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January 18, 2018

Mk 3:7-12

Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him.

Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

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.

Witnessing the Son of Man

The disciples in today’s Gospel were present for some extreme events.  They witness a crowd so large and enthusiastic that Jesus fears being crushed.  They see people being healed of diseases and unclean spirits leaving people.

What were the disciples thinking and feeling today? Awe, excitement, fear? How could this day ‘sink in’ for them to realize that they were witnessing the Son of Man?

What amazing gifts from God do we see today? Perhaps it is the determined Cristo Rey student, the incredible faith of a homeless person, the gift of a family member, or the Spirit of God in me.

—Tim Freeman is a Major Gifts Officer at John Carroll University and is on the board of the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

Prayer

Daily Examen

Thanksgiving:
What am I especially grateful for in the past day?  The gift of another day? The love and support I have received? The courage I have mustered? An event that took place today?

Petition:
I am about to review my day; I ask for the light to know God and to know myself as God sees me.

Review:
Where have I felt true joy today? What has troubled me today? What has challenged me today? Where and when did I pause today? Have I noticed God’s presence in any of this?

Response:
In light of my review, what is my response to the God of my life?

A Look Ahead
As I look ahead, what comes to mind? With what spirit do I want to enter tomorrow?

Center for Mission and Identity, Xavier University


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January 17, 2018

St. Anthony, Abbot

Mk 3:1-6

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.

He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy 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.

Courageous action

Jesus perfectly shows his humanity in today’s Gospel. You may have had a similar experience: someone provokes you and stands ready to call your mistake. Our emotional response to such people may be anger, grief, and frustration at their “hardness of heart.” It feels like there is no appropriate response. But lucky for us, Jesus shows us a response to those feelings.

It can be tempting to correct or condemn the people that frustrate us. But often, our words fall on deaf ears, and we end up fostering our own anger instead of diminishing theirs. Jesus’ response is courageous action that demonstrates his loving stance which serves as an example of the spirit of the law.

There are plenty of ways we too can courageously demonstrate the spirit of the Gospel. Who in your life needs your example of compassion, love, and hope, more than your words?

—Rachel Forton is the Marketing & Retreat Coordinator for Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.

Prayer

O Lord, open my eyes that I may see the needs of others
Open my ears that I may hear their cries;
Open my heart so that they need not be without succor;
Let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong,
Nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
And use me to bring them to those places.
And so open my eyes and my ears
That I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for thee. Amen.

—Alan Paton


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January 16, 2018

Mk 2: 23-28

One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

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 Sabbath was made for man

Needing to eat is one of the most fundamental aspects of being human. In today’s Gospel we are reminded that Jesus is well aware of this fact of life. It’s beautiful and astounding to think how Jesus made this fact the very center of the Eucharist; tying our need for spiritual nourishment and physical nourishment into one divine sacrament.

St. Ignatius designed the Spiritual Exercises primarily to develop people’s spiritual lives. However, Ignatius had the wisdom to include guidelines with regard to eating. Although the focus is largely on how to avoid excess, it also includes caution against falling into sickness. Spiritual directors of the Exercises usually lead each day’s meeting with questions regarding the retreatants health, diet, and overall physical well-being. To be human is to be part of this world, and it’s incredible to think that, through the incarnation, our God really gets that.

—Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, is a Jesuit Brother of the Midwest Province in First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, during your earthly ministry you ate and drank with friends and strangers alike, nourishing their bodies as you nourished their souls.  Help us to care for the physical needs of our brothers and sisters as we strive to grow closer to you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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January 15, 2018

1 Sm 15: 16-23

Samuel said to Saul: “Stop! Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.” Saul replied, “Speak!” Samuel then said: “Though little in your own esteem, are you not leader of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king of Israel and sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and put the sinful Amalekites under a ban of destruction. Fight against them until you have exterminated them.’ Why then have you disobeyed the LORD? You have pounced on the spoil, thus displeasing the LORD.”

