Scripture Reflections

June 9: Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on June 9, 2020 at 6:06 AM PDT

 A butterfly emerges from a cocoon among a row of cocoons.

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A problem with American culture today is the focus on individual rights: “I have a right to,” “I am entitled to.” Often this reduces to “I want, and I don’t care what happens to you.” Jesus’ vision begins not from rights but from duties. Our duty is to build community with outsiders.

This is the theme of the Sermon on the Mount, which began with the beatitudes in yesterday’s liturgy. There he gives the Christian virtues which lead to happiness.

To our right to wealth, Jesus commands poverty of spirit,

To our right to easy life, Jesus proposes mourning for the suffering;

For our narcissism, Jesus proposes a lack of entitlement;

For our insistence on our justice, Jesus suggests mercy for all;

For our violent war for our rights, Jesus asks for peacemaking.

Jesus’ disciples who live his way are the salt of the earth. They bring taste, enjoyment not only to those they serve, but also for themselves.

They shed light in the darkness of our mistaken rights and goals. Their actions are to be seen as motivated by a love of God which gives them joy and gives others peace. If they live this way they will give glory to the God who is outpouring love.

I draw three lessons from this teaching:

First, Jesus is primarily not asking about actions, but about virtues. Jesus does not bring a social program but an emphasis on interior conversion from the self-seeking ways of the world. (This is the way of Pope Francis: for those who want decrees prohibiting actions he asks them to contemplate the pastoral compassion of Jesus.) In the following part of the Sermon Jesus does get to actions, because it is in our actions that we know whether we have the virtues which he inculcates. Jesus calls our bluff: it is not those who say Jesus is our Lord who will be saved but those who do what he commands. If his teachings do not issue in social reforms, his disciples have not caught the urgency of his call to the virtues of the Reign of God.

Second, disciples who act as Jesus did will evoke wonder. They will manifest that their actions flow from God’s love and so will redound to His praise. Do others see in my actions a wonderful action of God?”

Thirdly, how do we catch these virtues? I tend to focus on the power of Jesus in the gospel---his healings, his courage in confronting the Pharisees. This gospel calls me to see Jesus as exemplifying the virtues he asks of us:

although he is rich, he comes among us as a poor man, a beggar;

although he knows the joy of God, he mourns for all those who suffer;

although he is a royal messiah, he denies any sense of entitlement;

although he can exercise the justice of God, he is compassionate mercy.

As disciples striving to live the Gospel today, we must hear Jesus say, ”Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”

 

Fr. John Topel, S.J.

June 8: Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on June 8, 2020 at 6:06 AM PDT

 

a view of the night sky from between dark red rocks of the grand canyon rising up

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“I lift up my eyes toward the mountains; whence shall help come to me?”  This very first verse in our Psalm mirrors the cry of Black Americans today.  In fact, people around the world are wondering the same thing – from where will their help actually come?  And for God’s sake, when?  As a white American and a Christian person, I, too am asking these questions.  Looking at the centuries of suffering endured by Black people in this country, it feels difficult – even as a person of faith – to truly believe the Psalmist when he offers assurance of God’s protection for those who cry out for help.  When we see the lives of Black people snuffed out before our very eyes, it does not seem as if God is guarding the most vulnerable among us.  Adding insult to the literal injury of peaceful protestors, the word of God and gospel of Christ that we proclaim as ultimate Truth are sullied by those at the very highest levels of power in this country.  Where is God’s protection, we ask?  The gospel today has a lot to say about that and, not surprisingly, it points directly to how we live as Christians.

In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reinterprets the Law of Moses for his disciples and in doing so, describes God’s promises to come.  Jesus’s disciples were, in effect, his students. They were learning from him the very heart of God – and so are we.  When I read the passage for the first time this week, this verse stood out to me differently than it had before, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  In first century Palestine, it was believed that the heart was the origin of thought and intention, as well as our moral compass.  It definitely made me ask myself, are my thoughts and intentions are “pure”?  I admit, with all that is going on in the world, I wasn’t feeling particularly well-intentioned in that moment!  This verse also begs the question of how we are remembering to orient ourselves on the side of those receiving God’s own preferential option – the poor (in spirit), the mourning, and the meek?  How are we ourselves seeking righteousness and peace as well as demonstrating mercy to all?

When I talk to Seattle University students who are taking part in these protests that affirm that Black Lives Matter, I learn more about how to stand quite literally on the side of the oppressed.  May that we all learn how to hunger and thirst for righteousness so that from every direction, we come to the aid of those who are crying out to God in our suffering and unjust world.

 

Erin Beary Andersen, Associate Director of Campus Ministry

June 7: Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Posted by Campus Ministry on June 7, 2020 at 6:06 AM PDT

June 5: Memorial of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr

Posted by Campus Ministry on June 5, 2020 at 6:06 AM PDT

A single seedling emerges from the soil.

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David himself calls him the Messiah Lord.

