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June 30, 2018

MT 8: 5-17

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.”

The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.”

When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.” And the servant was healed in that hour.

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.

Asking for healing

There seem to be two sets of people in today’s Gospel reading: those who are healed of their afflictions and those who bring the sick to Jesus’ attention.  Jesus’ interaction with the centurion results in the physical healing of the man’s servant, and a powerful affirmation of faith from the Roman soldier.

There are times in our lives where we may play both of these roles in our relationship with God.  Sometimes we are in need of healing, mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally. Other times we may feel strong in our faith and seek out a deeper relationship with Christ.

What do we need to bring before God to ask for healing?  What is a way we can profess our faith today?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you healed the centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, and countless others who were brought to you.  Heal us of whatever causes us harm. Just as the centurion’s faith caused him to seek your healing of his servant, may our faith be strong as we bring the needs of our world before you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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June 29, 2018

Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles

Mt 16:13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in 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.

Who do you say that I am?

Who do you say that I am? It is a question that echoes through the centuries. If I ask family and friends, their answer tells me something about me and them and us. If I ask Jesus, his answer tells me about me and him and us. When relationships are mutual, the question echoes back –“who do you say that I am?” – and I must answer. This question and its answer between people who love one another do not result in analytical data points. Rather our answers reveal who you are to me, and me to you, and us to us.

Jesus asks his friends – who do you say that I am? Peter answers: “You are the answer to our questions, the location of our hopes, the reason for our joys. You are the One we have longed for to help us and heal us. You, Jesus, are everything.” And I might imagine the smile on Jesus’ face, as he turns, looks at me and asks “and who do you say that I am?”

—Carol Ackels is director of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute and co-author of Finding Christ in the World, a twelve week Ignatian retreat.

Prayer

Jesus, our brother,
You sometimes ask hard questions
and answers are not always easy.
But why would you ask questions at all?
You do not demand answers,
yet you invite and guide and love us
in ways that inflame a desire to respond.
Give us the grace to be courageous.
May we learn to listen, today,
to you and to ourselves and to others.
May our listening lead to loving, today.
And may our loving be the answer needed, today.

Amen.

—Carol Ackels

 


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June 28, 2018

St. Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr

Mt 7:21-29

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’

Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

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 temptation to build on sand

Build on rock or build on sand. I get it. There’s a choice we must make, whether to follow the Lord’s way, or the worldly way of sin, greed, self-absorption, and all those other little demons that entice me. But here’s the problem, Jesus. Of course I want to build on rock, and in many ways I do just that. But your imagery makes it sound deceptively simple, as if we will only have to make that sand or rock choice once in a lifetime, and then never have to worry about it again. But I feel like I must make that choice a lot. Almost every day I feel the subtle tug to build (or at least vacation for a while) on the sands of greed, self-absorption, meanness or dozens more demons.

Do you have your own characteristic, ongoing moments of temptation to build on sand?

—Chris Lowney is author of various books. His most recent is Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World) published by Loyola Press.

Prayer

Lord, help me to be a wiser builder, every day of my life. When I’m tempted to build something on the sands of temptation, remind me that I want to dwell on the solid rock that is following you.

—Chris Lowney

 


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June 28, 2018

Mt 7:1-5

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

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 ridiculous we are to judge

What vivid imagery Jesus invokes in today’s Gospel reading!

As the son of a carpenter, perhaps His father asked for Jesus’ help one afternoon in toting some wood. We might imagine an adolescent Jesus proudly stepping up to the plate to haul the biggest board that he could muster – only to be rendered temporarily useless by the tiniest fraction – a mere splinter – of it.

I suspect that we’ve all been there and don’t need any help in conjuring up the pain. But a splinter in one’s eye … how does that even happen? And, who, having acquired a splinter in his eye, ever needed anyone else’s help to realize his predicament? (What could be more ridiculous than that?)

Well, this … says Jesus: a person with a wooden beam sticking out of his eye who takes the occasion to scrutinize someone else’s infirmity.

(Ludicrous, right?)

Precisely – just like judging another person.

—Corey Quinn is the president of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to recognize the errors of my ways, or the splinters in my eye.  Give me the humility to respond to criticism and the strength to change my actions to be more in line with how you would like me to live.  Remind me that you alone are our judge. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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June 27, 2018

Mt 7:15-20

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

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.

