March 7, 2022 - Monday of the 1st Week of Lent
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus said to his disciples: “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.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Reflection: Dominic DeBlasis '22, Student
This week’s Gospel is a hard one to meditate on, but of the utmost importance. The message here seems pretty simple: serve the poor and Heaven is yours, ignore the poor and Hell is yours. This is hard to hear isn’t it? I struggle with this too. But let’s focus on what we are called to do. Jesus is calling us to serve the poor. Why? Well, the heart of Christianity is love, as God Himself is love- that’s all He knows. Though love can take different forms, love is essentially “to will the good of the other,” as St. Thomas Aquinas defines it. Since Christianity is love, then to love someone means to put their good above mine. The poor are especially in need, so we are called to put their good above ours. Serving the poor sanctifies us, fulfills us, brings us closer to God. It is part of the way to holiness, happiness, fulfillment, and eternity.
So maybe you are convinced to serve the poor, but you may be wondering how to serve them? For me, I have been involved in the Pallbearer Ministry here at St. Ignatius since my junior year and became a leader this year. The ministry serves the poor, those in need of men to carry the deceased to their final resting place who have little or no family. I see how much the families appreciate our help when we carry their loved one. See, though the poor here are not necessarily strictly poor in the sense of material poverty, the families and the deceased person still are in need of community and brotherhood. Serving the poor includes those who are materially poor, but also includes any kinds and any types of poverty- spiritual, emotional, mental. So, for you (and me), find an organization that serves the poor that you can get involved in- a soup kitchen, Labre, Pallbearers, Habitat for Humanity, L’Arche, or any other organization. Do something that involves one of the Spiritual or Corporal Works of Mercy.
In addition, look for those in your daily life who are poor, whether they are lonely, need help on homework, need an extra dollar for lunch, or need someone to talk to. By learning how to serve the poor, with God’s grace, you will be a great sign of Christ’s love for those around you, and you will set the world on fire! God Bless! Christ’s peace and love from me to you.
March 8, 2022 - Tuesday of the 1st 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: John Viglianco, The Fathers’ Club President
Matthew begins by telling us not to pray the LORD’S PRAYER the way we always do. “…do not babble as the pagans do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard.” Prayer is a dialogue with God. It is not a mere recitation of words. God already knows what we are praying for before we even begin. Our task is to humbly beseech Him for our needs.
In verses 9 and 10 we recognize God’s grandeur. God is in heaven, His name is holy, and He has jurisdiction over both heaven and earth. We begin by recognizing his almighty nature.
The request part begins with verse 11. We ask for our “daily bread”. Since He is the provider of everything, we depend on Him to satisfy all of our needs.
We ask for forgiveness in verse 12. However, in order to merit this quality, we must apply this same action to our fellow man. This is the main lesson of the prayer.
In verse 13, we ask to avoid situations where we are confronted with evil. All of us are continuously surrounded with evil. Just like Jesus, who was besieged by the devil when he went into the desert for 40 days. We are in our own desert, and we need God’s grace to defeat evil.
The traditional LORD’S PRAYER ends here, but Matthew returns to the point of the previous verse. The forgiveness aspect is so important that it is stressed again in verses 14 and 15. If we want to be forgiven, we need to forgive others. We must give the attribute in order to get it.
By concentrating on the lines of this passage, and not rote recitation, we can learn how to enhance our conversation with God.
March 9, 2022 - Wednesday of the 1st 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: Father Cyril Pinchak, S.J., Theology Faculty
Both the first reading and the Gospel speak of prophet Jonah. Christ promises that just as Jonah was a sign to the generation of Ninevites, so he will be a sign to this generation.
Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites. But what kind of sign was he? A good one? Not really; he was a reluctant prophet and even after he did his job, he waited for God to destroy all his half-hearted work. He wasn’t a great sign, but Jonah was a good enough one.
In Matthew’s Gospel it is made explicit that the sign of Jonah is his three days in the belly of the whale which prefigures Christ’s three days in the tomb. Repentance and resurrection are both a sign of the same reality: we can be dead in sin but by turning again and again to Christ, we can be restored to life, to a new and greater life. Even our half-hearted repentance is something for God to work with.
Repentance is not fixing ourselves, repentance is simply falling down and begging for God’s mercy. Our job is not to be perfect in our lives, or even perfect in our repentance. Our job is simply to come before Christ and allow him to look on us with love, right now, as we are. And that is what repentance is: God looking on us with love and transforming our lives through love.
