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November 19, 2019

Lk 19:1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycomore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 

When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ 

Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’

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.

Receiving Christ

By looking around at creation, we can see the order and goodness in the world. We can see that comes from a good God that holds it in existence by his love. We can probably even think of moments in which we looked up at the vast sky and thought to ourselves, “God is so much bigger than us.” 

Today’s Gospel helps us imagine the goodness of God from a different perspective. Zacchaeus finds out that Jesus is passing through the town, and he climbs a tree in order to get a glimpse of him. When Zacchaeus gains the ability to see Christ, everything changes for him. He has an encounter with Jesus Christ, the Creator and Redeemer of humanity, who became so small for us in taking on our flesh. Moreover, this God-man desires that Zacchaeus receive him, a desire that is the same for each of us. It is in the Mass, and in the time we spend before Christ in the Eucharist, that we receive him. It is this same Creator and Redeemer of the universe who becomes so small for us in the Eucharist and desires to transform our lives. 

Alex Coffey, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Grace of Communion

Thou come to me at holy Mass. Let me at Holy Communion approach Thee with awe and love in whom resides all perfection and from whom I am allowed to gain it. Let me come to the Sanctifier to be sanctified. Let me come to Thee to learn my duty and to receive grace to do it. At other times of the day I am reminded of watching, toiling, struggling, and suffering; but, at this moment I am reminded of Thy gifts towards me a sinner.

I am reminded that I can do nothing, and that Thou do everything. This is especially the moment of grace. I come to see and experience Thy mercies. I come before Thee as the helpless beings during Thy ministry, who were brought on beds and couches for a cure. I come to be made whole.

May each Holy Communion, as it comes, find me more and more like Thee (who at these times becomes a little child for my sake)—more simple-minded, more humble, more holy, more affectionate, more resigned, more happy, more full of Thee. Amen.

—St. John Henry Newman


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November 18, 2019

Lk 18: 35-43

As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised 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.

Wants and Desires

Why does Jesus ask the blind man, “what do you want me to do for you?”?  Everyone can literally see – except for the blind man – that the man needs Jesus to restore his sight.  But Jesus didn’t ask the man what he needed. Jesus asked what he wanted. There is an important distinction between needs and wants. Needs are necessary. Wants carry a selfish connotation, bringing to mind Veruca Salt wailing “but I want it NOW!” in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Similarly, there is an important distinction between wants and desires. Our desires are our deepest longings, and expressing our desires can help us realize God’s desires for us. My mother calls this, “naming it and claiming it.”  This is why Jesus asks the man “what do you want me to do for you?”. He wants the man to “name it and claim it”. 

Today, “name it and claim it.” What do you want Jesus to do for you?

Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

Prayer

Dear God,
I so much want to be in control.
I want to be the master of my own destiny.
Still I know that you are saying:
“Let me take you by the hand and lead you.
Accept my love
and trust that where I will bring you,
the deepest desires of your heart will be fulfilled.”
Lord, open my hands to receive your gift of love.
Amen.

—Henri Nouwen


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November 17, 2019

Lk 21: 5-19

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 

And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 

You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

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.

Cram Session

By failing to prepare we are preparing to fail. This truth is sound and especially well taken this time of year when students like me are nearing the end of the semester. Exams are about to crash upon us, so we plan accordingly, study hard, place post-it notes all over our desks and reminders on our calendars. There is wisdom in neatly laying out our arguments beforehand. Thus, it is jarring that Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that we are not to prepare a defense in advance. Why does he say this? My hunch is that bearing witness of our relationship with Jesus before others is not like cramming for an exam. If we’ve accepted Jesus into our lives, walked alongside and shared our life with him persistently, there is no need for prepared responses. All we need to do in that climactic moment is lean upon him once again, trusting that the intimacy already created has made it such that when we open our mouth, his are the words that are spoken.  

—Christopher Alt, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Jesuits. He writes for The Jesuit Post and is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Jesus, Savior of the world, God is in you and you are in me;
I am yours and you are mine;
Make it so that when I open my mouth, it is your voice that speaks. 

