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2019 Daily Lenten Reflections


Sunday, April 21

John 20:1-9

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark, 
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter 
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, 
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, 
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter 
and arrived at the tomb first; 
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him, 
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, 
and the cloth that had covered his head, 
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in, 
the one who had arrived at the tomb first, 
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture 
that he had to rise from the dead.

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Our lives are filled with surprises.  There are many of us that love surprises and many like me who would rather know in advance what will be happening to me in the near and distant future.  The Scripture passage from John described a surprised group of Disciples who panicked when they could not find the body of Jesus.  Initially, only John believed when he saw the tomb. This is a most interesting story in that you would think that after spending a few years with Jesus, his resurrection from the dead would not come as a surprise to thee Disciples.  However, as we know, it took several subsequent visits from the risen Jesus before the disciples believed.

In a similar way, we have spent the past 40 days of Lent preparing for Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus.  The question for each of us to ask is have we spent this time readying for the Resurrection of Jesus, with all of our expectations, or have we gone through Lent living our lives in our usual fashion so that when Easter arrives, like the Disciples, we are filled with surprise that the Resurrection was no more than another Sunday Mass. 

It is up to us to imitate the life of Jesus and understand that this is the path to eternal life.  Let’s take the surprise out of Easter; our eternal life is at stake. 

John Smarrelli Jr.
President, Christian Brothers University 

Saturday, April 20

Luke 24:1-12

At daybreak on the first day of the week 
the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus 
took the spices they had prepared
and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered,
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were puzzling over this, behold,
two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. 
They said to them,
"Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised.
Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, 
that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners
and be crucified, and rise on the third day."
And they remembered his words.
Then they returned from the tomb
and announced all these things to the eleven
and to all the others.
The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James;
the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles,
but their story seemed like nonsense
and they did not believe them.
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, 
bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone;
then he went home amazed at what had happened.

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Holy Saturday is a day to grieve, console, and reflect.  On that original Saturday, they didn’t know about Easter.  Surely, they were consoling Mary.  Maybe they thought about missed opportunities to tell Jesus how much He meant to them.  Maybe they thought about something that they could have done for him, but didn’t.  Probably, they felt guilt at abandoning him.  As Lent draws to a close, I think of what I had planned to do, but didn’t act.  I think of things that I could have done better.  How much did I really let go of this Lent?

Why are you looking for the living among the dead?  I hope that I have pruned off some of the dead in my spiritual life this Lent.  Today’s gospel tells me not to look to the past.  Let go of what I might not have done and focus on what is living.  Jesus is living and I am living.  There is still time.  The beauty of the liturgical calendar is that it takes us through Good Friday to the Resurrection.  It leads us from death to life, despair to joy.   This Holy Saturday, I can regret what I didn’t do, I can console the Mother of God, I can reflect on where to go from here.  As we move into the Easter Vigil though, we celebrate.  Jesus rose and loves us as we are.  Like Peter, we are amazed at what happened.  Happy Easter.

Cathy Grilli
Professor of Mathematics

Friday, April 19

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at himC
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of manC
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Who would believe what we have heard?
To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all.

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.
But the LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.

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For me, this is quite an interesting passage from the prophet Isaiah.  It was written over five hundred years before the birth of Christ.  And yet, the prophet Isaiah foretells of Jesus’ passion, and death in most accurate terms.  Verses four through twelve of Chapter 53 are quite descriptive in predicting what will happen to our Lord on that first Good Friday.  One might also note that Isaiah reminds us that it was for us that the Lord went through all the pain and suffering of this day.

I have to admit that for a long time, this was not the only time I got to hear these words.  In my musician days I was a member of a choir that performed Handel’s Messiah each year in early December.  We not only would perform most of Part I, foretelling and describing the birth of our Lord in Bethlehem, but the other parts as well, including Part II,  which describes his passion, suffering and crucifixion.  Handel’s music set to these words as well as other references from the Bible, offers quite a musical description --- one that this former singer looked forward to.  For the musician still in me, it is a bit strange hearing these words at the Good Friday liturgy.  I almost am tempted to get out my vocal score to the Oratorio and follow along.

The one positive thought I keep on Good Friday, even during this liturgy, is that events do not end with the crucifixion of Christ.  On the following Sunday we will return to our churches to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord.  Handel did not end there as well.  He celebrated the resurrection with the ending of Part II of Messiah, the “Hallelujah” chorus.  I would not be surprise me to hear it sung once more this Easter.

Andrew Morgret, CPA
Associate Professor of Accounting

Thursday, April 18

John 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper, 
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power 
and that he had come from God and was returning to God, 
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin 
and began to wash the disciples' feet 
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 
"Master, are you going to wash my feet?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later."
Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet."
Jesus answered him, 
"Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."
Simon Peter said to him, 
"Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."
Jesus said to him, 
"Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
 for he is clean all over; 
so you are clean, but not all."
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean."

So when he had washed their feet 
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, 
he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me 'teacher' and 'master,'  and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, 
you ought to wash one another's feet.
I have given you a model to follow, 
so that as I have done for you, you should also do."

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I remember at a young age being very moved by this image of the savior humbling himself by washing Simon Peter’s feet. I remember later—and still feel this today—being moved by the act as a way to visualize a master teacher instructing others how to be masterful as teachers as well. I’m now in an occupation where I think daily about how to create and sustain an environment that allows teachers to be masterful in their work. Often these considerations evolve into plans to secure resources to help faculty develop professionally, to acquire educational technologies (and to train professors on them), and to better equip our classrooms and faculty offices. I also wrestle with the fact these plans (and the occasional fulfillment of them) do not directly or clearly demonstrate my own habits and skills as a teacher. I hope that the work I do is helpful and is valued by the educators with whom I work, but by and large it’s not the activity of a teacher.

Nonetheless, my lived experience as a teacher, and now as an administrator, confirm the importance of the humility of what Jesus, the master/teacher, is doing with his disciples. Whether he arrived at it by Christian tradition or by his own pedagogical experience, it’s no surprise either that Brother Agathon included humility as one of the twelve virtues of a good teacher. Maybe there are other ways to be a good teacher, but I don’t think I could be successful in my own acts of teaching (or of serving as a campus leader), to enact the transformation that learning requires, without knowing the value of humbling myself before my students. When I teach, I feel compelled to demonstrate that I, too, have much to learn, that my own struggles with challenging and new ideas are important to share with my students. As a consequence, I reveal my vulnerability to the accusation that I do not know what is required of expertise, of a master teacher. To humble oneself is to risk losing one’s credibility, among other things. However, I can’t imagine modeling the alternative (i.e., professing knowledge where I may lack it) and hoping to inspire my students as a result. I believe humility as a teacher is necessary for gaining the trust that’s required to achieve—together—the improvement in understanding that is the aim of education.

Dr. Paul Haught 
Vice President for Academics and Student Life 

Wednesday, April 17

Isaiah 50:4-9A

The Lord GOD has given me 
a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
if anyone wishes to oppose me,
let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
Let him confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
who will prove me wrong?

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This verse from Isaiah is the third of four “servant of the Lord” oracles. It addresses the Lord’s Salvation through the experiences of Isaiah as a servant. This verse really hits home for me since I struggle with anxiety and self-doubt. The first two verses (4-5) specifically are very striking to me.  I know that the Lord has given me all of the tools to be a successful daughter, wife, mother, and professional, but I have to be reminded each morning that I am striving for God's grace, not perfection. I am reminded also that I need only to act knowing that God is watching over my every decision and move. I don’t need to spend my time in worry and doubt, knowing that God will be by my side no matter the situation.

Isaiah clearly presents his justification for entrance to Heaven in this verse, explaining that he is willing to go to war for our Lord. He is the epitome of a true selfless servant, continuing to listen and preach the Gospel without concern of being disgraced or shamed. He will continue to stand strong, knowing that our God will be standing with him.

As the Lenten season ends, may we thank God for His presence, knowing that even through our trials and mishaps (perhaps, a Lenten promise that was forgotten), He is always there to have our back, unconditionally, and always merciful. In this Holy Week, as we prepare for the solemnity and silence that entails, let us remember that we are always in the holy presence of God, that we may strive to be more Christ-like in our daily actions, and that we are to be faithful and selfless servants of the Church.

God Bless You!

Lauren Harrett Thornton
Class of 2015, Civil Engineering

Tuesday, April 16

John 13:21-33,36-38

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
"Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus' side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
He leaned back against Jesus' chest and said to him,
"Master, who is it?"
Jesus answered,
"It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it."
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas,
son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly."
Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
"Buy what we need for the feast,"
or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said,
"Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,
'Where I go you cannot come,' so now I say it to you."

Simon Peter said to him, "Master, where are you going?"
Jesus answered him,
"Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later."
Peter said to him,
"Master, why can I not follow you now? 
I will lay down my life for you."
Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times."

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As we approach Easter, we see one of the greatest injustices play out: an innocent Jesus is tried and executed. That process starts with this Gospel. There was Jesus, eating with his most trusted companions, “reclining at the table,” when he abruptly announces that someone will betray him. When he shows that it will be Judas, the disciples are “at a loss”. They even assumed Judas’s money bag was for something worthy, like for food for the feast or to donate to the poor. We can only imagine the questions running through their heads. How can someone betray Jesus? What does that mean, exactly? What will happen next?

Perhaps the saddest question they were asking themselves was “How could one of us do this to him? We are his family!” It wasn’t a grumpy Roman soldier or self-righteous Pharisee that sealed the deal; it was one of Jesus’s own. Our sympathy for Jesus is furthered when he declares he must face his betrayal alone: “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now.” Even Peter, who wants to suffer with Jesus, is told that he will deny ever knowing him. Thus, in this passage, we go from a committed brotherhood of disciples to a confused and selfish lot of fools.

