Saint Ignatius High School

Community Lenten Reflections: Week 5

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 15, 2021 - Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Gospel: John 4:43-54
At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place. When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves had gone to the feast.

Then he returned to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, who was near death. Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The royal official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.

While the man was on his way back, his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live. He asked them when he began to recover. They told him, “The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.” The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live,” and he and his whole household came to believe. Now this was the second sign Jesus did when he came to Galilee from Judea.

Reflection: John Gill ‘97, Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership Director
As I reflect on John 4 include noticing signs and wonders in my life and the worthwhile, bond-forming power of prayer stays on my mind.

“Unless you see signs and people, you will not believe.” I have needed signs and wonders to keep my faith in God present during covid. I give thanks for the attention I gave to many people at Saint Ignatius High School and in my life that have been signs and wonders.  

  • Wildcat students dedication to education, service, extracurriculars, and each other.

  • Dan Arbeznik comforting a 2nd grade girl within minutes of her 1st rugby practice that she can run with anyone and those big Ignatius boys are pretty cool. 

  • Dr. Deborale Richardson-Phillips guidance and support of the Christian Action Team.   

  • Tom Healey’s weekly Lessons from Loyola.  

  • The faculty on campus bearing down, creating, and teaching every day. 

  • The staff on campus doing a version of their day job as well as new covid-induced duties. 

  • The unwavering consistency of my wife, Shannon, and the resilience of Leo, my 7 year old son.   

What have been your signs and wonders?

I also imagined the father turning and walking away from Jesus back toward his son in crisis. Second guessing the ways he could have done more pleading, praying for his sick son, crying, yet believing Jesus when he said “You may go; your son will live.” Among the most striking stories for me during this time have been watching or reading of covid patients passing away with maybe a nurse or doctor, but no family around them.  I have found myself praying and thinking about these strangers frequently – for the nurse holding the patient’s hand, the patient, and the patient’s family. Just praying for their peace, comfort, and mental health.  I pray to have the faith of the royal official, that I continue to have faith in times of crisis to believe that Jesus is comforting me, whatever form that may take.

For whom do you want to pray right now?

March 16, 2021 - Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Gospel: John 5:1-16
There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.

Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”  He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’“ They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there. After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath.

Reflection: Cindy Reagan, Mathematics Faculty

This passage resonates with me. The man in this scripture has been ill for 38 years. His life revolved around the hope for healing - and a lot of waiting.

I have been dealing with multiple cancers since 2006. The disease can become all-consuming. Life revolves around doctors, labs, tests, which hospitals have the best food and most stylish hospital gowns, learning the hard way it’s better to shave your head than letting your hair fall out (pro tip: patchy is not a good look), and waiting … a lot of waiting. 

I am not good at waiting.

This is also how I’ve felt about the pandemic. Covid has become all-consuming. While Zoom Happy Hours have certainly helped, the waiting for “return to normal” can be excruciating and feel endless at times.

This Bible passage for me, is the story of self-care. A story I need right now.

  1. The man recognized he needed help and positioned himself where he would get it.

  2. It took a long time, but he had faith - and help arrived.

  3. He couldn’t move on with his life until he was healed.

  4. After healing, the man didn’t continue in his current situation, he got up and lived a “new normal.”

  5. He celebrated that new normal and used his faith to guide him.

I think there’s a rule that you can’t do a reflection at SIHS without tying in a movie or movie quote, so when I read this scripture, I thought of this line from “Shawshank Redemption”: “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”

I cannot control what disease might strike my body, or what global pandemic might shake our society, but I can rely on my faith to guide how I respond. My personal challenge for Lent is to be more like the man in the scripture passage.

Cancer forced a new normal to my life. Covid will force a new normal to all our lives. I want to heal what is hurt and broken (mentally, emotionally, physically), then follow my faith and find a way to live the heck out of this new normal. Stop waiting for what once was - and get busy living.

March 17, 2021 - Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Gospel: John 5:17-30
Jesus answered the Jews: “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for what he does, the Son will do also. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he himself does, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes. Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life. Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself. And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.

“I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”

Reflection: Paul Barbins, S.P.A. Program Coordinator

Huh? In the midst of this theologically deep explanation of the relationship between the Son and the Father, Jesus tells the listener “Do not be amazed at this.”  In other words, “don’t be surprised” or “do not marvel”.  All the talk of eternal life, the dead hearing voices and the coming hour sees like impressive and astonishing stuff.  What am I supposed to NOT be astonished about?

To figure out what Jesus is referring to it often helps, especially in the Gospel of John, to backtrack through the passage.  As I work my way backwards from the phrase “do not be amazed” I find that Jesus is encouraging me not to be surprised that the Son has power from the Father to give life to that which is dead.  Jesus is telling me to not be astonished that that which is lifeless can come alive again.  Jesus commands not to be amazed that God offers life to something that wasn’t alive – that’s the gospel.

How many times have I presumed something to have no life – a hope, a feeling, a plan, a soul?  But Jesus tells me not to be amazed that the Son has the power to bring to life something I perceived to be dead. 

My prayer is that I would not be surprised when God brings life to that which I declared dead.

March 18, 2021 - Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Gospel: John 5:31-47
Jesus said to the Jews: “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.

Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.

