Each year, Campus Ministry collects Lenten reflections from students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the University and shares them with the campus community.

Lenten Reflections: February 14 – 17

Wednesday, February 14 (Ash Wednesday)

“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.” 

I loved Ash Wednesday when I was a kid. Since I attended a Catholic grade school, I enjoyed wearing a big, smudgy, ashen cross on my forehead and comparing it to the grayish forehead-blobs on my peers. However, the thing that I enjoyed even more was hearing my name called out by lector during the First Reading of our all-school Ash Wednesday Mass. Inevitably, when the lector said, “A reading from the Book of the Prophet Joel,” students in the pews all around me would turn to look at the only “Joel” in the house – you can almost still hear the shuffling sounds and stifled giggles of everyone turning to look (and to make faces) at little me!

Now that I’m older, I still get excited to hear from my namesake, the Old Testament prophet Joel – and no, not just because he so rarely appears into the liturgy. I like it because, while most of the book of Joel has apocalyptic imagery of destruction and lament, themes of God’s love, mercy, and providence recur. We hear “return to [the Lord] with your whole heart… for gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.” God desires to be in relationship with us. As sinful and broken and messy as we are, God still longs for each of us as individuals. God calls us to repent and to strive for holiness.

I love, too, this passage from the second letter of St. Paul to Corinthians: “We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Jesus is reconciliation incarnate: through his death and resurrection, sin no longer has any control over us, provided that we trust ourselves into God’s limitless mercy. Jesus helps restore our relationship with our Father and our neighbors. This is the Good News! 

As an “ambassador of Christ,” if you have received the reconciliation and grace to be a Christian disciple and follow in the footsteps of the Teacher, it is your non-negotiable task to share that inexhaustible love and mercy with others so they can “return to the Lord.” 

And if you haven’t yet encountered Jesus, would you like to? I invite you to meet him because, “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Yeah, I still love Ash Wednesday!

Joel Kelley
Director of Campus Ministry & Mission

Thursday, February 15

Having Faith is a strong and consistent effort to give our lives to the Lord, and in return, we see that the holy Presence of God is among us in the eyes of his children. The book of Deuteronomy and Luke’s Gospel give us a moment of meditation when we reflect our own Faith-filled lives. Moses speaks to God’s children and explains what Faith to the Lord means and what our actions can do to influence our environment. Think of those on campus that you have walked by and were greeted with a smile; think of the safety we feel when we enter campus on an afternoon while everyone is gathering in the community of the Thomas Center. Take a moment to sit and reflect on how God’s creation proves to us our strengthening Faith that knows no limits or hesitation. We hear a subtle yet confirming reading for the day that opens the door to contentment and assurance in our Faith, in our Community, and in our Church. We may even be motivated to follow the steps of Jesus; Jesus spoke to his Disciples and said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me….” Key word: Daily. For this Lenten season, I ask you to identify vocally what Cross you bear each and every day and to assure yourself that you can follow Jesus. Tiredness does not exist in his environment. The weight may be heavy, and the days might contain less smiles than before, but the call is to live and grow numerous – burdens cannot hinder our Faith.

Christian Camacho
Campus Ministry Aide

Friday, February 16

For some, Lent is a time for gloom and doom. The seriousness of life is emphasized. For so many, Lent means giving up something. There are even those who feel that it is better to make it harder on themselves. It can be hard to tell if they are trying to be spiritual athletes or to placate an angry God.

Penance is a a feature of Lent, and it is important. But there is a point to it. It is a form of growth for a Christian, and that could well be a joyful thing. In the first reading today (Isaiah 58), we are exhorted to act positively and exhibit compassion for others: “Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked and not turning your back on your own.” Then comes the wonderful promise: “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed. …” It is because, as the Gospel reminds us, the Bridegroom, though now in Heaven is still with us in the Church and in the presence of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 9:14-15).

Lent prepares us for the drama of Holy Week and the very joyful celebration of the resurrection. It is not something to dread or just get through. It is, like Advent, a time of anticipation. Whatever we do or don’t do in Lent, it is the very consciousness that helps us to make sense of life and to radiate that to others, which is why, in another place in Scripture, we are exhorted: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do….But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face so that it will not be obvious that you are fasting” (Matthew 6:16-18).

Brother Alan Parham, FSC
Campus Ministry Aid 

Saturday, February 17

Thus says the LORD: If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday; Then the LORD will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.  (Is 58:9b-13)

Lent is nothing if not our journey toward Easter; toward the renewal of our baptism and our life of faith! That is what we do to celebrate the rising of Jesus from the dead. At every Easter Mass, we renew our baptismal promises and are sprinkled with the waters of baptism that once washed over us at our entrance into the church whether it happened when we were infants, children, adolescents or adults.  So, I draw your attention to this because having the goal in site keeps us focused as we journey through Lent.  

The Christian lectionary – the selection of readings from the bible used in most Christian churches – offers for us on this Saturday after Ash Wednesday, a passage from Isaiah which describes God’s hope for the fulfillment of his covenant with Israel. God promises that when our lives conform to his hope for us, i.e., when we stop oppression, lying, and malicious speech; and begin feeding the hungry and helping the afflicted – then the hope of eternal happiness and new life opens up before us like “a spring whose water never fails.”    

Christians believe this promise reaches its final fulfillment in the paschal mystery of Jesus, that is, his death and resurrection.  In this event, God’s infinite love promised here in the text of Isaiah is fulfilled in its entirety.  Our baptism is a participation in this fulfillment and our continued life of faith and service to those most in need is the living out of the promise in the throes of everyday life. 

One of the things I most enjoy about the Easter liturgy is the actual rite of renewal of baptismal promises and sprinkling the congregation with the newly consecrated baptismal water.  The water feels like Isaiah’s “spring whose water never fails!”  It is a holy refreshment, a celebration of life and joy.    

All of this is given to us at the beginning of Lent to focus our attention and direct us on the path toward the glory of Easter.  I pray that we will all take up the journey and support one another along the way.  

Father Bruce Cinquegrani,
Assistant Visiting Professor and Chaplain, Christian Brothers University 

Lenten Reflections: February 18 – 24

Sunday, February 18

Reflecting on the scripture readings for the first Sunday of Lent, we are invited into the depth of God’s covenantal love and the transformative power of Christ’s sacrifice.

In Genesis, we encounter the covenant God establishes with Noah, promising never again to destroy all living creatures with a flood. This covenant symbolized by the rainbow reveals God’s enduring commitment to humanity and creation, a promise rooted in love and mercy.

The responsorial psalm echoes this theme, proclaiming the Lord’s ways as love and truth to those who keep His covenant. It reminds us of the importance of seeking God’s guidance and trusting in His compassion, especially in times of trial.

The letter of Peter speaks to the redemptive power of Christ’s suffering, drawing parallels between Noah’s ark and the saving grace of baptism. Through Christ’s resurrection, we are offered not just a cleansing of the body but a renewal of the spirit, leading us to a clear conscience and eternal life.

Finally, the Gospel of Mark recounts Jesus’ time in the desert, where he faces temptation and emerges proclaiming the arrival of God’s kingdom. As we journey through Lent, we are called to repentance and belief in the gospel, recognizing the presence of God’s kingdom among us.

These readings invite us to reflect on the depth of God’s love, the significance of our baptismal commitment, and the call to embrace repentance and belief in our daily lives. In this season of Lent, may we draw closer to God, allowing His love and mercy to transform us from within.

Brother Patrick Conway, FSC, EdD
Director, Lasallian Institute for the Formation of Teachers (LIFT)

Monday, February 19

Growing up Southern Baptist and attending either a Baptist or non-denominational church for the vast majority of my life, I have only celebrated Lent once or twice. And even on those occasions, it was not to the extent that it is marked in the Catholic Church. Now that I attend Mass daily, I feel like this is my first real Lenten experience in all of my 53 years. I received my ashes on Wednesday and attended Mass, and didn’t eat meat on Friday. But I have been struggling for weeks now with what to give up. I understand the purpose of abstaining from something during Lent, whether it’s chocolate or alcohol or social media, but I didn’t feel God leading me to any of those. So what is He asking?

Today’s reading on the sheep and goats makes me think that perhaps He is calling me to something very different. In Mass on Friday, I volunteered to do the reading from Isaiah 58. “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them,and not turning your back on your own.” God does call us to fast and if giving up sugar reminds us to turn to Him when the cravings hit, then that is good! But He tells us over and over that the type of fasting He really wants is a fast from selfishness, from going on our own way, from ignoring the suffering of others. His fast of choice is for us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick and lonely, to free those in bondage.

