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March 31, 2019

Lk 15: 1-3, 11-32

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable:

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.

When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.

But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him.

But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’

Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

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.

Welcome and Mercy

Sometimes, I believe that we have heard the Parable of the Prodigal Son so often, that we don’t or can’t hear it “anew” when it is used as the Gospel reading in today’s liturgy. What might be new about the parable or to the insights we might glean from it this time around? First, perhaps, is that the Father “divided his property between them.”  What that tells me is that the Father, so respected in a Jewish household, seems to have kept nothing for himself, and now must depend on the brother who remains at home for everything. And, while we are told that the younger son does indeed spend all of his share of the money on “dissolute living.” Then the father is put into the difficult position of defending his younger son–for whose return he had obviously been waiting–to his younger son.

When we have sinned, do we truly believe (as the parable leads us to believe) that God is actually awaiting our return?  Do we believe that God will be as generous, as merciful, and as forgiving as the father in the parable?

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

Prayer

Holy Jesus, you spoke peace to our sinful world and gave us the gift of reconciliation. Help me follow the example Jesus gave. May my attitudes and actions this week turn hatred to love, conflict to peace, and death to eternal life. Amen.

—The Jesuit prayer team

 


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March 30, 2019

Lk 18: 9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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.

Humbling ourselves before God

When contemplating a Scripture passage, St. Ignatius invites us to place ourselves in the role of one of the figures in the story.  As I pray with this passage, I find myself alternately drawn to seeing myself as the Pharisee and seeing myself as the tax collector.  It can be easy to look at the attitudes and behaviors of these too men as binary; one is either humble and repentant or proud and boastful.  But in reality I know that I fall in between these, and sometimes swing from one to the other.

There are areas about my life about which I can be honest and have great humility–my lack of athletic prowess, for example.  But there are other areas where I have blinders on, and the notion of being successful, or having achieved what I have through my hard work and dedication, can stand in the way of my relationship with God.  All that I have is gift, and my prayer ought to recognize this.

What are blind spots you have in humbling yourself before God?  What are the things we need to let go of in order to grow closer to our Lord?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Let me have too deep a sense of humor ever to be proud.
Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly.
Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human,
most truthful,
and most worthy of your serious consideration.

—Prayer for Humility by Daniel A. Lord, SJ

 


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March 29, 2019

Mk 12:28-34

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

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 light of God reflected in each of us

Why are love of God and love of neighbor the two greatest commandments? Morality only makes sense when we are talking about conscious, morally-free beings. Rocks, trees and squirrels cannot act “morally.” Each human person is a tiny reflection of the infinite, incomprehensible love that is God. If I could truly see you for what you are, I would, as C. S. Lewis somewhere observed, be tempted to fall down and worship before you. If I hate you, I have not even begun to see the God that made and sustains you. Since God “hides” behind his creation, if I reject the light of God reflected in you, I live in the darkness of hate. In that darkness, I have not even begun to understand what the commandments are all about.

—Mark McNeil is the assistant principal for formation at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, Texas.

Prayer

Infinite Love, help me to see you in my neighbor. Help me to see beyond those things that distract me from your light that continuously shines through the people around me every day. I make this prayer through Christ Jesus, who is your invisible love made visible. Amen.

—Mark McNeil

 


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March 28, 2019

Lk 11: 14-23

Now he was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven.

But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? —for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out?

Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

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

How do I respond to evil?

In today’s Gospel we see Jesus confront evil and it causes great controversy. How often we see something similar play out in our own life: the temptation to avoid rocking the boat or ruffling feathers, even if it means enduring something that is wrong or unjust. “I do me, you do you” or “live and let live,” we might think. But “live and let live” just as easily becomes “live and let suffer” or even “live and let die.” Only 3 in 5 Americans believe the devil is real. Does that make it easier for us to turn away from forces of evil and causes of suffering?

Elie Wiesel, author and Holocaust survivor, insisted: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Jesus could have avoided words and actions that would lead to discord, but he refused to turn a blind eye to the work of the devil, knowing that it produces shame and stigma, conflict and division. The devil works through power that separates and subjugates, whereas God’s power is to reconcile and build up mutuality, equality, and love.

Put everything into the light, St. Ignatius advises. Otherwise deception and darkness will prevail. How can I use my voice and my actions to shine a light where there is darkness or mend what is broken in and around me?

—Dr. Marcus Mescher is Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at Xavier University in Cincinnati, and is a graduate of Marquette University High School, Marquette University, and Boston College.  

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.
Amen.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

 


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March 27, 2019

Mt 5: 17-19

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

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.

