mercy,
You do not.
Your cry of protest,
is a word of grace.
Give us radical courage to hear
Your cry for mercy,
so that we may know justice,
as you did.

Amen.

—Carol Ackels

 

 

 

 

 


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July 19, 2018

IS 26:7-9, 12, 16-19

The way of the righteous is level;

  O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous.

In the path of your judgements,

  O Lord, we wait for you;

your name and your renown

  are the soul’s desire.

My soul yearns for you in the night,

  my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.

For when your judgements are in the earth,

  the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,

  for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.

O Lord, in distress they sought you,

  they poured out a prayer*

  when your chastening was on them.

Like a woman with child,

  who writhes and cries out in her pangs

  when she is near her time,

so were we because of you, O Lord;

  we were with child, we writhed,

  but we gave birth only to wind.

We have won no victories on earth,

  and no one is born to inhabit the world.

Your dead shall live, their corpses* shall rise.

  O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy!

For your dew is a radiant dew,

  and the earth will give birth to those long dead.*

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.

All is done through God’s grace

“O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.” I know Isaiah is talking about God’s relationship with the Jewish community overall, but I take these verses personally. As a busy, 21st century, Type A, can-do attitude type, I tend to roll through life with the subconscious mindset that I’m in control. But, really, what do I have that was not given to me? I didn’t raise or educate myself, or choose to be born in a prosperous country, select my own DNA, you name it. All is gift. And Isaiah is right: it’s through God, and God’s grace, that all that we have done is accomplished. Why not spend a minute or two gratefully calling to mind God’s graces in your own life, and some of those folks who have mediated that grace.

—Chris Lowney is author of various books. His most recent is Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World) published by Loyola Press.

Prayer

Lord, there are few things in this world that I’m absolutely certain about. But here is one of them: I know I’m not grateful enough. Thank you for all the blessings that have showered down on me, and that you continue to shower down on me. Remind me to be a more grateful person, one who remembers to thank you every day.  Amen.

—Chris Lowney

 


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July 18, 2018

Mt 11:25-27

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal 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.

Through the Eyes of a Child

In today’s reading, Jesus advises the Scribes and Pharisees that being wise and intelligent may not be the best way of seeing the world. Looking at Jesus through eyes of judgment, they were quick to blame and criticize him. They did not know the Son or the Father. Where was their child-like innocence hiding?

Little children see a different world than we adults do. They have total trust in their parents. They believe the impossible and say innocent prayers. Jesus is very real to them. They stoop to admire small wonders on the sidewalk. They delight in simplicity. Joy is the air they breathe.

Today can you find God in all things by paying attention to small wonders God places before you? Practice taking delight in the awe-someness of God’s creation. Be joyful. Remove your adult Pharisee eyes, and you shall see what the Son chooses to reveal to you.

—Diane Amento Owens is a spiritual director who encourages her directees to see the world through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.

Prayer

Help me to know you, Jesus, in the faces and places of my day. Help me to see your presence, God, in your glorious handiwork hidden in a leaf, a flower, a bug. Open my eyes and my heart to who you are and where you are today. Help me to see the world through childlike eyes. Reveal yourself to me, your beloved little child.

—Diane Ament Owens

 


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July 17, 2018

Mt 11:20-24

Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you.

And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for 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.

Shaking up our lives

When I was in the novitiate, I invented a fictional novice, let’s call him “Little Luke,” who I used to convince people to join me in activities. “If Little Luke was here,” I would say, “he would come to the movies with me!” It worked surprisingly well.

But in today’s Gospel, Jesus bemoans the way we often respond to calls for repentance. Despite abundant evidence, we choose the comfort of stasis over the uncomfortability of change. Jesus’ anger grows out of the fact that the life into which he invites us is abundant in grace, if only we would choose it. Despite presenting for us the option that Little Luke would choose, we refuse to say yes.

What part of your life might you invite Jesus to shake up today?

—Jake Braithwaite, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Northeast Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, breathe down upon our troubled world. Shake the tired foundations of our crumbling institutions. Break the rules that keep you out of all our sacred spaces, and from the dust and rubble, gather up the seedlings of a new creation.

Come, Holy Spirit, enflame once more the dying embers of our weariness. Shake us of our complacency. Whisper our names once more, and scatter your gifts of grace with wild abandon. Break open the prisons of our inner being, and let your raging justice be our sign of liberty.

