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.
Jesus’s message for me this Lent is a blunt reminder to re-focus my objectives and actions by listening to his real message! By listening more, I can avoid manipulating Jesus’s message (as Judas does). This is especially important for anyone in roles of leadership and influence as we sit at any “table”.
Finally, when Jesus says, “You will not always have me” really caught my attention in prayer because of this element of time. As a father of three daughters with two out of college and one just starting college this past fall, the pandemic delayed my wife and me being empty nesters until a month ago. What a change now that the house is empty. How many times have we mused, “how did they grow up so quickly”? In today’s reading, Jesus gives me a reminder that this Lent there is no better time than the present to be grateful and live his true teachings. St. Teresa below reminds me of the power of listening.
“The beginning of prayer is silence. If we really want to pray, we must first learn to listen, for in the silence of the heart God speaks. And to be able to see that silence, to be able to hear God we need a clean heart.”
-St. Teresa of Calcutta
Passage: Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17
In you, LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue and deliver me; listen to me and save me! Be my rock of refuge, my stronghold to give me safety; for you are my rock and fortress. My God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked, from the clutches of the evil and violent. You are my hope, Lord; my trust, GOD, from my youth. On you I have depended since birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength; my hope in you never wavers.
My mouth shall proclaim your just deeds, day after day your acts of deliverance, though I cannot number them all. I will speak of the mighty works of the Lord; O GOD, I will tell of your singular justice. God, you have taught me from my youth; to this day I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
Reflection: Christian Sanders ‘10, Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion
As we end Women’s History Month and move within our Lenten Season of sacrifice, it is important to look at life and who we have come from. Each one of us has been formed to go out and proclaim the Good deeds of God since we were formed in our mother’s womb.
Each human being shares the commonality of being formed in their mother’s womb, and those of us who proclaim the Christian faith are responsible for moving forth and proclaiming the wonders of God in all we do. I’d like to center a little bit on the miracle of life and what a woman of faith means to me.
In my life, I have been blessed with the company of wonderful mothers and what I’ve learned through parenting is that every woman who commits to mothering a child decides to risk her life in more ways than one to create life. Now, this path is not for every woman, however, those who choose to do so, are committing to be a part of God’s greatest miracle, which is life.
For some mothers, this could be a tough time, with the multitude of difficulties that affect the creation of life and the things that can go wrong during the birthing process. I was one of those kids who caused plenty of tests for my mother in the birthing process. After 86 days of bed rest, she gave birth to me at 27 weeks of the 40-week gestational period.
She knew the risk of birthing me for both her health and mine, but she pressed on. Just 3 lbs 9 oz, it was a high risk that my birth would lead to a very short life. But she moved forward, trusting God and I don’t think you need me to tell you that I am still here, however, so is my mother. Now that I can fully comprehend this sacrifice as a parent myself, I am inspired by her faith. A large reason why I choose to work here is that I get to share my faith and proclaim God’s wonders and all that I think, say, and do. My challenge to you today is to acknowledge the sacrifice of a mother, and If you are blessed to do so, maybe call your mother and just say thank you for choosing life, and loving you.
March 31, 2021 - Wednesday of Holy Week
Gospel: John 12:1-11
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: Aaron Calton ‘10, Alumni Volunteer
What is Christ worth? To Mary of Bethany in Monday’s Gospel, he was worth everything she had. She poured out a year’s worth of oil onto his feet to show that. When Judas saw this, he was scandalized. He clearly thought Jesus was worth following, but worth this kind of extravagance? Surely not. When Judas approaches the high priest in today’s Gospel, he receives a much more reasonable price for Jesus, thirty pieces of silver. Yet it was not a price he paid to receive Jesus, but a price he exacted for giving him up.
I often tell myself that I am more like Mary than Judas, but when I compare the money I spend on monthly Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime subscriptions to what I give in the collection plate monthly, that claim can ring rather hollow. But what Christ is worth to us is not only shown in our monetary donations, but in our gifts of our very selves to Jesus. Judas didn’t just hold onto the 30 pieces of silver with greed, he also held himself back from Jesus out of greed, or anger, or maybe even shame.
