Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.
Two points of distinct reflection stand out for me. First, Mary’s decisions to use an extravagant oil to anoint the feet of Jesus must have been difficult given the economic conditions at the time and what others might think. In Mary's mind, this was the right thing to do despite any criticism that her decision or faith in him may be being scrutinized. It is a reminder that sometimes, oftentimes, doing the right thing is both difficult and scrutinized. Each of us have witnessed and experienced the pressures that play in the decisioning process to do what is right. We applaud those that hold true the values of life and conviction of self to do the right thing. During the Lenten season, I ask that each of you commit to being conscious of those who struggle with doing the right thing and to focus on assisting in the guidance of them to arrive at the decision they truly believe is the best.
The second point that stood out for me is where Judas says “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?”. The underlying concern for the question was the financial gains Judas stood to make from the sale. Judas chose to benefit himself at any and every chance he could. As Judas’s life played out, his recognition of his actions came at a significant cost to many, many more than himself and he could do nothing but regret his actions. The question that comes to my mind is how do we react to people who are self-absorbed, greedy and have no compassion for their fellow man? There are many avenues traveled by these types of people that have had an impact on developing their outlook on life and humanity. What if someone could have had an impact on Judas early on and got him to the crossroads of his life’s decisions in time that he would have acted differently. During the Lenten season I suggest we pray for these people to strive to seek a different path and recognize the impact they impose. I also suggest that we hold ourselves accountable to be selfless and men(people) for others as a standard others can strive for.
Gospel: John 13:21-33, 36-38
Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.
When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” Peter said to him, “Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”
Reflection: Miller Hopkins ‘22, Student
As we enter into Holy Week, I always seem to place myself into these Gospels as one of the Apostles. Usually it’s Peter with his outspoken words of faith, or John with his silent companionship with the Lord. But as I’ve grown older, I have found myself more and more relating to Judas. This is a sobering reality, as the fact that I relate most with Jesus’ betrayer can seem to be a condemnation. But I find that in the Passion, Judas’ betrayal is a cautionary tale for each of us as we strive to follow Christ.
In this reading, what stood out to me in Judas and Christ’s interaction was that Jesus gave Judas a morsel which had been dipped in wine. This being the Last Supper, we can infer that Jesus is offering Judas, who he knows to be his betrayer, his body, blood, soul and divinity in the first ever Eucharist feast. Jesus gave himself to Judas, and after receiving it is written that “Satan entered (Judas).” This seems to be contradictory. Why, after receiving this tremendous gift, does Judas fall into this great sin?
The answer to this question is one that I find mirrored in my own life. Whenever I receive a great gift from Jesus, usually through a great retreat experience or a period of great joy through community, I then find myself facing more opposition from the Evil one than ever before. The truth which I have found is that after we receive the goodness of God in a real and powerful way, Satan works in a more powerful way in order to distract us from what we have seen, felt, or experienced in Christ. For Judas, he was being distracted from the majesty of all that he had just been a part of. The passage previous to this in John’s Gospel is the washing of the disciples’ feet, as well as the first consecration of the Eucharist. In his scheming, the devil convinces Judas that he doesn’t really want to follow Jesus, that all that he had experienced didn’t really matter, and he should focus on himself and sell out Jesus to the high priests.
Judas is just like every one of us as we struggle to follow Jesus. While his actions led to the literal crucifixion of Jesus, our own sins and turning away from Christ add to the weight of the cross which Jesus bears with arms outstretched. Let us pray that as we prepare ourselves for the Easter Triduum we may learn from the mistakes of Judas and the mistakes of our past, and reject the voice of the devil in favor of serving the Lord, most of all after he has shown us his majesty in a clear and profound way.
April 13, 2022 - Wednesday of Holy Week
Gospel: Matthew 26:14-25
One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, my appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.” The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.
When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.”
Reflection: Wendy Eldridge, Loyola Society Mothers’ Club President
This gospel speaks very loudly to me. Lent can be a wonderful time of sacrifice and hope. However, as Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me,” Jesus knows we are flawed, and knows we may fail even before we do. Even with this betrayal of our Lenten promises, Jesus still loves us.
Often during Lent, we give in to temptation and break the sacrifice that one gives up. Sometimes people can feel like they let themselves and God down and that everything leading up to this was for nothing. But, just as Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, he knows that we will not be perfect during Lent. He knows we still have love in our heart and if we promise to do better, we won’t suffer from our failure. All he asks is we own up to our mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and continue on the Lenten journey, growing closer to God through this sacrifice.
Before Lent when my family and I discuss what each of us is giving up, I make it known that the importance is not in abstaining from their sacrifice, but how their relationship with God improves and grows from that abstinence. I want to ensure my children know that they don’t have to feel they have disappointed me or Jesus if they break their Lenten promise.
So, my prayer for you is that if you do accidentally break your Lenten promise, remember that all of your efforts were not for naught. God knows we sometimes make mistakes. These challenges are what make our faith grow.
April 14, 2022 - Holy Thursday
Gospel: John 13:1-15
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Reflection: Dierre Cody, Faculty, The Welsh Academy
When I started working in a Catholic community I knew there was going to be some catchup that I had to do to be well-versed in the language and culture. Lent was one of those areas. Growing up in a non-denominational, Black Christian home, Easter was a BIG DEAL for my family! The way my family recognizes Jesus’ resurrection has a great deal of crossover to the way our Saint Ignatius community does as well. First, however, Jesus sits down with those close to him for a meal before the events of Good Friday.
