Scripture Reflections

In Winter 2021 we're featuring weekly reflections on the Sunday readings from voices in the Seattle University community. 

Contact JoAnn Lopez (lopezjo@seattleu.edu) if you would like to write a reflection for an upcoming Sunday!

Each Scripture reflection below includes a link to the daily Scripture readings from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' website. Audio recordings of the readings are available within the linked pages for the respective day's readings.

Check out additional links on the sidebar to help you enter into prayer and reflection during these days, including submitting your prayer request to be remembered by our community. 

At the bottom of this page you'll find the link to older scripture reflections for each week, including from previous quarters, where we featured daily scripture reflections and video preaching. 

February 28: Second Sunday in Lent

Posted by Campus Ministry on February 28, 2021 at 8:02 AM PST

a path in the mountains with a tree on the edge of a cliff

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Did Jesus have to die? It’s a question that comes up often enough in my own life of faith and ministry. It’s a question that comes to the surface as I read today’s set of readings. The scriptures today challenge me, with their seemingly obvious invitation to draw parallels between Jesus and Isaac, God and Abraham, in ways that lead to some kind of conclusion where it is good and holy that patriarchs are willing to kill their sons. No. Thank. You.

I’ve seen how this plays out.  We cast God as the one who demands death. We come to see God as the arbiter of our suffering and pain, and ourselves as merely acquiescing to the forces of “God’s will” as we encounter injustice. The fruits of this interpretation seem to be Christian apathy (if not collusion) in the face of violent oppression and the crushing forces of patriarchy and white supremacy.  

In the Gospel of Mark, right before the account of the Transfiguration (and again twice after), Jesus predicts his suffering and death, and the disciples are troubled, and reject the idea. Jesus seems to know his mission will lead to suffering and death. He predicts it, over and over, and invites the disciples to follow in the way of costly discipleship. The disciples find Jesus attractive to follow, but don’t seem to understand the risk that a commitment to Jesus’ way entails.

How do we come to understand Jesus’ own prediction of his death? Do we believe in a God that incarnates into human history only to be killed to quench some kind of bloodlust? Does God demand death? Did Jesus have to die?

Today’s Gospel story of the Transfiguration helps me to find a different answer. We encounter Jesus with a few disciples on the mountaintop, having a mystical experience, experiencing closeness to God, and hearing clearly the voice of God calling Jesus beloved. The Transfiguration reminds me of this truth: Jesus does not come to this world to die, but to love. The Beloved One enters into our midst on God’s mission of love and mercy. Unfortunately in our broken world, an embodied commitment to love places us in the crosshairs of the powerful forces that dehumanize and annihilate. Jesus knew his mission would lead to a confrontation with religious and political authorities. Jesus knew that it could lead to death. Yet he remained committed to proclaiming God’s dream for the world. He did not enter into the journey seeking death, but following the path of love wherever it leads. Jesus’ experience of his own belovedness set the course of his life and lived commitments. The Transfiguration, where God decisively proclaims Jesus’ belovedness anew, reminds us that God does not demand death, but faithful witness to love – from Jesus, and from us all.

Today I hear the voice of God saying to me and to all disciples: “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.” How can we listen to Jesus during this Lenten season? How are we being called to follow his way of love, his mission of mercy through our lives today? What forces of oppression and death must we challenge? Are we willing to absorb the risks of a radical commitment to love?

 

~ JoAnn Lopez, Campus Minister

February 21: First Sunday in Lent

Posted by Campus Ministry on February 21, 2021 at 8:02 AM PST

A desert scene with cactus and a rainbow in the background

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As we transition into Lent, the readings take us through the creation of God’s covenant with the people after the destruction of the flood. God makes a promise to all living creatures that water will not be used for destruction ever again. In the first and second readings, the symbol of water changes from representing loss, as seen in the flood, to symbolizing purification, salvation, and ultimately transformation.  

I am struck by the resilience presented in these readings. The promise that after destruction and suffering, comes protection and transformation. When I think of Lent, I associate the time with reflection and retreat, however that is not always the case for everyone. For others, the Lenten season can be alienating. Perhaps in the past this could be soothed by our gathering physically in our communities, but this year, Lent might appear more desolate without the physical reminder of love of community. However the readings invite us to remember our resilience. This resilience is exemplified by Noah and his family, and Jesus in the desert, both ultimately being strengthened by God’ covenant to be with us. In the face of injustice, destruction, and disillusionment, God resides with us. Yet this makes me wonder, whose face does God bear among the conflict? Where do we search for God in our plight?

The readings invite us this Lent to experience transformation and conversion through the waters of baptism, for a “clear conscience” as the letter from Peter indicates. In the context of our challenging lives and world, we are called to encounter God present in all that is still life-giving to us. The Spirit led Jesus to the desolation of the desert, yet it is the same Spirit, and the same God who protects Jesus and leads him out. It is comforting for me to see that Jesus, while being the Son of God, is still fully human where he experiences alienation and temptation and just like us, relies on God’s presence.

To me, part of God’s covenant is the promise that we are not alone. In the process of conversion, of transformation no matter how painful and alienating it might be, there is that promise of resilience and God’s presence with us. In the face of difficulty, I see this as an opportunity to search for the face of God. As we enter our own deserts this Lenten season, I hope that we may remember that God walks with us and will lead us out. How can we become a symbol of resilience for one another? Where do we search for God’s face? How might we be invited to rely on God’s presence as we embark on our Lenten journey?