What an amazing God we serve! His heart is always for the weakest, the poorest, the unlovely. Those are who He chooses. And the parable of the sheep and goats reminds me that since I can do nothing on my own apart from God’s grace, that I am the weakest, the poorest, and the most unlovely. Yet He loves me still. How could I not then serve others with my whole heart, the way He has served me?

So for this, my first true walk into the season of Lent, I believe that what He is calling me to give up is any illusion that I am in control or self-sufficient, and embrace that I am hungry and desperately need the Bread of Life, that I am naked and that only His garment of righteousness can clothe me, that I am sick and by His wounds alone I am healed. Thank you, Jesus!

Dr. Lydia Rosencrants
Provost and Vice President for Academics

Tuesday, February 20

How often do we hear the words proclaimed in today’s Gospel? The words of the Our Father are ones that come from our lips on a regular basis, but how often to do we stop to think about what we are actually saying? A challenge I give to myself this Lent is to pray the Our Father slowly, not at the same speed I am used to but, in a way where I can let God’s Word pierce my heart. I want to sit with the words from this most popular prayer. Who in my life do I need to forgive? Who in my life do I need to ask forgiveness from? How often to I reflect about my daily bread?

In the Gospel from today Jesus is telling his disciples “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” May we let our Lord’s words enter into our thoughts and actions this Lenten season. We have a God who loves us infinitely and know what we need, we just have to ask Him. May we never stop going to God no matter where in our life at any given moment.

Joey Preston
Major Gifts Officer

Wednesday, February 21

Turn from your evil ways and experience the full goodness of God!

Repentance is the process of looking sin face on and pivoting in the other direction. We have free will to make choices how we please. We can choose to honor God or make choices that aren’t in line with what he has for our lives. I challenge you like I challenge myself: when temptation comes to make a negative choice– turn from it, ask the Lord to purify your heart and to honor him in what you say and do! 

Reading on to the Psalm for today, I see an example of how we can ask God to guide us. There have been countless times in my life where I have messed things up. It seems when I am at my lowest, I am reminded of just how good God is and about the infinite love he has for us. I’ve called upon the Lord’s name for salvation and repented of my sins and now, I can walk in freedom in his love, grace, and mercy. I’ve seen how he provides for me daily and I challenge you all to do some reflecting on how you’ve seen God provide through your faith journey. In response to the goodness Jesus has shown me, I can lay down my life daily and fully surrender to the plan he has for me. 

In the book of Luke, the “something greater than Jonah” is Jesus! He died on the cross to save us from the wages of our sins. He has offered the free gift of salvation which has brought me so much joy and peace into my life, I can’t help but to desire to share it with others! God is compassionate and forgives us when we sin, even when we have trouble forgiving ourselves. He wipes out our offenses and cleanses us from our sins. The Love of God is so reviving and will help you grow into a fruitful individual proclaiming his glory.

Rachel Johnson (’27)
Psychology Major

Thursday, February 22

When I ask questions of students in a group (e.g., in class), I often get what appears to be a frozen Microsoft Teams screen. No one moves or says anything. Everyone looks at me as if I’ve frozen, too, and they’re waiting for something to happen. I wonder if I’ve lost the connection altogether.

As a teacher, I expect Jesus loved having Peter around. Right or wrong (often wrong), it seems like Peter always had an answer! Whether we describe this characteristic as passion, disinhibition, or even lack of a filter, Peter was inclined to say what he thought and to say it quickly and directly.

In today’s Gospel, Peter’s response to Jesus’ question, “But who do you say that I am?” shows a profound—even divine—insight and understanding. It was concise, direct, and clear. It was definitely not phrased as a question.

I think I might be able to sort of fathom how Jesus might have felt at hearing Peter’s response. When a student says something that shows a certain level of insight, understanding, and confidence, I feel giddy. That’s the only way I can explain it. It’s like when Buddy the Elf finds out Santa is coming to the store where he works. Sometimes I hear that ah-ah sound where the second ah has a higher pitch than the first one. It makes me feel like I can trust that person and entrust them with things that are important to me. I want to invest in them and build them up. Obviously, the keys I have to offer aren’t going to unlock anything like the Kingdom of Heaven, but still, I think maybe I kinda get it.

I wonder if Peter knew he was right or if he just wasn’t afraid to take the risk. I once heard someone say that one of Peter’s greatest talents was putting his foot in his mouth—figuratively, of course. Given that track record, the odds of being so completely spot on weren’t really in his favor. But he spoke up anyway.

A lot of us give up something for Lent. Maybe following Peter’s disinhibited example is a good strategy: Give up a little bit of fear and reluctance. Show a little more confidence and commitment. Even if I don’t get it right most of the time, is that a bad thing? Once in a while I might hit it big!

Dr. Jeff Sable
Professor, Department of Behavioral Sciences

Friday, February 23

I feel like a “forever toddler” when it comes to my journey in faith. Some days I do better than others, but I still sin whether I intend to or not. Whether it is my reaction to a situation that I should have handled with grace and humility but failed miserably instead; being in the wrong place/situation and being caught by surprise; or some other mistake-ridden encounter (either on my part or another party’s), I am guilty of sinning.

Today’s passage from Ezekiel is about owning those transgressions and sins. I am to be responsible for myself and my own actions and/or reactions. One of my goals in this great journey of Lent is to speak and react less while listening and thinking more. It is difficult for me because I am entirely too reactive, but that makes it the perfect goal for me. Above all else, I have got to stop letting the things that happen to and around me control me and my responses to them.

This passage also discusses that, not only are you to be responsible for your own sins and transgressions, but that you are to turn away from wickedness and sin. Own it AND turn away from it. Wow! That is a tall order in today’s world where sin runs rampant, and it seems that everything is everyone else’s fault. What’s a girl to do? I’ve found that prayer, losing myself in scripture, loads of self-reflection, setting right and just goals, a whole lot of work on myself, and seeking help from the right and just faithful have all made the top of my to-do list.

I was assigned this passage, but the more I read it, and the more I reflect on it, I think that it is quite possible the person who e-mailed me my assignment was not the person who assigned me the Scripture passage. It cannot also be a coincidence that I have recently been reflecting very heavily on forgiveness and spiritual growth. There is a reason that I felt the need to set these goals ahead of others. All I can say is this: “I hear, and I am doing my best to obey.” I may have to draw a line in the sand and start over daily – but I am going to get there. God’s grace is with me.

Rosemary D Malmo
Administrative and Accreditation Coordinator, School of Business

Saturday, February 24

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.”

Perfection. So many of us chase this dream on a daily basis. In the world of social media, you and I are consistently compared to our friends and family – and complete strangers, too. Some are motivated by perfection – others haunted by the notion. Though, as we travel this Lenten journey, how can we use the Father’s perfection as motivation for you and I in our daily walk with Him?

When I worked in youth ministry, I was responsible for a rural youth group of 40+ from a wide variety of backgrounds. Our youth group consisted of a handful of teenagers that attended the church – who quickly started inviting friends from the local middle and high schools. I was in that role for five years and one of the messages I tried to reinforce was that “Perfection is the dream. Authenticity is the means.” When my students would get upset with themselves over a choice they had made, I often would remind them that some of the greatest lessons we learn about ourselves is in our failures. If one of my teens was authentic then in their desire to correct the actions or words, then that was a way to “seek perfection.”

If failure is one of the greatest teachers – how do I allow my authenticity to motivate me towards perfection? Anyone who knows me quickly realizes my natural reaction is one of sacrifice – putting the needs of others before my own, hoping to carry the burden for others. I want to be clear – I try to do this well; but often fail. I always hope my words and actions mean well; inevitably, there are moments where something I say is taken out of context. In those moments, I often find myself trying “to fix” my error – and the “scar” stays with me far longer than anyone else. In those moments of reflection, I seek authenticity as to how God would want me to handle those situations in the future.

Through the course of my time at CBU, I’ve had the opportunity to meet, interact, and even mentor several students – and young alumni. Upon first meeting this individual, I was certain he and I would be mere acquaintances. We had little in common and he always wanted to challenge me. His favorite phrase was “I hear you Wilson, but…” God was testing me in these interactions and I truly wondered if we would ever find common ground on which to build. At times, he was seemingly “an enemy” trying to persecute me for my words. He likely felt I was doing the same to him. After a series of difficult conversations over the course of six months, I remember him coming to the office one evening ready to talk. The tone of this conversation was different. He was open to listening. I was open to listening. We put our egos aside and we were intentional in finding common ground. Our authenticity that night transformed our bond. He and I often see the same event from different perspectives; yet, our friendship is stronger today because we focus on those things that unite us. A prayer answered indeed.

