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July 14, 2019

Lk 10: 25-37

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 

Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

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.

Responding to our neighbor

Sometimes even basic equations are tough to balance.

Love of God + Love of neighbor = Eternal life

All our heart, soul, strength, and mind? All our neighbors? Not there yet Lord…
Do we still qualify for eternal life?
God promises the answer is ‘yes’ if we do what is asked of us…
to love God and to love our neighbor…

Jesuit Gustavo Gutierrez reflected on the Spanish translations for neighbor – vecino (a person living nearby) and prójimo (our shared humanity) – to make a point about loving others.

The Good Samaritan encountered a person left for dead. The authentically human response in that or any moment was to love the other. He cared for someone he did not know because he saw himself in the other and could do nothing less. “Go and do likewise,” said Jesus.

How ready are we to respond likewise to the people we encounter today?

Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ, completed his term as president of Loyola High School in Detroit and will soon leave for his tertianship experience in Cape Town, South Africa

Prayer

Lord Jesus, give me the courage to respond as you would respond, with love and compassion. Help me put my humanity into relationship with the humanity of others, to feel what they feel, to suffer what they suffer and, in being truly with them, to allow us together to find our way into life eternal – a life of love, total and complete love. Amen.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

July 13, 2019

Mt 10: 24-33

“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. 

“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father 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.

Freed to step out into the future

Have you heard of The Sparrow, the science fiction story of a Jesuit on mission to another planet? The book is one of combinatory creativity. That is, a product of the author’s observation of the church and the world as well as her imagination of what could be.

How powerful is a creativity that employs both keen observation and vivid imagination!  The Spirit can use this to set the world on fire.

What keeps us from creating with a combinatory creativity? Likely, fear.

We are freed from fear and for this creativity when we internalize Gospel message today.  Deep peace comes from the knowledge that we are held tenderly by God and this peace frees us to co-create the future boldly.

Paul Mitchell is a Jesuit educator who has stepped out of the classroom into full-time care of his two young sons. He is the author of Audacious Ignatius.

Prayer

Loving God, you have created us and know us so intimately that you know every hair on our heads.  Free us from the fear that keeps us from accepting your invitation to co-labor in your field and be your hands in this world.  May we never let fear stop us from imagining and working toward a world that more closely resembles your heavenly kingdom. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

June 12, 2019

Mt 10: 16-23

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 

When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. 

But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

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.

Christianity isn’t always easy

This Gospel reminds me of a story a priest friend of mine once related. On vacation, on the beach, he was approached by some Christian evangelizers who were unaware of his vocation. They asked him if he had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; his response? “Unfortunately, yes.” His wry comment reflects Jesus’ clear point that the Christian life is not an easy choice. Jesus is very clear that what his father values is radically different than what the world values.

We live in a broken world where goodness and faith are often unrewarded. Christ is warning his disciples and us that betrayal and pain are real, as real as Christ’s own Passion and death. The Resurrection, however, is a greater reality than the darkness of the world.

—Jerry Skoch is a Spiritual Director and Vice President & Chief Mission Officer at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

Dear Lord, I know that this pilgrimage has moments of suffering. Please give me the wisdom and courage to suffer for you and your kingdom rather than suffering as a result of my own sinful choices.

—Jerry Skoch


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

July 11, 2019

St. Benedict, Abbot

Mt 10: 7-15

As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 

As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

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.

Our needs will be met

This Gospel takes me back to my days as a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC). One of the four values of JVC is simple living – to learn to separate needs from wants and gain freedom from the material. I struggled as I packed for my year of service, unsure of what was to come and doubting whether or not I would be prepared.

Jesus asks his apostles to live simply as they go proclaim the Good News, and to have faith that their needs will be met on the journey. I would imagine there were a few apostles who doubted Jesus when he told them to leave behind their sandals and second tunic. And yet, their needs were met throughout the journey. How can we renew our faith that God will fulfill our needs, even when we doubt?

—Mikayla Lofton is the Grants Program Manager for the Cristo Rey Network and was a Jesuit Volunteer in Atlanta (‘15-’16).

Prayer

Lord, give me the grace to labor with you without seeking myself – to live the Kingdom in its full reality.

John Futrell, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

July 10, 2019

Mt 10: 1-7

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’

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 be 21st century apostles

In today’s Gospel, Jesus shares his own divine authority with the apostles – the power to drive out unclean spirits and cure every illness.  Jesus empowers the disciples to go forth and take up the job of proclaiming love and hope. That’s one heck of a job description full of other duties as assigned!

