Scripture Reflections

May 5: Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 5, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A close up image of a person putting on headphones over their ears while they look out to horizon at sunrise

 

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There are voices that clamor for my attention every day. The news, books, family, friends, scriptures, music, television, and of course, my own internal monologue; each weaving a story about our world, our community, and me. Some days these voices are clear, helpful, guiding, consoling. Other days it’s hard to hear what is life-giving amid the noise. There are also days when the stories about our world, our future, or about who I am seem to be bleak, draining. Today’s scriptures invite me to reflect on the voices I pay attention to in my day to day life.  

Jesus says “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Jesus makes it seem easy listen to his voice! There are days however when I can’t find God’s voice. It’s tough to hear clearly. It’s easy then to slip into an unhelpful story about me: it must be my fault – maybe I’m not listening enough! Perhaps I missed tuning in to the right frequency.  I must be a great disappointment to God. A bad sheep. Maybe if I prayed more, or spent more time alone, or did a hundred other things differently, I’d get an A+ grade in listening to God’s voice.

I am learning to catch myself in moments like these, when I find myself weaving a story about my failures as a follower of Jesus. I try to remember that hearing God’s voice isn’t about acing a test, or catching God’s broadcast on the right channel. Rather, hearing God’s voice is about being in an ongoing relationship of loving attentiveness. Jesus speaks of mutual love and understanding between the shepherd and the sheep. Hearing. Knowing. Following. I hear Jesus remind me, from the Gospel today: “No one can take [my sheep] out of my hand.” Maybe that “no one” includes me – can I stop disqualifying myself from relationship with God? Can I trust that God holds me close, even especially on days when I feel far away?

I’m learning also that God’s voice may never come in perfectly clearly to my ears – rather, like the disciples in the first reading, we’re called to be attentive to God’s Spirit moving in our world, in our community, even in unexpected ways, and to respond to the grace we see unfolding in our midst.  Listening together, like we see the church doing in the Acts of the Apostles, might be the key to deepening relationship with God.

Today I desire to trust that God is always in conversation with me, and with all of us, holding us close in the palm of God’s hand. Today I desire to join with the Psalmist who sings to the Lord: “My home is within you.” Maybe on the days where it’s hardest for me to hear, all that matters is that I keep up my part of the conversation, trusting that our dialogue will never end.

 

JoAnn M. Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy and Resident Minister

May 4: Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 4, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A deer in a forest at golden hour.

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Sicut cervus desiderat ad fontes aquarum,
ita desiderat anima mea ad te Deus.
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.

In my first year of high school, I auditioned for a regional honors choir singing Palestrina’s “Sicut cervus,” one of many musical settings of today’s psalm. I had only begun singing in choirs that year but was quickly discovering that it was my “thing”—I was good at it and, more importantly, I loved it. I longed to be selected for this particular choir, and so I spent the better part of my evenings for several months singing along to a computer-generated practice track until I knew the alto part like the back of my hand. Come audition day, I was so nervous that I was literally sick to my stomach. As my audition time approached, I teetered toward panic as my body weaved me in and out of nausea, threatening to undo the months of practice I had put in.

Such is longing. I certainly didn’t realize at the time how I was being thrust into the very experience the psalm itself describes, gripped by a longing that manifested in a very real way in my body and propelled me to impressive, if somewhat frenzied, dedication. Now, as I think back on this chapter of my life, I see how that experience of longing can serve as a window into that deeper longing named in the psalm, the longing of my soul for God.

The mystics across faith traditions are familiar with this longing beneath our longing and have long insisted that our desires might be guideposts pointing us toward God. During his own chapter of forced social isolation and uncertainty, cooped up in a remote castle recovering from a battle wound, St. Ignatius of Loyola began to formulate his own thoughts on our longings and desires. He concluded that our desires, when approached with the tools of discernment, are trustworthy indicators of God’s desires for us. James Martin, SJ captures this when he says that that “[the] deep longings of our hearts are our holy desires.”

I did end up making the choir, but all that’s not to say that God’s desire for me was so straightforward as being selected for that particular choir. Neither are all of our longings always so dramatic as my desire to be chosen for the choir. Longing shows up in the patterns of our day-to-day, smaller desires, as well. As I reflect back on this experience of desire and my many experiences before it and since, I might ask, “What does this reveal about the deep longings of my heart?” Perhaps it says something about my deep desire for self-expression, a love for beauty, a longing for community...

What if, as the deer longs for flowing streams, so the flowing streams long for the deer? Perhaps God longs for us just as much as we long for God, and our desires are God’s way of coaxing us back to her. Today, notice the shape of longing in your life. What do your desires reveal about the deep longings of your heart? Where are you parched, and how is God coaxing you toward her flowing streams?