It’s easy to see ourselves in the Apostles. We proclaim our allegiance to Christ, and do well for a while. We know him. We love him. Yet, how often do we betray him? How often do we “sell out” for self-serving reasons? How often do we deny him? How often do we nail him to the cross? But, despite our sinful nature that hurts Jesus, we are reminded this Easter season that his love will eventually triumph.

 

Chris Fagin
Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics Major, 2020

Monday, April 15

John 12:1-11

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany,
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. 
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. 
Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
and the one who would betray him, said,
"Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days' wages
and given to the poor?"
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, "Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."

The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came,
not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.
And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
because many of the Jews were turning away
and believing in Jesus because of him.

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It’s Monday of Holy Week. It’s the last week of our Lenten journey for 2019. How have you been able to express your faith using the three actions associated with Lent? These actions are the act of praying, the act of fasting, and the act of almsgiving. Of these three acts, almsgiving may be the most neglected. Ironically, as Mike Aquilina of the Catholic Education Resource Center writes, almsgiving is prayer and almsgiving involves fasting. Almsgiving is not just philanthropy but is a gift to God and, in that way, is surely a form a prayer. Almsgiving also involves giving something up so we are abstaining or fasting from a material good or activity.  

In today’s Gospel reading we read of the extravagant gift that Mary gives to Jesus. She anointed the feet of Jesus with very expensive oil. Much has been written and speculated about the meaning of this act but one thing the reading makes clear, it was an expensive gift. She gave extravagantly to our Lord.

As we consider our own gifts to God, do we give our best? Do we give with an open and loving heart? Can any gift we give ever match the loving gift that Christ gave us on the cross? It’s Monday of Holy Week. May the events remembered this week embolden us to be faithful in all ways including our almsgiving.

citation for Mike Aquilina reference: 
https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/religion-and-philosophy/spiritual-life/introduction-to-lent-almsgiving.html

James W. McGuffee
Professor and Dean, School of Sciences 

Sunday, April 14

Luke 19:28-40

Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.
As he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany 
at the place called the Mount of Olives, 
he sent two of his disciples.
He said, "Go into the village opposite you, 
and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered 
on which no one has ever sat.
Untie it and bring it here.
And if anyone should ask you,
'Why are you untying it?' 
you will answer,
'The Master has need of it.'"
So those who had been sent went off 
and found everything just as he had told them.
And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, 
"Why are you untying this colt?"
They answered,
"The Master has need of it."
So they brought it to Jesus,
threw their cloaks over the colt, 
and helped Jesus to mount.
As he rode along,
the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; 
and now as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, 
the whole multitude of his disciples
began to praise God aloud with joy
for all the mighty deeds they had seen.
They proclaimed:
"Blessed is the king who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest."
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him,
"Teacher, rebuke your disciples."
He said in reply,
"I tell you, if they keep silent,
the stones will cry out!"

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It’s hard to read the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem without reflecting upon what will befall him the very next week.  The same faithful followers who cheer his entry on Palm Sunday turn into the fickle friends who call for his death only days later.  It is a tragic reminder of how each of us has the capacity to be true to God’s teachings one minute and to speak and act as if we have never heard of Him the very next.  In the words of Fred Rogers from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood:

 “Have you ever noticed how the very same people who are good sometimes are the very same people who are bad sometimes?”

Our fickle human nature is why scripture warns against putting our faith in anything other than Jesus Christ.  Earthly possessions, accomplishments, work, and even friends and family can be unreliable, but the God’s covenant is steadfast, reliable, and dependable. I believe Jesus put His hope in His followers, building trusting relationships with them, loving them, and giving them tools necessary to carry out His mission when His time on earth was complete.  But His faith?  That belonged only in the righteous hands of His Father. 

Prayer:  Jesus, help us remember to always put our faith in you.  While earthly things can be unreliable, you are steadfast in your love, compassion, and promises.  Whether we are in the Palm Sunday or Last Supper phase of life, you will always be on the path beside us, providing us with all we need to complete our journey. 

Bevalee Vitali
Director, Institute for Leadership Development and Professor of Management 

Friday, April 12

Psalm 18: 2-3A, 3BC-4,5-6,7

R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
I love you, O LORD, my strength,
O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.
R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
My God, my rock of refuge,
my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!
Praised be the LORD, I exclaim,
and I am safe from my enemies.
R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
The breakers of death surged round about me,
the destroying floods overwhelmed me;
The cords of the nether world enmeshed me,
the snares of death overtook me.
R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
In my distress I called upon the LORD
and cried out to my God;
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears. 
R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.

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In the age of social media, many of us live and die by the number of retweets, likes, comments, replies, double taps, screenshots we receive.  We see our accounts as a means to share our thoughts with the world – seeking solidarity with some and healthy debate with others.  Does your worth – in some way – influenced by our “social media society?”  Or when is that last time you sent a text message and didn’t receive a response?  Have you ever intentionally ignored a text?  Or have you experienced irrational fear when you didn’t receive an immediate response?  Too, we live in a world where most all material items can be purchased on the internet - within 3 clicks, we have ordered, purchased, and received a confirmation for all the items. 

If I’m honest, I struggle with my “social media” mindset.  I believe one of my spiritual gifts is empowering people.  One of the ways I strive to empower is through continual reminders and positive reinforcement.  When I offer encouragement to others, I expect an instantaneous reply.  If I don’t receive a reply then my mind immediately wonders how the other person took my remarks.  In addition, I have become reliant on the internet to do a majority of my shopping.  Its just so easy when you can order things on your phone and two days later, it arrives.  So too, is the fast pace of our lives.  With so many demands on our time and resources, we rely heavily on the ease of things; rather, than remembering that struggle brings strength.

When reading the responsorial psalm, I thought of it as God’s “confirmation e-mail to his people -” or the tag line of a twitter bio.  Imagine if there was social media in the biblical days… think about the potential hashtags.  Scripture is full of people who sought direction and guidance from God, challenged to fully accept and grasp the urgings of the Father.  Even those who served alongside Jesus – having the benefit of his explanations - were distressed and struggled with their true calling.  So too is it with us in the 21st century.

As we prepare for Holy Week, may we be empowered to search the scriptures for our worth and value.  There are no hashtags, like buttons, or screen captures – just unfiltered truth and sacrificial love of a Father for his children.  May you rise everyday with the confirmation that God has indeed heard your voice in times of distress when you have called upon Him. 

— Wilson Phillips 
Office of Student Life

Thursday, April 11

Genesis 17:3-9

When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him:
"My covenant with you is this:
you are to become the father of a host of nations.
No longer shall you be called Abram;
your name shall be Abraham,
for I am making you the father of a host of nations.
I will render you exceedingly fertile;
I will make nations of you;
kings shall stem from you.
I will maintain my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
throughout the ages as an everlasting pact,
to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
I will give to you
and to your descendants after you
the land in which you are now staying,
the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession;
and I will be their God."

God also said to Abraham:
"On your part, you and your descendants after you
must keep my covenant throughout the ages."

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How awesome is it that when we’re walking along, living life, and going through the motions, God chooses to step into our world and create a relationship with us. He does it countless times with Abram, Isaac, Jacob, and through Jesus he does the same. When we first meet Abram, in the beginning of Genesis, he’s 75 years old. God promises him that he’ll be the father of many nations and that he will see great blessings come from his lineage. But it’s over 2 decades later and Abram still hasn’t seen the fulfillment of this promise. But God appears to him once more, and with the utmost reverence, Abram falls on his face. He recognizes the mercy that he has been shown just to be in God’s presence— to hear His voice.

So often I accuse God of not working quickly enough on my behalf. I want things when I want them. I think that I know what’s best for myself. Abram’s life is a reminder that God knows what He’s doing.  He brings fruit out of dry and barren places. So when I’m off doing my own thing and thinking that maybe He’s forgotten about me, God, in his infinite grace, continues to come back and meet me where I am.  Abram serves as a perfect reminder with his transition from Abram to Abraham that once we meet with God we can never be the same. If we open our hearts to Him, he will make himself known to us.

A covenant is God’s promise to us, and his promises certainly didn’t stop with Abraham. Through Jesus, He chose to once again enter into human life. God, in His love and mercy, sends His son Jesus to become the ultimate sacrifice that we may truly become blameless in his sight. As the season of Lent continues, and as we reflect on the suffering of Christ for our sake, may we remember also that God is speaking. He is near, and He keeps his promises.

— Chase Encalade 
English for Corporate Communications, 2019

Wednesday, April 10

Deuteronomy 3:14-20,91-92,95

King Nebuchadnezzar said:
"Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
that you will not serve my god,
or worship the golden statue that I set up?
Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,
whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,
and all the other musical instruments;
otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;
and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,
"There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you
in this matter.
If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up."

King Nebuchadnezzar's face became livid with utter rage
against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual
and had some of the strongest men in his army
bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
and cast them into the white-hot furnace.

Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles,
"Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?"
"Assuredly, O king," they answered.
"But," he replied, "I see four men unfettered and unhurt,
walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God."
Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed,
"Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;
they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies
rather than serve or worship any god
except their own God."

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I have always been fascinated by this specific scripture from today’s first reading. I mean think about the sight of seeing 4 people walking AROUND IN A FIRE that you put there. Then think about the fact that you tied up those people when you put them in the fire. Then think about…. Wait did I say 4 people? I put in 3!!! Who’s the fourth?!?!

This is such an astonishing scripture and one where I think no matter who you were in this scripture story, it would have been an amazing experience, a miracle.

So often we ask for miracles in our lives. We want God to jump in and fix everything that is going wrong in my world, with others, and with the world in general. Then I think about my needs in context of this passage from Deuteronomy. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were so fervent in their faith to God. They knew that no matter if they got saved or not, that God was the only god they worshiped.  It reminds me to check myself in my relationship with God. There are times that I want something and have certain expectations. In this passage, they were open to the punishment that was set before them even though they knew it would lead to imminent death.