Saul answered Samuel: “I did indeed obey the LORD and fulfill the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought back Agag, and I have destroyed Amalek under the ban. But from the spoil the men took sheep and oxen, the best of what had been banned, to sacrifice to the LORD their God in Gilgal.”

But Samuel said: “Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the LORD? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams. For a sin like divination is rebellion, and presumption is the crime of idolatry. Because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he, too, has rejected you as ruler.”

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.

Obedience to God

In today’s first reading we hear Samuel admonishing Saul, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord?”  Samuel is essentially saying, “Look, God is much more about relationship than about these trivial sacrifices.  You cannot earn God’s love with sacrifices.”  It is not about what we can give to God; rather, it is about how we can be in relationship with God.  That is an important distinction, for it speaks to a different aspect of God.  We love a God who desperately wants to know us and to love us.  What a gift!  Moreover, Samuel indicates that God desires “obedience.”  In the New Testament, Jesus is the manifestation of this reality as we see that obedience to God takes the form of compassion, love, care for the poor, and a willingness to suffer for the greater good.  This is a love that is freely given, without conditions.

—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.Prayer

Prayer

All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example. What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near.

—St. Teresa of Avila


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January 14, 2018

1 Sm 3:3B-10, 19

Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.” Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.” “I did not call you, ” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.” So he went back to sleep. Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am, ” he said. “You called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”

At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.

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.

For the greater glory of God

Eli and John the Baptist were remarkable men. Both had prestigious responsibilities that made them a center of attention. Eli was tasked with tending the Ark of the Covenant, and the only person allowed to enter the Holy of Holies where dwelled the presence of God. John attracted hundreds of followers by proclaiming a message of hope and repentance.

But when the time came, both men had the freedom to step aside in order to let someone else shine. When Eli realized that God was speaking to a young boy in his charge, Eli did not grow jealous and say, “Lord, why Samuel and not me?” And in today’s Gospel (Jn 1:35-42), when John saw Jesus walking by, he said, “here is the Lamb of God,” knowing that his own disciples would leave him to follow Jesus.

True Christian humility means a willingness to step down—or to step up—in response to whatever will serve the greater glory of God.

—Fr. Barton Geger, SJ, is a research scholar at the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies and Assistant Professor of the Practice at the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College.

Prayer

In every good decision, insofar as it depends on us, the eye of our intention ought to be single. I ought to focus only on the purpose for which I am created, to praise God our Lord and to save my soul. Accordingly, anything whatsoever that I decide ought to be chosen as an aid toward that end.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola


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January 13, 2018

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.

What others need

Today’s Gospel is the first of a series of encounters in which the Pharisees question Jesus’s loyalty to the Jewish law.  His call to a tax collector caused quite a stir, but his willingness to dine with tax collectors and sinners, those who were the outcasts in their society, put him at odds with those who insisted on rigid adherence to the law.  Jesus didn’t ignore the law because he didn’t care about it, he simply focused his attention on the person or people in front of him, and offered them what they needed at that time.

Who are the people in our lives who need our companionship rather than our judgement?  How can we consider what they need from us, rather than focusing on what we think they deserve?  Who is Jesus inviting us to gather with around the table?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you ate with tax collectors and sinners, offering your companionship as an entrypoint into a relationship with you.  Help us to be present to those around us who may feel like outcasts, offering them what they need instead of what others may say they deserve.  May we follow your example in all that we do.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 


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January 12, 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.

Reacting like Jesus

Imagine being at a party, looking up, and seeing a man is being lowered through the roof. How would you react?

You could react one of two ways.  First, you could react as the scribes do, by saying: “Is this right?” “Who does this man think he is?” They have a contemptuous response for what they are witnessing.  Or you could react as Jesus did.

Too often I am like the doubting scribes, asking myself: “Is my faith okay?” or “Am I praying the right way?”

And too often I am not like Jesus. Jesus sees (not hears) the man’s faith and immediately reassures him of his forgiveness and grace.

