Scripture Reflections

March 24: Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Posted by Campus Ministry on March 24, 2020 at 6:03 AM PDT

Health and healing are paramount on most everyone’s minds these days. And this unique moment of crisis has made us all painfully aware of just how interdependent and intertwined our lives are, in good and bad ways. My health and the healthy decisions I make (or fail to make) affect your health, and the health of our natural world. Same goes for the decisions you makeeven the smallest, everyday decisions that you never had to think much about before. This has always been true, but today we can’t avoid this sobering and awesome reality. Today’s readings demonstrate the many symbiotic layers of healing that we need and God’s action and invitation in those realms. 

Imagine Ezekiel’s vision: water flowing out from the Temple, starting as just a trickle, then becoming increasingly deep and wide, until it opens into a flowing river. Ezekiel sits beside it and contemplates the ways in which this water is bringing about a new creation. Wherever the river flows, every creature can live and thrive… every sort of fruit tree will grow…. trees that produce fresh fruit every month, year-round – what abundance, enough for all! And not only nourishment, the trees also produce leaves for medicine! In short, Ezekiel dreams a time when the created world and created beings live into their God-intended fullness of life, mutually supporting and healing each other. God takes the initiative and invites our participation in making this dream come to life. 

In John’s gospel, Jesus walks resolutely among a crowd of those struggling with illnesses of every kind, those yearning and desperate for healing of their whole selvesbody, mind, and spirit. Yet the first thing we discover is that there is a serious breakdown of relationships in this place. This person Jesus engages has been ill for a lifetime, and in all that time, no one helped him access the healing waters. How heartbreaking is that? Jesus, with a word of command, restores this person to mobilityso that he might return to community and fullness of life. Things go awry quickly, though, because this person chooses to use his new health and freedom not for discipleshipto be in right relationship with God and othersbut to escape any personal liability and report Jesus to the religious authorities. We can make different choices: to do what we can to assist those who need access to the healing waters, and to use our health for the benefit of others and the praise of God. 

Friends, this is a time to be extra attentive to ourselves and the web of connections we inhabit. By doing nothing (e.g., staying home) and by doing something (e.g., safely checking in on our vulnerable neighbors or family members), we can ensure health and healing for each other and the world. Todayeven in small ways that make big impacthow else can we be about this divine work of healing the planet, healing our communities, and living with purpose in the health we have been given? 

Bill McNamara, Campus Minister for Liturgical Music

March 23: Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Posted by Campus Ministry on March 23, 2020 at 6:03 AM PDT

In our current context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are living in incredibly uncertain and anxiety provoking times.  Our Seattle University students are on their annual spring break as usual, but nothing is as normal.  People who are able to work from home are doing so, while others must go into work to keep the crucial functions of our university and our country on track.  For many people of faith, it is particularly painful to be separated from our worshipping communities. Many who can access worship services online find some comfort in that, but it is also deeply saddening to see the livestream of churches and cathedrals empty of their congregations. For those of us who are used to the sacrament of Eucharist on a daily or weekly basis, we now know what it is like to go without. For many of us, the sparseness of the Lenten season has never been so obvious.  We are also acutely aware of the precarious positions of those in our communities who are already on the margins as their situations become increasingly challenging.  All of this can seem overwhelming and create a sense of hopelessness in us. 

But our scripture readings today remind us of something different: while we are in the season of Lent, we are always, as Christians, in a season of hope.  The prophet Isaiah writes, “Thus says the LORD: Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth… there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create…” And the Psalmist praises the Lord because God has “changed [his] mourning into dancing; and forever will [he] give [God] thanks.”  In even the most strange and disconcerting times, God promises God’s people a brighter future! 

Few things are more central to our Christian hope than the heartfelt knowledge that Jesus is active in our individual and communal lives today!  In today’s gospel reading, Jesus returns to Cana of Galilee, where he had performed his first signturning water into wine.  “And his disciples believed in him.” (Jn. 2:11) In our passage, Jesus received the royal official who came all the way from Capernaum, nearly 20 miles away, begging for Jesus to heal his sick son.  Jesus did heal the man’s sonhis second sign.  And so, the official and his whole family believed, as well! (Jn 4:53) 

So, today, let us also believe in the hope that is Jesus Christ.  Without signs, let us believe that through him all things will be made new and that God will turn our mourning into dancing.  In that belief, let us embody the peace of Christ so we may be messengers of his peace and keepers of God’s eternal promise of hope.  Let us pray for the grace to truly believe in Jesus Christ so that we may be his hands and feet in this suffering and anxious world. 

