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October 31, 2017

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ

Lk 13: 18-21

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

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.

Breaking out of the status quo

As the smallest seed, the mustard seed appears to be insignificant. Yet, Jesus tells us that it’s precisely this small seed that becomes a large bush. It is audacious, breaking the mold and making possible what appears to be impossible.

We too are to be like the mustard seed, patiently yet persistently nourishing our faith in the God of life and our commitment to bringing about the kingdom of God, being audacious in breaking out of the confines of the status quo, of the walls that separate us from each other. We are invited to place our faith and our hope in the smallest of seeds, trusting that with God we can reap abundant harvests, that we can collaborate with God in God’s liberating and redeeming mission.

How is God calling us to place our trust in what is seemingly impossible and to be bold in realizing the kingdom of God?

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help us to be bold in our work to bring about your kingdom.  As the tiny mustard seed becomes a large bush, so too may our actions be magnified in your service.  Strengthen the seeds of our faith that we may grow ever closer to you.  Amen

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 


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October 30, 2017

Blessed Dominic Collins, SJ

Lk 13: 10-17

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”

When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

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.

Entering into the chaos

“Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another.” – moral theologian James Keenan, SJ

Some years ago, I taught religion to sophomores – talk about entering into chaos! In all seriousness, they were curious, energetic, and thoughtful.

In exploring Jesus’ ministry, I asked, “What did Jesus do?”
“He saved people!”
“Ah. But how?”
“Because Jesus is God!”
“Yes… and what kinds of things did Jesus do that saved people?”
Hmm. This was harder to answer.

Today’s Gospel exemplifies how Jesus saves people. He liberates the woman from the spirit which cripples her by entering into her chaos. What did Jesus do for this woman? He SEES her, CALLS to her, SPEAKS to her, TOUCHES her. He does not “save” her from afar – he comes near, close enough to lay his hands on her.

Into what chaos of my life do I need to make room for God to enter?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.

Prayer

O Lord, I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.

—St. Faustina

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

October 29, 2017

Ex 22: 20 – 26

Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction. You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.

If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down.

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.

Radical hospitality for refugees

“You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.”

In the last couple of years, my ministry has grown to include refugees. I am certain of my duty as a Christian to welcome and befriend them. This is made abundantly clear in this reading from Exodus. So, it saddens me, when out of fear or prejudice, people forget this duty, and the fact that many who came to our country were similarly displaced. Refugees are those whose home has become inhospitable. And we must understand, as the poet Warsan Shire writes, “No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”

Jesus says, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Throughout the Gospel, Jesus was offering hospitality to tax collectors, sinners, foreigners and strangers. I am increasingly convinced that one of our greatest calls in these days is to risk and rejoice in just this kind of radical hospitality.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

Prayer

Dear God, lover of widows, orphans, strangers, and the poor, give us the courage to practice the radical hospitality that you called the Jewish people to, and which was modeled by your son Jesus, who welcomed the outcast and taught us to do the same. Give us the courage to open our homes to the poor and needy. Help us to overcome fear, so as to respond to the needs of those who come to us fleeing oppression and terror. May those who have had their home taken from them find a home in our hearts, our homes, and our communities. Teach us, like you, to boldly love those whom others would exclude.  Amen.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

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October 28, 2017

Feast of Sts. Simon & Jude, apostles

Lk 6: 12-16

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles:Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

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.

Called by name

When someone uses our name, it reminds us that we matter.  In today’s Gospel, Luke doesn’t simply mention that Jesus called twelve apostles, he lists them by name, each one individually called to follow Christ.  Our names do not appear in the Scriptures, but we are no less uniquely called to be disciples.

While we often tend to think of the twelve apostles as a unit, each of these men served the kingdom of God his own way.  Tradition tells us that Sts. Simon and Jude, whose feast we celebrate today, preached the Gospel in Mesopotamia and Persia before dying as martyrs.  Our path of discipleship may be vastly different from theirs, but we are uniquely called to follow Christ and to co-labor with him in his kingdom.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

O God, who by the blessed Apostles have brought us to acknowledge your name, graciously grant, through the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude, that the Church may constantly grow by increase of the peoples who believe in you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect prayer for the Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude

 

 

 

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Please share the Good Word with your friends!

October 27, 2017

Rom 7: 18-25a

For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

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.