“I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope. For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Reflection: Rich Jerdonek ‘65, Saint Ignatius Alumnus

In today’s Gospel Jesus teaches us the value of testimony in his life and ministry.  The testimony of John the Baptist provided “a burning and shining lamp”.  But Jesus points to the greater testimony of the Father on his behalf, the works the Father gave him, and scripture.   He addresses unbelievers, who trust human praise before what they see and hear from God.  He addresses us as well.  Are we to rely only on the testimony of others?  Or do we hear the testimony of the Father in our prayer and the works we see and experience each day?

We came to our faith in Christ through the witness of loving parents or friends and the preaching or teaching of spiritual mentors.  Jesus also asks us to come to him and the Father in prayer, the sacraments, scripture, and his work in our daily life.

St. Ignatius was raised in the faith, but experienced God even more in the gospels, answered prayer, and the work he was given.  In prayer at a roadside chapel in La Storta on the way to Rome he experienced a vision that set him firmly on the path to his greatest work.  God the Father appeared to him with Jesus carrying the Cross. He commended Ignatius and his company to Christ His Son, and said “I will be favorable to you in Rome.” Ignatius went on to Rome to say his first Mass, found the Society of Jesus, and serve the rest of his life there.

In 2004 at a conference in Rome I organized a pilgrimage to that same small chapel with Mass celebrated by Jack Dister, SJ, ’49 and felt called to the ministry of spiritual direction.  In the Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius asks us to make a “colloquy” - an intimate conversation with God the Father, Jesus, Mary, or one of the saints - when we seek a special grace.  Today consider a colloquy with Jesus and the Father seeking the grace to know, love, and serve Jesus more.

Friday, March 19, 2021 - Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Gospel: Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

Reflection: Mary Ann Vogel, Ed.D., Principal, The Welsh Academy
In December 2020, Pope Francis declared the following year to be the Year of St. Joseph. He chose the upcoming year not only to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church by Blessed Pope Pius IX but also to offer some strength to the faithful as the coronavirus pandemic cast a shadow around the world. The Holy Father wrote his Apostolic Letter, “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”) specifically for these times. Times when it would take each of us, especially those of us living extraordinarily everyday lives, to take extraordinary actions in the name of protecting the collective health and safety of those around us, both the ones we love and individuals we don’t even know.  

We have seen extraordinary actions take place all around us over the last twelve months by heroes in the form of everyday people. We have seen the examples every day of caregivers who work in unrelenting environments to care for the sick, healing, and grieving, of individuals working in masses settings of people, employers ensuring job protection, and safety and infrastructure workers making certain public functions continue (think sanitation, fire, and safety, medical care, social services). We have been touched in infinite ways by everyday heroes throughout the pandemic. We have also watched as everyday people began wearing masks, staying physically distant from one another, reinventing family and friends visits, learning how to ZOOM for both business and personal needs, simultaneously teaching students and their own children, reconciling with a loved one, reconnecting with high school or college friends, and the list continues. In each of these actions, ordinary folks did what they thought impossible but necessary, ordinary people doing the extraordinary for the common good. 

Wasn’t this Joseph? Yes, he was a man born of the House of David, but he was also born into a family of modest means in a small village of Galilee. This ordinary man listened and did the extraordinary, “he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” With the decision to take Mary as his wife, Joseph is an example that ordinary individuals can make an extraordinary impact on the world. Joseph did not know what the future held in store, but he knew to trust in the Lord’s commands. He was courageous when his world might have seen his decisions in a very different light. We meet Joseph just a few times in the Gospels, but each of those meetings allows us to learn a bit more about him. We learn of his unconditional love, his courage to go into the unknown with Mary, his acceptance of the baby Jesus as his own family, and his unfailing faith in God.

By saying YES to God, Joseph created a family for and with Mary. A family in which Jesus was able to learn, grow, love, and be fully human as he prepared himself to become the Savior of the World.

May Saint Joseph continue as a role model to each of us, ordinary people doing extraordinary things for the Greater Glory of God. Please take some time today to pray the following.

Prayer to Saint Joseph

Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.

Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.

-Pope Francis

Saturday, March 20, 2021 - Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Gospel: John 7:40-53
Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, “This is truly the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David’s family and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So a division occurred in the crowd because of him. Some of them even wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not bring him?” The guards answered, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.” So the Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.” Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them, “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” They answered and said to him, “You are not from Galilee also, are you? Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” Then each went to his own house.

Reflection: Rita Kowalczyk, Intervention Specialist at the Walton Center

This Gospel passage leaves us with many questions. Are we open and flexible to what God is teaching us and what God wants us to be? Whether student or teacher- can we both be flexible and be willing to hear the other? Can we trust that we are all worthy to be sharers of our faith? We can become so comfortable with how we are that we often forget that God speaks to each of us in our own experience. Each person has an important place in Jesus’ community; when we lose sight of that, we lose sight of each other.

I am often questioned about faith by my daughter. My daughter has a hard time believing in God because God seems very abstract to her. I often talk about God to her and mention when I experience a moment where God has made a difference in my life. Reading this passage further encourages me to discuss God with my daughter. The message this passage tells me is to believe in what others say. Who are we to judge their authenticity?

Throughout this Lenten period, listen and reflect on how God has entered your life not only in scripture, but through others’ actions and words. What are you going to do knowing God is in your life? Keep your beliefs and thoughts to yourself or share with others?

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