Erin Beary Andersen, Associate Director of Campus Ministry

March 22: Fourth Sunday of Lent

Posted by Campus Ministry on March 22, 2020 at 6:03 AM PDT

 

A person stands in a forest backlit by golden sunlight.

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 (For today’s Sunday reflection we’re trying something new: featuring the music we would have sung at the Chapel of St. Ignatius for this Sunday. You can tune in through the embedded Spotify playlist.)

 

“Keep your eyes on Jesus,” a friend told me, when I said I couldn’t figure out what to make of such a long Gospel story.  So on this Fourth Sunday in Lent, I keep my eyes on Jesus, the Light of the World. Our Gospel is bookended with two moments of Jesus reaching out to the man born blind. First Jesus offers healing touch – making clay from spit and mud, touching the man, bringing sight. Then, much later, when the man is cast out of community, the Gospel says “Jesus found him.” I imagine Jesus, hearing of the rejected man’s plight, and seeking him out. I keep my eyes on Jesus, who reaches out in compassion to encounter, heal, dialogue, to find all who are on the margins and bring them more deeply into the heart love.

Spend a moment picturing Jesus, coming to encounter you – reaching out with healing touch to you – perhaps with an embrace, or a hand in yours. Imagine Jesus coming to seek you out, to talk to you. To be in your company in whatever you are feeling in these days. What do you have to share with Jesus? What does he share with you?

Lord Jesus Christ, your light shines within us, let not my doubts or my darkness speak to me. // Lord Jesus Christ, your light shines within us, let my heart always welcome your love.

“We’re in unchartered territory.” I think I’ve said this about 20 times in the last week to students, colleagues, family and friends. There’s no roadmap, and I can’t quite see the path ahead. Some days I feel calm as I look out to the future – I believe the Holy Spirit is active, can bring something creative and life-giving for us in these days. Sometimes the unknown makes me feel afraid and anxious – I don’t know what will come, I worry about the future for myself, and many others. I listen to the words of scripture today reminding me “You are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” (Eph. 5:8-9). I pause in my ruminations and return to my heart, paying attention to Christ’s promise of presence in my heart, as light and love. I picture the light that I bear becoming stronger, surrounding me in light, extending outwards into the world, enfolding all the people I care about, and every living being on the planet, in the love of God. I picture that light illuminating the path forward, helping me (and all of us) to make concrete choices in troubled times, choices to be like Christ – choosing what will be best for healing, kindness, inclusion, and what will allow us to live in solidarity with the most vulnerable.

Gently you raise me and heal my weary soul, you lead me by pathways of righteousness and truth, my spirit shall sing the music of your name.// Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.

“I’m sad I can’t celebrate the Eucharist,” I said to my spiritual director two weeks ago, when Masses were cancelled. She invited me to consider how I could pray in union with those who often have limited access to the sacraments. So on this Sunday when I would normally be gathered to celebrate Eucharist, I imagine all those who are typically unable to celebrate communion – those who are too sick to travel to church throughout the year; people in prison; immigrants in detention centers; those who live in places without priests to celebrate Eucharist; the folks our Church labels sinners, barred from communion; those who face religious persecution, for whom celebrating Mass together is dangerous. I find my heart opening in new ways to the broken hearted, the isolated, the people around the world who are my family in God, who desire relationship, grace, faith, hope, joy, and peace every day, just like I do. I pray for them, and for myself, that our eyes, ears, and hearts will be open, that we may pay attention to all the ways God is breaking into our world in light and love beyond our imagination.

And the first shall be last// And our eyes are opened// And we'll hear like never before// And we'll speak in new ways// And we'll see God's face in places we've never known.

 

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

March 20: Friday of the Third Week of Lent

Posted by Campus Ministry on March 20, 2020 at 6:03 AM PDT

 

Yellow flowers

 

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“Come back to me, with all your heart. Don’t let fear keep us apart. These are the opening lines from the popular hymn “Hosea.” The first reading comes from the Book of Hosea, which tells the story of God, who is constantly calling Israel to return to the relationship they have together. More specifically, the passage for today is the conclusion of the book of Hosea, and we see that Hosea’s story ends on a note of hope for Israel. We hear that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. God, in fact, is always drawing near to us! The God of Compassion longs to offer us freedom from anything that blocks us from living fully as the beloved. God invites us to turn our hearts towards that which brings life and love. Pause for a moment and reflect: In knowing and trusting God's freely flowing love for you, where is your heart today? What is it focused on? Does it feel divided? Hosea provides us with such rich imagery of being in partnership with God, describing it like the blooming and blossoming of creation. What image of partnership captures your imagination? What does that look like and feel like to you? 

