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January 31, 2019

St. John Bosco

Heb 10:19-25

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

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.

Provoke one another to the good

Watching two of my nephews play at a playground – the 8-year-old ran up a warped wall and tried to get over the top. Suddenly his 4-year-old brother began to yell, “Go K, you can do it, c’mon!!” He was the only person yelling encouragement – the rest of the kids ran up the wall and made their attempt to scramble over without anyone else seeming to notice. But my younger nephew assumed this was a team sport – he saw his older brother struggling, and did everything he could to cheer him on.

I thought of this when I read the last few lines of today’s scripture exhorting the faithful to “provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together… encouraging one another.” There are so many ways that siblings, like all of us, provoke each other in negative ways. Today, who can I encourage to greater faith, hope, and love?

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

Prayer

With great devotion
and new depth of feeling,
I hope and beg, O God,
that it finally be given to me to be the servant
and minister of Christ the consoler,
the minister of Christ the redeemer,
the minister of Christ the healer,
the liberator,
the enricher,
the strengthener.
To be able, through you, to help many;
to console, liberate and give them courage;
to bring them light not only for their spirit
but also for their bodies;
and bring, as well, other helps to the soul and body
of each and every one of my neighbors.
I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—St. Peter Faber, SJ

 

 

 

 


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January 30, 2019

Mk 4:1-20

Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.

Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that

‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,

and may indeed listen, but not understand;

so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”

And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

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.

‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’

Growing up, when I heard this passage, I was always so concerned with what sort of “ground” I was, thinking I must be only one of the four. The path? Rocky ground? Ground with thorns? Rich soil? Now I believe I move between the four types on a regular basis. Why is this? Why is it that at times I can listen to God’s word, truly hear what God is inviting me to, and respond accordingly? Why is it that at times God’s word seems so distant, seemingly snatched up by the birds of sky?

In the First Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises, we pray for the strength to let go of “inordinate attachments,” anything that might keep me from being my best self and fully responding to God. For me that means letting go of fear, shame, and the need to control, or as Jesus says in today’s parable, the path, the rocky ground or the ground with thorns.

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

Prayer

God help me to let go of the desire to be rich soil, allowing your word to take root.

—Tom Drexler

 

 

 


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January 29, 2019

Mk 3: 31-35

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

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.

Widening our understanding of family

Last week I was stopped in the halls of the primary school where I work by a particularly inquisitive student. “Hermano! I got a question…“ I smiled at him waiting, I could tell by the twisted look on his face he had been thinking through the details of this intellectual wrestling match.

“If God is everyone’s Father, then…that means Jesus is our Brother….and so… uhh… are we all siblings?”

I smiled, “In a word, Miguel, yes. To God we are.” I was left astonished at his insightfulness and the fact that he had clearly been mulling this over for a few days.

“So that makes you my bro… who is a BRO!” he laughed and ran back to class.

Miguel understands today’s scripture better than most. Certainly better than I do. Let’s take Jesus’ words seriously and widen our circle of who is our family.

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

Prayer

Holy Spirit, widen the circle of my heart,
To practice radical hospitality to those who aren’t like me.

Holy Spirit, flood me with your passion,
To wash away my bias, fear and hatred.

Holy Spirit, plant in me the seeds of creative newness
To grow the beloved community in the here and now.

—Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

 


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January 28, 2019

St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Heb 9:15, 24-28

For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.

And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for 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.

Eagerly waiting

I spend all of Advent preparing for the Christmas arrival of the baby Jesus. It’s a season of waiting and anticipating this wonderful thing that is to come.  Today, weeks after Advent and Christmas have finished, the words at the end of this reading.. “eagerly waiting” … strike a chord. Aren’t I already done waiting for this year?  Christmas has already come!

Christmas comes and goes too quickly.  Preparations lead to busyness and then too quickly back to normal life.  What I hear in today’s reading is that the feeling of waiting…of knowing that something amazing is still to come… is not just a feeling to be coveted in Advent, but rather should be our daily disposition throughout the year.  This disposition calls me to work each day to prepare my heart and my life for the promise of Jesus’ return. How can you prepare your heart today for Jesus?

