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September 30, 2017

St. Jerome

Lk 9: 43b-45

And all were astounded at the greatness of God. While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

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.

A God who is hard to understand

At several points in the Gospels, Jesus tells his disciples something that they do not yet understand.  While the disciples eventually came to know what Jesus meant by “the Son of Man will be handed over to men,” there are things about God and God’s ways that can seem equally confusing today.  

One has only to follow the news to see immense heartbreak and pain caused by war, hurricanes, earthquakes, and division between people.  It can be easy to ask God why these things are allowed to happen.  The answer is that because our world isn’t perfect, and true peace only comes from God.  Jesus asked to be spared the cross because, even though he knew it was his father’s will, he preferred to avoid the suffering.  God could obviously have intervened and kept his son from being handed over, but God instead chose to give each of us the unimaginable gift of eternal life with him.  

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul,
my God, in you I trust;
No one is disgraced who waits for you,
but only those who are treacherous without cause.
Make known to me your ways, LORD;
teach me your paths.
Guide me by your fidelity and teach me,
for you are God my savior,
for you I wait all the day long.

—Psalm 25:1-2a, 3-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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September 29, 2017

Sts. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael–Archangels

Rv 12: 7-12a

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah, for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.

Rejoice then, you heavens and those who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

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 angels can teach us

Considering the existence of angels may not be at the top of most people’s to-do lists, but maybe it should be. These angels just might have something to teach us.

What are angels? They are beings whose whole existence is dedicated to doing God’s will. Michael exists to manifest God’s justice, Raphael to deliver God’s healing mercy, and Gabriel to transmit God’s word. Each archangel is tasked with carrying out just one of God’s attributes.

We humans, though, are made in the image of God. Thus, we are created to embody all of God’s attributes. We are called to live just lives, to be vehicles of God’s mercy, and to always have God’s word on our lips.

Ultimately, angels tell us a lot about who we are meant to be.

In prayer let us be inspired by each of these angels and consider how well we embody their examples.

—Stephen Kramer, SJ, is a scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province, currently in theology studies at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Prayer

O Blessed Archangel Gabriel, we beseech thee, do thou intercede for us at the throne of divine mercy in our present necessities, that as thou didst announce to Mary the mystery of the incarnation, so through thy prayers and patronage in heaven we may obtain the benefits of the same, and sing the praise of God forever in the land of the living. Amen.

—Traditional prayer to St. Gabriel for intercession

 

 

 

 

 

 


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September 28, 2017

St. Wenceslaus & St. Lawrence Ruiz

Hg 1: 1-8

In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house. Then the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?

Now therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared.You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord.

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.

True satisfaction

Satisfaction … We all seek different levels of satisfaction for the various aspects of our lives. Our culture says that satisfaction can be attained through our jobs, money and materialism. While these things may give us feelings of satisfaction, they cannot provide complete contentment. Even relationships with family or friends can let us down and leave us with a feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction. It is only through the recognition and understanding of Jesus’ desire to love us and in letting ourselves be loved that we will truly be satisfied.

As the Lord said to St. Paul, and says also to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Jesus desires to fill us up with his love and mercy, but we are tasked with the hardest part, to let ourselves receive his love and mercy.

—Joseph Hamaty is the Executive Director of Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas, Texas.

Prayer

Lord God, I desire to be satisfied by you. Give me the strength and courage, despite what our culture says about how satisfaction may be attained, to let myself be loved by you and bathed by your mercy. Jesus, may I always seek you and let myself be loved by you. As St. Augustine wrote in The Confessions, “our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”

—Joseph Hamaty

 

 


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September 27, 2017

St. Vincent de Paul

Lk 9: 1-6

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there.

Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

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.

My mission

Christianity is not a passive religion. To follow Christ is to accept the mission to proclaim the Gospel to the world. Just as the twelve were sent with specific instructions, given authority to heal in his name and proclaim the good news, we, too, are called. He told them to take only what is essential for the journey. They had to trust Jesus that they would receive what they needed. Often we stall at the beginning of our missions because we do not feel equipped. Sometimes we stall after we start because we lose our way.

Do you have some mission you feel Christ may be calling you to fulfill? Is something holding you back? Do you feel unworthy, ill-equipped? Certainly, some of the twelve felt that way, yet they set out anyway. What lessons can you take from the apostles about letting go and trusting Jesus.

—Sam Mauck is the Director of Catholic Campus & Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Memphis, which is a member of the Charis Ministries Partner Program.

Prayer

Some Definite Service

God knows me and calls me by my name.…
God has created me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission—I never may know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next.