As we continue our Lenten journey and hear God’s call into relationship, what is our response? The invitation before us is one that involves our whole selves. In today’s Gospel, we hear of a scribe who earnestly desires to seek Jesus’ counsel to understand what is at the core of living life with God. Jesus replies that our life with God is rooted in the act of loving, and loving fully. When Jesus states that we are to love with our heart, soul, mind, and strength, Jesus is saying, we are to love with our whole selves. Especially in our city and world today with our current circumstances, what does it look like for you to choose to love God with your heart, soul, mind and strength? What does it look like to choose to love the people around you and those whom you do not even know? What may be holding you back from loving with this fullness? 

The song Hosea finishes with these words: “Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new lives.” Spend some time today talking with God about your relationship and ask God for the grace to continue to respond to God’s deep and abiding love with joy and hope.

 

Megan Kush, Campus Minister for Pastoral Care 

March 19: Solemnity of Saint Joseph

Posted by Campus Ministry on March 18, 2020 at 6:03 PM PDT

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In the middle of the Lenten season, we lift up today in joyful prayer and thanksgiving the model of Joseph, the husband of Mary, who was Jesus’ father during his earthly life.

There are very few stories of Joseph in our scriptures, his life barely visible to us from between lines of the Gospels. Much of who he was is left to our imagination. As I consider him today, I see that Joseph was an ordinary man living in extraordinary times. He was a worker, a person of faith. He was preparing for his own life plans and big celebrations, threshold experiences – marriage, family. He was filled with dreams and imaginings of what his own life would look like through the future. I imagine that he was crushed, disappointed, and felt betrayed, when he found that the future could not come to pass exactly as he imagined it would: the vision of marriage and family, of a typical, ordinary life, must have felt far beyond his reach when he first heard that Mary was pregnant.

As I imagine Joseph, I see him close to my own heart, troubled by the ways that the current COVID-19 crisis continues to change the expectations of our lives. Like Joseph, this event asks that we release expectations of our present and the futures we had imagined for ourselves. For me, my travel plans to visit loved ones have been cancelled; I don’t have the capacity to worship in the ways that I typically find nourishing; the familiar sense of my vocation and work seems to be out of reach; and I worry about vulnerable folks that I know and love. For many of us, the vision we had for how we would spend our time, and the kind of life we would build in the days ahead, seem to be far off. The future feels uncertain and we feel vulnerable. Like Joseph, our dreams for ourselves are changing.

Yet, as Joseph’s own dreams seem to be crumbling, he hears an invitation to a new dream from God, which gives him the capacity to move in a new way for the future when he awakens. The dream begins like this: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid.” These words call to me through the scriptures, offering me insights into who God is and who God calls us to be:

  • God first calls Joseph by name: says to him – I know, personally, and love you. Can we hear God calling us by name today? Enfolding us in love?
  • God reminds Joseph that he is the son of David, who is his ancestor in faith. Today’s readings are full of stories of Joseph’s ancestor’s in faith, who through many generations, “believed, hoping against hope,” that God can bring new life and hope into our world. In these days, how can we honor and remember that we are part of a long line of hope-filled, faithful people, who through many generations have hoped in the power, the guiding light, the healing mercy, and the abundant love of God? Perhaps there are people in our own family and friends that we can look up to, who have weathered hardship and found community, faith, connection, and hope. Or perhaps there are role models in faithfully facing adversity that we admire from history. Today our Church lifts up St. Joseph as one such person. How will we learn from the lives of those who have gone before us? How are we called today to be part of a lineage of love for future generations, continuing to look towards the present and the future with eyes of hope, so that our descendants in faith will believe that they too can stand firm in the face of fear and crisis?
  • God says to Joseph “do not be afraid.” When I hear these words, I think of the many times Jesus said these same words to his disciples, inviting them into a life of faith and trust in God. I wonder if these words from the dream planted so deeply in Joseph’s heart as words of comfort and peace. If he said these words to Jesus throughout his childhood, just as many parents today try to whisper it into the ears and hearts of their children. Fear might be our natural response to these days. Throughout scriptures, God desires to banish fear from our lives, and invites us into living courageously in troubled times, trusting in God’s abiding care for us. What would it look like for us to face our current reality with courage and compassion? How can we ask God for help in navigating our fears and frustrations? How would we like to entrust our lives and the world to God’s care in these days?

In these troubling days, in these Lenten days, let us pause to celebrate and remember this holy ancestor in faith. Let us learn from the story of Saint Joseph, an ordinary person living in extraordinary times, who, as the landscape of his own dreams and future changed, believed that God’s loving dream for us continues, and that God always invites us, in every age, to be people of faithful hope. Let us pray for the capacity to listen deeply to God’s dream for us, and for the grace to wake up and respond in courage and trust. 

 

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