Today I will strive to be more like Jesus.

—Evan Jenkins is an Alum Service Corps mentor and teacher working in the Boys Division of Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado. He is an alumnus of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis.

Prayer

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

—Excerpt from a prayer by Thomas Merton

 


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January 11, 2018

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.

Surrender to Jesus

On Christmas break from college, our family would both enjoy and dread the ‘reuniting.’ Growing up with two parents and six siblings in a small home, we would naturally bump into each other and conflicts would occur. My dad’s solution, to ‘offer it up,’ was not always heeded. Why was it so difficult to ask for or give forgiveness?

Imagine being the leper in today’s Gospel – asking/begging for help and seeing Jesus cure me! With the simple words, ‘if you choose, you can make me clean,’ the leper gave and surrendered himself to Jesus. Jesus’ response of healing and grace freed the leper to devote his life to Jesus.

Can we amend our life and surrender wholly to Jesus?

—Tim Freeman is a Major Gifts Officer at John Carroll University and is on the board of the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

Prayer

Wash Me with Your Precious Blood

See, O merciful God, what return
I, your thankless servant, have made
for the innumerable favors
and the wonderful love you have shown me!
What wrongs I have done, what good left undone!
Wash away, I beg you, these faults and stains
with your precious blood, most kind Redeemer,
and make up for my poverty by applying your merits.
Give me the protection I need to amend my life.
I give and surrender myself wholly to you,
and offer you all I possess,
with the prayer that you bestow your grace on me,
so that I may be able to devote and employ
all the thinking power of my mind
and the strength of my body in your holy service,
who are God blessed for ever and ever.
Amen.

—St. Peter Canisius, SJ, as edited by Michael Harter, SJ, in Hearts on Fire, published by Loyola Press.


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January 10, 2018

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.

Our response to Jesus

Ten days into 2018, I am thinking not about new resolutions, but about how to do better what I am already doing. How can I better follow Jesus? I am struck by the response to Jesus of all who encounter him in today’s Gospel.

Upon seeing Simon’s mother-in-law, the disciples “told him about her at once.” Jesus acts – after their show of trust. He does not heal until he is invited in.

The response of the one who is healed is service: “she began to serve them.”

When the disciples alert Jesus of the town’s needs, His response informs our call: “Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also.” Once we have experienced healing and grown in trust, we cannot keep Jesus to ourselves. We must take not only loved ones to Him in confidence, but all the world.

This year, what or whom can you entrust to Jesus?

—Rachel Forton is the Marketing & Retreat Coordinator for Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.

Prayer

Jesus, I place my life in Your hands.
I give You my mind, my thoughts, my desires;
I give You my heart and all whom I hold dearest;
I give You my actions and the work of my hands today.
Increase my trust and hope in You. Amen.

—Rachel Forton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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January 9, 2018

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.

Have you come to destroy us?

Interestingly, part of me can empathize with the demon in today’s Gospel who asks of Jesus “have you come to destroy us?” There’s a small, fear-based part of me that has felt the same way. When I felt the first tug towards a call to religious life, at least part of my reaction involved this voice of despair. “Why me? Why this now? Do you want to ruin everything I’ve done?”

I’ve come to understand this loud and reactionary voice is always tied to some temporary aspect of my identity to which I am attached; to my false self. Through prayerful discernment I’ve come to realize this voice, though often loudest, is motivated by fear. In a way, the urgency of the voice makes sense. Jesus has come to destroy it and its false authority, as part of my personal growth and liberation.

—Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, is a Jesuit Brother of the Midwest Province in First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord God, help us to listen to the small voice inviting us to grow in our relationship with you.  As we discern the next right step in our lives, quiet the voice of fear that leads us away from you.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 


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Ignatian spirituality reminds us that God pursues us in the routines of our home and work life, and in the hopes and fears of life's challenges. The founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, created the Spiritual Exercises to deepen our relationship with Christ and to move our contemplation into service. May this prayer site anchor your day and strengthen your resolve to remember what truly matters.