Called to bear good fruit

The lemons from my tree this year were dinky and dry—nothing like last year’s juicy bumper crop. Perhaps the curled leaves signaled the need for more water? Jesus says twice, “You will know them by their fruits.” Clearly, I won’t be known as a Master Gardener.

However, my lemon tree did shelter a nest that grew baby birds. You never know how God, our Master Gardener, will grow our unique gifts into good fruit that feeds others.

Jesus also warns that you can’t gather figs from thistles—or from lemon trees for that matter. The kind of fruit I bear depends on the person God has uniquely called me to be. And notice that Jesus doesn’t say that good trees produce perfect fruit.

What kind of good fruit is God calling you to produce from your unique tree? Can you be patient with God’s slow work within you?

—Diane Amento Owens is a spiritual director who encourages her directees to see the world through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.

Prayer

Lord, you are my Master Gardener.
Water my being with your love and your grace
And cultivate patience within me when I expect rapid growth.
Send me rays of Son-light so that I may flourish
And produce much good fruit.
Prune away my desire for perfection
And shape me into the kind of good tree you want me to be.
May I be grateful for the unique gifts you have given me
and share them with those I meet today.

—Diane Amento Owens

 

 

 

 


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June 26, 2018

Mt 7:6, 12-14

“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

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 patient love of a pet

Of all the references that have gotten stale with time, the Gospel of Matthew’s admonition against giving “what is holy to dogs” might be the most out of date. At that time, dogs weren’t kept as pets, but instead were seen as a defilement in the Temple. These days, dogs seem to appear in all places, from airplanes to offices and even churches! In the two thousand years since Jesus’ worldly ministry, dogs have turned from mangy mongrels into one of the purest ways people express love. In some profound ways, dogs, with their patient love, abundant forgiveness, and unbridled joy, model for us what life with God is like.

How might you live today with the radiant joy of a well-loved pet?

—Jake Braithwaite, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Northeast Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

God who loves us, help us to embrace the love you have for us and reflect that back into the world to those we encounter.  May we have the patience we need to deal with difficult people and situations, and the willingness to forgive others as we ask you to forgive us.  Help us to radiate joy into our world. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

June 25, 2018

Mt 7:1-5

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

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 ridiculous we are to judge

What vivid imagery Jesus invokes in today’s Gospel reading!

As the son of a carpenter, perhaps His father asked for Jesus’ help one afternoon in toting some wood. We might imagine an adolescent Jesus proudly stepping up to the plate to haul the biggest board that he could muster – only to be rendered temporarily useless by the tiniest fraction – a mere splinter – of it.

I suspect that we’ve all been there and don’t need any help in conjuring up the pain. But a splinter in one’s eye … how does that even happen? And, who, having acquired a splinter in his eye, ever needed anyone else’s help to realize his predicament? (What could be more ridiculous than that?)

Well, this … says Jesus: a person with a wooden beam sticking out of his eye who takes the occasion to scrutinize someone else’s infirmity.

(Ludicrous, right?)

Precisely – just like judging another person.

—Corey Quinn is the president of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to recognize the errors of my ways, or the splinters in my eye.  Give me the humility to respond to criticism and the strength to change my actions to be more in line with how you would like me to live.  Remind me that you alone are our judge. Amen.

 —The Jesuit Prayer team


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June 24, 2018

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Is 49:1-6

Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.

And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.”

And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

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.

Tearing down divisions

We are all created in the image and likeness of God. More than ever, these words should remind us that we have a responsibility to serve our brothers and sisters, because we are made for action. Even when we feel that we are “laboring in vain” God has created us as specialized instruments for his arsenal. We should not presume that these are merely instruments of war, however. Notice that the following lines are about building and restoring community. Today, no message could be more pertinent as look at our wider political climate. Too often we are separated by ideology and not united to build and serve the kingdom of God.

Let us rise to the call of being the “light to the nations” and work for peace and the common good, tearing down divisions so that God’s salvation might reach the ends of the earth.

—Fr. R.J. Fichtinger, SJ, is a priest of the Midwest Province.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you call us to work for peace and justice in our communities, both locally and globally.  Open our hearts to those with whom we disagree, help us to build bridges toward our opponents so that we can work together to bring about your kingdom on earth.  May we allow ourselves to be your instruments in our world. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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June 23, 2018

Mt 6:24-34

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’

For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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.

