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September 30, 2019

St. Jerome

Lk 9: 46-50

An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.” 

John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”

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

Accompanying young people

Jesus’s introduction of the child in today’s Gospel is one of many possible metaphors he could have employed to illuminate his broader message of humility. However, I think Jesus’s choice to uphold children in particular is meaningful in its own right.

One of the new Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs) discerned by the worldwide Society of Jesus is “To accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future.” In discussing as a College Church staff how we might integrate this UAP into the life of our parish, we realized that as adults, we too often see ourselves as forming and educating young people in a one-way exchange.  But children and youth have a lot to teach us about faith and living a life in response to the Gospel. Jesus, who came into this world as a child, reminds us of the wisdom and energy that youth can bring to our faith communities and the Church at large. Can we adults pay attention and support their leadership?

Christine Dragonette is the Director of Social Ministry at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, when you walked the earth,
Your humility obscured your Kingship.
Your meekness confused the arrogant,
Hindering them from grasping your purpose,
Your nobleness attending to the destitute.
Teach me to model after your eminence,
To subject my human nature to humility.
Grant me with a natural inclination
To never view myself greater than anyone.
Banish all lingering sparks of self-importance
That could elevate me greater than you.
Let my heart always imitate your humility.

—Author unknown, published at jesuitresource.org


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September 29, 2019

Lk 16: 19-31

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 

In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 

But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 

He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 

He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

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

Holding on to that which holds us back

Sometimes we never do seem to learn; or, better put, we always take our problems with us, wherever we go, until we learn to let them loose.

This unnamed rich man is still trying to be in charge of the situation and of everybody else, even in his own miserable afterlife!  He does not even address Lazarus, but asks Abraham to send him as a waterboy to relieve his own suffering. He then is concerned only with the gain of his family – “so that they will not also come into this place of torment” – and not of the welfare of those who, like Lazarus, they are mistreating.  He even bandies words with Abraham about having “someone go to them from the dead” so they will repent. Shouldn’t his way to forgiveness have started with saying, “I’m sorry” to those who deserved it?

Is there an unnamed “rich man” somewhere deep inside us?  When we discover it, what will be our response?

—Fr. Greg Ostdiek, SJ, is a former Navy officer who is now a Jesuit priest of the Midwest Province.  Ordained this past June, he is spending his first year after ordination studying education at Harvard.

Prayer

Come to me, all you that are weary
and are carrying heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

—Mt 11:28-30


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September 28, 2019

Lk 9: 43B-45

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

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

God’s confusing ways

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

One has only to follow the news to see immense heartbreak and pain caused by natural and manmade disasters.  It can be easy to ask God why these things are allowed to happen. The answer is that our world isn’t perfect, and true peace only comes from God.  If we try to make sense of the world using our limited human understanding, we will always fail.  

May our prayer today be to bring our own will closer to God’s will, so that we may know true peace.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Loving God, I don’t always understand why things happen, but I know that you love me unconditionally.  Help me to let go of my own desires so that I may grow closer to you. May my desire to know things never get in the way of loving you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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September 27, 2019

Lk 9: 18-22

Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” 

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

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.

Who Jesus is to each of us

In today’s Gospel when Jesus asks “Who do the crowds say that I am?,” he isn’t seeking information.  He is teaching his disciples through Socratic questioning. The “crowds” may have a variety of opinions about Jesus’ identity, but analyzing their responses like a polling survey won’t help the disciples develop in their own relationships with Jesus.  Coming to recognize Jesus is an interior project, one that is inherently private. At the beginning of this Gospel passage, Jesus is praying in solitude while the disciples were with him. He is modeling the way to come to know him. Each of our answers to the question of who Jesus is to us must come from within.  The opinions of others won’t deepen our relationship with Jesus or help us to extend it into our daily lives. Living a Christian life is often profoundly counter-cultural, in Jesus’ time just as it is today. 

What counter-cultural choices do I make in the name of Jesus?

—Jim Gaffey is a science teacher and ping pong club moderator at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.

Prayer

Jesus,
I want to unite my life to your life,
my thoughts to your thoughts,
my affections to your affections,
my heart to your heart,
my works to your works,
my whole self to your self,
in order to become through this union
more holy and more pleasing in the sight of your Father
and in order to make my life
more worthy of your grace
and of the reward of eternity.

—Excerpt of a prayer by Jean-Pierre Medaille, SJ


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September 26, 2019

Lk 9: 7-9

Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he tried to see him.

