Scripture Reflections

Second Sunday of Easter (Sunday of Divine Mercy)

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 19, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

April 17: Friday in the Octave of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 17, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

“I am going fishing…” I have always imagined Peter saying those words with a sigh and sunken shoulders, feeling a bit defeated by his attempt at discipleship, burdened by his betrayal of Jesus, self-critical over his continual misunderstanding of Jesus’ message, and resigned to retreat to his former life, catching fish. Yet today I hear it in a different way. What if there is some excitement in his tone, some lilt in his step, even an exclamation point on the phrase: “I am going fishing!” You see, for the previous two stories in John’s gospel, Peter has been in a sort of self-quarantine: gathered with the community of first disciples, yes, but locked up behind closed doors out of fear of the religious authorities. Now, perhaps finally trusting and activating the Spirit’s breath of life and reconciliation and mission bestowed by the risen Christ, he’s back in the world and yearning for something familiar, something “normal.” So it’s easy for me to imagine him energized by the smell and sound and spray of the sea, the mystery of the dark expanse of sky, the thrill of lowering the nets into the deep, the companionship in the boat. And yet, their normal way of doing things ends up being quite unproductive, unfulfilling… until the stranger on the shore suggests going about their familiar routines in a slightly different way.

As I write this, there’s a lot of speculation and planning—unsurprisingly even heated discourse—around how fast we might “re-open our country,” never mind who will control it and by what authority. Clearly, there are vital considerations and ethical dilemmas imbedded in these issues: who will benefit, and who will suffer, and how will our actions affect those who are most vulnerable?

One way another, sooner or later, the day will come when we will be able to return to our “normal” life, and I expect we’ll be excited to go about our familiar routines once again, like Peter: “I am going to work!” “I am taking the kids to school!” “I am going to class – in a classroom!” However, I suspect that we will quickly discover that we will have to go about things differently—casting the nets over the other side of the boat, so to speak. It’s hard to say exactly what that will look like right now, but this gospel assures us that when the time comes, the risen Christ will direct us and nourish us.

I find that it’s better not to live too far in the future these days, and it’s Easter after all, so this scripture’s good news is also for us today, wherever we find ourselves. This story, like other resurrection stories, reminds us that the risen Christ is not obvious. That stranger on the shore ends up being the Lord! Most every time Jesus appears to disciples after being raised from the dead, they need to look again or look more closely. It takes a minute. If you’re not quite perceiving where the risen Christ is today, be gentle with yourself. Then look again. And again. But keep looking. As for those first disciples, Jesus will appear. There will be rejoicing. There will be abundance. There will be a charcoal fire prepared for breakfast.

 

Bill McNamara, Campus Minister for Liturgical Music

April 16: Thursday in the Octave of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 16, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

Today’s Gospel story begins with a couple of the disciples telling the rest of their friends all about their encounter with Jesus moments before, and how they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. When I consider how this scene may have played out, I imagine that the energy among the group feels flurried, everyone experiencing emotions of both confusion and amazement.

Then Jesus appears to them again, and the very first words he speaks to the bewildered group are consoling words: “Peace be with you.” I imagine now, the disciples frozen in their tracks, mouths gaping open, thinking they have just seen a ghost. We see Jesus allay those thoughts as he invites his disciples to touch his flesh and see his wounds, perhaps helping them to pause and realize what is true and real in the midst of their uncertainty. Jesus reveals to them that he is not a figment of their imagination, nor is he a ghost. He is flesh and bone, transformed, and standing before them.

Given our current circumstances, we may feel as though we are going through an emotional rollercoaster like the disciples. I imagine Jesus saying to us, “Peace be with you.” Like the disciples, that feeling of peace may not be felt suddenly or sink in right away. Still, I hear the invitation to find our ground in what we know to be true and open ourselves to experiencing the risen Jesus in our midst.

Encounters with the Risen Christ can transform us. After his offering of peace, Jesus reminds his disciples that something new and powerful is happening and that they are very much a part of it. We then see Peter share this message with the crowds in the first reading, reiterating that they too are witnesses to God’s work in the world in a very personal way. And still today, we stand witness to God’s labor of love and grace unfolding in our own lives.

Take a moment and reflect: Where have you encountered God, perhaps in surprising and unexpected ways? When has God been present to you? How did those moments make a difference in your life? Stay with these memories and remember what that feels like in your heart, mind, and body.

May we, together, lean into trusting that God continues to meet us right where we are, inviting us to open our hearts, to encounter Jesus anew, and to be transformed by the peace that God offers every one of us.