I pray that I might grow in my understanding and relationship with God to have the same faith of the three individuals sent into the furnace. May I be reminded that God is with us in every situation, even if we can’t see God’s presence as clearly as chronicled in the book of Deuteronomy.

— Joseph Preston
Director, Campus Ministry 

Tuesday, April 9

Numbers 21:4-9

From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road,
to bypass the land of Edom.
But with their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
"Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!"

In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
"We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents away from us."
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
"Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live."
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent 
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. 

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After reading this I think of all of the things that many of us take for granted. In the scripture, God frees Israel from Egypt and slavery and in return, Israel complains about the long journey and lack of food. God punishes Israel for being so ungrateful of their new gift of freedom. It’s like not knowing what you have until you don’t have it anymore. We never appreciate the little things that God gives us in our daily lives. We always want more and more of what we think will bring us joy. I think that so many of us forget to stop and take a moment to acknowledge all the gifts that God has given us. I think the lesson to take form this is to take a moment to acknowledge all of the gifts that God has already given us and thank him. I challenge you to take a moment out of your busy life today and look around at all things you would miss if they weren’t there tomorrow.

— Sonia Jaramillo
Business Administration, 2021

Monday, April 8

Psalm 23

R.  Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
He guides me in right paths
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.

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With today’s Psalm, we are challenged to take part in the anthem, “Even though I walk through the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.”  It’s a popular phrase from the Bible, but how often do we really mean it?  Trust is difficult.  It takes time and effort to build trust in any friendship.  Aside from the Eucharist, we cannot see, hear, or touch God.  So, imagine how hard must it be to strike up a conversation and develop the personal trust that we are supposed to have with Him? 

Oftentimes, our lives will seem so crazy that we have trouble seeing how God is even working in our lives, and this tempts us to doubt Him.  We’ve all experienced those dark times when school, work, and our personal lives just seem to be crumbling around us.  I for one know that praying and trusting God blindly is not usually the first thing on my mind when I’m going through one of those difficult times.  I reached a turning point in my faith when I realized that God isn’t just sitting up in the heavens watching us.  He is here right now sitting beside you, walking with you throughout your day, cheering you on in your successes and holding you tight in your shortcomings.

It is still hard to turn to Him when you’re caught up in the moment of everything that’s happening around you, but I promise that it is easier to turn to a friend and trust that even if things don’t turn out quite the way you want, He will always be there for you.  This psalm is a testament of our trust and faith in our truest friend: “Even though I walk through the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side; with your rod and your staff that give me courage.”

— Rosie Wiethop
Electrical Engineering, 2021

Sunday, April 7

John 8:1-11

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, 
and all the people started coming to him, 
and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman 
who had been caught in adultery 
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
“Teacher, this woman was caught 
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin 
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

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In this reading, we see Jesus put in a very awkward position. The scribes and Pharisees tell him what the law of Moses says about adultery and then ask him what they should do. Their goal here is to discredit him; wherein if he says they should stone her he would be a hypocrite, but if he says to release her, he is going against the established law. At first, he does not even acknowledge their presence. Instead "Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger". They must keep asking him before he decided to answer their question. I imagine in some ways it is like when a child keeps asking "why?" and you ran out of answers three whys ago. Jesus breaks his silence by basically telling them to do the impossible.

His response to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” was something that none of the Pharisees could respond to. They know that there is no one without sin. and that they were wrong for casting judgment upon the woman because of her sin. Today, there is a lot of information spread across various platforms and people sharing their lives on social media. It can be very easy to get swept up in our own ideals that we quickly pass judgment when we see something we disagree with. Someone we've never met could post something we don't like on Facebook and the next thing we know is we have drawn a caricature that is far from who they really are. No matter what some has done; committed adultery, theft, or lied about why they missed class, we must remember that we all carry sins. Following the example of Jesus in this reading, we are to show love and mercy to every. As we continue to move through the Lenten season, let us not forget that we are all Gods' children and to love one another.

— Shane Talley 
Class of 2018

Saturday, April 6

Jeremiah 11:18-20

I knew their plot because the LORD informed me;
at that time you, O LORD, showed me their doings.

Yet I, like a trusting lamb led to slaughter,
had not realized that they were hatching plots against me:
"Let us destroy the tree in its vigor;
let us cut him off from the land of the living,
so that his name will be spoken no more."

But, you, O LORD of hosts, O just Judge,
searcher of mind and heart,
Let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause!

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I feel the lesson that Jeremiah 11:18-20 teaches us is still relevant today. In a world where social media and relationships are a major part of our everyday lives, we can sometimes mistake people for friends who are truly against us. In my own life I have allowed people into my life that truly was not looking out for my best interest. One such experience was during my 9th grade year of high school.

I didn’t really have a group of people I could call my “friends”, and I had a desire to be considered “cool” I knew the “cool” kids in my classes hung out in the halls during class time, and usually never got into trouble; so, I decided to skip one of my classes, seeing me ,they accepted me and treated me as one of them. I was so happy, I had finally found myself a group of friends. At first, I would just skip a class here and there, but eventually I found myself skipping at least one class each day. Because of skipping class, my grades began to fall, so I decided to stop.

Since I stopped skipping class, they decided to no longer be my friends, calling me lame. I was hurt, I had lost my friends since I chose my grades over them. I had foolishly thought they were my friends, unknowingly they never really cared for me. Eventually they got ISS for constantly skipping their classes, and I ended up meeting a group of people that I can truly call my friends. Jeremiah 11:18-20 allows for us to look back on our lives and remember when we may have compromised ourselves for the sake of acceptance. I hope that you all have a wonderful day and I wish you all a happy Lenten.

— Donal Newsome 
Physics and Mathematics, 2020

Friday, April 5

Psalm 34:17-18,19-20,21 and 23

R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.
R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
He watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.
The LORD redeems the lives of his servants;
no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.
R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.

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Today’s psalm called my attention because I usually see the psalms as chants to glorify God. However, this one is more like Him speaking to us. He tells us not to worry about the struggle that we have in our daily lives, not to worry about what is going to happen here on Earth. He tells us that He is always going to be there taking care of all of us, that none of His faithful people will be condemned.

This psalm also makes a reference to when Jesus died on the cross: “He watches over all his bones; not one of them shall be broken”. That expression refers to the moment that the Roman soldiers went close to Jesus to break His legs so that He would die quicker, but they noticed He was already dead. Although Jesus suffer a lot none of his bones were broken.

The Lord will love every one of His children. He will confront the evildoers by telling them they should not focus so much on their earthly lives: they should look up to the Lord. Thus, He will take away their distress and bring comfort to them.

He will save the ones who suffer in the world. All the troubles of the man who is honest, humble and hard worker shall be gone as the Lord delivers him out of them.

The Lord God knows us in the deepest and finest ways. God watches over the basis of our lives, our minds, our souls, our bones: He will not let them be broken. He wants you close to Him. He will bring life to those who refuge in Him. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.

— Luiz Paulo Parolini Dutra
Mechanical Engineering, 2020

Thursday, April 4

Psalm 106:19-20,21-22

R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people. 
Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Then he spoke of exterminating them,
but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach
to turn back his destructive wrath.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

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The Responsorial Psalm today encourages us to seek repentance in the mist of our sins. The refrain specifically reminds us that we have a merciful God; we must only call on Him to “remember us,” or rather, forgive us for the times we have fallen short. In the verses of the Psalm, we can recall the Israelite’s sins and rebellious actions. There was the time they “made a calf in Horeb,” “adored a molten image,” and “forgot the God who had saved them.” As humans who are flawed, we can all relate to the Israelites. There are times we have made other things a priority over our faith life, idolized worldly things, and forgotten all the God has done for us. However, it is important for us to remember all the good He has done for us. All of our blessings, lessons learned, and triumphs come from above.

As a second semester senior, I sometimes find myself concerned with my anxieties about the future, overloaded with shifts at my job, swamped with school work, and stressed balancing friends, family, organizations, and a faith life. This lenten season, I have attempted to take a step back, a breath of air, to remember that God is ever present. Although, it can be challenging to recognize where God is in times of difficulty, I need to recall that He has gotten me this far, and He will continue to get me to graduation and beyond. Sometimes, it seems quicker to turn to a “golden calf,” a worldly pleasure, especially if we forget the God who has saved us. Through my reflection on this psalm, I am reminded and challenged once again to pause, remember, and seek repentance this Lenten season. 

— Megan Wilson
Natural Science, 2019

Wednesday, April 3

Isaiah 49:8-15

Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land
and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the ways they shall find pasture,
on every bare height shall their pastures be.
They shall not hunger or thirst,
nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them;
For he who pities them leads them
and guides them beside springs of water.
I will cut a road through all my mountains,
and make my highways level.
See, some shall come from afar,
others from the north and the west,
and some from the land of Syene.
Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth,
break forth into song, you mountains.
For the LORD comforts his people
and shows mercy to his afflicted.

But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me."
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

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The possibility of restoration, freeing us from “the desolate heritages” in today’s reading, seems like a timely message in Isaiah 49: 8-15. As Memphians, Americans, and citizens of our world, we struggle with the weight of our complex and multivalent histories. Much suffering exists in this passage, including imprisonment, hunger, thirst, and darkness. However, we are promised freedom, pastures, water and light as a result of the covenant, if we can uphold our end of the agreement. To fulfill this, I am mindful that the LORD calls together a community, formed of people “from afar,” to come together, traveling the highways made “level:” a comforting vision in a nation often bitterly divided yet favored with such grace and opportunity.

Amidst this challenge, the world—heavens, earth, mountains—are commanded to “sing out” to celebrate how “his people” are comforted and shown mercy: something I try (and often fail) to do too. Grateful for recently moving to a new home, I can get caught up in the fears and anxieties of daily life; as I sinner I too often join those in Zion who say "The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.”

