Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Reflection for Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wednesday of Holy Week

“Answer me” is the final part of today’s responsorial psalm: “Lord, in your great love, answer me.” Then, the Gospel features the Last Supper and Jesus’ announcement that one of the apostles will betray Him. Judas, along with the others present, asks “Surely, it is not I, Rabbi?” and waits to hear what Jesus responds. 
Reflection and self-evaluation are themes during Lent, and questions play a big role in both of these. But who are these questions directed to? Have you ever said the words “Answer me” to someone? A parent might say these words to a child who does not want to answer a question. An anxious student or employee might think these words as they stare at the computer screen and await an important email. Have you ever said these words to God?
I seek confirmation and affirmation daily, especially from peers and friends. “Did you think that test was difficult?” Or, as I recount an exchange from the day, “Do you think I did the right thing?” Usually I know what my own thought is, and I want to check to see if another agrees.
On other occasions, I keep things to myself. I might ask, “Don’t you think what So-and-so did is annoying (mean, weird, etc.)?” Framed a certain way, my confidant will likely agree with me. I may (knowingly or unknowingly) paint the picture in a self-flattering way, without acknowledging my own insecurities and biases. If painted in honesty, the answer is probably that I am the one with a problem.     
I think I would benefit from directing more of my questions, especially the tough ones, to God. 
Judas asks, “What are you willing to give me?” to the chief priests. In contrast, the Psalm reminds us that “The LORD hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.” 
My prayer is to remember to turn to God constantly, even if just to say “What?” or “Why?” And then, I pray for patience, as I plead, “Lord, in your great love, answer me.” 

Stephanie Kaefer is a Junior in the College of Education and is involved on campus in the Micah Program and SLU Students for Life.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reflection for Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday of Holy Week

"Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum" is a Latin phrase meaning "Make our hearts like Yours". Derived from the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it centers the call of this year's Lenten journey as spoken by the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
At first glance, the readings today almost seem contradictory. Isaiah 49: 6 states, "I will make you a light to the nations..." On the other hand, the Gospel of John foretells the infamous denial by Peter, who would later become the Rock of the Church. Why is that these two readings today are spoken especially as a prelude to the holiest week of the year? This ironic juxtaposition literally crucifies us in the decision of if we are going to follow Christ or keep going through our mistakes without repentance or second thought. For me, it forces me to reflect on how and if my thoughts and actions have allowed Christ's light to shine through me.
How often have I chosen to judge?
How much have my own insecurities afflicted others?
I think the best imagery that I could communicate this allegorical crucifixion is imagining myself being completely immobilized by stakes of doubt and fear at my throat- cutting off my sense of rationality- but I know simply kicking at the base of one of the stakes would free me from this prison. So, do I stay immobilized in my cage of doubt and fear and use them as comfortable crutches? See, we are at a crossroads between decisions. Do I find security in my doubt and fear? Or do I find it in God?
Regardless, we have to realize that there is hope. There is always hope. Every Peter in us has this gift of hope for the taking.
It is in the Lord that we take refuge (Ps 71:1). It is He who has called us from birth and in our mother's womb He gave us our name (Is 49:1). The significance of naming is a motif that has also been seen in Genesis when Adam names all of creation. Naming creates ownership and a sense of care. Thus, we are His, and we are moved and stirred in the hearts crafted by Him to turn to Him and find "recompense with my God" (Is 49:4). The season of Lent always starts with Ash Wednesday, and we are quickly coming to the "big event." The anticipation is building- just like Christmas! Staying within our crucifixion or believing through Jesus' Crucifixion gives our hearts formation for the better or worse in preparation for the Resurrection.
Now, reflect back to the beginning of Lent.
Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.
Connect the puzzle.
Remember that you belong to God and to God you shall return.
Hear His call.
Remember to turn your hearts to God and your heart will be like His.

