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January 19, 2019

Mk 2:13-17

Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him.

When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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

Invitation to walk with Jesus

There is a famous Caravaggio painting that depicts the call of Levi which we read about in today’s Gospel. The painting is an incredible study in light and darkness. Bright light through a window behind Jesus shines directly on Levi’s face. This same light catches Jesus’ outstretched hand as he interrupts the counting of money and gestures towards Levi. You can almost hear Levi’s response—“What? You want me?”

This encounter, frozen in time and space, echoes one of those moments described in today’s passage from Hebrews when God’s word is described as “living and effective, dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow…it judges the reflections and thoughts of the heart.”

It is good for each of us to pay attention to God’s movements within our own hearts. Perhaps Jesus isn’t as direct with us as with Levi. Yet Jesus invites each person to walk with him more closely. Jesus invites me to understand anew just how he is truly my way, my truth, my life…here and now, this week, this month. How do I respond?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Why, then, do I fear?
God is here, deep within, forever:
Life grandly vibrant,
Love scandalously flagrant,
yet  heart quietly homing
and lord wisely lording.
But, then—why do I fear?

—Excerpted of “The Inmost Fear” by David Hassel, SJ, published in Hearts on Fire: Praying with the Jesuits

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 18, 2018

Mk 2:1-12

When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven. ”Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,“ Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?

But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

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.

Supported by friends in faith

There are many things to be learned from this Gospel passage, but one of my favorites is the importance of supporting each other in our faith. It is the faith of the friends of the paralytic that moved Jesus to act. When we pray for others, or ask others to pray for us, we are helping or enlisting help in the same way as the people in this story. There have been times in my life when I haven’t been able or known how to pray for what I needed. Or I didn’t know just what it was that I really needed. At these times others have prayed for me and have supported my faith with theirs. And I have returned the favor when others have asked me to pray for them. This is just one of the many beautiful aspects of being connected to a larger community of faith. Who needs your prayers today?

—Mandy Dillon is a Retreat Coordinator at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, today we pray for all those who have asked for our prayers, and for those for whom we have promised to pray. We thank you for the gift of others to pray for us and for the gift of our faith. Amen.

—Mandy Dillon

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 17, 2019

St. Anthony, abbot

Mk 1:40-45

A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!”Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

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.

Getting past unnecessary prohibitions

Nobody’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing in this story. Jewish law at the time would have required anyone with a skin disease like leprosy to isolate themselves from others. This man defies the law when he approaches Jesus and asks for healing. Jesus proceeds to ignore legal prohibitions as well when he touches the man – a touch which makes Jesus ritually unclean. And finally, the man disregards Jesus’ instruction not to say anything and tells everyone!

The interaction between this man and Jesus invites me to reflect on the unnecessary prohibitions, the “shoulds” in my life that keep me from God and others.

What gets in the way of my approaching God for what I need?

What keeps me from imitating Christ’s love for the outcast?

How can I let my joy and gratitude to God impel me to share the Good News?

—Catherine Heinhold is the Pastoral Assistant for Ignatian Programming at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. where she facilitates prayer programs and the Young Adult Community.

Prayer

God, I ask you to give me the courage to overcome any “shoulds” (my own or others’) which may keep me from asking for help or from assisting those need. Amen.

—Catherine Heinhold

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 16, 2019

Mk 1:29-39

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

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.

Building in time for prayer

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”

I am reminded in today’s Gospel of the need for prayer in my life. Jesus was working overtime; everyone the disciples brought to him was cured. The next day was going to be more of the same so he carved out some time before the day began and prayed.

I wish I could do the same with more consistency. All too often when the day and evening is full, I can let go of that which I need the most. During the hectic days, I need the centering power of prayer to be able to recognize Christ amidst the busyness and pick up on whatever he may be inviting me to that day.

What might I do to build time for prayer into my busy day?

—Tom Drexler is the Executive Director of the Ignatian Spirituality Project, a ministry providing Ignatian retreats to men and women experiencing homelessness.

Prayer

Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples. Amen.

—Tom Drexler

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 15, 2019

Mk 1:21-28

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”

But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

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

Holding back from change

“Have you come to destroy us?” We humans aren’t great with change. It is January, the season of New Year’s resolutions, so maybe you are feeling the challenge of changing a routine or outlook on life. I know I am. There is something jarring and upending about the idea of changing our ways of acting and being and I hear that reflected in today’s Gospel. The man possessed calls Jesus by name and asks if he is here to destroy us. As we see, Jesus calls out the evil spirit from the man.

