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April 24, 2019

Lk 24: 13-35

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?”

They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.

Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on.

But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

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 Resurrected Christ

A friend once told me that we are in the presence of God whenever we encounter truth, love, or justice. This seems to be what happened to the men traveling from Jerusalem. They found themselves in God’s presence by opening themselves to Scriptural truths provided by a stranger accompanying them. This is the way the resurrected Jesus interacts with all of us in our own journeys.  According to theologian Luke Timothy Johnson, the risen Christ engages us through “the guise of a stranger…in the midst of human dialogue.” God is made visible through the meaningful human connections we make through storytelling and through the experience of meal sharing.

As the two men reflect on their journey to Emmaus and discover God’s relational character, we are invited to do the same and identify all of God’s past interactions with us, so that we may better recognize God at present and in the future.

Mark Chang is a Theology Teacher and the Director of the New Teacher Induction Program at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL.

Prayer

Draw us forth, God of all creation.
Draw us forward and away from limited certainty
into the immense world of your love.
Give us the capacity to even for a moment
taste the richness of the feast you give us.
Give us the peace to live with uncertainty,
with questions,
with doubts.
Help us to experience the resurrection anew
with open wonder and an increasing ability
to see you in the people of Easter.

—Author unknown, published on jesuitresource.org


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April 23, 2019

St. George

Acts 2: 36-41

Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

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.

Jesus continues to be there for us

“Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah.”

We have just celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord on Easter, and in today’s readings Peter is urging us to be certain of what we have experienced. This might seem like something that is easier said than done. It is true that Peter’s experience of Jesus was different than ours, he experienced the Resurrection first hand after all. He physically saw Jesus arrested and witnessed his Resurrection. So how can we be as certain as Peter?

“… this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Peter, in his exhortation, doesn’t want us to forget what caused this wonderful act of redemption. We are still broken and in need of God’s love and mercy, but, just as he was for the Apostle Thomas who needed a sign even after the resurrection, Jesus will be there, especially when we doubt, offering himself for us on a daily basis in the Eucharist. That is our certainty and our faith.

Jonathan Harmon, SJ, is a transitional deacon of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. He is currently in theology studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA.

Prayer

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

—Response during the Eucharistic Prayer


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April 22, 2019

Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Society of Jesus

Mt 28: 8-15

So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”

So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.

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.

Fear and joy

As Mary Magdalene and the other Mary leave the empty tomb to tell the disciples that Jesus is risen, they leave “with fear and great joy”. Fear and joy? This is an odd combination. But when God calls me to something new in my life, I have often responded this way. Moving to a new city? Fear and joy. Starting a new job? Fear and joy. Becoming a parent? Fear and joy.

St. Ignatius teaches us that the deep desires of our heart are God’s desires for us. For me, the experience of fear and great joy is often a sign that I am moving towards my heart’s desire. Margaret Silf writes that these desires “express the movements of my deepest underground streams and currents that spring from God and are known and understood fully only by him.” Sometimes we are called to leave behind something familiar to move towards the joy and fear of a new beginning.

On this Easter Monday, I take some time to consider Mary and Mary’s response to to the realization that their friend is risen from the dead, and that the path God is calling them to will be difficult, transformative, and beautiful. To what is God inviting me during this season of Easter that brings forth in me fear and great joy?

Katie Broussard is the illustrator of the picture book Audacious Ignatius and is on the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections in Chicago.

Prayer

Imagine our deepest desire as a powerful underground stream, a promise of living water. This stream is so deep in our hearts that for the most part we are not even aware of it. When I let my prayer become this deep flow that I can’t even name or ever fully know, God is continuously responding to it. My prayer is not really mine at all but rather expresses the movements of my deepest underground streams that spring from God and are known and understood fully only by him. God’s answers are not brought about by my prayer any more than the sun’s movements are determined by the earth’s. Rather, my prayer is the response to God’s action in my life and his presence in my heart, just as the earth’s existence is a response to the sun’s.

Margaret Silf, Inner Compass: An Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality


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April 21, 2019

Easter Sunday

Jn 20: 1-9

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.

Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

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

See and Believe

“Seeing,” “hearing,” “knowing,” and “believing” are all key concepts in John’s Gospel. Near the end of his Gospel, John the Evangelist tells us, “Jesus did many other signs that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”

In John’s Easter Sunday Gospel, Mary of Magdala comes to Simon Peter and to “the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved” (very often identified as John himself), and tells them that the body of Jesus has been taken away from the tomb, and that she has no idea where it is. Peter and John then run to the tomb. John, yielding to Peter’s authority as the leader of the disciples in the Lord’s absence, bends down to look into the tomb, seeing only the burial cloths there, but doesn’t go in. When Peter arrives, he goes in, and finds the tomb empty, except for the burial shroud; but what seems most to impress Peter is that the cloth that had covered the head of Jesus was not on the ground, scattered or torn, but “rolled up in a separate place.”

Where that cloth was placed and how it was neatly rolled up seems to convince Peter that the body of Jesus was not stolen or moved, but that something else happened. And then, we are told, when the other disciple finally followed Peter into the tomb, he “saw and believed.” What will it take for us to believe? What will remove our every doubt? What experience of the power of the Risen Lord does God want us to have this Easter? May our prayer today be that we, too, will come to “see and believe.”

—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, SJ, serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu in University Heights, OH.

Prayer

Without seeing you, we love you;
without touching you, we embrace;
without knowing you, we follow;
without seeing you, we believe.

Without Seeing You by David Haas, © 1993 by GIA Publications, Inc


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April 20, 2019

Holy Saturday

Lk 24:1-12

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.

Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.

Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

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.

How do we wait?

As Christians, we spend today waiting. Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb just before the start of the sabbath, which began at sundown on Friday. Imagine the devastation felt by all of his followers, who must have spent an agonizing sabbath, mourning for their friend and teacher. They had witnessed Jesus’ cruel death, and did not fully understand what it meant. The women who travelled with him had to wait until they could anoint his body as was the Jewish custom.

Today, we have the benefit of knowing how this part of the story ends. We know that death does not win; we know that Jesus is triumphant. So today, this day of waiting that sits between the agony of Good Friday and the joy of the Resurrection, we wait in hope. We hope for the new life that Jesus has won for all of us, and we pray that we may follow the Risen Christ in the way we live our lives.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth, as your Son’s body lay in the tomb on this Holy Saturday, may we wait with him in hope of the new life he won for each of us. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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April 19, 2019

Good Friday

Jn 18:1-19:42

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples.

So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.”

Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.”

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him.

First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people. Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate.

So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 

Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.”

One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed. Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?”

They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.) Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”

They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.”

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.” Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever.

He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.” When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha.

Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus;and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him.

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews.

Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

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 wondrous love is this

In “The Divine Milieu”, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin writes about “passive diminishment”, life’s cruel injustices and how we respond to them. The ultimate passive diminishment is death, and the ultimate death is the passion of Jesus. And how does Christ respond? With silence – a divine silence that cries out ever after and conquers evil. Could Christ have made any greater impact had he responded differently?

Did Jesus die for our sins or because we sin? Did he accept the cross to show us that we too can deny evil its victory by drawing on the strength and goodness that permeates within each of us? Is he not inviting us to accept our own cross, our inevitable confrontation with injustice and diminishment? Is he not calling us into an incarnate communion with him that fortifies each of us to, like him, freely respond divinely?

What wondrous love is this!

—Stephen Hutchison founded and leads Revitalization 2000, Inc., a nonprofit organization that emerged from St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic Church to assist its Ignatian-based mission to serve the poor in the surrounding neighborhood of north St. Louis.

Prayer

From Genesis to Gospel
from the tree to the cross.
O Lord, were You disappointed in man
or inwardly proud of his choice in the garden
a choice demanding that he endure
and suffer to find knowledge and joy?
Were You excited in the awareness
that hence You could send us Your beloved Son
to suffer with us and show us the way?
“Oh happy fault”
this choice of man that starts the quest
to know good and evil
sacred and profane
to journey the road
that leads to the suffering
but triumphant Incarnate Jesus!

—Stephen Hutchison


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April 18, 2019

Holy Thursday

Jn 13:1-15

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

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

Doing as Jesus Does

I noticed my friend’s bare feet resting, not on her wheelchair supports, but on the cold tile floor. Her health rapidly declining, she had invited friends and family to be present for her anointing. We hadn’t washed her feet, so had we done what Jesus asked us to do?

Had our gentle touches and hugs poured relief over her fears?

Had her weary heart been washed and refreshed by our words of blessing?

