Scripture Reflections

May 25: Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter (Memorial Day)

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 25, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A collection of lit tea lights against a dark backdrop.

 

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On this important national holiday, Memorial Day, we reverently remember those who served our country in times of war and paid the ultimate price for that service – they paid with their very lives. It is heartbreaking to think about the sacrifice of those individuals as well as the unending sacrifice of their families. I believe it is our call as Christians to remember those who have died in military service to America, keep their families in prayer, and serve our veterans with compassion.

To my knowledge, I have five family members who served in the military and only one of them died in the line of duty. One of my ancestors served as far back as the Revolutionary War, two (father and son!) fought for the North in the Civil War, my maternal grandfather served in World War II, and finally - sadly, my father’s cousin died in Vietnam. (My family still feels the pain of his loss, of course.) Looking at the conflicts named here, many people have very different reactions to each one. There are varying perceptions of the rightness (in terms of the moral claims) of each one. Ultimately, as Christians, we must be willing to thoughtfully hold those perceptions in tandem with our compassion for those who have served and died for our country and their loved ones. All the while, we must be tirelessly pursuing the reign of God, as did the Apostles in our reading from the book of Acts today. All of the scriptures point to the characteristics of this reign… It is the fullness of time when swords are beaten into ploughshares and former enemies greet one another with a sign of peace. Days like today emphasize for us that God’s reign is not yet complete and that we have much work to do.

Our gospel reading today from the book of John is a very good illustration of how Jesus held the pain of the current moment and yet instilled courage and hope in his disciples. On the one hand, Jesus foreshadows his own crucifixion and yet says, “But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” In our own darkest hour – both as individuals and as a global community – how do we recognize the presence of God With Us? Particularly on solemn days like this one, we must search to find and indeed, we must be God’s peace, love, and compassion in this world that aches with conflict and division. It is my prayer that Jesus’s words reassure us today as they must have reassured his disciples. “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” We know that Jesus conquers the world with love so, to that end, we carry out his commandment to love one another – all others – and bring the reign of God to greater fullness.

On this day and every day may the souls of all of our departed soldiers rest in peace and may their families experience the peace of God, the love of their communities, and the support of all Americans.

 

 

Erin Beary Andersen, Associate Director of Campus Ministry

May 24: The Ascension of the Lord

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 24, 2020 at 4:05 PM PDT

 On this Sunday, the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, Fr. Tom Murphy, S.J. preaches on the Sunday readings

 

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May 22: Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 22, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A pair of hands enclosed around another person's hand.

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In Monday’s gospel we heard that the world is going to persecute the disciples for their testimony to Jesus, but they are not to worry, for the Holy Spirit will be their Advocate and speak for them.

Today’s readings from Acts18 is an example of this advocacy. First Paul hears from the Lord that he is not to worry, but to speak out, because the Lord is with him. No one will attack him because the Lord has many persons in Corinth. And yet in the next paragraph the Jews attack Paul by bringing him before the Roman tribunal.

As Paul is about to defend himself, Gallio, the Roman proconsul, dismisses the case. He does so on narrow legal grounds. Judaism was a protected legal religion in the Roman Empire. Christianity was still a form of Judaism which proclaimed that the Messiah has arrived. The Jews want Paul punished because he is preaching a different form of Judaism, “contrary to Jewish Law.” Gallio says he, as a Roman, is not going to get entangled in interpreting Jewish law and Jewish religion. He remands the case to them to settle. And they do so by beating their synagogue leader for his ineptitude in framing their case!

Gallio is not, in our minds, one of the (Christian) persons of the Lord in Corinth. And yet the Spirit of Truth, the Advocate has spoken through him and released Paul for the Lord’s work.

And so our first learning from this gospel is twofold: 1) the Spirit will testify for us when we are attacked for proclaiming the gospel, and 2) the Spirit of Truth will speak through agents and events which we do not acknowledge as Christian. (Is the Spirit speaking to us through the COVID pandemic? Not as judge, but as inviting us to real justice in a new world?)

But let’s get back to today’s gospel. Jesus warns his disciples that when he is killed they are going to be devastated: it will appear that the world has won, by permanently ridding itself of this disturber of their peace. But the disciples’ pain will be like that of a woman in labor---it will give way to the joy of seeing Jesus reborn in his risen Body. He has conquered the world!