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

To Follow Christ the King

What is it like to be a powerful person, insecure in position, hemmed in by rumors of another charismatic leader, and intimidated by the reputation of a new prophet? We learn the answer in today’s brief Gospel reading. Herod Antipas, burdened with the infamy of his father who slaughtered the innocents at the time of the Nativity, and carrying his own reputation as the despot who murdered John the Baptist, is obsessed with the buzz surrounding the upstart preacher of Nazareth, known for miracles and a growing following. These verses on Herod’s paranoia are even literally surrounded in Luke by accounts of the growing Jesus movement: on one side news that Jesus has sent his disciples out to preach the Gospel and perform miracles themselves, and on the other, the account of their successful return and the miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Of course Herod is paranoid! Insult to injury, he has yet to speak personally to this new hero of the people.

Is there a lesson in today’s brief Gospel reading? Perhaps it’s as simple as “don’t be as vile and insecure as Herod.” But we also have Ignatius’ Kingdom Meditation: Whom do I imagine as a great and ideal king and how much more do I want to follow Christ the King? With the portrayal of Herod as someone no reasonable person would follow, can we find ourselves drawn to this new kind of king, one who has set the world we know on its head, one who can’t be described but by the inadequate moniker of resurrected prophet, and one who has none of the trappings of a despot like Herod? It may feel dangerous, but we can imagine following Cristo Rey.

Jim Broderick King is Director of Ignatian Spirituality and Formation at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado, and is a spiritual director at the Ignatian Spirituality Program of Denver.

Prayer

Jesus, you are the Christ, the Messiah, and the Heavenly King I want to follow. Help free me from the insecurities of the rumors, the pettiness, and the infamy of temporal rulers. May the freedom I seek be as subject in the Kingdom you promise.

—Jim Broderick King


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September 25, 2019

Lk 9: 1-6

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

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

Sent out on mission

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

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

—Sam Mauck is the Director of Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Memphis, which is a member of the Charis Ministries partner program.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we ask you now
to help us to 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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September 24, 2019

Our Lady of Walsingham

Ps 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5

1I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord. Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem, which is built as a city, which is compact together. For thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord: The testimony of Israel, to praise the name of the Lord. Because their seats have sat in judgment, seats upon the house of David.

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.

To go rejoicing to church

What does it mean to go to church rejoicing?

In the course of my life as a church-goer, I’ve showed up for countless reasons. As a kid, I clung to promises of donuts. In college, I usually had a crush I wanted to see. As a Jesuit, I don’t want to get caught skipping. Often times, my priorities are questionable when I walk through the doors.

I’ve heard that one way to make church more meaningful is to lower my expectations around what I hope to ‘get.’ Music won’t always be great, and homilies won’t always speak to me. If those are my expectations, I’ll never be fully satisfied. 

In the end, it isn’t about what I ‘get’ from church. It is about what I encounter – a communion of people united in love and a chance to see the living God face-to-face.  

That’s definitely something in which I can rejoice. 

—Eric Immel, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Jesuits.  After six years in Chicago, he recently moved to Boston where he studies theology.

Prayer

God of holiness and power, we give you thanks and praise through Jesus Christ, your son. For you have blessed our parish communities, and your presence makes our churches houses of prayer;  you never refuse us welcome when we come before you as your pilgrim people. In our parishes you realize the mystery of your dwelling among us; for in shaping us as your holy temple you enrich your whole Church, which is the very body of Christ.  

We pray that you continue to bless our parish communities. May all who gather in faith to listen to your word and celebrate your sacraments, experience the presence of Christ. May our parish communities joyfully go forth to love and serve you and to proclaim Christ’s name to all those we encounter, for He lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

The parish prayer of St. Paul Catholic Church in Eugene, OR


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September 23, 2019

St. Pius Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

Lk 8: 16-18

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. 

Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”

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

Bringing the truth into the light

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Participants in our annual North City Deanery pilgrimage in St. Louis earlier this month sang this song as we entered St. Nicholas at the close of the walk. This year’s pilgrimage focused on historic sites in our local Catholic history. The song that we sang at the close is a simple one but holds so much individual and communal meaning.

As a community, how can we humbly recognize the truth (the good and the bad) and set it out into the light? While the Jesuits have done much good in St. Louis, our pastor Fr. Dan White, SJ, also acknowledged College Church’s painful history of benefiting from Jesuit slaveholding.  

As individuals, in what ways can we challenge ourselves to open up with each other about the joys and challenges we face in our own personal faith journeys? Being vulnerable in this way can both inspire others and normalize the struggles and pain that each of us experience on some level.

Christine Dragonette is the Director of Social Ministry at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis.

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And you will renew the face of the earth.