Had the isolation of her illness been rinsed away by our presence surrounding her like a river of love?

Jesus tells his disciples to follow his example, but offering to wash another’s feet may be an unusual or unwelcome act in our time. So we must find other ways to pour out kindness and compassion. To dry tears by our presence, and to gently touch another’s weary heart.

How is Jesus asking you to follow his example today?

—Diane Amento Owens is a spiritual director who encourages her directees to see the world through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.

Prayer

Jesus, my teacher, help me to respond to others in compassionate and humble service, just as you did when you washed the feet of your disciples. Give me courage when I’m afraid to touch another’s aching spirit. May I follow your example of loving service today and always.

—Diane Amento Owens


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April 17, 2019

Mt 26: 14-25

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”

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.

Recognizing God

I’ve always thought The Beatles song, Ticket To Ride, fit the story of Judas, as it captures Jesus’ sentiment. Slightly altered lyrics can read:

I think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s today, yeah.
Judas that’s driving me mad, is going away.
He’s got a ticket to ride, he’s got a ticket, he’s got a ticket to ride,
But he don’t care.

When everything around you appears to be falling apart, your survival instincts kick into full gear and your inclinations turn towards the self. Judas’ world (and the Jewish world) was breaking down politically, socially, religiously, and economically. As the Temple started to collapse, so did his faith. Judas represents a hopeless resignation to a system too big to defeat. So, he bought a “ticket to ride” out of his relationship with Jesus because he failed to recognize God in the flesh. But those who recognized that Christ was in fact reclining with them were given something far greater than 30 pieces of silver. They were given the Kingdom of God.

—Mark Chang is a Theology Teacher and the Director of the New Teacher Induction Program at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL.

Prayer

O God, who willed your Son to submit for our sake to the yoke of the Cross, so that you might drive from us the power of the enemy, grant us, your servants, to attain the grace of the resurrection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect prayer from today’s Mass


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April 16, 2019

Is 49: 1-6

Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.”

And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

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

Trusting God in the midst of suffering

“But I said, ‘I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.”

How often do we feel abandoned, or that our suffering is just too much? If we truly take to heart the words of Isaiah, that “The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me”, then it seems that even if I might feel like I’ve been abandoned, and my suffering is too great, that the God who knew me before I was born, who also sent his only Son to save the world, will truly be there for me when I am in need.

Jesus continued to trust the will of the Father even in the face of abandonment and betrayal. May we trust in the saving power of Jesus as we continue our journey towards Easter.

—Jonathan Harmon, SJ, is a transitional deacon of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. He is currently in theology studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, you have known us since before we were born, and you continue to offer us unconditional love. In the midst of trials or sufferings, remind us to turn to you, who are with us through it all. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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April 15, 2019

Jn 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

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.

Standing firm in service to God

In today’s Gospel passage, I find myself standing with Mary of Bethany and watching how she responds to the criticism she receives for her actions. What does she say to Judas? I imagine she is aware that her actions surprise everyone at dinner, and that Judas’s words are not coming from a place of genuine concern for the poor. I imagine Mary standing firm in the knowledge that she is choosing to serve Jesus in the unique way she has been called to do.

How do I react when someone criticizes a decision that is close to my heart? It can be hard to act boldly in the face of opposition. The First Principle and Foundation is one of my favorite prayers for anchoring myself to God in a challenging situation. Ultimately, only I know how God is calling me. I pray for the freedom to center myself on my unique vocation to love, and “direct all that is me toward your praise”.

—Katie Broussard is the illustrator of the picture book Audacious Ignatius and is on the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections in Chicago.

Prayer

Lord my God, when your love spilled over into creation,
You thought of me.
I am from Love, of Love, for Love.

Let my heart, O God, always recognize, cherish,
and enjoy your goodness in all of creation.
Direct all that is me to your praise.
Teach me reverence for every person, all things.
Energize me in your service.

Lord God may nothing ever distract me from your love…
Neither health nor sickness,
wealth nor poverty,
honor nor dishonor,
long life nor short life. May I never seek nor choose to be other than You intend me to be. Amen.

—St. Ignatius Loyola, First Principle & Foundation, trans. Bergan & Schwan, 1985.


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St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, taught that a daily prayer practice helps us to discover God at work in our lives. The University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy invites you to join us in this Ignatian tradition of prayer, reflection, and discovery.