Teach me wisdom

Harsh words are exchanged. Frustrations mount. A door is slammed! Paste this passage from Romans on your bathroom mirror. It accurately describes what happens when I lose my temper and injure a relationship … long-standing or brand new. As I begin to cool down, I say to myself: “What was I thinking?” “If only I could take back those words.” But of course the damage is done.

Paul accurately describes that interior battle between how I want to act and how I actually respond, especially in moments of high emotion. It is that inner struggle between emotion and reason that I need to own and manage. I need to develop a strategy for cooling my jets, for calming my emotions. I need to step back, take a deep breath, and still my beating heart. I need a “time out!”

Perhaps this is a good day to reflect on the situation Paul describes. How do I respond when my emotions go crazy? Take some time today to make a plan, to rehearse some words to use when I “lose it.” Open your mind and your heart to God in peace. Listen and speak!

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

Prayer

You are near, the God I seek.
Nothing can take me from your side.
All my days I rest secure;
you will show me the path that leads to life.

Francis Patrick O’Brien, “You Are All We Have,” ©1992, GIA Publications, Inc.

 

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Please share the Good Word with your friends!

October 26, 2017

Lk 12: 49-53

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!

From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

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.

We cannot remain neutral

Following Jesus does not allow us to remain neutral. Jesus’ passionate message here foretells both the suffering he was to undergo through the “baptism” of the cross, as well as the real opposition that would face his followers.

Perhaps the words of this Gospel need not be so unsettling. After all, the force of Jesus’ message is rightfully a cause for concern for those who feel threatened by the Kingdom which he embodies. As theologian Jon Sobrino, SJ, reminds us, “For Jesus, his task is not only affirming the truth about God, but unmasking the lies that suppress the truth about God.”

So, too, is it our task to denounce injustice, stand with the oppressed, and unmask corruption and dehumanization. To remain silent is to settle for a false peace that is unworthy of the sacrifice of Jesus, and the great cloud of witnesses who have trod the path before us.

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

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you stood with the poor, sick, and marginalized during your lifetime, and you call us to stand on the side of the oppressed in our society today.  Give us the strength to not remain silent in the face of injustice, so that we can work toward a more peaceful, just kingdom on earth.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

October 25, 2017

Lk 12: 39-48

“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions.

But if that slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating.

From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

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.

Praying to Know God’s Will

Jesus outlines a story of chaos. It seems the guy in the middle – the one in charge while the master is away – sometimes makes bad decisions. That middle man is us – Christians who know God and are entrusted with carrying on the faith.

We don’t always get it right, but if we strive to know the “master’s will,” it will make things a lot better from the start. We won’t have the chaos if we are in alignment with what God desires for us. In many situations, we already know God’s will, but it’s too hard to “act in accord” with God’s will.

It’s hard because it means it’s not about us. It means setting aside our selfish wants in order to live in close relationship with God.

We can’t do that alone. Thankfully, we can rely on God’s never-ending grace to help us live faithfully.

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

Prayer

Loving God,
You have entrusted us with so much – you’ve given us Jesus, the perfect example of how to do the Father’s will.
You’ve given us the perfect words to pray – your Kingdom come, your will be done.
Help us to know these words in a more personal way.
Help us to live in alignment with your hopes and dreams for us.

—Rita Zyber

 

 

 

 


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October 24, 2017

St. Anthony Mary Claret

Lk 12: 35-38

“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

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.

Prepared to follow Jesus

Jesus presents two images worthy of contemplation. “Gird your loins.” “Light your lamps.” Both are clear instructions to those desiring to follow Jesus. For nothing serves this mission if we are asleep, unprepared or passively waiting.

There is a lot that holds us back or that keeps us complacent, stuck in the status quo. We are often busy and exhausted. Sometimes uncertain of how others might respond. Fear might even prevent our standing up for what is just, or casting our lot with the poor and marginalized.

However, these images are clear. We are to be vigilant, prepared, and available. Our feet must already be in motion. It’s a call to be actively engaged and committed to realizing the Kingdom of God.

What holds you back? What prevents you from embracing this radical commitment to follow Jesus?

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we ask you now
to help us remain with you always,
to be close to you with all the ardor of our hearts,
to take up joyfully the mission you entrust to us,
and that is to continue your presence
and spread the good news of your resurrection.