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January 18, 2018

Mk 3:7-12

Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him.

Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

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.

Witnessing the Son of Man

The disciples in today’s Gospel were present for some extreme events.  They witness a crowd so large and enthusiastic that Jesus fears being crushed.  They see people being healed of diseases and unclean spirits leaving people.

What were the disciples thinking and feeling today? Awe, excitement, fear? How could this day ‘sink in’ for them to realize that they were witnessing the Son of Man?

What amazing gifts from God do we see today? Perhaps it is the determined Cristo Rey student, the incredible faith of a homeless person, the gift of a family member, or the Spirit of God in me.

—Tim Freeman is a Major Gifts Officer at John Carroll University and is on the board of the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

Prayer

Daily Examen

Thanksgiving:
What am I especially grateful for in the past day?  The gift of another day? The love and support I have received? The courage I have mustered? An event that took place today?

Petition:
I am about to review my day; I ask for the light to know God and to know myself as God sees me.

Review:
Where have I felt true joy today? What has troubled me today? What has challenged me today? Where and when did I pause today? Have I noticed God’s presence in any of this?

Response:
In light of my review, what is my response to the God of my life?

A Look Ahead
As I look ahead, what comes to mind? With what spirit do I want to enter tomorrow?

Center for Mission and Identity, Xavier University


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January 17, 2018

St. Anthony, Abbot

Mk 3:1-6

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.

He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy 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.

Courageous action

Jesus perfectly shows his humanity in today’s Gospel. You may have had a similar experience: someone provokes you and stands ready to call your mistake. Our emotional response to such people may be anger, grief, and frustration at their “hardness of heart.” It feels like there is no appropriate response. But lucky for us, Jesus shows us a response to those feelings.

It can be tempting to correct or condemn the people that frustrate us. But often, our words fall on deaf ears, and we end up fostering our own anger instead of diminishing theirs. Jesus’ response is courageous action that demonstrates his loving stance which serves as an example of the spirit of the law.

There are plenty of ways we too can courageously demonstrate the spirit of the Gospel. Who in your life needs your example of compassion, love, and hope, more than your words?

—Rachel Forton is the Marketing & Retreat Coordinator for Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.

Prayer

O Lord, open my eyes that I may see the needs of others
Open my ears that I may hear their cries;
Open my heart so that they need not be without succor;
Let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong,
Nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich.
Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,
And use me to bring them to those places.
And so open my eyes and my ears
That I may this coming day be able to do some work of peace for thee. Amen.

—Alan Paton


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

January 16, 2018

Mk 2: 23-28

One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

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 Sabbath was made for man

Needing to eat is one of the most fundamental aspects of being human. In today’s Gospel we are reminded that Jesus is well aware of this fact of life. It’s beautiful and astounding to think how Jesus made this fact the very center of the Eucharist; tying our need for spiritual nourishment and physical nourishment into one divine sacrament.

St. Ignatius designed the Spiritual Exercises primarily to develop people’s spiritual lives. However, Ignatius had the wisdom to include guidelines with regard to eating. Although the focus is largely on how to avoid excess, it also includes caution against falling into sickness. Spiritual directors of the Exercises usually lead each day’s meeting with questions regarding the retreatants health, diet, and overall physical well-being. To be human is to be part of this world, and it’s incredible to think that, through the incarnation, our God really gets that.

—Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, is a Jesuit Brother of the Midwest Province in First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, during your earthly ministry you ate and drank with friends and strangers alike, nourishing their bodies as you nourished their souls.  Help us to care for the physical needs of our brothers and sisters as we strive to grow closer to you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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January 15, 2018

1 Sm 15: 16-23

Samuel said to Saul: “Stop! Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.” Saul replied, “Speak!” Samuel then said: “Though little in your own esteem, are you not leader of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king of Israel and sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and put the sinful Amalekites under a ban of destruction. Fight against them until you have exterminated them.’ Why then have you disobeyed the LORD? You have pounced on the spoil, thus displeasing the LORD.”