As we travel the Lenten journey, may we seek to love neighbor and enemy with an authenticity that replicates the perfect love God has for us.  

Wilson Phillips
Division of Student Flourishing

Lenten Reflections: February 25 – March 2

Sunday, February 25

Fear. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all report some version of Peter’s suggestion that he and his companions “make three dwellings, one for you [Jesus], one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Mark 9:5 NRSV), but only Mark explains why Peter says this: he and James and John were afraid. In the Gospel of Mark, fear is a common reaction to Jesus (Mark 4:41; 5:15). But why was Peter afraid at this moment, and why did it lead to this particular suggestion?

Perhaps they were frightened to be in the presence of the divine, but I suspect there was more to it than that. This episode bears a resemblance to the one immediately prior. In the previous story (Mark 8:27-9:1), Peter had become the first human character to recognize Jesus as messiah (8:29). Almost immediately, however, Peter demonstrated that he could not yet fully grasp the kind of messiah Jesus will be, for after Peter identified Jesus as messiah, Jesus made his first prediction of his suffering, death, and resurrection. Scandalized by the idea that his messiah would suffer and die, Peter rebuked Jesus, only to be severely rebuked in turn. Jesus then begins to teach that true discipleship means taking up the cross, not seeking worldly glory (8:34-38).

In both of these stories, Jesus’s exalted status revealed. In both, Jesus urges silence about this status (8:30; 9:9) and then discusses his suffering, death, and resurrection (8:31; 9:9-12).  And in both, Peter manages to stick his foot in his mouth because he does not yet grasp what Jesus’s mission is about.

Mark says that fear leads Peter to want to remain on the mountain, in the glorious presence of Elijah, Moses, and the transfigured Jesus. Perhaps this is where Peter is comfortable: this is the exalted, glorified messiah for which he longs. He wants to stop time, or at least pause it, not follow Jesus to the cross.

I, too, find that I want stay on the mountaintop. I crave “spiritual experience” that will leave me basking in some kind of semi-ecstatic glow. At Easter, sometimes, it almost happens. After celebrating Christ’s resurrection, I’m almost afraid of coming back down into the world, of losing that sense of Christ’s living presence. But that’s a temptation, if not self-deception. Jesus calls us to go down the mountain and into the world to serve, to be his hands and feet. And perhaps this is what’s most frightening of all to me: The transfiguration is not just the divine “reality” behind the suffering and crucified Messiah. The suffering and crucifixion are just as much the “reality” behind the transfigured Jesus—that is, the suffering and death of Jesus reveal to us what kind of God he really is.1 He is a God who pours himself out for others, who is lowly and “among [us] as one who serves” (Luke 22:27). If I really wish to live in the presence of this God, then that is the kind of person I need to become, and that frightens me to death.

James Buchanan Wallace, PhD
Chair, Professor of Religion

1This point is inspired by Michael Gorman’s book, Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology.

Monday, February 26

Luke 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.”

When Campus Ministry sent this reading, I was a spooked. For Lent, I vowed to be less “judge-y!” It felt like they knew I’d been failing! Of course they didn’t know, and it has given me a reason to reflect.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with making a judgement. If we see an injustice, for example, we use our judgement and hopefully take action. It is also part of our social fabric — we connect with others through shared judgement about a situation or person. Plus, we work at a university where we are compelled to be critical thinkers. This requires making judgements.

It seems, though, that Luke’s reading isn’t asking us to stop having opinions about important matters. What this reading calls us to do is to stop judging out of spite, frustration, and sport. This is the type of judgement that can flow from us daily without thought, making it difficult to stop.

I long to be free of meaningless negativity. As Luke offers, when we commit to change, we become the recipients of “good measure”. This is not to say that because we stop, others magically quit judging us. Turning down the negative dial down in our own hearts and heads, however, can free us from dwelling on how we perceive how others feel about us. People may still judge, condemn and blame, but only we have the ability to lessen how we give and receive such powerful emotions. I believe this is what Luke means about the good measures we can receive. The reward is internal peace.

My teenagers have taught me many lessons, but one of the most important is relevant to this reading – only I can control my own emotions and actions. I cannot control those of my children or anyone else. My kids have also taught me that when I turn down the anger, criticism, snap judgements and distrust — I allow more positive reactions to flow from them… to me. As Luke says, “the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

Unlike a box of chocolate, I cannot avoid the situations that tempt me to be “judge-y” (I’d have to wall myself off in a dark room with no internet or TV!) What I hope I can experience this Lent is to become more aware. Perhaps, by taking a pause, I may soften my heart and open my mind to more loving thoughts and feelings during this season and beyond.

Lurene Kelley, PhD
Director of Academic Support/Online Academic Operations 

Tuesday, February 27

Matthew 23: 1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Growing up, I struggled with learning. Reading did not come naturally to me and neither did math or science. When I took the ACT in high school and received my score, I was deeply ashamed. The score I received was so low that I made it my mission to never let anyone find out. When I did go to college, I was placed in a retention program. I hated being in something that I knew I was in because I had poor scores and needed help. Ironically, however, this was the biggest blessing. The people of this learning community helped me. They truly saw me and shared with me that I had something called “grit” – a drive to keep going that could take me places that intelligence may not.

This was a huge light bulb moment for me. Knowing someone believed in me and recognized my strengths created a sense of encouragement that I had never experienced before. As a result, I developed a lot. I got good grades and started seeing progress. I was so proud of myself for navigating what I had, yet a desire in my heart was forming: “I want what they have – the recognition and the honor — I want to be like them.”

That desire has not necessarily gone away, but over the years, and especially this year, God has gently and so very kindly helped me see the prideful parts of my heart that I have calloused due to my own pain. In the Gospel reading today, we see that Jesus encourages his disciples to not follow the example of the Pharisees. He says: “All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi”. Jesus goes on to caution his disciples as he says: “As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ Do not be called ‘Master,’ you have but one master, the Christ.”

The world we live in and the experiences we may personally have may tempt us to forget that God is God, and we are not. For me personally, this can often be the case with achievements and success. I long for these because they prove a point to some people and things that caused me pain, but God tenderly shows me that he doesn’t work that way. He encourages me to not forget who I am in Christ — a human being greatly in need of God. Although life may tempt us to forget God and our dependence on him, he kindly brings us back to remember our need. I love that he uses the weak to shame the strong and remembers the low to shame the wise. If you are like me and struggle with remembering God is God and we are not, I hope you find encouragement that you are not alone. May we all remember that we can rest in who God says he is because our faith shows us that we don’t have to fight for victory — we are all living out of victory from a battle that has already been won from our master — Jesus.

Connie Beck
Director of Honors Program

Wednesday, February 28

Matthew 20:17-28 — Reflection

As I reflect on Matthew 20:17-28, I think of my own role as a mother and a daughter. During my younger years, I always desired to be a leader. It didn’t matter what the task was, I wanted to lead it, be in charge and direct others. This was partly due to seeing how others took charge and led different activities. I felt that I could do what they were doing, and maybe even do it better. Desiring that recognition for a job well done. It was also hearing my parents tell me, “you can do anything you put your mind to, now go be great”. What I didn’t understand was all of the behind the scenes things that were being done in order to crank out a finished and greatly received product or outcome. This is also what how I began raising my children. Telling them, “you can do anything you put your mind to”! Oh, how we ignore the details.

This is exactly how the mother of Zebedee’s children approached Jesus in verse 20 of Matthew 20. She saw an opportunity to boost her children, get them out front, and have them recognized. Not at all understanding the full weight of what she was asking in order to have her sons promoted to sitting with Jesus. As I grow deeper and deeper in my relationship and walk with Jesus, I better understand being a servant. The Lord has shown me that promotion comes from Him and not from any man. I further understand that it is not the title of my role that makes me great, it is how I serve in that role. I can lead from the bottom, boosting others and glorifying God for the opportunity to raise up others. That is why everything I do is of service to God and for his glory. His recognition is the only one that matters. At the end of my life I want to hear the Lord say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” and not, “I never knew you”. This is also what my husband and I have strived to instill into our children as well. No matter the role we play, leading or being led, we seek the guidance, promotion and glory of the Lord. This what the Lord was teaching in verses 26-28.

