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The hard work of being ready

In today’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts his disciples to stay vigilant. The kind of anticipation he is asking them to assume is not passive waiting. By asking his disciples to gird their loins and to light their lamps, he is inviting them to actively wait, to be prepared.

I imagine the servants in the Gospel story keeping food warm and standing ready to hang up the master’s cloak and wash his feet when he does arrive. They are probably expecting the expected, ready to serve the master as they have always done. Then comes the surprise. When they hear that knock and rush to open the door, the master commends them for being ready. Then he asks them to sit down at the table and tells them: “Tonight I’m going to wait on you!”

The hard work of being faithful will not lack its reward. How will God surprise you today?

—Orlando Portalatin, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

 


Rich in what matters to God

Our time, money, and resources can often feel limited.  Sometimes, I find myself wishing for more: more time to get a little extra sleep or finish that project, more money to take that flight to a wedding across the country, or maybe more space to accommodate out-of-town guests.  While these are not selfish or even unreasonable wishes, we still find ourselves in a place where it becomes hard to accept those realities. To truly be rich in what matters to God, we can practice sacrifice of the things we do have.  Can I spare a few minutes before driving home to check in with a coworker? Can I drop my change in the tip jar after buying lunch? By continuing to give of what we have, even if it doesn’t seem like much, we bring ourselves closer to the true mission of Christ and closer in kinship to those around us.

—Erin Emeric is a music teacher at Christ, Light of the Nations school and a member of the Billiken Teaching Corps at Saint Louis University.

 

 

 

 


Humbling ourselves to follow Jesus’ example

I taught a student who used to come into class, walk up to me, and stand in my face. When I would invite him to take a seat, he would respond, “Nah, I’m good. You stand, so I stand.” We had this interaction several times before I realized that this was less an act of defiance and more an expression of his desire for connection. He just had no idea what would lead to the connection he wanted.

James and John understand that they can’t get for themselves what they want, which was to share in Jesus’ glory. But they don’t understand what leads to Jesus’ glory. Jesus’ glory does not come from placing himself above, but by humbling himself all the way to the cross. And Jesus invites us to the same humility, which will lead us to be sharers in His glory. If Christ could humble himself, who are we not to?

—Fr. Brad Held, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and is a campus minister and theology teacher at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, WI.

 


Acknowledging God before the world

Throughout history, we have stories of martyrs who have accepted death rather than renouncing their faith in God.  While we may not be asked to make such a dramatic confession of faith, we have daily opportunities to choose whether to acknowledge or deny God.  We choose our answer when we respond to a Sunday brunch invitation at the same time as we’re planning to go to Mass. We decide whether to keep ashes on our foreheads throughout Ash Wednesday or wash them off.  We make a decision about how to respond to Jesus in the form of a homeless person standing at a freeway offramp.

How is your confession of faith in God shared with the world through your words and actions?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 


Our purpose is to do God’s will

We are loved into this life by God. Jesus chose us. So what is our purpose in this life? This letter from Paul to the Ephesians states it quite simply. Our purpose is to do God’s will. How do we do this? As St. Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation states, we are made to love, praise, and serve God in all that we do. This is our truth, which we place our faith and hope as we seek to do God’s will.

How am I loving, praising, and serving God with the gifts and talents God has given me? Where can I do this more? With whom do I need to do this more intentionally? What am I prepared to do?

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is the Acting Assistant Principal of Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado.

 

 

 

 

 


Called to work in the fields of the Lord

I imagine Jesus addressing me. My response, while honest, is disappointing: “You’re sending me among wolves? Thanks, Lord, but no thanks. Send someone else.”

I wonder why am I afraid to be sent out into the harvest. Am I afraid I will be judged harshly by others? Am I afraid I will make fool of myself? Am I afraid that I will not be effective?

These fears reveal that I am overly concerned about my reputation, and this concern is more burdensome than any purse, bag, or sandals. I want people to think well of me, and I’m afraid that somehow, people will decide that I’m not educated, holy, or talented enough to work in the fields of the Lord. Better to let other, more talented people do the important stuff.

Despite these fears, the Lord still calls me. May I receive the grace to respond wholeheartedly.

—Bob Burnham is a Secular Franciscan, spiritual director, and author of Little Lessons from the Saints: 52 Simple and Surprising Ways to See the Saint in You published by Loyola Press.

 


Going deeper for the magis

One of my favorite Ignatian ideals is magis, Latin for “more” or “greater.”

At first glance, aren’t the Pharisees and lawyers in today’s Gospel committed to doing more: tithing crops, attaining honor in the synagogue, holding others accountable?

“What does all that matter,” the impassioned Jesus argues, “without an authentic commitment to self-reflection, love, and justice?”

Jesus’ anger at this hypocrisy highlights that perceived “excellence” often becomes an idol, displacing the real depth to which magis calls us. Perhaps it is easier, less vulnerable, more instantly gratifying for us to achieve more than it is to go deeper. The “more” we seek requires us always to keep our eyes on God, the direction of our dedicated service.