Two thousand years later, the new Universal Apolostalic Preferences of the Society of Jesus authorizes us “to walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, and those whose dignity has been violated.”  God has given us amazing powers for healing, and God calls us to go into the world and do amazing things. 

So I ask you, Jesus’ 21st century apostles….

Imagine a place where you see illness, poverty, loss of dignity, or people cast out.

Where do you feel called to heal?

Pray for the grace to respond and proclaim the hope in Christ.

Heaven is already at hand.

Jen LaMaster is an Assistant Principal at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, IN.

Prayer

Creator God,
Thank you for this beautiful world full of opportunity.
Please give me ears to hear the cry of the poor denied the riches I take for granted.
Grant me your healing grace as I respond in my awkward, very human way.

Redeemer God,
Thank you for companionship of friends and family who hold me in their love.
Please give me the words to stand up for those cast out and alone.
Grant me your strength to speak with the power of your hope that all are wanted and worthy. 

Sustainer God,
Thank you for my abundant security of my health and faith.
Please give me the eyes to see where dignity is lost, where your beloved souls are violated in body and spirit.
Grant me your wisdom as I struggle to act with generosity and open arms to welcome the wounded and walk alongside them.

—Jen LaMaster


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July 9, 2019

St. Leo Mangin, SJ, and companions

Gn 32: 22-33

The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had.

Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” 

But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.

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.

Following Jesus may not be easy

Jacob limps away from his encounter with God. He gets his blessing but getting close to God is risky and it costs something. The writer Flannery O’Connor always loved to depict the work of God’s grace as violent, and I can’t help but wonder if this was one of her favorite scripture passages. I am more comfortable thinking of God as a warm, loving parent ready to support me through anything. Yet Jesus both promised great things to those who followed him and was also clear that the way was going to be difficult and violent—just as his own life demonstrated.

Since I am imperfect and prone to my own sins and self-involvements, the grace needed to follow Christ might also leave me limping. How can I be more open to God’s grace today and more ready to see it even in the pain and struggle of my life?

Nick Courtney, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the USA Central and Southern Province currently working at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, TX, where he teaches history and coaches football.

Prayer

God, help me to trust in you when you make demands on me, when you try to lead me to places I do not want to go. Give me the strength to get up and follow you, especially when there is a cost. Keep me always mindful of the great price you have already paid for me, and that all I am able to offer is already a gift from you. 

—Nick Courtney, SJ


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July 8, 2019

Mt 9: 18-26

While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread throughout that district.

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.

Trust Sparks Joy

In his 2019 Ash Wednesday homily at Rockhurst University, Fr. Sean Salai, SJ, encouraged the faithful to view Lenten sacrifices through the lens of Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing consultant of Netflix fame.  When coaching her clients to simplify, Marie Kondo invites them to hold items (an old shirt, a knick-knack on a shelf, etc.) that are cluttering their space. If that item sparks joy, then she advises to keep it. If not, then it needs to go!  Fr. Salai invited us to channel our inner Marie Kondo for Lent: instead of “giving up” chocolate for 40 days, we were encouraged to “let go” of habits that fail to spark joy in our relationship with self, God, and others.

In St. Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation, he advises the “making use of those things that help to bring us closer to God and leaving aside those things that don’t.”  This is the core Ignatian value of indifference, or detachment. This requires trust. Specifically, this requires trust in the Lord, which most certainly can spark lasting, even if not instantaneous, joy.

Bill Kriege serves as the director of campus ministry at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO.

Prayer

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time. 

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow. 

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

July 7, 2019

Is 66: 10-14

Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her— that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom. For thus says the Lord: I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees. 

As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bodies shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies.

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.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord

A good mantra leads us prayerfully into the deep love that God has for us. It also helps us enter into prayer when we are otherwise preoccupied or distracted, when we fail to appreciate God at work in our lives.

Jesuits pray the Examen twice per day. Our schools “interrupt” the class schedule to remind students and staff (and visitors) to pause and to remember God at work in our lives.

Isaiah calls the people Israel to experience once again one of life’s most intimate moments, to savor the experience of an infant suckling at the breast of her mother. God wants us to feel loved and nurtured in the same way.

Entering back into the flow of our day is not always easy but, in those moments, God wishes to reveal a deep love for us and for all of creation. 

Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ, has completed his term as president of Loyola High School in Detroit and will soon leave for his tertianship experience in Cape Town, South Africa

Prayer

Lord Jesus, call me back to those moments of my day and my life where you were alive for me. Help me savor those times I recognized and celebrated you. Let me experience anew those times I missed you, Lord. Help me taste and see your goodness Lord.  Amen.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

July 6, 2019

Mt 9: 14-17

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 

No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

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.

God’s presence in the dissonance

This past Ash Wednesday, my two year old and I walked to mass.  He delights in music, especially the Alleluia, the only song he can “sing.”

He was perplexed, then, at the prayerful silence and lack of music. He repeatedly and audibly pleaded for “More singing! Alleluia! Alleluia!”

While the scene was fairly mortifying (Lent pun intended), my son was on to something. Those days were Alleluia days for our family.  Our second child had been born days before. The bridegroom was with us. 

It is a strange feeling when the liturgical seasons do not align with life’s seasons. The disciples of John and of Jesus in today’s Gospel must have felt this too. This dissonance, though, can wake us up to be more attuned to the grace of our lives: the incarnate love of a God who became human for us as well as the formation of the liturgical seasons.

Paul Mitchell is a Jesuit educator who has stepped out of the classroom into full-time care of his two young sons. He is the author of Audacious Ignatius.

Prayer

Lord, give me the grace to labor with you without seeking myself–to live the Kingdom in its full reality.

—John Futrell, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

July 5, 2019

Mt 9: 9-13

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 

But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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.

God’s desire for us

We are created in the image and likeness of God. This reality means that our pilgrimage of self-discovery is also a journey toward God. The more clearly we see our authentic selves the more likely we are to see the image of God.

The themes and prayers contained in the Spiritual Exercises provide us means to uncover our true desires, seeking not for what I want but rather asking, “What does God want for me?”

In today’s Gospel Jesus shares with us an incredible insight about what God desires. What might it mean if I focused my being on mercy rather than sacrifice? I think perhaps I should worry less about others, and me, living up to “expectations” and more about forgiving others, and myself.

—Jerry Skoch is a Spiritual Director and Vice President & Chief Mission Officer at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, you know I am the sick sinner you care for. Please help me to remember you are the physician and Savior not me. Amen.

—Jerry Skoch


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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July 14, 2019

Lk 10: 25-37

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 

Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

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.

Responding to our neighbor

Sometimes even basic equations are tough to balance.

Love of God + Love of neighbor = Eternal life

All our heart, soul, strength, and mind? All our neighbors? Not there yet Lord…
Do we still qualify for eternal life?
God promises the answer is ‘yes’ if we do what is asked of us…
to love God and to love our neighbor…

Jesuit Gustavo Gutierrez reflected on the Spanish translations for neighbor – vecino (a person living nearby) and prójimo (our shared humanity) – to make a point about loving others.

The Good Samaritan encountered a person left for dead. The authentically human response in that or any moment was to love the other. He cared for someone he did not know because he saw himself in the other and could do nothing less. “Go and do likewise,” said Jesus.

How ready are we to respond likewise to the people we encounter today?

Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ, completed his term as president of Loyola High School in Detroit and will soon leave for his tertianship experience in Cape Town, South Africa

Prayer

Lord Jesus, give me the courage to respond as you would respond, with love and compassion. Help me put my humanity into relationship with the humanity of others, to feel what they feel, to suffer what they suffer and, in being truly with them, to allow us together to find our way into life eternal – a life of love, total and complete love. Amen.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

July 13, 2019

Mt 10: 24-33

“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. 

“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father 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.

Freed to step out into the future

Have you heard of The Sparrow, the science fiction story of a Jesuit on mission to another planet? The book is one of combinatory creativity. That is, a product of the author’s observation of the church and the world as well as her imagination of what could be.

How powerful is a creativity that employs both keen observation and vivid imagination!  The Spirit can use this to set the world on fire.

What keeps us from creating with a combinatory creativity? Likely, fear.

We are freed from fear and for this creativity when we internalize Gospel message today.  Deep peace comes from the knowledge that we are held tenderly by God and this peace frees us to co-create the future boldly.

Paul Mitchell is a Jesuit educator who has stepped out of the classroom into full-time care of his two young sons. He is the author of Audacious Ignatius.

Prayer

Loving God, you have created us and know us so intimately that you know every hair on our heads.  Free us from the fear that keeps us from accepting your invitation to co-labor in your field and be your hands in this world.  May we never let fear stop us from imagining and working toward a world that more closely resembles your heavenly kingdom. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

June 12, 2019

Mt 10: 16-23

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 

When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. 

