Monday, March 27, 2017

Reflection for March 27, 2017

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
IS 65: 17-21
PS 30: 2 and 4, 5-6, 11-12A and 13 B
AM 5: 14
JN 4:43-54

Lent is a time of deep reflection. A time to challenge ourselves to be more intentional with our faith. A period to dive deeper into relationship with our heavenly Father. An opportunity to be vulnerable with God about the struggles and challenges we face each day.  Those crosses that we carry in our earthly lives.
The beauty of lent however, is through that time of vulnerability and reflection we come to find that though we carry our own crosses, in the end Jesus Christ carried the biggest cross of all. He carried it humbly and without objection in order to rescue us from our sins and struggles. Furthermore, granting us eternal life with Him and the heavenly Father. Today’s readings are a glance of the beauty, peace, and joy that we will see and feel come Easter morning, and even more so the day we will be welcomed into eternal life in God’s Kingdom of Heaven.
As you begin this new week of Lent, I implore us all to reflect more on the mercy God has already shown in our life. Each day it is easy to lose focus on what is truly important. Today, stop and reflect. Take the time to see ways in which God has planted small joys and moments of love in your life when everything else seems to be going wrong. Remember the mercy God placed on your heart during your lowest, hardest moments. Then finally, end your reflection in worship. Worship God the Father for sending his only son to RESCUE US! To die on the cross in order to give us eternal peace, love, and life.
Our day to day stresses and our earthly crosses will one day fade away. Therefore today, start living for tomorrow. Live for the day that your relationship with God can be celebrated in His glory, where “no longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there,” but “they shall live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant.”
Live each day joyfully and passionately for our God!

My name is Madeline Wappelhorst and I am a sophomore Nursing student with a minor in Health Care Ethics.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Reflection for March 26, 2017

Fourth Sunday of Lent
1 SM 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A
PS 23: 1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6
EPH 5: 8-14
JN 8: 12
JN 9: 1-41 or JN 9: 1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

The theme of darkness and light shows up a lot in these readings – God seeing the potential in young David, the Ephesians’ warning that living in view of God makes demands of your life. Today’s gospel, the story of the man born blind, has always left me feeling uneasy for a few reasons. Of course, it performs its message about blindness and sight by presenting the Pharisees as simply unable to see what is right in front of them: the recovery of sight by the man born blind. Multiple times they are looking for some explanation beyond the simple brute force that the man formerly could not see and now he could. Maybe something that makes me uneasy about the story is that I feel my own closeness to the Pharisees – I would probably also be thinking of alternative ways of explaining that which makes no sense to me. And woe to me (and perhaps a lot of us) who spend a lot of time in the echo chamber of people who think/look like me; I have built up such a confirmation bias of people who agree with me, and it can be hard to get out of that bubble.

On that front, the line from Jesus early in the story has always baffled me; when asked if the man himself had sinned or if his parents had sinned, Jesus (*mercifully*) breaks down that blame game, but he replaces it with something worse: this guy was born blind because God wanted to use him to show off the glory of God. Well and good to be useful to God, but did God plan (“why did this happen?”) for this guy to spend decades being blind just so Jesus could show people a sign? The Pharisees pick up on the same idea as the disciples, that this guy was born blind as a punishment, an excuse they invoke at the end of the story so they do not have to take him seriously.

Whatever the evangelist had in mind, all of us have worldviews to which we are attached, so we often fight against any new information that does not feel like it fits, like a Procrustean beg, stretching or chopping out voices that we want to emphasize or ignore. “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” Obviously we cannot accept everything, and we continue to have to make leaps of faith to know what to believe, but believing that we come into any situation having fully understood it is a weakness, not a strength.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Reflection for March 25, 2017

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
IS 7:10-14; 8-10
PS 40: 7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 11
HEB 10: 4-10
JN 1:14B
LK 1:26- 38

“It’s not about me.” 