—Christopher Alt, SJ


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November 16, 2019

Lk 18:1-8

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” 

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

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.

On Prayer

The parable in the Gospel today reminds us of our need for prayer.  We are humbled by our weaknesses, by our need for grace, extending far beyond that which we alone could accomplish.  When we pray, we acknowledge how dependent we are on God. Is it that the squeaky wheel gets the grease? Why no, more than that, different than that.  The squeaky wheel, the one who prays and is prayerful, receives the grace of God. May we continue our commitments as prayerful followers of Jesus, guided by faith through our journey. 

Bernadette Gillick is a Marquette University alumna, and a former Clinical Instructor for Creighton University’s Institute for Latin American Concern.  Her ministry continues as a clinical researcher discovering treatments for stroke during infancy.

Prayer

All powerful and ever-living God,
in your abundant love you give us more than we deserve
and more than we ask for;
grant us your mercy in great measure;
forgive us when we have gone against our conscience
and give us what we dare not even pray for.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.  

—Prayer of Petition from the Roman Missal (1973)


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November 15, 2019

Wis 13: 1-9

For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature;
and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know the one who exists,
nor did they recognize the artisan while paying heed to his works;
but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air,
or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water,
or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.

If through delight in the beauty of these things people assumed them to be gods,
let them know how much better than these is their Lord,
for the author of beauty created them.
And if people* were amazed at their power and working,
let them perceive from them
how much more powerful is the one who formed them.

For from the greatness and beauty of created things
comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.
Yet these people are little to be blamed,
for perhaps they go astray
while seeking God and desiring to find him.

For while they live among his works, they keep searching,
and they trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful.
Yet again, not even they are to be excused;
for if they had the power to know so much
that they could investigate the world,
how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?

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.

Grateful to God for all that we have

The translation of today’s first reading that we hear at Mass begins “all men were by nature foolish”; perhaps more timeless words have not been written.  It continues, “who were in ignorance of God”. We are surrounded by beauty, opportunity and reasons for gratitude. And yet, we make gods of other things. The ancients revered powerful aspects of nature as gods.  Today there are many among us who raise other things into a faux religion.  

Carl Jung reflected that we Christians have trouble finding God because we do not look low enough.  This means that we can appreciate the works of God in the grand tapestry of nature, but perhaps even better we can find God, and the good in life, in the appreciation of small and everyday things.  In the modern world of amazing plenty, we seem surrounded by angry voices claiming what they have is not enough, and especially that someone else unfairly has more. How much better to be grateful for what we have and value all we have been given, and the opportunities to make the most of our short time here.

Fred O’Connor is an alumnus of Loyola Academy and College of the Holy Cross and is a member of the JFAN Advisory Board in Chicago.  He works as a financial advisor living in Evanston, IL.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, we praise you and we thank you for all of your creation that points us toward you. May we always recognize that all that we have is a gift from you, so that we may in turn use it for your greater glory.  We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen. 

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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November 14, 2019

Lk 17: 20-25

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.” Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ 

Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.

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.

Hope in the kingdom of God

In the Gospel today, Jesus raises a challenge: What do we do with our hope? Do we file it away in a drawer, saving it for later, to work on “more pressing” tasks? Do we ball it up and throw it in the corner in defeat? Or, as He suggests, do we live it out every day?

Despite our belief in the coming of the Kingdom of God, we tend to lose track of time when it comes to the last things. Jesus says his second coming will be known immediately and fully, “as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other.” To help answer Jesus’ challenge today, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI frames two important questions: “how can I save myself?” and “what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise?”

Beau Guedry is a former Alum Service Corps volunteer who now teaches science and coordinates liturgy at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School in Houston. 

Prayer

Lord Jesus … if you will help me, please, I would like to make my offering: I want it to be my desire, and my choice, provided that you want it, too, to live my life as you lived yours…. It seems a toweringly wonderful thing that you might call me to follow you and stand with you. I will labor with you to bring God’s reign, if you will give me the gift to do it. Amen.

—Excerpt from “Eternal Lord of All Things” by Joseph Tetlow, SJ


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November 13, 2019

St. Stanislaus Kostka, SJ; St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Lk 17: 11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 

Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

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 steps of healing

Ask. Act. Recognize. Give thanks.

