Education is Essential

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Saint Ignatius High School

Community Lenten Reflections: Week 2

Throughout Lent, the Spirituality Program for Adults will be providing a daily Gospel reading and reflection, written by various members of the Saint Ignatius community. These have been prepared by teachers, staff, students, parents, alumni, board members and friends. Here are the second week's reflections. A sign-up link is included!

February 22, 2021 - Monday of the First Week of Lent

Gospel: Matthew 25:31-45
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

Reflection: David Croglio, Fine Arts Faculty
Sometimes Scripture can be difficult to wrap my head around. Whether I am reading Old Testament names that are virtually impossible to pronounce, Gospels that are full of parables, customs and traditions that are far removed from 21st century life, or the story of Martha and Mary which (as a “Martha” myself) I just can’t seem to buy into, the Divine Word can oftentimes be challenging to absorb.

It is passages like today’s Gospel that I welcome, because the message is crystal clear. Christ the Teacher provides us with the specifics of whom to serve and how to serve. Even with this clarity, I recognize my own hesitation at times to act on these instructions, because I start with the “how to serve” piece. My excuses range from lack of time to simply not knowing where to start. I am starting to realize that the spark that can ignite action means beginning with the “whom to serve” aspect. If we truly see “these least ones” not only as valued by Christ, but as actually made in God’s own image and likeness, how can we NOT act? When we see Christ in another human being, it makes it a lot easier to want to serve and to seek justice for them.

I am blown away by the various initiatives of our very own Christian Action Team here at Saint Ignatius High School. As I wrote this reflection, I scanned the CAT page on the school website to see examples of our students actively living this Gospel passage. I aspire to be more like these 14-18 year olds who can make me crazy as they show up unprepared (again?!?) for class and yet can see Christ in the other and act on it. Like so many of the adults on this campus, they show me what it takes to walk the walk as a Christian and inspire me to put this message into practice.

A final thought: If you have some time this week, take a walk over to the Marian Mall in between the Jesuit Residence and the Main Building for some spiritual inspiration. There, in beautiful bronze tiles, are the Corporal Works of Mercy, designed by now-retired art teacher Pat Kyle and her students. These tiles serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of the mission set forth in today’s Gospel.

February 23, 2021 - Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15
Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

“If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.

But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Reflection: Mike Tracy, Campus Ministry
Do you know anyone struggling in a long-term relationship?  Maybe two people have grown apart over the years?  The simple joy of spending time in each other’s company is gone.  Loving communication is absent.  Any words exchanged feel mechanical, empty and meaningless.

For some of us, might this describe our current relationship with God?  Has the relationship grown stale?  Have we drifted apart?  In today’s gospel reading, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray by introducing the words of Lord’s Prayer, aka the Our Father.  Our feelings about this prayer may give us a measure of the “health” of our long-term relationship with God.  Do the words of this familiar prayer still speak to us?  Or has reciting this prayer become a mostly empty, mechanical ritual void of meaning?  It can be hard to keep something so familiar and oft repeated fresh and meaning-filled.

At its core, the Lord’s Prayer is a statement of our personal and communal relationship with God.  It articulates our complete, honest acceptance of who God is and who we are and expresses our desire to have a certain kind of relationship with the Divine Being based on God’s dominion and our finitude. 

So what do we do if we feel distant from God?  Much of the same advice that is given to strengthen committed, long-term relationships between people can be applied to our relationship with God.  Improve communication.  Evaluate our expectations.  Become less self-centered and more other-centered.  Dedicate quality time to simply be in God’s presence.  Remind ourselves of where we last felt a meaningful connection with God and return there.  As with other relationships, it is completely normal to go through dry periods and to struggle with the relationship.  God’s only request is that we don’t give up on the relationship.  Often struggling with God is a sign that God is inviting us to a new kind of relationship with Him based on God’s terms, not our terms.  What might this relationship look like?  Slowly, lovingly praying the Lord’s Prayer with trust and confidence in our heart might just be a good first step in figuring that out.

February 24, 2021 - Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

Gospel: Luke 11:29-32
While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them,

because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

Reflection: David Van Hal, S.P.A. Administrative Assistant
As Jesus makes his long journey to Jerusalem for his final week, crowds begin to find him with some asking for a sign from heaven. He replies that it is an evil generation that asks for a sign. It will only get the sign of Jonah, who was a sign to the Ninevites. Like Jonah, Jesus will spend 3 days in the belly of the earth (a fish for Jonah) and will preach repentance to a wayward people.

Did Jesus really mean to choose Jonah as a comparison? Yes, everywhere Jonah went, people worshipped the God of Israel, but honestly, Jonah did the bare minimum. While Jonah runs from God on a boat, the sailors worship and fear God. Jonah finally walks into Ninevah and preaches a 5 Hebrew word sermon, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” That’s it. Nothing about God or an invitation to repent. Still, repentance flows from the wicked King of Ninevah, the people, and even the cows! The story of Jonah is about God’s lengths to show his overwhelming love and compassion to a wayward people, despite his own messenger.

The greater sign of Jonah that Jesus brings is that God in his overwhelming compassion offers his love and mercy to all… even those who seem farthest from him. His sign is not miracles on command. Rather, he lays his life down as a first hand demonstration of God’s endless love.

As we journey with Jesus to the cross this Lent, let us be open to God doing the things in our lives, family, career, and finances that he wants, rather than perform the signs that we expect.

Hear his graceful invitation to turn from the things that distract, entangle, and dehumanize ourselves and others. Listen to his invitation to follow him and receive the sign of Jonah: God’s overflowing love. Accept that he loves you right here, right now.