In this passage, Jesus is our role model and shows us how to serve. To be a leader and set the example of what’s right and just is no easy task. This passage serves as a helpful reminder that leading by example can’t be beneath anyone. Looking out for and caring for our friends, neighbors, sisters and brothers is essential for growth and for the community to function at its best. And after we look out for them, inspire them to further the work that we’re doing.
Additionally, the importance of making connections rings through the reading. Making connections with intention, in particular. In order for us (educators) to do the work we do here on campus, we have to make connections with the students we serve. Once we do that, the job becomes easier and it really doesn’t feel much like a job at all.
Jesus, as our role model, eats with those close to him, serves, and connects with them. As Lent leads to Easter, and we spend time with family, eat well, and experience the joy of being around family, let us serve and connect with those around us.
April 15, 2022 - Good Friday of the Lord's Passion
Scripture: Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12
See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him so marred was his look beyond human semblance and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man so shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; for those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it.
Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided by people, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom people hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.
Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth. Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people, a grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood. But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.
If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.
Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.
Reflection: Amy McKenna, S.P.A. Director
Anyone who has lost someone close to them knows what it is like to come upon the anniversary of that person’s death. You replay the days leading up to that day, wondering how you could go about living as if this incredible loss is not about to utterly change your world. You may have been expecting death, or, as is often the case, it comes out of nowhere leaving you without a floor to stand on and reliving each last word, or lack of words, for years to come. This is my experience of this day; Good Friday. The day our Lord Jesus Christ, the disciples’ beloved friend, and Mary’s son, dies a horrible death on the cross. I think of what each moment must have been like for each of them, knowing I can never really know, but feeling the weight of it all the same. Sorrow. Dread. Fear. Tears.
As difficult as those feelings are, I am living out what Saint Ignatius asks us to pray for in this Third Week of the Spiritual Exercises:
Here is what is proper for the Passion: sorrow with Christ in sorrow; a broken spirit with Christ so broken; tears; and interior suffering because of the great suffering which Christ endured for me. (SE203)
I can only accompany Jesus on that day. I can only sit with Mary as she is witness to this unimaginable pain, helpless to stop it. It is difficult. But as anyone who has come through loss can eventually tell you, there is also a gift in the midst of such pain. The gift of loving someone that much. The gift of being loved by that person. And for the world, the gift of utter love by our Savior, Jesus, that he so loved us that he gave his life for this broken world. Let us sit with that pain, sorrow and love today as we give praise to God who has redeemed us all. Amen.
April 16, 2022 - Saturday of Holy Week
Gospel: Matthew 27:57-66
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph, who was himself a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it [in] clean linen and laid it in his new tomb that he had hewn in the rock. Then he rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb and departed. But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb.
The next day, the one following the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember that this impostor while still alive said, ‘After three days I will be raised up.’ Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day, lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’ This last imposture would be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “The guard is yours; go secure it as best you can.” So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard.
Reflection: Anthony Fior ‘02, Principal
Nothing struck more fear into the contemporaries of the Roman Empire than crucifixion. It was an extremely efficient and effective method for the Romans to remind others that they were in complete control. Conform or be brutally killed. That painful and public form of death of Jesus by the Romans, which precedes this story, is an important contextual element for the story of his burial. In light of that context, there are two movements that emerge in Matthew’s story about the burial of Jesus: fear and courage.
Joseph’s request for the body of Jesus after his excruciating and intimidating death demonstrates tremendous courage and tenderness. Imagine Joseph seeking out Pilate -- the man who oversaw the murder of his beloved leader -- and asking for Jesus’ body. What did Joseph specifically say to Pilate? What were the interior movements and feelings that Joseph experienced throughout that conversation? What reaction might Pilate have had at the request? No doubt Joseph must have felt afraid and perhaps even feared for his own life. Might he end up on the cross for his beliefs too? Nevertheless, Joseph asks Pilate for Jesus’ body anyway so that he might tenderly care for his teacher, friend, and Lord. One is left to consider: What enabled Joseph to face that fear? The story also notes the significant detail that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were also present as Joseph buried Jesus. Their lives were potentially at risk too. What inspired them (two women who we know today were treated unfairly and lacked the rights of men) to be present there during such a traumatic and fearful time?
The arc and the story of salvation history and our faith teaches us that a personal encounter and relationship with Jesus can move ordinary people to do extraordinary things for others. When our hearts place Jesus at the center of our lives, amazing possibilities emerge. Without a doubt, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary knew and loved Jesus. He, and what he taught and died for, were central to their lives. That encounter and friendship with Jesus emboldened them to meet any fear with faith, hope, and love.
If our lives are rooted in the person of Jesus and we have a relationship with Him, we like Joseph and the Marys can face any fear and live through it. Faith in Jesus does not mean that we will not be afraid nor does it guarantee that we won’t suffer. But drawing close to Jesus propels us to move forward with Him, towards Him, and for Him to live a fuller, richer, deeper life.