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May 31, 2016

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lk 1: 39-56

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

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.

Sharing God’s Joy

From the very beginning, the good news of Jesus is meant to be shared. Mary has just agreed to be the mother of Jesus, and, already “in haste,” she travels to share the good news with her cousin. She can’t help herself; the good news impels her!

Likewise, in our own lives, the good news is meant to be sharedand not just with those who don’t know Jesus. That kind of evangelization is important; Jesus demands it. But the Visitation proposes that we ought to share the joy of the Gospel with our fellow Christians as well. Indeed, Elizabeth already knows about Jesus when Mary arrives. But that doesn’t lessen the joy these sisters share. Rather, the joy is redoubled as they celebrate God’s work together.

How has the Mighty One done great things for you this week? With whom might you share and celebrate that good news?

—Daniel Everson, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central Southern province, is currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name!

—from Mary’s Magnificat song


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 30. 2016

Mk 12: 1-12

Then he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the winepress, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed.

And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.Have you not read this scripture:

‘The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;

this was the Lord’s doing,

and it is amazing in our eyes’?”

When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away.

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.

Wine of Joy and Love

In this parable the tenant farmers seem to have completely forgotten that the vineyard is not their own. They did none of the work of establishing it. It was not even the initiative of their own conception. If they have not forgotten, they most certainly deny the reality that they were given the vineyard as a place to live, work, and produce good wine not only for themselves but, even more importantly, for the true owner.                                 

Wine brings joy and love and is meant to be shared. It is a celebratory symbol of all that God has done throughout salvation history to fashion a people for Himself and, through them, bring about complete unity among all people and ultimately peace on earth.

From the beginning, God has done the work of establishing his covenant and will continue to send the Holy Spirit through his son Jesus, to people of good will.

Jess Charles McGaa serves as Parish Life Coordinator at Sacred Heart Catholic Church Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

Prayer

Spirit of the Father,
Spirit of the Son,
Spirit of Life that makes us One.
Help us see in one another
Christ our sister,
Christ our brother.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 29, 2016

SOLEMNITY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

Lk 9: 11b-17

When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

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 A Special Gift!

Changing water into wine at Cana and multiplying the loaves and fishes in today’s gospel show Jesus’ power over material elements. All of this leads to greater truths.

Bread and wine, body and blood—these are basic components of human beings and elements that sustain human existence. These basic realities connect us to the humanity of Jesus and touch upon one of the deepest mysteries of our faith. Without the Incarnation, we would not be able to speak of Jesus’ body and blood. Without Jesus’ sacrifice at the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, we could not be offered these same elements transformed into the body and blood of Christ.

What an incredible gift Christ has given us; he has left us, but he is still with us. In the Eucharist we are united with him and with one another in a unique way.

—Fr. Bernard Streicher, S.J., a long-time faculty member at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH, now lives at the Colombiere Jesuit Community, Clarkston, MI.

Prayer

Godhead here in hiding, whom I adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Adoro Te,  trans. by Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 28, 2016

Jude 17: 20b-25

Beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. Build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.

To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished and exultant, in the presence of his glory, to the only God, our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, power, and authority from ages past, now, and for ages to come. Amen.

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.

Setting the Table

The worldwide body of Jesus Christ has different faces and tackles innumerably different challenges and needs. This weekend we hold up that reality as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Each of us has a family history and personal story. Each of us has been marked as a member of Christ’s body. And each of us is sent on mission each day to care for this “body of Christ.”

The challenges are many– the personal and family needs of those around us are often daunting. The truth is that “Christ has no body now but yours,” as the hymn goes. And so we find ourselves in unexpected places, in conversation with dear friends as well as total strangers. Your words, my smile, her personal care, his willingness to “open a door”love-filled actions like these make a wonderful difference in notable, often unheralded ways. We do in fact share our faith, hope and love as we look into the eyes and share the each other’s burdens. And so this weekend we “set the table,” one for the other.
Truly Christ has no body now but yours!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

The Risen Christ is with us this day
And he continues to need each one of you.
Jesus needs your eyes to continue to see.
He needs your strength to continue to work.
He needs your voice to continue to preach.
He needs your hands to continue to bless.
He needs your heart to continue to love.
And Jesus needs your whole being to continue to build up his body, the Church.
As we believe, so let us live!

—Cardinal Joseph Bernardin


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 27, 2016

St. Augustine of Canterbury

Mk 11: 11-26

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?

But you have made it a den of robbers.”

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you 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.