But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

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.

Christianity isn’t always easy

This Gospel reminds me of a story a priest friend of mine once related. On vacation, on the beach, he was approached by some Christian evangelizers who were unaware of his vocation. They asked him if he had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; his response? “Unfortunately, yes.” His wry comment reflects Jesus’ clear point that the Christian life is not an easy choice. Jesus is very clear that what his father values is radically different than what the world values.

We live in a broken world where goodness and faith are often unrewarded. Christ is warning his disciples and us that betrayal and pain are real, as real as Christ’s own Passion and death. The Resurrection, however, is a greater reality than the darkness of the world.

—Jerry Skoch is a Spiritual Director and Vice President & Chief Mission Officer at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

Dear Lord, I know that this pilgrimage has moments of suffering. Please give me the wisdom and courage to suffer for you and your kingdom rather than suffering as a result of my own sinful choices.

—Jerry Skoch


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July 11, 2019

St. Benedict, Abbot

Mt 10: 7-15

As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. 

As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

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.

Our needs will be met

This Gospel takes me back to my days as a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC). One of the four values of JVC is simple living – to learn to separate needs from wants and gain freedom from the material. I struggled as I packed for my year of service, unsure of what was to come and doubting whether or not I would be prepared.

Jesus asks his apostles to live simply as they go proclaim the Good News, and to have faith that their needs will be met on the journey. I would imagine there were a few apostles who doubted Jesus when he told them to leave behind their sandals and second tunic. And yet, their needs were met throughout the journey. How can we renew our faith that God will fulfill our needs, even when we doubt?

—Mikayla Lofton is the Grants Program Manager for the Cristo Rey Network and was a Jesuit Volunteer in Atlanta (‘15-’16).

Prayer

Lord, give me the grace to labor with you without seeking myself – to live the Kingdom in its full reality.

John Futrell, SJ


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July 10, 2019

Mt 10: 1-7

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’

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 be 21st century apostles

In today’s Gospel, Jesus shares his own divine authority with the apostles – the power to drive out unclean spirits and cure every illness.  Jesus empowers the disciples to go forth and take up the job of proclaiming love and hope. That’s one heck of a job description full of other duties as assigned!

Two thousand years later, the new Universal Apolostalic Preferences of the Society of Jesus authorizes us “to walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, and those whose dignity has been violated.”  God has given us amazing powers for healing, and God calls us to go into the world and do amazing things. 

So I ask you, Jesus’ 21st century apostles….

Imagine a place where you see illness, poverty, loss of dignity, or people cast out.

Where do you feel called to heal?

Pray for the grace to respond and proclaim the hope in Christ.

Heaven is already at hand.

Jen LaMaster is an Assistant Principal at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, IN.

Prayer

Creator God,
Thank you for this beautiful world full of opportunity.
Please give me ears to hear the cry of the poor denied the riches I take for granted.
Grant me your healing grace as I respond in my awkward, very human way.

Redeemer God,
Thank you for companionship of friends and family who hold me in their love.
Please give me the words to stand up for those cast out and alone.
Grant me your strength to speak with the power of your hope that all are wanted and worthy. 

Sustainer God,
Thank you for my abundant security of my health and faith.
Please give me the eyes to see where dignity is lost, where your beloved souls are violated in body and spirit.
Grant me your wisdom as I struggle to act with generosity and open arms to welcome the wounded and walk alongside them.

—Jen LaMaster


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July 9, 2019

St. Leo Mangin, SJ, and companions

Gn 32: 22-33

The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had.

Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” 

But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.

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.

Following Jesus may not be easy

Jacob limps away from his encounter with God. He gets his blessing but getting close to God is risky and it costs something. The writer Flannery O’Connor always loved to depict the work of God’s grace as violent, and I can’t help but wonder if this was one of her favorite scripture passages. I am more comfortable thinking of God as a warm, loving parent ready to support me through anything. Yet Jesus both promised great things to those who followed him and was also clear that the way was going to be difficult and violent—just as his own life demonstrated.

Since I am imperfect and prone to my own sins and self-involvements, the grace needed to follow Christ might also leave me limping. How can I be more open to God’s grace today and more ready to see it even in the pain and struggle of my life?

Nick Courtney, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the USA Central and Southern Province currently working at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, TX, where he teaches history and coaches football.