Come, Holy Spirit, and lead us to places we would rather not go; expand the horizons of our limited imaginations. Awaken in our souls dangerous dreams for a new tomorrow, and rekindle in our hearts the fire of prophetic enthusiasm.

Come, Holy Spirit, whose justice outwits international conspiracy; whose light outshines spiritual bigotry, whose peace can overcome the destructive potential of warfare,whose promise invigorates our every effort to create a new heaven and a new earth, now and forever.

—Diarmuid O’Murchu

 


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July 16, 2018

Mt 10:34-11:1

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.

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.

The difficulties of discipleship

Oh, no.

I’m sitting in the airport awaiting the final boarding of a flight that begins our summer vacation – back-to-back weeks with my extended family (week 1) and my wife’s extended family (week 2). I decide to take a peek ahead at the readings for today, and there it is:

“For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.”

Oh, Jesus, please not now … we’re on vacation!

The conditions of discipleship, Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel, are potentially harsh. But the rewards are equally great: “whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Almost without fail, it’s not my great love of Jesus that finds me pitted against one (or more) of my relatives. Rather, it is my excessive love of self. This week and next, a glass of water for the disciples and prophets in my midst – whether they look thirsty or not!

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

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity
Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.

Amen.

 


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July 15, 2018

Mark 6: 7-13

He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.

He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

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.

Creative Apostles

Do you feel like an apostle? What is an apostle anyway? ‘One who is sent’. Those twelve encountered Jesus and it changed their lives: God’s forgiving, healing and transforming love became real to them in Jesus. And they had to go off – tell the world!

If you are reading this, in some way, maybe very deeply, you too have ‘encountered Jesus’. You’ve made the breakthrough, you’re no longer indifferent, floating along; now Jesus is more and more ‘pulling’ you along in mysterious ways.

How to share this will people around you? Each generation has to find ways to do it. But make no mistake about it – if you’ve encountered Jesus, this didn’t happen just for you. Like anything really good, it’s meant to be shared. Talk to others who have encountered Jesus, we’re in this together in the church. Be creative apostles!

Fr. Mark Henninger, SJ, is a spiritual care chaplain at Loyola University Medical Centerin Maywood, IL.

Prayer

Lord, sometimes we feel like our mission is “no big deal.”  Sometimes we don’t even know if we have a mission or how to go about finding it. Other times our mission can paralyze us with fear — how will we ever live up to the expectations of the mission.

And sometimes we see our mission over yonder with no way to bring it closer. We place our confidence in you, Lord. If we really listen to you, to those you bring into our lives and to the situations that call forth our growth, we will live a mission directed by you and one that brings forth our best.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 


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July 14, 2018

Is 6:1-8

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.

And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

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.

Sent in spite of our imperfections

It is likely that we can all relate to Isaiah’s feelings of unworthiness.  Perhaps we receive praise at work for something we consider simply doing our jobs.  Maybe we have a friendship in which we seem to get more than we give. It could be an act of service that makes us feel that we gained more than those whom we served.  Or perhaps, like Isaiah, we feel that our broken, fragile, imperfect selves are not worthy of God’s infinite love for us.

Just as Isaiah is forgiven of his sins, we too are offered this mercy in our own lives.  Immediately after being forgiven, God calls Isaiah and Isaiah feels ready to accept his mission.  God wants to send each of us, not necessarily in the same way as the prophet Isaiah, but in a way that allows our lives to be lived out in service of God.  

If we are to be co-laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, how can we overcome our feelings of inadequacy and respond to God “Here am I; send me”?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Good and gracious God, you love us in spite of our failings, and you offer us your mercy and healing.  May we respond to your invitation in our lives as Isaiah did “here am I; send me.” Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

July 13, 2018

Mt 10:16-23

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

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.

Wise as serpents, innocent as doves

Reflecting on this Gospel passage, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that Jesus called his followers to foster two competing qualities: a tough mind and a tender heart. Jesus sends his friends into the world – the real world in real time with real people. The world of complex issues with conflicting demands, where relationships might be strained, broken and in need of healing.

Mature disciples engage in hard, serious thinking rather than settle for convenient answers. And the mature have hearts shaped with tenderness open to the beauty of loving others. Tough mindedness without tenderheartedness is cold and hard. Tenderheartedness without tough mindedness is sentimental and aimless. Jesus demands both. We must courageously combine the tough and tender to allow God to surround us with justice and grace.