—Carlo Maria Martini, SJ

 

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

October 23, 2017

St. John Capistrano

Lk 12: 13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

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

Making space for what matters

I don’t want to be like the rich man, but I am. Instead of barns, I’ve dreamt of a larger pantry, a bigger home. I come from a place of privilege. Some of the things I have, I need. Most of them, I don’t.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with stuff. St. Ignatius reminds us that all things of this world are gifts of God. Yet, the First Principle and Foundation (paraphrased by David Fleming), goes on to caution us, “if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal.”

Which gifts contribute to my further development as a loving person, fully alive?

Is anything displacing God as the goal of my life?

My quest to accumulate material goods, achievements, status, and friends, has, at times, become my primary goal. This parable challenges me to make space for what matters truly matters to me, which is also what matters to God.

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.

Prayer

Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.

—First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius of Loyola, as paraphrased by David L. Fleming, SJ

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

October 22, 2017

Mt 22: 15-21

Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”

But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

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.

History of the Gospel

“For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction” (1Thes 1:5).

As often as I proclaim the Gospel and preach about what it says, most of the time I simply take for granted the fact that it has “come to me.” Trying to tease a message for today from its words, do I ever consider its history? Not the history of its composition that I studied in theology classes, but rather the living history it witnesses to. It has been passed on for centuries, often with great effort and much sacrifice. And even today many are deprived of its beauty because those with earthly power fear what it may inspire in those they wish to control.

While Jesus does teach “pay unto Caesar,” surely we know that our priority is to first repay to God “what belongs to God.” How often do I read the Gospel aware that “in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction” I might give my life for it, as others have before me?

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

Prayer

Lord, help me to hear, know, and appreciate the beauty of your Gospel each day. No matter how many times I hear it, remind me not to take it for granted. May I appreciate not only what you would have it teach me today, but also the efforts of those who safeguarded it, and sacrificed for it, so that I could have the privilege of encountering you in it.

May the Gospel message so penetrate my heart that I may be inspired, like Christians before me, to be a living witness to your word in all that I do. And may I have the courage to do what is required to make certain that others can come to know you as I have, even in the face of opposition and fear.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ

 

 

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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October 31, 2017

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ

Lk 13: 18-21

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

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.

Breaking out of the status quo

As the smallest seed, the mustard seed appears to be insignificant. Yet, Jesus tells us that it’s precisely this small seed that becomes a large bush. It is audacious, breaking the mold and making possible what appears to be impossible.

We too are to be like the mustard seed, patiently yet persistently nourishing our faith in the God of life and our commitment to bringing about the kingdom of God, being audacious in breaking out of the confines of the status quo, of the walls that separate us from each other. We are invited to place our faith and our hope in the smallest of seeds, trusting that with God we can reap abundant harvests, that we can collaborate with God in God’s liberating and redeeming mission.

How is God calling us to place our trust in what is seemingly impossible and to be bold in realizing the kingdom of God?

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help us to be bold in our work to bring about your kingdom.  As the tiny mustard seed becomes a large bush, so too may our actions be magnified in your service.  Strengthen the seeds of our faith that we may grow ever closer to you.  Amen

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

October 30, 2017

Blessed Dominic Collins, SJ

Lk 13: 10-17

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.

But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?”

When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

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.

Entering into the chaos

“Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another.” – moral theologian James Keenan, SJ

Some years ago, I taught religion to sophomores – talk about entering into chaos! In all seriousness, they were curious, energetic, and thoughtful.

In exploring Jesus’ ministry, I asked, “What did Jesus do?”
“He saved people!”
“Ah. But how?”
“Because Jesus is God!”
“Yes… and what kinds of things did Jesus do that saved people?”
Hmm. This was harder to answer.

Today’s Gospel exemplifies how Jesus saves people. He liberates the woman from the spirit which cripples her by entering into her chaos. What did Jesus do for this woman? He SEES her, CALLS to her, SPEAKS to her, TOUCHES her. He does not “save” her from afar – he comes near, close enough to lay his hands on her.

Into what chaos of my life do I need to make room for God to enter?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.

Prayer

O Lord, I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.

—St. Faustina

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

October 29, 2017

Ex 22: 20 – 26

Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction. You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.

If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down.

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.

Radical hospitality for refugees

“You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.”

