Scripture Reflections

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

November 8: Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

a lit candle burns in a dark window

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Our lectionary readings seem to have predicted in advance exactly where we would be this week:  Doing a lot of waiting.  So much waiting.  In this tense election week, many of us have struggled to calm our nerves and find our grounding.  Looking at the news, we see a country divided right down the middle and the presence of those willing to take this election by intimidation or force.  We see American citizens petitioning to have their votes counted and those protesting to have votes ignored and voices silenced.  We see activists in the streets continuing to experience police violence. With all of this, I wonder:  How am I to meet the challenges of this time with the values and strength of my Christian faith?  Strangely, the scriptures today might suggest that we just simply wait!

Our scripture from the Book of Wisdom makes us a promise, which is that if we seek Wisdom, we will find her.  This reminder is so appropriate for a university campus about to turn the corner into finals week.  Students, take heart!  If we “keep vigil” and wait for Wisdom, she will show herself to us because we are worthy of her.  Additionally, the Psalmist proclaims a longing for God, a thirst of the soul, and a commitment to wait for God to come close.  Perhaps reflecting a feeling some have had this week, the Psalmist compares the soul without the experience of the presence of God to “earth, parched, lifeless and without water.”  So we wait.  We wait for the wisdom to know what to do in these troubling times and we wait for God who is our help and our joy.

We are quickly approaching the season of Advent so we must remember that this is no aimless waiting we are doing!  The gospel reading makes this very clear with the parable of the ten virgins (the direct Greek translation) or bridesmaids, five who are foolish and five who are wise.  While all ten are waiting for the bridegroom to arrive, the foolish bridesmaids are caught unprepared, asleep and without oil for their lamps; the wise are waiting attentively and have come with enough oil to join him and attend the wedding banquet.  The wedding banquet, of course, is meant for all but Jesus is warning us in this parable that if we are not waiting attentively, we just might miss it!  And this is the great paradox of our Christian faith:  the reign of God that Jesus is referring to in this parable is both here and not yet.  We are to be today as though we are at the banquet table, all the while knowing that God’s reign will only be complete in the fullness of time.  So we wait.

This election week has lifted into high relief both the purpose and posture of our waiting.  We know as Christians that Jesus calls us always to meet intimidation, violence, and oppression with love.  There is no other way to walk in his holy footsteps.  To that end, I will conclude this reflection with the words of Rev. Cori Bush, the first Black woman elected to Congress in the state of Missouri, as inspiration that Wisdom and God are both calling us to love one another fiercely in the damaging divisions of our time:

“Your Congresswoman-elect loves you. And I need you to get that. Because if I love you, I care that you eat. If I love you, I care that you have shelter, and adequate, safe housing. If I love you, I care that you have clean water and clean air and you have a livable wage. If I love you, I care that the police don’t murder you. If I love you, I care that you make it home safely. If I love you, I care that you are able to have a dignity and have a quality of life the same as the next person, the same as those that don’t look like you, that didn’t grow up the way you did, those that don’t have the same socioeconomic status as you, I care.”

 

Erin Beary Andersen, Associate Director of Campus Ministry

 

November 1: Solemnity of All Saints

Posted by Campus Ministry on November 1, 2020 at 12:11 AM PDT

Dawn in a field of evergreens

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Today is the Feast of All Saints, a day when Christians around the world remember our holy ancestors in faith. We often think of the saints like superheroes: supernatural people who lived magical lives, radically different from our own. However, our readings today remind us that the call to holiness is extended not to a select few, but to all people, including you and me. As we befriend our ancestors in faith, the holy people who have lived in every generation, we find that they are not magical know-it-alls, but real human beings who sought to live in relationship with God in challenging times throughout history.

Our scriptures today reflect our deep human longing for connection with God’s love, as we sing the Psalm refrain “Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.” This yearning for Love is shared by people “from every nation, race, people and tongue.” God too longs for us, desires for us to be in right relationship with God, and with one another.

When Jesus sits on that mountain side and proclaims that the most downtrodden, reviled, heartbroken, and foolish in the community are to receive transformation, justice, hope, and love in God, he prophetically reveals God’s desire to restore humanity to right relationship. God is yearning for connection with humanity not in our perfection, but in our brokenness and desire for justice and the transformation of the world. It is precisely to the most marginalized that God draws near in love. The saints we celebrate today are the ones who, like God, drew near to the wounds of our world, and sought God’s face in the midst of their own context.

The second reading proclaims that by our faith we have become children of God, and will be like God, as we see God face to face. We are all called and empowered to be like our ancestors in faith, and to be like God – seeking to accompany God in drawing near to those who the world reviles, to be agents of transformation and hope.

What would it look like for us to seek out God’s presence in our own context? To whom should we draw near in love? What prophetic actions must we take today? Who might we need to proclaim as blessed in our world today?

As I ask that final question, I find these words rise up:

Blessed are they who worry how they will feed their children,
they will eat their fill.

Blessed are the sick, the isolated, and the afraid,
they will be healed and made whole.  

Blessed are the frontline workers in hospitals and stores,
they will be safe and respected.

Blessed are those who have been killed by the police,
they will receive justice.

Blessed are the abused,
they will be believed.

Blessed are the protesters and activists, yearning for change,
they will be heard and answered.

Blessed are the immigrants and refugees,
they will be welcomed home.

Blessed are all living things on this earth,
they will be restored to fullness of life.

Blessed are the brokenhearted
they will know compassion.

Blessed are the demonized, the disposable, and the despised,
they will be embraced in love.

Blessed shall we be if we follow
the prophetic way of Jesus in our world,
seeking God in every face and being instruments of grace;
our joy and hope will spring forth and transform the world.

 

~ JoAnn Melina Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy

October 25: Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on October 25, 2020 at 8:10 AM PDT

an image of stars in space with yellow hues

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Love is commonly known as a universal language. It is a language that is felt by many and experienced in varied forms. From reflecting on love in its own basic form and meaning, I have realized I have expanded the meaning of love throughout my life. From identifying the love in my relationship with family, friends, and my personal connection to God, I have tried to recognize love, particularly God's love, in all aspects of my life and reflect on how I can express this love in my day-to-day life.

This week's readings remind us of our Christian call to love God and love our neighbor, the two greatest commandments as Jesus proclaims in the Gospel. In reflecting on my love for God, I am reminded of the ways God has shown His everlasting love for humankind, by creating us in His own image and likeness and giving us His only Son for the world. God loved us first so how do we love God? In the readings, Jesus directs us to love God with our whole selves, to love God with our heart, soul, and mind. In imitating God's love for us, we gain the capacity to express our love for others and ourselves.

In expressing love for our neighbor, it may be most familiar to manifest this love to those closest to us, such as friends and family. However, we must realize that we are also meant to display our love outside of our own familiarity and comfort and expand our love to wider circles. We, as Christians, should remember our call to love not only our neighbors closes to us, but also to those in need of love — the vulnerable, the marginalized, the forgotten, the poor, the ones we may not be familiar with, but are still our own brother and sister made in God's own image and likeness.

During this week, let us reflect on our own personal experiences and feelings of love. How do you recognize God's love, or your love for others, in this digital age and/or during this pandemic where interaction is significantly different? Who do you feel called to love? How will you expand your love in wider circles to encompass all ways of loving God, your neighbor, and yourself?

~ Erin Camemo, Class of 2022, B.S. in Diagnostic Ultrasound

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