In my life, how and when am I tempted to understand magis as “doing more things” instead of as “going deeper”? How can I commit more deeply to love and justice this day?

—Katie Davis (MDiv, Loyola University Chicago) is a former Jesuit Volunteer/JVC Magis currently working as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at St. Ignatius College Prep. She has served on the Advisory Board for Jesuit Connections and is a member of the Chicago Women’s Team for the Ignatian Spirituality Project. Katie preaches with the project Catholic Women Preach.

 

 

 

 

 


The fullest extent of the law

Jesus is not inviting the Pharisee to abandon the observance of the law. He is inviting the Pharisee to observe the law of God to the fullest extent by going beyond the letter of the law. But going beyond the letter of the law does not suggest disregarding the law; it points to observing the law fully. In his response to the Pharisee, Jesus seems to imply that observing the fullness of the law is all about harmonizing what the law says with what God intends the law to be.

How do we observe the law to the fullest extent? How do we invite Christ into our discernment of what it means to observe the law to the fullest extent?

—Orlando Portalatin, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

 

 

 


Little signs from God

It can be scary to think about the culmination of our time on Earth when we must face our choices of this life.  We know neither the day nor the hour but, as we hear throughout Scripture, Jesus came the first time to let us know that we can always come back to him.  As we go about our days, it can be difficult to see Jesus reaching out to us. He tells the crowd in the Gospel that he is the sign they seek. Each day in the small moments of our lives, Jesus gives us signs that he is with us, guiding us, and won’t let us walk alone.  

How can we notice the Lord watching over us today? Let us take each little sign from him and use it as a stepping stone toward love and righteousness to be repentant disciples.

—Erin Emeric is a music teacher at Christ, Light of the Nations school and a member of the Billiken Teaching Corps at Saint Louis University.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Concealing and revealing the truth

Today we encounter one of my favorite motifs in the Gospels: Jesus conceals his divine identity while simultaneously revealing it. He shows the young man who he is, but Jesus does not do it by saying “I am God!” So how does Jesus do this? He takes the young man’s statement that Jesus is good and places it side-by-side with the statement that God alone is truly good. But then Jesus does something that only God can do, which is to essentially add to the Ten Commandments. Jesus adds a commandment to follow him and places it on par with the Commandments. It’s this concealing while also revealing way of saying, “Only God is good and I have done something that only God can do. So who do you say that I am?”

This motif is not limited to written Scriptures, but is at work in our days and lives as well. Where is God quietly revealing himself to be God to you?

—Fr. Brad Held, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and is a campus minister and theology teacher at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, WI.

 

 

 


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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 hard work of being ready

In today’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts his disciples to stay vigilant. The kind of anticipation he is asking them to assume is not passive waiting. By asking his disciples to gird their loins and to light their lamps, he is inviting them to actively wait, to be prepared.

I imagine the servants in the Gospel story keeping food warm and standing ready to hang up the master’s cloak and wash his feet when he does arrive. They are probably expecting the expected, ready to serve the master as they have always done. Then comes the surprise. When they hear that knock and rush to open the door, the master commends them for being ready. Then he asks them to sit down at the table and tells them: “Tonight I’m going to wait on you!”

The hard work of being faithful will not lack its reward. How will God surprise you today?

—Orlando Portalatin, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

 


Rich in what matters to God

Our time, money, and resources can often feel limited.  Sometimes, I find myself wishing for more: more time to get a little extra sleep or finish that project, more money to take that flight to a wedding across the country, or maybe more space to accommodate out-of-town guests.  While these are not selfish or even unreasonable wishes, we still find ourselves in a place where it becomes hard to accept those realities. To truly be rich in what matters to God, we can practice sacrifice of the things we do have.  Can I spare a few minutes before driving home to check in with a coworker? Can I drop my change in the tip jar after buying lunch? By continuing to give of what we have, even if it doesn’t seem like much, we bring ourselves closer to the true mission of Christ and closer in kinship to those around us.

—Erin Emeric is a music teacher at Christ, Light of the Nations school and a member of the Billiken Teaching Corps at Saint Louis University.

 

 

 

 


Humbling ourselves to follow Jesus’ example

I taught a student who used to come into class, walk up to me, and stand in my face. When I would invite him to take a seat, he would respond, “Nah, I’m good. You stand, so I stand.” We had this interaction several times before I realized that this was less an act of defiance and more an expression of his desire for connection. He just had no idea what would lead to the connection he wanted.

James and John understand that they can’t get for themselves what they want, which was to share in Jesus’ glory. But they don’t understand what leads to Jesus’ glory. Jesus’ glory does not come from placing himself above, but by humbling himself all the way to the cross. And Jesus invites us to the same humility, which will lead us to be sharers in His glory. If Christ could humble himself, who are we not to?

—Fr. Brad Held, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and is a campus minister and theology teacher at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, WI.

 


Acknowledging God before the world

Throughout history, we have stories of martyrs who have accepted death rather than renouncing their faith in God.  While we may not be asked to make such a dramatic confession of faith, we have daily opportunities to choose whether to acknowledge or deny God.  We choose our answer when we respond to a Sunday brunch invitation at the same time as we’re planning to go to Mass. We decide whether to keep ashes on our foreheads throughout Ash Wednesday or wash them off.  We make a decision about how to respond to Jesus in the form of a homeless person standing at a freeway offramp.

