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October 31, 2018

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them,“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

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 that requires a leap of faith

I’m privileged to share time with amazing folks through Ignatian Spirituality Project and Harmony, Hope & Healing, which offer spaces for people in recovery and experiencing homelessness to encounter God, community, and their true selves. Survivors of trauma, abuse, neglect, and self-harm tell their stories in hopes of experiencing healing and liberation.

As people share—about suffering, loss, shame, failure—every participant proclaims without hesitation their reliance on God. They sing about their dependence on their Savior. They work at their spiritual practice every single day, sometimes needing to begin again. They have hope – the kind that requires a real leap of faith. I wish I could say the same for myself some days.

If anyone is going to make it through the narrow gate described in today’s Gospel, I think it’s folks like these.

What can I learn from people who seem like the “last” according to the world?

—Katie Davis (MDiv, Loyola University Chicago) is a former Jesuit Volunteer/JVC Magis currently working as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at St. Ignatius College Prep. She has served on the Advisory Board for Jesuit Connections and is a member of the Chicago Women’s Team for the Ignatian Spirituality Project. Katie preaches with the project Catholic Women Preach.

Prayer

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

—Reinhold Niebuhr

 


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October 30, 2018

Lk 13:18-21

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

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

Growth through the Holy Spirit

Some may think that the Kingdom of God is a thing, a geographical domain like the worldly kingdoms we are familiar with. But in the Gospel reading today, Jesus suggests that the Kingdom of God is on a path. When the yeast is mixed with flour, it is on its way and develops the bread. Likewise, the seed dies and gives life to a tree. Therefore, the Kingdom of God is not stagnant, but it is built each day.

What is the attitude that the Lord asks us to have so that the Kingdom of God may grow and be bread for everyone and shelter for all? Perhaps Jesus is asking us to be open to the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let us ask for the grace of being docile to the Holy Spirit who will make us grow and transform as we walk on a path towards holiness and fullness.

—Orlando Portalatin, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

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.

—Prayer to the Holy Spirit

 


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October 29, 2018

Lk 13:10-17

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

When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”

But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

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

Finding the good in one another

The exchange between the synagogue leader and Jesus makes me think of the elementary students I teach and how quick they are to tell me what their classmates are doing wrong.

“John is breaking pencils!” “Sally is picking her nose!” “Bobby just said he doesn’t like school!”

What exhausts me most is that they are so quick to rat each other out for every little thing.  I fall into it sometimes as well in what seems like a culture of judgement. The Lord shows us what is right and wrong so that we can focus on finding the good in one another and helping our neighbor.  How great it is to have a Savior who guides us! Let us spend our energy on fulfilling God’s mission of charity and practicing prudence in our own lives.

—Erin Emeric is a music teacher at Christ, Light of the Nations school and a member of the Billiken Teaching Corps at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you have told us not to judge lest we be judged.  Open our hearts to meet all those we encounter with love and patience.  Help us to forgive others for the small and large acts that have hurt us.  May we know that you love each of us, and always offer us the opportunity to turn back to you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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October 28, 2018

Mk 10: 46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

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 grace to go blind to distractions

There is an irony in the fact that the blind man is the one who sees. And I don’t mean after Jesus heals Bartimaeus. Rather, in the midst of his physical blindness, Bartimaeus is the one who “sees” Jesus thru the eyes of faith. The blind beggar sees Jesus not as someone to beg money from, but as someone to ask for so much more: to regain his sight. Yet what about us who have physical sight? Perhaps we are in need of Bartimaeus’s blindness. No, I don’t mean that today you should pray for the grace to go blind. Rather, today might be a day to pray for the eyes of faith that the blind Bartimaeus so readily had. A blindness to the distractions and the obstacles in his midst that could not keep him from Jesus, God-Incarnate, who was passing by.

—Fr. Brad Held, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and is a campus minister and theology teacher at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, WI.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help us to look beyond the many distractions and obstacles that exist in our daily lives that prevent us from seeing you.  Grant us the eyes of Bartimaeus to recognizes you in the people we encounter. May we too have the courage to ask you for what our heart truly desires.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 


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October 27, 2018

Lk 13: 1-9

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.

Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

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

God of second chances

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that we are fortunate to have a God of second chances.  Thankfully, we are not permanently branded by the worst things we’ve ever done. In Jesus’ time, there was an understanding that bad things happened to people due to sin, either their sin or the sin of their parents. So it was understood that those who died at Pilate’s hand, or in a tower collapse, must have been very sinful people.  Jesus challenges this notion by reminding us that we are all sinful, but that God offers us the chance to repent, to turn, to change. The First Week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius brings us to the understanding that we are loved sinners.

In the second part of the Gospel, we are shown how we can begin to change our hearts.  The fig tree stood for three years without producing fruit. Rather than continuing to do the same thing and just hoping for a change, the gardener plans to give it special care and attention, hoping that the effort will yield fruit.  Our hearts are the same way. It is the areas where we have a tendency to sin that we must give the most attention and work the hardest to overcome.

How can we work to turn our hearts back to a God who loves us and offers us so many chances?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord, we know that we fall short of what is asked of us but that you love us anyway.  Help us to nourish and tend to our hearts so that we may continue to turn back to your loving embrace.  May we never forget that we are loved by you in spite of our sinfulness. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 


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October 26, 2018

Lk 12:54-59

He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

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.

Engaging in the signs of the times

We like to talk about the weather. We discuss what the weather forecast will be, observe the signs, and prepare. We talk about the weather all the time with just about anyone as it is safe, non-invasive, friendly conversation.

Instead of the weather, Jesus wants us to interpret the present times we live in. Today, we live in very polarizing times in terms of our politics, religion, and culture. In the midst of these polemic times, we are tempted to be solely around people who see the world as we do. Thus, we tend to “silo” ourselves in our social groups often because it is more safe for us to be more self-righteous and certain in the fact that how we see things is how things truly are.

Jesus wants us to engage differences and the “other”. He wants us to engage with diverse perspectives, worldviews, and opinions. He calls us into deeper relationship and fellowship with one another. Am I willing to engage in deeper relationship inclusive of those whose views differ from my own? Let us pray that together as one body of Christ all of us will come together to courageously observe and discuss the “signs of the times” with love, forgiveness, vulnerability and humility.

For only together as one Body of Christ can we heal the division in our world.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is the Acting Assistant Principal of Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado.

Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes,
to discern and test the spirits
that help me read the signs of the times,
to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others.
Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave Ignatius.

—Pedro Arrupe

 


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October 25, 2018

Martyrs of Wales

Lk 12:49-53

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

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

True peace in union with Jesus

I imagine Jesus looking directly at me when he asks “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?” I can tell by the fervor in his eyes that this is not a rhetorical question. He expects an answer.

“Um . . . yes?” I answer hesitantly. “Isn’t that kind of your thing?”

“No, I tell you,” he shouts, “but rather division!”

I’m taken aback. “What gives, Lord?”

What gives is that the kind of peace at the heart of Jesus’ mission is not a superficial one where we all agree to disagree so that we can avoid conflict. That isn’t peace; that’s just a cease fire.

No, the kind of peace Jesus brings is the peace that makes us all of one mind and one heart—that of Christ’s. That kind of peace can only be found in union with him.

—Bob Burnham is a Secular Franciscan, spiritual director, and author of  Little Lessons from the Saints: 52 Simple and Surprising Ways to See the Saint in You published by Loyola Press.

Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, that is
make me one with you
so that I may be one with others. Amen.

—Bob Burnham

 

 


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October 24, 2018

Lk 12: 39-48

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

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

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

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

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

Aware of our privilege

For those of us inspired by the Jesuit charism, commitment to “a faith that does justice” may seem obvious. As people for and with others, we tend to align ourselves with those who care for the marginalized. We know we are blessed and that we must show concern for the suffering.

The Ignatian call to solidarity requires us not only to feel compassion toward the vulnerable, but to examine our privileges and their role in perpetuating injustice. How do we react when we are challenged to consider the ways our comforts contribute to the oppression of others: immigrants, refugees, women, people of color, people experiencing hunger and homelessness, LGBT folks? Do we find ourselves feeling defensive? Afraid? Attached?   

We are the ones to whom much has been given and entrusted. As we encounter people in need, how can we do more to become aware of and intentional with our privilege?

—Katie Davis (MDiv, Loyola University Chicago) is a former Jesuit Volunteer/JVC Magis currently working as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at St. Ignatius College Prep. She has served on the Advisory Board for Jesuit Connections and is a member of the Chicago Women’s Team for the Ignatian Spirituality Project. Katie preaches with the project Catholic Women Preach.