Built on the foundations of our faith

Life is good when Jesus is around, but today we hear of God’s relationship with humanity before the incarnation.

One of the mysteries of our faith is the anticipation of Jesus, namely who He is and how He came to be human. From God’s relationship with Abraham through the ages, Jesus’ arrival has been foretold. In the same Scripture, we are also given instructions for how to prepare ourselves: namely, the commandments.

Jesus says, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” He reaffirms the validity of God’s involvement in human history. Jesus does not wipe away all the time before him; he builds upon the foundations of our faith.

This Lent, as we reflect on the laws of our faith and practice discipline, we should also take solace in knowing that God has been with us through all of scripture. God works through generations of the faithful to help us meet our goal – arrival in the Kingdom of heaven.

—Alan Ratermann is an English teacher and Director of Ignatian Service Programs at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri.

Prayer

Grant me faith, O Lord, to trust that you are with me, as you have been from the beginning. Let me work not for rewards of this world, but for the eternal joy of your kingdom.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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March 26, 2019

Mt 18: 21-35

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.“ For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.

When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’

Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.

Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

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.

Forgiveness is a choice to love

Christ tells us to forgive everyone, but sometimes that does not seem so easy. Forgiving a debt is one thing, but what about those who really hurt us? Perhaps the difficulty springs from confusion as to what forgiveness really is.

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, which is probably impossible anyway. It also does not mean that we ignore our anger and hurt. Doing so is just not healthy.

Forgiveness is a choice: the simple choice to love rather than to harm the person in return. By choosing love over vengeance, we free ourselves from remaining beholden to our pain. We free others to experience a love that leads to gratitude and reconciliation, and we free everyone to be united with Christ’s own loving heart.

Forgiveness does not mean pretending nothing happened or acting like there are no consequences. It just means choosing love. This Lent, let us choose love. For we have received the same love and merciful forgiveness from our God.

To whom in our lives can we give the gift of our forgiveness? Where are we in need of forgiveness: from others, from ourselves, from God?

—Stephen Kramer, SJ, is a Jesuit deacon of the Central and Southern Province currently finishing his Master’s degree in Theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.  He will be ordained to the priesthood in June.

Prayer

Our Lord Jesus Christ,
whose Most Sacred Heart flows with infinite mercy,
teach us to pray for those who persecute us,
to bless those who curse us,
and to forgive all who trespass against us.

Aware that we are granted mercy
in the same measure by which we show mercy,
strengthen us always to choose love
and to unite ourselves unceasingly
to your Most Sacred Heart.

Amen.

—Stephen Kramer, SJ

 


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March 25, 2019

Feast of the Annunciation

Lk 1: 26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

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 wonder of Jesus’ life

To have the story of the Annunciation as our Gospel during Lent is a stark reminder of Jesus’ humanity and the effect his Passion must have had on his loved ones. Mary and Joseph raised Jesus and walked with him throughout his life. They were his parents – they fed him, educated him, protected him. From the moment Mary heard about her son, she expressed her desire to follow God’s will for what would become their life together.

Reflecting on this story during this liturgical season allows me to consider the mystery of the Holy Family. I think in particular of the pain Mary must have felt over the loss of her son. How could she not remember the awe she felt when hearing the angel’s message as she approached the cross? May we recall the wonder and awe of life, even in the midst of the darkest suffering.

—Sara Spittler is the First Years Chaplain and a Religious Studies teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.

Prayer

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his humble servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed,
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear Him
in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

—Magnificat prayer

 


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March 24, 2019

Lk 13:1-9

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

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

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

The Final Harvest

What makes the college admissions bribery scandal that has commanded recent headlines so compelling? Of course, there’s that all-too human part of us that wants to shake our heads: “I may be bad, but I’m not that bad.” We don’t lie boldly to college officials. We can’t imagine changing test scores. We would never bribe a decision maker! At the same time, our Christian faith reminds us to find a mirror anytime the head shaking starts. Jesus is clear in today’s Gospel: Some may not be innocent, but they are no more guilty than others.

We are all loved sinners asked to tend to our own private gardens. And Jesus gives us a difficult challenge as he looks ahead to our final harvest. What fruit will we have to offer up to the Lord when our time in this world is over? Here’s a self-test: search your life for the fruits of the Spirit that St. Paul reminds us of in Galatians (5:22-23): “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Is the soil of my experiences rich in these gifts so good crops can grow? What can I do for someone today that might help to sow greater faith and love in the garden of my life?

——Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Jesuits West Province currently finishing his second year of Regency in the Advancement Office in Los Gatos, California.

Prayer

Dear God, make me more charitable!

“The school of Christ is the school of charity.