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

Prayer

Jesus,

My days fly by too quickly.
I don’t always make time for you.  
Help me to remember
that every day
is a day of anticipation
for your return and my salvation.

Amen.

—Kay Gregg

 


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January 27, 2019

Lk 1:1-4, 4:14-21

Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom.

He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

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.

Asking for a Grace

St. Ignatius encouraged those seeking to advance in prayer to ask a grace from God. Often I resist this sage wisdom for fear of appearing foolish. And yet, to ask in trust would offer God the chance to surprise me with a loving response.

When I visit home, my youngest nephew presumes that I will hug him and listen to his latest news. Cannot the Trinity be just as eager to respond to my trust?

In Luke’s passage today, Jesus has returned home to Nazareth and all are eager to hear his words. As the reading ends, the audience is poised as Jesus sits down to teach. In your mind’s eye, you can be there too. What question do you have for him?

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

Prayer

Behold God beholding you … and smiling.

—Anthony de Mello, SJ

 


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January 26, 2019

Sts. Timothy and Titus, Bishops

2 Tim 1: 1-8

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.

For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,

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

Rekindling the gifts of God

Both Timothy and Titus, whose feasts we celebrate today, were friends and companions of St. Paul who helped spread the Gospel to new areas.  They came from different backgrounds. Timothy was the son of a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father who followed his mother and grandmother in becoming Christian, and Titus was a Gentile who, tradition says, was baptized by Paul after his own conversion.  But both men became bishops in the early Church, and evangelized and ministered in new Christian communities. They responded to God’s invitation, through Paul, to share their gifts to help build the kingdom.

In today’s reading, Paul reminds Timothy to “rekindle the gift of God that is within you,” or “stir into flame the gift of God that you have” in other translations. We may not receive a personal letter from St. Paul in the mail, but each of us can be reminded of the gifts that we have been given by God, and our responsibility to take and use those gifts for the good of others.  What is something that needs to be rekindled in your life?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Loving God, you invited Timothy and Titus to use the gifts you had given them in service of new Christian communities.  Help me to recognize the gifts you have given me and give me the courage to stir them into flame to be used for your greater glory.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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January 25, 2019

Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

Acts 22: 3-16

”I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I went there in order to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment. “

While I was on my way and approaching Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Then he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.

I asked, ‘What am I to do, Lord?’ The Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.’ Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus. “A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there, came to me; and standing beside me, he said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight!’

In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice; for you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.’

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.

Paying attention to God

There have been many times in my life when I have wished that God would direct me as clearly as he did St. Paul in this Gospel reading. Don’t we all sometimes wish that God would just tell us what to do next? On the other hand, there have also been times when I have felt as if I have indeed been hit over the head with an insight or some direction that seems to have come from God. I think the difference between the two situations tends to revolve around how closely I am paying attention to God’s work in my life. And that has to do with how much time I’m spending in prayer on a regular basis.

When have you seen God at work in your own life? Have there been times when it has been obvious? Or do you need to spend a little time becoming better attuned to the direction God wants to give you?

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

Prayer

Lord God, open my heart to be attentive to your movements in my life.  Help me to recognize your invitation so that I can respond out of love for you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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January 24, 2019

St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

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.

Jesus understands our chaos

This Scripture paints a chaotic scene. Jesus, having just been angered by the Pharisees who disapproved of his healing on the sabbath, leaves the synagogue. I can imagine he needs a break – he heads for the lake, perhaps to enjoy the breeze off the water. But the crowds follow him, there are people coming from everywhere, and everyone wants something from him. Even the unclean spirits are shouting at him.

Praying with this passage, the tumult of this scene reminds me of the multiple demands I face in my own life. When I have several different colleagues/deadlines/family members needing things all at the same time, Jesus knows what that feels like. When I just want to get away from it all, he’s been there too.

After reflecting on this, I take a moment to talk about it with Jesus. What else about my life do I hope he understands?