Anne Yoon is a junior majoring in Chemistry and serves as a Resident Advisor for the Diversity & Unity Learning Community housed in the Griesedieck Complex.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Reflection for Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday of Holy Week
IS 42: 1-7
PS 27: 1, 2, 3, 13-14
JN 12: 1-11

Imagine for a second that you are dead, completely and utterly lifeless. You wait in your tomb as spider webs grow around you. Then one day, your tomb is opened, light shines forth upon you, and a man commands you to live again. You breathe life in, and exit the place of your burial. This is the story of Lazarus, and it is the story of each of us. We have a Christ who comes into the darkest and most disgusting places in our heart and commands life into them.
In today’s Gospel, John continues the story of Lazarus when Lazarus is seen at table with Jesus. To be at table with Jesus is no difficult task. In fact, the tax collectors, prostitutes, and societal scumbags were the most common to recline with him. But instead of focusing on these other guests, we must focus on Jesus and ourselves.
We have once been in the grave. We have seen the despair of sin and vice and the hopelessness of suffering. In some sense, we know death like Lazarus knows death. Christ opens our tombs and calls us to life. He breathes a new joy into us. He wipes off the dust surrounding our bodies, and invites us to flourish with him.
Now for the first time since our resurrection, we meet with the man who brought us back to life, and we enjoy an intimate dinner with him, along with our close friends and family. The man who gave us life presents us with an opportunity to know him and to be his friend. How amazing is it to build a relationship with the man who performs the greatest miracles? This is the experience of Lazarus.

Placing yourself in the seat of Lazarus at table with Christ, think about how you would act…
How would I thank Jesus for giving me new life?
What would Jesus ask of me?
What would I think when Mary pours oil over Jesus’ feet?
Would I be angry when Judas asks to sell the oil?
Would I be one to turn on Jesus at his crucifixion in just a few days?

I wish I could be present for the conversations that Jesus and Lazarus had while at table that day. And I realize I can, for I am Lazarus and Christ has invited me to recline with him. Jesus not only performs miracles, but he seeks intimate relationships with us. Like Lazarus, we all are called to 
be at table with the Christ.

Brad Giacone is a freshman pre-law student studying Economics and International Business.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reflection for Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
MK 11: 1-10
IS 50: 4-7
PS 22: 8-9, 17-18, 19-20. 23-24
PHIL 2: 6-11
MK 14: 1 - 15: 47

Today’s reading of Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem for the Passover, and of Mark’s recounting of the Passion and death of Jesus has always struck me as a jarring juxtaposition.  We begin as Jesus is greeted as a heroic figure, the redeemer of the people of Israel.  By the end of the gospel Jesus has been executed in a deliberate attempt to destroy him and what he stood for.  It is easy for me, living in the 21st century, to ignore this tension because I know that Jesus doesn’t stay dead.  I know and believe in the resurrection so it is all too easy for me to also believe that Jesus never really died. Today, we just stopped the story before getting to the good part.  And recognizing that is instructive.

It challenges me to try and live in that moment when Jesus did die and to reflect on his life from that perspective. The way our readings end, either Jesus is not the messiah come to deliver the people of Israel, or the messiah and deliverance do not look like what we expect them to. Rather than allowing my ideas of what kingship looks like to influence what I believe about Jesus, I must allow this story to influence what I think kingship looks like.  

The first and second reading both reinforce this. Isaiah speaks of the suffering servant, “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting”.  The letter to the Philippians identifies humility and obedience as the qualities that Jesus is exalted for.  Neither of these are what I associate with kingship and with the figures being alluded to in the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem.  Kings Solomon and David are known for their military victories and making Israel a regional political power.  they are also the archetype for divine kingship on the minds of every person celebrating as Jesus enters Jerusalem.  This time it ends differently, in a tomb instead of a palace.

This is not how it was supposed to go. The Messiah – The Son of David was supposed to restore the good-ole days. Yet God is not bound by our expectations and rules.  I re-encounter this fact every Sunday, and especially during Easter when so many of our stories are contain this theme. The Son of David washing the disciples’ feet.  Peter denying Jesus and going on to become the rock the Church is built on. The multiple renditions of Jesus’s death on the cross as a convicted criminal.  The challenge is not to figure out how God is going to act, but being present to and recognizing God's Grace at work in our lives.

John Burke is the Campus Minister for Faith and Justice.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Reflection for Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

In the gospel today we find the Pharisees discussing the fate of Jesus. And they come to a conclusion:

“So from that day on they planned to kill Him.”

