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May 24, 2018

Feast of Our Lady of the Way (Santa Maria della Strada)

Mark 9:41-50

For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

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.

Do not be insipid

In the New American Bible translation of the closing verse, we read “if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor?”  Insipid. What an attention-getting word, so much more forceful than the poetic older translation “what if the salt shall lose its savor?” We are the “salt of the earth”—those who are called to live the Gospel and share it by the example of our lives. If we are insipid in our faith, in our discipleship, we are useless.

Elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus says “because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16). In what am I lukewarm? In being fully present to prayer? In awareness of the needs of those around me? In compassion for the poor, the homeless, the difficult people in my life?

St. Ignatius advised the early Jesuits to “go, set the world on fire!” How can I apply that advice in my own life?

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

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to discern where my discipleship is insipid, and give me a heart on fire with love of you and all the people in my life.

—Barbara Lee

 


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May 23, 2018

James 4:13-17

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits 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.

Ignatian indifference

An administrator sent out an email the other day asking the participants of a meeting if they expect to be there. One person replied, “I am planning to attend, God willing.” My first thought was that they were uncertain about their attendance because they might be dealing with a medical issue. I later realized that this person was living out of the spirit of what James is calling us to in today’s reading: Ignatian indifference, that is, not clinging to one’s plans or expectations. All we have is today and we must live out today to our fullest, trusting in God about all the things that follow. As James says, we are a passing mist that appears and vanishes. Ignatius’ understanding of this kind of detachment is about having a complete dependence on God, and not being presumptuous about having things figured out.

Do I live with God in there here-and-now or do I find myself always living in the uncertainty of the future?

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

Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as he did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that he will make all things right
if I surrender to his will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with him
forever in the next.

—Serenity Prayer

 

 


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May 22, 2018

Mark 9:30-37

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

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

Compare and despair

There’s a phrase used by Jesuits – “compare and despair.” That is, when we look around, there’s always someone holier, smarter, more attractive, more productive, more popular, more perfect, more Jesuit.

I have this tendency–to see others’ gifts and, in turn, see myself as less than. More dangerously, I see others’ gifts and try to become something I am not.

Both are expressions of my struggle to accept God’s love. Both seem to say that God didn’t make me well enough. I don’t think I’m the only person who sometimes feels this way, and it is exhausting.

But, somehow God always finds a way to remind me that I am already as great as I need to be. My greatness is my goodness. My gifts are a manifestation of God’s work. I am well-made. Deep down, I know this is true.

Now – what can compare with that?

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

Prayer

Jesus, I feel within me a great desire to please you but, at the same time, I feel totally incapable of doing this without your special light and help, which I can expect only from you. Accomplish your will within me—even in spite of me.

—St. Claude de la Colombier, SJ

 


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May 21, 2018

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

Acts 1:12-14

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

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 first Christian community

After Jesus ascends into heaven, the apostles return to Jerusalem and gather in the upper room.  Throughout the Gospels, we see the apostles gathered together in a room to pray together, to support one another, and to build community.  They huddle together, afraid after Jesus is crucified. They are together in a locked room when Jesus appears and offers them peace. And they are together praying when the Holy Spirit descends upon them at Pentecost.  

Today’s reading from Acts reminds us that it was not just twelve who were gathered together.  They were with others, including Mary, the mother of Jesus. This make perfect sense! These first disciples gathered together as the community that would become our Church.  Of course Mary would be there!

Mary was present with and for that first Christian community, and remains with us in our faith communities today.  

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Mother, help our faith!
Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call.
Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise.
Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith.
Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature.
Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One.
Remind us that those who believe are never alone.
Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path.
And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!

—Pope Francis’s prayer to Mary at the conclusions of Lumen Fidei

 

 


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May 20, 2018

Acts 2:1-11

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”

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 Holy Spirit overcomes divisions

With the new translation of the Mass, there is a renewed recognition of the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. In the first reading we see God’s answer to the Tower of Babel story, where people become divided by language (Gn. 11:1-9). But diversity is not an obstacle to the Gospel because the Holy Spirit has allowed the apostles to preach in every tongue.

St. Ignatius advises that in ministry we should always “go in their door” in order to “bring them out our door.” As ambassadors of the Gospel, we are called to bring the saving message of Jesus Christ to all people, meeting them where they are, in whatever language and culture. In our polarized world, are we able to spread the Good News to everybody we meet in that same way?