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

Prayer

Lord, you understand the chaotic parts of my life as well as the peaceful parts. Help me to remember to share these moments with you. Amen.

—Catherine Heinhold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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January 23, 2018

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.

What does it mean to do good?

Today’s Gospel challenges me. I am invited to do good and to save life, and to do this even when it goes against the authorities – whoever or whatever that might be.

What does it mean to do good to someone who is experiencing homelessness when society, the authority, labels that person lazy, undeserving of a hand up? What does it mean to save the life of the immigrant when our government wants a wall to keep that immigrant out? How do I do good in the face of gender inequality in our society and in our Church? In these and other similar situations, do I speak out or remain passive, hoping things will resolve themselves? Or worse, do I look the other way, hoping that they might just go away?

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

Prayer

As you restored the man’s withered hand, help me, Lord, to restore all that I encounter to be breach barriers in my daily life and the world in which I live.

—Tom Drexler

 

 

 

 


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January 22, 2019

Heb 6:10-20

For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

When God made a promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute. In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us.

We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

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.

Called out of complacency

I work in a primary school and hands down the most dreaded time of year by faculty, staff and students alike is the end of January and beginning of February. It is cold, dark, seemingly endless, far from Christmas break, and even farther from Spring Break. Liturgically speaking, February is the humdrum Ordinary Time of the school year. As we round the second half of January and brace ourselves for February today’s readings remind us that we are called to patience and fidelity in our unglamorous day-to-day work as Christians. We are called out of our “sluggishness” and complacency.

We, like those who originally received this letter, are reminded to stay faithful to the holy ordinary of our daily lives. St. Paul reminds his audience to remember the ways God has been faithful over the years. So too with us. As we pray today we might ask: How, specifically, has God been good to me today? This week? This month? This year?

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

Prayer

Help me.
Help me be a fire today.
Help me light the ways for others who feel overwhelmed by the dark.
Help me celebrate the holy ordinary.
Help me notice You.
Help me.

—Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

 


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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 31, 2019

St. John Bosco

Heb 10:19-25

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

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.

Provoke one another to the good

Watching two of my nephews play at a playground – the 8-year-old ran up a warped wall and tried to get over the top. Suddenly his 4-year-old brother began to yell, “Go K, you can do it, c’mon!!” He was the only person yelling encouragement – the rest of the kids ran up the wall and made their attempt to scramble over without anyone else seeming to notice. But my younger nephew assumed this was a team sport – he saw his older brother struggling, and did everything he could to cheer him on.

I thought of this when I read the last few lines of today’s scripture exhorting the faithful to “provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together… encouraging one another.” There are so many ways that siblings, like all of us, provoke each other in negative ways. Today, who can I encourage to greater faith, hope, and love?

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

Prayer

With great devotion
and new depth of feeling,
I hope and beg, O God,
that it finally be given to me to be the servant
and minister of Christ the consoler,
the minister of Christ the redeemer,
the minister of Christ the healer,
the liberator,
the enricher,
the strengthener.
To be able, through you, to help many;
to console, liberate and give them courage;
to bring them light not only for their spirit
but also for their bodies;
and bring, as well, other helps to the soul and body
of each and every one of my neighbors.
I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—St. Peter Faber, SJ

 

 

 

 


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January 30, 2019

Mk 4:1-20

Again he began to teach beside the sea. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the sea and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain.

Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” And he said, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that

‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,

and may indeed listen, but not understand;

so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”

And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.

And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

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.

‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’

Growing up, when I heard this passage, I was always so concerned with what sort of “ground” I was, thinking I must be only one of the four. The path? Rocky ground? Ground with thorns? Rich soil? Now I believe I move between the four types on a regular basis. Why is this? Why is it that at times I can listen to God’s word, truly hear what God is inviting me to, and respond accordingly? Why is it that at times God’s word seems so distant, seemingly snatched up by the birds of sky?

In the First Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises, we pray for the strength to let go of “inordinate attachments,” anything that might keep me from being my best self and fully responding to God. For me that means letting go of fear, shame, and the need to control, or as Jesus says in today’s parable, the path, the rocky ground or the ground with thorns.