These are the steps of the grateful Samaritan: he asked for Jesus to heal him, acted upon Jesus’ instructions, recognized the healing, and returned to give thanks to Jesus and praise God.

So often we miss these steps.  The other nine lepers also missed some, yet were still made clean.  Presumably Jesus did not “un-heal” them for their lack of gratitude.  In the same way, he heals us despite our missteps. 

However, the grateful one received the gift of Jesus’ blessing. The Samaritan, the most unlikely suspect, is affirmed in his faith because of his gratitude.  So too might we receive abundant blessings and affirmation from Jesus if we follow each step through the very last one: ask, act, recognize, give thanks.

Where do I need healing? Which step most challenges me in my healing?

For what can I praise and give thanks to God today?

—Amy Ketner is the Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministry at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

Thank you, God, for loving me and healing me as you do.  Please help me to recognize how you are moving in my life today.  Help me to notice where I draw closer to or farther from you, and where I need your healing.  Open my heart to the ways you are calling me to actively collaborate with you tomorrow and in the days to come.  In love and gratitude, amen. 

—An examen adapted by Amy Ketner


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November 12, 2019

St. Josaphat

Wis 2:23-3:9

For God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.

For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt-offering he accepted them.

In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.
They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them for ever.

Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,
and he watches over his elect.

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.

Humble Submission to the Cross

Prior to this passage in Wisdom, various philosophies of life associated with the “foolish” are mentioned. One foolish way of looking at life is that we are born by mere chance and will become nonexistent at death (Wisdom 2:2). Another is that all that exists is the material (Wis. 2:3). A third is hedonism, which holds that physical and temporal pleasure is life’s goal (Wis. 2:7). Relativism is perhaps the most “foolish,” holding that there is no objective moral order and that power alone establishes right and wrong: “Let our might be our law of right, for what is weak proves itself to be useless” (Wis. 2:11).

The philosophy of the “righteous,” however, is in this line: “For God created us for incorruption” (Wis. 2:23). In contrast to these “foolish” philosophies, which commonly hold that all there is to life is what is here and now, the “righteous” understand that we live on after death—we live on forever. In light of this reality, the Christian is able to bear the hardships of this life and faithfully carry out God’s commands. This is only possible in Christ, who submitted himself to the cross so that we may be restored to the state of incorruption. Rather than exert power or might, Christ “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant … and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). It is in this humble submission to the cross that the Christian becomes truly strong and finds true peace—it is through the cross that we become restored to incorruptibility.

Alex Coffey, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine.

—Invocation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus


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November 11, 2019

St. Martin of Tours

Lk 17: 1-6

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 

And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey 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.

When the Plates Fly 

At the World Meeting of Families in 2015, Pope Francis gave a speech that has given me great consolation.  In it he said: “Families have difficulties. Families — we quarrel, sometimes plates can fly, and children bring headaches. I won’t speak about mother-in-laws!”  But he goes on to say that “those difficulties can be overcome with love.”  

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that “occasions for stumbling are bound to come.”  While I wish I had my act together as a husband and parent, I often feel like I am stumbling along.  When the house is a mess, my kids are fighting, and I lose my patience, the plates in my home can fly (at least figuratively, for now).  Those are the times when I plead to God to “increase my faith.”    

Today, Jesus does not tell us that we are going to be shielded from the messiness of communal life.  Instead, he seems to be telling us to continue to forgive and repent in the midst of that messiness. And we need to do it over and over and over again….

Dave Lawler is the Director of Campus Ministry at Creighton Preparatory School, Omaha, NE.

Prayer

Lord, we all make mistakes and on occasion someone gets offended in the marriage, in the family, and sometimes plates are smashed, harsh words are spoken.  But please help us so that we don’t ever let the sun set without reconciling. Help us remember that peace is made each day in the family: Help us to say “please forgive me”, and then start over.  