Isaiah’s comparison of God’s care to that of a mother for her infant comforts yet calls us to minister to our own lives similarly. I try to carry in my heart the call to restore and sustain my community through trusting in others while being led and guided to rest “beside springs of water,” wherever that may be.

— Timothy M. Doyle
Associate Vice President, Student Life

Tuesday, April 2

John 5:1-16

There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate
a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.
In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there
and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him,
"Do you want to be well?"
The sick man answered him,
"Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool
when the water is stirred up;
while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me."
Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your mat, and walk."
Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.

Now that day was a sabbath.
So the Jews said to the man who was cured,
"It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat." 
He answered them, "The man who made me well told me,
'Take up your mat and walk.'"
They asked him,
"Who is the man who told you, 'Take it up and walk'?"
The man who was healed did not know who it was,
for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there.
After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him,
"Look, you are well; do not sin any more,
so that nothing worse may happen to you."
The man went and told the Jews
that Jesus was the one who had made him well.
Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus
because he did this on a sabbath.

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In today’s gospel, Jesus cures an ill man. This man has been ill for thirty-eight years and never lost the faith that one day he might get into the pool before everyone else and be cured. Jesus knew that he has been ill for a long time and had pity on him. As in any other episode of healing, Jesus loved the ill man, wanted him to be cured and, by the man’s faith, a faith that lasted thirty-eight years, Jesus cured him. With this gospel and remembering we are in Lent, we are invited to walk with this ill man.

Today, we are invited to grow in faith, to trust more in the Lord and let Him guide the way. The ill man did not complain about his situation, he was not frustrated at not being able to get into the pool. When Jesus asked him if he wanted to be well, he simply explained to Jesus why he could not get into the pool even though he really wanted to, never losing his faith. This should also be our approach to difficult situations. Even though we are doing everything we can and don’t see any progress, we should not lose hope. Our hope, our faith, has to be in Jesus and He will never let us down. The ill man had faith in Jesus and was cured, even after thirty-eight years.

Let us ask to be cured too. Cured from our vices, bad habits, laziness, angriness, anxiety, selfishness, and everything else that prevents us from getting to close to God and loving other people. It requires patience, faith, and prayer. Today, let us do everything we can to be cured, to be free from any diseases, just as the ill man from the gospel, and become free sons and daughters of God.

— Amanda Dutra
Civil Engineering, 2022

Monday, April 1

Isaiah 65:17-21

Thus says the LORD:
Lo, I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness
in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy
and its people to be a delight;
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and exult in my people.
No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there,
or the sound of crying;
No longer shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not round out his full lifetime;
He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years,
and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed.
They shall live in the houses they build,
and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant.

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The season of Lent begins with crosses of ash traced on our foreheads, apt reminders of our need to truly repent and come back to Christ. To me, this practice is deeply meaningful. It seems to clear away the fog and motivates me to seek out where I stand in the mazelike complexities of daily life. Once I am found, the ashes tell me where I need to place myself: in the crucified hands of Christ. Moments in which I seem to know this so clearly are poignant. I always try to cling to them like a rope, reminding me to allow myself to change during Lent, to grow at least a little bit closer to God than I was before.

Despite this moment of clarity, with the middle of Lent often comes a sense of confusion. “Where is this change in myself?” I think. “At the end of all this fasting, penance, and sacrifice, what am I expecting?” The thought remains even during those stretches when I suspect I happen to be doing well with myself. However, a slight error slips out here. Lent is not about me doing well with myself but allowing God to do well with me.

In Isaiah 65:18-19, God tells us, “For I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight; I will rejoice in Jerusalem and exult in my people.” I do not create myself; God does. In fact, I am created not just to die and be forgotten among the “things of the past” (v. 17), but to live and participate in God’s renewal of everything. Isaiah speaks of God creating a new heaven and a new earth, in which all will be blessed with a full life, a home, and a fruitful vineyard. Christians recognize the beginning of this joyful new creation in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lent reawakens us to the reality that out of the old ashes comes new life, encouraging us to step out of our old ways in the direction of a truly holy, happy life. Joy, I believe, is what waits for me at the end of this path.

— Caleb Parrish 
Biochemistry, 2021

Sunday, March 31

Luke 15:1-3,11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
 
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”

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Today’s reading includes the parable of the Prodigal Son.  I remember the first time I heard this parable in elementary school—that the hungry prodigal son, who had moved to a distant land, longed to eat from the food of the swine that he tended, stood out to me in childhood (perhaps some sort of implicit connection as a Memphian between swine and barbecue).

The parable stresses reconciliation—if a profligate can return to his father for forgiveness, then forgiveness is attainable for anyone.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation, which Catholics are encouraged to seek regularly, but especially during Lent, can seem daunting.

 As a psychologist, I think of many avoidance strategies that we employ, as many Catholics have not “gone to confession” in years.  We rationalize that we can seek reconciliation on our own, that a sacrament is not necessary for reconciliation, or that we will create our own penance, our own atonement.  Are these avoidance strategies to escape the discomfort of reconciliation?

Reconciliation can be awkward—surely the Prodigal Son felt awkward as he walked to his father in humility.  I imagine his face looked like the awkward emoji (the one with clinched teeth).  True reconciliation involves discomfort (a concept that seems foreign in today’s society—recalling the psychological driving force of the pleasure principle “Seek pleasure, avoid pain”).

For Catholics, I encourage you to attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this Lenten season.  In my experience, the more awkward and discomforted you feel before confession, the more meaningful the experience is in hindsight.  For non-Catholics (and for Catholics), we can experience discomfort in a different way—perhaps through talking to estranged friends or family members. 

And reward yourself afterwards.  I don’t encourage slaughtering a fattened calf (brisket is blasphemy in Memphis)—but, in my psychological opinion, you might find a little Central BBQ positively reinforcing.

— Colby Taylor 
Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences 

Saturday, March 30

Luke 18:9-14

Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
"Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity — 
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week,
and I pay tithes on my whole income.'
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

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In this reading there are two characters, a Pharisee and a tax collector. They were entering the temple to pray. The temple was the ultimate place to worship God and be able to speak to God. It was the holiest of places. In this time the Pharisees were highly regarded. In contrast, the tax collector was poorly thought of as his job was to collect taxes for the Roman Empire, that had conquered the Jews. The tax collector was truly considered the lowest of citizens. We recognize that you have a perceived good guy and a bad guy entering the temple to pray.

As you read Luke, you envision the Pharisee proudly bowing his chest as he prays, “God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity — greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.” And he continues to pray, but only sharing all the good things he is doing such as fasting twice a week and giving more than his expected gift to the church. The Pharisee believes he is extraordinary. In contrast, the tax collector ashamed, stands back in the temple, lowers his head, beats his chest, and simply prays “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'”

Jesus then says, “I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Jesus says, the prideful like the Pharisee will be humbled. The tax collector understood he should be judged by God, and he was asking for God’s mercy. The tax collector humbled himself, so he will be joyful. I believe Jesus was trying to tell us it’s not about who is perceived as good or bad, it’s what each of us hold in our heart.

This Gospel challenged me to think about how I pray. After personal reflection, I realized I frequently ask for God’s help and support. But when have I said to God as the tax collector, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.' Do I ask with great reverence for God’s forgiveness? I also thought about how I give of my resources. Do I give freely, privately and humbly to others, or do I enjoy being recognized, thanked and acknowledged? I am going to challenge myself this Lenten season to ask for God’s mercy with reverence and humility daily and I will do more acts of kindness anonymously. When I volunteer with those less fortunate than me, do I judge myself above others? If I pass a person begging for money at a stop sign, do I self judge them, do I believe I’m better than them, do I believe their sins are less than mine? Jesus tells us, “for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted." This Lenten season who will we be, the Pharisee or the tax collector?

St. John Baptist DeLasalle. Pray for us.

Live Jesus in our Hearts. Forever.

— Mark Billingsley
Vice President, Advancement 

Friday, March 29

Hosea 14:2-10

Thus says the LORD:
Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God;
you have collapsed through your guilt.
Take with you words,
and return to the LORD;
Say to him, "Forgive all iniquity,
and receive what is good, that we may render
as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.
Assyria will not save us,
nor shall we have horses to mount;
We shall say no more, 'Our god,'
to the work of our hands;
for in you the orphan finds compassion."

I will heal their defection, says the LORD,
I will love them freely;
for my wrath is turned away from them.
I will be like the dew for Israel:
he shall blossom like the lily;
He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth his shoots.
His splendor shall be like the olive tree
and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
Again they shall dwell in his shade
and raise grain;
They shall blossom like the vine,
and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Ephraim! What more has he to do with idols?
I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.
"I am like a verdant cypress tree"– 
Because of me you bear fruit!

Let him who is wise understand these things;
let him who is prudent know them.
Straight are the paths of the LORD,
in them the just walk,
but sinners stumble in them.

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In the first reading for today, we hear the prophetic voice reminding us to turn from iniquity, renounce idolatry, and return to God. The basic premise of the passage is what scholars of religion call “ethical monotheism”: the belief that God is one, and love of the one God both requires and is expressed as love of neighbor, as Jesus explains in naming the two great commandments in the second reading from Mark. Reading these passages prayerfully, we too ask God to forgive iniquity, and offer up instead “what is good” as our sacrifice. We too are reminded of the two great commandments, love of God and love of neighbor. And we too are reminded of the way God’s shalom, communal peace and flourishing, is conveyed through the beauty of the natural world.