Somehow I am necessary for His purposes…
I have a part in this great work;
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work;
I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth
in my own place, while not intending it,
if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

Therefore I will trust Him.
Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
In perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him;
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be
necessary causes of some great end,
which is quite beyond us.
He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life,
He may shorten it;
He knows what He is about.
He may take away my friends,
He may throw me among strangers,
He may make me feel desolate,
make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—
still He knows what He is about.…

Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see—
I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.

—-John Henry Cardinal Newman

 


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September 26, 2017

Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Lk 8: 19-21

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

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.

Doing God’s will

Today’s Gospel reminds us of the need to seek and to do God’s will. Jesus calls us to both listen to and act on the word of God. At times, however, discerning the will of God can seem like a challenge. It can seem as if God’s will is a divine mystery that we must skillfully solve.

However, Jesus has already revealed God’s will to us. God’s will is love and mercy itself. Therefore, when we find ourselves discerning what to do with our lives, discerning how to carry out God’s will, we must always ask how our decisions are both loving and merciful. If we let love and mercy govern our lives, we can rest assured that we are on the path to fulfilling the will of God. Of course, being loving and merciful is often more challenging than it sounds. So today we might ask for the grace to understand how we can act with more genuine love and mercy.

—Tom Elitz, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Maryland Province currently studying philosophy at Fordham University.

Prayer

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments, we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence, submit ourselves to your holy will, which is love and mercy itself.

—St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

 


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September 25, 2017

Lk 8: 16-18

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken 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.

Inner light

To appreciate Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel, one must keep recall the context of the ancient world.  Electricity was unknown, so all light came from either the sun or fire.  Darkness often permeated public places, and especially homes.  Light offered comfort, or at least an opportunity to see what was happening around oneself.  Each of us has an inner light that is not conditioned by anyone or anything else.  No matter how others impact your feelings, know that Christ resides in you and that your inner light burns brightly.

If you spend even a bit of time each day in contemplation, you will develop a wisdom which enkindles your inner light.  You can build upon that wisdom and share it with those around you.  Share it in a way that inspires others to do good.  Goodness, like wisdom, does not require perfection…but only our best effort.  Jesus does the rest.

—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.  He is grateful to Brian Shircliff for his input on today’s reflection.

Prayer

We are the light of the world,
may our light shine before all,
that they may see the good that we do,
and give glory to God.

—Excerpt of We Are the Light of the World, Jean Greif, © 1983 Vernacular Hymns Publishing Co.

 


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September 24, 2017

Is 55: 6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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 true Jesus

We should not let the words of Scripture remain mere words, but, as we would do with a letter from someone who loves us very much, we should let these words penetrate into our imagination to the point that we can “see,” “hear,” and “touch” the word of life (cf. 1 John 1:1-3). We must do so in obedience to the word which surpasses us, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways” (Is 55:8).

Psalm 135:15-18 should warn us that, through our imagination, we can craft false gods—even ones that we might call “Jesus”—that can lead us astray. Let us let the Jesus of the Bible scandalize us when we realize that he is not the “god” that we would have imagined on our own. And let us let that Jesus, who reveals to us the one true God, be the Lord of our imagination rather than any other “Jesus” we would fashion for ourselves.

—Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ, is a newly ordained priest of the USA Central and Southern Province, currently serving as the associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church in New Orleans.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God and that you make known to us everything that you have heard from the Father, things that we would never have known if you had not revealed them to us. Please help me in my unbelief, because so often what you reveal about God through your life is a scandal to me.

Please help me to know that “your ways are not my ways,” and help me to hold onto your grace most especially in those places where the divine life that you offer is most incomprehensible to me. Then, perhaps, with your help, I will no longer just say, “Lord, Lord,” but might finally begin to “do the will of our Father in heaven,” and so live the life that you offer, abiding in you as you abide in the Father.

—Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ

 

 

 

 


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September 23, 2017

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Lk 8: 4-15

When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.”

As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away.

As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

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.

Fertile soil

When we hear the parable of the sower in today’s Gospel, we know we want to be the good, rich soil. We want to be the person who, having heard the word of God, “embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”  But we also know that there are times in life when we may be more like the other types of soil. Perhaps we are the seed sown on rocky ground when we don’t work to deepen our relationship with God through personal prayer.  We might be the seed sown among thorns when we allow our desire for more money, or prestige, or power, to become more important than our desire to follow Christ. But just as seeds are resilient and do what is necessary to grow, the good news is that God is always giving the seeds of our faith more opportunities to bloom and flourish.