Dear Friends, Peace be with you!

We Christians know the Messiah, Son of David, is Jesus Christ and that His kingdom has already started —as a seed that germinates, grows up and bears fruit— and will become a visible and magnificent reality when Jesus comes back at the end of time. But already now Jesus is the Son of David and allows us to live “in hope” by enjoying the benefits of the Messianic Kingdom, breaking into our midst.

The title of “Son of David” applied to Jesus Christ forms part of the backbone of the Gospel. In the Annunciation, the Virgin received this message: “And the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33). The destitute that begged Jesus to cure them, were saying: “You son of David, have mercy on me!”(Mk 10:48). When Jesus solemnly entered in Jerusalem He was acclaimed: “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest” (Mk 11:10). Crying out to the Son of David meant crying out to a powerful person in their midst who could help and save them from their plight.

But Jesus is not only the Son of David, meant to be a human ruler in our understanding of power, but also the Lord. He confirms it solemnly by quoting the Davidic Psalm 110 in today’s Gospel. Those present cannot understand it: it is impossible that the son of David can also be equal to the Lord. St. Peter, witness of Jesus resurrection, clearly saw that Jesus had been constituted Lord of David, because “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day..., but Jesus God rose up, whereof we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:29-32). “His Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power” as St. Paul names him ( Rm 1:3-4). This Jesus, who is descendant of David, and Risen Lord, is beyond our full human understanding. Yet Jesus, seated at the right hand of God, attracts the focus of all people's hearts, just as he did in his earthly life, and thus, softly attracting us towards him, He already exerts now his lordship over all people that address him with Love and in Trust.

As Christians, we need to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior in our daily lives, not just as a powerful human ruler, but as Lord of our hearts. How? 1.) We have to invite him to be the king of our heart and the ruler of our thoughts, relationships, and actions. 2.) Then we should give Jesus free rein in every area of our lives. 3.) Finally, we should surrender our lives to him serving others humbly, lovingly and selflessly.

Amen.

 

Fr. Colleen Nsame, SJ

June 4: Thursday in the Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on June 4, 2020 at 6:06 AM PDT

A crowd of people holding candles in vigil.

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Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David:
such is my Gospel, for which I am suffering,
even to the point of chains, like a criminal.
But the word of God is not chained.

Today is ten days after George Floyd was murdered by a police officer 20 minutes from my childhood home, four years after Philando Castile was executed in front of his four-year-old daughter on the street I drove down on my way to school each day, and five years after Jamar Clark was killed in the city I call home. My city has erupted in righteous anger and protest against generations of white supremacy sewn into the tightly woven fabric of Minnesota, its dominant white culture, and its institutions. Black Minnesotans have been made to suffer, to the point of chains and death. They have been treated by police officers, government leaders, social systems, and neighbors like criminals (or worse).

But the word of God is not chained.

As Timothy asks us to remember Jesus Christ, we must remember George Floyd, Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and all Black and brown victims of police brutality and white supremacy. They are image-bearers of Christ, who have suffered because of the so many ways in which racism desecrates the Gospel.

But the word of God is not chained.

People in Minneapolis and across the United States are making that very clear. Cries for justice, accountability, and respect for human dignity are louder than ever. The word of God is not chained. The Gospel vision is not out of sight— it is being prophetically brought back into our collective consciousness through the cries of the oppressed and marginalized.

I have been reflecting on what it means for me to be a Christian right now, recognizing my individual complicity as a white woman, and the Church’s collective complicity, in maintaining white supremacy.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength…
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.

Mark’s Gospel reveals that the most basic Christian objective is to love God and love our neighbors. To love God, we must love our neighbors: the commandments are inextricably connected.

What does it mean to love God through my neighbor right now, in light of ongoing violence and trauma? To listen to Black voices, to have uncomfortable conversations with my white family and friends, to peel back the layers of my discomfort and weed out my violent biases, to give my money to Black-led organizations and mutual aid efforts that do the hard work of dismantling white supremacy, and, above all, to keep the Gospel vision of true liberation of all people— and especially the oppressed and marginalized— ever in my sight.

Amidst the violence and grief and terror that Minneapolis has weathered these past few days, there have been amazing displays of love and solidarity not covered by the media. Neighbors have shown up for each other by protesting and cleaning up the rubble of destruction. Neighbors have organized food drives and practiced impactful mutual aid to protect community resources and save lives. Neighbors have committed to caring for each other as institutional systems have failed and inflicted harm. The love of God through loving neighbors has begun to break the chains of white supremacy in Minneapolis.

As I bear witness to the pursuit of justice in my hometown, I know that I am complicit in the white supremacy that blocks the way. So, I am asking myself: How will I continue to un-chain the word of God, through concrete and ongoing action? How will I recognize God’s presence in suffering and yield to God’s voice speaking through the demands of Black communities? How will I truly love my neighbors and God?

 

Olivia Digiorno, Class of 2021