Scripture Reflections

October 18: Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on October 18, 2020 at 8:10 AM PDT

aerial view of am ocean wave crashing onto the shore

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With all that is happening in the world and in the news, I have been reflecting on what it means to be Catholic during this time. Looking to God and the values that have been instilled in me, I have considered what more I should be doing, what questions I should be asking that I’m not, and how to continue to lean into those questions I am already holding. But I still find myself uncertain of my footing in this world we find ourselves in.

In this week’s readings, I was struck by the theme of “calling.” In Isaiah, God reminds Cyrus of God's constant support and guidance. God says “I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not.” Through the acknowledgement that Cyrus didn’t know God, God is reminding us that God’s presence is constant, though we may not always feel it.

 In the First Letter to the Thessalonians, the people are celebrated by Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, who thank the people for their work and deeds, calling them to the continued work of Christ by saying, “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.” Through these words, the Thessalonians are celebrated for their work, and reminded that it is far from over.

 In Matthew’s Gospel, we encounter a conversation between the Pharisees and Jesus. In an attempt to trap Jesus, the Pharisees ask, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?" Jesus responds by calling out the Pharisees saying, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?” Jesus the tells the Pharisees to see Caesar’s face on their coins and give Caesar what is his, and do the same for God. This challenge by the Pharisees to pit Jesus against the civil leadership of Caesar, was meant to throw Jesus off balance, but instead, Jesus called on the Pharisees to do more. Jesus’s reminder that what belongs to God is more than just passive, unauthentic beings, but rather, our truest selves, actively engaging in the world.

In these tumultuous times, I am comforted by the honesty of these calls and reminder that we have each been called by name into God’s grace. The work that is being done is good, but it is not finished. And in challenging moments, being authentically, and actively engaged in our world is God’s call.

In the week to come, let us consider: In what ways is God calling us during this time? Who in our lives should be celebrated? How are we showing up authentically to our communities?

~ Rose Murphy, Class of 2021, B.A. in Public Affairs and Theology and Religious Studies

October 11: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on October 11, 2020 at 8:10 AM PDT

Meal platters filled with food on a table

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In this week’s readings, I was struck by the themes of abundance and feasting that are woven throughout the first reading in Isaiah and the gospel reading in Matthew.

In Isaiah, it is proclaimed that God will make a luscious feast for all peoples to enjoy. It is also revealed that God will destroy all of the things that weigh God’s people down. God will “swallow up death forever,” “wipe the tears from all faces,” and save God’s people.

As it says in Isaiah, “this is the Lord for whom we have waited!” For the One who wants abundant feasting for all and suffering for none.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus describes the Kingdom of God as a wedding party, where surely feasting was involved. What is striking about this feast is not that it was fancy or that the guests were dignified or wealthy (those guests didn’t even show up), but that, when no one showed up, the King invited anyone he could find, both bad and good. In telling this parable, Jesus preaches a God who invites the marginalized and rejected to the banquet feast— a God who desires abundance and feasting not necessarily for those that “deserve” it, but for anyone who is willing to come.

In the context of so much suffering in the world right now, when hunger and houselessness and joblessness are on the rise, and when resources are horded by the powerful and spread so thinly among the rest, it is important to remember that the God of abundance and feasting does not want us to live this way.

As people of God, how will we act to bring the Kingdom of God about in our lives? Who in our lives can we invite to the feast? What can we do to ensure that suffering is alleviated and abundance made real for all of us

 

~Olivia DiGiorno, Class of 2021, BA in Political Science and Theology and Religious Studies

 

October 4: Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on October 4, 2020 at 8:10 AM PDT

A two-way street sign.

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It’s the night before school, and I have a math times tables test at the end of the week. My parents have already tucked me in and said goodnight, and the lights are off. I wait for ten or fifteen minutes as a buffer, and then I sneakily take out my Nintendo DS with Pokémon Pearl and start playing, under the covers, with the DS screen as my only light source.

Bam! My mom bursts into the room and busts down the door, saying “I KNEW IT!” She had caught me red-handed before I could pretend to be sleeping.

I ended up being grounded from my video games for a week.

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In moments like this, when I would complain to my parents and ask for a good reason why they would ground me, their response was always the same: “It might not make sense, Skyler, but you’ll understand that this is good for you when you get older. Trust us.” I never understood it back then—why couldn’t they just tell me not to do it, and not ground me?

I ended up getting an A on my math test.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that these times of discipline have added up to help me be who I am today. I still love my video games, but because of what my parents ingrained in me at an early age, I am able to find balance with my work and play. I can prioritize an upcoming exam, or finish my homework before the deadlines roll up.

In today’s Gospel, the landowner cultivated a vineyard that grew to be very successful and leased it to some tenants, who nurtured it in his stead. However, when the landowner requested the time, talent, and treasure (the vineyard) that the tenants watched over, they savagely refused to the point of killing the landowner’s own son. 