Ursula Atkins
Director of Procurement

Thursday, February 29

Luke 16:19-31

During this Lenten season, I am reflecting out of the devotional book, Black Liturgies: Prayers, Poems and Meditations for Staying Human by Cole Arthur Riley. In the chapter on Lent, the author writes, “Many of us have been trained to believe Lent is about solidarity with Christ alone. But Christ’s forty days in the desert mirror the forty years the Israelites journeyed in the wilderness after being rescued from slavery. The two journeys remind us that the wilderness can be both solitary and communal. Despite prevalent teachings, the question of this sacred season is not, What food are you giving up for Lent?  It is, What practice of solidarity with the suffering are you choosing? Or, What needs do you need met this Lent?”

What sobering thoughts for me personally, as in the years I have observed the Lenten season, I have indeed focused primarily on solidarity with Christ and His suffering and not so much on solidarity with humankind and the suffering our brothers and sisters endure. As far as sacrifice is concerned, I have been taught that during Lent we fast similarly to Christ’s forty days in the wilderness with no food, therefore the emphasis is on giving up some food choice that we typically enjoy. My understanding has evolved over the years to believe fasting might include anything that consumes our attention regularly and distracts from time spent engaging with the spiritual disciplines that enhance our relationship with God, such as social media or some other pleasure. 

Cole Arthur Riley’s observations are consistent with the gospel reading about Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). I am grateful for these convicting reminders that Lent is not so much about religion and observing rituals as it is about relationship not only with Christ, but also with our brothers and sisters, particularly those who are suffering. Like the rich ruler and Lazarus, we will all experience a day of judgement. May our prayer be that we have found solidarity not only with Christ in this lifetime, but also with the “Lazaruses” of this world; that we might leave this world a better place than we found it, and one day find eternal rest in the loving arms of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Felecia LaVant, DMin
Director of Purpose and Life Long Learning

Friday, March 1

You’ve got to love the Bible! All the stories of jealousy, envy and greed are so relatable!

I hate to admit it, but I am envious of one of my brothers. My gorgeous-athletic-intelligent-everything-goes-his-way brother. Of course, I never sold him into slavery, but that was probably because the option wasn’t available to me! And just like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time remained obstinately unrepentant, I too struggle with stubbornness to surrender my will to God’s, preferring my own narrow vision to his grander, more loving ideals.

These somewhat disturbing passages of what man is capable of remind us how envy, deceitfulness, callousness and obstinacy still plague humanity. But there is hope in Jesus Christ! Through trusting God’s mysterious workings, Joseph forgives; and Christ intercedes for his murderers with mercy beyond human understanding. We too have that unwavering love available to us.

I take refuge from my own darkness of heart in the One whose ways are higher, and whose plans, often through suffering love, draw us to redemption.

Dr. Bev Vitali
Director, Institute for Leadership Development; Professor of Management

Saturday, March 2

Luke 15:1-3, Luke 15:11-32

Feeling lost. In the day-to-day interactions of life, our classes and workloads, how does one not become lost in the midst of deadlines, research assignments, and commitments? Feeling lost does not necessarily mean feeling lost in your faith in God. One day in the beginning of the semester, Brother Alan and I were talking from the Chapel to our office in the Thomas Center and I had come to a calming and assuring realization: The act of searching for God, even when we do not feel his presence, is ultimately the proof of God’s existence. No matter how lost it may seem that I am, without prior knowledge, I am found in the path of God’s glory. Sometimes it feels as if I am walking amongst a road, heavenly like, and I am confused, holding my thumb out to the road looking for a ride (although, in this context, I am asking for the intercession of the Saints) and growing anxious because as a person who likes to know the hard-hitting questions, I need a sign from God.

Brother Alan then nudged me and informed me that I was about to run into a pole. The Gospel of Matthew follows tax collectors and sinners being reprimanded by the Pharisees for having the audacity to be in Jesus’ Presence. In a swift and sensitive tone, at least in some interpretations, Jesus shares the story of a man and his two sons. The man and his two sons may be one of the more well-known stories considering the hypocrisy that seems so present in the Climax of Jesus’ story. We resonate with the older son who works day-in-and-day-out, probably feeling lost, as we do, and sees the fruit of his Father’s labor wasted and given away to temptations. However, the key message here is “he was lost and has been found”.

It’s important to see that Today’s Gospel is a complete flush-out of the criticisms of hypocrisy that we bring towards Jesus and his teachings; Regardless of the temptations that plague our Brothers and Sisters, it is important that we seek not only the opportunity for them to be found, only the Good that they have within themselves. Ask yourself, what is the reasoning for judging my Brother or Sister? A connection between the Gospel of Luke and Matthew gives us a “quote” to allow for us to reflect on our judgment: “take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Mt 7:5)”. Upon examining the plank in our eye, what is it that glorifies your Brother or Sister and makes their sins invisible and not invincible?

Christian Camacho
Campus Ministry Aide

Lenten Reflections: March 3 – 9

Sunday, March 3

John 2:13-25

Admittedly, this Gospel passage always scared me a little growing up. As a little girl, there was not much I considered more terrifying than getting into trouble or disappointing a parent or authority figure. This directly affected how I viewed God — the ultimate authority figure. It was not until my college years, that I truly met the person of Jesus and entered into a deep friendship with Him — this changed EVERYTHING about how I viewed God and entered into relationship with Him.

As I have grown in friendship with Jesus, I have come to really appreciate this Gospel passage in a new light. I no longer see it as Jesus losing His cool, but rather lovingly calling out those He meets in the temple. The temple was a gift from God and where the Jews went to worship and praise God — it was a physical representation of their relationship with God. When Jesus walked into that temple, He did not find people who were using their gifts and talents to praise and serve God, but rather people who had fallen into the temptations of the world and were pursuing their own self-interests. He calls them to “destroy this temple and in three days [He] will raise it up.” We know He was talking about the temple of His body, which was raised from the dead after three days.

Through Baptism, our hearts are temples of the Holy Spirit — Christ dwells in each of us. We live in a broken and fallen world — we all have places within our hearts where we have fallen into temptations of pursuing the kingdom of “me” instead of the kingdom of God. The good news: God already knows this about us, loves, and cares for us in the midst of it; that is why He gave us the gift of His only Son – so through Jesus, these broken places within us can be destroyed, raised from the dead, and our relationship with God can be restored.

Let us be open and honest with the Lord and ourselves this Lenten season. Let us allow Him to come into the temple of our hearts and show us which tables need to be flipped and what sins need to be driven out. Let these places of sin and slavery die in Him and be transformed into new life, so that at the end of these forty days, we can truly proclaim with our very lives: We are the Easter people! As today’s responsorial psalm proclaims, “Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.” Amen.

Rebecca Preston
Friend of the University

Monday, March 4

Luke 4:24-30

In the Gospel of Luke, the widow was one of the disregarded groups, and the foreigner was the Pharisee’s enemy. Jesus’ message was to all people, but especially to the Pagans and the lost sheep. Making friends with the outsider could result in being kicked out of one’s own group.

I used to be someone who was quite sensitive to rejection. In my early twenties, I battled to fit in with my family, friends, and sorority sisters, but most of the time I felt alone. As a result, I had to compromise my spiritual principles in order to fit in. I have developed depression, low self-esteem, and anger because of rejection.

This was my moment of freedom—realizing that Jesus “accepted” by God’s loving care and rescuing grace. Throughout this Lenten season, I have been reflecting and being reminded by the scriptures that I am loved and welcomed unconditionally by God.

Marianne Ogutu
Director of Student Engagement

Tuesday, March 5

Matthew 18:21-35

Forgiveness is no easy task, let alone offering forgiveness to those unworthy. However, it’s a beautiful act that allows an individual to achieve both growth and maturity. Whether it be within oneself, to those who have wronged us, or those we hold dear to our heart, forgiveness is the key to moving forward into new beginnings.

I myself have fallen victim to holding a grudge, and from that I have learned I was not truly happy or healed until I began to accept that all things happen for a reason. We have all been wronged and wronged, no one person is better than the other as it is all our first time going through life. There is a misconception that forgiveness means we must accept unfavorable behaviors that cause us harm mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically. In all actuality, forgiveness means to accept what has been done and moving forward without holding hate or disdain for the situation.

The gospel states, ““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.”” Forgiveness isn’t easy, not in the least, even the strongest people cannot forgive people they claim to love. However, this scripture is a reminder that we should never forget to forgive those around us, even if some need more than others. If we can forgive ourselves for our indiscretions, why can’t we allow the same to those around us? As I close out this reflection, I would like to leave you all with the golden rule: do to others what you would have them do to you. You never know the change you can make in someone’s life just by displaying a bit of kindness, and freeing them of their guilt with a simple, “I forgive you.”