What are our fears in fully committing our lives to Jesus? What parts of ourselves do we wish to stay the same? Where are the flickers of selfishness and pride in our day? With whom do we withhold our generosity? Let’s offer these to the Lord and let him upend and change us. For the better.

—Br. Matt Wooters, SJ, is a social worker at Nativity Jesuit Academy in Milwaukee, WI.

Prayer

Take Lord, receive,
My selfishness, my ego and my pride
These aren’t my best self.
These keep me caged and fearful of others and of You.

Change my heart to be a bit more like Yours:
On fire with Love beyond all telling.

When I screw up today, help me try again.

Mostly, sweet Jesus, help me laugh at myself.
Because with a good sense of humor, a little pluck and with You
All things are possible.

Amen

—Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 14, 2019

Mk 1:14-20

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

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

What gifts do you bring?

If someone asked you today to give up your daily life and follow them…would you? That’s the question that always draws me in first with this reading.  The request feels overwhelming and impossible to imagine. “Would I leave everything behind for this?”

Another question follows.  “Am I someone who would even be invited?”  

As I reflect on times in my life when I was surprised to have been asked to be a part of something, I realize that other people in my life have seen gifts in me that I don’t always recognize or value.  Jesus saw promise in these fishermen and they were ready to follow him. They were ready to use their gifts in the service of this intriguing mission Jesus had laid out for them.

You have been invited too.  What gifts do you bring?

—Kay Gregg is the Assistant Department Chair of Campus Ministry at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL.

Prayer

Jesus, you called Simon, Andrew, James and John from their daily lives to join you in sharing the faith.  Help me to see where you are calling me today, and give me the strength to leave things behind so that I can more closely follow you.

—Kay Gregg

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 13, 2019

Baptism of the Lord

Lk 3:15-16, 21-22

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

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.

Our hearts are repaired from within

With the Baptism of the Lord, the Christmas season is replete. We carry into Ordinary Time the gifts we have received. A gyroscope can be used as an image for our heart. Once spinning, the gyroscope resists attempts to change its motion. So also, it can be said of our heart – its spinning balance is willful and stubborn.

With our heart deeply stained with original sin, we can despair that any action on our part has the chance to succeed. And yet, as Jesus arises from the Jordan River, there is hope! The Trinity has entered inside our human nature. From deep within us, God can tenderly adjust our heart.

In this new year our choice of books, podcasts and videos can lend our aid to God as he syncs our heart to his mercy.

Fr. Paul Deutsch, SJ, belongs to the Central and Southern Province of the Jesuits and is Sophomore Counselor at Jesuit High School in Tampa, FL.

Prayer

O God, whose Only Begotten Son
has appeared in our very flesh,
grant, we pray, that we may be inwardly transformed
through him whom we recognize outwardly like ourselves.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

—Fr. Paul Deutsch, SJ

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 12, 2019

1 Jn 5:14-21

And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one—to those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin that is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that.All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not mortal.

We know that those who are born of God do not sin, but the one who was born of God protects them, and the evil one does not touch them. We know that we are God’s children, and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

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.

Confidence that God hears us

Tomorrow’s feast of the Baptism of Jesus brings us to the end of the Christmas season. So it is good today to recall the graces and gifts that have come to each of us (and those whose lives we have touched) since the beginning of Advent. How have I welcomed the Lord this Christmas season? In what ways has God stretched and challenged me over these weeks? Where do I find myself now in relationship with myself, with family and friends and co-workers, and especially with God? Which Christmas “gifts” do I particularly treasure this year?

These early days of 2019 don’t offer a precise roadmap with exact signposts for the year ahead. Thus today’s first reading is helpful: “And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

What do I ask of the Lord today? Do I have confidence that our God, who has given me so much talent and time and opportunity, will indeed walk with me in holiness and in hope?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we have waited for your coming through Advent, and celebrated your incarnation in this Christmas season.  Help us to incorporate the spiritual practices that we have developed, and the sense of joy that we have shared, and live them out each day this year.  May we always remember that you walk with us each day. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 11, 2019

Lk 5:12-16

Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him. And he ordered him to tell no one. “Go,” he said, “and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them.”