Jesus’ metaphor of childbirth has a different meaning for us today. On the one hand, we can rejoice with the disciples that the resurrection of Jesus and his pouring of the Spirit on us has changed our world. But, on the other hand, we remain in the struggles of labor today. Jesus’ message of self-giving love is opposed to the emphasis on prosperity, power, and pleasure prevalent in our American culture. Living and preaching Jesus’ good news in an unbelieving world is still, and always will be, labor for us. St. Paul wrote, “all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now.” Our only midwife will be the Spirit of Truth, the Advocate who will testify for us.

In our Eucharist we pray that God pour out that Spirit on us in Christ’s Body.

 

Fr. John Topel, S.J.

May 21: Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 21, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A child with pigtails covers their face in a game of peek-a-boo.

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“A little while again and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” So Jesus tells us on this Thursday of the sixth week of Easter. As it happened, Jesus was speaking to his disciples just a little while before his arrest, passion, and crucifixion. As John tells it, Jesus was in fact predicting his own death and resurrection.

But when I first read this, without looking into the greater context, I thought perhaps it was the resurrected Jesus appearing to his disciples and predicting the second coming. Perhaps that says something about where my mind is currently, that I could more easily bring to mind the second coming and judgement day than I could the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior in all his glory.

Peek-a-boo. Peek-a-boo. Peek-a-boo.

Is peek-a-boo a culturally universal baby game? I think it probably is. I think somewhere in the recesses of my mind I still remember my loved ones playing that game with me—hiding their face behind their hands, then reappearing with a smile of pure joy. In many ways the state of my soul depends on that everlasting game of peek-a-boo—between me, my loved ones, and God.

My aunt of 45 is currently 6 ½ months pregnant with her first child. I am so happy for them. The happiness I feel about this future baby cousin is so simple and straightforward. It makes sense. Truly, it is so easy to see how it makes sense. While in many ways I fail to see Christ singing a new creation in my life, in this way it is so simple.

So what am I saying? What is Jesus saying?

Peek-a-boo.

 

Nate Ross, Class of 2021

May 20: Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 20, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A person sits at the shore of a lake surrounded by evergreens, chin resting on their hand as though they are deep in thought.

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This is such a strange Easter season. As God calls us to be joyful, to celebrate the Risen Christ, we are all feeling the stress and the loss as a result of COVID-19. How can we be joyful in the time of so much death, cancellation of communal events and celebrations, rising economic strife, and overwhelming uncertainty?

Here is where I am finding my hope: We are a people who know resurrection, who can have faith that out of death and darkness, there can be life and light. When the disciples witnessed Jesus’ death on the cross—even though he had assured them that he would return—they lost all hope, fell into uncertainty and sorrow. But he came back, bringing with him redemption, forgiveness and eternal life.

Right now, Jesus offers us a companion in our grief and pain, but also a reminder that God can make goodness out of even the hardest times. There is no doubt that COVID-19 is impacting our communities in a massive way, changing lives forever, transforming the way the world works. And God is still bigger. These verses from Acts today remind me of the greatness and the power of God, but also God’s infinite presence to each of us: “Though indeed he is not far from any one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’” Even in the distance, the struggle, and the strange times such as the ones we are in now, God is still in all things. “Heaven and earth are [still] full of [God’s] glory.” The enormity of COVID-19 and all the ways it is impacting us right now pale in comparison to the vastness and goodness of God.

In the Gospel reading for today, Jesus says, “I have so much more to tell you” and promises us further communication from the Spirit. I like to think that God is constantly communicating with us, we just aren’t always that great at listening. What might God be telling us during this time of physical distance and change? Sometimes, I am worse at listening when I feel like my world is falling apart or my problems are just too big; I fill my spaces with constant sound and distraction. After reading today’s scripture, I am thinking more about how to sit in the quiet and listen. In this time of slowness and uncertainty, I am seeking to pay attention to the ways God is speaking to me, how God is adjusting the places where I find joy, and reminding me that in God, there is always resurrection.

 

Ali Alderman, Class of 2020