Be Unfair

In working with kids, we often hear, “That’s not fair.” We are born with an innate intuition of fairness. This is why a 5-year-old recognizes when something is unfair and seeks restitution or a balancing of fairness. What Jesus asks of us here is to be unfair, to go against our intuition, and to forgive. If someone has treated us unjustly, we are not to seek restitution or fairness; rather we are to be unfair to them by forgiving them.

Our human intuition of fairness seems offended, but Jesus follows this command up by saying that God will also forgive us. God has no need to forgive, but God always forgives. God’s unfairness must become our model response. We should strive to be unfair to others by always treating them with the unfairness of God.

Liliana Mamani Condori is a Peruvian lawyer pursuing a master’s degree in theological studies at Boston College. Sam Hay is finishing his MA in Theology and Ministry at B.C., and currently works for its School of Education.

Prayer

O Eternal Trinity,
my sweet love!
You, light,
give us wisdom.
You, supreme strength,
strengthen us.
Today, eternal God,
let our cloud be dissipated
so that we may perfectly know and follow
your truth,
in truth,
with a free and simple heart.

—Saint Catherine of Siena


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 26, 2016

St. Philip Neri

Mk 10: 46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

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.

Vulnerable  Trust

In today’s gospel, a blind man is healed by Jesus. The man, Bartimaeus, shouted: “Master, I want to see.” Jesus responds, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” When I consider this passage, I think of how vulnerable Bartimaeus must have made himself in order to cry to Jesus for help, and within a crowd no less. This vulnerability is what allowed the blind man to accept the faith that saved and healed him.

In our daily lives and in most societal circles, vulnerability is not a desired or efficient characteristic that we want to portray. It seems most acceptable to wear of a mask of pride. Instead, let’s remember to ask Jesus for the strength to get through obstacles, big or small. We must allow ourselves a certain amount of personal vulnerability to listen and trust in God.

—Mark Ehrbar is Co-Director of Music at Gesu Church, University Heights, OH.

Prayer

In the comfort of your love, I pour out to you, my Savior, the memories that haunt me, the fears that stifle me, the sickness that prevails upon me, and the frustration of all the pain that weaves about within me. Lord, help me to see your peace in my turmoil, your compassion in my sorrow, your forgiveness in my weakness, and your love in my need. Touch me, O Lord, with your healing and strength. To you, dear God, be all thanks and glory!  —Prayer to Christ the Healer


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 25, 2016

Mk 10: 32-45

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles;they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

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.

Can You Drink the Cup?

This Gospel reminds me of the imagery of dining with Herod and dining with Jesus that a Jesuit friend uses to characterize the meditation on the Two Standards from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In response to the request by John and James, Jesus references the Gentile ruler lording over them.  I can imagine James and John discussing positions of honor and esteem at one of Jesus’ upper room suppers. Jesus on the other hand will soon assume the role of servant/slave and wash the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper.  

We often see competing values of honor and pride versus servitude and humility. Choosing the values of Jesus seems easy, but living the values can be a challenge. As we learn from this passage even those closest to Jesus struggled with understanding and living his message. How will servitude and humility be present in your life today?

Jim Sweany is a Spiritual Director in the Ignatian tradition. He is associated with the Chicago Region Ignatian Volunteer Corps as a Spiritual Animator, reflector and Advisory Board Chair. He also directs the Spiritual Exercises for the SEEL program at Loyola University.

Prayer

Lord, let me trust in your providential care.  Free me from the fear of failure, from sinfulness and indifference. Give me insight to care for others and to serve rather than be served.  Let charity, compassion, and hospitality be my gifts to those suffering.  Let my thoughts and deeds as well as my motivation be lived out for your greater glory.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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May 24, 2016

Feast of Our Lady of the Way (Madonna della Strada)

Mt 1: 20b-23

But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

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.

Mary’s Prayers At Work

I started praying to Madonna della Strada – literally, “Our Lady of the Street” – on my novitiate pilgrimage. I was going through some spiritual doubt, uncertain whether God really was with us, as Matthew’s Gospel says. But boarding a bus in Kansas City, bound for Texas with only five dollars and a backpack of clothes, I needed help. I asked Our Lady of the Way to pray for me.

She did. Just when I needed shelter in El Paso, a man asked me if I needed a place to stay. Later, when I wasn’t sure how to spend some extra cash, a poor man asked me for dinner. It was so clear that Mary’s prayers were working – and that God was, in fact, with me! Now, when something seems impossible – like studying for final exams – I remember my pilgrimage. If Mary’s prayers could help me there, she can help me anywhere.

—Daniel Everson, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central Southern province, is currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Father most holy, in your beloved Son you have revealed to us the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Aided by the prayers and example of the Virgin Mary, his mother, may we walk securely on the Way of your Son and safely reach our journey’s end in you. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—From the Jesuit Sacramentary


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May 23, 2016

Mk 10: 17-27

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

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.