But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.

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.

Carving out space for prayer

The lines in Scripture where Jesus withdraws to deserted places to pray always catch my attention. As I’m writing this, we are in the midst of the Advent season and Christmas preparations. That tends to mean that I am busier than I would like to be. We often think that after Christmas things will slow down and get back to normal. However, I find that regardless of the season, quiet time is usually something most of us don’t get enough of.

Jesus made quiet prayer time a priority in the midst of all that needed to be done and all of the demands on his time. Who are we to do any less? What can you do to carve out space in your day to spend time with God? Even just a few minutes of silence here and there can help to reset our day and our priorities.

—Mandy Dillon is a Retreat Coordinator at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.

Prayer

Lord God, in the midst of the busyness of life, help me to slow down and carve out time for conversation with you, just as I make time for other important relationships in my life.  Remind me to take opportunities throughout the day to be present with you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 10, 2019

1 Jn 4:19-5:4

We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.

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.

Losing touch with our belovedness

The first letter of John is full of reminders of what it means to be a Christian. The author emphasizes the essential connection between loving God and loving others. We cannot have one without the other, but somehow, we – I – keep forgetting this. Despite my proclaimed love for God, I am at times unloving to those around me – sometimes habitually. It would seem I have forgotten how to love God and others.

The author of 1 John shows us the root of the problem – and the solution – in the first line: “[God] first loved us.” At times I lose touch with my own belovedness – that God deeply and intimately loves ME. Forgetting this reality diminishes my capacity to love others.

Today I make time to ask God to help me:
experience,
accept,
and savor
God’s love for me.

Only then do I ask how I can better share that love with others.

—Catherine Heinhold is the Pastoral Assistant for Ignatian Programming at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. where she facilitates prayer programs and the Young Adult Community.

Prayer

God, I ask you to give me the grace to experience, to accept, and to savor your deep and personal love for me.

—Catherine Heinhold

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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January 19, 2019

Mk 2:13-17

Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him.

When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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

Invitation to walk with Jesus

There is a famous Caravaggio painting that depicts the call of Levi which we read about in today’s Gospel. The painting is an incredible study in light and darkness. Bright light through a window behind Jesus shines directly on Levi’s face. This same light catches Jesus’ outstretched hand as he interrupts the counting of money and gestures towards Levi. You can almost hear Levi’s response—“What? You want me?”

This encounter, frozen in time and space, echoes one of those moments described in today’s passage from Hebrews when God’s word is described as “living and effective, dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow…it judges the reflections and thoughts of the heart.”

It is good for each of us to pay attention to God’s movements within our own hearts. Perhaps Jesus isn’t as direct with us as with Levi. Yet Jesus invites each person to walk with him more closely. Jesus invites me to understand anew just how he is truly my way, my truth, my life…here and now, this week, this month. How do I respond?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Why, then, do I fear?
God is here, deep within, forever:
Life grandly vibrant,
Love scandalously flagrant,
yet  heart quietly homing
and lord wisely lording.
But, then—why do I fear?

—Excerpted of “The Inmost Fear” by David Hassel, SJ, published in Hearts on Fire: Praying with the Jesuits

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 18, 2018

Mk 2:1-12

When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven. ”Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,“ Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” At once Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were discussing these questions among themselves; and he said to them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?

But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

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.

Supported by friends in faith

There are many things to be learned from this Gospel passage, but one of my favorites is the importance of supporting each other in our faith. It is the faith of the friends of the paralytic that moved Jesus to act. When we pray for others, or ask others to pray for us, we are helping or enlisting help in the same way as the people in this story. There have been times in my life when I haven’t been able or known how to pray for what I needed. Or I didn’t know just what it was that I really needed. At these times others have prayed for me and have supported my faith with theirs. And I have returned the favor when others have asked me to pray for them. This is just one of the many beautiful aspects of being connected to a larger community of faith. Who needs your prayers today?

—Mandy Dillon is a Retreat Coordinator at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, today we pray for all those who have asked for our prayers, and for those for whom we have promised to pray. We thank you for the gift of others to pray for us and for the gift of our faith. Amen.