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April 24, 2019

Lk 24: 13-35

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?”

They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.

Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on.

But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

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 Resurrected Christ

A friend once told me that we are in the presence of God whenever we encounter truth, love, or justice. This seems to be what happened to the men traveling from Jerusalem. They found themselves in God’s presence by opening themselves to Scriptural truths provided by a stranger accompanying them. This is the way the resurrected Jesus interacts with all of us in our own journeys.  According to theologian Luke Timothy Johnson, the risen Christ engages us through “the guise of a stranger…in the midst of human dialogue.” God is made visible through the meaningful human connections we make through storytelling and through the experience of meal sharing.

As the two men reflect on their journey to Emmaus and discover God’s relational character, we are invited to do the same and identify all of God’s past interactions with us, so that we may better recognize God at present and in the future.

Mark Chang is a Theology Teacher and the Director of the New Teacher Induction Program at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL.

Prayer

Draw us forth, God of all creation.
Draw us forward and away from limited certainty
into the immense world of your love.
Give us the capacity to even for a moment
taste the richness of the feast you give us.
Give us the peace to live with uncertainty,
with questions,
with doubts.
Help us to experience the resurrection anew
with open wonder and an increasing ability
to see you in the people of Easter.

—Author unknown, published on jesuitresource.org


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April 23, 2019

St. George

Acts 2: 36-41

Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

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.

Jesus continues to be there for us

“Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah.”

We have just celebrated the Resurrection of our Lord on Easter, and in today’s readings Peter is urging us to be certain of what we have experienced. This might seem like something that is easier said than done. It is true that Peter’s experience of Jesus was different than ours, he experienced the Resurrection first hand after all. He physically saw Jesus arrested and witnessed his Resurrection. So how can we be as certain as Peter?

“… this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Peter, in his exhortation, doesn’t want us to forget what caused this wonderful act of redemption. We are still broken and in need of God’s love and mercy, but, just as he was for the Apostle Thomas who needed a sign even after the resurrection, Jesus will be there, especially when we doubt, offering himself for us on a daily basis in the Eucharist. That is our certainty and our faith.

Jonathan Harmon, SJ, is a transitional deacon of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. He is currently in theology studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA.

Prayer

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

—Response during the Eucharistic Prayer


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April 22, 2019

Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Society of Jesus

Mt 28: 8-15

So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”

So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.

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.

Fear and joy

As Mary Magdalene and the other Mary leave the empty tomb to tell the disciples that Jesus is risen, they leave “with fear and great joy”. Fear and joy? This is an odd combination. But when God calls me to something new in my life, I have often responded this way. Moving to a new city? Fear and joy. Starting a new job? Fear and joy. Becoming a parent? Fear and joy.

St. Ignatius teaches us that the deep desires of our heart are God’s desires for us. For me, the experience of fear and great joy is often a sign that I am moving towards my heart’s desire. Margaret Silf writes that these desires “express the movements of my deepest underground streams and currents that spring from God and are known and understood fully only by him.” Sometimes we are called to leave behind something familiar to move towards the joy and fear of a new beginning.

On this Easter Monday, I take some time to consider Mary and Mary’s response to to the realization that their friend is risen from the dead, and that the path God is calling them to will be difficult, transformative, and beautiful. To what is God inviting me during this season of Easter that brings forth in me fear and great joy?

Katie Broussard is the illustrator of the picture book Audacious Ignatius and is on the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections in Chicago.

Prayer

Imagine our deepest desire as a powerful underground stream, a promise of living water. This stream is so deep in our hearts that for the most part we are not even aware of it. When I let my prayer become this deep flow that I can’t even name or ever fully know, God is continuously responding to it. My prayer is not really mine at all but rather expresses the movements of my deepest underground streams that spring from God and are known and understood fully only by him. God’s answers are not brought about by my prayer any more than the sun’s movements are determined by the earth’s. Rather, my prayer is the response to God’s action in my life and his presence in my heart, just as the earth’s existence is a response to the sun’s.

Margaret Silf, Inner Compass: An Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality


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April 21, 2019

Easter Sunday

Jn 20: 1-9

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.

Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

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

See and Believe

“Seeing,” “hearing,” “knowing,” and “believing” are all key concepts in John’s Gospel. Near the end of his Gospel, John the Evangelist tells us, “Jesus did many other signs that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”

In John’s Easter Sunday Gospel, Mary of Magdala comes to Simon Peter and to “the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved” (very often identified as John himself), and tells them that the body of Jesus has been taken away from the tomb, and that she has no idea where it is. Peter and John then run to the tomb. John, yielding to Peter’s authority as the leader of the disciples in the Lord’s absence, bends down to look into the tomb, seeing only the burial cloths there, but doesn’t go in. When Peter arrives, he goes in, and finds the tomb empty, except for the burial shroud; but what seems most to impress Peter is that the cloth that had covered the head of Jesus was not on the ground, scattered or torn, but “rolled up in a separate place.”

Where that cloth was placed and how it was neatly rolled up seems to convince Peter that the body of Jesus was not stolen or moved, but that something else happened. And then, we are told, when the other disciple finally followed Peter into the tomb, he “saw and believed.” What will it take for us to believe? What will remove our every doubt? What experience of the power of the Risen Lord does God want us to have this Easter? May our prayer today be that we, too, will come to “see and believe.”

—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, SJ, serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu in University Heights, OH.

Prayer

Without seeing you, we love you;
without touching you, we embrace;
without knowing you, we follow;
without seeing you, we believe.

Without Seeing You by David Haas, © 1993 by GIA Publications, Inc


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April 20, 2019

Holy Saturday

Lk 24:1-12

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.

Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.

Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

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.

How do we wait?

As Christians, we spend today waiting. Jesus’ body was laid in the tomb just before the start of the sabbath, which began at sundown on Friday. Imagine the devastation felt by all of his followers, who must have spent an agonizing sabbath, mourning for their friend and teacher. They had witnessed Jesus’ cruel death, and did not fully understand what it meant. The women who travelled with him had to wait until they could anoint his body as was the Jewish custom.

Today, we have the benefit of knowing how this part of the story ends. We know that death does not win; we know that Jesus is triumphant. So today, this day of waiting that sits between the agony of Good Friday and the joy of the Resurrection, we wait in hope. We hope for the new life that Jesus has won for all of us, and we pray that we may follow the Risen Christ in the way we live our lives.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth, as your Son’s body lay in the tomb on this Holy Saturday, may we wait with him in hope of the new life he won for each of us. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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April 19, 2019

Good Friday

Jn 18:1-19:42

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples.

So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.”

Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.”

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him.

First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people. Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate.

So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 

Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.”

One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed. Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?”

They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.) Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”

They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.”

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.” Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever.

He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.” When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha.

Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus;and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him.

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews.

Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

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 wondrous love is this

In “The Divine Milieu”, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin writes about “passive diminishment”, life’s cruel injustices and how we respond to them. The ultimate passive diminishment is death, and the ultimate death is the passion of Jesus. And how does Christ respond? With silence – a divine silence that cries out ever after and conquers evil. Could Christ have made any greater impact had he responded differently?

Did Jesus die for our sins or because we sin? Did he accept the cross to show us that we too can deny evil its victory by drawing on the strength and goodness that permeates within each of us? Is he not inviting us to accept our own cross, our inevitable confrontation with injustice and diminishment? Is he not calling us into an incarnate communion with him that fortifies each of us to, like him, freely respond divinely?

What wondrous love is this!

—Stephen Hutchison founded and leads Revitalization 2000, Inc., a nonprofit organization that emerged from St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic Church to assist its Ignatian-based mission to serve the poor in the surrounding neighborhood of north St. Louis.

Prayer

From Genesis to Gospel
from the tree to the cross.
O Lord, were You disappointed in man
or inwardly proud of his choice in the garden
a choice demanding that he endure
and suffer to find knowledge and joy?
Were You excited in the awareness
that hence You could send us Your beloved Son
to suffer with us and show us the way?
“Oh happy fault”
this choice of man that starts the quest
to know good and evil
sacred and profane
to journey the road
that leads to the suffering
but triumphant Incarnate Jesus!

—Stephen Hutchison


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April 18, 2019

Holy Thursday

Jn 13:1-15

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

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

Doing as Jesus Does

I noticed my friend’s bare feet resting, not on her wheelchair supports, but on the cold tile floor. Her health rapidly declining, she had invited friends and family to be present for her anointing. We hadn’t washed her feet, so had we done what Jesus asked us to do?

