Scripture Reflections

May 22: Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 22, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A pair of hands enclosed around another person's hand.

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In Monday’s gospel we heard that the world is going to persecute the disciples for their testimony to Jesus, but they are not to worry, for the Holy Spirit will be their Advocate and speak for them.

Today’s readings from Acts18 is an example of this advocacy. First Paul hears from the Lord that he is not to worry, but to speak out, because the Lord is with him. No one will attack him because the Lord has many persons in Corinth. And yet in the next paragraph the Jews attack Paul by bringing him before the Roman tribunal.

As Paul is about to defend himself, Gallio, the Roman proconsul, dismisses the case. He does so on narrow legal grounds. Judaism was a protected legal religion in the Roman Empire. Christianity was still a form of Judaism which proclaimed that the Messiah has arrived. The Jews want Paul punished because he is preaching a different form of Judaism, “contrary to Jewish Law.” Gallio says he, as a Roman, is not going to get entangled in interpreting Jewish law and Jewish religion. He remands the case to them to settle. And they do so by beating their synagogue leader for his ineptitude in framing their case!

Gallio is not, in our minds, one of the (Christian) persons of the Lord in Corinth. And yet the Spirit of Truth, the Advocate has spoken through him and released Paul for the Lord’s work.

And so our first learning from this gospel is twofold: 1) the Spirit will testify for us when we are attacked for proclaiming the gospel, and 2) the Spirit of Truth will speak through agents and events which we do not acknowledge as Christian. (Is the Spirit speaking to us through the COVID pandemic? Not as judge, but as inviting us to real justice in a new world?)

But let’s get back to today’s gospel. Jesus warns his disciples that when he is killed they are going to be devastated: it will appear that the world has won, by permanently ridding itself of this disturber of their peace. But the disciples’ pain will be like that of a woman in labor---it will give way to the joy of seeing Jesus reborn in his risen Body. He has conquered the world!

Jesus’ metaphor of childbirth has a different meaning for us today. On the one hand, we can rejoice with the disciples that the resurrection of Jesus and his pouring of the Spirit on us has changed our world. But, on the other hand, we remain in the struggles of labor today. Jesus’ message of self-giving love is opposed to the emphasis on prosperity, power, and pleasure prevalent in our American culture. Living and preaching Jesus’ good news in an unbelieving world is still, and always will be, labor for us. St. Paul wrote, “all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now.” Our only midwife will be the Spirit of Truth, the Advocate who will testify for us.

In our Eucharist we pray that God pour out that Spirit on us in Christ’s Body.


Fr. John Topel, S.J.

May 21: Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 21, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A child with pigtails covers their face in a game of peek-a-boo.

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“A little while again and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” So Jesus tells us on this Thursday of the sixth week of Easter. As it happened, Jesus was speaking to his disciples just a little while before his arrest, passion, and crucifixion. As John tells it, Jesus was in fact predicting his own death and resurrection.

But when I first read this, without looking into the greater context, I thought perhaps it was the resurrected Jesus appearing to his disciples and predicting the second coming. Perhaps that says something about where my mind is currently, that I could more easily bring to mind the second coming and judgement day than I could the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior in all his glory.

Peek-a-boo. Peek-a-boo. Peek-a-boo.

Is peek-a-boo a culturally universal baby game? I think it probably is. I think somewhere in the recesses of my mind I still remember my loved ones playing that game with me—hiding their face behind their hands, then reappearing with a smile of pure joy. In many ways the state of my soul depends on that everlasting game of peek-a-boo—between me, my loved ones, and God.

My aunt of 45 is currently 6 ½ months pregnant with her first child. I am so happy for them. The happiness I feel about this future baby cousin is so simple and straightforward. It makes sense. Truly, it is so easy to see how it makes sense. While in many ways I fail to see Christ singing a new creation in my life, in this way it is so simple.

So what am I saying? What is Jesus saying?



Nate Ross, Class of 2021

May 20: Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 20, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A person sits at the shore of a lake surrounded by evergreens, chin resting on their hand as though they are deep in thought.

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This is such a strange Easter season. As God calls us to be joyful, to celebrate the Risen Christ, we are all feeling the stress and the loss as a result of COVID-19. How can we be joyful in the time of so much death, cancellation of communal events and celebrations, rising economic strife, and overwhelming uncertainty?

Here is where I am finding my hope: We are a people who know resurrection, who can have faith that out of death and darkness, there can be life and light. When the disciples witnessed Jesus’ death on the cross—even though he had assured them that he would return—they lost all hope, fell into uncertainty and sorrow. But he came back, bringing with him redemption, forgiveness and eternal life.

Right now, Jesus offers us a companion in our grief and pain, but also a reminder that God can make goodness out of even the hardest times. There is no doubt that COVID-19 is impacting our communities in a massive way, changing lives forever, transforming the way the world works. And God is still bigger. These verses from Acts today remind me of the greatness and the power of God, but also God’s infinite presence to each of us: “Though indeed he is not far from any one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’” Even in the distance, the struggle, and the strange times such as the ones we are in now, God is still in all things. “Heaven and earth are [still] full of [God’s] glory.” The enormity of COVID-19 and all the ways it is impacting us right now pale in comparison to the vastness and goodness of God.