On the last day,
when the general examination takes place,
there will be no question at all
on the text of Aristotle,
the aphorisms of Hippocrates,
or the paragraphs of Justinian.

Charity will be the whole syllabus.”

—St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ

 

 

  


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March 23, 2019

Lk 15: 1-3, 11-32

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable:

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.

But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him.

But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’

Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

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.

Digging Deep

One of the prayer tool that St. Ignatius frequently used was praying with his imagination.  In this method, we are invited to place ourselves within the situation and frame of mind of one of the figures in a Scripture passage. Today’s story is very familiar, but how does it change for you if you place yourself in the role of the parent, or the prodigal child, or the faithful child back home? How do things look like through the eyes of the parent, or in the heart of the prodigal? What do the servants experience? What takes place during the feast at which the fatted calf is served? And what is going on behind the scenes? What is the back talk?

As you spend time with the Scripture, consider what jumps out in your own heart as you reflect on this story? How are you drawn to Jesus this weekend?  How might you act differently today based on these reflections?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Loving God, you open your arms to us whenever we turn back to you.  Give us the heart of humility and repentance of the younger son so that we may know what it is to be welcomed back into your loving embrace. We pray this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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March 22, 2019

Gn 37: 3-4, 12-13A, 17B-28A

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem.And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” He answered, “Here I am.”The man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ “ So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him.

They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.”Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him” —that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father.

So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.

Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

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.

Never doubt that God intends our good

The story of Joseph is a delightful depiction of some moments of our religious journey. Joseph was inspired by dreams of greatness, only to find that life over and again seemed to support the conclusion that he was deluded and misguided. False accusations, time in jail, facing execution, forgotten by his friends, betrayed by his brothers, and separated from his loved ones, Joseph had every reason to doubt and wallow in self-pity. Instead, he continued to use his gift of interpreting dreams and rose to great heights. His ability to see God at work in his life, even in the midst of his trials, gave him a perspective that led to great compassion and understanding, even towards those who wanted to destroy his life. Others may intend evil, but God intends our good.

—Mark McNeil is the assistant principal for formation at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, Texas.

Prayer

God of all time and places, grant me the wisdom and perspective of Joseph. Help me see beyond life’s misfortunates and find peace and rest in your good will. Amen.

—Mark McNeil

 

 


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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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March 31, 2019

Lk 15: 1-3, 11-32

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable:

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.

When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.

But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him.

But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’

Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

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.

Welcome and Mercy

Sometimes, I believe that we have heard the Parable of the Prodigal Son so often, that we don’t or can’t hear it “anew” when it is used as the Gospel reading in today’s liturgy. What might be new about the parable or to the insights we might glean from it this time around? First, perhaps, is that the Father “divided his property between them.”  What that tells me is that the Father, so respected in a Jewish household, seems to have kept nothing for himself, and now must depend on the brother who remains at home for everything. And, while we are told that the younger son does indeed spend all of his share of the money on “dissolute living.” Then the father is put into the difficult position of defending his younger son–for whose return he had obviously been waiting–to his younger son.

When we have sinned, do we truly believe (as the parable leads us to believe) that God is actually awaiting our return?  Do we believe that God will be as generous, as merciful, and as forgiving as the father in the parable?

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

Prayer

Holy Jesus, you spoke peace to our sinful world and gave us the gift of reconciliation. Help me follow the example Jesus gave. May my attitudes and actions this week turn hatred to love, conflict to peace, and death to eternal life. Amen.

—The Jesuit prayer team

 


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March 30, 2019

Lk 18: 9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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.

Humbling ourselves before God

When contemplating a Scripture passage, St. Ignatius invites us to place ourselves in the role of one of the figures in the story.  As I pray with this passage, I find myself alternately drawn to seeing myself as the Pharisee and seeing myself as the tax collector.  It can be easy to look at the attitudes and behaviors of these too men as binary; one is either humble and repentant or proud and boastful.  But in reality I know that I fall in between these, and sometimes swing from one to the other.

There are areas about my life about which I can be honest and have great humility–my lack of athletic prowess, for example.  But there are other areas where I have blinders on, and the notion of being successful, or having achieved what I have through my hard work and dedication, can stand in the way of my relationship with God.  All that I have is gift, and my prayer ought to recognize this.

What are blind spots you have in humbling yourself before God?  What are the things we need to let go of in order to grow closer to our Lord?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Let me have too deep a sense of humor ever to be proud.
Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly.
Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human,
most truthful,
and most worthy of your serious consideration.