My mom always reminds us 4 kids that it’s not about us whenever we caught up in our fast paced lives. It’s not about me. Can I say that I understand the meaning of this saying? To live a life that is not for my own fulfillment but for others, for God, for a greater purpose? In today’s readings, we are called to live not for our own will, but for God’s will. Mary was called to be the Mother of our Lord, to give up her plans, and to live a life for God. How would we react to such an undertaking? Would we agree whole-heartedly like Mary did, to allow God to work freely in our lives? As sinners, we have all struggled with agreeing, without resentment, to do God’s will. So how do we learn say yes? Trust. 

Now, what does it mean to trust? We pray to God that he will work his ways in our lives but as soon as new opportunities arise, we may start to shut him out. We may withdraw ourselves rather than be willing to accept his plan, a plan that we may not initially fully understand. A plan that involves leaving our path and following an unknown one. A plan that may lead us away from those we find comfort in. A plan that may bring fear. But the real beauty in this is that God will lead us closer to him when we “Let Go and Let God.”

How I wish to someday be open to letting God lead me without my resistance and fully understand that it’s really not about me. It’s about him. And with Lent, we have the opportunity to open our hearts more fully to sensing God’s call, in all aspects of our lives. We are called to sacrifice for him and to live out his will for the betterment of others. In order to really do such actions of faith, we need to ask God for assistance as we let go of our aspirations and let him guide our lives. While fear may be our first reaction, we must learn to trust and follow the example of Mary in her yes. Such trust may start in prayerful conversation with God, talking to him like we would a friend and learning to heed his words. Because, it should be our goal to one day trust in his call and understand that it’s all about his work in our lives.

Anna Becker is a Junior biology major on a Pre-Dental Track. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Reflection for March 23, 2017

Thursday of the Third Week of Lent
JER 7: 23-28
PS 95: 1-2, 6-7, 8-9
JL 2:12-13
LK 11: 14-23

Friends of the SLU community:

We are about half way through Lent, and I pray that we can use this day to reflect on our Lenten journey thus far. Right around this time is when I start to realize that 40 days is a long time.  40 days can be a very rough and tedious amount of time to remain faithful to adjustments of habits, dedicated prayer, and a change in food choices that we committed ourselves to about three weeks ago. But perhaps, this is a time to look to Scripture. The Great Flood lasted for 40 days (Genesis 7:12). Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 34:28). The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 days (Numbers 14:33). Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days (Matthew 4:2). Is Lent 40 days just by coincidence? Not one bit.

The number 40 represents something absolutely beautiful. It is a period meant for preparation and cleansing for something great that is coming.  Lent is the perfect time to refresh our hearts and refocus ourselves in our faith journey. And even though we are about three weeks in, this does not mean that it is too late for this.  There is always time for new beginnings because Jesus is made new and gives us a new day every single morning.

In today’s first reading we hear from the book of Jeremiah.  Jesus commands His people to listen to His voice and follow His commandments.  And what do His people do? The exact opposite. They turn their heads away from Him and “walk in the hardness of their evil hearts.” This immediately struck me as so applicable to our daily lives.  Everyday Jesus hands us an invitation to walk with Him that day.  From the moment our feet hit the ground, He asks us to listen to His voice and follow His ways.  And how often do we turn our heads and walk the other way? Simply because we are too busy.  We are rushed.  We are distracted.  We are preoccupied.

It’s not too late.  I pray that today we spend time in prayer with our Lord reflecting on the ways in which we have turned our back on Him and how we can spend the next couple weeks as a time of choosing to turn our face towards Him. In past years, I’ve gotten frustrated at the end of Lent because I would think to myself, “well, another Lent went by, and I feel just the same.” I challenge you to not let that be you this year. Start right now, begin today. Jesus doesn’t put a time limit on when we can fall back in love with Him and His ways.  The journey begins when you are willing to say “yes!” He’s ready for you!

 Betty Goodwin is a senior in the College of Education.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reflection for March 22, 2017

Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent
DT 4: 1, 5-9
PS 147: 12-13, 15-16, 19-20
JN 6:63C, 68 C
MT 5:17-19

In today’s first reading we jump into the middle of the story of Exodus. Again, the Israelites have grown impatient in the desert, this time turning to idol worship as they wait for Moses to return from speaking with God on Mt. Sinai. God is extremely unhappy (to say the least) and ready to destroy the people. Then Moses intercedes for the Israelites, convincing God to spare their lives. Way to go, Moses.