As we accept his love for us, we are invited to offer this same love to those different than us. To whom can you lay down your life and show this love?

February 25, 2021 - Thursday of the First Week of Lent

Gospel: Matthew 7:7-12
Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”

Reflection: Dan True, Theology Faculty
Sometimes you encounter a quote that stops you in your tracks. A few of those have surfaced since I became a father roughly two years ago, and one of them is this: “Parenting doesn’t teach you how to sleep, but it teaches you how to dream. And you can’t out-dream God.”

Even if an image of a good and gracious God takes root in our hearts, we may find ourselves asking, “How should I pray?” or even, “If God is supposedly all-knowing, why bother praying in the first place?” A good parent delights in hearing their child speak and ask, even if they know what will be said. She can’t quite formulate sentences yet, but if my daughter Michelle ever says, “I love you, Daddy,” I hope I would have the good sense never to cut her off halfway through. It is in practicing to speak to one who will listen freely and respond lovingly that we learn to speak well. Today’s reading reinforces that it is in praying, however haltingly or incompletely, through God’s grace already prompting us to pray, that we learn to pray well, and thereby attune our hearts and minds to God responding to us.

Now, we know that a good parent will not always give their child exactly what they ask for or want. So too it is with God. We may be frustrated that a prayer of ours doesn’t get answered in the way we would hope. Yet, one of the chief convictions of our faith is that God can bring good out of even the most crushing sorrow or frustration. Prayer expands our hearts to perceive this reality more clearly. Likewise, parenting has deepened my conviction that God takes great delight in seeing His children grow, in conversing with them, and in seeking out every opportunity to bring joy to them.

February 26, 2021 - Friday of the First Week of Lent

Gospel: Matthew 5:20-25
Jesus said to his disciples:  “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

Reflection: Dina Picha, Campus Dining

This passage begins with Jesus teaching us to follow the law to not commit murder. This commandment seems pretty easy to follow, doesn’t it?  But in the next several verses, Jesus tells us that we should also not hold onto any anger we have with our brother and that if we do not resolve it, we have committed a sin. Now I am confused…

After all, we are human.  It is in our nature to have feelings of anger toward another person when they have wronged us, right? How is this committing a sin? I re-read the passage a few more times and it still did not make sense to me. I waited a few days before reading it again all the while appreciating the fact that Amy McKenna has given me ample time to complete this exercise. :)  After further reflection, I decided to concentrate on the word anger. What happens when we hold on to our anger for a long period of time? We tend to let it build up to the point that we might name call, insult, or have feelings of hurting the person just as they have hurt us. These negative thoughts and acts are what lead us to sin. Now it makes sense to me!

If we do not resolve our grudges, we are not only separating ourselves from one another, we are separating ourselves from God too. Finally, would not the world be a much better place if we all resolved our differences right away?

I have learned from Matthew’s scripture a deeper meaning to this commandment that I have since added this to my daily prayers.

Dear God, please help me to remember that whenever I am angry with another, I will find the courage to make every attempt to reconcile with them so that I can become closer to You. Amen.

February 27, 2021 - Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Gospel: Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Reflection: Bob Apanasewicz, Fathers’ Club President
‘Pray for those that persecute you’; one of the most striking of Christ’s teachings.  While reflecting on particular line in the Gospel passage an appropriate personal experience occurred to me. 

Where I formerly worked, my coworkers and I would weekly play wallyball (volleyball on a racquetball court).  After an hour of play we would retire to the lounge for a libation or two.  Although most of the players were coworkers, many of them worked in another department.  One evening the topic of conversation turned to their new supervisor who had just started that day.  The general consensus was that he was a jerk.  As I recall, this was based on one singular incident.  The new supervisor called everyone into his office, introduced himself and welcomed “them” to the department.  Because most of my coworkers were longtime employees, they took it as an insult that Mr. Rookie was welcoming them to their own workplace rather than viewing it as a new employee stumbling over his introduction to break the ice with his staff.

The back story was that the current assistant supervisor, who had been acting in the supervisor capacity, was someone that they liked, had performed the job in an acting capacity for nearly two years, had interviewed for the job and did not get it. I concluded that my coworkers were taking out their angst on the new guy.  I thought it a little unfair (am I wrong?) to pass judgement on his first day and on one incident.  So, I thought it appropriate to offer some hope and encouragement.  I may have said, something like ‘Well, it’s only his first day. Give him a chance’. 

All of a sudden, I was labeled as this guy’s defender.  Week after week, story after story, proof of this guy’s jerkiness came out always prefaced or followed by something like ‘Careful you’re talking about Bob’s friend’ or ‘Oop, I didn’t mean to insult your buddy’.  Ok, I thought, I’d take up the challenge. In good fun, each week I presented the defense for the embattled supervisor.  It could even get a little ridiculous:  

Coworkers: (Insert typical complaint)

Me: It’s not like he ran you over in the parking lot.

Coworkers:  No, he tried that yesterday.

Me:  Could have been an accident.

Coworkers:  Five times?

Finally, I asked them if he have any good qualities.  Well, they all agreed that he was grateful and very good at expressing his gratitude for things performed large and small. Ah, a breakthrough! . . . and also proof of the power of prayer.

In essence isn’t that what we were doing each week, a group prayer.  They would present their grievance and I would oppose it, even to the point of being ludicrous.  It took the edge off my coworkers’ complaints and offered them another view.  Maybe that’s how we need to pray for those who persecute us.  State the complaint and offer an explanation and the process itself will take the edge off or maybe heal the wound.  My conclusion is that praying for those that persecute you helps you as much, if not more than your persecutor.

Where is the Sunday reflection, you ask? At your parish! The next set of reflections will be shared on Monday. A.M.D.G.