Are you willing to love others who have different ideas and values, even ones opposed to your own?

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

Prayer

Almighty ever-living God, who willed the Paschal Mystery to be encompassed as a sign in fifty days, grant that from out of the scattered nations the confusion of many tongues may be gathered by heavenly grace into one great confession of your name. 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 Pentecost

 

 

 


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May 19, 2018

Jn 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!”

So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.

But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

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 mystery that continues to unfold

John’s Gospel concludes by saying our Lord did much more than could ever be written down. Indeed, “the world itself could not contain the books” necessary to record Jesus’s many other works and signs individually. This conclusion is, of course, true not only because the mystery of the Christ event continues to unfold even today, but also because the Body of Christ, which is the Church, continues to inscribe that mystery.

Our Lord’s work, in other words, is an ongoing story. Hence we, as the Church and as Gaudium et Spes proclaims, continue to work in this world as the theater of human history, with its tragedies and triumphs, so that emancipated by Christ the world might be fashioned anew according to God’s loving design and purpose

—Penn Dawson, SJ, is a member of the USA Central and Southern Province. He will be ordained a priest on June 9, 2018 at St. Francis Xavier College Church in Saint Louis. His first assignment as a priest will be in Central America at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Belize City.

Prayer

Now to God who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

—Ephesians 3:20-21

 


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May 18, 2018

John 21:15-19

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)

After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

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

A deepening friendship

In today’s gospel, Jesus and Peter eat breakfast together and then share in conversation. Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times, and each time, Peter replies that he does love Jesus. Peter denied Jesus three times during Jesus’ Passion, and here he is given a chance to reaffirm his love and friendship. Their conversation is intimate and deepens their relationship. The simplest acts of eating a meal together and then speaking caring words help to reconcile Jesus and his friend.

We are also invited into further friendship with the Lord, through Eucharist and prayer. An action as simple as sharing a meal with others, or a few carefully chosen caring words, can also heal and lead to reconciliation with other people in our lives. How do I want to answer Jesus’ inviting question— “do you love me?”—and show that love in action today?

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

Prayer

Lord, no matter how far we may sometimes move away from you, you await and extend a constant invitation of love to us. Lord, help me to recognize you in Eucharist, in Scripture and in the breaking of bread and sharing of conversation with family, friends, and community. Break open also my own heart, that I may share my deepest concerns and even my very self with you, just as you have shared of yourself with me. Help me to bring the love and attentiveness that I receive from you into my actions with others in my life today. Amen.

—Marina McCoy

 


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May 17, 2018

Acts 22:30; 23:6-11

Since he wanted to find out what Paul was being accused of by the Jews, the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and the entire council to meet. He brought Paul down and had him stand before them.

When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.)

Then a great clamor arose, and certain scribes of the Pharisees’ group stood up and contended, “We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” When the dissension became violent, the tribune, fearing that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered the soldiers to go down, take him by force, and bring him into the barracks.

That night the Lord stood near him and said, “Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.”

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.

That all may be one

The commander of the Roman cohort was at a loss to understand why Paul’s preaching led to a near-riot. Ideas like resurrection and angels were unknown in Roman polytheism, yet here they generated such a violent dispute that he finally decided to take Paul into protective custody. What was wrong with these quarrelsome Jews?

The commander’s puzzlement reminds me of the reaction of a Jewish colleague who, after a trip to Jerusalem, told me how astonished he was at the battles among different Christians for access to the holy places. What is wrong with these quarrelsome Christians?

Christians have stopped killing each other over issues of faith, but we are still a long way from the prayer of Jesus “that . . . all may be one, as you Father are in me and I in you.” (John 17:21). Can we make that prayer our own?

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

Prayer

Lord, send your good spirit to guide us. You know how challenging it can be to live a God-centered life in a secular society. Help us to grow in love for our fellow Christians, and seek the unity that only you can give.

—Barbara Lee

 


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May 16, 2018

John 17:11b-19

And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

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.

God’s giving of self

Today’s Gospel reading is the continuation of Jesus’ prayer to the Father we began yesterday. Jesus is preparing to be handed over to the authorities and killed, and so he asks his Father that despite his departure, those who’ve been entrusted to him will continue to experience God’s joy and protection. More importantly, Jesus asks that they (we) may be “sanctified in the truth”. This gift of truth comes through the entirety of Jesus’ earthly life. This passage reminds us of the continuity of what St. Ignatius might call God’s endless giving and gifting of self.

