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The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”

Several years ago, when I was an associate pastor at Gesu Parish in Milwaukee, I remember preaching on Good Shepherd Sunday. That Sunday as I walked up and down the long aisle going on and on about the Jesus as the Good Shepherd, unbeknownst to me and to her parents, a toddler had slipped away and began wandering the long aisleway. As she drew further away from her parents, she became confused and lost. Suddenly, stuck in my tracks, I looked down and saw the toddler, who had wrapped her arms around my alb and legs. I picked her up into my arms and returned her to her parents.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is deeply committed to us. He will go to the wall for us and even lay down his life for us. He watches out for us. He gathers those who are lost and returns them home.

Remember a time when all hope was lost, and out of nowhere consolation abounded. Let us give thanks to the Good Shepherd, who is always watching out for us.

—Fr. Mike Bayard, SJ, is the Socius of the USA West Provinceof the Society of Jesus.

 


Co-laborers in the vineyard

In the miraculous healings presented in today’s first reading, Peter mirrors miracles that Jesus performed during his lifetime.  Peter heals Aeneas, a paralyzed man, telling him to “get up and make your bed.” In Mark 2:1-12, a paralyzed man’s friends lower him through the roof and Jesus heals him and says “rise, pick up your mat and walk.”  Peter then manages to top this miracle by raising a woman named Tabitha from the dead, just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

St. Ignatius talks about God’s invitation to each of us to be co-laborers in God’s vineyard.  Peter certainly co-labored with Christ, both during Jesus’ earthly ministry and after his ascension, and did so in often dramatic ways.  While most of us may not perform such extreme acts as part of our discipleship, we are still each called to work with Jesus in bringing the Good News to the people we encounter in our daily lives.

What is one act I can do to co-labor with God today?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 


Chosen Instrument

Today we hear the story of Saul’s (St. Paul’s) conversion. Jesus says of Paul: “he is an instrument whom I have chosen” or “This man is a chosen instrument of mine” in other translations. Do you view yourself as an instrument of God?

God uses all of us, not just a special few, to spread love, compassion, and bring glory to him. We don’t need a spectacular conversion like St. Paul’s to contribute. God uses the simple and ordinary. He uses all parts of us, including our sins and weaknesses.

Paul’s past of persecuting Christ’s followers is something most would be ashamed of, something we’d want to hide. But God uses it to bring good. Paul’s story brings hope and encouragement to those who hear it. Later, when Paul is questioned by Jewish leaders, he points to this past as powerful defense for why they should believe him now. How might God be using your sins or weaknesses to bring about good?

—Jake Derry is the Campus Ministry Associate at St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

 

 


Who are our teachers?

They shall all be taught by God.

Jesus was a master teacher and he was passionate about his subject. He loved teaching about God: the goodness of God, the power of God, the love of God, the forgiving nature of God, the existence of God, As I reflect on how I am living my life I can ask myself, “Who or what am I allowing to be my teachers today? Do I allow hate and resentment to be my teacher or love and forgiveness? Do I allow the negative messages of the world to be my teacher or do I allow the hope that God promises to teach me. Ignatius reminds us that everything can help us to get closer to God. Therefore, I can use everything to teach me to love God more deeply.

Who or what is teaching me today?

—Lee Hubbell is the director of the LU-CHOICE and JVC Magis programs, and the director of ministry of the First Studies program, all at Loyola University Chicago.

 


Labors of love

We labor at many things: our jobs, building community, supporting our family, accompanying friends, promoting justice. To “work” seems different than to “labor.” Laboring speaks of something ongoing, something that requires deeper concentration, an investment of oneself, and something that requires patience as well as commitment so that something greater will come forth.

St. Ignatius speaks of Christ’s work of salvation as a labor of love. Christ is actively laboring in each of us, in the people in our lives, in all of creation, to lead us to fullness of life in God. Today’s Gospel reading speaks of this truth: Jesus, the Bread of Life (he who sustains us daily), is laboring continuously for God’s will: that all of God’s children will come to fullness of life with God.

What are your “labors of love?” How do you recognize God laboring in you, and in the people and situations that surround you, in these labors of love?

—Sr. Jessica Kerber, aci is a Handmaid of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a women’s congregation of Ignatian Spirituality that is a member of the Charis Ministries Partner Program.

 


How does the bread of life show itself?