Reaching Out

In today’s reading, we hear about the man who ran up to Jesus as he was about to depart on a journey and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  This is the Year of Mercy. How many times have we reached out to help someone in need?  

All our possessions will not help us gain eternal life.   As Jesus told his disciples, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” Then who can be saved? Jesus said, “For men it is impossible but not for God. All things are possible for God.” Today let us take a moment to reach out to one another as sisters and brothers in Christ, and do some work of mercy for someone in need.

—Veronica Valandra serves as Pastoral Coordinator at Red Cloud High School, Pine Ridge, SD.  She also works with six parishes on the Pine Ridge Reservation and is a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe.

Prayer

   Grandfather God,

      Great Spirit,

fill us with light.

Give us the strength to understand

and the eyes to see clearly.

Teach us to walk the soft earth

has relatives to ALL that live.

Help us!

Without you, we are nothing.

—A Sioux Prayer


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 22, 2016

Jn 16: 12-15

‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to 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.

Three in One—and us

The feast of the Most Holy Trinity is the ultimate feast. We have feasts for saints and blessed, feasts for the Blessed Virgin, feasts for Jesus; but there is only one for God. Moreover, this feast is not connected to any historical event but is based purely on doctrine.

Over time the Trinity has revealed itself to the human race. In the Old Testament God the Father revealed himself to the Israelites. In the New Testament, Jesus, the Son of the Father, revealed himself to the Jews.  At Pentecost the Holy Spirit revealed himself to the apostles. The Holy Spirit animated the early Church and continues to animate the Church today.

Today we experience the Trinity in our own lives. We have experienced the love of God the Father in creation; we have experienced Christ in the Eucharist; and we have experienced the fellowship of the Holy Spirit among us in the Church.  Every time we make the sign of the cross, we profess our belief in the Trinity.

 —Fr. Bernard Streicher, S.J., a long-time faculty member at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH, now lives at the Colombiere Jesuit Community, Clarkston, MI.

Prayer

Most Holy Trinity, we thank you. Through the Holy Spirit we possess the Son,
Then, through the Son, we ascend to the Father. Amen.

—Fr. Bernard Streicher, S.J.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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May 31, 2016

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lk 1: 39-56

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

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.

Sharing God’s Joy

From the very beginning, the good news of Jesus is meant to be shared. Mary has just agreed to be the mother of Jesus, and, already “in haste,” she travels to share the good news with her cousin. She can’t help herself; the good news impels her!

Likewise, in our own lives, the good news is meant to be sharedand not just with those who don’t know Jesus. That kind of evangelization is important; Jesus demands it. But the Visitation proposes that we ought to share the joy of the Gospel with our fellow Christians as well. Indeed, Elizabeth already knows about Jesus when Mary arrives. But that doesn’t lessen the joy these sisters share. Rather, the joy is redoubled as they celebrate God’s work together.

How has the Mighty One done great things for you this week? With whom might you share and celebrate that good news?

—Daniel Everson, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central Southern province, is currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name!

—from Mary’s Magnificat song


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 30. 2016

Mk 12: 1-12

Then he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the winepress, and built a watchtower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed.

And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.Have you not read this scripture:

‘The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;

this was the Lord’s doing,

and it is amazing in our eyes’?”

When they realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowd. So they left him and went away.

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.

Wine of Joy and Love

In this parable the tenant farmers seem to have completely forgotten that the vineyard is not their own. They did none of the work of establishing it. It was not even the initiative of their own conception. If they have not forgotten, they most certainly deny the reality that they were given the vineyard as a place to live, work, and produce good wine not only for themselves but, even more importantly, for the true owner.                                 

Wine brings joy and love and is meant to be shared. It is a celebratory symbol of all that God has done throughout salvation history to fashion a people for Himself and, through them, bring about complete unity among all people and ultimately peace on earth.

From the beginning, God has done the work of establishing his covenant and will continue to send the Holy Spirit through his son Jesus, to people of good will.

Jess Charles McGaa serves as Parish Life Coordinator at Sacred Heart Catholic Church Pine Ridge, South Dakota.

Prayer

Spirit of the Father,
Spirit of the Son,
Spirit of Life that makes us One.
Help us see in one another
Christ our sister,
Christ our brother.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

May 29, 2016

SOLEMNITY OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

Lk 9: 11b-17

When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” They did so and made them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

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 A Special Gift!

Changing water into wine at Cana and multiplying the loaves and fishes in today’s gospel show Jesus’ power over material elements. All of this leads to greater truths.