Trusting in God’s providence

Today’s Gospel invites us to consider how we position ourselves before the Lord’s providence. It is not so much a condemnation of the capitalist economic system, which when lacking God indeed allows for money to replace God in our hearts, as much as an invitation to clarify our priorities.

Jesus exhorts us to “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” This is our vocation as children of God. However, the reality and urgency of the concrete needs of our world, such as food and clothing, sometimes blur or even supersede that vocation. Then, providing for them becomes the only driver of our lives.

The search for the Kingdom is, on the contrary, a search for a fraternal and just coexistence, where we all can live as brethren and care for the needs of each other, and where nobody would need to worry about tomorrow.

How do I understand and live my trust in God’s Providence?

—Fernando Luis Barreto Mercado, SJ, is a member of the USA Central and Southern Province. He will be ordained a priest at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 28.

Prayer

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
with the lyre make music to our God,
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
provides rain for the earth,
makes grass sprout on the mountains,
Who gives animals their food
and young ravens what they cry for.
He takes no delight in the strength of horses,
no pleasure in the runner’s stride.
Rather the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
those who put their hope in his mercy.

—Psalm 147:7-11

 


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June 22, 2018

Mt 6:19-23

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

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.

Treasures of heaven

Jesus tells us not to store up treasures on earth, but instead to store up treasures in heaven. Wealth does not satisfy. Money is only a means to other ends, many of which give only the illusion of happiness: status, security, or material pleasures. St. Ignatius of Loyola advocated that we be indifferent to all created goods, not only because they can take our attention away from God, but also because they do not truly satisfy our deepest longings.

What are the “treasures of heaven”? Jesus does not give us a list, but we know that they are goods that endure because God preserves them forever. St. Paul says that love “endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7). Our wealth, health, youthful good looks, status, and power will all fade away, but the love and relationships we create together will never leave us, because God will always preserve that love.

—Marina McCoy is an associate professor of philosophy at Boston College.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

 

 

 


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June 30, 2018

MT 8: 5-17

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.”

The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.”

When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.” And the servant was healed in that hour.

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.

Asking for healing

There seem to be two sets of people in today’s Gospel reading: those who are healed of their afflictions and those who bring the sick to Jesus’ attention.  Jesus’ interaction with the centurion results in the physical healing of the man’s servant, and a powerful affirmation of faith from the Roman soldier.

There are times in our lives where we may play both of these roles in our relationship with God.  Sometimes we are in need of healing, mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally. Other times we may feel strong in our faith and seek out a deeper relationship with Christ.

What do we need to bring before God to ask for healing?  What is a way we can profess our faith today?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you healed the centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, and countless others who were brought to you.  Heal us of whatever causes us harm. Just as the centurion’s faith caused him to seek your healing of his servant, may our faith be strong as we bring the needs of our world before you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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June 29, 2018

Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles

Mt 16:13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in 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.

Who do you say that I am?

Who do you say that I am? It is a question that echoes through the centuries. If I ask family and friends, their answer tells me something about me and them and us. If I ask Jesus, his answer tells me about me and him and us. When relationships are mutual, the question echoes back –“who do you say that I am?” – and I must answer. This question and its answer between people who love one another do not result in analytical data points. Rather our answers reveal who you are to me, and me to you, and us to us.

Jesus asks his friends – who do you say that I am? Peter answers: “You are the answer to our questions, the location of our hopes, the reason for our joys. You are the One we have longed for to help us and heal us. You, Jesus, are everything.” And I might imagine the smile on Jesus’ face, as he turns, looks at me and asks “and who do you say that I am?”

—Carol Ackels is director of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute and co-author of Finding Christ in the World, a twelve week Ignatian retreat.

Prayer

Jesus, our brother,
You sometimes ask hard questions
and answers are not always easy.
But why would you ask questions at all?
You do not demand answers,
yet you invite and guide and love us
in ways that inflame a desire to respond.
Give us the grace to be courageous.
May we learn to listen, today,
to you and to ourselves and to others.
May our listening lead to loving, today.
And may our loving be the answer needed, today.