Prayer

Open my eyes, Lord.
Help me to see Your face.
Open my eyes, Lord.
Help me to see.

—Lyrics of Open My Eyes by Jesse Manibusan, © 1970, 1988, 1998 Spirit and Song


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October 23, 2018

Lk 12: 35-38

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

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

The hard work of being ready

In today’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts his disciples to stay vigilant. The kind of anticipation he is asking them to assume is not passive waiting. By asking his disciples to gird their loins and to light their lamps, he is inviting them to actively wait, to be prepared.

I imagine the servants in the Gospel story keeping food warm and standing ready to hang up the master’s cloak and wash his feet when he does arrive. They are probably expecting the expected, ready to serve the master as they have always done. Then comes the surprise. When they hear that knock and rush to open the door, the master commends them for being ready. Then he asks them to sit down at the table and tells them: “Tonight I’m going to wait on you!”

The hard work of being faithful will not lack its reward. How will God surprise you today?

—Orlando Portalatin, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.

—Psalm 130:5-7

 

 


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October 22, 2018

Lk 12: 13-21

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

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

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

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

Rich in what matters to God

Our time, money, and resources can often feel limited.  Sometimes, I find myself wishing for more: more time to get a little extra sleep or finish that project, more money to take that flight to a wedding across the country, or maybe more space to accommodate out-of-town guests.  While these are not selfish or even unreasonable wishes, we still find ourselves in a place where it becomes hard to accept those realities. To truly be rich in what matters to God, we can practice sacrifice of the things we do have.  Can I spare a few minutes before driving home to check in with a coworker? Can I drop my change in the tip jar after buying lunch? By continuing to give of what we have, even if it doesn’t seem like much, we bring ourselves closer to the true mission of Christ and closer in kinship to those around us.

—Erin Emeric is a music teacher at Christ, Light of the Nations school and a member of the Billiken Teaching Corps at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Lord, help us to focus on all that we have instead of what we don’t have.  May we recognize the needs of others and do what we can to meet them. Let us see those things that matter to you, and strive for more of that in our daily life.  May we store up treasure in heaven rather than on earth. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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October 31, 2018

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them,“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

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 that requires a leap of faith

I’m privileged to share time with amazing folks through Ignatian Spirituality Project and Harmony, Hope & Healing, which offer spaces for people in recovery and experiencing homelessness to encounter God, community, and their true selves. Survivors of trauma, abuse, neglect, and self-harm tell their stories in hopes of experiencing healing and liberation.

As people share—about suffering, loss, shame, failure—every participant proclaims without hesitation their reliance on God. They sing about their dependence on their Savior. They work at their spiritual practice every single day, sometimes needing to begin again. They have hope – the kind that requires a real leap of faith. I wish I could say the same for myself some days.

If anyone is going to make it through the narrow gate described in today’s Gospel, I think it’s folks like these.

What can I learn from people who seem like the “last” according to the world?

—Katie Davis (MDiv, Loyola University Chicago) is a former Jesuit Volunteer/JVC Magis currently working as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at St. Ignatius College Prep. She has served on the Advisory Board for Jesuit Connections and is a member of the Chicago Women’s Team for the Ignatian Spirituality Project. Katie preaches with the project Catholic Women Preach.

Prayer

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

—Reinhold Niebuhr

 


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October 30, 2018

Lk 13:18-21

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

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

Growth through the Holy Spirit

Some may think that the Kingdom of God is a thing, a geographical domain like the worldly kingdoms we are familiar with. But in the Gospel reading today, Jesus suggests that the Kingdom of God is on a path. When the yeast is mixed with flour, it is on its way and develops the bread. Likewise, the seed dies and gives life to a tree. Therefore, the Kingdom of God is not stagnant, but it is built each day.

What is the attitude that the Lord asks us to have so that the Kingdom of God may grow and be bread for everyone and shelter for all? Perhaps Jesus is asking us to be open to the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let us ask for the grace of being docile to the Holy Spirit who will make us grow and transform as we walk on a path towards holiness and fullness.

—Orlando Portalatin, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

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.

—Prayer to the Holy Spirit

 


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October 29, 2018

Lk 13:10-17

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

When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.”

But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

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

Finding the good in one another

The exchange between the synagogue leader and Jesus makes me think of the elementary students I teach and how quick they are to tell me what their classmates are doing wrong.