—Carol Ackels is director of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute and co-author of Finding Christ in the World, a twelve week Ignatian retreat.

Prayer

God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters. Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace, our trepidation into confident trust, and our quarreling into forgiveness.

Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words “division,” “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman. Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam!

—Pope Francis, invocation for peace, June 8, 2014

 


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As a Jesuit school, Loyola Academy is rooted in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Daily prayer was an essential tool by which Ignatius reflected on his life and deepened his relationship with Christ.

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July 22, 2018

Mark 6:30-34

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

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.

Seeing with the Heart of Christ

“He saw a vast crowd, and his heart was moved with pity for them,” is the translation of the last verse as we hear it at Mass in today’s Gospel.  Christian wisdom is to see the world around us with the eyes of Christ. St. Ignatius’s work, Spiritual Exercises, is a very good way of allowing Christ to work this miracle in us. Through these exercises, Christ changes the patterns of significance and value that shape our perceptions.

The culture around us, in countless, relentless ways drums into us its own ‘patterns of significance and value.’  We hear messages that“This is fantastic! You gotta have this!” But how is it that just this one image of Christ ‘moved with pity for them’ can move us more deeply? There’s the miracle. And the Spiritual Exercises focus on that miracle: the little calls and inspirations that are often on the periphery of our consciousness and often lost, these are brought into the foreground and treasured. Your heart is changed and you see with the eyes of Christ!

—Fr. Mark Henninger, SJ, is a spiritual care chaplain at Loyola University Medical Centerin Maywood, IL.

Prayer

Lord, we pray for the grace to feel your presence through our thoughts, circumstances, and moments of love that weave in and out of our day. We know that more times than not, the “feeling” is transitory.  And that’s okay.

Our life meaning is not advanced by a feeling, but it is anchored in the guarantee of your personal care for every aspect of our lives. To this claim we cling. Though storms may pound the securities and loves of our lives, we will not be vanquished. We will triumph through a reciprocal faithfulness: you being there for us and we being there for you.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

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July 21, 2018

 

Mt 12:14-21

But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, and he ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.

I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

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.

Continuing the good work

When Jesus realizes that the Pharisees want to put him to death, he doesn’t stay and continue to argue with them. Instead, he withdraws, but continues his ministry and heals all those who come to him.  Matthew connects this to what is known as the First Servant Song in Isaiah, where Jesus is the servant of God who brings hope to the Jews (to whom Isaiah was speaking) and the Gentiles (who are specifically mentioned).  How telling this is! Even in the midst of hatred and threats against him, Jesus continued to do the will of God and minister to those in need.

Are there people in your life who seem to always be against you?  How can you continue following Christ in spite of what others may say?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

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, USCCB website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 20, 2018

Mt 12:1-8

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests.

Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests in the temple break the sabbath and yet are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

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.

What are you hungry for?

Hunger. It isn’t the same for everyone. In this Gospel account, the Pharisees hunger for the law. Their bellies are full but their rules must be satisfied. Rules inform the difference between righteous and sinner, between “us” and “them.” They seek stability, which is not a bad thing. However, they have not recognized the stability they seek has led them to static rigidity.

The disciples seek sustenance. Do we find it interesting that those closest to Jesus feel hunger? Following Jesus, doing what Jesus does, loving who Jesus loves is hard work and can leave one famished. Why didn’t Jesus just multiply some loaves and fish and feed them? Instead, Jesus walks with his friends through a field of grain where they are able to feed themselves. Sustainability may be questioned from time to time, but mature disciples know where and how to find food.

Like the Pharisees and the disciples, I might focus on my own hunger and ask what it is that I seek: stability or sustainability. Yet, the key of this story is the revelation of Jesus’ hunger. Jesus hungers for Sabbath. Sabbath is space and time to realize what is needed in my lifeworld is the holy embedded within. The fruit of that place is mercy. Jesus’ hunger demands radical courage and always pushes me to the streets.

—Carol Ackels is director of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute in Dallas. She serves as retreat director of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius offered in various formats, and is co-author of Finding Christ in the World, a twelve week Ignatian retreat.

Prayer

Jesus, our friend
We struggle with
the mixing of justice and mercy,
You do not.
Your cry of protest,
is a word of grace.
Give us radical courage to hear
Your cry for mercy,
so that we may know justice,
as you did.

Amen.

—Carol Ackels

 

 

 

 

 

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July 19, 2018

IS 26:7-9, 12, 16-19

The way of the righteous is level;

  O Just One, you make smooth the path of the righteous.