Amen.

—Carol Ackels

 


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June 28, 2018

St. Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr

Mt 7:21-29

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’

Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

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 temptation to build on sand

Build on rock or build on sand. I get it. There’s a choice we must make, whether to follow the Lord’s way, or the worldly way of sin, greed, self-absorption, and all those other little demons that entice me. But here’s the problem, Jesus. Of course I want to build on rock, and in many ways I do just that. But your imagery makes it sound deceptively simple, as if we will only have to make that sand or rock choice once in a lifetime, and then never have to worry about it again. But I feel like I must make that choice a lot. Almost every day I feel the subtle tug to build (or at least vacation for a while) on the sands of greed, self-absorption, meanness or dozens more demons.

Do you have your own characteristic, ongoing moments of temptation to build on sand?

—Chris Lowney is author of various books. His most recent is Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World) published by Loyola Press.

Prayer

Lord, help me to be a wiser builder, every day of my life. When I’m tempted to build something on the sands of temptation, remind me that I want to dwell on the solid rock that is following you.

—Chris Lowney

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

June 28, 2018

Mt 7:1-5

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

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 ridiculous we are to judge

What vivid imagery Jesus invokes in today’s Gospel reading!

As the son of a carpenter, perhaps His father asked for Jesus’ help one afternoon in toting some wood. We might imagine an adolescent Jesus proudly stepping up to the plate to haul the biggest board that he could muster – only to be rendered temporarily useless by the tiniest fraction – a mere splinter – of it.

I suspect that we’ve all been there and don’t need any help in conjuring up the pain. But a splinter in one’s eye … how does that even happen? And, who, having acquired a splinter in his eye, ever needed anyone else’s help to realize his predicament? (What could be more ridiculous than that?)

Well, this … says Jesus: a person with a wooden beam sticking out of his eye who takes the occasion to scrutinize someone else’s infirmity.

(Ludicrous, right?)

Precisely – just like judging another person.

—Corey Quinn is the president of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to recognize the errors of my ways, or the splinters in my eye.  Give me the humility to respond to criticism and the strength to change my actions to be more in line with how you would like me to live.  Remind me that you alone are our judge. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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June 27, 2018

Mt 7:15-20

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

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.

Called to bear good fruit

The lemons from my tree this year were dinky and dry—nothing like last year’s juicy bumper crop. Perhaps the curled leaves signaled the need for more water? Jesus says twice, “You will know them by their fruits.” Clearly, I won’t be known as a Master Gardener.

However, my lemon tree did shelter a nest that grew baby birds. You never know how God, our Master Gardener, will grow our unique gifts into good fruit that feeds others.

Jesus also warns that you can’t gather figs from thistles—or from lemon trees for that matter. The kind of fruit I bear depends on the person God has uniquely called me to be. And notice that Jesus doesn’t say that good trees produce perfect fruit.

What kind of good fruit is God calling you to produce from your unique tree? Can you be patient with God’s slow work within you?

—Diane Amento Owens is a spiritual director who encourages her directees to see the world through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.

Prayer

Lord, you are my Master Gardener.
Water my being with your love and your grace
And cultivate patience within me when I expect rapid growth.
Send me rays of Son-light so that I may flourish
And produce much good fruit.
Prune away my desire for perfection
And shape me into the kind of good tree you want me to be.
May I be grateful for the unique gifts you have given me
and share them with those I meet today.

—Diane Amento Owens

 

 

 

 


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June 26, 2018

Mt 7:6, 12-14

“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

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 patient love of a pet

Of all the references that have gotten stale with time, the Gospel of Matthew’s admonition against giving “what is holy to dogs” might be the most out of date. At that time, dogs weren’t kept as pets, but instead were seen as a defilement in the Temple. These days, dogs seem to appear in all places, from airplanes to offices and even churches! In the two thousand years since Jesus’ worldly ministry, dogs have turned from mangy mongrels into one of the purest ways people express love. In some profound ways, dogs, with their patient love, abundant forgiveness, and unbridled joy, model for us what life with God is like.

How might you live today with the radiant joy of a well-loved pet?