Prayer adapted from the Address of Pope Francis to the Participants in the Pilgrimage of Families, Oct. 26th, 2013


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November 10, 2019

2 MC 7: 1-2, 9-14

It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and thongs, to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh. One of them, acting as their spokesman, said, ‘What do you intend to ask and learn from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.’ 

And when he was at his last breath, he said, ‘You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.’

After him, the third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out his tongue and courageously stretched forth his hands, and said nobly, ‘I got these from Heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from him I hope to get them back again.’ 

As a result the king himself and those with him were astonished at the young man’s spirit, for he regarded his sufferings as nothing.

After he too had died, they maltreated and tortured the fourth in the same way. When he was near death, he said, ‘One cannot but choose to die at the hands of mortals and to cherish the hope God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life!’

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.

Knowing where you are going gives courage

Billy Graham once told this apocryphal story about Albert Einstein.

Einstein was travelling by train one day when the conductor came through punching tickets. Einstein became flustered as he searched for his lost ticket. “No worries, Dr. Einstein; I’m sure you bought one,” said the conductor. As he was about to pass to the next car, the conductor turned to see Einstein on his hands and knees frantically looking for his ticket. The conductor rushed back: “Dr. Einstein, don’t worry! We know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket.” Einstein looked up at the conductor and sighed, “I know who I am, too. The problem is I don’t know where I’m going.”

This is a common theme in today’s readings, including today’s Gospel passage, Luke 20:27-38. As people of faith, we not only know who we are, but we also know where we’re going. This hope gives us courage and sustains us in the midst of any trial.

—Christopher Alt, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Jesuits. He writes for The Jesuit Post and is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Prayer for Christian Martyrs

Lord, so great is our love for you
That even though we walk in a world
where speaking your name can mean certain death
Your faithful still speak it
And speak it all the louder.

Help us work for a world where all may speak their creeds
And pray their prayers
Without fear of violence.

Hear the prayers of those who abide with you
in dangerous times
and in dark valleys,
And who die with your name on their lips.
Draw them quickly to your side
Where they might know eternal peace.
Amen.

—Prayer published on the Catholic Relief Services website


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November 19, 2019

Lk 19:1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycomore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 

When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, ‘He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.’ 

Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.’

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.

Receiving Christ

By looking around at creation, we can see the order and goodness in the world. We can see that comes from a good God that holds it in existence by his love. We can probably even think of moments in which we looked up at the vast sky and thought to ourselves, “God is so much bigger than us.” 

Today’s Gospel helps us imagine the goodness of God from a different perspective. Zacchaeus finds out that Jesus is passing through the town, and he climbs a tree in order to get a glimpse of him. When Zacchaeus gains the ability to see Christ, everything changes for him. He has an encounter with Jesus Christ, the Creator and Redeemer of humanity, who became so small for us in taking on our flesh. Moreover, this God-man desires that Zacchaeus receive him, a desire that is the same for each of us. It is in the Mass, and in the time we spend before Christ in the Eucharist, that we receive him. It is this same Creator and Redeemer of the universe who becomes so small for us in the Eucharist and desires to transform our lives. 

Alex Coffey, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Grace of Communion

Thou come to me at holy Mass. Let me at Holy Communion approach Thee with awe and love in whom resides all perfection and from whom I am allowed to gain it. Let me come to the Sanctifier to be sanctified. Let me come to Thee to learn my duty and to receive grace to do it. At other times of the day I am reminded of watching, toiling, struggling, and suffering; but, at this moment I am reminded of Thy gifts towards me a sinner.

I am reminded that I can do nothing, and that Thou do everything. This is especially the moment of grace. I come to see and experience Thy mercies. I come before Thee as the helpless beings during Thy ministry, who were brought on beds and couches for a cure. I come to be made whole.

May each Holy Communion, as it comes, find me more and more like Thee (who at these times becomes a little child for my sake)—more simple-minded, more humble, more holy, more affectionate, more resigned, more happy, more full of Thee. Amen.

—St. John Henry Newman


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November 18, 2019

Lk 18: 35-43

As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised 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.