Chelsea Rodriguez (’25)
Marketing Major

Wednesday, March 6

Matthew 5:17-19

Temptation is a funny thing when left to ponder on. Sin is a mutually interesting thing, even more so when remembering that all who walk the earth have committed a sin. I am no stranger to sin. But am I a bad person? Personally, I do not believe I am, and neither are you, the person reading this.

In the Gospel of Matthew, it says “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called last in the Kingdom of heaven.” No mere mortal is free of sin, we’re born with it, and we spend the entirety of our life being sinful. However, the message here is not to shame us for our sinful nature, but instead to advise us to walk down the right path. Sin is inevitable, but if we as people do nothing to lessen our sinful acts, to reach a certain enlightenment, we are undeserving of the everlasting beauty the kingdom of heaven has to offer. Those who live a God-less world will teach others to go against the commandments as a means of freedom. The further away that they walk from Jesus and the commandments, the more uncertain their days will be, and they will not live a life a freedom; rather a life of discontent and fear.

Instead, we must work towards following the commandments as best we can. We should retroactively work towards being better within ourselves; ultimately, making those around us more beautiful in and out. I am a sinner; However, I work daily to be better, I work towards following the commandments instead of actively working against them. I am a Catholic and I believe that Jesus walks alongside me, advising me on what’s best for my life. When speaking with my friends I advise them to trust in God and know that he will always be there, even if we don’t want him to be; more so, when we need him to be. God is our father, and our father has always loved us with no conditions, the least I can do is love my father and follow his teachings.

Rafael Aleman (’26)
Marketing Major

Thursday, March 7

Luke 11:14-23

Love is a beautiful thing that we as humans get the grand pleasure of experiencing. That being said, love comes in all shapes and forms. There is the love we have for our family, the love we have for our partner, and the love we have for ourselves.

However, this scripture focuses on the love we have for our neighbor, and our father: God. The scripture provided us with the following, “He is one and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Love is a beautiful act that very few get to experience. It is our job as people to provide each other with love above all else. If we can have love and compassion for ourselves, what limits us from doing the same for our neighbor?

To love our neighbor is to love our father. God is grand; he has provided us all with unrelenting love. Despite our sins, despite us straying from the path he has carved for us, he has loved us all the same. I personally tend to struggle in granting the people I am closest to compassion. It is easy for us to forget that those who appear the happiest around us may need the most love.

We as people need to remember that we are all simply that — people. We are going to make mistakes; there is no doubt about that. We will lose our temper and forget that we all just need compassion. What I focus on as a gentle reminder is that God is forgiving, he has no lack of love in his heart even for people we deem to be the evilest of creatures. If God can remember to love us despite our flaws, we should remember to love him and our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. 

Antonio Aleman (’25)
Biology Major

Friday, March 8

Mark 12:28-34

Hate and jealousy are powerful emotions that can destroy our relationships with others as well as our personal experiences. As human beings, we often are placed in situations in which we allow such emotions to poison our heart and lead us towards exhibiting destructive behaviors. Just like in today’s reading, Joseph’s brothers allowed their hearts to be poisoned with such jealousy that they went as far as wanting to kill their own brother.

Although I have never experienced that degree of emotion, I am a sinner and I can say that I have felt jealousy at some point in my life. For a while, I was jealous at the fact that others were given the job opportunities that I was striving for. In my eyes, they were God’s favorites. I let those emotions and thoughts of “why not me” build up to the point where I started focusing more on being mad at others instead of improving myself.

I really enjoy this reading since it touches on emotions that are undeniably part of all human experience. We should not try to conceal our emotions and thoughts, instead we should use the time to reflect on them and become a better version of ourselves. Especially during this time, we should all open our hearts and empty them out of those negative emotions that have started to build up in us. We have to use this time to open our hearts and minds to better follow God’s commands. Only by that, we can be at peace not only with others, but with ourselves too.

Itzel Balderas (’24)
Accounting Major

Saturday, March 9

Hosea 6:1-6

Today’s passage is one that resonated deeply with me, although admittedly, at first read it’s not the easiest scripture to contemplate as it calls for something challenging: acknowledging our mistakes.

Why is it difficult to admit our shortcomings? Perhaps it’s due to ego, fear of consequences, or the fear of acknowledging failure. Despite these complexities, Hosea urges the people to repent for their spiritual short comings of wandering away from God’s path.

After reflecting on the passage, I realized that the mistake is not the point. The point is that despite our mistakes, God remains steadfast in his love and commitment to us. Even when we stray, the invitation to return is always open, reminding me that God’s grace and forgiveness are ever-present.

‘Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.’ He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us. After two days he will revive us; on the third day, he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.’

Hosea’s says that God desires genuine compassion and acknowledgment over sacrifices and offerings, this reminds me that God values a humble and obedient heart above just going through the motions of religious rituals. “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” It’s about having a real, authentic connection with Him.

This passage inspires me to live with that same kind of authentic and genuine kindness and gratitude in my daily life, whether I’m talking to God, parenting, interacting with my colleagues, or extending my friendship to others.

“Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD; as certain as the dawn is coming, and his judgement shines forth like the light of day! He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the earth.”

Ryan Flickinger
Vice President of Advancement & Alumni Relations

Lenten Reflections: March 10 – 16

Sunday, March 10

Ephesians 2:4-10

As always, the Sunday readings of Lent are rich and filled with much on which to reflect. Today, however, that second reading (Ephesians 2:4-10) is pretty hard to beat.

Take some time to read through it slowly and savor the words and images.

The one that jumped out at me is verse 10: “For we are God’s handiwork . . .” Just ponder that for a few moments. We are—each of us—God’s handiwork! There are various translations from the Greek of this term, but this is the one that appears most often and the one that I like best. For what does it imply? The simplest definition of handiwork is: “work done by hand.” That takes me back to that wonderful line in Psalm 139: “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (v.13) And even back to Genesis, Chapter 2, where Adam is created from the dust of the earth and God breathes life into him. What strikes me is the intimacy of these image: that God—our very Creator—has shaped and formed us to be who we are, that he has breathed life into us, that we are the work of his hands, that we are created in the divine image. What a profound testimony to our dignity as human beings, right?

To be God’s handiwork means that we—each of us and all of us—are infused with a divine spark and energy (grace) so that, as it says earlier in the reading, we might know “the immeasurable riches of his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” God has not only created us “by hand” but he also showers us with so much goodness.

When you’re feeling weary, discouraged, or out of it, when life is getting you down, just pause and sit with this phrase for a while. Let its truth and beauty permeate you. Breathe deeply and know that you are God’s handiwork—as are all the people around you.

How can that not make one feel renewed and energized, especially as we continue our Lenten journey?

Brother Larry Schatz, FSC
Director of Vocations for the De La Salle Christian Brothers

Monday, March 11

John 4:43-54

One aspect that particularly resonates with me is the importance of having faith in God’s plan. Entrusting my life to the hands of God brings me a sense of peace and comfort. Isaiah 65:17-21 paints a vivid picture of a future where God promises to wipe away every tear and bring forth a time of joy. This passage serves as a reminder of God’s unwavering faithfulness and the hope of our ultimate restoration in Heaven. In addition, it speaks to the deep longing within our souls for a world free from suffering.

In John 4:43-54, we witness the transformative power of Jesus’ healing touch. Through the story of the royal official’s son, we observe a journey from desperation to unwavering faith—a journey that mirrors our own Lenten experience. Lent, a season of seeking, questioning, and encountering the living Christ in our lives. Jesus’ assurance to the official—”Your son will live”—resonates deeply and echoing the certainty of God’s presence and power in our lives, even in our darkest moments.

Like the official, there have been times when I felt lost in my own struggles and uncertainties. My faith has faltered, and I have questioned God’s presence amidst life’s trials. Yet, just as the official persisted in his plea to Jesus, I have learned to persevere in prayer and trust in the goodness of God’s plan, even when it surpasses my understanding.

As we journey through Lent, may we draw strength from the stories of healing, belief, and renewal found in Scripture. May we, like the official, cling to faith amid adversity, trusting in God’s promise of restoration and renewal.

Jose Luis Hernandez
Engineering Major

Tuesday, March 12

John 5:1-16

One of the biggest struggles I face in my relationship with God is my own stubbornness and unwillingness to surrender control. Most days, my mind feels like it’s racing a mile a minute with tasks that need my attention, projects I want to work on, activities I’d rather be doing, worries and endless preparations that take hold of my thoughts. These days, it often feels as though I am too busy, mentally, to spare God a single moment.