In the last couple of years, my ministry has grown to include refugees. I am certain of my duty as a Christian to welcome and befriend them. This is made abundantly clear in this reading from Exodus. So, it saddens me, when out of fear or prejudice, people forget this duty, and the fact that many who came to our country were similarly displaced. Refugees are those whose home has become inhospitable. And we must understand, as the poet Warsan Shire writes, “No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.”

Jesus says, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Throughout the Gospel, Jesus was offering hospitality to tax collectors, sinners, foreigners and strangers. I am increasingly convinced that one of our greatest calls in these days is to risk and rejoice in just this kind of radical hospitality.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

Prayer

Dear God, lover of widows, orphans, strangers, and the poor, give us the courage to practice the radical hospitality that you called the Jewish people to, and which was modeled by your son Jesus, who welcomed the outcast and taught us to do the same. Give us the courage to open our homes to the poor and needy. Help us to overcome fear, so as to respond to the needs of those who come to us fleeing oppression and terror. May those who have had their home taken from them find a home in our hearts, our homes, and our communities. Teach us, like you, to boldly love those whom others would exclude.  Amen.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

October 28, 2017

Feast of Sts. Simon & Jude, apostles

Lk 6: 12-16

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles:Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

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.

Called by name

When someone uses our name, it reminds us that we matter.  In today’s Gospel, Luke doesn’t simply mention that Jesus called twelve apostles, he lists them by name, each one individually called to follow Christ.  Our names do not appear in the Scriptures, but we are no less uniquely called to be disciples.

While we often tend to think of the twelve apostles as a unit, each of these men served the kingdom of God his own way.  Tradition tells us that Sts. Simon and Jude, whose feast we celebrate today, preached the Gospel in Mesopotamia and Persia before dying as martyrs.  Our path of discipleship may be vastly different from theirs, but we are uniquely called to follow Christ and to co-labor with him in his kingdom.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

O God, who by the blessed Apostles have brought us to acknowledge your name, graciously grant, through the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude, that the Church may constantly grow by increase of the peoples who believe in you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect prayer for the Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude

 

 

 

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October 27, 2017

Rom 7: 18-25a

For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

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.

Teach me wisdom

Harsh words are exchanged. Frustrations mount. A door is slammed! Paste this passage from Romans on your bathroom mirror. It accurately describes what happens when I lose my temper and injure a relationship … long-standing or brand new. As I begin to cool down, I say to myself: “What was I thinking?” “If only I could take back those words.” But of course the damage is done.

Paul accurately describes that interior battle between how I want to act and how I actually respond, especially in moments of high emotion. It is that inner struggle between emotion and reason that I need to own and manage. I need to develop a strategy for cooling my jets, for calming my emotions. I need to step back, take a deep breath, and still my beating heart. I need a “time out!”

Perhaps this is a good day to reflect on the situation Paul describes. How do I respond when my emotions go crazy? Take some time today to make a plan, to rehearse some words to use when I “lose it.” Open your mind and your heart to God in peace. Listen and speak!

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

Prayer

You are near, the God I seek.
Nothing can take me from your side.
All my days I rest secure;
you will show me the path that leads to life.

Francis Patrick O’Brien, “You Are All We Have,” ©1992, GIA Publications, Inc.

 

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October 26, 2017

Lk 12: 49-53

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!

From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

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.

We cannot remain neutral

Following Jesus does not allow us to remain neutral. Jesus’ passionate message here foretells both the suffering he was to undergo through the “baptism” of the cross, as well as the real opposition that would face his followers.

Perhaps the words of this Gospel need not be so unsettling. After all, the force of Jesus’ message is rightfully a cause for concern for those who feel threatened by the Kingdom which he embodies. As theologian Jon Sobrino, SJ, reminds us, “For Jesus, his task is not only affirming the truth about God, but unmasking the lies that suppress the truth about God.”

So, too, is it our task to denounce injustice, stand with the oppressed, and unmask corruption and dehumanization. To remain silent is to settle for a false peace that is unworthy of the sacrifice of Jesus, and the great cloud of witnesses who have trod the path before us.

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

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you stood with the poor, sick, and marginalized during your lifetime, and you call us to stand on the side of the oppressed in our society today.  Give us the strength to not remain silent in the face of injustice, so that we can work toward a more peaceful, just kingdom on earth.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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October 25, 2017

Lk 12: 39-48

“But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions.

But if that slave says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating.

From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

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.