How can you allow your heart to be fertile soil for God’s word to be planted within you?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord God, you scatter the seeds of your word widely, so that all might have the opportunity to hear them and follow you. Help us to prepare our hearts to be open to your word, so that we can take it in and make it a part of our life. Guide our hearts to a deeper love of you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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September 22, 2017

Lk 8: 1-3

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him,as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

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.

Hearts unfold

This Gospel reads as the note of a traveler noting only essential words and people. Underneath this summary, moments of encounter unfold, but I feel I am left in the dark. The sparse report leaves me with an overwhelming sense of curiosity. Who are these women? What are their stories? How might I come to know them? The word “accompaniment” implies a relationship; how did they come to know Jesus, and Jesus them?

This Gospel invites me to turn inward and outward at once, to perceive my own curiosity and to look to others as a pathway to relationship with Jesus who is here now, with us in the friend, the stranger, the refugee, the child. Who are the people I journey with? Who is healing me? How can I keep them company on the road ahead?

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications offices of the U.S. Central and Southern Province.

Prayer

Lord, I come to you searching, off-balance,
a traveler. I hold you in curiosity; let me be known
to you; let me know you. As I walk,
I search for your face, in the faces
of Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and many others.

I offer you my bold curiosity.
Who are you? Who are these women?
I know their names; let me learn their stories.
Let me see their faces, let me see you in them,
so that we might keep each other company.

—Claire Peterson

 


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September 21, 2017

Feast of St.  Matthew

Mt 9: 9-13

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.

When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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 Calling

Chosen … Jesus calls each and every one of us much like he did St. Matthew. Caravaggio’s The Calling of St. Matthew illustrates how we are chosen. We are chosen in our own different ways, “as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers.” (Ephesians 4:11) We are called. Jesus points to us and desires us to follow him. Our own hesitancy lies in our own insecurities, our own judgment, our own sinfulness, our own lack of trust in Jesus.

As St. Augustine says, “there is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.” Jesus desires each and every one of us, no matter our state in life. We are chosen. We are wanted. We are loved. We are called.

—Joseph Hamaty is the Executive Director of Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas, Texas.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I am grateful for your love and your mercy. I place all of me at your feet. “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.” May I always hear your call for me. May I always be proud that I am chosen by you, like St. Matthew. May I have courage and full trust in your will for me.

—Joseph Hamaty

 

 

 

 

 


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September 30, 2017

St. Jerome

Lk 9: 43b-45

And all were astounded at the greatness of God. While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

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.

A God who is hard to understand

At several points in the Gospels, Jesus tells his disciples something that they do not yet understand.  While the disciples eventually came to know what Jesus meant by “the Son of Man will be handed over to men,” there are things about God and God’s ways that can seem equally confusing today.  

One has only to follow the news to see immense heartbreak and pain caused by war, hurricanes, earthquakes, and division between people.  It can be easy to ask God why these things are allowed to happen.  The answer is that because our world isn’t perfect, and true peace only comes from God.  Jesus asked to be spared the cross because, even though he knew it was his father’s will, he preferred to avoid the suffering.  God could obviously have intervened and kept his son from being handed over, but God instead chose to give each of us the unimaginable gift of eternal life with him.  

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul,
my God, in you I trust;
No one is disgraced who waits for you,
but only those who are treacherous without cause.
Make known to me your ways, LORD;
teach me your paths.
Guide me by your fidelity and teach me,
for you are God my savior,
for you I wait all the day long.

—Psalm 25:1-2a, 3-5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

September 29, 2017

Sts. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael–Archangels

Rv 12: 7-12a

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah, for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.

Rejoice then, you heavens and those who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

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 angels can teach us

Considering the existence of angels may not be at the top of most people’s to-do lists, but maybe it should be. These angels just might have something to teach us.

What are angels? They are beings whose whole existence is dedicated to doing God’s will. Michael exists to manifest God’s justice, Raphael to deliver God’s healing mercy, and Gabriel to transmit God’s word. Each archangel is tasked with carrying out just one of God’s attributes.

We humans, though, are made in the image of God. Thus, we are created to embody all of God’s attributes. We are called to live just lives, to be vehicles of God’s mercy, and to always have God’s word on our lips.

Ultimately, angels tell us a lot about who we are meant to be.

In prayer let us be inspired by each of these angels and consider how well we embody their examples.

—Stephen Kramer, SJ, is a scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province, currently in theology studies at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.

Prayer

O Blessed Archangel Gabriel, we beseech thee, do thou intercede for us at the throne of divine mercy in our present necessities, that as thou didst announce to Mary the mystery of the incarnation, so through thy prayers and patronage in heaven we may obtain the benefits of the same, and sing the praise of God forever in the land of the living. Amen.