As I reflect on today’s gospel, John 5:1-16, I am struck by the peculiar response of the ailing man. When Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be well?,” it seems as though the man misses the point altogether. He immediately responds with a complaint. The man is preoccupied with the idea that no one is there to help him and that the others at the pool always beat him to the water. Does he not remember the sole reason why he’s waited on those rocky steps for 38 years? But then I considered what I might say if posed with the same “cure” to my current troubles. Possibly responding with “I can’t seem to get it all done,” “There’s never enough time,” maybe even “Who are you to even ask that?” — or worse still, in my constant rush, I may not even hear the question asked of me to begin with. 

As we continue down the path of Lent, drawing closer to that glorious Easter celebration, I draw strength from what Jesus does next in today’s gospel. He tells the man, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk,” and the man does, and he is healed! Jesus recognizes the desires of the man’s heart, despite its shadowed and lost state, and calls him back to a life of fullness and grace. I can only imagine what Christ can do with a surrendered and willing “Yes!” to His question. 

I’ll leave us with the verse from before today’s gospel, “A clean heart create for me, O God; give me back the joy of your salvation” (Ps 51:12). As we continue on the Lenten journey, may we seek the voice of the Lord, asking if we too want to be well, and allow Him to create clean hearts in us once again. May we surrender our busy thoughts and lives to His plans and allow the joy of His salvation to fill our days once more.

Madison Kelley
Friend of the University

Wednesday, March 13

John 5:17-30

The season of Lent is an opportunity to review our lives, as well as our relationship with God. Our experience of God has been greatly influenced by our guardians, who, with their love and companionship, have helped us grow, guided us in life, and accompanied us in our faith. Just as we feel loved and grateful for the presence of these guides in our lives, today’s readings show us the figure of a paternal God whose children we are. This image of God is characterized by a Father who listens to us, who attends to our needs, who never forgets us, and who is faithful and merciful. Among the characteristics that stand out is that of the Father, who listens and is attentive because he loves us and wants the best for us. This premise invites us to trust in him and to feel the company of a God who makes us part of his family, for as Isaiah says, “Does a mother forget or fail to love her own son? For though she forgets him, I will not forget you.”

However, for any relationship to work, there must be mutual communication, and the readings invite us to strengthen our experience of prayer, to draw closer to this Father who loves us and wants us to be close to him. It is here that the Gospel presents us with the figure of Jesus as the one who does the will of the Father and to whom we must listen. Just as we not only love our parents but also follow their advice because we know that we need it and that it helps us to be better, the invitation for this day is to listen more to God the Father in our lives through Jesus, to follow the teachings of the gospel and to return the love we receive from God to the service of others. May this Lent be the opportunity to recognize the tenderness of a God who loves us, who is our Father, and who wants the best for us.

Brother Juan Manuel Hernandez Bernal, FSC
Vocations for the De La Salle Christian Brothers

Thursday, March 14

John 5:31-47

In today’s first reading, Moses begs God, “Let your blazing wrath die down; relent in punishing your people.” Humanity has a long history believing God is punishing and vengeful. Over the ages, people have attributed diseases and various misfortunes to God’s wrath. Yet, that isn’t the vision of God that Jesus paints in His teachings and parables. Who is really angry here? God? Or Moses?

How do we deal with anger today, HOW DO I DEAL WITH ANGER TODAY? 

For me, anger is a hard emotion to deal with because I tend to be a peacemaker. Jesus had to deal with the emotion of anger, is there just anger? I believe there is just anger. and at the same time. there is the emotion of Love. Anger and Love — how does Love meet Anger? Fruit for thought!

Brother Robert Veselsky, FSC
Director of Vocation Ministries

Friday, March 15

John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

In today’s gospel reading from John, Jesus says “you know me and also know where I am from.” This points us to the question ,“How do we know him?” The answer the gospel reading gives us is quite clear. We know him in the breaking of the bread – that is the Eucharist, but we also see him and talk with him daily and may not even realize his presence standing next to us.

We see him in the face of the driver who paused to let us in line in front of him. We see him in the face of the guard at the gate where we enter campus each day. We see his face in the young woman sitting alone in the cafeteria eating her lunch. We see him in the face of the food line worker as they pile the French fries on our plate. We see him in the face of the man who travels the campus collecting the bags of trash we produce each day. We see his face in our fellow students who make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless each week. And we see the face of Jesus in the teacher in the front of our classroom each day trying to help us understand advanced geometry. We encounter the face of Jesus a hundred times a day if we only stop and look… “YOU know me…,” he tells us. On Ash Wednesday, the first scripture we are presented with admonishes and invites us to “Rend your hearts” — or rather change your hearts — and when we do, we can see the face of Jesus on those around us, both the beautiful and the homeless. Let us pray that this season of change gives us the courage to see his face.

Brother Robert Werle FSC
Staff, Retired

Saturday, March 16

John 7:40-53

In John 7:40-53, we witness a scene where there’s a division among the people regarding Jesus’ identity. Some recognize Him as the prophet and others as the Christ, while some question him entirely because of where he came from. It’s a fascinating passage that delves into themes of belief, doubt, and the nature of authority. It states, “This is truly the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.”But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? This quote is an example of the complexities of human vision and belief. The people continue to doubt and disagree with one another. Highlighting the complexities of faith and how personal experiences, societal standards, and preconceived assumptions frequently influence it. It also highlights the importance of not judging by appearance but instead seeking the truth. There was a time when I was in a group discussing a controversial topic. We all had different viewpoints and interpretations just like the people in the gospel. It was interesting to see how our backgrounds and experiences influence our perspectives it showed me the importance of listening to others and being open to new ideas

Michelyn Pabon
Biology Student

Lenten Reflections: March 17 – 23

Sunday, March 17

John 12:20-33

This is the week before Holy Week; next week, we will watch, or even be a part of, the reenactment of “that” procession into Jerusalem with Jesus, leading us riding astride on a donkey. One will notice in the second paragraph that Jesus contemplates asking his Father to save him from this happening – his betrayal by Judas, followed by his Crucifixion. There are times when we experience our doubts about the task we are about to do just as Jesus might have done at that moment. However, we also should notice that this doubt was minor; Jesus gladly accepts his task.
Jesus makes a prediction regarding his upcoming task; Notice that John 12:32 states “lifted up from the earth” as being a prediction of how Jesus would die. The fact that when this happens, he will “draw all people to himself.” One of the reasons we follow him and prepare ourselves for that “final judgment” is that we want to be part of that group that will be drawn to him forever.

Andrew J. Morgret, M.B.A., CPA, CGMA
Associate Professor Emeritus of Accounting

Monday, March 18

Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62 & John 8:1-1

Speaking from the very top of the bell tower, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Wow, what an impactful and thought-provoking set of readings for today. In the Book of Daniel, we are told the story of Susanna, the daughter of Hilkiah, and the unfortunate series of events that took place in her garden. Following this story, we are told a story of a woman who was brought to Jesus from the Pharisees with intentions greater than the sin she committed. Through both stories, we see the glory and acceptance of the Lord’s forgiveness as well as the Lord’s teachings. Jesus says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” We’ve all heard this phrase before, and through this reading, it is almost as if you could feel the Lord’s presence transform the minds of the Pharisees and all those gathered around this woman.
At times, we may feel like Susanna and the woman mentioned in the Gospel of John. Someone whose sins have been put on full blast by those who live in glass homes. Those feelings are some of the harshest because we feel that it is only Jesus who could save us, and through the intercession of the Lord’s spirit, we can only hope that we can be saved from these public trials that are given to us. Jesus’ words at the end of the Gospel of Luke give us a call back to the first reading, “Go, and from now on, do not sin anymore”. Lying to the Lord grows a lifestyle that bears no fruits that are beneficial for our souls. The men who accused Susanna lied to the Lord and learned their fate upon their natural death. I am not sure about you all, but that would push me to never sin again (or lie to your friend about trying out a new restaurant that you’ve been to 5 times because their brisket is just amazing, and you don’t want to give up your ‘secret’ spot). We can only imagine what the days after the events meant for them, what spurred up within them, was it contemplation? Forgiveness? Death? Sadness?
We are all with sin; It is about the brother/sister of ours that we must remember that acknowledging their sin is a reflection of acknowledging our own. How will you acknowledge your neighbor’s gifts and talents and let them know how important they are? Are you important to yourself? Acknowledge it!

Christian Camacho
Campus Ministry Aide

Tuesday, March 19

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16
Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22
Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a

Today we celebrate a man of deep faith. In the Gospel reading of this day, it is revealed that Joseph had to struggle with Mary’s pregnancy, knowing he wasn’t the father. A comedian once said he imagined Joseph saying: “Who is this guy named Spirit?” Though the joke is slightly irreverent, it certainly points to the dilemma that Joseph was facing. The end of the story is almost touching: “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home” (Matthew 1:24).