If we aren’t careful, we might just read over that sentence to see what follows. But read that again, slower: “So from that day on they planned to kill Him.” Yes it is a sad sentence, but what this really is, is a death sentence. It is the death sentence of your God. 

Jesus knew that He was going to die for us. He knew that He was on Earth to save us. And He knew that it was not going to be easy. Yet, it is not hard to imagine that He was still upset and scared when the decision was finally made. Imagine how you would feel if you knew people were planning to kill you. Jesus was fully divine, but He was also fully human.

And who was it that made the decision to kill our Lord and Savior? Sure we can blame it on the Pharisees, but (watch out, this might sting) in all reality it was you and I. Christ came to die for our sins and give us eternal life, so with each sin we help to create Jesus’s death sentence.

Now imagine you know for a fact what your mission on Earth is. And you know exactly what it is going to take to complete that mission -- the final step. This line from the gospel may be a death sentence, but it is also the beginning of the end -- the completion of Jesus’s of mission on Earth. He loves us more than we can imagine and this is how He is going to save us.

Lent is a time to reflect on our human nature, and grow closer to Jesus by working with Him to conquer sin. It hurts us to think about the pain we caused Jesus on the cross – that you and I decided Christ’s death sentence -- but in remembering this, we can find incredible humility and humbleness. God loves us so much. And as Catholics what better way to repay Him for our sins, than by giving our selves to Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus loves us more than we can imagine and surrendering to His love in Confession is the perfect way to prepare for the completion of His mission this Easter.

I am sorry for my sins. I am sorry for the pain I caused You on the cross. Teach me humility, and help me to humble myself before You and before others. Rid me of myself, Lord. I belong to You.

H. Parker Davis is a Sophomore Theology and Communication Double Major, Visual Communication Minor.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Reflection for Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
JER 20: 10-13
PS 18: 2-3A, 3BC-4, 5-6, 7
JN 10: 31-42

“In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice”

Surrounded. In each of the readings today we have figures that are surrounded. Jeremiah can hear the “whispers of many” waiting for “any misstep.” Waiting for the opportunity when he will be moved, so they can take “vengeance on him.” Destroying floods and the snares of death surround the psalmist. Everywhere the psalmist looks, death and destruction lurks. Jesus stands cornered by a group of angry Jews, preparing to stone him.

Jesus asks, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” For each of these characters the good works of the Lord have pushed them into a corner. Escape seems unlikely. What do they do?
“In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.”

As the powers of death surround, they call upon the Lord and he hears them. The Lord hears us. This is something we can take into our everyday life. As we prepare to enter Holy Week remember, “The Lord is with us.” We can keep experiencing the tragedy of the passion, but remember that the Lord, “like a mighty champion” will come again.

Bryan Melcher is a Sophomore studying Theology.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Reflection for Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

The thing about promises is that they are easy to make and hard to keep.
“I promise to call home twice a week,” “I promise to write this paper two weeks before it is due.” “I promise to spend more time with a friend I have not seen in a while.” We make these promises both to others and to ourselves. Yet, often, we find these promises a burden to keep and they slip to the wayside.

In today’s first reading, God promises Abram a collection of earthly substances-a changed name to Abraham, fertility, the land of Canaan, and countless descendants. In turn, God asks that Abraham make a promise to follow God, worshiping him and keeping faith and trust in God’s love.  
Jesus expands on this promise, offering much more than earthly pleasures. In the Gospel today, Jesus exclaims, “Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.” More than land and fertility, Jesus is offering us a promise of eternal life- a salvation with Him. We trust that Jesus will keep this promise. Have we any doubts, just look to the cross. Jesus kept his promise until the horrific end.

When we begin Lent, we make promises both to God and to ourselves. We promise to fast, pray, and almsgive. We promise a sacrifice, whether that be candy or social media or swearing. We may also promise a commitment, such as eating healthy, exercising daily, doing homework ahead of schedule.

With Easter approaching in a little over a week, we may have forgotten some of these initial promises we made. However, it is not too late to renew them. We know that soon Jesus will sacrifice His life in order to fulfill His promise to us. Let us continue to reflect on the sacrifices we make to keep our own promises and pray that God will give us the strength to make and keep our promises.

Moira McDermott is a Junior studying Secondary Education and English.