—Traditional prayer to St. Gabriel for intercession

 

 

 

 

 

 


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September 28, 2017

St. Wenceslaus & St. Lawrence Ruiz

Hg 1: 1-8

In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest: Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house. Then the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying: Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?

Now therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared.You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord.

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.

True satisfaction

Satisfaction … We all seek different levels of satisfaction for the various aspects of our lives. Our culture says that satisfaction can be attained through our jobs, money and materialism. While these things may give us feelings of satisfaction, they cannot provide complete contentment. Even relationships with family or friends can let us down and leave us with a feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction. It is only through the recognition and understanding of Jesus’ desire to love us and in letting ourselves be loved that we will truly be satisfied.

As the Lord said to St. Paul, and says also to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Jesus desires to fill us up with his love and mercy, but we are tasked with the hardest part, to let ourselves receive his love and mercy.

—Joseph Hamaty is the Executive Director of Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas, Texas.

Prayer

Lord God, I desire to be satisfied by you. Give me the strength and courage, despite what our culture says about how satisfaction may be attained, to let myself be loved by you and bathed by your mercy. Jesus, may I always seek you and let myself be loved by you. As St. Augustine wrote in The Confessions, “our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”

—Joseph Hamaty

 

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

September 27, 2017

St. Vincent de Paul

Lk 9: 1-6

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there.

Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

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.

My mission

Christianity is not a passive religion. To follow Christ is to accept the mission to proclaim the Gospel to the world. Just as the twelve were sent with specific instructions, given authority to heal in his name and proclaim the good news, we, too, are called. He told them to take only what is essential for the journey. They had to trust Jesus that they would receive what they needed. Often we stall at the beginning of our missions because we do not feel equipped. Sometimes we stall after we start because we lose our way.

Do you have some mission you feel Christ may be calling you to fulfill? Is something holding you back? Do you feel unworthy, ill-equipped? Certainly, some of the twelve felt that way, yet they set out anyway. What lessons can you take from the apostles about letting go and trusting Jesus.

—Sam Mauck is the Director of Catholic Campus & Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Memphis, which is a member of the Charis Ministries Partner Program.

Prayer

Some Definite Service

God knows me and calls me by my name.…
God has created me to do Him some definite service;
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission—I never may know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next.

Somehow I am necessary for His purposes…
I have a part in this great work;
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work;
I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth
in my own place, while not intending it,
if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.

Therefore I will trust Him.
Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
In perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him;
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be
necessary causes of some great end,
which is quite beyond us.
He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life,
He may shorten it;
He knows what He is about.
He may take away my friends,
He may throw me among strangers,
He may make me feel desolate,
make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—
still He knows what He is about.…

Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see—
I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.

—-John Henry Cardinal Newman

 


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September 26, 2017

Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Lk 8: 19-21

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” But he said to them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

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.

Doing God’s will

Today’s Gospel reminds us of the need to seek and to do God’s will. Jesus calls us to both listen to and act on the word of God. At times, however, discerning the will of God can seem like a challenge. It can seem as if God’s will is a divine mystery that we must skillfully solve.

However, Jesus has already revealed God’s will to us. God’s will is love and mercy itself. Therefore, when we find ourselves discerning what to do with our lives, discerning how to carry out God’s will, we must always ask how our decisions are both loving and merciful. If we let love and mercy govern our lives, we can rest assured that we are on the path to fulfilling the will of God. Of course, being loving and merciful is often more challenging than it sounds. So today we might ask for the grace to understand how we can act with more genuine love and mercy.

—Tom Elitz, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Maryland Province currently studying philosophy at Fordham University.

Prayer

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy in us, that in difficult moments, we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence, submit ourselves to your holy will, which is love and mercy itself.

—St. Maria Faustina Kowalska

 


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September 25, 2017

Lk 8: 16-18

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken 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.

Inner light

To appreciate Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel, one must keep recall the context of the ancient world.  Electricity was unknown, so all light came from either the sun or fire.  Darkness often permeated public places, and especially homes.  Light offered comfort, or at least an opportunity to see what was happening around oneself.  Each of us has an inner light that is not conditioned by anyone or anything else.  No matter how others impact your feelings, know that Christ resides in you and that your inner light burns brightly.

If you spend even a bit of time each day in contemplation, you will develop a wisdom which enkindles your inner light.  You can build upon that wisdom and share it with those around you.  Share it in a way that inspires others to do good.  Goodness, like wisdom, does not require perfection…but only our best effort.  Jesus does the rest.

—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.  He is grateful to Brian Shircliff for his input on today’s reflection.

Prayer

We are the light of the world,
may our light shine before all,
that they may see the good that we do,
and give glory to God.