We have experienced God’s giving of self through the Incarnation, Jesus’ teaching and ministry, his death and Resurrection, and through his Ascension. And the fruit of Jesus’ prayer comes at Pentecost this coming Sunday. The coming of the Holy Spirit is the ultimate gift that assures us of God’s joy, protection, and truth Jesus so desires for us.

How do you experience God’s joy and protection?

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

Prayer

Father, your truth is made known in your Word. Guide us to seek the truth of the human person. Teach us the way to love because you are Love.

Jesus, you embody Love and Truth. Help us to recognize your face in the poor. Enable us to live out our vocation to bring love and justice to your people.

Holy Spirit, you inspire us to transform our world. Empower us to seek the common good for all persons. Give us a spirit of solidarity and make us one human family.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—From the USCCB, based on Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth)

 

 

 

 

 


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May 15, 2018

Acts 20:17-27

From Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. When they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the entire time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, enduring the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I did not shrink from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message to you and teaching you publicly and from house to house, as I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus. And now, as a captive to the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me.

But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. “And now I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will ever see my face again. Therefore I declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of 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.

Giving 100%

I had a friend who would lambast sports announcers for saying, “the athletes gave it 110% today.” My friend’s argument: giving 110% is impossible. There’s only 100% to give, and not even that if we need something tomorrow.

Yet, in today’s first reading Paul is ready to give everything for the ministry he’s been given, to the point of tears, trials, and imprisonment. So deep is his conviction that he considers life of no importance so long as he finishes his work. Sounds like 100% to me.

It’s a scary thing, to leave it all out on the field, to imagine giving everything in service to one another and to God. Yet, as Jesus reminds us – God gave us glory so we may give glory back. God gave everything to us so we can give in return – at least enough to exhaust ourselves today and rise again with joy.

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

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity

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

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 


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May 24, 2018

Feast of Our Lady of the Way (Santa Maria della Strada)

Mark 9:41-50

For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

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.

Do not be insipid

In the New American Bible translation of the closing verse, we read “if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor?”  Insipid. What an attention-getting word, so much more forceful than the poetic older translation “what if the salt shall lose its savor?” We are the “salt of the earth”—those who are called to live the Gospel and share it by the example of our lives. If we are insipid in our faith, in our discipleship, we are useless.

Elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus says “because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16). In what am I lukewarm? In being fully present to prayer? In awareness of the needs of those around me? In compassion for the poor, the homeless, the difficult people in my life?

St. Ignatius advised the early Jesuits to “go, set the world on fire!” How can I apply that advice in my own life?

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

Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to discern where my discipleship is insipid, and give me a heart on fire with love of you and all the people in my life.

—Barbara Lee

 


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May 23, 2018

James 4:13-17

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits 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.

Ignatian indifference

An administrator sent out an email the other day asking the participants of a meeting if they expect to be there. One person replied, “I am planning to attend, God willing.” My first thought was that they were uncertain about their attendance because they might be dealing with a medical issue. I later realized that this person was living out of the spirit of what James is calling us to in today’s reading: Ignatian indifference, that is, not clinging to one’s plans or expectations. All we have is today and we must live out today to our fullest, trusting in God about all the things that follow. As James says, we are a passing mist that appears and vanishes. Ignatius’ understanding of this kind of detachment is about having a complete dependence on God, and not being presumptuous about having things figured out.

Do I live with God in there here-and-now or do I find myself always living in the uncertainty of the future?

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

Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as he did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that he will make all things right
if I surrender to his will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with him
forever in the next.

—Serenity Prayer

 

 


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May 22, 2018

Mark 9:30-37

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”

Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

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

Compare and despair

There’s a phrase used by Jesuits – “compare and despair.” That is, when we look around, there’s always someone holier, smarter, more attractive, more productive, more popular, more perfect, more Jesuit.

I have this tendency–to see others’ gifts and, in turn, see myself as less than. More dangerously, I see others’ gifts and try to become something I am not.

Both are expressions of my struggle to accept God’s love. Both seem to say that God didn’t make me well enough. I don’t think I’m the only person who sometimes feels this way, and it is exhausting.

