Scripture Reflections

May 15: Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 15, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

Two friends sharing a moment of laughter

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Luke’s idealistic account of the early Church confronting theological and spiritual difference remains a powerful lesson for us still. The authentic interaction between God’s grace and human faith removes all those things that make it impossible for us to be one in heart and mind. The way of God seeks not to impose burden but rather invites and gently guides to what is good.

Jesus told his disciples that he had come to fulfill the law not to destroy it. He confounded his disciples’ expectations in the way he dealt with strangers and those who seeming failed to observe God’s law. He liberates rather than imposes burden. He challenges his friends to move beyond the comfort of the familiar to find joy in the difference of the stranger. For our own comfort, it is easy for us to demand that someone, in order to join the family, be accepted as friend, or welcomed as colleague, become just like us. However, in listening to how God has moved among those different than themselves, the disciples discover once again that God’s actions cannot be confined by their expectations of how things are supposed to be. God’s action and grace are bigger than their imaginations. Within this process of discovery of God, disagreement and dissent play an important role in discerning the essential from the accidental, the genuine from the false.

How do we come to know what is right and proper? We start with what God is doing in our lives. We listen rather than condemn. We welcome liberation rather than place burden. In our scripture, Luke unfolds the final step in that process of community discernment. As head of the Jerusalem church, James arrives at judgment, but does not make his decision alone. He listens to the experience of the people of God and how the Spirit is working among them. It is not enough that the “Mother Church” in Jerusalem decide. The apostles and elders cannot come to a complete understanding of God’s work by themselves but must also look to local churches who also must rejoice in the consolation at this decision. The teaching must be received. So, James send emissaries back “in peace” to them so that the decision articulated may truly be confirmed. Good news proclaimed from leadership must be accompanied by local prophets who can console and strengthen.

Whether it be welcoming new friends, someone new into family, or into believing community, God’s way invites us to embrace that person as who they are and to discover how God’s Spirit is working in their lives, not to prejudge them and try to make them just like us. Let us be slow to place the burden of our own expectations on each other, but rather seek to find joy in the unique gift God gives to us in each other.

 

Fr. Bob Grimm, SJ, Jesuit Counselor, Albers School of Business

May 14: Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 14, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A person folds their hands in prayer over an open book.Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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In today’s gospel reading Jesus gives us the commandment to “love one another.” Jesus asks us to follow in the mission of his life, that as he followed God, let us follow him, and that in this following we will be changed.

Jesus said that through abiding in the love of God “my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” Sitting in my room right now, the room 90% of my life has been based out of for over a month now, a promise of complete joy is appealing, yet it feels so idealistic and out of reach. Joy is such a strong word, it is more fulfilling and all-encompassing than happiness, it is a pulse of trust and pleasure in the Divine. I am struggling to find that pulse right now.

Jesus pronounces us his beloved friends in this text and says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I am thinking about this message, and about my life. Looking at the social distancing world of today, you could argue that we are all laying down our lives for our friends. It is a practice of sacrificial love to stop the regular flow of our lives, to connect through the internet, or a minimum of 6 feet apart, to protect the lives of the people around us. Jesus sacrificed his living, breathing, life to love his friends; we are being asked to sacrifice our human-to-human physical contact ordinary lives for the love of our friends and for the love of humanity.

I find encouragement in the thought and the reality of millions of people around the world acting in love, but I will still admit the complete joy of Jesus’s promise is hard for me to grasp. I want my joy to include human contact, steady employment, and class at Seattle University right now, but the joy Jesus promised is one of love beyond my definition. Instead, this promised joy abides in the loving wholeness of the divine sacrifice and preservation of human life. I pray I can be open to this complete joy today.

 

Meghan McCreedy, Class of 2021

May 13: Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 13, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

Purple and green grapes growing on a vine.

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In faith, we are all intertwined with one another. I was talking with my dad the other day about his personal prayer life, because it’s something I don’t know much about. The scriptures today made me think again of this conversation, as Christ reminds his disciples how they are all bound together in blessing with the Lord.

“I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.” 

My dad asked me, “Margaret, who do you pray for these days?” And I realized that he prays every night the way we always did at bedtime when I was little. My brother and I would say aloud all the people we could think of to pray for. Grandma and Grandpa, our best friends, our teachers, and on and on and on.

I haven't prayed like that since I was a kid. I pray differently now, with the scriptures and spiritual writers, silence, and the liturgy. But I remembered how we used to pray, and how my dad still prays. My dad said, “I don’t know when to stop these days.” I felt struck by his simple and beautiful prayer. It reminded me that we are really branches on the vine of Christ. Even as we seek to care for and love all the friends and enemies in our life, Jesus is the one who brings the true abundance and healing.