—Excerpt of We Are the Light of the World, Jean Greif, © 1983 Vernacular Hymns Publishing Co.

 


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September 24, 2017

Is 55: 6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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 true Jesus

We should not let the words of Scripture remain mere words, but, as we would do with a letter from someone who loves us very much, we should let these words penetrate into our imagination to the point that we can “see,” “hear,” and “touch” the word of life (cf. 1 John 1:1-3). We must do so in obedience to the word which surpasses us, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways” (Is 55:8).

Psalm 135:15-18 should warn us that, through our imagination, we can craft false gods—even ones that we might call “Jesus”—that can lead us astray. Let us let the Jesus of the Bible scandalize us when we realize that he is not the “god” that we would have imagined on our own. And let us let that Jesus, who reveals to us the one true God, be the Lord of our imagination rather than any other “Jesus” we would fashion for ourselves.

—Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ, is a newly ordained priest of the USA Central and Southern Province, currently serving as the associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church in New Orleans.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God and that you make known to us everything that you have heard from the Father, things that we would never have known if you had not revealed them to us. Please help me in my unbelief, because so often what you reveal about God through your life is a scandal to me.

Please help me to know that “your ways are not my ways,” and help me to hold onto your grace most especially in those places where the divine life that you offer is most incomprehensible to me. Then, perhaps, with your help, I will no longer just say, “Lord, Lord,” but might finally begin to “do the will of our Father in heaven,” and so live the life that you offer, abiding in you as you abide in the Father.

—Fr. Sylvester Tan, SJ

 

 

 

 


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September 23, 2017

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Lk 8: 4-15

When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.”

As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!” Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.’

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away.

As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

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.

Fertile soil

When we hear the parable of the sower in today’s Gospel, we know we want to be the good, rich soil. We want to be the person who, having heard the word of God, “embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.”  But we also know that there are times in life when we may be more like the other types of soil. Perhaps we are the seed sown on rocky ground when we don’t work to deepen our relationship with God through personal prayer.  We might be the seed sown among thorns when we allow our desire for more money, or prestige, or power, to become more important than our desire to follow Christ. But just as seeds are resilient and do what is necessary to grow, the good news is that God is always giving the seeds of our faith more opportunities to bloom and flourish.

How can you allow your heart to be fertile soil for God’s word to be planted within you?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord God, you scatter the seeds of your word widely, so that all might have the opportunity to hear them and follow you. Help us to prepare our hearts to be open to your word, so that we can take it in and make it a part of our life. Guide our hearts to a deeper love of you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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September 22, 2017

Lk 8: 1-3

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him,as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

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.

Hearts unfold

This Gospel reads as the note of a traveler noting only essential words and people. Underneath this summary, moments of encounter unfold, but I feel I am left in the dark. The sparse report leaves me with an overwhelming sense of curiosity. Who are these women? What are their stories? How might I come to know them? The word “accompaniment” implies a relationship; how did they come to know Jesus, and Jesus them?

This Gospel invites me to turn inward and outward at once, to perceive my own curiosity and to look to others as a pathway to relationship with Jesus who is here now, with us in the friend, the stranger, the refugee, the child. Who are the people I journey with? Who is healing me? How can I keep them company on the road ahead?

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications offices of the U.S. Central and Southern Province.

Prayer

Lord, I come to you searching, off-balance,
a traveler. I hold you in curiosity; let me be known
to you; let me know you. As I walk,
I search for your face, in the faces
of Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and many others.

I offer you my bold curiosity.
Who are you? Who are these women?
I know their names; let me learn their stories.
Let me see their faces, let me see you in them,
so that we might keep each other company.

—Claire Peterson

 


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September 21, 2017

Feast of St.  Matthew

Mt 9: 9-13

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples.

When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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 Calling

Chosen … Jesus calls each and every one of us much like he did St. Matthew. Caravaggio’s The Calling of St. Matthew illustrates how we are chosen. We are chosen in our own different ways, “as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers.” (Ephesians 4:11) We are called. Jesus points to us and desires us to follow him. Our own hesitancy lies in our own insecurities, our own judgment, our own sinfulness, our own lack of trust in Jesus.

As St. Augustine says, “there is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.” Jesus desires each and every one of us, no matter our state in life. We are chosen. We are wanted. We are loved. We are called.

—Joseph Hamaty is the Executive Director of Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas, Texas.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I am grateful for your love and your mercy. I place all of me at your feet. “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.” May I always hear your call for me. May I always be proud that I am chosen by you, like St. Matthew. May I have courage and full trust in your will for me.

—Joseph Hamaty

 

 

 

 

 


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