Like Joseph, we sometimes need reassurance. Life throws things at us, and we may have to seek advice because few of us are visited by an angel. It takes humility to ask someone to help us sort out a challenge.

I just saw a new movie called CABRINI. It is the story of a founderess of a missionary Order of Sisters, who especially helped the Italian immigrants at the turn of the nineteenth century. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini faced one challenge after another. But she was reassured by her own Sisters and was often motivated by the very people she was serving. Even some of her opponents eventually came around and supported her cause, including the Pope and a bishop. One thing he refused to surrender was the certainty of her vocation and her resistance to prejudice in any form, either against Italians or her own womanhood.

We, too, are called to overcome our doubts and walk in faith like St. Joseph and Mother Cabrini, as she was affectionately called. Lent is a good time to renew our faith and to face our fears and opposition with fortitude. An old hymn says: Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come follow Me” (Berberick and Walker). We cannot be totally spared suffering, misunderstanding, and even doubt, but faith conquers all.

Brother Alan Parham, FSC
Director of Vocation-Promotion

Wednesday, March 20

Daniel 3:16-18 / John 8:31-32

In the first reading of the book of Daniel 3:16-18, I find a great example of how we can strive to have our faith. Trusting and following the Lord as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did. They answered King Nebuchadnezzar that whether the Lord chose to save them or not from the white-hot furnace and from his hands was not up to them to decide but was left in God’s hands. I can relate to these specific verses in Daniel since I often found myself so unsure of many decisions I had to make during my senior year, both personal and career-wise. Some were extremely difficult for me, and sometimes I did not know if the path I was walking towards was the right one. Despite these challenges, I held on tightly to the Lord in those difficult moments and let Him fight my battles. I know we live in a culture where we are taught to be independent from a young age, but when it comes to our relationship with the Lord, we will always be His beloved children and always in need of Him. I have learned from my own experiences that we cannot walk life on our own, or everything we experience will be a whole lot more difficult and painful. Finding that time and space to pray and speak with the Lord, seeking that refuge in Him, has been very important for me and is what has kept me going in my studies and life, even when it gets very overwhelming.
At first, I was scared to completely let go of myself into the Lord’s arms but by His grace, I decided to be obedient and follow Him. Once I started being obedient and doing His will and not mine, I began to notice many good changes within myself, my relationship with God, and those around me. I experienced true joy and true love that I could only find in Him. As we read in the Gospel reading of John 8:31-32, knowing the truth helped set me free. The truth is that Jesus died on the cross for you and me, putting to death sin and everything else that keeps us in bondage. During this time of lent, let us reflect and ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance to reveal what things are holding us in bondage. Whether it is guilt, a sense of fear or anxiety, anger, resentment, forgiveness, or even a struggle with negative feelings about yourself. You do not have to live with them, surrender them to the Lord—Jesus has set you free!

Monserrat Vazquez
Student, Graphic Design

Thursday, March 21

Genesis 17:3-9 & John 8:51-59

If you’re feeling confused about today’s readings, no worries! Chapter 17 of Genesis gives us the prelude of the 8th chapter of the Gospel of John; Which is the entrance of Abraham and his conversation with God after he prostrated himself. We can only imagine the surreal feeling that Abraham had felt after being told by God that he was to become the father of a host of nations. Concluding the reading with, “On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.” Talk about pressure! Have you been given a responsibility that you believed was too large for your confidence? Did you feel that you are not able to withstand the trials and tribulations that are brought to you? I think Abraham’s act of listening to God shows us that through our own faith and acknowledgment of God’s holy presence, we can do anything!
Later on, we see Jesus speak with the Jews about belief in God allowing us to never see death, what exactly does this mean? As we read further, Jesus is caught in a contradiction about the death of Abraham “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you, a liar. But I do know him, and I keep his word. Abraham, your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad”. Jesus concludes by saying, “I AM.” Our faith brings us to these thoughts: who is Jesus, and what is his power? What does it mean to bring the word of God to those who are stuck in a mindset that leads them to threaten to stone you? One could say it is our faith that shields us from the stones that are thrown at us, the same stones that were going to be thrown at the woman in chapter 8 of John. However, what was it that we focused on through Monday’s reflection? The hypocrisy to judge one for their sins and trying to be the ultimate judge clouds our minds to see the glory of God’s words.
Abraham, Jesus, the Jews, and those involved in the bible are characters that are battling the public for their belief in God; Maybe the answer to continued holiness is the necessity to put God first; One might say that those who contradict your belief might be in the same realm of you; and it is up to us to accept them as our brother, not throw stones at them

Christian Camacho
Campus Ministry Aide

Friday, March 22

Jeremiah 20:10-13 & John 10:31-42

Growing up in a rural small town, there were two things that meant everything to people. Their own names and if they were good on their word (kept their promises). In a small town based on your name, you were destined for either greatness or just another person who would end up back in the same cycle as everyone else. If you did not keep your promises, no one would trust you or believe in you. Now I may have left the small town, but those principles still apply. Looking at the readings for today, this stands true for who would be called the father of faith.
Before Abraham became who we remember him for today, he was called Abram. In those days, names had great significance. Abram (exalted father) would become Abraham (father of nations). God gives Abraham a name fitting for what he would be called for. Then God makes a promise to Abraham that is everlasting, and it is not just that He will love Abraham. He says that He will make nations of him, and they will be kings come from him. The only condition of that promise is that he and his descendants must keep the covenant.
In the second reading in John 8, Jesus is being asked if He is greater than Abraham, who, to the people of the time, was the father of faith. Here comes the idea that names hold great power. However, we see Jesus say before Abraham, was I AM. Meaning that Jesus is the name above all names. How lucky am I to be called a Child of God, be an image bearer of the name higher than any other. To fulfill that calling on my life as a Child of God I am called to, which is fulfill the great commission. Because Jesus died on the cross for my sins, it is a promise that I will not be turned away if I believe in the promise of eternal life. I am glad I serve the name above all names, the living God, who keeps His promises even when I falter.

Grace Puckett
Student, History & Education

Saturday, March 23

Gospel of John 11:45-56

Reflecting on a verse in the Gospel of John (chapter 11, verse 49), I am reminded that there is so much I do not know. Many times, I plan my life as if I am the one in control of its outcomes, acting surprised when endings don’t turn out how I expected them to. How many times have I thought that I know better for me than the God of the Universe does? I am ashamed to say the count highly exceeds what it should be when I am fully trusting in the sovereignty of God’s promises. God doesn’t promise a smooth path free of toil, but He does hold our lives in the palm of His hand, knowing the plans He has in store for us are meant for our prosperity.

I am encouraged by this passage to consider how something I think is good for me may not be within God’s will. For example, God had a plan for me to stay in Memphis for college, even though my goal was to get as far away from my hometown as possible. He placed wise individuals throughout my path when I was proving myself to be stubborn and hardened in heart. Through His will and not mine, I am fully confident in my decision to stay local due to the people I have interacted with and the experiences I have had. We don’t always know what’s best for us, though it’s hard to be humbled in the process.

Living in a very individualistic society, we are told to do what makes us happy, and while God values our happiness, He knows that our instant self-gratification may not be better for us in the long run. Next time you make a fleeting decision, filter it through the Word of God, praying for Him to reveal His will for your life. Is it your desire or His?

Lacey G Conley (’24)
English Major

Lenten Reflections: March 24 -30

Sunday, March 24

John 12:12-16 & Mark 15:34

I remember as a young child I always enjoyed to go to Mass on Palm Sunday because we were given palms to wave and play with during the service. I also remember that the Gospel reading went on forever! As a child, it seemed like it would never end!

Life is often like that. As we mature, we understand things differently. We reflect on the readings and what was taking place in Jesus’ life leading up to his crucifixion. I often wonder what Jesus thought of as he was growing up. We know he was both human and divine, but how did these two factors interact in his mind and how did it affect his actions from childhood, through teenage years, to adulthood.

On Palm Sunday, the people rejoiced, wave palms, and sing Hosannas! Five days later, they abandon him! They crucify him! What are the situations in our lives where one moment we affirm someone and the next we may forget, abandon, or reject them?

“My friend, my friend, why have you abandoned me?” There are so many examples today of human abandonment – feelings of loneliness, despair, loss of a spouse, divorce in a family, breakup of a significant relationship, death due to an accident or disease, bullied in school because of sexual orientation. The list goes on.