What is particularly charming in this passage from Hosea is the reluctant acknowledgement of Israel: “Assyria will not save us, nor shall we have horses to mount.” In other words, in returning to God, don’t think someone else is going to do the hard work for you. There is no easy escape by horseback. The chickens of idolatry have come home to roost, so to speak; whatever you are facing, the only way out is through. And in Hosea’s imagined dialogue that follows, the people renounce their attempt to make God in their own image: “We shall say no more, 'Our god,' to the work of our hands.” Why? God’s love is much, much bigger than any idol made by human hands or minds, because God loves the lost and forgotten: “for in you the orphan finds compassion.”  

God’s extravagant, merciful love speaks through Hosea’s words: “I will heal their defection, I will love them freely.” Here God’s love includes not just the orphan but the repentant idolaters, the ones who turned away and put their hope in Assyria, in horses, in the gods made with their own hands. God forgives their misguided and misplaced efforts, their confusion and iniquity, their neglect of the orphan in their midst, and offers healing and love given freely like the dew. And then what happens? My favorite part: a series of ecological images taken from the natural and agricultural worlds. Israel forgiven and loved will blossom like the lily, and put down roots and shoots. Israel will be as beautiful as the olive tree, and will smell nice, too. The people will live in the shade and grow food for themselves, grain and grapes with which to make good wine and bread. God is the dew and the shade, extravagant, merciful, freely given love, and the people are reconciled with the natural world and fed by God’s grace. They return to God and blossom like the flowers and the vine, grow roots and shoots like the trees. Maybe it’s enough to give you hope in this season. 

— Dr. Emily Holmes
Associate Professor of Religion 

Thursday, March 28

Jeremiah 7:23-28

Thus says the LORD: 
This is what I commanded my people:
Listen to my voice;
then I will be your God and you shall be my people.
Walk in all the ways that I command you,
so that you may prosper.

But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed.
They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts
and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.
From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day,
I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets.
Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed;
they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.
When you speak all these words to them,
they will not listen to you either;
when you call to them, they will not answer you.
Say to them:
This is the nation that does not listen
to the voice of the LORD, its God,
or take correction.
Faithfulness has disappeared;
the word itself is banished from their speech.

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Obedience. A simple word, but one that the Israelites had struggled with since their initial meeting with God. Repeatedly God had asked for them to follow Him, to give Him their hearts, and to OBEY Him, and repeatedly they had failed Him. As most of us know, the Israelites aren’t alone in this. It’s the human condition. The entire Bible is the story of us humans running from God and his patient pursuit of us. Our diligent obedience to God is a right response to all that He has done for us, so what causes us to run away in the first place? Why do we stiffen our necks and not listen? Of course, there are different answers for different people. Whether it be pride or guilt, shame, mistrust or whatever the reason for our hiding, disobedience, and avoidance of God, it breaks His heart.

But luckily for us, we know how the story eventually ends — that God’s mercy overcomes our wandering, our weakness, and our disobedience. Time and time again we walk away, turning our backs to God, yet he patiently and graciously allows us to return to him. He loved us enough to establish an eternal covenant with us. But this gift that we receive is not free. In fact, it was the costliest gift ever given. Blood had to be shed, and only perfect blood would do. During this Lenten season, let us reflect on and recall Jesus’ sacrifice that bridges the gap between us and the Father. May we be obedient, pursuing Godliness, rather than our own hearts desires. 

— Chase Encalade 
English for Corporate Communications, 2019

Wednesday, March 27

Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven."

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In my life, I am often challenged in my faith. So often I want to use the excuse, “the rules of the Church were written so long ago, times are different now,” but this gospel reminds me that even though Jesus has come and died for us, the law has not changed. When I read this, it seemed like when Jesus said, “I have come to fulfil [the law]”. He was telling me that He came to show that following the laws of God are possible and must be done to enter the Kingdom of Heaven with Him.

            I struggle with this a lot, both in my personal life, and with how I treat my relationships with others. I’ll think to myself, “Well this thing didn’t exist in the time of the prophets, so it can’t be part of the law.” But deep in my heart I still know that it may be wrong. It isn’t easy to live in today’s society as a practicing Catholic. We are often under the scrutiny of others and our numbers are falling because we have not upheld the law that God told us to follow. I see this gospel as a call-to-action for my fellow Christians. We need to start living holy lives following God’s law in every way, not just the laws we determine. Like Jesus said, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” The law of God hasn’t changed, and it won’t change until He comes again in glory. We must be ready for Him by following this law and helping lead others to Him through our words and actions.

— Eric Johnson
Applied Psychology, 2019

Tuesday, March 26

Matthew 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."

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Jesus’s reply is something completely unexpected by his disciple Peter. To say the least, it is more than a difficult situation for him. Jesus talks of a servant who has to repay his master of a debt he owed in order for him, his wife, and his children to be kept out of being sold into slavery. The servant asks the master to be patient with him and that he will repay him. The master taking pity on him, cancels all of his debt and lets him go. Later on, the servant encounters a fellow servant who owes him a debt and forcefully demands him to pay it back. The fellow servant asks him to be patient with him and that he would pay him back. Refusing his offer, the servant has his fellow servant thrown into prison. The master heard of the outrage and calls upon the servant to hold him accountable for being unmerciful and impatient to his fellow servant unlike how he, the master, was forgiving and patient to him.

Without knowing it, we can encounter this very situation in our everyday lives. As I reflect on today’s Gospel, I recognize that throughout this Lenten journey God’s Will for us is to remain patient not only with others but with Him. It also reminds us of how forgiving the Lord is in our lives; therefore, we are called to forgive one another and show compassion towards our brothers and sisters in Christ. Something important to remember is that if we do not establish these acts of kindness within ourselves, there is no way to spread them onto others. The secret is to remember how patient and forgiving God is with us, so that we can unconditionally love others through being patient and forgiving.

— Anna Graziosi
Special Education Major, 2020

Monday, March 25

Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin's name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
"Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
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."
But Mary said to the angel,
"How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?"
And the angel said to her in reply,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word."
Then the angel departed from her.

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It was a surprising encounter (Luke 1:26-38). Scripture tells us that the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. I picture Mary as sewing quietly and dropping her sewing when the angel startles her.

I believe Gabriel may have knelt. The angel tells Mary not to fear. He then says she has found favor with God. Gabriel explains that she will conceive in her womb and bear a son and will name him Jesus. This son will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. He will be given the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and there will be no end to his kingdom (vv. 30-33).

What a bunch of statements to unpack!

I picture Mary as stunned. Perhaps while she processes what the angel has just said, she paces the small room. Gabriel rises but remains silent, letting her think. She turns and addresses the angel with a technical question. She wonders how what the angel says can happen “since I am a virgin” (v. 34).

Gabriel explains that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and the power of the Most High will overshadow her. “Therefore, the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God” (v.35).

Gabriel next updates Mary on God’s exciting, miracle-working power. Her elderly relative Elizabeth has conceived a son and will no longer be called barren!

Gabriel then sums up this whole encounter of good news to Mary and about Elizabeth with this statement: “For nothing will be impossible with God” (v. 37).

Gabriel smiles as he courteously awaits her answer. I believe Mary raises her hands in praise, lifts her lovely face, and shouts, “Here am I!” (v. 38). It is a classic reply. It copies the same responses of three giants in Israel’s heritage: Abraham (Genesis 22:1), young Samuel (1 Samuel 3:4-8), and the psalmist David in a reading for today (Psalm 40:7).

“Here am I” displays alacrity, obedience, and willingness. It connotes both great trust in God and great personal courage. The phrase provides a model for today. We likewise can respond to an invitation from God to serve in some part of his plan. Go back and read the scripture accounts of Mary, Abraham, Samuel, and David. The Bible records many adventures—and plenty of opportunities to trust!

“Here am I” is an exciting beginning.

— Dr. Robin Gallaher Branch 
Adjunct Faculty, Depatment of Religion and Philosophy 

Sunday, March 24

Exodus 3:1-8A,13-15

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro,
the priest of Midian.
Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,
the mountain of God.
There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire
flaming out of a bush.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush,
though on fire, was not consumed.
So Moses decided,
“I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,
and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely,
God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
He answered, “Here I am.”
God said, “Come no nearer!
Remove the sandals from your feet,
for the place where you stand is holy ground.
I am the God of your fathers, “ he continued,
“the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”
Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
But the LORD said,
“I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt
and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers,
so I know well what they are suffering.
Therefore I have come down to rescue them
from the hands of the Egyptians
and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land,
a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites
and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’
if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”
God replied, “I am who am.”
Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites:
I AM sent me to you.”

God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites:
The LORD, the God of your fathers,
 the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you.
“This is my name forever;
thus am I to be remembered through all generations.”

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Whenever I read this scripture I am immediately reminded of a professor I had in my master’s program. He taught many classes about dialogue and ministry and the importance of respecting the other. He would often use the illustration of taking your shoes off before entering into someone else’s garden. He said, “You don’t know what is sacred or holy to that person, what might look like a weed could be a prized plant to that person.” He of course was talking metaphorically about talking with someone in regards to personal conversations.

When someone is sharing something with you, you have to tread lightly and respectfully. You don’t know what is important to that person until you fully hear what they have to say. We take off our “shoes” in order to show we understand what you have to say is sacred to you. And what you have to say is beautiful because it is a part of who you are, and who you are is beautiful.

Before God delivered his message to Moses, He told him to take off his sandals. He was entering Holy Ground, a Holy conversation. God goes on to unfold A LOT to Moses. I can only imagine what it felt like to hear a voice in a burning bush. Just completely in awe and wonder.

In reading today’s first reading I am reminded and challenged again to enter into conversation with respect and wonder for who that person is and who God made them to be. I am reminded to take my “shoes” off because I need to respect them and be aware that what they have to share is precious to them. May this Sunday be filled with AWE and WONDER and let us be attentive to the ways God is speaking to us today.