In the Gospel today, Jesus struggles to help the people understand something each of us struggles at times to see: we are thinking too small, too immediate—lost in our daily minutia.

The crowd talks of bread and manna, earthly gifts given to their ancestors to satisfy their immediate hunger. Yet, Jesus tries to broaden their vision to see something bigger: it’s not about bread that satiates hunger, but about “the bread” which animates your very life. Then, Jesus offers himself, “I am the bread of life …”

Jesus calls the crowd to himself, to receive him and ultimately his mission as their “bread of life.” This gift is both a comfort and a challenge to us, because that which animates and gives us life should fundamentally show itself in everything we do, even in our daily minutia.

So, how does “the bread of life” show itself in your daily life?

—Colten Biro, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province in First Studies at Saint Louis University. He is a frequent contributor to The Jesuit Post.


Truly living in Jesus

Just like the disciples, we are on a constant quest to be content. We look for contentment in our relationships, our ambitions, our possessions, and other aspects in our life. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in “our quest” to be content in our day-to-day lives that we get in our own way. We begin to take these aspects of our life way too seriously and become ungrateful. We forget that most of these aspects represents the “food” that will eventually perish and that will never totally satisfy us or give us peace. As a result of this obsession with being content, we miss out on the joy in life.

In contrast, Jesus shows us another way. He fills us with the food of his love, faith, and joy. This “food” from Jesus nourishes us. What can we do to find it? The answer is in the attempt. It is like the old Godspell song, Day by Day. We simply must desire and strive to know, love, and follow Christ more intentionally all the days of our life. If we pursue this, we will discover and experience Jesus working through us giving us the food (love, faith, joy) that enables us to truly live in him and with him. Now and forever. Amen.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is Chair of the Theology Department and was recently named Assistant Principal for Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado.

 

 


Consoling presence of the Risen Jesus

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine generously cooked a scrumptious dinner for the two of us. As we ate and drank, we reminisced about another friend of ours, Roger, who had passed away seven years ago. “Remember when Roger said … or did that …” “Or remember when …” The stories were so vivid that later we remarked to one another that we felt consoled because it was as if Roger had appeared at the table and enjoyed the meal with us, as if he was the one telling us these stories.

Jesus in the garden, along the road, eating fish with the disciples, standing among them, “Peace be with you.” All real. Vivid. Jesus was really with them. And the disciples were incredulous and amazed. Consoled.

Where has the Risen Jesus stood in our midst? When have I felt the vivid, consoling presence of the Risen Jesus?

“You are witnesses of these things.”

—Fr. Mike Bayard, SJ, is the Socius of the USA West Province of the Society of Jesus.

 

 


We can’t do everything

Today’s first reading from Acts reminds us that God is not calling us to do everything. The twelve apostles had walked with Jesus for years during his earthly ministry.  They had been sent out two by two to preach the good news. They encountered, spoke with, and ate with the Risen Christ. They had been commissioned to spread the Gospel and had received the Holy Spirit.  And yet they still weren’t able to do everything.

The message to us is clear.  We are each called to respond to God’s invitation to co-labor in the kingdom.  But this doesn’t mean we have to do everything ourselves. The twelve taught, preached, and served, but there came a time when the tasks became too numerous.  So they commissioned others. They didn’t let their work stop at what twelve people were capable of doing. Rather, they put aside any ego they had and allowed others to step up as leaders as well.

What in my life do I need to put down in order to let others serve?  Who might I invite to share in a task that has become too big for me?  

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


The joy that can’t be destroyed

The apostles are flogged and then start rejoicing. Who does that?! Who rejoices after being severely beaten?!

Whether looking at it today or the time it was written, this is bizarre. Really, it doesn’t make sense…unless we understand that this joy is not of human origin. This joy is from God — a joy rooted in the Father’s love for us. Gamaliel says this is a joy that no Pharisee, no naysayer can destroy.