 

Anna Robertson, Campus Minister for Retreats

May 3: Fourth Sunday of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 3, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

On the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Fr. Colleen Nsame, S.J. preaches on the Sunday readings. 

Listen to the songs we would have sung at the Chapel today, including songs from our Chapel Choir CD, Light & Shadow (2017)

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May 1: Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 1, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

an image of hands outstretched, palms up, covered in dirt

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On May 1st the Church celebrates the Memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker, the father of Jesus and patron of all workers. Around the world today many countries celebrate Labor Day.  Over the past week there has been extensive news coverage on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on workers, including dangerous working conditions, unfair wage practices, and record unemployment rates. On this day we remember that one of the foundations of Catholic Social Teaching is the Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers, which is rooted in the scriptures and in our tradition of Catholic thought and action.

So on this day I offer a prayer for workers:  

Creator God,
you made the earth and all that is in it, and declared it good.
You have made us in your image, and invited us into partnership to care for the earth
and for every living thing that shares this planet with us.
Our world that has been impacted by coronavirus cries out to you.
Remind us today Compassionate One, that you look at us and call us good.
Remind us that we are called to work and to rest like you:
to use our gifts with care, with pride in our work, to bring life to all,
and to offer to you with thanksgiving the fruit of the earth and work of our human hands.

Jesus our Friend,
you were the child of Joseph the carpenter, who taught you his trade,
be near now to all workers, who need your care:
Bless those who have work, in every field today,
may Your grace bring success to the work of their hands and rest and renewal to their lives.
Bless those who are out of work, laid off, and furloughed today,
may Your guiding hand bring new opportunities and peace to ease their fears.
Bless those who have to risk their lives at work today,
may Your protection guard them from danger and energize their work.
Bless those who are mistreated and exploited at work today,
may Your power uphold their rights and dignity and bring them justice.
Bless those who do not receive a fair and living wage today,
may they receive what they need through Your abundant care.
Jesus, you came to proclaim good news to the poor,
open our eyes to the suffering of our neighbor,
those treated as disposable and dehumanized during this pandemic (and always),
and help us all to strive together for the protection of all workers and all your people.

Spirit of Life, You labor among us,
pour out Your wisdom to guide our leaders at every level and institution in their decision making.
Give those in power the grace to understand
that budgets are moral documents, that reflect the values of our community,
and that the economy should serve the people, not the people the economy.
Turn our hearts away from the idols of money, power, prestige, and consumerism,
towards reverence and awe for Your abundant goodness and to love for all your creation.
Change our hearts Holy One, and grant that we may have the fortitude
to strive for the common good, the protection of the dignity of all workers,
and the care for the most poor and vulnerable,
so every person may have the capacity for fullness of life through You.

Amen.

JoAnn Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy and Resident Minister

April 30: Thursday of the Third Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 30, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

a canoe sits in the water next to a dock  with mountains and water in the background

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Upon first read for today's scriptures, I was astonished by Philip’s willingness to listen and follow through with the command that he was given by the Holy Spirit —there was no huge questioning, he just set out, knowing that it was good and that he would be taken care of! Yes, there may have been confusion and worry but it seems that Philip also trusted that the Lord would make sure he was prepared to carry out the task at hand. 

Philip’s readiness makes me ask myself: what is stopping me from pursuing what I need to do or want to do when the opportunity is right in front of me? Sometimes getting started might be the hardest part because what is before us might not be fully planned yet or we might think we are not prepared to carry out the task, but that is okay. Philip’s experience in the first reading reminds us that God provides for us along the way. As soon as Philip encountered the Ethiopian eunuch, familiar words reached Philip’s ears and he was able to continue with what he had been assigned to do with confidence through God’s grace. This reading reminds me again to just set out to do what I need to do, even if I might not feel fully prepared, trusting in God’s care for us in our journey.

This reading gives me an unexpected easygoing feeling. This same feeling can come to us amid the current conditions of the world when we’re going through the day-to-day. I have experienced, and heard from others, about the sense of gratitude that has started to rise to the surface in our lives, as more people are starting to take notice of the small moments. It is certainly difficult times for many people, but at the same time I find new kindness around me. I have also been grateful for how flexible many people are with the changes that have taken place while we adjust to this time. Our capacity for flexibility, creativity, gratitude, and connection every day reminds me that we are still receiving life from the Father on our journey. We are all learning a lot at the same time and hopefully, experiencing joy in a new way.

Today, let us try to be like Philip, listening attentively to the Spirit speaking in our lives, and setting out with confidence to live according to God’s ways, trusting that God is with us and will provide for what we need.

 

Karina Comes, Student Campus Minister for Liturgy, Class of 2021