—Mandy Dillon

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 17, 2019

St. Anthony, abbot

Mk 1:40-45

A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!”Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.

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.

Getting past unnecessary prohibitions

Nobody’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing in this story. Jewish law at the time would have required anyone with a skin disease like leprosy to isolate themselves from others. This man defies the law when he approaches Jesus and asks for healing. Jesus proceeds to ignore legal prohibitions as well when he touches the man – a touch which makes Jesus ritually unclean. And finally, the man disregards Jesus’ instruction not to say anything and tells everyone!

The interaction between this man and Jesus invites me to reflect on the unnecessary prohibitions, the “shoulds” in my life that keep me from God and others.

What gets in the way of my approaching God for what I need?

What keeps me from imitating Christ’s love for the outcast?

How can I let my joy and gratitude to God impel me to share the Good News?

—Catherine Heinhold is the Pastoral Assistant for Ignatian Programming at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. where she facilitates prayer programs and the Young Adult Community.

Prayer

God, I ask you to give me the courage to overcome any “shoulds” (my own or others’) which may keep me from asking for help or from assisting those need. Amen.

—Catherine Heinhold

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 16, 2019

Mk 1:29-39

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

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.

Building in time for prayer

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”

I am reminded in today’s Gospel of the need for prayer in my life. Jesus was working overtime; everyone the disciples brought to him was cured. The next day was going to be more of the same so he carved out some time before the day began and prayed.

I wish I could do the same with more consistency. All too often when the day and evening is full, I can let go of that which I need the most. During the hectic days, I need the centering power of prayer to be able to recognize Christ amidst the busyness and pick up on whatever he may be inviting me to that day.

What might I do to build time for prayer into my busy day?

—Tom Drexler is the Executive Director of the Ignatian Spirituality Project, a ministry providing Ignatian retreats to men and women experiencing homelessness.

Prayer

Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples. Amen.

—Tom Drexler

 


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January 15, 2019

Mk 1:21-28

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”

But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

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

Holding back from change

“Have you come to destroy us?” We humans aren’t great with change. It is January, the season of New Year’s resolutions, so maybe you are feeling the challenge of changing a routine or outlook on life. I know I am. There is something jarring and upending about the idea of changing our ways of acting and being and I hear that reflected in today’s Gospel. The man possessed calls Jesus by name and asks if he is here to destroy us. As we see, Jesus calls out the evil spirit from the man.

What are our fears in fully committing our lives to Jesus? What parts of ourselves do we wish to stay the same? Where are the flickers of selfishness and pride in our day? With whom do we withhold our generosity? Let’s offer these to the Lord and let him upend and change us. For the better.

—Br. Matt Wooters, SJ, is a social worker at Nativity Jesuit Academy in Milwaukee, WI.

Prayer

Take Lord, receive,
My selfishness, my ego and my pride
These aren’t my best self.
These keep me caged and fearful of others and of You.

Change my heart to be a bit more like Yours:
On fire with Love beyond all telling.

When I screw up today, help me try again.

Mostly, sweet Jesus, help me laugh at myself.
Because with a good sense of humor, a little pluck and with You
All things are possible.

Amen

—Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

 


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January 14, 2019

Mk 1:14-20

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”

And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

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

What gifts do you bring?

If someone asked you today to give up your daily life and follow them…would you? That’s the question that always draws me in first with this reading.  The request feels overwhelming and impossible to imagine. “Would I leave everything behind for this?”

Another question follows.  “Am I someone who would even be invited?”  

As I reflect on times in my life when I was surprised to have been asked to be a part of something, I realize that other people in my life have seen gifts in me that I don’t always recognize or value.  Jesus saw promise in these fishermen and they were ready to follow him. They were ready to use their gifts in the service of this intriguing mission Jesus had laid out for them.

You have been invited too.  What gifts do you bring?

—Kay Gregg is the Assistant Department Chair of Campus Ministry at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL.

Prayer

Jesus, you called Simon, Andrew, James and John from their daily lives to join you in sharing the faith.  Help me to see where you are calling me today, and give me the strength to leave things behind so that I can more closely follow you.

—Kay Gregg

 


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January 13, 2019

Baptism of the Lord

Lk 3:15-16, 21-22

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

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.