That’s no longer that bizarre. In fact, that’s heavenly attractive. How do I obtain that joy? God is still revealing this to me day-by-day, but here’s what I’m discovering makes a difference:

Prayer – conversation, like with any other personal relationship

Patience – giving God the time and space to work in our lives and reveal His will to us

Presence – both in our everyday encounters and with the Lord in front of the Blessed Sacrament

—Jake Derry is the Campus Ministry Associate at St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

 


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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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The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”

Several years ago, when I was an associate pastor at Gesu Parish in Milwaukee, I remember preaching on Good Shepherd Sunday. That Sunday as I walked up and down the long aisle going on and on about the Jesus as the Good Shepherd, unbeknownst to me and to her parents, a toddler had slipped away and began wandering the long aisleway. As she drew further away from her parents, she became confused and lost. Suddenly, stuck in my tracks, I looked down and saw the toddler, who had wrapped her arms around my alb and legs. I picked her up into my arms and returned her to her parents.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is deeply committed to us. He will go to the wall for us and even lay down his life for us. He watches out for us. He gathers those who are lost and returns them home.

Remember a time when all hope was lost, and out of nowhere consolation abounded. Let us give thanks to the Good Shepherd, who is always watching out for us.

—Fr. Mike Bayard, SJ, is the Socius of the USA West Provinceof the Society of Jesus.

 


Co-laborers in the vineyard

In the miraculous healings presented in today’s first reading, Peter mirrors miracles that Jesus performed during his lifetime.  Peter heals Aeneas, a paralyzed man, telling him to “get up and make your bed.” In Mark 2:1-12, a paralyzed man’s friends lower him through the roof and Jesus heals him and says “rise, pick up your mat and walk.”  Peter then manages to top this miracle by raising a woman named Tabitha from the dead, just as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

St. Ignatius talks about God’s invitation to each of us to be co-laborers in God’s vineyard.  Peter certainly co-labored with Christ, both during Jesus’ earthly ministry and after his ascension, and did so in often dramatic ways.  While most of us may not perform such extreme acts as part of our discipleship, we are still each called to work with Jesus in bringing the Good News to the people we encounter in our daily lives.

What is one act I can do to co-labor with God today?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 


Chosen Instrument

Today we hear the story of Saul’s (St. Paul’s) conversion. Jesus says of Paul: “he is an instrument whom I have chosen” or “This man is a chosen instrument of mine” in other translations. Do you view yourself as an instrument of God?

God uses all of us, not just a special few, to spread love, compassion, and bring glory to him. We don’t need a spectacular conversion like St. Paul’s to contribute. God uses the simple and ordinary. He uses all parts of us, including our sins and weaknesses.

Paul’s past of persecuting Christ’s followers is something most would be ashamed of, something we’d want to hide. But God uses it to bring good. Paul’s story brings hope and encouragement to those who hear it. Later, when Paul is questioned by Jewish leaders, he points to this past as powerful defense for why they should believe him now. How might God be using your sins or weaknesses to bring about good?

—Jake Derry is the Campus Ministry Associate at St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

 

 


Who are our teachers?

They shall all be taught by God.

Jesus was a master teacher and he was passionate about his subject. He loved teaching about God: the goodness of God, the power of God, the love of God, the forgiving nature of God, the existence of God, As I reflect on how I am living my life I can ask myself, “Who or what am I allowing to be my teachers today? Do I allow hate and resentment to be my teacher or love and forgiveness? Do I allow the negative messages of the world to be my teacher or do I allow the hope that God promises to teach me. Ignatius reminds us that everything can help us to get closer to God. Therefore, I can use everything to teach me to love God more deeply.

Who or what is teaching me today?

—Lee Hubbell is the director of the LU-CHOICE and JVC Magis programs, and the director of ministry of the First Studies program, all at Loyola University Chicago.

 


Labors of love

We labor at many things: our jobs, building community, supporting our family, accompanying friends, promoting justice. To “work” seems different than to “labor.” Laboring speaks of something ongoing, something that requires deeper concentration, an investment of oneself, and something that requires patience as well as commitment so that something greater will come forth.

St. Ignatius speaks of Christ’s work of salvation as a labor of love. Christ is actively laboring in each of us, in the people in our lives, in all of creation, to lead us to fullness of life in God. Today’s Gospel reading speaks of this truth: Jesus, the Bread of Life (he who sustains us daily), is laboring continuously for God’s will: that all of God’s children will come to fullness of life with God.

What are your “labors of love?” How do you recognize God laboring in you, and in the people and situations that surround you, in these labors of love?

—Sr. Jessica Kerber, aci is a Handmaid of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a women’s congregation of Ignatian Spirituality that is a member of the Charis Ministries Partner Program.

 


How does the bread of life show itself?