—Jake Braithwaite, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Northeast Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

God who loves us, help us to embrace the love you have for us and reflect that back into the world to those we encounter.  May we have the patience we need to deal with difficult people and situations, and the willingness to forgive others as we ask you to forgive us.  Help us to radiate joy into our world. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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June 25, 2018

Mt 7:1-5

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

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 ridiculous we are to judge

What vivid imagery Jesus invokes in today’s Gospel reading!

As the son of a carpenter, perhaps His father asked for Jesus’ help one afternoon in toting some wood. We might imagine an adolescent Jesus proudly stepping up to the plate to haul the biggest board that he could muster – only to be rendered temporarily useless by the tiniest fraction – a mere splinter – of it.

I suspect that we’ve all been there and don’t need any help in conjuring up the pain. But a splinter in one’s eye … how does that even happen? And, who, having acquired a splinter in his eye, ever needed anyone else’s help to realize his predicament? (What could be more ridiculous than that?)

Well, this … says Jesus: a person with a wooden beam sticking out of his eye who takes the occasion to scrutinize someone else’s infirmity.

(Ludicrous, right?)

Precisely – just like judging another person.

—Corey Quinn is the president of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to recognize the errors of my ways, or the splinters in my eye.  Give me the humility to respond to criticism and the strength to change my actions to be more in line with how you would like me to live.  Remind me that you alone are our judge. Amen.

 —The Jesuit Prayer team


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June 24, 2018

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Is 49:1-6

Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.

And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.”

And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

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.

Tearing down divisions

We are all created in the image and likeness of God. More than ever, these words should remind us that we have a responsibility to serve our brothers and sisters, because we are made for action. Even when we feel that we are “laboring in vain” God has created us as specialized instruments for his arsenal. We should not presume that these are merely instruments of war, however. Notice that the following lines are about building and restoring community. Today, no message could be more pertinent as look at our wider political climate. Too often we are separated by ideology and not united to build and serve the kingdom of God.

Let us rise to the call of being the “light to the nations” and work for peace and the common good, tearing down divisions so that God’s salvation might reach the ends of the earth.

—Fr. R.J. Fichtinger, SJ, is a priest of the Midwest Province.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you call us to work for peace and justice in our communities, both locally and globally.  Open our hearts to those with whom we disagree, help us to build bridges toward our opponents so that we can work together to bring about your kingdom on earth.  May we allow ourselves to be your instruments in our world. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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June 23, 2018

Mt 6:24-34

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’

For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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.

Trusting in God’s providence

Today’s Gospel invites us to consider how we position ourselves before the Lord’s providence. It is not so much a condemnation of the capitalist economic system, which when lacking God indeed allows for money to replace God in our hearts, as much as an invitation to clarify our priorities.

Jesus exhorts us to “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” This is our vocation as children of God. However, the reality and urgency of the concrete needs of our world, such as food and clothing, sometimes blur or even supersede that vocation. Then, providing for them becomes the only driver of our lives.

The search for the Kingdom is, on the contrary, a search for a fraternal and just coexistence, where we all can live as brethren and care for the needs of each other, and where nobody would need to worry about tomorrow.

How do I understand and live my trust in God’s Providence?

—Fernando Luis Barreto Mercado, SJ, is a member of the USA Central and Southern Province. He will be ordained a priest at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 28.

Prayer

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
with the lyre make music to our God,
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
provides rain for the earth,
makes grass sprout on the mountains,
Who gives animals their food
and young ravens what they cry for.
He takes no delight in the strength of horses,
no pleasure in the runner’s stride.
Rather the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
those who put their hope in his mercy.

—Psalm 147:7-11

 


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June 22, 2018

Mt 6:19-23

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

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.

Treasures of heaven

Jesus tells us not to store up treasures on earth, but instead to store up treasures in heaven. Wealth does not satisfy. Money is only a means to other ends, many of which give only the illusion of happiness: status, security, or material pleasures. St. Ignatius of Loyola advocated that we be indifferent to all created goods, not only because they can take our attention away from God, but also because they do not truly satisfy our deepest longings.

What are the “treasures of heaven”? Jesus does not give us a list, but we know that they are goods that endure because God preserves them forever. St. Paul says that love “endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7). Our wealth, health, youthful good looks, status, and power will all fade away, but the love and relationships we create together will never leave us, because God will always preserve that love.

—Marina McCoy is an associate professor of philosophy at Boston College.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

 

 

 


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