But, somehow God always finds a way to remind me that I am already as great as I need to be. My greatness is my goodness. My gifts are a manifestation of God’s work. I am well-made. Deep down, I know this is true.

Now – what can compare with that?

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

Prayer

Jesus, I feel within me a great desire to please you but, at the same time, I feel totally incapable of doing this without your special light and help, which I can expect only from you. Accomplish your will within me—even in spite of me.

—St. Claude de la Colombier, SJ

 


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May 21, 2018

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

Acts 1:12-14

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

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 first Christian community

After Jesus ascends into heaven, the apostles return to Jerusalem and gather in the upper room.  Throughout the Gospels, we see the apostles gathered together in a room to pray together, to support one another, and to build community.  They huddle together, afraid after Jesus is crucified. They are together in a locked room when Jesus appears and offers them peace. And they are together praying when the Holy Spirit descends upon them at Pentecost.  

Today’s reading from Acts reminds us that it was not just twelve who were gathered together.  They were with others, including Mary, the mother of Jesus. This make perfect sense! These first disciples gathered together as the community that would become our Church.  Of course Mary would be there!

Mary was present with and for that first Christian community, and remains with us in our faith communities today.  

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Mother, help our faith!
Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call.
Awaken in us a desire to follow in his footsteps, to go forth from our own land and to receive his promise.
Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith.
Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love, especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross, when our faith is called to mature.
Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One.
Remind us that those who believe are never alone.
Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path.
And may this light of faith always increase in us, until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!

—Pope Francis’s prayer to Mary at the conclusions of Lumen Fidei

 

 


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May 20, 2018

Acts 2:1-11

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”

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 Holy Spirit overcomes divisions

With the new translation of the Mass, there is a renewed recognition of the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. In the first reading we see God’s answer to the Tower of Babel story, where people become divided by language (Gn. 11:1-9). But diversity is not an obstacle to the Gospel because the Holy Spirit has allowed the apostles to preach in every tongue.

St. Ignatius advises that in ministry we should always “go in their door” in order to “bring them out our door.” As ambassadors of the Gospel, we are called to bring the saving message of Jesus Christ to all people, meeting them where they are, in whatever language and culture. In our polarized world, are we able to spread the Good News to everybody we meet in that same way?

Are you willing to love others who have different ideas and values, even ones opposed to your own?

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

Prayer

Almighty ever-living God, who willed the Paschal Mystery to be encompassed as a sign in fifty days, grant that from out of the scattered nations the confusion of many tongues may be gathered by heavenly grace into one great confession of your name. 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 Pentecost

 

 

 


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May 19, 2018

Jn 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!”

So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.

But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

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 mystery that continues to unfold

John’s Gospel concludes by saying our Lord did much more than could ever be written down. Indeed, “the world itself could not contain the books” necessary to record Jesus’s many other works and signs individually. This conclusion is, of course, true not only because the mystery of the Christ event continues to unfold even today, but also because the Body of Christ, which is the Church, continues to inscribe that mystery.

Our Lord’s work, in other words, is an ongoing story. Hence we, as the Church and as Gaudium et Spes proclaims, continue to work in this world as the theater of human history, with its tragedies and triumphs, so that emancipated by Christ the world might be fashioned anew according to God’s loving design and purpose

—Penn Dawson, SJ, is a member of the USA Central and Southern Province. He will be ordained a priest on June 9, 2018 at St. Francis Xavier College Church in Saint Louis. His first assignment as a priest will be in Central America at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Belize City.

Prayer

Now to God who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

—Ephesians 3:20-21

 


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May 18, 2018

John 21:15-19

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)

After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

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

A deepening friendship

In today’s gospel, Jesus and Peter eat breakfast together and then share in conversation. Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times, and each time, Peter replies that he does love Jesus. Peter denied Jesus three times during Jesus’ Passion, and here he is given a chance to reaffirm his love and friendship. Their conversation is intimate and deepens their relationship. The simplest acts of eating a meal together and then speaking caring words help to reconcile Jesus and his friend.

We are also invited into further friendship with the Lord, through Eucharist and prayer. An action as simple as sharing a meal with others, or a few carefully chosen caring words, can also heal and lead to reconciliation with other people in our lives. How do I want to answer Jesus’ inviting question— “do you love me?”—and show that love in action today?

