Scripture Reflections

March 26: Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Posted by Campus Ministry on March 26, 2020 at 6:03 AM PDT

John 3:16 is one of the most well-known scriptures in the Christian tradition, yet often it’s taken out of context, used to condemn and exclude those who don’t believe in the way we think they should, look the way we think they should, or even love in the way we think they should.  But I wonder what would happen if we read on down to verse 17 and the words of Christ Jesus that remind us that the love of God for us knows no bounds? How might this transform our understanding of God from one who punishes and subdues to one who welcomes and affirms? The love of God for us is so powerful and strong and mighty that God is willing to go beyond what any of us could even think, do, or imagine: to sacrifice God’s own son, not to condemn, but to bring us closer.  Isn’t that amazing?

Scripture tell us there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus and that’s what verse 17 reveals, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  Jesus does not condemn.  God does not exclude. The God of many names and the God that cannot be named does not oppress nor relegate people to the margins.  Not members of the LGBTQ community, not persons with disabilities, not refugees, immigrants, or asylum seekers, not Asians and Asian-Americans blamed for coronavirus. No. God does not exclude. So why do we? God so loved the world that God does not condemn those we seek to exclude. What’s more, as much as we can’t seem to understand it, God does not condemn even those of us who have excluded or harmed others with our actions and deeds.  God does not condemn those who have gone astray like the Israelites in our Exodus reading today who have turned away from God’s requirements.  Instead God so loved the world that God gives us a chance to get it right, to offer an expansive, inclusive, justice-oriented love.

And so my friends, how might we be invited to get it right in the midst of COVID-19, as coronavirus takes up space in the forefront of our collective imaginations? Who are the ones who have given so extravagantly for us, literally providing for us as a matter of life and death? I think of the migrant farm workers, sanitation workers, transit workers, first responders, healthcare workers, the cleaning crews, grocery workers, and factory workers. I think of the ones many look down upon, the ones whose honest work is disparaged, the ones who are often forgotten. But God so loved the world that God gives us a chance to get it right. 

What does it look like, then, to live in solidarity with those who risk their lives for our sake, and not in some ethereal spiritual concept of unity, but in a concrete, day-to-day, tangible sense? What does the Lord require us to give?

 

Rev. Victoria Carr-Ware, Ecumenical and Multifaith Campus Minister

March 25: Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord

Posted by Campus Ministry on March 25, 2020 at 6:03 AM PDT

Life is presenting us with an unprecedented amount of news, emotional and economic disruption, distraction, and personal responsibility for the wellness of others. It is overwhelming and normal to seek out guidance for the possibilities of the future.  

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying: 
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; 
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky! (IS 7: 10-11) 

In this passage, Isaiah shares that a sign would be God in human form, to be named, “Emmanuel, God is with us.” It was not a hoarding of wealth, it was not ignorance of the world’s problems, it was not the promise that bad things would not happen, but the declaration that God is with you. 

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will. 
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, 
but ears open to obedience you gave me. 
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not; 
then said I, “Behold I come.”  (Psalms 40: 6-8) 

This Psalms shows us what is possible when we’re overwhelmed and our known ways of being in the world are not accessible. Christ’s arrival marked a transition from the known sacrifices that allowed one to connect with God to a direct connection to God through Christ’s presence. This new connection required new ways of engaging in ceremony and ritual, new ways of being in community, and moving forward with a, “yes,” not knowing the outcome.  

Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.” 
He takes away the first to establish the second. 
By this “will,” we have been consecrated 
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.(Hebrews 10: 8-10) 

Christ’s offering ensures that God is with us in the midst of our confusion and frustration. In the Gospel, Mary did not refrain from questioning the angel Gabriel about the expectations of her from God in her contextual reality. She did not seek to be the Mother of Christ, and yet when the announcement came that she was to be with child, she ultimately said yes Our responsibility is to wrestle with our contextual reality, seek the voice of God, and decide how to move forward. I encourage you to find moments of silence and listen to what your inner self and Spirit are telling you. While maintaining physical distancing, enjoy time outside with your available senses and look for ways to connect with your mind, spirit, and body 

What ways are you feeling drawn to connect with others and share your talents? In what ways can you help others?  

Please know that in this time, you are not alone. The scripture makes it clear during times of uncertainty, the presence of God follows with a promise of restoration. Practice proper hygiene for your physical, mental, and spiritual health. You’ve got this, we’ve got this, and God is with us. 

 

Amber Larkin, Temporary Campus Minister for Social Justice

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.

View Scripture Readings 

 (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