—Prayer for Humility by Daniel A. Lord, SJ

 


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March 29, 2019

Mk 12:28-34

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

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 light of God reflected in each of us

Why are love of God and love of neighbor the two greatest commandments? Morality only makes sense when we are talking about conscious, morally-free beings. Rocks, trees and squirrels cannot act “morally.” Each human person is a tiny reflection of the infinite, incomprehensible love that is God. If I could truly see you for what you are, I would, as C. S. Lewis somewhere observed, be tempted to fall down and worship before you. If I hate you, I have not even begun to see the God that made and sustains you. Since God “hides” behind his creation, if I reject the light of God reflected in you, I live in the darkness of hate. In that darkness, I have not even begun to understand what the commandments are all about.

—Mark McNeil is the assistant principal for formation at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, Texas.

Prayer

Infinite Love, help me to see you in my neighbor. Help me to see beyond those things that distract me from your light that continuously shines through the people around me every day. I make this prayer through Christ Jesus, who is your invisible love made visible. Amen.

—Mark McNeil

 


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March 28, 2019

Lk 11: 14-23

Now he was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven.

But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? —for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out?

Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

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

How do I respond to evil?

In today’s Gospel we see Jesus confront evil and it causes great controversy. How often we see something similar play out in our own life: the temptation to avoid rocking the boat or ruffling feathers, even if it means enduring something that is wrong or unjust. “I do me, you do you” or “live and let live,” we might think. But “live and let live” just as easily becomes “live and let suffer” or even “live and let die.” Only 3 in 5 Americans believe the devil is real. Does that make it easier for us to turn away from forces of evil and causes of suffering?

Elie Wiesel, author and Holocaust survivor, insisted: “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Jesus could have avoided words and actions that would lead to discord, but he refused to turn a blind eye to the work of the devil, knowing that it produces shame and stigma, conflict and division. The devil works through power that separates and subjugates, whereas God’s power is to reconcile and build up mutuality, equality, and love.

Put everything into the light, St. Ignatius advises. Otherwise deception and darkness will prevail. How can I use my voice and my actions to shine a light where there is darkness or mend what is broken in and around me?

—Dr. Marcus Mescher is Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at Xavier University in Cincinnati, and is a graduate of Marquette University High School, Marquette University, and Boston College.  

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.
Amen.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

 


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March 27, 2019

Mt 5: 17-19

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

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.

Built on the foundations of our faith

Life is good when Jesus is around, but today we hear of God’s relationship with humanity before the incarnation.

One of the mysteries of our faith is the anticipation of Jesus, namely who He is and how He came to be human. From God’s relationship with Abraham through the ages, Jesus’ arrival has been foretold. In the same Scripture, we are also given instructions for how to prepare ourselves: namely, the commandments.

Jesus says, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” He reaffirms the validity of God’s involvement in human history. Jesus does not wipe away all the time before him; he builds upon the foundations of our faith.

This Lent, as we reflect on the laws of our faith and practice discipline, we should also take solace in knowing that God has been with us through all of scripture. God works through generations of the faithful to help us meet our goal – arrival in the Kingdom of heaven.

—Alan Ratermann is an English teacher and Director of Ignatian Service Programs at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri.

Prayer

Grant me faith, O Lord, to trust that you are with me, as you have been from the beginning. Let me work not for rewards of this world, but for the eternal joy of your kingdom.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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March 26, 2019

Mt 18: 21-35

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.“ For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.

When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’

Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.

Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

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.

Forgiveness is a choice to love

Christ tells us to forgive everyone, but sometimes that does not seem so easy. Forgiving a debt is one thing, but what about those who really hurt us? Perhaps the difficulty springs from confusion as to what forgiveness really is.

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, which is probably impossible anyway. It also does not mean that we ignore our anger and hurt. Doing so is just not healthy.

Forgiveness is a choice: the simple choice to love rather than to harm the person in return. By choosing love over vengeance, we free ourselves from remaining beholden to our pain. We free others to experience a love that leads to gratitude and reconciliation, and we free everyone to be united with Christ’s own loving heart.

Forgiveness does not mean pretending nothing happened or acting like there are no consequences. It just means choosing love. This Lent, let us choose love. For we have received the same love and merciful forgiveness from our God.

To whom in our lives can we give the gift of our forgiveness? Where are we in need of forgiveness: from others, from ourselves, from God?

—Stephen Kramer, SJ, is a Jesuit deacon of the Central and Southern Province currently finishing his Master’s degree in Theology at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.  He will be ordained to the priesthood in June.

Prayer

Our Lord Jesus Christ,
whose Most Sacred Heart flows with infinite mercy,
teach us to pray for those who persecute us,
to bless those who curse us,
and to forgive all who trespass against us.