 

Megan Kush, Campus Minister for Pastoral Care

April 15: Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 15, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

In today’s readings, we find two stories of transformation. In the first reading, Peter and John perform a miracle, restoring a beggar’s ability to walk. In the gospel, two disciples’ grief is turned into joy after encountering the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

Notably, in each story, the transformation occurred only after its beneficiaries stopped to look. “Look at us,” Peter and John directed the mendicant before healing him (Acts 3:4). On the road to Emmaus, Jesus might as well have said the same thing—look at me—to the somewhat clueless disciples, absorbed as they were in their worthy grief, and “looking downcast” (Lk. 24:17). The three of them walked together, likely for many hours, as Jesus waxed poetic about scriptures in what we can only imagine was his customary style, but they failed to recognize him, committed as they were to their sadness. Who could blame them? We’ve all been there over smaller things, and their beloved friend and teacher had just been brutally executed by the state! It was not until he broke bread that “their eyes were opened and they recognized him" (Lk. 24:31).

It is not always easy to look squarely at the reality in front of us. There’s inherent risk in taking a real, good look because what we see might change us. We see this in the readings today. The beggar at the temple gates, the disciples on the road to Emmaus—all were changed in dramatic ways once they allowed themselves to see the reality in front of them. In their cases, the looking seemed to work out in their favor, but no transformation is without its challenges.

The beggar had gotten by his whole life unable to walk. Is it so difficult to imagine that adjusting to this new, ambulatory life might have brought its own difficulties? He likely knew all the best places to beg, which people might be dangerous, which ones weren’t worth his time, and which ones were most likely to be generous. But did he have skills that would support him earning a living by other means now that he could walk? I think of the challenges faced by people reintegrating into society from prison, or of people who have spent years living on the streets adjusting to life in housing—this transformation that, to the unfamiliar observer, would seem so liberating, is not without its challenges.

We don’t know the fate of the disciples Jesus encountered on the road to Emmaus, but we know that many early Christians suffered ridicule, persecution, and martyrdom. Even if they themselves escaped the more brutal fates, these two must have looked on as their friends fell victim to them. Surely, in some ways, these disciples’ lives would have been easier if they hadn’t looked. In looking, they are set ablaze with love and joy that, undoubtedly, they would not trade—but this, too, is not without its challenges.

Growth and transformation requires us to really look at reality, even when reality is difficult. When we take the time to get up close and personal with reality, we find that it’s rarely what we expected. Even the beggar looked to Peter and John “expecting to receive something from them,” (Acts 3:5) only to be told, “I have neither silver nor gold” (Acts 3:6).

Our God is a God of surprises. When we open ourselves up to the possibility of encounter, we create the space for God to work within us. We create the space for our own transformation toward kinship with God and others to unfold in ways we could never have dreamed for ourselves. This transformation will not be without its challenges—but it is where God awaits us.

Who or what is clamoring for your attention in your life? Where are you being invited to look closely at reality? Where are you being invited to wait patiently for God to reveal herself? How are you being invited to transform toward kinship with God and others?

 

Anna Robertson, Campus Minister for Retreats

April 14: Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 14, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Unfortunately, Mary Magdalene did not have the luxury of 2,000+ years of Easter Sundays to assure her that Christ is risen indeed! In this strange Easter Season, I find myself comforted (perhaps in a slightly “misery loves company” sort of way) by the range of Mary Magdalene’s emotions as described in today’s gospel reading. Heartbreaking grief, confusion, a huge amount of surprise (first angels and then the Risen Christ?), and finally, what one could imagine was overwhelming joy. Interestingly, what opened Mary’s eyes to Jesus and spurred her to joy was hearing Jesus say her name, “Mary!” Upon hearing it, Mary’s grief and confusion gave way to clarity and elation. The One who had died was, indeed, alive again, and calling her name!

Our emotions might be similar to Mary’s… the grief, the confusion, the desire to point a finger at someone else in order to make sense of it all. But here Jesus stands, right before each of us, calling our name and snapping us back to the reality of our task as Christians: To spread the good news of the gospel, that Christ is risen today. Mary did not even have time “to hold on to” Jesus because she had to go to her companions and tell them the incredible news that she had seen the Risen One!

In The Acts of the Apostles, Peter is also exhorting the crowds to go spread the good news. First, he says, repent and be baptized so your sins will be forgiven and you will receive the Holy Spirit. The life of apostleship is not easy but God’s promise is abundant. The season of Lent called us deeper into rhythms of life closely aligned with God’s will and we must continue that good work in this season of Easter. The reality is that if we are to be good stewards of this good news, we must continue to orient ourselves toward God in living our own lives with integrity, justice, and love, just as Jesus taught us.

As we continue to orient ourselves toward God, we see that “the earth is filled with the goodness of the Lord,” as the Psalmist pointed out. Especially in this Easter season, we need to cultivate an awareness of God’s goodness all around us. We are not to go looking for the empty tomb, we instead look for the Risen Christ. Especially in this time of social isolation, uncertainty, and anxiety, we must truly listen for the Good Shepherd who is calling our name. We are called, each of us, just as Mary was called so may we respond with the same joy and action that she did. We know that death does not have the final word with our God of love! Our suffering world desperately needs this message of hope; let us be the ones to share that Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

 

Erin Beary Andersen, Associate Director of Campus Ministry