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Saint Ignatius High School

Community Lenten Reflections: Week 4

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!

March 8, 2021 - Monday of the Third Week of Lent

Gospel: Luke 4:24-30
Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Reflection: Amy McKenna, S.P.A. Director
“They were all filled with fury.” I keep returning to this line as I pray with this passage, wondering how Jesus’ words struck at the heart of these friends, family and neighbors. Not only do they know him, but he knows them. Intimately. Like anyone who grows up in a small community, he knows their way of thinking, their way of seeing themselves in the world, their way of worshipping. So I imagine that when Jesus reminds them that other prophets have been sent to those on the margins and not the ones who expected it, they feel rebuffed and deeply hurt. Maybe they wonder just who Jesus thinks he is? Maybe their anger is about those on the margins being included and honored by a prophet’s attention. Something is stirred and they act just as Jesus predicted, by soundly rejecting him.

What does this Gospel passage say to me? How do I rest in my well-worn way of thinking and resist what Jesus wants from me? Do I listen to my brothers and sisters on the margins and pay attention to Jesus as he speaks through their prophetic voices, or do I stay in my comfort zone, listening to voices that tell me what I want to hear? Like the rich young man who is asked to sell everything, will I turn away in sadness, or will I drop my nets and set off into lands and work unknown with Jesus?

My prayer this Lenten season is to listen to what Jesus calls forth from me. Realizing that to know, love and follow Jesus is a journey of letting go of old ways of thinking, of attachments to ways of seeing others and of expectations of privilege, I keep my eyes on Jesus and trust in his guidance. May his love for me, and for all of us, transform life to one of discipleship and service in his name.

March 9, 2021 - Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35
Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.

When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt.

Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

Reflection: Connor Walters ‘09, Communications Coordinator, Mission

Holy smokes this parable is intense! A compassionate king forgives a repentant servant, who then completely forgets the mercy that was just shown to him and chokes out another servant who owes him some cash. Then Servant A, we learn, gets tortured.

“So don’t be that guy,” Jesus says. “Forgive from your heart.”

In the case of both servants, they beg for patience. I feel like I’ve been doing that with God a lot lately. “I promise I’ll make more time for prayer. I swear I’ll start to try and pay better attention during Mass. I know that I need to be more forgiving toward others.”

But, when I’m honest with myself, I know that I’m sort of taking advantage of God’s forgiveness; I’m kind of being like Servant A. I could probably use a good kick in the pants, as they say. I think this reading does that, for me.

Yet the reason the king is the king is because his default response is mercy. So before I fall over in self-flagellation, I need to remember Who is judging me and that it really is a forgiving and patient God—one who understands exactly what it means to be human, one who will forgive me seventy-seven times, one whose love is intense.

March 10, 2021 - Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Gospel: Matthew 5:17-19
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Reflection: Ty Wahlbrink, nSJ, Jesuit Novice
“Uh oh,” I first thought when reading this passage.  I had some bacon bits on a baked potato last night. Then I realized, I did not observe the ritual washing prescribed in Scripture. And - oh no - I definitely ate with a whole bunch of sinners in the Jesuit residence!

How are we to reconcile Jesus’ words with what the Church practices today? The Mosaic law clearly forbids eating pork, requires strict purification rituals, and bans mixed company meals. Even more confusing, how does this legalistic view of Jesus reconcile with the Jesus who breaks the Sabbath restrictions and also dines with sinners and tax collectors?

Looking beyond this passage, today’s Gospel starts to make more sense in context. Jesus goes on to say that though the Ten Commandments explicitly forbid homicide and adultery, those who rage or lust are already violating the spirit of those commandments. In essence, Jesus is expanding on the letter of the Mosaic law - which he does eight times following this passage!

Such an expansion is possibly what Jesus intended in saying that he came to “fulfill” the law. Merriam-Webster defines one usage of fulfill as “to develop the full potentialities of”. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus modified Mosaic law - whether by expansion, reframing, or rendering redundant - in order to unlock the law’s full potential to deepen our relationship with God and build up the kingdom. Famously, Jesus summarizes the entire law with the Great Commandment: we are to love God with everything we have and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

This outlook on the law is fundamental to understanding our Catholic faith, especially the “obligated” Lenten practices. It can be tempting to write away the “law” of abstaining from meat and fasting (along with other church teachings we might question) as archaic restrictions. For me, I can focus too much on what I am doing in Lent instead of why I am doing it. Jesus’ example and teachings are the key to understanding the spirit of our laws and practices today. I pray that Jesus can guide me to the full potentialities of this Lent and this life.