In the Gospel reading for today, Jesus says, “I have so much more to tell you” and promises us further communication from the Spirit. I like to think that God is constantly communicating with us, we just aren’t always that great at listening. What might God be telling us during this time of physical distance and change? Sometimes, I am worse at listening when I feel like my world is falling apart or my problems are just too big; I fill my spaces with constant sound and distraction. After reading today’s scripture, I am thinking more about how to sit in the quiet and listen. In this time of slowness and uncertainty, I am seeking to pay attention to the ways God is speaking to me, how God is adjusting the places where I find joy, and reminding me that in God, there is always resurrection.


Ali Alderman, Class of 2020

May 19: Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 19, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A metal chain stretches across the image, with the middle link rusted and broken

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I am struck by today’s story in the Acts of the Apostles. We’re presented with a miraculous occurrence: Paul and Silas, having been beaten and jailed, experience an earthquake that opens the doors of their jail and frees them from their chains. However, I was more captivated by the story of the transformation of their jailer, who in the course of an evening (and a few short verses), goes from someone who is diligently following orders to imprison them, into one who welcomes these prisoners into his home, bathing their wounds and sharing at table with them and his entire household.

There are stories elsewhere in the Book of Acts that recount providential escapes from imprisonment for the apostles – this one however, stands out in the startling transformation of the jailer. While the imprisoned could have easily walked out of the jail after the earthquake and unshackling, (as they did in other stories like this), or could have overpowered the jailer and made their escape, the Word today invites us to imagine the total transformation of relationship that is possible through the power of God – where enemies become friends, and all share at table together in joy.

How is it possible that this jailer, the instrument of Paul and Silas’s oppression, becomes their host? I trace his story – beginning with simply following orders, to asleep, then gripped by fear, moved with curiosity, listening attentively, tending wounds, embracing faith, and sharing with joy at table together. I am struck by curiosity and listening being the doorway from his fear into fellowship. His is a story of conversion of heart and transformation of relationship. Perhaps it is really a story of the jailer being set free. Could his path be our path too?

I see the similarities between the jailer’s story and our current global context: our daily lives are being shaken up by cataclysmic events; I wonder what transformation is possible if we start to engage with curiosity in the midst of our fear. If we started to listen attentively. What old scripts and ways of operating might we abandon? Whose wounds might we be called to tend? How will our households transform? Who might we want to embrace in friendship and fellowship? Where will we put our faith? What will bring us joy?

Let us ask the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, to give us the grace of curiosity and attentive listening. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to bring transformation to our lives, our world, and our relationships. Let us ask to be set free. 


JoAnn M. Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy and Resident Minister in Campion Hall

May 18: Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 18, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A tire sits on the grass with grass and a small tree growing out of the center of it.

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One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying” (Acts 16:14).

In today’s first reading, we encounter a woman named Lydia. At this point in Acts of the Apostles, Paul and his companions are in the thick of a meandering and epic journey, winding throughout lands near and far against considerable obstacles with the sole purpose of spreading the gospel message of Jesus the Risen Christ. In the first sentence alone, we follow the disciples’ whirlwind journey through Troas to Samothrace, on to Neapolis, and at last to Philippi, where it seems they finally decided to give themselves a bit of a breather and take in the sights. They come across Lydia on the sabbath, gathered with some other women outside the city gates, and they strike up a conversation, presumably sharing the good news. Lydia, having listened intently to what they have to say, is moved to open her home to them.

What I love about this short passage is the description of Lydia’s act of listening, the bridge between her initial encounter with Paul and friends and her decision to offer them hospitality. “Lydia…listened,” we are told, “and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying” (Acts 16:14). Lydia’s act of listening is collaborative, involving action on her part and on the part of God, who is described as opening her heart to pay attention. Lydia does not listen with the mind alone but, through the mysterious grace of God, is able to drop down into her heart. It is from this heart space that she acts, offering what she can—in this case, her home—for a cause she believes in. Lydia’s unassuming moment of receptivity is in fact an important moment for the early church: the church in Philippi would grow to be one of the most significant early Christian communities, as we see in Paul’s later Letter to the Philippians.

I’m reminded of another woman’s yes to God’s invitation to collaboration: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). These are, of course, the words of Mary of Nazareth, assenting, after some back-and-forth, to becoming Theotokos, the God-bearer, the Mother of God. These two accounts depict Lydia and Mary as active agents in the timeline of God’s involvement in the world, responding from within the particulars of their own circumstances to a divine invitation.

In her poem “Feast Days,” Annie Dillard writes,

Further: the reason for some silly looking fishes,
for the bizarre mating
of certain adult insects,
or the sprouting, say
in a snow tire
of a Rocky Mountain grass,
is that the universal
loves the particular,
that freedom loves to live
and live fleshed full,
and in detail.

The universal loves the particular. God is extending invitations to collaboration left and right, wanting to be in relationship with our particularity, wanting her involvement in history to be intermixed with that essence that makes me uniquely me and you uniquely you.

And so today we look to Lydia as an example of courageous and creative yes. Where are you being invited to divine collaboration? What creative and mysterious callings are emerging into form from formlessness in your heart space? What wonders will be made possible by your yes?


Anna Robertson, Campus Minister for Retreats