Scripture Reflections

April 28: Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 28, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

a path through a forest

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In today’s Gospel the crowd asks Jesus for a sign to help them believe. Yet this is the same crowd that followed Jesus because of the many he was healing (John 6:2), and had been nourished the day before from a miraculous multiplication of loaves by Jesus (John 6:10-14). It was Jesus’ signs that had brought them out of their homes to follow him. It was Jesus’ signs that nourished them and gave them the energy to keep seeking him out. And yet, the very next day, they find themselves forgetful, desiring more, yearning for God’s life-giving presence to nourish them every day. Jesus cared deeply about the material and physical needs of his people, and worked wonders to meet those needs. Yet he sensed in the crowd a deeper hunger than just the material – so instead of proclaiming what he could do, or offering more signs and wonders, Jesus proclaims who he is and who God is: Jesus himself is the Bread of Life, the one who nourishes and sustains us on the path of life. 

There are days when I feel as forgetful as this crowd. It’s easy to be so focused on my needs for today, the problems of the world, of my own heart, that I cannot see God with me. I yearn for God to show up in majestic, awe-inspiring ways. I want to see signs so that I may believe. Jesus promises that – greater than any miraculous sign that could capture our attention – he is the one who is present to us as the Bread of Life, satisfying the hunger and thirst of our hearts, and inviting us into new life. Jesus proclaimed with his whole life the abundant, life-giving Kingdom of God, breaking into our world, satisfying our hungers and transforming our community so there was no more hunger and thirst. Today I am invited to be attentive to the ways that God nourishes and sustains me in my journey of life, and to hear Jesus calling me to be a witness to God's presence in our world.  

In the first reading we are confronted by the execution of Stephen. Stephen was a leader in the early church, chosen to help serve the poor and vulnerable in the community (Acts 6:1-6). He was the first of many early Christians who, like Jesus, were killed by the powerful for their proclamation of God’s kingdom and who hoped to share in Jesus’ resurrection. It is easy, in our modern Western world, to interpret the hunger of the Gospel crowd to be purely spiritual, and to preach a Christian message that challenges no one (least of all ourselves). Yet we know that Jesus healed and fed the hungry crowd, and challenged the powerful and the status quo, promising a kingdom of justice and abundance for all. 

Around the world today there are models of committed faith who have given their lives to proclaiming God’s presence with the poor and vulnerable: modern martyrs like Sr. Dorothy Stang, Sr. Rani Maria, and the churchwomen of El Salvador, as well as many others who continue to witness, despite the risks, to Christ’s life-giving presence that desires to satisfy every hunger, and challenges the powers of domination, violence, and oppression. These folks remind us that we, the Body of Christ, are not called to work signs and wonders, but to live every day like Jesus: as witnesses to God’s abiding, nourishing presence in our world, alongside all those who yearn for God’s love.

 

JoAnn Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy and Resident Minister in Campion Hall

April 27: Monday of the Third Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 27, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

two loaves of bread, one broken, one whole, against a wood background.

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Today is the feast day of St. Zita, patron saint of domestic workers. She is known for her acts of generosity toward those who were poor and imprisoned in Lucca, Italy in the 13th century. Her mission was always to work hard so that she could get her housekeeping duties finished and then pray, attend Mass and give away her employers’ food to the hungry. She attended to her own spiritual needs while fulfilling the physical needs of those around her. In the Gospel, Jesus had just fed the 5,000 men (not counting women and children!) and even as he fed their growling stomachs with the loaves and fishes, he reminded that they should, ‘work for the food that endures for eternal life’. We are in a time when the needs of the world are centered on the physical—our viral pandemic carries the tragic byproduct of food and housing insecurity. St. Zita follows in Jesus’ footsteps by tending to both the physical and the spiritual in places of real need. People are hungry—feed them. People are hopeless and grieving—give them some of your hope and some of what comforts you. In this Easter season, in this unique time, new life is both all around us, and desperately hard to find. May we fill this gap with equal proportions of care and prayer.

April 26: Third Sunday of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 26, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

On the Third Sunday of Easter, Director of Campus Ministry Tammy Liddell preaches on the Sunday readings. 

Listen to the songs we would have sung at the Chapel today, including songs from our Chapel Choir CD, Light & Shadow (2017)

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April 24: Friday of the Second Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 24, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

A fork and knife flank an empty white plate against a white-washed wood background.

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Today’s gospel tells what might be for many of us a familiar story: the miracle of the loaves and fishes, where Jesus turns a meager five barley loaves and two fish into a feast so abundant it feeds the five thousand who had gathered to see him, with some to spare. When I’m reading a familiar story like this one, I try to tune into my curiosity and see what new detail might emerge or capture my attention in an unfamiliar way. As I was reading today’s gospel, I was struck by an inconspicuous line toward the middle, which Jesus offers in instruction to his frazzled disciples: “Have the people recline.”