Saul answered Samuel: “I did indeed obey the LORD and fulfill the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought back Agag, and I have destroyed Amalek under the ban. But from the spoil the men took sheep and oxen, the best of what had been banned, to sacrifice to the LORD their God in Gilgal.”

But Samuel said: “Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the LORD? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams. For a sin like divination is rebellion, and presumption is the crime of idolatry. Because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he, too, has rejected you as ruler.”

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.

Obedience to God

In today’s first reading we hear Samuel admonishing Saul, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord?”  Samuel is essentially saying, “Look, God is much more about relationship than about these trivial sacrifices.  You cannot earn God’s love with sacrifices.”  It is not about what we can give to God; rather, it is about how we can be in relationship with God.  That is an important distinction, for it speaks to a different aspect of God.  We love a God who desperately wants to know us and to love us.  What a gift!  Moreover, Samuel indicates that God desires “obedience.”  In the New Testament, Jesus is the manifestation of this reality as we see that obedience to God takes the form of compassion, love, care for the poor, and a willingness to suffer for the greater good.  This is a love that is freely given, without conditions.

—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.Prayer

Prayer

All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example. What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near.

—St. Teresa of Avila


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January 14, 2018

1 Sm 3:3B-10, 19

Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.” Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.” “I did not call you, ” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.” So he went back to sleep. Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am, ” he said. “You called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”

At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.

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.

For the greater glory of God

Eli and John the Baptist were remarkable men. Both had prestigious responsibilities that made them a center of attention. Eli was tasked with tending the Ark of the Covenant, and the only person allowed to enter the Holy of Holies where dwelled the presence of God. John attracted hundreds of followers by proclaiming a message of hope and repentance.

But when the time came, both men had the freedom to step aside in order to let someone else shine. When Eli realized that God was speaking to a young boy in his charge, Eli did not grow jealous and say, “Lord, why Samuel and not me?” And in today’s Gospel (Jn 1:35-42), when John saw Jesus walking by, he said, “here is the Lamb of God,” knowing that his own disciples would leave him to follow Jesus.

True Christian humility means a willingness to step down—or to step up—in response to whatever will serve the greater glory of God.

—Fr. Barton Geger, SJ, is a research scholar at the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies and Assistant Professor of the Practice at the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College.

Prayer

In every good decision, insofar as it depends on us, the eye of our intention ought to be single. I ought to focus only on the purpose for which I am created, to praise God our Lord and to save my soul. Accordingly, anything whatsoever that I decide ought to be chosen as an aid toward that end.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola


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January 13, 2018

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.

What others need

Today’s Gospel is the first of a series of encounters in which the Pharisees question Jesus’s loyalty to the Jewish law.  His call to a tax collector caused quite a stir, but his willingness to dine with tax collectors and sinners, those who were the outcasts in their society, put him at odds with those who insisted on rigid adherence to the law.  Jesus didn’t ignore the law because he didn’t care about it, he simply focused his attention on the person or people in front of him, and offered them what they needed at that time.

Who are the people in our lives who need our companionship rather than our judgement?  How can we consider what they need from us, rather than focusing on what we think they deserve?  Who is Jesus inviting us to gather with around the table?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you ate with tax collectors and sinners, offering your companionship as an entrypoint into a relationship with you.  Help us to be present to those around us who may feel like outcasts, offering them what they need instead of what others may say they deserve.  May we follow your example in all that we do.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 


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January 12, 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.

Reacting like Jesus

Imagine being at a party, looking up, and seeing a man is being lowered through the roof. How would you react?

You could react one of two ways.  First, you could react as the scribes do, by saying: “Is this right?” “Who does this man think he is?” They have a contemptuous response for what they are witnessing.  Or you could react as Jesus did.

