Scripture Reflections

January 24: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on January 24, 2021 at 8:01 AM PST

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“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.”

This is the message of Jesus at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, the first words Jesus speaks in the Gospel. This is the message of Jesus that reverberates through the centuries to us today.

“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.”

The urgency of Jesus’ proclamation captures my attention today. The time is now. God’s reign of justice, God’s promise of life, hope, joy, peace, of transformation, it is here, breaking into our world.

Jesus’ prophetic proclamation came in a world yearning for change, deeply seeking God’s deliverance and transforming power. It came as promise, and embodied reality. Jesus lived what he preached, and invited others into the same dedication to the kingdom. This is why folks left their livelihoods, their families, their lives behind, to follow and participate in the unfolding promise of God’s love.

Can we be disciples in the same way?  Do we believe Jesus’ proclamation? Do we live as witnesses to this reality? Do we experience and proclaim the in-breaking love and kingdom of God in our world?  Do we look at this world fully, wholeheartedly and see all the places that cry out for God’s presence? Do we, as the Body of Christ, draw near to those places most in need of God’s reign, committing to embodying the promise in every place?

“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.”

This week is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and this year’s theme, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit”, taken from John 15, reminds us of Jesus’ invitation and promise: that through a deep rooting in God’s abundant love, much is possible.

Jesus appears on the scene in today’s Gospel soon after his own experience of being told he is beloved at his baptism. His mission, his passion for God’s kingdom, all his teaching, healing, liberating, inclusive, prophetic ministry, was rooted in this first knowledge of his own belovedness. Jesus knows that love bears much fruit in our world!

“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.”

The love of God is not just a feel-good panacea, but rather a dynamic, energizing love, that invites us into ever-widening circles of compassion, and renewed commitment to God’s reign of justice and peace.

This Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, let us recommit as Christians to grounding ourselves in God’s love, and proclaiming that the kingdom of God is at hand with renewed energy and faith-filled action for justice and peace. Let it be in, among, and through us, that the world may know:

“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.”


~ JoAnn Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy

January 17: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on January 17, 2021 at 9:01 AM PST

Close up of yellow flower buds growing on a branch

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As I reflect on this week's readings and what's been said in my numerous zoom meetings, I can't help but be drawn to the act of listening. 

Who am I listening to? Professors, peers, and my parents. What am I listening to? Podcasts, music, and occasionally the sound of my computer fan. You might be wondering why I'm highlighting these sounds in particular. Well, much like how my own desk is littered with books, post-its, and pens, my surroundings are filled with so much noise. I can't sit in silence while I do work, so I always have something on, whether that's a song or the background chatter of my peers trying to keep me accountable. 

I hardly enjoy the rare quiet moments in between zoom classes, early in the morning, or late at night. Even when it's quiet around me, my mind is filled with assignments I've yet to do and readings I haven't done. With so much clutter closing in on me, how do I listen?

Since the start of the winter quarter, I haven't had much time to listen to myself and my own needs, whether that be bodily or spiritually. And given recent major events, I wonder where God's presence is in my life: but am I really listening for it? I hear, but I am not listening, not with the care or attentiveness that I would have during virtual campus ministry events. But I suppose it's easier to hear what God is saying through others in my community rather than opening up my ears in spaces where I assume God is not. As I sit with this revelation, I wonder what it would mean for me to practice active listening in spaces where I'm inclined to let what's being said go in one ear and out the other. Can I listen well in all spaces, believing God is present? 

As this reflection comes to an end, I ask us all to ponder where God is calling us to be present? To listen with open ears and hearts?

And I pray with the lyrics of this song, Open My Eyes, by Jesse Manibussan:

Open my ears, Lord

Help me to hear your voice

Open my ears, Lord

Help me to hear

 

 

~ Gelsey Manipon, B.A. in Humanities for Teaching with a Specialization in Elem. Edu., Class of 2022

January 10: The Baptism of the Lord

Posted by Campus Ministry on January 10, 2021 at 8:01 AM PST

sunlight breaks through a cloudy sky over water with trees in the foreground

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This Sunday we return to Ordinary Time after the Christmas season. As we begin the new quarter, our times do not feel at all ordinary. My heart is heavy with grief, my attention on violence, political turmoil, the continued toll of the pandemic on so many in our communities, the staggering loss of life (nearly two million people dead from COVID-19 worldwide), and more. 

It is with this heavy heart that I turned to the readings today, marking the Baptism of the Lord, and I found this prayer emerging from the depths of my heart for today, and the days ahead:

God of Justice,
our hearts are troubled by sickness and violence.
Pour out your grace upon us, that in every trial we face
we may know you are present in our midst, inviting us towards your peace.
In today’s scriptures we hear your promise, echoing through the ages, to bring justice to the earth,
and so we commend our selves, our communities, our country, and all our world to your care,
trusting that you will transform every heart, relationship, and circumstance in your boundless love.

Jesus, God with Us, Lord of All,
you began your mission of goodness, mercy, liberation, and healing,
rooted in a deep knowledge of your belovedness.
Grant that, as we begin this new year, each of us may be drenched in your love,
and, with you as our constant companion,
we may walk in your ways of tenderness, hope, and peace,
sharing in your mission all our days.

Holy Spirit, gift of our baptism,
renew within us your call to be a covenant for all nations,
that we, the Body of Christ, may be a light for the world,
proclaiming with our lives that you call us
to love in ever-widening circles,
and so bring your kingdom of justice and peace to all nations.  