In the path of your judgements,

  O Lord, we wait for you;

your name and your renown

  are the soul’s desire.

My soul yearns for you in the night,

  my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.

For when your judgements are in the earth,

  the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,

  for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.

O Lord, in distress they sought you,

  they poured out a prayer*

  when your chastening was on them.

Like a woman with child,

  who writhes and cries out in her pangs

  when she is near her time,

so were we because of you, O Lord;

  we were with child, we writhed,

  but we gave birth only to wind.

We have won no victories on earth,

  and no one is born to inhabit the world.

Your dead shall live, their corpses* shall rise.

  O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy!

For your dew is a radiant dew,

  and the earth will give birth to those long dead.*

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.

All is done through God’s grace

“O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.” I know Isaiah is talking about God’s relationship with the Jewish community overall, but I take these verses personally. As a busy, 21st century, Type A, can-do attitude type, I tend to roll through life with the subconscious mindset that I’m in control. But, really, what do I have that was not given to me? I didn’t raise or educate myself, or choose to be born in a prosperous country, select my own DNA, you name it. All is gift. And Isaiah is right: it’s through God, and God’s grace, that all that we have done is accomplished. Why not spend a minute or two gratefully calling to mind God’s graces in your own life, and some of those folks who have mediated that grace.

—Chris Lowney is author of various books. His most recent is Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World) published by Loyola Press.

Prayer

Lord, there are few things in this world that I’m absolutely certain about. But here is one of them: I know I’m not grateful enough. Thank you for all the blessings that have showered down on me, and that you continue to shower down on me. Remind me to be a more grateful person, one who remembers to thank you every day.  Amen.

—Chris Lowney

 

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July 18, 2018

Mt 11:25-27

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal 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.

Through the Eyes of a Child

In today’s reading, Jesus advises the Scribes and Pharisees that being wise and intelligent may not be the best way of seeing the world. Looking at Jesus through eyes of judgment, they were quick to blame and criticize him. They did not know the Son or the Father. Where was their child-like innocence hiding?

Little children see a different world than we adults do. They have total trust in their parents. They believe the impossible and say innocent prayers. Jesus is very real to them. They stoop to admire small wonders on the sidewalk. They delight in simplicity. Joy is the air they breathe.

Today can you find God in all things by paying attention to small wonders God places before you? Practice taking delight in the awe-someness of God’s creation. Be joyful. Remove your adult Pharisee eyes, and you shall see what the Son chooses to reveal to you.

—Diane Amento Owens is a spiritual director who encourages her directees to see the world through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.

Prayer

Help me to know you, Jesus, in the faces and places of my day. Help me to see your presence, God, in your glorious handiwork hidden in a leaf, a flower, a bug. Open my eyes and my heart to who you are and where you are today. Help me to see the world through childlike eyes. Reveal yourself to me, your beloved little child.

—Diane Ament Owens

 

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July 17, 2018

Mt 11:20-24

Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you.

And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for 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.

Shaking up our lives

When I was in the novitiate, I invented a fictional novice, let’s call him “Little Luke,” who I used to convince people to join me in activities. “If Little Luke was here,” I would say, “he would come to the movies with me!” It worked surprisingly well.

But in today’s Gospel, Jesus bemoans the way we often respond to calls for repentance. Despite abundant evidence, we choose the comfort of stasis over the uncomfortability of change. Jesus’ anger grows out of the fact that the life into which he invites us is abundant in grace, if only we would choose it. Despite presenting for us the option that Little Luke would choose, we refuse to say yes.

What part of your life might you invite Jesus to shake up today?

—Jake Braithwaite, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Northeast Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, breathe down upon our troubled world. Shake the tired foundations of our crumbling institutions. Break the rules that keep you out of all our sacred spaces, and from the dust and rubble, gather up the seedlings of a new creation.

Come, Holy Spirit, enflame once more the dying embers of our weariness. Shake us of our complacency. Whisper our names once more, and scatter your gifts of grace with wild abandon. Break open the prisons of our inner being, and let your raging justice be our sign of liberty.

Come, Holy Spirit, and lead us to places we would rather not go; expand the horizons of our limited imaginations. Awaken in our souls dangerous dreams for a new tomorrow, and rekindle in our hearts the fire of prophetic enthusiasm.