God asks us to trust Him. We need to remember that a relationship with God is not a one-way street. We cannot always take and take—there are times when He kindly requests our time, talent, or treasure. Like my own experience with my parents, there may even be times when God asks us to do things that we might not understand. While it may not make sense to us at the time, and it may even seem extremely unfavorable for us, we are invited to remember that God loves us and always has the best intentions for us. God has the best in mind for us, so if we follow His will, though we may not realize it now, it will surely lead to good things in life—whether in this one or in the next.

Have you opened your mind to what God asks of you, even though it may seem challenging?

 

~ Sky Verzosa, B.S. in Biology, Class of 2022

September 27: Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on September 20, 2020 at 8:09 AM PDT

A road sign pointing in many directions with a sunset in the background

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There is so much information going around on nearly every topic these days. I think that even as we are encouraged to stay inside to observe pandemic precautions, the amount of information we receive on every topic on a daily basis grows exponentially. Perhaps we have a limit on how much we can see and process. Sometimes that information we receive is stored away without a second thought, but at other times something brings us back to look more deeply into an issue. In those cases the information we receive can change our minds, or inform our actions.  

The scriptures this week were confusing to me upon first reading them. I had trouble finding a common theme to them or any at all. But I wanted to consider how they might relate to my daily life or all our daily lives. So I took a closer look, and then the words ‘evidence’ and ‘guidance’ came to mind for me.  

Today’s Gospel puts into contrast two groups, separated by their relationship to belief. Those that embraced the teaching of John the Baptist, and those who did not, despite the evidence. As I consider this Gospel, I think that faith and belief can be related to a scientific theory almost. In science, a theory is tested by looking for whether there is evidence pointing to a conclusion, and theories can be changed over time. In a similar way, there’s a relationship between what we experience in our lives as evidence, and what we believe, and then based on what we believe, we can act, giving further evidence for our faith.

Our readings remind us that in our daily lives, we are called to be part of the Body of Christ, to respond to the call that God has for us. In the Gospel, we hear of two brothers who are called, and whose actions in response were the opposite of their words, and I found that interesting because they are still given the choice to act even after their words. They were able to change their mind, to give evidence with their actions, just as we are when we go about our daily routines, responding to God’s call to us. At times, we might find ourselves on the ‘right’ path or sometimes we may become a ‘stray sheep’. We too have the opportunity to choose each day how to act. The Psalm touches on forgiveness and moving forward, saying — I have messed up; I made a mistake; but God still guides me. God teaches us on our path, and informs our actions, and our actions spread to others. How we respond to God’s invitation can be evidence to others of our faith. We are given the daily choice to offer evidence, a living truth of the Body of Christ.

The questions that stir in my mind as I take in today’s readings are “How can I live out my faith today?” or “How can I live it out with the choices I make?” I see the evidence of God’s guidance and care around me, which shapes my belief, so how can I be a part of that confirmation of Christ to others?

~ Karina Comes, B.S. in Biology, Class of 2021.

September 20: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on September 20, 2020 at 7:09 AM PDT

Sunrise over a field of wheat

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Today’s gospel inspires me to think about the possibilities that open up when we choose to think of our neighbors. As I hear the story of the landowner continually setting out and inviting workers into the vineyard, I am challenged to think of all the people in our world that similarly need to be found and brought in. I am struck by the generosity of the landowner, which allowed for individuals to have a wage they may not have been able to receive otherwise. Each person was treated with respect and equality, lessening the gap between the workers. I hear Jesus encouraging us to go out and act with a similar spirit of generosity, as exemplified by the landowner. If we think about God as the landowner in the parable, we hear that God continually goes out searching for laborers and bringing them into the vineyard. In a similar way, we as Christians are encouraged to go out searching for the marginalized and bringing them in deeper into loving community, treating all people as equals with dignity. When we work to bridge the gap between each other, we acknowledge the common humanity in each one of us, which transforms not only the relationships between us but our relationship with God as well.

The world currently contains incredible suffering and difficulties, it may feel like there are a lot of reasons to turn away from it and disengage , but I think we as Christians have the power and the calling to continually respond in kindness and loving engagement in our world. There are many opportunities to exhibit kindness in our own lives, and there is so much that we can do to alleviate the suffering of one another. Even one act of selfless kindness can change the reality of another person. In the midst of all that feels overwhelming and challenging about our world, when we stop to think about our neighbors, and our deep connection to them in God, we are empowered to engage with a selfless sense of action, a true generosity that we see the landowner exhibit in the Gospel story. What happens when we choose to exercise selfless generosity as the landowner did towards others? How could we all be transformed?

Paul’s letter to the Philippians also reminds us that we have the potential to exhibit Christ through our bodies. We each carry a unique capacity in our embodied selves, to be conduits of God’s love. There is so much power in our encounters with one another. Paul’s letter depicts a struggle we might sometimes feel, trying to choose between encountering Christ or encountering each other. However in the end, Paul emphasizes that the call to magnify Christ with the body is to act with loving generosity towards others, living as witnesses to the good news of God in our world. How are we each being called to embody God’s love in our world today?

As we continue in this week, let us consider: What transformation is possible when we treat each other with an authentic sense of generosity? How are we being called to exhibit kindness in the world? How can we begin to bridge the gap between each other?

Words by Tayz Hernandez, BA in Theology and Psychology, Class of 2021