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

Prayer

God help me to let go of the desire to be rich soil, allowing your word to take root.

—Tom Drexler

 

 

 


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January 29, 2019

Mk 3: 31-35

Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

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.

Widening our understanding of family

Last week I was stopped in the halls of the primary school where I work by a particularly inquisitive student. “Hermano! I got a question…“ I smiled at him waiting, I could tell by the twisted look on his face he had been thinking through the details of this intellectual wrestling match.

“If God is everyone’s Father, then…that means Jesus is our Brother….and so… uhh… are we all siblings?”

I smiled, “In a word, Miguel, yes. To God we are.” I was left astonished at his insightfulness and the fact that he had clearly been mulling this over for a few days.

“So that makes you my bro… who is a BRO!” he laughed and ran back to class.

Miguel understands today’s scripture better than most. Certainly better than I do. Let’s take Jesus’ words seriously and widen our circle of who is our family.

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

Prayer

Holy Spirit, widen the circle of my heart,
To practice radical hospitality to those who aren’t like me.

Holy Spirit, flood me with your passion,
To wash away my bias, fear and hatred.

Holy Spirit, plant in me the seeds of creative newness
To grow the beloved community in the here and now.

—Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

 


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January 28, 2019

St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Heb 9:15, 24-28

For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.

And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for 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.

Eagerly waiting

I spend all of Advent preparing for the Christmas arrival of the baby Jesus. It’s a season of waiting and anticipating this wonderful thing that is to come.  Today, weeks after Advent and Christmas have finished, the words at the end of this reading.. “eagerly waiting” … strike a chord. Aren’t I already done waiting for this year?  Christmas has already come!

Christmas comes and goes too quickly.  Preparations lead to busyness and then too quickly back to normal life.  What I hear in today’s reading is that the feeling of waiting…of knowing that something amazing is still to come… is not just a feeling to be coveted in Advent, but rather should be our daily disposition throughout the year.  This disposition calls me to work each day to prepare my heart and my life for the promise of Jesus’ return. How can you prepare your heart today for Jesus?

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

Prayer

Jesus,

My days fly by too quickly.
I don’t always make time for you.  
Help me to remember
that every day
is a day of anticipation
for your return and my salvation.

Amen.

—Kay Gregg

 


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January 27, 2019

Lk 1:1-4, 4:14-21

Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom.

He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

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.

Asking for a Grace

St. Ignatius encouraged those seeking to advance in prayer to ask a grace from God. Often I resist this sage wisdom for fear of appearing foolish. And yet, to ask in trust would offer God the chance to surprise me with a loving response.

When I visit home, my youngest nephew presumes that I will hug him and listen to his latest news. Cannot the Trinity be just as eager to respond to my trust?

In Luke’s passage today, Jesus has returned home to Nazareth and all are eager to hear his words. As the reading ends, the audience is poised as Jesus sits down to teach. In your mind’s eye, you can be there too. What question do you have for him?

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

Prayer

Behold God beholding you … and smiling.

—Anthony de Mello, SJ

 


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January 26, 2019

Sts. Timothy and Titus, Bishops

2 Tim 1: 1-8

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.

For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,

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

Rekindling the gifts of God

Both Timothy and Titus, whose feasts we celebrate today, were friends and companions of St. Paul who helped spread the Gospel to new areas.  They came from different backgrounds. Timothy was the son of a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father who followed his mother and grandmother in becoming Christian, and Titus was a Gentile who, tradition says, was baptized by Paul after his own conversion.  But both men became bishops in the early Church, and evangelized and ministered in new Christian communities. They responded to God’s invitation, through Paul, to share their gifts to help build the kingdom.