Wants and Desires

Why does Jesus ask the blind man, “what do you want me to do for you?”?  Everyone can literally see – except for the blind man – that the man needs Jesus to restore his sight.  But Jesus didn’t ask the man what he needed. Jesus asked what he wanted. There is an important distinction between needs and wants. Needs are necessary. Wants carry a selfish connotation, bringing to mind Veruca Salt wailing “but I want it NOW!” in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Similarly, there is an important distinction between wants and desires. Our desires are our deepest longings, and expressing our desires can help us realize God’s desires for us. My mother calls this, “naming it and claiming it.”  This is why Jesus asks the man “what do you want me to do for you?”. He wants the man to “name it and claim it”. 

Today, “name it and claim it.” What do you want Jesus to do for you?

Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

Prayer

Dear God,
I so much want to be in control.
I want to be the master of my own destiny.
Still I know that you are saying:
“Let me take you by the hand and lead you.
Accept my love
and trust that where I will bring you,
the deepest desires of your heart will be fulfilled.”
Lord, open my hands to receive your gift of love.
Amen.

—Henri Nouwen


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November 17, 2019

Lk 21: 5-19

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 

And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 

“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 

You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

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.

Cram Session

By failing to prepare we are preparing to fail. This truth is sound and especially well taken this time of year when students like me are nearing the end of the semester. Exams are about to crash upon us, so we plan accordingly, study hard, place post-it notes all over our desks and reminders on our calendars. There is wisdom in neatly laying out our arguments beforehand. Thus, it is jarring that Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that we are not to prepare a defense in advance. Why does he say this? My hunch is that bearing witness of our relationship with Jesus before others is not like cramming for an exam. If we’ve accepted Jesus into our lives, walked alongside and shared our life with him persistently, there is no need for prepared responses. All we need to do in that climactic moment is lean upon him once again, trusting that the intimacy already created has made it such that when we open our mouth, his are the words that are spoken.  

—Christopher Alt, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Jesuits. He writes for The Jesuit Post and is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Jesus, Savior of the world, God is in you and you are in me;
I am yours and you are mine;
Make it so that when I open my mouth, it is your voice that speaks. 

—Christopher Alt, SJ


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November 16, 2019

Lk 18:1-8

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” 

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

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.

On Prayer

The parable in the Gospel today reminds us of our need for prayer.  We are humbled by our weaknesses, by our need for grace, extending far beyond that which we alone could accomplish.  When we pray, we acknowledge how dependent we are on God. Is it that the squeaky wheel gets the grease? Why no, more than that, different than that.  The squeaky wheel, the one who prays and is prayerful, receives the grace of God. May we continue our commitments as prayerful followers of Jesus, guided by faith through our journey. 

Bernadette Gillick is a Marquette University alumna, and a former Clinical Instructor for Creighton University’s Institute for Latin American Concern.  Her ministry continues as a clinical researcher discovering treatments for stroke during infancy.

Prayer

All powerful and ever-living God,
in your abundant love you give us more than we deserve
and more than we ask for;
grant us your mercy in great measure;
forgive us when we have gone against our conscience
and give us what we dare not even pray for.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.  

—Prayer of Petition from the Roman Missal (1973)


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November 15, 2019

Wis 13: 1-9

For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature;
and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know the one who exists,
nor did they recognize the artisan while paying heed to his works;
but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air,
or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water,
or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.

If through delight in the beauty of these things people assumed them to be gods,
let them know how much better than these is their Lord,
for the author of beauty created them.
And if people* were amazed at their power and working,
let them perceive from them
how much more powerful is the one who formed them.

For from the greatness and beauty of created things
comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.
Yet these people are little to be blamed,
for perhaps they go astray
while seeking God and desiring to find him.

For while they live among his works, they keep searching,
and they trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful.
Yet again, not even they are to be excused;
for if they had the power to know so much
that they could investigate the world,
how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?

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.

Grateful to God for all that we have

The translation of today’s first reading that we hear at Mass begins “all men were by nature foolish”; perhaps more timeless words have not been written.  It continues, “who were in ignorance of God”. We are surrounded by beauty, opportunity and reasons for gratitude. And yet, we make gods of other things. The ancients revered powerful aspects of nature as gods.  Today there are many among us who raise other things into a faux religion.  