In short, the sign of Jonah is a sign that God works through all our feeble efforts. If we just stop fleeing from God and allow Him to work through us, thousands can be saved.
March 10, 2022 - Thursday of the 1st 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: John Morabeto, Vice President of Institutional Advancement
The Gospel reading of Matthew encourages us to be kind and treat others as we would like to be treated, the Golden Rule. Certainly a good rule to live by! But as I reflect on the reading I am struck by Jesus’s call to action. Ask and it will be given to you… seek and you will find… knock and the door will be open to you. He is inviting us to invest in our spiritual life and our reward will be given.
And yet the pandemic has presented many challenges for us spiritually. Churches were closed during the lockdown and a lot of people still feel uncomfortable in crowds of the, since reopened, places of worship. Many of us have seen our Sunday spiritual routines suffer. Maybe it is a convenient excuse, but here we are seemingly in a collective pause. We find ourselves longing for the world to return as we knew it two years ago even though that is not possible and we feel a little stuck.
Our beautiful retreat day in the Sullivan Gym and this Gospel reading remind me of an important missing piece in my life. To return to the familiar and have the balance I wish would return, I must begin from within and with our faith. Find the routine of my faith and the routine of life and society follows. Seek the good gifts of God and I will find inner peace within the chaos today.
As the Lenten Season begins, with renewed prayer, acts of charity and fasting, and with the promise of springtime upon us, I am inspired by the call to action in Matthew 7 to be proactive in my spirituality knowing it leads to the balance we desire in these complicated times.
Jesus is waiting for me to Ask, to Seek and to Knock.
March 11, 2022 - Friday of the 1st Week of Lent
Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26
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: Carter Spearry ’16, Alumni Volunteer
As Catholic adults, Lent is no longer about giving up candy or watching cartoons for what seemed to be forty impossibly long days. Growing up, I was often taught that Lent was about giving something up because Jesus gave up His life for us. It’s a nice message, but ultimately, Lent is about preparing yourself to enter the Kingdom of God someday.
This Gospel passage can be viewed in the same way, as Jesus offers His disciples a new meaning of an old teaching. When Jesus says “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, [you are worthless], will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna” it can apply to us as modern-day Catholics too.
In today’s world, we are often caught up in always being “right.” There is so much point-scoring, canceling, and stubbornness that when we are so determined to be “right” we often forget the feelings and the dignity of the people we deem as “wrong.” In the Gospel, Jesus acknowledges that while it is important to respect the Commandments, it is equally important to respect each other.
Jesus goes on to say “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.” While Jesus ultimately wants us to seek forgiveness with God, He foremost wants us to seek forgiveness with each other.
As we journey with Jesus during this Lenten season, let us not be focused on depriving ourselves simple pleasures, but rather strive to become more compassionate, loving Catholics as Jesus wants us to be. On this First Friday of Lent, I pray that you will continue to follow the teachings of Christ and live them out by loving those around you.
March 12, 2022 - Saturday of the 1st 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: Amy Carroll, College Counselor
As I read and reflect on the message Jesus is delivering to his disciples it is clear that he leaves no doubt what he is asking each of us to do. There is no room for compromise here – we are not only to love our friends but to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. It is the last sentence of the passage that I am drawn to reread, it says, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” I think, Wait! Did He just tell me to be perfect? Is He kidding? He must know perfection is unattainable. How does He want me to be perfect?
Once a month a group of students and adults are welcomed into homes in the L’Arche Community, a place where people with and without intellectual disabilities share life in community. Through my years of participation in Friends with L’Arche, I have grown in friendship with Lisa, a core member of the community. Lisa is there at the door, eager to greet and welcome us inside, and is happiest when she is seated between two of her Saint Ignatius friends at the dinner table. What Lisa has taught me about love is that it must be impartial and unconditional. I have had the rare opportunity to watch her love in this way as students graduate and move on in their life’s journey, and new students join our ministry the next year. She accepts every person as one who is valuable, and worth loving. Their presence in her life is reason enough to show them love. Lisa is a reminder to me that perhaps that is what Jesus means when he asks us to be perfect. Maybe He is simply looking for us to be perfect in our love.
My prayer for each of us this Lenten season is to pray for those in our lives who may be harder to love, to extend mercy and grace to them, and to seek out opportunities to love like Lisa – impartially and without conditions. While we may never achieve perfection in how we love, by setting the goal to love more perfectly we can begin to emulate what God the Father asks of us – to love one another as He does.
Where is the Sunday reflection, you ask? At your parish! The next set of reflections will be shared on Monday. A.M.D.G.
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