Come, Holy Spirit, whose justice outwits international conspiracy; whose light outshines spiritual bigotry, whose peace can overcome the destructive potential of warfare,whose promise invigorates our every effort to create a new heaven and a new earth, now and forever.

—Diarmuid O’Murchu

 

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July 16, 2018

Mt 10:34-11:1

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities.

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.

The difficulties of discipleship

Oh, no.

I’m sitting in the airport awaiting the final boarding of a flight that begins our summer vacation – back-to-back weeks with my extended family (week 1) and my wife’s extended family (week 2). I decide to take a peek ahead at the readings for today, and there it is:

“For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.”

Oh, Jesus, please not now … we’re on vacation!

The conditions of discipleship, Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel, are potentially harsh. But the rewards are equally great: “whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Almost without fail, it’s not my great love of Jesus that finds me pitted against one (or more) of my relatives. Rather, it is my excessive love of self. This week and next, a glass of water for the disciples and prophets in my midst – whether they look thirsty or not!

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

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity
Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.

Amen.

 

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July 15, 2018

Mark 6: 7-13

He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.

He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

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.

Creative Apostles

Do you feel like an apostle? What is an apostle anyway? ‘One who is sent’. Those twelve encountered Jesus and it changed their lives: God’s forgiving, healing and transforming love became real to them in Jesus. And they had to go off – tell the world!

If you are reading this, in some way, maybe very deeply, you too have ‘encountered Jesus’. You’ve made the breakthrough, you’re no longer indifferent, floating along; now Jesus is more and more ‘pulling’ you along in mysterious ways.

How to share this will people around you? Each generation has to find ways to do it. But make no mistake about it – if you’ve encountered Jesus, this didn’t happen just for you. Like anything really good, it’s meant to be shared. Talk to others who have encountered Jesus, we’re in this together in the church. Be creative apostles!

Fr. Mark Henninger, SJ, is a spiritual care chaplain at Loyola University Medical Centerin Maywood, IL.

Prayer

Lord, sometimes we feel like our mission is “no big deal.”  Sometimes we don’t even know if we have a mission or how to go about finding it. Other times our mission can paralyze us with fear — how will we ever live up to the expectations of the mission.

And sometimes we see our mission over yonder with no way to bring it closer. We place our confidence in you, Lord. If we really listen to you, to those you bring into our lives and to the situations that call forth our growth, we will live a mission directed by you and one that brings forth our best.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 

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July 14, 2018

Is 6:1-8

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.

And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

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.

Sent in spite of our imperfections

It is likely that we can all relate to Isaiah’s feelings of unworthiness.  Perhaps we receive praise at work for something we consider simply doing our jobs.  Maybe we have a friendship in which we seem to get more than we give. It could be an act of service that makes us feel that we gained more than those whom we served.  Or perhaps, like Isaiah, we feel that our broken, fragile, imperfect selves are not worthy of God’s infinite love for us.

Just as Isaiah is forgiven of his sins, we too are offered this mercy in our own lives.  Immediately after being forgiven, God calls Isaiah and Isaiah feels ready to accept his mission.  God wants to send each of us, not necessarily in the same way as the prophet Isaiah, but in a way that allows our lives to be lived out in service of God.  

If we are to be co-laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, how can we overcome our feelings of inadequacy and respond to God “Here am I; send me”?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Good and gracious God, you love us in spite of our failings, and you offer us your mercy and healing.  May we respond to your invitation in our lives as Isaiah did “here am I; send me.” Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

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July 13, 2018

Mt 10:16-23

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

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.

Wise as serpents, innocent as doves

Reflecting on this Gospel passage, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that Jesus called his followers to foster two competing qualities: a tough mind and a tender heart. Jesus sends his friends into the world – the real world in real time with real people. The world of complex issues with conflicting demands, where relationships might be strained, broken and in need of healing.

Mature disciples engage in hard, serious thinking rather than settle for convenient answers. And the mature have hearts shaped with tenderness open to the beauty of loving others. Tough mindedness without tenderheartedness is cold and hard. Tenderheartedness without tough mindedness is sentimental and aimless. Jesus demands both. We must courageously combine the tough and tender to allow God to surround us with justice and grace.

—Carol Ackels is director of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute and co-author of Finding Christ in the World, a twelve week Ignatian retreat.

Prayer

God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters. Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace, our trepidation into confident trust, and our quarreling into forgiveness.

Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words “division,” “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman. Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam!

—Pope Francis, invocation for peace, June 8, 2014

 

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