Lord,
by the light of the Holy Spirit
you have taught the hearts of your faithful.
In the same Spirit
help us to relish what is right
and always rejoice in your consolation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

—Traditional Prayer to the Holy Spirit


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September 22, 2019

Lk 16: 1-13

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 

Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 

He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 

And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 

And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

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.

Whom, or what, do I serve?

As with a few Gospel parables, it is easy with the Parable of the Dishonest Steward to get bogged down in the rhetorical details of what is probably a translation to English, from Latin, of a translation to Greek from the original oral Aramaic.  If the parable lacks for us the immediacy that it did for Jesus’s contemporaries, at least its final charge is still readily available: “You cannot serve God and wealth.” That is the final, and key, line of the parable. God alone is Lord; all else is subsidiary and not worth our worship.  Perhaps the most important thing about our possessions in these times is how very useful an indicator they are for us as we discern our overall fundamental disposition: towards God or towards the created things of this world. Whom, or what, do I serve?

—Fr. Greg Ostdiek, SJ, is a Jesuit priest of the Midwest Province.  Ordained this past June, he is spending his first year after ordination studying education at Harvard.

Prayer

Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord,
choose this day whom you will serve,
whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living;
but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15


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September 21, 2019

St. Matthew

Mt 9: 9-13

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

But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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

Accepted as we are now

If Jesus had a bit more of a sarcastic streak, his response to being asked why he ate with sinners may have been more along the lines of “because otherwise I would always eat alone.”  Fortunately, he saw this as a teachable moment and reminds all of us that he came for all people, not just a select few. The Pharisees would have preferred that Jesus’ inner circle consisted of a more “elite” group, ideally comprised mainly of themselves.  

But Jesus’ response makes it clear that, just like the tax collectors and sinners he dined with, we are invited into a relationship with him right now, as we are.  We don’t need to wait until we are more holy, or better at prayer, or in a more stable place in our lives; Jesus is ready to meet us exactly where we are. Like Matthew, we have the opportunity to accept the invitation today, no matter what we are doing, and begin a friendship with Christ, allowing that relationship to open us to an even greater discipleship.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord, give me the grace to labor with you
without seeking myself-
to live the Kingdom
In its full reality.

—John Futrell, SJ


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September 30, 2019

St. Jerome

Lk 9: 46-50

An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.” 

John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”

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

Accompanying young people

Jesus’s introduction of the child in today’s Gospel is one of many possible metaphors he could have employed to illuminate his broader message of humility. However, I think Jesus’s choice to uphold children in particular is meaningful in its own right.

One of the new Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs) discerned by the worldwide Society of Jesus is “To accompany young people in the creation of a hope-filled future.” In discussing as a College Church staff how we might integrate this UAP into the life of our parish, we realized that as adults, we too often see ourselves as forming and educating young people in a one-way exchange.  But children and youth have a lot to teach us about faith and living a life in response to the Gospel. Jesus, who came into this world as a child, reminds us of the wisdom and energy that youth can bring to our faith communities and the Church at large. Can we adults pay attention and support their leadership?

Christine Dragonette is the Director of Social Ministry at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, when you walked the earth,
Your humility obscured your Kingship.
Your meekness confused the arrogant,
Hindering them from grasping your purpose,
Your nobleness attending to the destitute.
Teach me to model after your eminence,
To subject my human nature to humility.
Grant me with a natural inclination
To never view myself greater than anyone.
Banish all lingering sparks of self-importance
That could elevate me greater than you.
Let my heart always imitate your humility.

—Author unknown, published at jesuitresource.org


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

September 29, 2019

Lk 16: 19-31

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 

In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 

But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 

He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 

He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

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

Holding on to that which holds us back

Sometimes we never do seem to learn; or, better put, we always take our problems with us, wherever we go, until we learn to let them loose.

This unnamed rich man is still trying to be in charge of the situation and of everybody else, even in his own miserable afterlife!  He does not even address Lazarus, but asks Abraham to send him as a waterboy to relieve his own suffering. He then is concerned only with the gain of his family – “so that they will not also come into this place of torment” – and not of the welfare of those who, like Lazarus, they are mistreating.  He even bandies words with Abraham about having “someone go to them from the dead” so they will repent. Shouldn’t his way to forgiveness have started with saying, “I’m sorry” to those who deserved it?

Is there an unnamed “rich man” somewhere deep inside us?  When we discover it, what will be our response?

—Fr. Greg Ostdiek, SJ, is a former Navy officer who is now a Jesuit priest of the Midwest Province.  Ordained this past June, he is spending his first year after ordination studying education at Harvard.

