Scripture Reflections

June 3: Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs

Posted by Campus Ministry on June 3, 2020 at 6:06 AM PDT

A person in a yellow rain jacket stands in the rain, looking out over a storm-clouded sky above a body of water.

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In today’s first reading, we see a writing from the apostle Paul in which he tells Timothy to “bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.” Paul urges Timothy to continue to act as a soldier of Christ in preaching the good news. Even in the troubling times that Paul was in, being a prisoner of the Romans, he never lost his faith and dedication to spreading the teachings of the Gospel, also indicating that he holds no shame for it alongside his sufferings. Paul’s message is meant to encourage the use of God’s graces to keep our faith.

I believe this passage connects so well with what I am trying to accomplish currently in life, to face my challenges with strength and perseverance. I feel at the moment that there are so many changes happening in my life and in the world that I wonder how I am supposed to truly handle it all. Paul talks about using the strength given to us by God and this makes me question -- what does strength look like from God? I think the usual notion of strength is identified as some form of physical and mental capability of a person in which they use it to overcome a greater obstacle. From this reading, I tried to think of strength in a more broad term in which strength encompasses different values, like courage, love, resilience, and dedication. I like to think that strength is something that a person seeks within themselves in many different forms. For me personally, I believe the value that I currently need the most is courage, the courage to endure the current challenges in my life and continue my dedication to the teachings of the Gospel. I have to remember that even in troubling times that God has not abandoned me and that he has not abandoned the world, bestowing upon us the gifts and teachings necessary for our salvation.

God has given us the grace and wisdom to look beyond ourselves and to seek the light of our faith. How can we continue to live out our mission and devotion as we bear our share of hardship for the Gospel? What does strength look like for you and how do you recognize it?

 

Erin Camemo, Class of 2022

June 2: Tuesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Posted by Campus Ministry on June 2, 2020 at 6:06 AM PDT

hands clasped in prayer

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“Beloved: Wait for and hasten the coming of the day of God,…according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Pt 3:12-13)

“In every age O Lord, you have been our refuge.” (Psalm 90:1) 

“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” (Mark 12:17) 

God of every generation,
You have been the refuge of our ancestors,
who cried out to you in times of great distress.
We look around now,
in a world of pain and suffering
and cry out to you anew.

Be our refuge in this age.
We long for a new heaven and a new earth,
where righteousness dwells.
Transform our world,
                           our communities,
                                                      our hearts,
that all may be in right relationship in you.
Help us to see your kingdom of mercy, justice, communion, and peace
unfolding in our midst,
calling to us to partner in its becoming.

Jesus our friend,
you knew what it was like to live under the weight of oppressive rule
that would eventually kill you.
You ceaselessly and lovingly proclaimed God’s reign to people who loved you and betrayed you.
Help us to recognize your presence in those killed by the state,
those dismissed for their revolutionary messages,
those sacrificed for the maintenance of the status quo.
Give us the same love for the kingdom of God that burned in you,
that we too may have the courage to proclaim and embody
love, justice, peace, mercy, hope, and joy,
and live as Good News in a world in need of your transforming power.

Holy Spirit, Wisdom, Sacred Breath,
stir up in us the fire of your love, that we may see both
the world as it is, and as you dream it to be.
Remind us that every person bears
the indelible image of God, no matter how much our systems try to obscure it
through commodification, consumerism, and criminalization.
Comfort and empower us, who long for your strength and hope,
and disturb us out of our complicity and complacency.
When we are weary and have no words left to pray, open our hearts and pray in us,
that we, and all our descendants, may remember that
you are our refuge, in every age. 

Amen. 

JoAnn M. Lopez, Campus Minister and Resident Minister

June 1: Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

Posted by Campus Ministry on June 1, 2020 at 6:06 AM PDT

a silhouette of a woman walking along the shore at sunset

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Today, we end the season of Easter and enter into Ordinary Time by marking the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. This title of Mary was proclaimed by Pope Paul VI during the Second Vatican Council, where Paul VI called Mary “Mother of the Church,” and lifted her up as a model for all the faithful.  Today’s readings remind us that Mary is a model of discipleship: present at the foot of the Cross, and with the cohort of disciples that gather together after the Ascension, forming the early church as a community of prayer.

Even as we enter into liturgical Ordinary Time, we acknowledge that there is nothing ordinary about our times. It is abundantly clear that we live in a country where generations of systemic racism are bearing bitter fruit: police brutality, massive healthcare and economic inequality, white supremacy with impunity, and ruptured relationships in our communities. In addition to the stories that capture national attention, there are many more, unknown stories in neighborhoods around the country which daily drum home the message that black lives do not matter.

What does it mean for us to be a church in these all too ordinary, and yet disturbing times? I turn today to the model of Mary, and the women disciples with her, who journeyed to the foot of the cross – who bore prophetic witness to the killing of Jesus through state-sponsored brutality, joyfully proclaimed his resurrection, and came together with others to be a community of prayer and action. These are our ancestors in faith, role models of what it means to follow Jesus in unbearable times.