— Joseph Preston
Director, Campus Ministry 

Saturday, March 23

Psalm 103:1-2,3-4,9-10,11-12

R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

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How easy it is to wake up every day, to proceed throughout our morning routines and day-long work responsibilities, without truly stopping to consider all the blessings given to us by God.  From the sunshine that warms us in our cars as we drive into work each morning  – to the crisp breeze that quickens our step as we walk back to our cars at the end of our day in the evening – the kindness of the Lord is in abundance.

Rarely do we pause to think about how amazing it is that all of our iniquities are forgiven.  “Our crimes,” as referenced in this particular Psalm, does not just refer to those “typical” sins that we usually consider as wrongs in which we are pardoned. No, I don’t believe this passage refers to sins that are punishable by law.  These sins, these iniquities, are those small discretions that every one of us commit each day: passing judgment on our neighbor, gossiping at the copy machine, lacking contentment for all that we have.  These are the crimes that can lead to destruction.  However, the Lord’s compassion and mercy withstands these daily transgressions.  Thus, this particular Psalm is a beautiful reminder for us all to extend the kindness that the Lord extends to us, each and every day, to those around us. 

— Amy Ware
Director, Career Services 

Friday, March 22

Psalm 105:16-17,18-19,20-21

R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
When the LORD called down a famine on the land
and ruined the crop that sustained them,
He sent a man before them,
Joseph, sold as a slave.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
They had weighed him down with fetters,
and he was bound with chains,
Till his prediction came to pass
and the word of the LORD proved him true.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.
The king sent and released him,
the ruler of the peoples set him free.
He made him lord of his house
and ruler of all his possessions.
R. Remember the marvels the Lord has done.

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The lyrics for the national anthem of the United States of America come from the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” by Francis Scott Key. It’s a poem about the hope of seeing the flag during the darkest part of the night. I thought of our national anthem as I read and reflected on the reading from the Psalms for today’s reading. Psalm 105:16-21 is a poetic retelling of the story of how Joseph was sold in to slavery but was able, with the help of the Lord, to rise to a position of power in Egypt.

Why do we retell stories? Why do we read poems and sing songs of events long past? I think one answer to these questions is that by retelling these stories we can be comforted when we face challenges in our own lives. These stories give us hope because the God of Joseph is our same God today.

During this season of Lent what concerns do you have? What trials have you undergone or are currently enduring? Take some time and read today’s Psalm slowly. Pause. Reflect on how the story of Joseph may give you hope or encourage you in some way. As we remember that we are always in the holy presence of God, let’s also remember the marvels the Lord has done. 

— James W. McGuffee
Professor and Dean, School of Sciences 

Thursday, March 21

Jeremiah 17:5-10

Thus says the LORD:
Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
But stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its roots to the stream:
It fears not the heat when it comes,
its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit.
More tortuous than all else is the human heart,
beyond remedy; who can understand it?
I, the LORD, alone probe the mind
and test the heart,
To reward everyone according to his ways,
according to the merit of his deeds.

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As Christians and children of God, we are called to love, know, and worship Him. God made us to love him unconditionally and to know him profoundly just like he knows us. He made this land for us to enjoy it and finish his work here on earth. God wants you to trust in him and for you to give up all your worries and doubts in his hands. God wants to be your father, your best friend, and your brother. He wants you to lean your head on his shoulders and depend on him. In Jeremiah 17:5-10 tells us, “God is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream”. God is your shade when the days get tiring and hot. When you cannot bare the days anymore and the only thing you want to do is rest and feel a nice and calm breeze. God is your shade where you can go to find refuge and where you can find peace and love. God’s love runs so deep through your heart just like the roots of the tree run through the stream. Whenever you feel that void in your heart, that is God telling you to go straight to his arms. That is your human nature telling you that you need God in your heart. The number one thing that will make you truly happy is getting to know God and all the sacrifices he has made for you. Jeremiah 17:5-10, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord”. 

— Emmeline Rameriez
English Education Major and Spanish Minor, 2021

Wednesday, March 20

Matthew 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day."

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, "What do you wish?"
She answered him,
"Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom."
Jesus said in reply,
"You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?"
They said to him, "We can."
He replied,
"My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many."

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In today’s selection, we recall the story of a mother who approaches Jesus on behalf of her sons – requesting preferential treatment and assurances beyond her own understanding.  In his teaching, Jesus challenges his followers –“Can you drink of the chalice that I am going to drink?”  While the two sons boldly pledge their fidelity, others became indignant and full of resentment.  Then, as only Jesus can, he humbles and reminds his followers of their purpose. 

Born with cerebral palsy, one of the hardest parts growing up was finding acceptance amongst my peers – and myself.  I struggled to find my place amongst the “normal” kids – or at least those whose challenges were not visible to the world.  I faced feelings of doubt, despair, anger, resentment, and loneliness.  Some of which still linger today.  During that period of my life, I identified with the mother in this story – always making “deals” with God and trying to make unreasonable requests of Him.  If I am healed, I promise to do this; or if you help me find myself, I will remain loyal.  Throughout my life, I have also seen myself as the two sons – feeling as though I deserve the favor of God because of my “good deeds in service to others.”  Yet, God always reminds me that my view is such a small glimpse of the grand design.

As a community, how often do we find ourselves making unreasonable demands of others without a complete understanding of external factors?  How often do we offer ourselves in loyalty to others; however, when times get tough we dessert one another in fear?  How often do the uncertainties of our present and future overwhelm our perceptions of others and ourselves?

During this Lent, may we embody the encouragements Christ, “whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.”  It was this sacrificial service, which inspired De LaSalle to step out in faith and begin his ministry.  May we also be inspired to truly serve our neighbor in sacrificial love throughout these forty days and beyond.

— Wilson Phillips
Student Life

Tuesday, March 19

Matthew 1:16,18-21,24A

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

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Today in the Catholic Church we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Joseph, and being named Joseph, it holds special significance to me in my life. Being named Joseph, I have always had a special bond with St. Joseph and starting at a young age I would look up to him. As I’ve gotten older, I have been able to appreciate him even more and the immense pressure and privilege he had in being Jesus’ earthly father. I am continuously inspired and in admiration for his initial response to the situation he found himself in. Instead of exposing her to shame or making a public display of Mary, Joseph decides to divorce her quietly.

I am challenged in reading this because so often in my own life, I am faced with situations where I feel justified in my response and that I can put shame and blame on the other. It is so easy for me to point a finger and say “what have you done, you should get in trouble for what you did to me.” So often I can find myself thinking it’s all about me. The exact opposite happens in todays’ Gospel. Then Joseph’s life continues to get even more interesting as he is approached by an angel in his dreams. Then with what seems to be an almost instantaneous response, he believes the angel and does as he is told. WOW. I mean this would be a lot to take in. I pray that I might find the same courage and faith to accept the things in my life that I am called to.

What is the Lord calling us to in our daily lives that we find difficult to understand or believe? How can we respond to others with the same kindness and understanding as St. Joseph?

— Joseph Preston
Campus Ministry, Director

Monday, March 18

Daniel 9:4B-10

"Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day:
we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem,
and all Israel, near and far,
in all the countries to which you have scattered them
because of their treachery toward you.
O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,
for having sinned against you.
But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
Yet we rebelled against you
and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,
to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets."

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When I first read this reading, it immediately struck a chord with me. There have been so many times during my life with Christ that I feel like I have departed from God, disappointed Him, or rebelled from His teachings. There are times still when I get overwhelmed and fall to pieces over college, family, and relationship troubles and I feel like I don’t know what to do. Every time this happens, when I find my way back to His comforting path, I immediately feel my burdens leave me and I begin to feel an indescribable peace, knowing that whatever it is that’s bothering me is tiny and insignificant compared to all of the plans He has for me. I am so lucky and so thankful that we serve a compassionate, forgiving, and almighty God. Every day, when I look at His creations, I am reminded that I serve a God who loves me in all of my ways and all of my forms, whether I feel like I deserve it or not.

Recently, I’ve felt closer to Christ than ever before. In the past year, I’ve felt like God has called me to bring others to Him; other women who feel that they’ve sinned too many times, strayed too far away, or don’t know how to begin a relationship with Christ. If I hadn’t ever felt this way, I wouldn’t be able to help them find comfort in His unwavering love for us. I feel honored when someone comes to me and asks me to testify my experience and relationship with God, to help strengthen their own. Something I’ve learned from my own experiences, and from working through these experiences with others, is that I don’t believe God sends us down paths with dead ends. I know He sends us down paths that may have road work ahead, maybe a tree has fallen in the road or there’s construction nearby, but He always clears it and the path continues. That is the work of our great and awesome God.

This reading reminded me of one of my favorite lyrics from one of my favorite songs from mass: “I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it, when it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.” Too often in my own life, and maybe this is true for a lot of people, I become so anxious and concerned about my problems that I overwork myself looking for solutions to calm my heart, when the comfort I’m looking for is in Christ and His watch over me. I focus too much on worldly things and other people’s perceptions of me, and I neglect to focus on observing the commandments, law, and trust of my God. When I begin to live my life as a service to Him, everything begins to fall into place.

— Mary Roe
Early Childhood Education Major, 2019

Sunday, March 17

Luke 9:28b-36

...he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.
And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.
And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah"--not knowing what he said.
As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.
And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!"
And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen."

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The Gospel reveals the tension of the humanity of Jesus and his suffering in his first announcement of the passion. The tension is evident in this situation. Jesus had a close encounter with the two iconic people in the bible, Moses and Elijah. The disciples Peter, John, and James try to participate in that situation praying with Jesus. May we look at this situation as an invitation to participate in the glory of Jesus.

An invitation to have the experience and to go to the mountain and pray with Jesus in a personal experience. In our lives it is the same. We need to move ourselves and make the trip with Jesus and stay with Him. Recognizing this legacy and our history, we are invited to recognize him in his glory and our participation in his Resurrection. But we need to be awake because some time we are tired or with many distractions. Having the expectation and being vigilant to recognize the presence of Jesus in every person, in the poor, in those people stripped of dignity.