Each of us, one way or another, has had the opportunity to “sell out” our faith. We weigh our religious obligations against the obligations of work or socializing or leisure. How often do we value Christ less than these? We hold ourselves back from Jesus by this choice, and when he calls us back to him, when he tells us that, in our own little ways, we have betrayed him, how should we respond? We may be tempted to respond like Judas “Surely, it is not I?” Yet Jesus knows the truth of our hearts, and he sees through that denial. He does not want to condemn us, but always gives us the opportunity to admit our failings so that we can return to him and be forgiven. In this season of Lent, in this Holy Week, let us take the opportunity to admit the times we have handed Jesus over in exchange for something else, and let us return to him with all our hearts, confidant in his forgiving love.
April 1, 2021 - 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: Father Ray Guiao, SJ, ‘82, President
Back in Jesus’ day, washing the feet of family members and invited guests was so menial a task that it was left to the servant who ranked least in a household. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to wash someone’s feet. Just imagine the condition of people’s feet back in those days when sandals did little to protect people’s feet from the grit and grime of unpaved streets and walkways. So, as you entered a house, a lowly servant would kneel before you with a basin of water and some soap to scrub the caked-on filth from your tired feet. Imagine what it was like for the servant, on hands and knees, his or her face in the dirty, stinky business of foot washing.
And this is precisely the example that Jesus set for his disciples to follow. Not an easy or glamorous example of serving others. Only the menial, humbling, and thankless task of foot washing. But as challenging a chore as foot washing was in those days, it was also a highly personal, intimate experience to wash another person’s feet.
And perhaps this, more than anything else, is what Jesus meant to get across to his followers: that true self-giving love can mean hard, humbling work, but that it can also bring us to intimate encounter in our care for someone. I remember this from my own work as a hospital orderly when I was a Jesuit novice. For months, I assisted nurses in their care for very sick patients: feeding them, shaving them, bathing them, changing their bed linens, and yes, even running bed pans for them and cleaning them up whenever nature called. As one of the nurses I worked with once assured me, “Ray, we never show love as much as when we care for them in ways that they cannot care for themselves.”
How might you be challenged to care for others in ways they cannot care for themselves? How do you approach the challenges of loving others? With dread, resentment and a sense that “this is so beneath me?” Or with gracious humility, knowing that sometimes loving means “giving without counting the cost,” “laboring without seeking reward?”
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
April 2, 2021 - Good Friday
Passage: Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
For all my foes I am an object of reproach,
a laughingstock to my neighbors, and a dread to my friends;
they who see me abroad flee from me.
I am forgotten like the unremembered dead;
I am like a dish that is broken.
But my trust is in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.”
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
Take courage and be stouthearted,
all you who hope in the LORD.
Sit quietly with this and all of the scripture for this day.
Simply accompany Jesus in his suffering and death.
April 3, 2021 - Holy Saturday
Gospel: Mark 16:1-7
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back; it was very large. On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.’”
Reflection: Augie Pacetti, ‘96, Director of Campus Ministry
When the grieving women going to anoint the body of Jesus began thinking about how they would enter the tomb, they realized that the stone would be too large an obstacle to remove themselves. They probably never expected what happened next. The stone was rolled back and Jesus was risen! They needed to go back home to Galilee to find him.
This Gospel story often comes up on the final day of our Kairos Retreats. Throughout Kairos, retreatants have been reflecting on how deeply God loves each of us, and how we are all called to make a response to God's love. But often, there are obstacles in our lives that keep us from returning that love to God and others the way we want to. Perhaps we have experienced setbacks or loss - the death of a loved one, the pain of separation or divorce, or a challenging illness or injury. Other times, we may be dealing with our own weaknesses - persistent vices or sins that are difficult to overcome and seem like they always pull us away from God. But as I've seen on numerous retreats, our freedom comes when we name those obstacles, and ask for help with them - from God, and from our sisters and brothers in Christ. When we do name, claim, and seek help with those obstacles, upon our return home, we often find it easier to say thank you, ask for forgiveness, and find the love and support we need for the long haul. Now that's Resurrection!
On this Holy Saturday, just like the grieving women, may we too have the courage to name what stands between us and Jesus, and continue to trust our God of surprises. We might be amazed at what God has in store for us.
Where is the Sunday reflection, you ask? At your parish! Thank you for praying with us this Lenten season. A.M.D.G.