Praying to Know God’s Will

Jesus outlines a story of chaos. It seems the guy in the middle – the one in charge while the master is away – sometimes makes bad decisions. That middle man is us – Christians who know God and are entrusted with carrying on the faith.

We don’t always get it right, but if we strive to know the “master’s will,” it will make things a lot better from the start. We won’t have the chaos if we are in alignment with what God desires for us. In many situations, we already know God’s will, but it’s too hard to “act in accord” with God’s will.

It’s hard because it means it’s not about us. It means setting aside our selfish wants in order to live in close relationship with God.

We can’t do that alone. Thankfully, we can rely on God’s never-ending grace to help us live faithfully.

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

Prayer

Loving God,
You have entrusted us with so much – you’ve given us Jesus, the perfect example of how to do the Father’s will.
You’ve given us the perfect words to pray – your Kingdom come, your will be done.
Help us to know these words in a more personal way.
Help us to live in alignment with your hopes and dreams for us.

—Rita Zyber

 

 

 

 


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October 24, 2017

St. Anthony Mary Claret

Lk 12: 35-38

“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

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.

Prepared to follow Jesus

Jesus presents two images worthy of contemplation. “Gird your loins.” “Light your lamps.” Both are clear instructions to those desiring to follow Jesus. For nothing serves this mission if we are asleep, unprepared or passively waiting.

There is a lot that holds us back or that keeps us complacent, stuck in the status quo. We are often busy and exhausted. Sometimes uncertain of how others might respond. Fear might even prevent our standing up for what is just, or casting our lot with the poor and marginalized.

However, these images are clear. We are to be vigilant, prepared, and available. Our feet must already be in motion. It’s a call to be actively engaged and committed to realizing the Kingdom of God.

What holds you back? What prevents you from embracing this radical commitment to follow Jesus?

—Matt Ippel, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic in the Midwest Province studying philosophy at the Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya in Lima, Peru.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we ask you now
to help us remain with you always,
to be close to you with all the ardor of our hearts,
to take up joyfully the mission you entrust to us,
and that is to continue your presence
and spread the good news of your resurrection.

—Carlo Maria Martini, SJ

 

 


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October 23, 2017

St. John Capistrano

Lk 12: 13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’

But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

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

Making space for what matters

I don’t want to be like the rich man, but I am. Instead of barns, I’ve dreamt of a larger pantry, a bigger home. I come from a place of privilege. Some of the things I have, I need. Most of them, I don’t.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with stuff. St. Ignatius reminds us that all things of this world are gifts of God. Yet, the First Principle and Foundation (paraphrased by David Fleming), goes on to caution us, “if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal.”

Which gifts contribute to my further development as a loving person, fully alive?

Is anything displacing God as the goal of my life?

My quest to accumulate material goods, achievements, status, and friends, has, at times, become my primary goal. This parable challenges me to make space for what matters truly matters to me, which is also what matters to God.

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.

Prayer

Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.

—First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius of Loyola, as paraphrased by David L. Fleming, SJ

 


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October 22, 2017

Mt 22: 15-21

Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”

But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

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.

History of the Gospel

“For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction” (1Thes 1:5).

As often as I proclaim the Gospel and preach about what it says, most of the time I simply take for granted the fact that it has “come to me.” Trying to tease a message for today from its words, do I ever consider its history? Not the history of its composition that I studied in theology classes, but rather the living history it witnesses to. It has been passed on for centuries, often with great effort and much sacrifice. And even today many are deprived of its beauty because those with earthly power fear what it may inspire in those they wish to control.

While Jesus does teach “pay unto Caesar,” surely we know that our priority is to first repay to God “what belongs to God.” How often do I read the Gospel aware that “in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction” I might give my life for it, as others have before me?

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ, is the Director of Campus Ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

Prayer

Lord, help me to hear, know, and appreciate the beauty of your Gospel each day. No matter how many times I hear it, remind me not to take it for granted. May I appreciate not only what you would have it teach me today, but also the efforts of those who safeguarded it, and sacrificed for it, so that I could have the privilege of encountering you in it.

May the Gospel message so penetrate my heart that I may be inspired, like Christians before me, to be a living witness to your word in all that I do. And may I have the courage to do what is required to make certain that others can come to know you as I have, even in the face of opposition and fear.

—Fr. Mark Mossa, SJ

 

 

 


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