Having a memory of his passion and Resurrection is a constant challenge for us. 

— Br. Henry Paredes
Lambert Hall Community


Saturday, March 16

Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."

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Reflection:

The oft quoted passage "love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you" has always had a thunderous effect on me. Challenging our own feelings of hatefulness and that of others with the power of love and prayer seems gratifyingly simple, even if difficult to always put in practice. But on reflection, I find Jesus' message fascinatingly complex.

When reading the entire passage, verses 43-48, it seems to me that Jesus's call for universal love intends to make us work hard for the perfection he demands of us. In fact, this passage asks us to practice overcoming our prejudices on the page and in real time as we read. For instance, it surprises me that Jesus compares paltry forms of love to the customs of tax collectors and pagans. Does he then discriminate against these perceived outsiders even as he claims that our love should be inclusive of all? This seems to be the case, but in calling out tax collectors and pagans as "enemies," he identifies for his audience the very people who deserve their unreserved love.  

Yet, the subtlety of Jesus's lesson has only just begun. His final injunction to "be perfect" guides us back to earlier in the passage to locate the equivalent of that perfection: "[to] be children of your heavenly Father." To be or strive to be perfect ("as your heavenly Father is perfect") identifies you as a child of God. But it's at this point, in returning to this section, that Jesus's words and structure become transformative and inclusive. While he promises "that you may be children of your heavenly Father" if you pray for those who are "bad," the sentence continues with a quick but significant turn, saying "for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust." Jesus clearly intends to recognize that all people, whether marked as "good" or "bad," are children of God, bringing his Christian audience in a kind of equivalency with their "enemies." With great intricacy, Jesus teaches us to be better readers, not just of his message but of our own often biased narratives.

— Dr. Leslie McAbee
Director, AutoZone Center for Community Engagement


Friday, March 15

Psalm 130:1-2,3-4,5-7A,7BC-8

R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
LORD, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
Let Israel wait for the LORD.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?
For with the LORD is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
And he will redeem Israel
from all their iniquities.
R. If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, who can stand?

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Reflection:

Psalm 130 is called a Song of Ascents, one of fifteen psalms with this superscription. Scholars debate the heading’s meaning. Augustine and Origin thought Psalms 120-134 portrayed the soul’s journey. However, I join the more practical in thinking that travelers on a pilgrimage said them at regular intervals. This interpretation invites my imagination.

Consequently for this reflection, I am a pilgrim woman walking the forested trails to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. The time is after the exile. Rome rules; Tiberius reigns. A man named Jesus is coming to Passover this year; we hope to hear him; crowds call him a prophet.

My fellow travelers number 20. Four donkeys carry our bedding, utensils, and food. The journey up to Jerusalem takes four days; the entire trip lasts fourteen. We’re a noisy, excited bunch.

The walk is long and the climb, gradual. We go from sea level to Jerusalem’s limestone hills. It’s both a sacred and social journey. Children run ahead and behind, meeting other travelers.

We spot Israel’s beautiful birds, among them the common kingfisher and yellowhammer, glorious in their plumage. The nuanced greens of Israel’s elms and cedars delight us. We rejoice in the beauty of the Lord’s creation.

We camp under heaven’s stars. We watch Orion and the Pleiades through the night (Job 38:31) and awake with the dew of Israel on our faces (Hosea 14:5).

At first light we listened as my husband, a priest, chanted today’s first psalm. Repetitions stand out to me. It mentions iniquities twice (vv 3, 8) and entwines waiting and watching (vv 5-6).

While plodding uphill, I avoid sharp rocks and eye contact. I watch my sandaled feet make dust clouds. I think about my iniquities. What have I done or left undone? Whom have I hurt, defrauded, slandered? Incidents come to mind. How have I knowingly, purposefully sinned against the Lord? I need forgiveness.

The psalm recognizes that much of life is waiting. We wait for the Lord to answer prayers and close one season and open another. During the lonely darkness of the fourth watch, those guarding Jerusalem eagerly await the dawn.

As I wearily trudge, I realize that how we wait often determines how long we wait. The word hope (vv 5, 7) provides a clue for productive waiting. Hope seeks the Lord and believes his word. Hope watches expectantly, waits confidently, and knows the Lord will act.

The psalm ends by including my companions. The Lord abounds in mercy toward us and saves us from our sins (vv 7-8). I wonder how the Lord will save us. Maybe the prophet Jesus has the answer. After all, his name means the Lord is salvation.

I raise my eyes. The sun is high. I see a bluethroat warbling atop a pine. I thank the Lord again for his beautiful creation.

Prayer for Today

Lord, this psalm resounds with active hope. You will redeem your covenant people, Israel, from all their iniquities (v 8). Yes, you are a prophet (Matthew 21:11)—and so much more. Thank you that this psalm points to what the angel told Joseph about you: “You are to name him Jesus for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

— Dr. Robin Gallaher Branch
Adjunct, Religon and Philospoy Department 


Thursday, March 14

Matthew 7:7-12

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 
Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask him.

"Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. 
This is the law and the prophets."

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Reflection:

For many of my friends, it is difficult to ask for help.  I have really had to work and pray to be able to humbly ask for help when I need it.  Even for me, sometimes it is difficult to accept help that is offered. Often, I still spend lots of time looking for ways to repay the favor, or crafting the perfect gift, partially out of fear that I might seem like a burden on the people kind enough to serve me.  But seeking this help from the Lord is exactly the gift we are reminded of today.

The people who truly love us desire to help us; they’re there when we fall, and they would never give us a half-hearted gift.  Our God loves us perfectly. Think about that: perfect love.  I don’t know about you, but in my life there are plenty of days where I am barely keeping up to the commitments and expectations placed on me.  In God’s perfect love, I receive exactly the gifts I need to feel just a little more kind, a little more rested, a little more complete. Every time that I recognize I can not be as holy as I want on my own, that I can not do it all, and I have the courage to humbly ask for help, God delivers abundantly.

Today I challenge you to boldly ask for spiritual gifts from God, trusting that he will deliver exactly what you need.

— Carlee Darnell 
Religion and Philosophy Major, 2019


Wednesday, March 13

Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,18-19

R.  A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me. 
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

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Reflection:

Someone once told me that a broken bone could be compared to a broken heart-both required need for care and may have been caused by someone, something, or potentially ourselves. In this particular passage, I found myself reflecting on David’s story and how in his case, it seems that the pain of David’s broken heart was brought upon himself. His sin (adultery) caused him to respond out of fear, and then he furthermore committed any even graver sin (murder) to hide and cover up his previous sin.

When I look at David’s life, it’s easy for me to think that David and I are on different playing fields. My heart even went to the length of thinking “how could anyone even get to that place?” But then God whispered to me “Connie, you have been in that place”. My response to God was “God surely not, I have not done that”. Yet I found myself hearing God persisting me to reconsider as he met me with a “Are you sure?” After I let God do his thing (humble my hard heart), I sat there thinking, wow... I have been in that place. I may not have committed the same sin that David did, but I have definitely experienced the shame of sin and the desire to desperately cover it up out of fear of rejection or worse, discomfort from the consequences of my faulty decisions. 

Yet, what I find to be beautiful about David is that in his deep guilt and understanding of his great sin, he reaches out to God with his need. “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense,” he pleads. For David, it seems that he knew that something was wrong with his heart. Like a broken bone, his heart was fractured, injured, and he desperately needed someone to “warp it in a cast” so that it could heal and be renewed. “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” The only doctor David knew that could remedy his pain, was God.

During this Lenten season, I hope to lean into this passage and remember that God is the great physician not just for me, but for everyone. He created the perfect remedy for the infection of all mankind’s hearts (sin) and that was his son, Jesus. Praise God that he is concerned with our hearts and that he realized we were all destined for “heart failure”. Praise God that he defeated this disease and he made it possible for us all to live-to receive a new heart, if we desired. And lastly, praise God that this gift doesn’t cost anything, it is freely given, and when accepted and applied to our lives, it sets us free.

Which places of your heart do you need to let God restore? What do you need to share with God, yourself, or others to experience freedom?

— Connie Beck 
Coordinator of Student Activities 


Tuesday, March 12

Psalm 34:4-5,6-7,16-17,18-19

R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears. 
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
The LORD has eyes for the just,
and ears for their cry.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.

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Reflection:
Reading this verse made me curious about the dictionary definition of the word “just.” Given the way
these verses are structured, behaving in a “just” manner is obviously an important character trait. After
all, this scripture tells us that God not only hears the cry of the just, but He also rescues the just from
their distress.
 
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “just” means “acting or being in
conformity with what is morally upright or good: righteous guided by truth, reason, justice, and
fairness, or done or made according to principle.” In other words, to borrow from Spike Lee, “Do the
right thing.” Accordingly, there appear to be several key messages in these verses. Message one is that
we should strive to be just people – to always try to do the right thing. Message two is that for those
people who manage to be just, God will be there for us. The scripture goes so far as to say that the just
will be saved from all their distress - that His eyes are on the just and His ears are attuned to hear them.
But it doesn’t stop with the Almighty seeing and hearing just people. The verse further describes how
the Lord will “confront the evildoers, and “destroy remembrance of them from the earth.” Whoa. Those
are serious consequences for being unjust. But that isn’t all. The scripture promises that God is “close to
the brokenhearted” and that he will save those who are crushed in spirit. That is a powerful promise and
one we should take to heart. If we try to be just in all things, God will be there for us, listening and
seeing what we go through and, in the end, saving us. What a powerful promise this is and what
consolation that promise can bring in times of fear and uncertainty. This promise can serve to help us
strive to be just in all our ways, in all our days.