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

Prayer

Lord, no matter how far we may sometimes move away from you, you await and extend a constant invitation of love to us. Lord, help me to recognize you in Eucharist, in Scripture and in the breaking of bread and sharing of conversation with family, friends, and community. Break open also my own heart, that I may share my deepest concerns and even my very self with you, just as you have shared of yourself with me. Help me to bring the love and attentiveness that I receive from you into my actions with others in my life today. Amen.

—Marina McCoy

 


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May 17, 2018

Acts 22:30; 23:6-11

Since he wanted to find out what Paul was being accused of by the Jews, the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and the entire council to meet. He brought Paul down and had him stand before them.

When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.)

Then a great clamor arose, and certain scribes of the Pharisees’ group stood up and contended, “We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” When the dissension became violent, the tribune, fearing that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered the soldiers to go down, take him by force, and bring him into the barracks.

That night the Lord stood near him and said, “Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.”

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.

That all may be one

The commander of the Roman cohort was at a loss to understand why Paul’s preaching led to a near-riot. Ideas like resurrection and angels were unknown in Roman polytheism, yet here they generated such a violent dispute that he finally decided to take Paul into protective custody. What was wrong with these quarrelsome Jews?

The commander’s puzzlement reminds me of the reaction of a Jewish colleague who, after a trip to Jerusalem, told me how astonished he was at the battles among different Christians for access to the holy places. What is wrong with these quarrelsome Christians?

Christians have stopped killing each other over issues of faith, but we are still a long way from the prayer of Jesus “that . . . all may be one, as you Father are in me and I in you.” (John 17:21). Can we make that prayer our own?

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

Prayer

Lord, send your good spirit to guide us. You know how challenging it can be to live a God-centered life in a secular society. Help us to grow in love for our fellow Christians, and seek the unity that only you can give.

—Barbara Lee

 


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May 16, 2018

John 17:11b-19

And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

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.

God’s giving of self

Today’s Gospel reading is the continuation of Jesus’ prayer to the Father we began yesterday. Jesus is preparing to be handed over to the authorities and killed, and so he asks his Father that despite his departure, those who’ve been entrusted to him will continue to experience God’s joy and protection. More importantly, Jesus asks that they (we) may be “sanctified in the truth”. This gift of truth comes through the entirety of Jesus’ earthly life. This passage reminds us of the continuity of what St. Ignatius might call God’s endless giving and gifting of self.

We have experienced God’s giving of self through the Incarnation, Jesus’ teaching and ministry, his death and Resurrection, and through his Ascension. And the fruit of Jesus’ prayer comes at Pentecost this coming Sunday. The coming of the Holy Spirit is the ultimate gift that assures us of God’s joy, protection, and truth Jesus so desires for us.

How do you experience God’s joy and protection?

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

Prayer

Father, your truth is made known in your Word. Guide us to seek the truth of the human person. Teach us the way to love because you are Love.

Jesus, you embody Love and Truth. Help us to recognize your face in the poor. Enable us to live out our vocation to bring love and justice to your people.

Holy Spirit, you inspire us to transform our world. Empower us to seek the common good for all persons. Give us a spirit of solidarity and make us one human family.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—From the USCCB, based on Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth)

 

 

 

 

 


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May 15, 2018

Acts 20:17-27

From Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, asking the elders of the church to meet him. When they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the entire time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, enduring the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. I did not shrink from doing anything helpful, proclaiming the message to you and teaching you publicly and from house to house, as I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus. And now, as a captive to the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me.

But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. “And now I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom, will ever see my face again. Therefore I declare to you this day that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of 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.

Giving 100%

I had a friend who would lambast sports announcers for saying, “the athletes gave it 110% today.” My friend’s argument: giving 110% is impossible. There’s only 100% to give, and not even that if we need something tomorrow.

Yet, in today’s first reading Paul is ready to give everything for the ministry he’s been given, to the point of tears, trials, and imprisonment. So deep is his conviction that he considers life of no importance so long as he finishes his work. Sounds like 100% to me.

It’s a scary thing, to leave it all out on the field, to imagine giving everything in service to one another and to God. Yet, as Jesus reminds us – God gave us glory so we may give glory back. God gave everything to us so we can give in return – at least enough to exhaust ourselves today and rise again with joy.

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

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity

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

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 


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