Prayer

Come to me, all you that are weary
and are carrying heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

—Mt 11:28-30


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September 28, 2019

Lk 9: 43B-45

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

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

God’s confusing ways

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

One has only to follow the news to see immense heartbreak and pain caused by natural and manmade disasters.  It can be easy to ask God why these things are allowed to happen. The answer is that our world isn’t perfect, and true peace only comes from God.  If we try to make sense of the world using our limited human understanding, we will always fail.  

May our prayer today be to bring our own will closer to God’s will, so that we may know true peace.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Loving God, I don’t always understand why things happen, but I know that you love me unconditionally.  Help me to let go of my own desires so that I may grow closer to you. May my desire to know things never get in the way of loving you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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September 27, 2019

Lk 9: 18-22

Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” 

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

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.

Who Jesus is to each of us

In today’s Gospel when Jesus asks “Who do the crowds say that I am?,” he isn’t seeking information.  He is teaching his disciples through Socratic questioning. The “crowds” may have a variety of opinions about Jesus’ identity, but analyzing their responses like a polling survey won’t help the disciples develop in their own relationships with Jesus.  Coming to recognize Jesus is an interior project, one that is inherently private. At the beginning of this Gospel passage, Jesus is praying in solitude while the disciples were with him. He is modeling the way to come to know him. Each of our answers to the question of who Jesus is to us must come from within.  The opinions of others won’t deepen our relationship with Jesus or help us to extend it into our daily lives. Living a Christian life is often profoundly counter-cultural, in Jesus’ time just as it is today. 

What counter-cultural choices do I make in the name of Jesus?

—Jim Gaffey is a science teacher and ping pong club moderator at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.

Prayer

Jesus,
I want to unite my life to your life,
my thoughts to your thoughts,
my affections to your affections,
my heart to your heart,
my works to your works,
my whole self to your self,
in order to become through this union
more holy and more pleasing in the sight of your Father
and in order to make my life
more worthy of your grace
and of the reward of eternity.

—Excerpt of a prayer by Jean-Pierre Medaille, SJ


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September 26, 2019

Lk 9: 7-9

Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. Herod said, “John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he tried to see him.

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

To Follow Christ the King

What is it like to be a powerful person, insecure in position, hemmed in by rumors of another charismatic leader, and intimidated by the reputation of a new prophet? We learn the answer in today’s brief Gospel reading. Herod Antipas, burdened with the infamy of his father who slaughtered the innocents at the time of the Nativity, and carrying his own reputation as the despot who murdered John the Baptist, is obsessed with the buzz surrounding the upstart preacher of Nazareth, known for miracles and a growing following. These verses on Herod’s paranoia are even literally surrounded in Luke by accounts of the growing Jesus movement: on one side news that Jesus has sent his disciples out to preach the Gospel and perform miracles themselves, and on the other, the account of their successful return and the miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Of course Herod is paranoid! Insult to injury, he has yet to speak personally to this new hero of the people.

Is there a lesson in today’s brief Gospel reading? Perhaps it’s as simple as “don’t be as vile and insecure as Herod.” But we also have Ignatius’ Kingdom Meditation: Whom do I imagine as a great and ideal king and how much more do I want to follow Christ the King? With the portrayal of Herod as someone no reasonable person would follow, can we find ourselves drawn to this new kind of king, one who has set the world we know on its head, one who can’t be described but by the inadequate moniker of resurrected prophet, and one who has none of the trappings of a despot like Herod? It may feel dangerous, but we can imagine following Cristo Rey.

Jim Broderick King is Director of Ignatian Spirituality and Formation at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado, and is a spiritual director at the Ignatian Spirituality Program of Denver.

Prayer

Jesus, you are the Christ, the Messiah, and the Heavenly King I want to follow. Help free me from the insecurities of the rumors, the pettiness, and the infamy of temporal rulers. May the freedom I seek be as subject in the Kingdom you promise.

—Jim Broderick King


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September 25, 2019

Lk 9: 1-6

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

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

Sent out on mission

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

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

—Sam Mauck is the Director of Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Memphis, which is a member of the Charis Ministries partner program.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we ask you now
to help us to 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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September 24, 2019

Our Lady of Walsingham

Ps 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5

1I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord. Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem, which is built as a city, which is compact together. For thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord: The testimony of Israel, to praise the name of the Lord. Because their seats have sat in judgment, seats upon the house of David.

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.

To go rejoicing to church

What does it mean to go to church rejoicing?