— Deborah P. Blanchard 
Vice President, Communications and Marketing


Monday, March 11

Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him. 
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you? 
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."

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Reflection:

Jesus makes the difference between the “goats and sheep”, between the righteous and accursed, and between Heaven and Hell alarmingly clear: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” He even gives some examples of who qualifies as “the least,” such as the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned. He doesn’t say to serve those we like, those who are popular, or those who will give us in return. What a difficult message to live out.

            I’ve heard that a good way to tell my priorities is by looking at how I spend my money. Usually, looking at my bank account is a sobering reminder of how weak I am at giving to others. The same goes for when I think of how I use my time and talents. It’s easy to become caught up in my own desires: grades, status, money, even my mental and spiritual needs. But in order to satisfy my highest desire, to get to Heaven, Jesus says I must help others satisfy their desires.

            However, Jesus doesn’t say “Ignore your own needs.” We need to be taken care of, too. As C.S. Lewis says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.” Jesus’s message agrees: if you want to serve God, think of others more.

— Chris Fagin 
Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics Major, 2020


Sunday, March 10

Luke 4:1-13

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan 
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, 
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days, 
and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,
"If you are the Son of God, 
command this stone to become bread."
Jesus answered him, 
"It is written, One does not live on bread alone."
Then he took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,
"I shall give to you all this power and glory; 
for it has been handed over to me, 
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"It is written:
You shall worship the Lord, your God,
and him alone shall you serve."

Then he led him to Jerusalem, 
made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,
"If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,
and:
With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone."

Jesus said to him in reply,
"It also says,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test."
When the devil had finished every temptation, 
he departed from him for a time.

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Reflection:

Of the three traditional practices of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, I would like to focus my reflection on fasting in today’s reading which Jesus practiced before the three temptations by the devil.

During elementary and secondary school when I was growing up, it was a common practice to “give up” something for Lent. Usually it was candy, sweets, TV for an hour, or some other material thing or practice. That was our concept of “fasting”. Then during my college years, along came Vatican II and the concept of “doing something extra” rather than “giving up” became the preferred practice. Although I still practice the act of doing something more during Lent, I wonder if we haven’t lost something significant by not fasting from something we enjoy and take for granted like food.

Scripture says Jesus fasted from food (“ate nothing”) for forty days before he was tempted by the devil. He must have been physically very weak, but spiritually very strong! I wonder what Jesus reflected on during those days? Scripture says he was filled with the Holy Spirit and led by the Holy Spirit. I’m sure his prayers must have included deep reflection on the strong bond of love and his relationship to his Father and maybe even a thought of what was yet to come.

Personally, when I fast and feel the pangs of hunger, I think of myself first. My stomach growls! My head aches at times! I feel weak! I want to eat! I ask myself the question: Why am I doing this? Temptations arise to break the fast. I can think of all kinds of reasons to quit.       

Only then do I think of Jesus and his fasting before the devil tempted him.  I think of the images of people in the world who are starving – especially children. Unfortunately, from news media we see so much hunger and suffering that after a while we become numb to it and move on to the next news item without taking much time to reflect on what we have seen. I need to stop and reflect more on my relationship with Jesus and ask myself how seriously am I living the life Jesus called me to live and how am I drawing closer to him through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. How do I practice these actions daily? How has fasting made me more aware of my need for Jesus in my life?

Live Jesus in our hearts. Forever!

— Brother Thomas J. Sullivan, FSC 
Associate Director, Campus Ministry and Adjunct, Biology Department


Saturday, March 9

Luke 5:27-32

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, "Follow me."
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,
and a large crowd of tax collectors
and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
"Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"
Jesus said to them in reply,
"Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners."

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Reflection:

I feel pulled in many directions. I have two email accounts that I check on my computer at work, and on my phone when I’m away from my desk. I follow 633 Twitter accounts, subscribe to around 60 Youtube channels, and have 770 Facebook friends. My phone tells me I spend around 3 hours a day on it, with an average of over 50 notifications throughout the day. Today’s reading is a great reminder that during lent I need to be intentional about listening for when Jesus is calling me and be sure to answer like Levi.

What does it mean to be called by God? Jesus is not seeking me out and inviting me to dinner. He certainly is not dropping videos in my subscription feed or sending me text messages. This reading, right at the start of Lent, reminds me to seek out opportunities for additional prayer, quiet and reflection. I must think about my daily interactions through technology and IRL and interpret what messages God is sending me through the people with whom I interact. I know God calls me to be a vessel of their love, and I know I must be patient, kind and forgiving. Today I am reminded to spend more time seeking those opportunities to hear God’s call of the times I can strive to do more and do better.

— Scott Baietti 
Associate Director, Residence Life 


Friday, March 8

Matthew 9:14-15

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
"Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?"
Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast."

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Reflection:

Recently, fasting has become a popular tool for weight loss.  Intermittent fasting, where you fast for 16 hours a day and can eat anything you want during the other 8 hours, is one of the more popular fasting-for-weight-loss techniques being promoted these days.  I have even seen apps that help you track when you can eat and when you should fast.  I’m not sure I buy into this method as a healthy way to lose weight.  However,  I do like the idea of fasting as a means of drawing closer to Christ, his message, and his teachings.

Fasting, of course, requires self-discipline. Not eating for 16 hours or longer is a challenging exercise in will power.  The fast prescribed in the Bible, however, doesn’t focus so much on the physical aspect of this endeavor, but on the intellectual and emotional commitment it takes.  During a Christ-centered fast, we are asked to reflect upon the great sacrifice of our Savior and recommit ourselves to Him.  It serves as a reset button, allowing us to refocus on His commandments and love for us.  It is used to gain perspective, to realign ourselves with His teachings, and to reengage in a Christ-centered life.

In this passage the disciples ask Jesus why they are not fasting.  Jesus replies it is not the time to fast; it is the time to celebrate.  He is among them now.  He suggests the disciples live in the moment and take it all in.  There will be time to fast, to reflect, to gain perspective and hit the reset button once he is gone.  For now… enjoy his presence and savor the experience.

One of the things I love most about the teachings of Jesus is their common sense, practical nature. Here, Jesus suggests to his the disciplines not to fast on Thanksgiving.  Just imagine that for yourself during our modern day Thanksgiving.  Not only would it be almost impossible to resist the temptations of the food, but you would miss out on the celebration of gratitude for the abundance and gifts of life.  Wait until the day after Thanksgiving to begin a fast.  Wait until you feel disconnected from Christ, feel misaligned or disengaged.  That will be the time to hit that fasting reset button.

 Prayer:  Jesus, help us remember there is a time for everything.  Help us to slow down and enjoy our blessings, show gratitude for your gifts, and stay in the moment during times of Thanksgiving.  When our time comes to fast, help us remember the sacrifices you made for us, our commitment to follow your teachings, and the unconditional love you show us on a daily basis.

— Bevalee Vitali
Director, Institute for Leadership Development and Professor of Management 


Thursday, March 7

Psalm 1:1-2,3,4 and 6

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

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Reflection:

Personally, I think the most dangerous types of temptation are the ones that ask very little of me. It’s a lot easier to see wrongness in an extreme act than a subtle act. The responsorial psalm today points out the blessedness of men (and women) who meditate on His law, day and night. Not only am I supposed to discern His law, I am supposed to be joyful about what I discover. Sometimes there are things the Lord asks of me that I don’t really want to do, or that doesn’t seem like a super big rule to break. In the back of my mind, I know that little bit of doubt is Satan talking. Seriously, why else would I not want to follow God’s way? I already know He’s perfect, so why would His rules be any less so?

This psalm encourages me to follow God’s way and gives examples of the things that happen when I do. This psalm compares those who follow God’s law to a tree on good nourishing ground. To me, this means that if I follow God’s way I will be nourished. Sometimes it’s hard for to see that nourishment in daily life through all the hardships that pop up every now and then, but then I just remind myself that the nourishment God’s way promises is not always earthly. It’s heavenly, which is frustrating now, but will be awesome in the long run.

— Megan Morrison 
Psychology Major, 2021


Ash Wednesday, March 6

Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."

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Reflection:

Our Lenten Journey of 2019 is about to begin!

Lent begins this year on March 6 (Ash Wednesday). Our Faith Journey begins on Ash Wednesday and takes us through Jesus' public life in FAITH, SERVICE, and COMMUNITY in 40 days. We see Jesus gathering the multitudes of people who have come to see, hear, and believe in the Son of God.

We see Jesus with the Apostles, who are companions, and we see the human dimension of the apostles as they fall and in time get up once again to follow the Man Jesus. Jesus taught The Hour of Prayer and said, "This is how to pray."

"Our Father, who art in Heaven…"
Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain. There they had such a spiritual mountaintop experience, and the apostles, in harmony said in prayer: "Lord, give me endurance and confidence to go the distance with you."

In the second week of Lent, there are two prayers you may wish to reflect upon: "Lord, Bless our Families and heal our Relationships" and "Lord Jesus, Cleanse our hearts of malice as the Lord Jesus always made his home a dwelling place for all who needed it, especially the most vulnerable."

Throughout the journey of 40 days and nights, Jesus knew his time with the apostles and those who followed Him would come to an end. Those gathered at the table were grateful to be called friends in sharing what would be the Last Supper.

As the Passion comes to an end, the Easter Vigil becomes Hope as we pray: "Risen Lord, prepare me for a Life that is governed by Hope." May we enter this time deeply, especially during Holy Week, so that we may, by FAITH, learn more and more of the man Jesus, who died for us in order to ensure His Father will live forever in our Hearts and Souls.

May your Lenten Journey be one of Learning about yourselves as you prepare yourselves for the Risen Lord on Easter morning.

Peace and Joy on Easter Sunday!

— Brother Dominic Ehrmantraut, FSC
Director of Mission & Identity, Christian Brothers University