Carl Jung reflected that we Christians have trouble finding God because we do not look low enough.  This means that we can appreciate the works of God in the grand tapestry of nature, but perhaps even better we can find God, and the good in life, in the appreciation of small and everyday things.  In the modern world of amazing plenty, we seem surrounded by angry voices claiming what they have is not enough, and especially that someone else unfairly has more. How much better to be grateful for what we have and value all we have been given, and the opportunities to make the most of our short time here.

Fred O’Connor is an alumnus of Loyola Academy and College of the Holy Cross and is a member of the JFAN Advisory Board in Chicago.  He works as a financial advisor living in Evanston, IL.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, we praise you and we thank you for all of your creation that points us toward you. May we always recognize that all that we have is a gift from you, so that we may in turn use it for your greater glory.  We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen. 

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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November 14, 2019

Lk 17: 20-25

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.” Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ 

Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation.

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.

Hope in the kingdom of God

In the Gospel today, Jesus raises a challenge: What do we do with our hope? Do we file it away in a drawer, saving it for later, to work on “more pressing” tasks? Do we ball it up and throw it in the corner in defeat? Or, as He suggests, do we live it out every day?

Despite our belief in the coming of the Kingdom of God, we tend to lose track of time when it comes to the last things. Jesus says his second coming will be known immediately and fully, “as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other.” To help answer Jesus’ challenge today, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI frames two important questions: “how can I save myself?” and “what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise?”

Beau Guedry is a former Alum Service Corps volunteer who now teaches science and coordinates liturgy at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School in Houston. 

Prayer

Lord Jesus … if you will help me, please, I would like to make my offering: I want it to be my desire, and my choice, provided that you want it, too, to live my life as you lived yours…. It seems a toweringly wonderful thing that you might call me to follow you and stand with you. I will labor with you to bring God’s reign, if you will give me the gift to do it. Amen.

—Excerpt from “Eternal Lord of All Things” by Joseph Tetlow, SJ


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November 13, 2019

St. Stanislaus Kostka, SJ; St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Lk 17: 11-19

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 

Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

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 steps of healing

Ask. Act. Recognize. Give thanks.

These are the steps of the grateful Samaritan: he asked for Jesus to heal him, acted upon Jesus’ instructions, recognized the healing, and returned to give thanks to Jesus and praise God.

So often we miss these steps.  The other nine lepers also missed some, yet were still made clean.  Presumably Jesus did not “un-heal” them for their lack of gratitude.  In the same way, he heals us despite our missteps. 

However, the grateful one received the gift of Jesus’ blessing. The Samaritan, the most unlikely suspect, is affirmed in his faith because of his gratitude.  So too might we receive abundant blessings and affirmation from Jesus if we follow each step through the very last one: ask, act, recognize, give thanks.

Where do I need healing? Which step most challenges me in my healing?

For what can I praise and give thanks to God today?

—Amy Ketner is the Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministry at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

Thank you, God, for loving me and healing me as you do.  Please help me to recognize how you are moving in my life today.  Help me to notice where I draw closer to or farther from you, and where I need your healing.  Open my heart to the ways you are calling me to actively collaborate with you tomorrow and in the days to come.  In love and gratitude, amen. 

—An examen adapted by Amy Ketner


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November 12, 2019

St. Josaphat

Wis 2:23-3:9

For God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.

But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.

For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt-offering he accepted them.

In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.
They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them for ever.

Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,
and he watches over his elect.

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.

Humble Submission to the Cross

Prior to this passage in Wisdom, various philosophies of life associated with the “foolish” are mentioned. One foolish way of looking at life is that we are born by mere chance and will become nonexistent at death (Wisdom 2:2). Another is that all that exists is the material (Wis. 2:3). A third is hedonism, which holds that physical and temporal pleasure is life’s goal (Wis. 2:7). Relativism is perhaps the most “foolish,” holding that there is no objective moral order and that power alone establishes right and wrong: “Let our might be our law of right, for what is weak proves itself to be useless” (Wis. 2:11).