In the course of my life as a church-goer, I’ve showed up for countless reasons. As a kid, I clung to promises of donuts. In college, I usually had a crush I wanted to see. As a Jesuit, I don’t want to get caught skipping. Often times, my priorities are questionable when I walk through the doors.

I’ve heard that one way to make church more meaningful is to lower my expectations around what I hope to ‘get.’ Music won’t always be great, and homilies won’t always speak to me. If those are my expectations, I’ll never be fully satisfied. 

In the end, it isn’t about what I ‘get’ from church. It is about what I encounter – a communion of people united in love and a chance to see the living God face-to-face.  

That’s definitely something in which I can rejoice. 

—Eric Immel, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Jesuits.  After six years in Chicago, he recently moved to Boston where he studies theology.

Prayer

God of holiness and power, we give you thanks and praise through Jesus Christ, your son. For you have blessed our parish communities, and your presence makes our churches houses of prayer;  you never refuse us welcome when we come before you as your pilgrim people. In our parishes you realize the mystery of your dwelling among us; for in shaping us as your holy temple you enrich your whole Church, which is the very body of Christ.  

We pray that you continue to bless our parish communities. May all who gather in faith to listen to your word and celebrate your sacraments, experience the presence of Christ. May our parish communities joyfully go forth to love and serve you and to proclaim Christ’s name to all those we encounter, for He lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

The parish prayer of St. Paul Catholic Church in Eugene, OR


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September 23, 2019

St. Pius Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

Lk 8: 16-18

“No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. 

Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”

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

Bringing the truth into the light

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Participants in our annual North City Deanery pilgrimage in St. Louis earlier this month sang this song as we entered St. Nicholas at the close of the walk. This year’s pilgrimage focused on historic sites in our local Catholic history. The song that we sang at the close is a simple one but holds so much individual and communal meaning.

As a community, how can we humbly recognize the truth (the good and the bad) and set it out into the light? While the Jesuits have done much good in St. Louis, our pastor Fr. Dan White, SJ, also acknowledged College Church’s painful history of benefiting from Jesuit slaveholding.  

As individuals, in what ways can we challenge ourselves to open up with each other about the joys and challenges we face in our own personal faith journeys? Being vulnerable in this way can both inspire others and normalize the struggles and pain that each of us experience on some level.

Christine Dragonette is the Director of Social Ministry at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis.

Prayer

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And you will renew the face of the earth.

Lord,
by the light of the Holy Spirit
you have taught the hearts of your faithful.
In the same Spirit
help us to relish what is right
and always rejoice in your consolation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

—Traditional Prayer to the Holy Spirit


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September 22, 2019

Lk 16: 1-13

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ 

Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 

He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 

And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 

And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

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.

Whom, or what, do I serve?

As with a few Gospel parables, it is easy with the Parable of the Dishonest Steward to get bogged down in the rhetorical details of what is probably a translation to English, from Latin, of a translation to Greek from the original oral Aramaic.  If the parable lacks for us the immediacy that it did for Jesus’s contemporaries, at least its final charge is still readily available: “You cannot serve God and wealth.” That is the final, and key, line of the parable. God alone is Lord; all else is subsidiary and not worth our worship.  Perhaps the most important thing about our possessions in these times is how very useful an indicator they are for us as we discern our overall fundamental disposition: towards God or towards the created things of this world. Whom, or what, do I serve?

—Fr. Greg Ostdiek, SJ, is a Jesuit priest of the Midwest Province.  Ordained this past June, he is spending his first year after ordination studying education at Harvard.

Prayer

Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord,
choose this day whom you will serve,
whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living;
but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15


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September 21, 2019

St. Matthew

Mt 9: 9-13

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

But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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

Accepted as we are now

If Jesus had a bit more of a sarcastic streak, his response to being asked why he ate with sinners may have been more along the lines of “because otherwise I would always eat alone.”  Fortunately, he saw this as a teachable moment and reminds all of us that he came for all people, not just a select few. The Pharisees would have preferred that Jesus’ inner circle consisted of a more “elite” group, ideally comprised mainly of themselves.  

But Jesus’ response makes it clear that, just like the tax collectors and sinners he dined with, we are invited into a relationship with him right now, as we are.  We don’t need to wait until we are more holy, or better at prayer, or in a more stable place in our lives; Jesus is ready to meet us exactly where we are. Like Matthew, we have the opportunity to accept the invitation today, no matter what we are doing, and begin a friendship with Christ, allowing that relationship to open us to an even greater discipleship.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord, give me the grace to labor with you
without seeking myself-
to live the Kingdom
In its full reality.

—John Futrell, SJ


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