So I speak to God a bit differently sometimes since that conversation. I imagine all the people I know, and our whole world, on those branches that are pruned by the Lord. I name them aloud and they feel more connected to me, even a coach I haven’t spoken to in years, or an migrant child I may never personally encounter.

Because as Jesus tells his friends today, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” So like my dad, I may not know where to stop my prayers these days, but I am consoled by God’s desire to gently care for me and all those people I name aloud, if we are willing to trust in the Lord.

 

 Margaret Girardin, Class of 2019

May 12: Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 12, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A lit latern sits on a ledge looking out at a dark horizon, with some spots of other lights in the darkness

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 “Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.”

The refrain from the Psalm today captures my imagination. I picture in my mind the friends of God. I remember the friends in my own life who have proclaimed good news of God’s reign of love and justice to me. Friends like my college campus minister, who embodied simple living, reflection, and a thirst for justice; my former roommates who dreamed of a life of downward mobility and community, and acted to create it; my teacher whose story sparked in me a passion to serve people and be attentive to the Holy Spirit; the staff member at my college who was kind to me when I was a freshman, far from home and lonely; the immigrants and refugees I met as a Jesuit Volunteer, who lived relentless hope, resilience, and courage; the supervisor who taught me how to be a servant leader; the friend who forgave me for my mistakes and invited me to be more loving; the colleagues I work with who find humor, joy, and grace in their vocation; the SU students I accompany who inspire me daily with their compassion, reflection, and commitment to justice. These and many more friends of mine have given me glimpses into God’s wondrous kingdom of hope, mercy, unity, love, justice, and peace.

Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.”

Today, with the refrain of this Psalm resounding in my ears, and memories of friends filling my heart with gratitude, I desire to be a friend of God. I hope to proclaim with my own life how wonderful God is, and how grace-filled God’s kingdom – God’s dream for, and invitation to us – is. I trust that God wants me to be a friend too, as Jesus told us “I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father” (John 15:15). Trusting that God gives us the grace to be friends, I open my heart and ask God to work in and through my life, making known God’s kingdom through my words, actions, and relationships.

Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.”

Looking back on the last week, who illuminated God’s wondrous presence for you? How did you proclaim God’s love with your own life?

 

JoAnn Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy and Resident Minister

May 11: Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 11, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

Water in a spring

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Today’s passage from the Acts of the Apostles reads like a clip from a Hollywood movie! First, we see Paul and Barnabas fleeing to Asia Minor to avoid an attack by Jews and Gentiles in Iconium, in modern day Turkey. As Luke tells the story, Paul was speaking to a man who had never walked in his life, but Paul “saw that he had the faith to be healed,” so he told the man to “stand up straight on [his] feet.” When the crowds saw this, they assumed that Paul and Barnabas must themselves be gods and began offering sacrifices to them! The apostles attempted to redirect the people of Lystra, telling them that this healing is not about themselves but is the work of the “living God” who has sent them. They tell the people how easy it is to see and believe in this living God… Simply look around at the natural world, which provides “witness” to God’s presence and grace! It is the living God who has given “you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and [filled] you with food and your hearts with joy.” We, too, are reminded to leave behind the things that distract us and seek the living God from whom all things flow.

Similarly in our gospel reading, Jesus points out to the disciples that the words he speaks are not solely his own but originate from God, his Father. Jesus is the doorway through which we walk but he is always guiding us to the Source, who is greater than he is. Jesus says, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our dwelling with them.” In the gospel of John, the word or commandment to which Jesus refers is, of course, to love one another. Jesus is speaking about a mutual indwelling of love: the Father loves the Son and when we keep the commandment to love others, we are a part of this holy love story. St. Ignatius’s First Principle and Foundation reminds us of this: that we are from love, of love, and for love. When Love dwells within us, our will is to let that love spill out to our families, our communities, and our world! And, as Paul and Barnabas, the Psalmist, and the Society of Jesus remind us, it is all for the greater glory of God.

There is so much to ponder in our scriptures today, I hope that you will let yourself sink into them and see what stands out for you. In what ways do you need to be healed? Does your faith give you the conviction that you will be? Or perhaps you have the power to heal… What do you feel called to heal? Is something distracting you from seeing the living God? How and where do you witness God’s presence and grace? Above all, how do you experience yourself as unconditionally loved by the living God? What does it mean to you that Love dwells within you? How are you called to love the world today?

 

Erin Beary Andersen, Associate Director of Campus Ministry