The philosophy of the “righteous,” however, is in this line: “For God created us for incorruption” (Wis. 2:23). In contrast to these “foolish” philosophies, which commonly hold that all there is to life is what is here and now, the “righteous” understand that we live on after death—we live on forever. In light of this reality, the Christian is able to bear the hardships of this life and faithfully carry out God’s commands. This is only possible in Christ, who submitted himself to the cross so that we may be restored to the state of incorruption. Rather than exert power or might, Christ “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant … and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). It is in this humble submission to the cross that the Christian becomes truly strong and finds true peace—it is through the cross that we become restored to incorruptibility.

Alex Coffey, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine.

—Invocation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus


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November 11, 2019

St. Martin of Tours

Lk 17: 1-6

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. 

And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey 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.

When the Plates Fly 

At the World Meeting of Families in 2015, Pope Francis gave a speech that has given me great consolation.  In it he said: “Families have difficulties. Families — we quarrel, sometimes plates can fly, and children bring headaches. I won’t speak about mother-in-laws!”  But he goes on to say that “those difficulties can be overcome with love.”  

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that “occasions for stumbling are bound to come.”  While I wish I had my act together as a husband and parent, I often feel like I am stumbling along.  When the house is a mess, my kids are fighting, and I lose my patience, the plates in my home can fly (at least figuratively, for now).  Those are the times when I plead to God to “increase my faith.”    

Today, Jesus does not tell us that we are going to be shielded from the messiness of communal life.  Instead, he seems to be telling us to continue to forgive and repent in the midst of that messiness. And we need to do it over and over and over again….

Dave Lawler is the Director of Campus Ministry at Creighton Preparatory School, Omaha, NE.

Prayer

Lord, we all make mistakes and on occasion someone gets offended in the marriage, in the family, and sometimes plates are smashed, harsh words are spoken.  But please help us so that we don’t ever let the sun set without reconciling. Help us remember that peace is made each day in the family: Help us to say “please forgive me”, and then start over.  

Prayer adapted from the Address of Pope Francis to the Participants in the Pilgrimage of Families, Oct. 26th, 2013


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November 10, 2019

2 MC 7: 1-2, 9-14

It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and thongs, to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh. One of them, acting as their spokesman, said, ‘What do you intend to ask and learn from us? For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.’ 

And when he was at his last breath, he said, ‘You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.’

After him, the third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out his tongue and courageously stretched forth his hands, and said nobly, ‘I got these from Heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from him I hope to get them back again.’ 

As a result the king himself and those with him were astonished at the young man’s spirit, for he regarded his sufferings as nothing.

After he too had died, they maltreated and tortured the fourth in the same way. When he was near death, he said, ‘One cannot but choose to die at the hands of mortals and to cherish the hope God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life!’

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.

Knowing where you are going gives courage

Billy Graham once told this apocryphal story about Albert Einstein.

Einstein was travelling by train one day when the conductor came through punching tickets. Einstein became flustered as he searched for his lost ticket. “No worries, Dr. Einstein; I’m sure you bought one,” said the conductor. As he was about to pass to the next car, the conductor turned to see Einstein on his hands and knees frantically looking for his ticket. The conductor rushed back: “Dr. Einstein, don’t worry! We know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket.” Einstein looked up at the conductor and sighed, “I know who I am, too. The problem is I don’t know where I’m going.”

This is a common theme in today’s readings, including today’s Gospel passage, Luke 20:27-38. As people of faith, we not only know who we are, but we also know where we’re going. This hope gives us courage and sustains us in the midst of any trial.

—Christopher Alt, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Jesuits. He writes for The Jesuit Post and is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Prayer for Christian Martyrs

Lord, so great is our love for you
That even though we walk in a world
where speaking your name can mean certain death
Your faithful still speak it
And speak it all the louder.

Help us work for a world where all may speak their creeds
And pray their prayers
Without fear of violence.

Hear the prayers of those who abide with you
in dangerous times
and in dark valleys,
And who die with your name on their lips.
Draw them quickly to your side
Where they might know eternal peace.
Amen.

—Prayer published on the Catholic Relief Services website


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