 

~ Tayz Hernandez,  B.A. in Theology and Psychology, Class of 2021

February 14: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on February 14, 2021 at 8:02 AM PST

 

“If you wish, you can make me clean.”

Evergreen trees topped with snow

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It is early in Jesus’s ministry. He has been baptized, and he has been to the desert. He has preached in the synagogues of Galilee, and he has cured people of demons and sickness. Then, a man afflicted by leprosy approaches him, bends to his knees and says, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”

Has this leper heard the rumors of the healer in the nearby town? Was the name “Jesus of Nazareth” uttered over shared bread? Was it spat at him mockingly by a passerby in the street? Did he glimpse Jesus from afar, anxiously hoping?

The leper speaks with certainty of Jesus’s power to heal. Maybe even faith. “If you will it, you can make me clean.”

Cries for help are ubiquitous. Rarely are they directed so clearly to our unhearing ears. One such case: a man approaches me on the street. “Can you spare any change?”

Why was I approached? Because the man knew that if I willed it, I could “make him clean." Can I spare any change? Of course I can. What’s more, if I willed it, I could leverage all of my privilege on behalf of that man. I could treat that man like my own brother, or my own son. Instead I give him petty cash (on a good day) and he goes on his way. We each have the potential to radically change the life of another. But we don’t. Jesus did.

 As members forming the Body of Christ in our present day, we are called to be as Christ to one another. We are called both to will the impossible, and to do the impossible. The question then that I constantly ask myself is this: why don’t we? 

 

~ Nate Ross, B.S. in Biology, Class of 2021

 

February 7: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on February 7, 2021 at 8:02 AM PST

a human silhouette looks out towards a purple and pink sky at sunset

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We know that currently there is a lot of pain in the world. The news coverage is heavier, focused on events that make us doubt what good there might be existing in the world. Each of us have our own worries or mishaps that we might try to ignore so that we can keep moving forward. There are also times when we are tired and refuse to admit it or take the time to recover.  

In the readings today we hear how Job felt horrible about his situation. He could not find any hope in the situation he was in, but still, as we know from elsewhere in the Book of Job, Job found it in himself to be assured that God was with him. This makes me question: how do I still feel God’s presence when times are bad or rough? A simple thought came to mind for me and it was the sunrise of each day. Sure, living where it is cloudy most days means I will not always see the sun, but I know it’s there. I know God’s still there. Job was honest with himself and authentic too—he did not lie and say that he was still happy despite all that happened to him, he was sincere. How can we be more honest in our day to day?  

As we read the Gospel today, I think it is important to be reminded that Jesus was still human, as us, and lived in the realness of life. He still was tired, was afraid but was also committed to giving himself to others. He took the time for himself then continued to serve those around him, and as we hear in today’s Gospel, those he healed then in turn served others around them. I find this comforting because it illustrates how human Jesus was in his earthly life. It reminds me to be more human too, trusting that it is there that God meets us.

Having those Jesus served continue to serve others is an example to me of the heart of the Gospel, the “Good News.” We are part of the church that lives and believes in the Gospel, not just hearing it, but also responding actively to God’s love in our world. I am reminded of St. Francis’s quote “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words,” something I heard plenty in elementary school but something that I think rings true today. Having encountered God’s love, how can we be part of sharing that Gospel with others? How are we called to serve others? 

 

~ Karina Comes, B.S. Biology, Class of 2021

January 31: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on January 31, 2021 at 8:01 AM PST

A landscape of a mountain being reflected in the lake waters before it

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In the second reading, Paul tells us: “I should like you to be free of anxieties.” 

In our world, it seems like anxiety surrounds us,  with worries about health, financial security, politics, and family life. I find it almost unrealistic to listen to this teaching of being free of anxieties and paying more attention to God. However, both Paul and the author of Deuteronomy call us to trust in God. They call us to trust that amid all the suffering and the anxiety in the world, God is present for and within us. We need only be attentive and surrender our worries to God.

Paul says to the community he is writing to, and to us: “I should like you to be free of anxieties.” How can we be free of anxieties?

Moses, in the Book of Deuteronomy shares a promise that God will send a prophet to the people, to trust that God has listened to the plea of the people. That God listens. These readings paired together, invite me to reflect on that promise. God promises to liberate us from the anxieties of the world, and invites us to trust that God listens to our plea of help, our hope for relationship. 

Today’s readings inspire me to think about our own place in this promise. We are called to act as prophets for one another by trusting in God’s love and trusting that God will be the one to give us the words we need. We are in a tumultuous time where anxieties are high and it is necessary for us to be there for and with one another. We have a mission to trust in God and to become prophets for one another.

But what does this truly mean? What does it mean to act as a prophet? Especially now, what does it mean to trust in God and free ourselves from anxieties in the world that we inhabit? To me, it means recognizing what material things might hold us back and focusing on being agents of hope. It means spreading God’s message of hope and love with one another, and accompanying one another through our anxieties. Trusting that God will give us the strength to persevere and be there for each other. How can we act as prophets in our own communities? How are we being called to be present for one another in the times of high stress? Where can we see an opportunity to be agents of hope?

 

~ Tayz Hernandez,  B.A. in Theology and Psychology, Class of 2021

Scripture Reflections from the Seattle University Community

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