How is your confession of faith in God shared with the world through your words and actions?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 


Our purpose is to do God’s will

We are loved into this life by God. Jesus chose us. So what is our purpose in this life? This letter from Paul to the Ephesians states it quite simply. Our purpose is to do God’s will. How do we do this? As St. Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation states, we are made to love, praise, and serve God in all that we do. This is our truth, which we place our faith and hope as we seek to do God’s will.

How am I loving, praising, and serving God with the gifts and talents God has given me? Where can I do this more? With whom do I need to do this more intentionally? What am I prepared to do?

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is the Acting Assistant Principal of Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado.

 

 

 

 

 


Called to work in the fields of the Lord

I imagine Jesus addressing me. My response, while honest, is disappointing: “You’re sending me among wolves? Thanks, Lord, but no thanks. Send someone else.”

I wonder why am I afraid to be sent out into the harvest. Am I afraid I will be judged harshly by others? Am I afraid I will make fool of myself? Am I afraid that I will not be effective?

These fears reveal that I am overly concerned about my reputation, and this concern is more burdensome than any purse, bag, or sandals. I want people to think well of me, and I’m afraid that somehow, people will decide that I’m not educated, holy, or talented enough to work in the fields of the Lord. Better to let other, more talented people do the important stuff.

Despite these fears, the Lord still calls me. May I receive the grace to respond wholeheartedly.

—Bob Burnham is a Secular Franciscan, spiritual director, and author of Little Lessons from the Saints: 52 Simple and Surprising Ways to See the Saint in You published by Loyola Press.

 


Going deeper for the magis

One of my favorite Ignatian ideals is magis, Latin for “more” or “greater.”

At first glance, aren’t the Pharisees and lawyers in today’s Gospel committed to doing more: tithing crops, attaining honor in the synagogue, holding others accountable?

“What does all that matter,” the impassioned Jesus argues, “without an authentic commitment to self-reflection, love, and justice?”

Jesus’ anger at this hypocrisy highlights that perceived “excellence” often becomes an idol, displacing the real depth to which magis calls us. Perhaps it is easier, less vulnerable, more instantly gratifying for us to achieve more than it is to go deeper. The “more” we seek requires us always to keep our eyes on God, the direction of our dedicated service.

In my life, how and when am I tempted to understand magis as “doing more things” instead of as “going deeper”? How can I commit more deeply to love and justice this day?

—Katie Davis (MDiv, Loyola University Chicago) is a former Jesuit Volunteer/JVC Magis currently working as a Chaplain and Religious Studies teacher at St. Ignatius College Prep. She has served on the Advisory Board for Jesuit Connections and is a member of the Chicago Women’s Team for the Ignatian Spirituality Project. Katie preaches with the project Catholic Women Preach.

 

 

 

 

 


The fullest extent of the law

Jesus is not inviting the Pharisee to abandon the observance of the law. He is inviting the Pharisee to observe the law of God to the fullest extent by going beyond the letter of the law. But going beyond the letter of the law does not suggest disregarding the law; it points to observing the law fully. In his response to the Pharisee, Jesus seems to imply that observing the fullness of the law is all about harmonizing what the law says with what God intends the law to be.

How do we observe the law to the fullest extent? How do we invite Christ into our discernment of what it means to observe the law to the fullest extent?

—Orlando Portalatin, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

 

 

 


Little signs from God

It can be scary to think about the culmination of our time on Earth when we must face our choices of this life.  We know neither the day nor the hour but, as we hear throughout Scripture, Jesus came the first time to let us know that we can always come back to him.  As we go about our days, it can be difficult to see Jesus reaching out to us. He tells the crowd in the Gospel that he is the sign they seek. Each day in the small moments of our lives, Jesus gives us signs that he is with us, guiding us, and won’t let us walk alone.  

How can we notice the Lord watching over us today? Let us take each little sign from him and use it as a stepping stone toward love and righteousness to be repentant disciples.

—Erin Emeric is a music teacher at Christ, Light of the Nations school and a member of the Billiken Teaching Corps at Saint Louis University.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Concealing and revealing the truth

Today we encounter one of my favorite motifs in the Gospels: Jesus conceals his divine identity while simultaneously revealing it. He shows the young man who he is, but Jesus does not do it by saying “I am God!” So how does Jesus do this? He takes the young man’s statement that Jesus is good and places it side-by-side with the statement that God alone is truly good. But then Jesus does something that only God can do, which is to essentially add to the Ten Commandments. Jesus adds a commandment to follow him and places it on par with the Commandments. It’s this concealing while also revealing way of saying, “Only God is good and I have done something that only God can do. So who do you say that I am?”

This motif is not limited to written Scriptures, but is at work in our days and lives as well. Where is God quietly revealing himself to be God to you?

—Fr. Brad Held, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and is a campus minister and theology teacher at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, WI.