“John is breaking pencils!” “Sally is picking her nose!” “Bobby just said he doesn’t like school!”

What exhausts me most is that they are so quick to rat each other out for every little thing.  I fall into it sometimes as well in what seems like a culture of judgement. The Lord shows us what is right and wrong so that we can focus on finding the good in one another and helping our neighbor.  How great it is to have a Savior who guides us! Let us spend our energy on fulfilling God’s mission of charity and practicing prudence in our own lives.

—Erin Emeric is a music teacher at Christ, Light of the Nations school and a member of the Billiken Teaching Corps at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you have told us not to judge lest we be judged.  Open our hearts to meet all those we encounter with love and patience.  Help us to forgive others for the small and large acts that have hurt us.  May we know that you love each of us, and always offer us the opportunity to turn back to you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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October 28, 2018

Mk 10: 46-52

They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

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 grace to go blind to distractions

There is an irony in the fact that the blind man is the one who sees. And I don’t mean after Jesus heals Bartimaeus. Rather, in the midst of his physical blindness, Bartimaeus is the one who “sees” Jesus thru the eyes of faith. The blind beggar sees Jesus not as someone to beg money from, but as someone to ask for so much more: to regain his sight. Yet what about us who have physical sight? Perhaps we are in need of Bartimaeus’s blindness. No, I don’t mean that today you should pray for the grace to go blind. Rather, today might be a day to pray for the eyes of faith that the blind Bartimaeus so readily had. A blindness to the distractions and the obstacles in his midst that could not keep him from Jesus, God-Incarnate, who was passing by.

—Fr. Brad Held, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and is a campus minister and theology teacher at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, WI.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help us to look beyond the many distractions and obstacles that exist in our daily lives that prevent us from seeing you.  Grant us the eyes of Bartimaeus to recognizes you in the people we encounter. May we too have the courage to ask you for what our heart truly desires.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 


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October 27, 2018

Lk 13: 1-9

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.

Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

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

God of second chances

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that we are fortunate to have a God of second chances.  Thankfully, we are not permanently branded by the worst things we’ve ever done. In Jesus’ time, there was an understanding that bad things happened to people due to sin, either their sin or the sin of their parents. So it was understood that those who died at Pilate’s hand, or in a tower collapse, must have been very sinful people.  Jesus challenges this notion by reminding us that we are all sinful, but that God offers us the chance to repent, to turn, to change. The First Week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius brings us to the understanding that we are loved sinners.

In the second part of the Gospel, we are shown how we can begin to change our hearts.  The fig tree stood for three years without producing fruit. Rather than continuing to do the same thing and just hoping for a change, the gardener plans to give it special care and attention, hoping that the effort will yield fruit.  Our hearts are the same way. It is the areas where we have a tendency to sin that we must give the most attention and work the hardest to overcome.

How can we work to turn our hearts back to a God who loves us and offers us so many chances?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord, we know that we fall short of what is asked of us but that you love us anyway.  Help us to nourish and tend to our hearts so that we may continue to turn back to your loving embrace.  May we never forget that we are loved by you in spite of our sinfulness. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 


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October 26, 2018

Lk 12:54-59

He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? Thus, when you go with your accuser before a magistrate, on the way make an effort to settle the case, or you may be dragged before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

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.

Engaging in the signs of the times

We like to talk about the weather. We discuss what the weather forecast will be, observe the signs, and prepare. We talk about the weather all the time with just about anyone as it is safe, non-invasive, friendly conversation.

Instead of the weather, Jesus wants us to interpret the present times we live in. Today, we live in very polarizing times in terms of our politics, religion, and culture. In the midst of these polemic times, we are tempted to be solely around people who see the world as we do. Thus, we tend to “silo” ourselves in our social groups often because it is more safe for us to be more self-righteous and certain in the fact that how we see things is how things truly are.

Jesus wants us to engage differences and the “other”. He wants us to engage with diverse perspectives, worldviews, and opinions. He calls us into deeper relationship and fellowship with one another. Am I willing to engage in deeper relationship inclusive of those whose views differ from my own? Let us pray that together as one body of Christ all of us will come together to courageously observe and discuss the “signs of the times” with love, forgiveness, vulnerability and humility.

For only together as one Body of Christ can we heal the division in our world.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is the Acting Assistant Principal of Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado.

Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes,
to discern and test the spirits
that help me read the signs of the times,
to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others.
Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave Ignatius.