Prior to Jesus offering this instruction, the disciples had been fretting over how they will ever feed so many people. I can sense their exasperation and, honestly, I can relate to it. I think of the times when I have been wedded to my frustration, convinced that a solution couldn’t exist because the one or two I had thought to try had failed. When I’m caught like this in my own drama, I tend to adopt an embittered posture of self-righteous defeat and—I hate to admit it—can become hostile to the possibility of a solution, committed as I am to my story in which I am the victim at the hands of an unfair reality. Needless to say, I’m not apt in moments like these to notice the small miracles, the little solutions teeming in the fabric of this generous earth.

“Have the people recline,” Jesus said. There’s a step that happens between the problem and the solution. Jesus instructs those gathered to recline, as they would at meal time, even as there’s practically no food to speak of. He does not multiply the loaves and fishes first and, only then, ring the dinner bell, as it were. Rather he calls on those present to assume a posture of expectancy when it still would seem quite unreasonable to expect much. Only then, when all five thousand people have reclined, does the miracle come.

As I imagine those five thousand people assuming this physical posture of reclining, preparing themselves for a meal that, by all reasonable accounts, shouldn’t come, I wonder about my own posture. Is my way of moving through the world one that invites miracles, or do I march dully through my days expecting only more of the same, tired story I write myself into the center of? As I take in the news cycle, do I batten down the hatches and protect my own, having bought into a story about the fate of our human family that says we are only capable of barreling headlong toward needless self-destruction? These days, it’s only natural to feel that contraction—that impulse to circle the wagons – when we’re regularly doused in news that ranges from bad to horrifying. Today’s gospel reminds me that, when all signs point to despair, I can choose to turn in a different direction. I can, in the words of farmer poet Wendell Berry, “practice resurrection” and begin to live life as though another world is possible. I can make space for miracles with my attention. The miracles will happen either way—spring in its unfolding doesn’t care whether anyone’s paying attention—but we’ll miss the chance to notice if we’re not expecting them. And the noticing is as much a miracle as the unfolding. 

Today, see if you can catch yourself in the act of assuming the worst, or more of the same. Each time you’re about to throw in the towel, look around you and see if you can identify one miracle. If you’re at a loss for where to begin, read today’s gospel alongside David Whyte’s poem “Everything Is Waiting for You.” “Put down the weight of your \ aloneness and ease into the \ conversation,” he writes. In other words, recline. 

 

Anna Robertson, Campus Minister for Retreats

April 23: Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on April 23, 2020 at 6:04 AM PDT

 A hand is open with some seeds in the palm.

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As I read today’s readings, I am struck by the Apostles' courage. After a resurrected Jesus appeared to them, they were filled with a sense of tenacity and drive that inspired confidence in them, despite the many risks and uncertainties in their time. They were under watch by the high priests who sought any wrong move the Apostles might make. The high priests expected crucifying Jesus to be the end to their problems, yet instead, something had changed greatly. The power in seeing the resurrected Jesus gave the Apostles hope, trust and, more importantly, peace. No longer was the presence of Jesus restricted to his human body! The resurrection demonstrated to the Apostles a promise of liberation, a promise of a new life, and a promise that, no matter what, Jesus remained with them always. The Apostles’ transformation made me reflect upon the power of the resurrection for today. The Apostles demonstrate the great strength from God that comes in the promise of peace. This promise fills them with the sort of courage that is important to focus on in our present context.

How can we exhibit and inspire courage among those around us? How can we be inhabitants and deliverers of peace? There is much uncertainty, fear and distrust currently, but Jesus has risen from the dead, and his presence remains with us! We have received the same promise of liberation and peace as the Apostles, and there is proof of it present in the goodness that remains in the world, in the kindnesses of our neighbors, in the sunshine, in the small moments of peace. I feel that today’s scriptures are calling us in a special way to extend that peace to others, to bring the joy and hope of the resurrected Jesus to those who are in most need of it, even if we may not feel it very strongly on our own. It is crucial to depend on each other now, in a similar way to how the Apostles relied on each other for courage. The strength of community encourages everyone to share in the experiences of uncertainty and anxiety trusting that together, through the power of the resurrected Jesus, we can become agents of hope and liberation, just like the Apostles before us. It is reminding each other of the promise of the resurrection that brings us closer to God and each other during difficult times. Amid the anxiety in our time, there is the promise of joy. How can we be agents of peace and courage? How do we need the power of resurrection to be present in our lives and our world?

 

 

–Tayz Hernandez, Student Campus Minister for Liturgy, Class of 2021