Bread and wine, body and blood—these are basic components of human beings and elements that sustain human existence. These basic realities connect us to the humanity of Jesus and touch upon one of the deepest mysteries of our faith. Without the Incarnation, we would not be able to speak of Jesus’ body and blood. Without Jesus’ sacrifice at the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, we could not be offered these same elements transformed into the body and blood of Christ.

What an incredible gift Christ has given us; he has left us, but he is still with us. In the Eucharist we are united with him and with one another in a unique way.

—Fr. Bernard Streicher, S.J., a long-time faculty member at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH, now lives at the Colombiere Jesuit Community, Clarkston, MI.

Prayer

Godhead here in hiding, whom I adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Adoro Te,  trans. by Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

 


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May 28, 2016

Jude 17: 20b-25

Beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. Build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.

To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished and exultant, in the presence of his glory, to the only God, our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, power, and authority from ages past, now, and for ages to come. Amen.

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.

Setting the Table

The worldwide body of Jesus Christ has different faces and tackles innumerably different challenges and needs. This weekend we hold up that reality as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Each of us has a family history and personal story. Each of us has been marked as a member of Christ’s body. And each of us is sent on mission each day to care for this “body of Christ.”

The challenges are many– the personal and family needs of those around us are often daunting. The truth is that “Christ has no body now but yours,” as the hymn goes. And so we find ourselves in unexpected places, in conversation with dear friends as well as total strangers. Your words, my smile, her personal care, his willingness to “open a door”love-filled actions like these make a wonderful difference in notable, often unheralded ways. We do in fact share our faith, hope and love as we look into the eyes and share the each other’s burdens. And so this weekend we “set the table,” one for the other.
Truly Christ has no body now but yours!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

The Risen Christ is with us this day
And he continues to need each one of you.
Jesus needs your eyes to continue to see.
He needs your strength to continue to work.
He needs your voice to continue to preach.
He needs your hands to continue to bless.
He needs your heart to continue to love.
And Jesus needs your whole being to continue to build up his body, the Church.
As we believe, so let us live!

—Cardinal Joseph Bernardin


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May 27, 2016

St. Augustine of Canterbury

Mk 11: 11-26

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?

But you have made it a den of robbers.”

And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you 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.

Be Unfair

In working with kids, we often hear, “That’s not fair.” We are born with an innate intuition of fairness. This is why a 5-year-old recognizes when something is unfair and seeks restitution or a balancing of fairness. What Jesus asks of us here is to be unfair, to go against our intuition, and to forgive. If someone has treated us unjustly, we are not to seek restitution or fairness; rather we are to be unfair to them by forgiving them.

Our human intuition of fairness seems offended, but Jesus follows this command up by saying that God will also forgive us. God has no need to forgive, but God always forgives. God’s unfairness must become our model response. We should strive to be unfair to others by always treating them with the unfairness of God.

Liliana Mamani Condori is a Peruvian lawyer pursuing a master’s degree in theological studies at Boston College. Sam Hay is finishing his MA in Theology and Ministry at B.C., and currently works for its School of Education.

Prayer

O Eternal Trinity,
my sweet love!
You, light,
give us wisdom.
You, supreme strength,
strengthen us.
Today, eternal God,
let our cloud be dissipated
so that we may perfectly know and follow
your truth,
in truth,
with a free and simple heart.

—Saint Catherine of Siena


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May 26, 2016

St. Philip Neri

Mk 10: 46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

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.

Vulnerable  Trust

In today’s gospel, a blind man is healed by Jesus. The man, Bartimaeus, shouted: “Master, I want to see.” Jesus responds, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” When I consider this passage, I think of how vulnerable Bartimaeus must have made himself in order to cry to Jesus for help, and within a crowd no less. This vulnerability is what allowed the blind man to accept the faith that saved and healed him.

In our daily lives and in most societal circles, vulnerability is not a desired or efficient characteristic that we want to portray. It seems most acceptable to wear of a mask of pride. Instead, let’s remember to ask Jesus for the strength to get through obstacles, big or small. We must allow ourselves a certain amount of personal vulnerability to listen and trust in God.

—Mark Ehrbar is Co-Director of Music at Gesu Church, University Heights, OH.

Prayer

In the comfort of your love, I pour out to you, my Savior, the memories that haunt me, the fears that stifle me, the sickness that prevails upon me, and the frustration of all the pain that weaves about within me. Lord, help me to see your peace in my turmoil, your compassion in my sorrow, your forgiveness in my weakness, and your love in my need. Touch me, O Lord, with your healing and strength. To you, dear God, be all thanks and glory!  —Prayer to Christ the Healer


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May 25, 2016

Mk 10: 32-45

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles;they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

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.