Prayer

God, help me to trust in you when you make demands on me, when you try to lead me to places I do not want to go. Give me the strength to get up and follow you, especially when there is a cost. Keep me always mindful of the great price you have already paid for me, and that all I am able to offer is already a gift from you. 

—Nick Courtney, SJ


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July 8, 2019

Mt 9: 18-26

While he was saying these things to them, suddenly a leader of the synagogue came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. When Jesus came to the leader’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away; for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And the report of this spread throughout that district.

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.

Trust Sparks Joy

In his 2019 Ash Wednesday homily at Rockhurst University, Fr. Sean Salai, SJ, encouraged the faithful to view Lenten sacrifices through the lens of Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing consultant of Netflix fame.  When coaching her clients to simplify, Marie Kondo invites them to hold items (an old shirt, a knick-knack on a shelf, etc.) that are cluttering their space. If that item sparks joy, then she advises to keep it. If not, then it needs to go!  Fr. Salai invited us to channel our inner Marie Kondo for Lent: instead of “giving up” chocolate for 40 days, we were encouraged to “let go” of habits that fail to spark joy in our relationship with self, God, and others.

In St. Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation, he advises the “making use of those things that help to bring us closer to God and leaving aside those things that don’t.”  This is the core Ignatian value of indifference, or detachment. This requires trust. Specifically, this requires trust in the Lord, which most certainly can spark lasting, even if not instantaneous, joy.

Bill Kriege serves as the director of campus ministry at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO.

Prayer

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time. 

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow. 

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ


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July 7, 2019

Is 66: 10-14

Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her— that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom. For thus says the Lord: I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees. 

As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bodies shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies.

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.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord

A good mantra leads us prayerfully into the deep love that God has for us. It also helps us enter into prayer when we are otherwise preoccupied or distracted, when we fail to appreciate God at work in our lives.

Jesuits pray the Examen twice per day. Our schools “interrupt” the class schedule to remind students and staff (and visitors) to pause and to remember God at work in our lives.

Isaiah calls the people Israel to experience once again one of life’s most intimate moments, to savor the experience of an infant suckling at the breast of her mother. God wants us to feel loved and nurtured in the same way.

Entering back into the flow of our day is not always easy but, in those moments, God wishes to reveal a deep love for us and for all of creation. 

Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ, has completed his term as president of Loyola High School in Detroit and will soon leave for his tertianship experience in Cape Town, South Africa

Prayer

Lord Jesus, call me back to those moments of my day and my life where you were alive for me. Help me savor those times I recognized and celebrated you. Let me experience anew those times I missed you, Lord. Help me taste and see your goodness Lord.  Amen.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ


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July 6, 2019

Mt 9: 14-17

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 

No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

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.

God’s presence in the dissonance

This past Ash Wednesday, my two year old and I walked to mass.  He delights in music, especially the Alleluia, the only song he can “sing.”

He was perplexed, then, at the prayerful silence and lack of music. He repeatedly and audibly pleaded for “More singing! Alleluia! Alleluia!”

While the scene was fairly mortifying (Lent pun intended), my son was on to something. Those days were Alleluia days for our family.  Our second child had been born days before. The bridegroom was with us. 

It is a strange feeling when the liturgical seasons do not align with life’s seasons. The disciples of John and of Jesus in today’s Gospel must have felt this too. This dissonance, though, can wake us up to be more attuned to the grace of our lives: the incarnate love of a God who became human for us as well as the formation of the liturgical seasons.

Paul Mitchell is a Jesuit educator who has stepped out of the classroom into full-time care of his two young sons. He is the author of Audacious Ignatius.

Prayer

Lord, give me the grace to labor with you without seeking myself–to live the Kingdom in its full reality.

—John Futrell, SJ


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July 5, 2019

Mt 9: 9-13

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 

But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”

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.

God’s desire for us

We are created in the image and likeness of God. This reality means that our pilgrimage of self-discovery is also a journey toward God. The more clearly we see our authentic selves the more likely we are to see the image of God.

The themes and prayers contained in the Spiritual Exercises provide us means to uncover our true desires, seeking not for what I want but rather asking, “What does God want for me?”

In today’s Gospel Jesus shares with us an incredible insight about what God desires. What might it mean if I focused my being on mercy rather than sacrifice? I think perhaps I should worry less about others, and me, living up to “expectations” and more about forgiving others, and myself.

—Jerry Skoch is a Spiritual Director and Vice President & Chief Mission Officer at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, you know I am the sick sinner you care for. Please help me to remember you are the physician and Savior not me. Amen.

—Jerry Skoch


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