Our hearts are repaired from within

With the Baptism of the Lord, the Christmas season is replete. We carry into Ordinary Time the gifts we have received. A gyroscope can be used as an image for our heart. Once spinning, the gyroscope resists attempts to change its motion. So also, it can be said of our heart – its spinning balance is willful and stubborn.

With our heart deeply stained with original sin, we can despair that any action on our part has the chance to succeed. And yet, as Jesus arises from the Jordan River, there is hope! The Trinity has entered inside our human nature. From deep within us, God can tenderly adjust our heart.

In this new year our choice of books, podcasts and videos can lend our aid to God as he syncs our heart to his mercy.

Fr. Paul Deutsch, SJ, belongs to the Central and Southern Province of the Jesuits and is Sophomore Counselor at Jesuit High School in Tampa, FL.

Prayer

O God, whose Only Begotten Son
has appeared in our very flesh,
grant, we pray, that we may be inwardly transformed
through him whom we recognize outwardly like ourselves.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

—Fr. Paul Deutsch, SJ

 


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January 12, 2019

1 Jn 5:14-21

And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one—to those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin that is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that.All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not mortal.

We know that those who are born of God do not sin, but the one who was born of God protects them, and the evil one does not touch them. We know that we are God’s children, and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

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.

Confidence that God hears us

Tomorrow’s feast of the Baptism of Jesus brings us to the end of the Christmas season. So it is good today to recall the graces and gifts that have come to each of us (and those whose lives we have touched) since the beginning of Advent. How have I welcomed the Lord this Christmas season? In what ways has God stretched and challenged me over these weeks? Where do I find myself now in relationship with myself, with family and friends and co-workers, and especially with God? Which Christmas “gifts” do I particularly treasure this year?

These early days of 2019 don’t offer a precise roadmap with exact signposts for the year ahead. Thus today’s first reading is helpful: “And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

What do I ask of the Lord today? Do I have confidence that our God, who has given me so much talent and time and opportunity, will indeed walk with me in holiness and in hope?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we have waited for your coming through Advent, and celebrated your incarnation in this Christmas season.  Help us to incorporate the spiritual practices that we have developed, and the sense of joy that we have shared, and live them out each day this year.  May we always remember that you walk with us each day. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 


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January 11, 2019

Lk 5:12-16

Once, when he was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” Then Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him. And he ordered him to tell no one. “Go,” he said, “and show yourself to the priest, and, as Moses commanded, make an offering for your cleansing, for a testimony to them.”

But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.

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.

Carving out space for prayer

The lines in Scripture where Jesus withdraws to deserted places to pray always catch my attention. As I’m writing this, we are in the midst of the Advent season and Christmas preparations. That tends to mean that I am busier than I would like to be. We often think that after Christmas things will slow down and get back to normal. However, I find that regardless of the season, quiet time is usually something most of us don’t get enough of.

Jesus made quiet prayer time a priority in the midst of all that needed to be done and all of the demands on his time. Who are we to do any less? What can you do to carve out space in your day to spend time with God? Even just a few minutes of silence here and there can help to reset our day and our priorities.

—Mandy Dillon is a Retreat Coordinator at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.

Prayer

Lord God, in the midst of the busyness of life, help me to slow down and carve out time for conversation with you, just as I make time for other important relationships in my life.  Remind me to take opportunities throughout the day to be present with you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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January 10, 2019

1 Jn 4:19-5:4

We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.

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.

Losing touch with our belovedness

The first letter of John is full of reminders of what it means to be a Christian. The author emphasizes the essential connection between loving God and loving others. We cannot have one without the other, but somehow, we – I – keep forgetting this. Despite my proclaimed love for God, I am at times unloving to those around me – sometimes habitually. It would seem I have forgotten how to love God and others.

The author of 1 John shows us the root of the problem – and the solution – in the first line: “[God] first loved us.” At times I lose touch with my own belovedness – that God deeply and intimately loves ME. Forgetting this reality diminishes my capacity to love others.

Today I make time to ask God to help me:
experience,
accept,
and savor
God’s love for me.

Only then do I ask how I can better share that love with others.

—Catherine Heinhold is the Pastoral Assistant for Ignatian Programming at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. where she facilitates prayer programs and the Young Adult Community.

Prayer

God, I ask you to give me the grace to experience, to accept, and to savor your deep and personal love for me.

—Catherine Heinhold

 


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