Too often I am like the doubting scribes, asking myself: “Is my faith okay?” or “Am I praying the right way?”

And too often I am not like Jesus. Jesus sees (not hears) the man’s faith and immediately reassures him of his forgiveness and grace.

Today I will strive to be more like Jesus.

—Evan Jenkins is an Alum Service Corps mentor and teacher working in the Boys Division of Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado. He is an alumnus of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis.

Prayer

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

—Excerpt from a prayer by Thomas Merton

 


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January 11, 2018

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.

Surrender to Jesus

On Christmas break from college, our family would both enjoy and dread the ‘reuniting.’ Growing up with two parents and six siblings in a small home, we would naturally bump into each other and conflicts would occur. My dad’s solution, to ‘offer it up,’ was not always heeded. Why was it so difficult to ask for or give forgiveness?

Imagine being the leper in today’s Gospel – asking/begging for help and seeing Jesus cure me! With the simple words, ‘if you choose, you can make me clean,’ the leper gave and surrendered himself to Jesus. Jesus’ response of healing and grace freed the leper to devote his life to Jesus.

Can we amend our life and surrender wholly to Jesus?

—Tim Freeman is a Major Gifts Officer at John Carroll University and is on the board of the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

Prayer

Wash Me with Your Precious Blood

See, O merciful God, what return
I, your thankless servant, have made
for the innumerable favors
and the wonderful love you have shown me!
What wrongs I have done, what good left undone!
Wash away, I beg you, these faults and stains
with your precious blood, most kind Redeemer,
and make up for my poverty by applying your merits.
Give me the protection I need to amend my life.
I give and surrender myself wholly to you,
and offer you all I possess,
with the prayer that you bestow your grace on me,
so that I may be able to devote and employ
all the thinking power of my mind
and the strength of my body in your holy service,
who are God blessed for ever and ever.
Amen.

—St. Peter Canisius, SJ, as edited by Michael Harter, SJ, in Hearts on Fire, published by Loyola Press.


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January 10, 2018

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.

Our response to Jesus

Ten days into 2018, I am thinking not about new resolutions, but about how to do better what I am already doing. How can I better follow Jesus? I am struck by the response to Jesus of all who encounter him in today’s Gospel.

Upon seeing Simon’s mother-in-law, the disciples “told him about her at once.” Jesus acts – after their show of trust. He does not heal until he is invited in.

The response of the one who is healed is service: “she began to serve them.”

When the disciples alert Jesus of the town’s needs, His response informs our call: “Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also.” Once we have experienced healing and grown in trust, we cannot keep Jesus to ourselves. We must take not only loved ones to Him in confidence, but all the world.

This year, what or whom can you entrust to Jesus?

—Rachel Forton is the Marketing & Retreat Coordinator for Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.

Prayer

Jesus, I place my life in Your hands.
I give You my mind, my thoughts, my desires;
I give You my heart and all whom I hold dearest;
I give You my actions and the work of my hands today.
Increase my trust and hope in You. Amen.

—Rachel Forton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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January 9, 2018

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.

Have you come to destroy us?

Interestingly, part of me can empathize with the demon in today’s Gospel who asks of Jesus “have you come to destroy us?” There’s a small, fear-based part of me that has felt the same way. When I felt the first tug towards a call to religious life, at least part of my reaction involved this voice of despair. “Why me? Why this now? Do you want to ruin everything I’ve done?”

I’ve come to understand this loud and reactionary voice is always tied to some temporary aspect of my identity to which I am attached; to my false self. Through prayerful discernment I’ve come to realize this voice, though often loudest, is motivated by fear. In a way, the urgency of the voice makes sense. Jesus has come to destroy it and its false authority, as part of my personal growth and liberation.

—Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, is a Jesuit Brother of the Midwest Province in First Studies at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord God, help us to listen to the small voice inviting us to grow in our relationship with you.  As we discern the next right step in our lives, quiet the voice of fear that leads us away from you.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 


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