Aware that we are granted mercy
in the same measure by which we show mercy,
strengthen us always to choose love
and to unite ourselves unceasingly
to your Most Sacred Heart.

Amen.

—Stephen Kramer, SJ

 


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March 25, 2019

Feast of the Annunciation

Lk 1: 26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

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 wonder of Jesus’ life

To have the story of the Annunciation as our Gospel during Lent is a stark reminder of Jesus’ humanity and the effect his Passion must have had on his loved ones. Mary and Joseph raised Jesus and walked with him throughout his life. They were his parents – they fed him, educated him, protected him. From the moment Mary heard about her son, she expressed her desire to follow God’s will for what would become their life together.

Reflecting on this story during this liturgical season allows me to consider the mystery of the Holy Family. I think in particular of the pain Mary must have felt over the loss of her son. How could she not remember the awe she felt when hearing the angel’s message as she approached the cross? May we recall the wonder and awe of life, even in the midst of the darkest suffering.

—Sara Spittler is the First Years Chaplain and a Religious Studies teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.

Prayer

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his humble servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed,
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear Him
in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

—Magnificat prayer

 


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March 24, 2019

Lk 13:1-9

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

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

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

The Final Harvest

What makes the college admissions bribery scandal that has commanded recent headlines so compelling? Of course, there’s that all-too human part of us that wants to shake our heads: “I may be bad, but I’m not that bad.” We don’t lie boldly to college officials. We can’t imagine changing test scores. We would never bribe a decision maker! At the same time, our Christian faith reminds us to find a mirror anytime the head shaking starts. Jesus is clear in today’s Gospel: Some may not be innocent, but they are no more guilty than others.

We are all loved sinners asked to tend to our own private gardens. And Jesus gives us a difficult challenge as he looks ahead to our final harvest. What fruit will we have to offer up to the Lord when our time in this world is over? Here’s a self-test: search your life for the fruits of the Spirit that St. Paul reminds us of in Galatians (5:22-23): “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Is the soil of my experiences rich in these gifts so good crops can grow? What can I do for someone today that might help to sow greater faith and love in the garden of my life?

——Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Jesuits West Province currently finishing his second year of Regency in the Advancement Office in Los Gatos, California.

Prayer

Dear God, make me more charitable!

“The school of Christ is the school of charity.

On the last day,
when the general examination takes place,
there will be no question at all
on the text of Aristotle,
the aphorisms of Hippocrates,
or the paragraphs of Justinian.

Charity will be the whole syllabus.”

—St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ

 

 

  


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March 23, 2019

Lk 15: 1-3, 11-32

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable:

Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.

But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him.

But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’

Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

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.

Digging Deep

One of the prayer tool that St. Ignatius frequently used was praying with his imagination.  In this method, we are invited to place ourselves within the situation and frame of mind of one of the figures in a Scripture passage. Today’s story is very familiar, but how does it change for you if you place yourself in the role of the parent, or the prodigal child, or the faithful child back home? How do things look like through the eyes of the parent, or in the heart of the prodigal? What do the servants experience? What takes place during the feast at which the fatted calf is served? And what is going on behind the scenes? What is the back talk?

As you spend time with the Scripture, consider what jumps out in your own heart as you reflect on this story? How are you drawn to Jesus this weekend?  How might you act differently today based on these reflections?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Loving God, you open your arms to us whenever we turn back to you.  Give us the heart of humility and repentance of the younger son so that we may know what it is to be welcomed back into your loving embrace. We pray this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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March 22, 2019

Gn 37: 3-4, 12-13A, 17B-28A

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem.And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” He answered, “Here I am.”The man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ “ So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan. They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him.

They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.”Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him” —that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father.

So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; and they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.

Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers agreed. When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.

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.

Never doubt that God intends our good

The story of Joseph is a delightful depiction of some moments of our religious journey. Joseph was inspired by dreams of greatness, only to find that life over and again seemed to support the conclusion that he was deluded and misguided. False accusations, time in jail, facing execution, forgotten by his friends, betrayed by his brothers, and separated from his loved ones, Joseph had every reason to doubt and wallow in self-pity. Instead, he continued to use his gift of interpreting dreams and rose to great heights. His ability to see God at work in his life, even in the midst of his trials, gave him a perspective that led to great compassion and understanding, even towards those who wanted to destroy his life. Others may intend evil, but God intends our good.

—Mark McNeil is the assistant principal for formation at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, Texas.

Prayer

God of all time and places, grant me the wisdom and perspective of Joseph. Help me see beyond life’s misfortunates and find peace and rest in your good will. Amen.

—Mark McNeil

 

 


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