In today’s reading, Paul reminds Timothy to “rekindle the gift of God that is within you,” or “stir into flame the gift of God that you have” in other translations. We may not receive a personal letter from St. Paul in the mail, but each of us can be reminded of the gifts that we have been given by God, and our responsibility to take and use those gifts for the good of others.  What is something that needs to be rekindled in your life?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Loving God, you invited Timothy and Titus to use the gifts you had given them in service of new Christian communities.  Help me to recognize the gifts you have given me and give me the courage to stir them into flame to be used for your greater glory.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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January 25, 2019

Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

Acts 22: 3-16

”I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I went there in order to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment. “

While I was on my way and approaching Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Then he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.

I asked, ‘What am I to do, Lord?’ The Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.’ Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus. “A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there, came to me; and standing beside me, he said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight!’

In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice; for you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.’

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.

Paying attention to God

There have been many times in my life when I have wished that God would direct me as clearly as he did St. Paul in this Gospel reading. Don’t we all sometimes wish that God would just tell us what to do next? On the other hand, there have also been times when I have felt as if I have indeed been hit over the head with an insight or some direction that seems to have come from God. I think the difference between the two situations tends to revolve around how closely I am paying attention to God’s work in my life. And that has to do with how much time I’m spending in prayer on a regular basis.

When have you seen God at work in your own life? Have there been times when it has been obvious? Or do you need to spend a little time becoming better attuned to the direction God wants to give you?

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

Prayer

Lord God, open my heart to be attentive to your movements in my life.  Help me to recognize your invitation so that I can respond out of love for you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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January 24, 2019

St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

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.

Jesus understands our chaos

This Scripture paints a chaotic scene. Jesus, having just been angered by the Pharisees who disapproved of his healing on the sabbath, leaves the synagogue. I can imagine he needs a break – he heads for the lake, perhaps to enjoy the breeze off the water. But the crowds follow him, there are people coming from everywhere, and everyone wants something from him. Even the unclean spirits are shouting at him.

Praying with this passage, the tumult of this scene reminds me of the multiple demands I face in my own life. When I have several different colleagues/deadlines/family members needing things all at the same time, Jesus knows what that feels like. When I just want to get away from it all, he’s been there too.

After reflecting on this, I take a moment to talk about it with Jesus. What else about my life do I hope he understands?

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

Prayer

Lord, you understand the chaotic parts of my life as well as the peaceful parts. Help me to remember to share these moments with you. Amen.

—Catherine Heinhold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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January 23, 2018

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.

What does it mean to do good?

Today’s Gospel challenges me. I am invited to do good and to save life, and to do this even when it goes against the authorities – whoever or whatever that might be.

What does it mean to do good to someone who is experiencing homelessness when society, the authority, labels that person lazy, undeserving of a hand up? What does it mean to save the life of the immigrant when our government wants a wall to keep that immigrant out? How do I do good in the face of gender inequality in our society and in our Church? In these and other similar situations, do I speak out or remain passive, hoping things will resolve themselves? Or worse, do I look the other way, hoping that they might just go away?

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

Prayer

As you restored the man’s withered hand, help me, Lord, to restore all that I encounter to be breach barriers in my daily life and the world in which I live.

—Tom Drexler

 

 

 

 


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January 22, 2019

Heb 6:10-20

For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

When God made a promise to Abraham, because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute. In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us.

We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

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.

Called out of complacency

I work in a primary school and hands down the most dreaded time of year by faculty, staff and students alike is the end of January and beginning of February. It is cold, dark, seemingly endless, far from Christmas break, and even farther from Spring Break. Liturgically speaking, February is the humdrum Ordinary Time of the school year. As we round the second half of January and brace ourselves for February today’s readings remind us that we are called to patience and fidelity in our unglamorous day-to-day work as Christians. We are called out of our “sluggishness” and complacency.

We, like those who originally received this letter, are reminded to stay faithful to the holy ordinary of our daily lives. St. Paul reminds his audience to remember the ways God has been faithful over the years. So too with us. As we pray today we might ask: How, specifically, has God been good to me today? This week? This month? This year?

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

Prayer

Help me.
Help me be a fire today.
Help me light the ways for others who feel overwhelmed by the dark.
Help me celebrate the holy ordinary.
Help me notice You.
Help me.

—Br. Matt Wooters, SJ

 


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