In the Gospel today, Jesus struggles to help the people understand something each of us struggles at times to see: we are thinking too small, too immediate—lost in our daily minutia.

The crowd talks of bread and manna, earthly gifts given to their ancestors to satisfy their immediate hunger. Yet, Jesus tries to broaden their vision to see something bigger: it’s not about bread that satiates hunger, but about “the bread” which animates your very life. Then, Jesus offers himself, “I am the bread of life …”

Jesus calls the crowd to himself, to receive him and ultimately his mission as their “bread of life.” This gift is both a comfort and a challenge to us, because that which animates and gives us life should fundamentally show itself in everything we do, even in our daily minutia.

So, how does “the bread of life” show itself in your daily life?

—Colten Biro, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province in First Studies at Saint Louis University. He is a frequent contributor to The Jesuit Post.


Truly living in Jesus

Just like the disciples, we are on a constant quest to be content. We look for contentment in our relationships, our ambitions, our possessions, and other aspects in our life. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in “our quest” to be content in our day-to-day lives that we get in our own way. We begin to take these aspects of our life way too seriously and become ungrateful. We forget that most of these aspects represents the “food” that will eventually perish and that will never totally satisfy us or give us peace. As a result of this obsession with being content, we miss out on the joy in life.

In contrast, Jesus shows us another way. He fills us with the food of his love, faith, and joy. This “food” from Jesus nourishes us. What can we do to find it? The answer is in the attempt. It is like the old Godspell song, Day by Day. We simply must desire and strive to know, love, and follow Christ more intentionally all the days of our life. If we pursue this, we will discover and experience Jesus working through us giving us the food (love, faith, joy) that enables us to truly live in him and with him. Now and forever. Amen.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is Chair of the Theology Department and was recently named Assistant Principal for Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado.

 

 


Consoling presence of the Risen Jesus

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine generously cooked a scrumptious dinner for the two of us. As we ate and drank, we reminisced about another friend of ours, Roger, who had passed away seven years ago. “Remember when Roger said … or did that …” “Or remember when …” The stories were so vivid that later we remarked to one another that we felt consoled because it was as if Roger had appeared at the table and enjoyed the meal with us, as if he was the one telling us these stories.

Jesus in the garden, along the road, eating fish with the disciples, standing among them, “Peace be with you.” All real. Vivid. Jesus was really with them. And the disciples were incredulous and amazed. Consoled.

Where has the Risen Jesus stood in our midst? When have I felt the vivid, consoling presence of the Risen Jesus?

“You are witnesses of these things.”

—Fr. Mike Bayard, SJ, is the Socius of the USA West Province of the Society of Jesus.

 

 


We can’t do everything

Today’s first reading from Acts reminds us that God is not calling us to do everything. The twelve apostles had walked with Jesus for years during his earthly ministry.  They had been sent out two by two to preach the good news. They encountered, spoke with, and ate with the Risen Christ. They had been commissioned to spread the Gospel and had received the Holy Spirit.  And yet they still weren’t able to do everything.

The message to us is clear.  We are each called to respond to God’s invitation to co-labor in the kingdom.  But this doesn’t mean we have to do everything ourselves. The twelve taught, preached, and served, but there came a time when the tasks became too numerous.  So they commissioned others. They didn’t let their work stop at what twelve people were capable of doing. Rather, they put aside any ego they had and allowed others to step up as leaders as well.

What in my life do I need to put down in order to let others serve?  Who might I invite to share in a task that has become too big for me?  

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


The joy that can’t be destroyed

The apostles are flogged and then start rejoicing. Who does that?! Who rejoices after being severely beaten?!

Whether looking at it today or the time it was written, this is bizarre. Really, it doesn’t make sense…unless we understand that this joy is not of human origin. This joy is from God — a joy rooted in the Father’s love for us. Gamaliel says this is a joy that no Pharisee, no naysayer can destroy.

That’s no longer that bizarre. In fact, that’s heavenly attractive. How do I obtain that joy? God is still revealing this to me day-by-day, but here’s what I’m discovering makes a difference:

Prayer – conversation, like with any other personal relationship

Patience – giving God the time and space to work in our lives and reveal His will to us

Presence – both in our everyday encounters and with the Lord in front of the Blessed Sacrament

—Jake Derry is the Campus Ministry Associate at St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.