—Pedro Arrupe

 


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October 25, 2018

Martyrs of Wales

Lk 12:49-53

“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

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

True peace in union with Jesus

I imagine Jesus looking directly at me when he asks “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?” I can tell by the fervor in his eyes that this is not a rhetorical question. He expects an answer.

“Um . . . yes?” I answer hesitantly. “Isn’t that kind of your thing?”

“No, I tell you,” he shouts, “but rather division!”

I’m taken aback. “What gives, Lord?”

What gives is that the kind of peace at the heart of Jesus’ mission is not a superficial one where we all agree to disagree so that we can avoid conflict. That isn’t peace; that’s just a cease fire.

No, the kind of peace Jesus brings is the peace that makes us all of one mind and one heart—that of Christ’s. That kind of peace can only be found in union with him.

—Bob Burnham is a Secular Franciscan, spiritual director, and author of  Little Lessons from the Saints: 52 Simple and Surprising Ways to See the Saint in You published by Loyola Press.

Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, that is
make me one with you
so that I may be one with others. Amen.

—Bob Burnham

 

 


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October 24, 2018

Lk 12: 39-48

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

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

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

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

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

Aware of our privilege

For those of us inspired by the Jesuit charism, commitment to “a faith that does justice” may seem obvious. As people for and with others, we tend to align ourselves with those who care for the marginalized. We know we are blessed and that we must show concern for the suffering.

The Ignatian call to solidarity requires us not only to feel compassion toward the vulnerable, but to examine our privileges and their role in perpetuating injustice. How do we react when we are challenged to consider the ways our comforts contribute to the oppression of others: immigrants, refugees, women, people of color, people experiencing hunger and homelessness, LGBT folks? Do we find ourselves feeling defensive? Afraid? Attached?   

We are the ones to whom much has been given and entrusted. As we encounter people in need, how can we do more to become aware of and intentional with our privilege?

—Katie Davis (MDiv, Loyola University Chicago) is a former Jesuit Volunteer/JVC Magis currently working as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at St. Ignatius College Prep. She has served on the Advisory Board for Jesuit Connections and is a member of the Chicago Women’s Team for the Ignatian Spirituality Project. Katie preaches with the project Catholic Women Preach.

Prayer

Open my eyes, Lord.
Help me to see Your face.
Open my eyes, Lord.
Help me to see.

—Lyrics of Open My Eyes by Jesse Manibusan, © 1970, 1988, 1998 Spirit and Song


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October 23, 2018

Lk 12: 35-38

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

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

The hard work of being ready

In today’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts his disciples to stay vigilant. The kind of anticipation he is asking them to assume is not passive waiting. By asking his disciples to gird their loins and to light their lamps, he is inviting them to actively wait, to be prepared.

I imagine the servants in the Gospel story keeping food warm and standing ready to hang up the master’s cloak and wash his feet when he does arrive. They are probably expecting the expected, ready to serve the master as they have always done. Then comes the surprise. When they hear that knock and rush to open the door, the master commends them for being ready. Then he asks them to sit down at the table and tells them: “Tonight I’m going to wait on you!”

The hard work of being faithful will not lack its reward. How will God surprise you today?

—Orlando Portalatin, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.

—Psalm 130:5-7

 

 


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October 22, 2018

Lk 12: 13-21

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

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

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

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

Rich in what matters to God

Our time, money, and resources can often feel limited.  Sometimes, I find myself wishing for more: more time to get a little extra sleep or finish that project, more money to take that flight to a wedding across the country, or maybe more space to accommodate out-of-town guests.  While these are not selfish or even unreasonable wishes, we still find ourselves in a place where it becomes hard to accept those realities. To truly be rich in what matters to God, we can practice sacrifice of the things we do have.  Can I spare a few minutes before driving home to check in with a coworker? Can I drop my change in the tip jar after buying lunch? By continuing to give of what we have, even if it doesn’t seem like much, we bring ourselves closer to the true mission of Christ and closer in kinship to those around us.

—Erin Emeric is a music teacher at Christ, Light of the Nations school and a member of the Billiken Teaching Corps at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Lord, help us to focus on all that we have instead of what we don’t have.  May we recognize the needs of others and do what we can to meet them. Let us see those things that matter to you, and strive for more of that in our daily life.  May we store up treasure in heaven rather than on earth. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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