As I meet them today, I hear them ask me (and all of us):

  • Will we, as faithful followers of Christ, have the courage to stand with the crucified in our time? With those who say “I thirst?” and “I can’t breathe?” With black and brown folks who are disproportionately impacted by the current pandemic?  With black women shot unjustly by police in their own homes? With young black men, gunned down by their neighbors on a walk or a run? With those who are demonized and treated as though their lives do not matter?  
  • Will we take on the risk to our comfort that is required of every follower of Christ, joining with the women who have gone before us? Like them, will we bear witness, march hand in hand to cross and tomb, and care for the broken Body of Christ? Will we examine how the sin of racism has burrowed its way into our hearts, our homes, our churches, our neighborhoods, and communities – and commit to concrete action to eradicate it from our world? Will we listen to experiences that are different from our own? Will we work for justice and reconciliation?
  • Will we also bear witness to resurrection life in Christ? Will we form communities of love, prayer and action, where differences are celebrated, and all find solace in despair? Will we offer imagination, hope, comfort, light, and love for one another? Will we remember the inherent dignity in divine image of every life, and proclaim with our prayer and our action that black lives matter?

These questions that call to us today from the scriptures are many and weighty. The Spirit invites us to answer “Yes,” just as it did of Mary when she gave her “yes” to a lifetime of seemingly impossible invitations. Following the path of discipleship is challenging, but the cost of continued Christian inaction in the face of racism is unbearable. Let us ask Mary the Mother of the Church to guide us in these ordinary times, that we may have the courage to say “yes” to bearing witness to the Crucified and Risen Christ in our world.

 

JoAnn Lopez, Campus Minister for Liturgy and Resident Minister

May 31: Pentecost Sunday

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 31, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

On Pentecost Sunday, Fr. Stephen Sundborg, S.J., 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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May 29: Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Posted by Campus Ministry on May 29, 2020 at 6:05 AM PDT

A sign reading

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In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus asks Peter repeatedly, “Do you love me?” Peter grows increasingly agitated as he answers again and again, “You know that I love you.” I can imagine his exasperation as he answers for the third time, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

This passage calls to mind a scene from just a few chapters before (Jn 18) when, fearing for his own life as the world seemed to crumble around him in the events leading up to Jesus’s crucifixion, Peter denied any association with Jesus three times.

“You are not one of his disciples are you?”
“I am not.”

“Do you love me?”
“You know that I love you.”

Peter’s predicament is a relatable one. Who among us hasn’t shrunk from our convictions out of fear? Who hasn’t wished we could just commit to a life of love once and bypass all of the messy work of constantly committing and recommitting?

For better or for worse, to live a life committed to love requires continual commitment and discernment. The human condition is one of dynamism, and our yes to life, to love, to justice, to God must be a daily practice. Sometimes – often – it will be an exasperated yes. We will throw our yes into the dark and listen for the echo back signaling that it was received, but we will find we have to wait, and that our answers may not come in the form we would expect.

Today, humanity grieves its own splintering, and the senseless loss of exquisite human life. Though there are many ways that the pandemic has brought people together – the proliferation of mutual aid efforts, the single-pointed focus of the global community of scientists, to name a few – it would be foolish to imagine that it would wash away all of our divisions. Even tragedy does not allow us to bypass the messy work of constantly committing and recommitting to love.

It was predictable that the racism rotting the core of U.S. American culture would pervade the pandemic, too. When early reports that COVID-19 was disproportionately impacting African Americans began to make the news, I was hardly surprised. When I heard that, in the midst of the pandemic, Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man, was murdered while jogging in Georgia by two white men, I was hardly surprised. When I learned that George Floyd had been brutally suffocated by a police officer kneeling on his neck, captured on tape saying repeatedly, “I can’t breathe,” I was hardly surprised.

I was hardly surprised, but I was many other things: troubled, exasperated, heartbroken, angry, numb, frightened, complacent, indignant.

“Do you love me?”

Jesus’s question does not come to us in a vacuum. “Yes,” we might answer, from a place of our ideals, but the gritty reality of life will continue to confront us with this question over and over again, demanding an answer. “Yes,” we might say, but sometimes our actions will betray us and we’ll end up looking more like Peter on Good Friday, denying Jesus three times before we hear the cock crow and we can see clearly our missteps. “Yes,” we might say today, and then tomorrow another black person will needlessly die in America and we will be confronted with our choice of how to respond.

The good, if somewhat sobering, news is that the question doesn’t stop asking itself. Every day, in every moment, we have the opportunity to say yes and to bear out our yes in our actions as best we can.

Whether the reach of racism in recent days comes to you as a surprise or as a foregone conclusion - whether you are navigating the trauma of yet another person who looks like you being senselessly killed, constantly negotiating the particularities of your own marginality and privilege, or only just beginning to peek behind the gauzy but constricting veil of whiteness - in this very moment you have the opportunity to say yes to love. Where that yes will lead you I cannot say, though I wish I could. But it is your yes. And it will take a world’s worth of people mustering the courage to live into their yes, however tentatively and imperfectly, to begin to heal this festering and necrotizing wound.

"Do you love me?" Let us pray that we, individually and collectively, have the grace to respond yes.

 

 

Anna Robertson, Campus Minister for Retreats