Divine One, who looks at us and is pleased,
We turn to you with hearts full of gratitude for the graces of our baptism,
hear and answer this prayer through Christ our Lord.
Amen

 

Words by JoAnn Melina Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy

November 22: The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Posted by Campus Ministry on November 22, 2020 at 8:11 AM PST

Chapel of St. Ignatius Crucifix bathed in light casting shadow against wall

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Today we end the Liturgical Year by marking the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This Feast is sometimes a puzzle to me. Too often we cast Jesus as a triumphant powerful king: a kind of mashup of Thor and King Arthur. I find this image hard to reconcile with the Jesus of scriptures, who eschewed power, lived simply, and was crucified. Yet it is precisely remembering that Jesus is the Crucified King, which helps me find a doorway into celebrating this Feast. For Jesus is king in ways that defy our understanding of power and might, and is the ruler of a kingdom that is beyond our human conceptions. We must remember that the Kingdom of God is about transformation not domination, and Jesus’ leadership is marked by solidarity and compassion, not might and vengeance.

In our world today we know the importance of good leadership. Perhaps because we’ve been plagued by politicians who sit on their hands while hundreds of thousands die during this pandemic, religious authorities who care more about their reputations than the safety and wellbeing of those they serve, civil servants who kill with impunity, corporate tycoons who get richer while exploiting their workers…the list of lamentable leadership is long. In the face of great failures of leadership in our church, in our communities, country, and around the world, what does it mean to proclaim that Jesus Christ is King of the Universe, not just someday in the future, but now?

Our scriptures unveil for us the promise of God’s compassionate leadership. In the first reading, in response to the cataclysmic leadership of the temporal leaders of Israel, God promises to draws near to the people in love, and to take on their shepherding personally, by feeding, restoring, healing, tending, and reconciling all those in need of God’s tender care. As Christians, we believe that God’s promise of love culminates in the incarnation, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus embodied God’s shepherding love in concrete terms, as he proclaimed the Kingdom of God with words and action throughout his life.

This Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed was one where the oppressive systems of domination, exploitation, dehumanization, empire and death were overturned in favor of transformed relationship, justice, abundance, dignity, peace, joy, and resurrection hope. When we proclaim Christ is King today, we join with Jesus in lamenting the reality of systemic injustice we live in, and cry out in hope for the promised Kingdom of God to unfold in our midst.

To name the Crucified Christ as King invites us into the challenging and risky work of citizenship in this Kingdom. To trust and hope in God’s reign, unfolding through God’s grace, and allow it to transform our reality now, through concrete actions which embody love and enflesh hope in God’s reign of justice and peace in our context and communities. By our baptism we have been empowered to be disciples who are like Christ: compassionate leaders who carry on the healing, feeding, reconciling mission of Jesus, and who draw near in love to those most in need of tender care in our world today.

When we proclaim the Christ as King of this Kingdom of God, then today’s famous and familiar Gospel story of the last judgement becomes not an invitation to just altruism and philanthropy in the hopes of gaining salvation points before a judgemental Jesus, but a reminder that our call as Christians is to yearn for and embody Christ’s love and dream for our world in compassionate service; to live in solidarity with the poor, sick, imprisoned, immigrant, and every marginalized person, so that in our transformed relationships we can bear witness to God’s Kingdom. 

To proclaim Christ as King is an act of hopeful imagination and prophetic prayer that inspires our action. We are called to, as Fr. Greg Boyle, imagines for us, “a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased. We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away.” This is the Kingdom of God of which Christ is King, this is the dream of transformation we are invited to participate in. To Love as God loves, in ever-widening circles of compassion. 

So let us proclaim with hope today that Our Lord Jesus Christ is King of the Universe, and let us allow that hope-filled proclamation to transform us and our world.

~ JoAnn Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy

November 15: Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on November 15, 2020 at 8:11 AM PST

image of waves crashing into rocks

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It is my hope that having listened to the scriptures, you feel disturbed. What a good thing, to be disturbed by the scriptures. How many times can you hear the beatitudes before your brain starts to file it away in a box labelled “Hippie Jesus—Free Love—You Get the Idea“? There is something about the lectionary today that ties us to the chair. There is no easy answer. There is no escape route. There is no “nice” way to interpret this.

“Throw this useless slave into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth”?

Yuck

“For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich”

Yikes.

“From the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Gross.

Look friends. Here is the deal. We can do mental gymnastics to make sense of these scriptures in the context of the loving God that we know and have experienced. And if you come to Sunday Word and Worship tonight on Zoom, I will tell you about some of those. But first, we have to acknowledge that these scriptures have been used by men (in particular patriarchal, white, upper class, cishet men like myself) in order to maintain and normalize evil.

I am sure that you can imagine two different scenarios in two different congregations:

In one, much like the congregation here at SU, you will hear the preacher attempting to apologize—that is, to make a defense of—the scriptures. The priest will add context and commentary that soothe our disturbance and allow the scripture to fit into our understanding of a loving God.

In the other congregation, you might hear the preacher using this parable to subtly or not so subtly defend patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy.

To be completely frank. I have never witnessed this. Or if I have, I have blocked it out. But I know it’s out there. In fact, I can guess that it’s out there in this country on the scale of roughly 70 million individuals, many of them fellow Christians.

We must reckon with the ways we’ve used and abused scriptures like this in our churches. With how Christianity is complicit in systemic injustice.

So the questions I’m left with today as I begin to wrestle with the scriptures are these:

What do we do with scriptures that seem to perpetuate oppression? Can we ignore them? Do we have a duty to defend them (with all the work that entails)? How do the scriptures challenge all of us today?

 

~ Nate Ross, B.S. in Biology, Class of 2021