Had our gentle touches and hugs poured relief over her fears?

Had her weary heart been washed and refreshed by our words of blessing?

Had the isolation of her illness been rinsed away by our presence surrounding her like a river of love?

Jesus tells his disciples to follow his example, but offering to wash another’s feet may be an unusual or unwelcome act in our time. So we must find other ways to pour out kindness and compassion. To dry tears by our presence, and to gently touch another’s weary heart.

How is Jesus asking you to follow his example today?

—Diane Amento Owens is a spiritual director who encourages her directees to see the world through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.

Prayer

Jesus, my teacher, help me to respond to others in compassionate and humble service, just as you did when you washed the feet of your disciples. Give me courage when I’m afraid to touch another’s aching spirit. May I follow your example of loving service today and always.

—Diane Amento Owens


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April 17, 2019

Mt 26: 14-25

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”

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.

Recognizing God

I’ve always thought The Beatles song, Ticket To Ride, fit the story of Judas, as it captures Jesus’ sentiment. Slightly altered lyrics can read:

I think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s today, yeah.
Judas that’s driving me mad, is going away.
He’s got a ticket to ride, he’s got a ticket, he’s got a ticket to ride,
But he don’t care.

When everything around you appears to be falling apart, your survival instincts kick into full gear and your inclinations turn towards the self. Judas’ world (and the Jewish world) was breaking down politically, socially, religiously, and economically. As the Temple started to collapse, so did his faith. Judas represents a hopeless resignation to a system too big to defeat. So, he bought a “ticket to ride” out of his relationship with Jesus because he failed to recognize God in the flesh. But those who recognized that Christ was in fact reclining with them were given something far greater than 30 pieces of silver. They were given the Kingdom of God.

—Mark Chang is a Theology Teacher and the Director of the New Teacher Induction Program at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL.

Prayer

O God, who willed your Son to submit for our sake to the yoke of the Cross, so that you might drive from us the power of the enemy, grant us, your servants, to attain the grace of the resurrection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect prayer from today’s Mass


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April 16, 2019

Is 49: 1-6

Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.”

And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

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

Trusting God in the midst of suffering

“But I said, ‘I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.”

How often do we feel abandoned, or that our suffering is just too much? If we truly take to heart the words of Isaiah, that “The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me”, then it seems that even if I might feel like I’ve been abandoned, and my suffering is too great, that the God who knew me before I was born, who also sent his only Son to save the world, will truly be there for me when I am in need.

Jesus continued to trust the will of the Father even in the face of abandonment and betrayal. May we trust in the saving power of Jesus as we continue our journey towards Easter.

—Jonathan Harmon, SJ, is a transitional deacon of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province. He is currently in theology studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, you have known us since before we were born, and you continue to offer us unconditional love. In the midst of trials or sufferings, remind us to turn to you, who are with us through it all. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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April 15, 2019

Jn 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

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.

Standing firm in service to God

In today’s Gospel passage, I find myself standing with Mary of Bethany and watching how she responds to the criticism she receives for her actions. What does she say to Judas? I imagine she is aware that her actions surprise everyone at dinner, and that Judas’s words are not coming from a place of genuine concern for the poor. I imagine Mary standing firm in the knowledge that she is choosing to serve Jesus in the unique way she has been called to do.

How do I react when someone criticizes a decision that is close to my heart? It can be hard to act boldly in the face of opposition. The First Principle and Foundation is one of my favorite prayers for anchoring myself to God in a challenging situation. Ultimately, only I know how God is calling me. I pray for the freedom to center myself on my unique vocation to love, and “direct all that is me toward your praise”.

—Katie Broussard is the illustrator of the picture book Audacious Ignatius and is on the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections in Chicago.

Prayer

Lord my God, when your love spilled over into creation,
You thought of me.
I am from Love, of Love, for Love.

Let my heart, O God, always recognize, cherish,
and enjoy your goodness in all of creation.
Direct all that is me to your praise.
Teach me reverence for every person, all things.
Energize me in your service.

Lord God may nothing ever distract me from your love…
Neither health nor sickness,
wealth nor poverty,
honor nor dishonor,
long life nor short life. May I never seek nor choose to be other than You intend me to be. Amen.

—St. Ignatius Loyola, First Principle & Foundation, trans. Bergan & Schwan, 1985.


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