Can You Drink the Cup?

This Gospel reminds me of the imagery of dining with Herod and dining with Jesus that a Jesuit friend uses to characterize the meditation on the Two Standards from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In response to the request by John and James, Jesus references the Gentile ruler lording over them.  I can imagine James and John discussing positions of honor and esteem at one of Jesus’ upper room suppers. Jesus on the other hand will soon assume the role of servant/slave and wash the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper.  

We often see competing values of honor and pride versus servitude and humility. Choosing the values of Jesus seems easy, but living the values can be a challenge. As we learn from this passage even those closest to Jesus struggled with understanding and living his message. How will servitude and humility be present in your life today?

Jim Sweany is a Spiritual Director in the Ignatian tradition. He is associated with the Chicago Region Ignatian Volunteer Corps as a Spiritual Animator, reflector and Advisory Board Chair. He also directs the Spiritual Exercises for the SEEL program at Loyola University.

Prayer

Lord, let me trust in your providential care.  Free me from the fear of failure, from sinfulness and indifference. Give me insight to care for others and to serve rather than be served.  Let charity, compassion, and hospitality be my gifts to those suffering.  Let my thoughts and deeds as well as my motivation be lived out for your greater glory.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team


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May 24, 2016

Feast of Our Lady of the Way (Madonna della Strada)

Mt 1: 20b-23

But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

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.

Mary’s Prayers At Work

I started praying to Madonna della Strada – literally, “Our Lady of the Street” – on my novitiate pilgrimage. I was going through some spiritual doubt, uncertain whether God really was with us, as Matthew’s Gospel says. But boarding a bus in Kansas City, bound for Texas with only five dollars and a backpack of clothes, I needed help. I asked Our Lady of the Way to pray for me.

She did. Just when I needed shelter in El Paso, a man asked me if I needed a place to stay. Later, when I wasn’t sure how to spend some extra cash, a poor man asked me for dinner. It was so clear that Mary’s prayers were working – and that God was, in fact, with me! Now, when something seems impossible – like studying for final exams – I remember my pilgrimage. If Mary’s prayers could help me there, she can help me anywhere.

—Daniel Everson, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central Southern province, is currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Father most holy, in your beloved Son you have revealed to us the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Aided by the prayers and example of the Virgin Mary, his mother, may we walk securely on the Way of your Son and safely reach our journey’s end in you. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—From the Jesuit Sacramentary


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May 23, 2016

Mk 10: 17-27

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

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.

Reaching Out

In today’s reading, we hear about the man who ran up to Jesus as he was about to depart on a journey and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  This is the Year of Mercy. How many times have we reached out to help someone in need?  

All our possessions will not help us gain eternal life.   As Jesus told his disciples, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” Then who can be saved? Jesus said, “For men it is impossible but not for God. All things are possible for God.” Today let us take a moment to reach out to one another as sisters and brothers in Christ, and do some work of mercy for someone in need.

—Veronica Valandra serves as Pastoral Coordinator at Red Cloud High School, Pine Ridge, SD.  She also works with six parishes on the Pine Ridge Reservation and is a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe.

Prayer

   Grandfather God,

      Great Spirit,

fill us with light.

Give us the strength to understand

and the eyes to see clearly.

Teach us to walk the soft earth

has relatives to ALL that live.

Help us!

Without you, we are nothing.

—A Sioux Prayer


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May 22, 2016

Jn 16: 12-15

‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to 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.

Three in One—and us

The feast of the Most Holy Trinity is the ultimate feast. We have feasts for saints and blessed, feasts for the Blessed Virgin, feasts for Jesus; but there is only one for God. Moreover, this feast is not connected to any historical event but is based purely on doctrine.

Over time the Trinity has revealed itself to the human race. In the Old Testament God the Father revealed himself to the Israelites. In the New Testament, Jesus, the Son of the Father, revealed himself to the Jews.  At Pentecost the Holy Spirit revealed himself to the apostles. The Holy Spirit animated the early Church and continues to animate the Church today.

Today we experience the Trinity in our own lives. We have experienced the love of God the Father in creation; we have experienced Christ in the Eucharist; and we have experienced the fellowship of the Holy Spirit among us in the Church.  Every time we make the sign of the cross, we profess our belief in the Trinity.

 —Fr. Bernard Streicher, S.J., a long-time faculty member at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH, now lives at the Colombiere Jesuit Community, Clarkston, MI.

Prayer

Most Holy Trinity, we thank you. Through the Holy Spirit we possess the Son,
Then, through the Son, we ascend to the Father. Amen.

—Fr. Bernard Streicher, S.J.


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