March 11, 2021 - Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Gospel: Luke 11:14-23
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed. Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.

But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself,  how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.

When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

Reflection: Ryan Franzinger ‘02, Assistant Principal for Student Discipline
I love Gospel passages where Jesus is tested and challenged.  Don’t you wish you could have been a spectator for these exchanges to see the reactions?  Imagine the dinner table discussions of the “crowd” after Jesus was asked for a sign from heaven but instead gave a long answer that finishes with “whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters?”  I hope they decided to gather with Jesus and I hope you do too.

Jesus mentions kingdoms divided against themselves and their inevitable fall.  Lent is a good time to consider our own kingdoms and I think it best to start with our own “house.” Perhaps there are a few demons there or maybe just a few distractions keeping us from the Kingdom of God that Jesus says is upon us.  What is the status of your innermost house?  Are you fooling people with your curb appeal Lenten resolution?

Luke’s Gospel is a good place to contemplate your house because his writings portray Jesus as especially prayerful.  Just a few verses earlier in chapter 11 Jesus teaches us how to pray.  Prayer is necessary for a strong house and a strong house is necessary for God's kingdom. Don’t be caught defenseless when “one stronger” attacks and attempts to overcome you.  God is calling you to help bring his Kingdom to fulfillment. Just as Jesus relied on prayer during his journey to Jerusalem we too need prayer during our Lenten journey.

May Christ’s peace be with you.

March 12, 2021 - Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Gospel: Mark 12:28-34
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Reflection: Drew Krainz ‘08, Health/Physical Education Faculty
Jesus is asked which is the greatest commandment to which he replies to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Frankly, I’m certain that I’ve been falling short of the greatest commandment. (yikes!) I could blame it on my human nature or I could reflect on my habits and devise a course of action. What does loving the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength look like? Do I accomplish daily tasks in a way that will glorify His name? The demands of living in the 21st century require our attention to be pulled in so many directions. I find myself multitasking, skim reading, squeezing exercise into a short window of free time, etc. It dawned upon me that it may have been a while since the last time I gave any particular activity my entire heart, soul, mind, and strength. Simplify, slow down, quality over quantity, find time to pray-- sounds like a good place to start.

Secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. Perhaps, Jesus’s second response is a more concrete way of abiding by the greatest commandment. After all, we are created in His image and likeness. Reflecting on the passage has brought an awareness of my shortcomings, but also has me thinking about how I might do better. How can I be more helpful throughout the day? How might a more positive disposition create a ripple effect throughout a community? (Wow, that could be powerful!) How much better can I serve my community if I took care of myself? Would I be more patient, understanding, attentive, etc? I can see no better time than our current Lenten season to refocus and find answers to the questions.

March 13, 2021 - Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

Gospel: Luke 18:9-14
Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity — greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Reflection: Janet Lehane, S.P.A. Spiritual Director
Jesus teaches us about prayer and discipleship through parables as found in Luke Chapter 18. The contrast between hero and villain shows it is our approach and attitude that matter in prayer. Is our gaze focused on God or on ourselves in our prayer? The hero Tax Collector’s focus is centered on God while the villain Pharisee’s is centered on himself.

The Pharisee in this passage is the villain, not because of his ministry or desire to follow the rules of fasting and tithing, but in his attitude of pride, self-righteousness and superiority. His prayer to God focused on gratitude for himself. He does not come with a sense of needing a God of love and mercy. He is in control and in a most honored position, disconnected from others.

The hero is the Tax Collector. His work status makes him most hated as taxes are collected for Rome.. He approaches God with humility. He is dependent on God and finds his dignity and status in God’s loving, merciful presence.

We can see in our times the huge emphasis on power, honors, status, and wealth. We can also see growing populations shamed, ridiculed, blamed, impoverished and disempowered.Jesus is teaching us in this parable about False Pride and True Humility. The dignity of the Tax Collector in prayer is apparent whatever his status socially. In any social, religious, political, educational, legal, labor, and family environment we can be tempted to regard the other with contempt and disrespect just as the Pharisee does. We can even disrespect ourselves.We need to humbly turn to a God of mercy.

I recognize I am both the Pharisee and Tax Collector in my life. I am both a villain and hero. I come before Christ in prayer in my incompleteness. Ignatian Spirituality, as described by Howard Gray S.J., helps with its emphasis on paying attention to what is being revealed in and around me, listening reverently to the other’s perspective until some new understanding breaks through, and devoting myself to deepening my relationship in God.

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