At this point in our Lenten journeys it may be important to reflect and see if we too have gotten off track. Like the desert around Mt. Sinai, Lent can feel empty at times. If we are not comfortable with that emptiness, we may opt to fill it with a distraction (hopefully not one as drastic as idol-worship, but you get the picture). Well-known theologian, Henri Nouwen, offers these reflections on emptiness:

It is very hard to allow emptiness to exist in our lives. Emptiness requires a willingness not to be in control, a willingness to let something new and unexpected happen. It requires trust, surrender, and openness to guidance. God wants to dwell in our emptiness. But as long as we are afraid of God and God’s actions in our lives, it is unlikely that we will offer our emptiness to God. Let’s pray that we can let go of our fear of God and embrace God as the source of all love.

Who knows? Maybe these words could have helped the Israelites avoid falling into the distraction of idol worship. Nevertheless, this reflection should challenge you as you continue on your Lenten journey. If you are feeling an emptiness in your life, do not fear it, but do your best to embrace it. In the same way, do not fear God, but invite God to be present in your emptiness—to use that empty space to work through you.

Parker Davis is a senior studying Theology who likes Jesus and strawberry milk.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Reflection for March 21, 2017

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
DN 3:25, 34-43
PS 25: 4-5AB, 6 and 7 BC, 8-9
JK 2:12-13
MT 18: 21-35

Today’s readings discuss mercy and forgiveness, themes we are likely familiar with following last year’s Jubilee Year of Mercy. Lent is a great time to review that and to remind ourselves that God’s Mercy towards us all, and our mercy towards others, is not and should not be limited just to the 2016 liturgical year.
In the first reading from Daniel 3:25,34-43 and the first half of the gospel from Matthew 18:21-27, we are reminded of how great God’s mercy is for us. In Daniel, Azariah acknowledges how our offenses against God merit a loss of relationship with Him, but he appeals to God’s mercy, begging that He forget our sin and remember His covenant with us. In Matthew 18:21-27, when a servant who owes “a huge debt” begs the king for patience so that he can pay him back a little later, the king does not offer patience, but complete forgiveness. Whereas before forgiving the servant, the king intended to sell the servant, his family and his property to pay off the debt, because the servant pleaded with him, his entire debt was repaid. We must acknowledge that we have sinned and that the consequences of our sins are vast and unable to be paid, meriting a loss of relationship with God, our loved ones and even ourselves. But God’s mercy is even vaster than our sins. When we ask for patience, God gives us pardon and peace.
This story of mercy and forgiveness does not end here though, as we see in the second half of today’s Gospel (Matt 18:28-35). Continuing the story of the king and his servant whose large debt has just been forgiven, we see the same servant act completely mercilessly towards one of his own servants who owes a much smaller debt. The king is deeply disturbed by the servant’s lack of mercy and revokes the pardon he had offered to the servant.
It is no lie that here on earth we have been and will continue to be hurt and disappointed by others and even ourselves. It is so tempting to demand that these debts be repaid promptly and in full and to insist that a relationship remain severed until the hurt is repaired. But we must remember how we have hurt God and how he has always offered forgiveness to us. We must always remember—and contemplate especially this Lent—the sacrifice that Christ made during his life and in his death that enabled our debts to be forgiven and our relationship with God always to be restored. We remember this not only in our thoughts but also in our actions, in our mercy and forgiveness of other and ourselves. God wants us to be like Him in all things, and that includes in His Mercy and Forgiveness. Today and for the rest of Lent, as we remember our sins and the mercy of God, let us also ask God for the graces to forgive all who have hurt us so that on Easter Sunday, we will be received with a “contrite heart and a humble spirit” (Daniel 3:39).

Betsy Daly is a junior in the School of Education. She has a double major in Education and Theology. She is also involved with Students for Life and the Edmund Campion Society.