But Jesus, as model, comes to our rescue. He follows his Father’s will and after three days on Easter Sunday arises from the dead and overcomes abandonment and sin and brings us salvation. From death to new life! Let us be more aware of those around us who are struggling with “abandonment”. Let us become Jesus to them, bringing new life full of acceptance, hope, joy, peace, and our love. Let us become Easter people!

Live, Jesus, in our hearts. Forever!

One of my favorite hymns sung during Holy Week is the African-American spiritual, “Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)?”

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

Although none of us were physically there when Christ died, the readings for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion compel us to go there, at least in spirit, if we are to truly experience and understand the mystery and the gift of these holy days.

Likewise, in this hymn, with each verse we can imagine ourselves placed at the scene of the crucifixion, where we can hear and see the pain of the nails, the smell of blood at the piercing of his side, and as we feel the earth tremble as darkness covers the sun. We tremble.

Reflecting on the experience of those who were there as Jesus suffered, died, and was buried, what was it like to be there, and what does it means for us? In today’s Gospel we hear, ‘And they all left him and fled,’ when just days before they were exclaiming, ‘Hosanna to the King!’

We tremble today as we witness the sorrow and suffering of our crucified Lord in faces of so many people suffering today, near and far, in the Middle East and Gaza, in Ukraine and Myanmar, in the experiences of human trafficking and in the plight of the unemployed and homeless, the sick and the lonely, in our cities, workplaces, and homes.

Where are we with Jesus this Holy Week?

(“Were You There” is the song of those who learned to rely on God’s strength rather than their own, who used their suffering as a means to draw closer to the Lord. It was likely composed by enslaved African Americans in the 19th century and was first published in 1899. It is the only African-American song included in the Catholic Church’s Liturgy of the Hours.)

Brother Thomas Sullivan, FSC
Department of Biology

Brother Larry Humphrey, FSC (’75)
President of St. Joseph’s Institution International School in Singapore

Monday, March 25

Isaiah 42:1-7 & John 12:1-11

The readings from today’s liturgy has given rise to some random thoughts.

This reading reminds me of the contrast in attitude of Jewish leaders toward John the Baptizer and Jesus. They didn’t like John because he was too ascetical. They criticized Jesus because he ate and drank and partied (the wedding feast). Among the things Jesus and John had in common was the tragic and violent end their lives led them too. Is that what the proclamation of the Good News brings? In this reading, it is clear that Jesus knows what’s coming yet he doesn’t exhibit anxiety or fear. He is up for one last good time with close friends. Mary and Martha remain true to character. Martha serves, Mary has the fragrant oil and is nearest to Jesus – and still has the best part. Judas, keeper of the purse also true to character concerned about the money – or so it seems. Jesus is clear that they have enough for the intimacy of a dinner with close friends. Could it be he is already thinking of his last meal with his most intimate companions to be shared in just a few days? It’s an interesting setting and all the elements are present to set the stage for this Holy Week. Already in process is the breaking of bread and “do this in memory of me.” Is this meal also a Eucharistic celebration? All the same elements are present as at the Last Supper. Wasn’t Jesus’ whole life Eucharist? He was placed in a food trough at birth, he lived preaching the inclusive Reign of God and justice for the poor, he washes the feet of his students, he was crucified – and he says do this in memory of me. All of it: the loving intimacy of close friends, shared meals where we break bread together, creating welcoming and inclusive environments, proclaiming, and teaching the Reign of God, self-sacrifice, living justice for the well-being of others. In fact, living as He taught us not only in words but it deeds. “Do this in memory of me.”

We have one last week to prepare for the Resurrection.

“Lent leads to Easter: the ‘retreat’ is not an end in itself, but a means of preparing us to experience the Lord’s passion and cross with faith, hope and love, and thus to arrive at the resurrection.” — Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2023

Brother Michael Fehrenbach, FSC (’69)
Visitor of the Midwest District

Tuesday, March 26

John 13:21-33 & John 13:36-38

“Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” These few words sparked a revolution in my heart. Here is Simon Peter coming to Jesus, I imagine he is standing there in disbelief, saying whatever he can to ask Jesus to allow us to follow him. However, Jesus comforts us in saying “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” It’s similar to a parent saying to us, “If you work hard enough, I will get you a new phone, book, car, or hat.” Yes, a very Gen-Z Mentality, but through these comparisons of our own life stories, we can witness God’s presence in our creators as teaching us from such a young age before we were entered into the church.

Laying down our lives to follow Jesus, is that how we feel right now? How about you, the reader, Do you think you would have that spark within you to drop everything and follow Jesus? What about security? Our families? Our responsibilities? It’s a very hard discussion to have at any time in our life, how do we drop everything for Jesus in a moment’s notice and not feel those worries or fears plague our mind? If there is one to say that it would be difficult, it would be me. However, I find that the need of the scripture gives a deeper message: “Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” Denying Jesus in three chances allows us to discern what the forgiveness of the Lord brings to us when we neglect his only son. Through sacraments like Reconciliation, our conversion from our sins grows us to be a bigger and more devout follower to Christ. It isn’t the easiest to imagine the mindset that Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot had struggled with because it almost gives us a Nullified spiritual feeling; Betraying Jesus and Denying Jesus, why would we think to do so? Sometimes, even on the darkest of days, we may be tempted to discourage the Lord’s presence in our lives. However, through that dark tunnel, we can imagine that the light at the end brings the Kingdom of Heaven to our doorstep, free of any trials and tribulations; simply an environment filled with Love.

Christian Camacho
Campus Ministry Aide, Coordinator McLaughlin Social Justice Institute, Campus Ministry

Wednesday, March 27

Matthew 26:14-25 & Isaiah 50:4-9a

Today’s First Reading is Isaiah 50:4-9a and the message is simple: “It describes the servant’s suffering at the hands of our enemies.”

It seems, especially post COVID, we are all suffering in some form or fashion, from the most minor level to the extreme. I don’t know about you, but some days I find it a challenge to live on this earth right now! During COVID we were forced to isolate ourselves from the world, hope we didn’t get sick, lose our life or the lives of our loved ones. Then post COVID, ALL the enemies reared their ugly heads; little to no patience-no compassion-nor love for each other, crime and gun control is out of control, the cost of living is unbearable, foreign countries are engaging in bloody wars, and most heart-breaking — Americans are at war with Americans. And on and on, and on. When we look around, it feels like there is no relief in sight from all the suffering and all the enemies.

And then there’s today’s Gospel Reading, Matthew 26:14-25, which “reminds us of the various conflicts, betrayal and deceit that we have experienced from time to time in our lives.”

So… what do what we do? What we already know to do — look up and pray to the Lord to ask for his love and protection. He wants us to pick up the bible and get in the habit of reading and living it more often — as it’s our road map to salvation. He wants us to engage in rewarding activities in helping those in need. Doing so takes the focus off our own challenges, and the joy in helping others reduces the stress we feel. And purposefully surrounding ourselves with wholesome, God fearing, loving and caring individuals is extremely vital to our well-being. These angels-on-earth provide us with the support we need in our conflicts, with feelings of betrayal, and struggles with our enemies — for they are an extension of Christ in our midst.

Veronica A. Vinson
Administrative Coordinator, School of Sciences

Thursday, March 28 (Holy Thursday)

Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-15

It is hard to write about Holy Thursday, not because there is a dearth of material, but because it is hard to choose what to focus on. The readings are so rich that some of us have to go on retreat to experience the full array of the Holy Thursday celebration.

The first reading is about the Passover. It is significant because the Mass is the carry-over in the Catholic Church. Moreover, the Last Supper was the first Mass. The responsorial Psalm celebrates the blessing cup, a powerful symbol on this day. The second reading shares St. Paul’s experience of the Eucharist. He may not have called it Mass, but he surely was celebrating what we still do on Holy Thursday and indeed every day of the year except Good Friday. 

Then there is the Gospel in which is emphasized Jesus’ washing of the feet. Yes, Jesus transformed the Passover to celebrate the first Eucharist and even instituted the priesthood. However, he concluded the meal by the washing of the feet. I remind priests and seminarians that it was not only the power of the priesthood that Jesus established at the Last Supper (first Mass) but also the very servant aspect of the sacerdotal calling.

It bothers me a little when I hear of people making plans for Easter celebrations but overlooking Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Like rushing Christmas, many do not realize that waiting in Advent makes Christmas Season so much more special, and the same is true for Lent and Holy Week as we prepare to celebrate Easter. 

Brother Alan Parham, FSC
Campus Ministry Aide

Friday, March 29 (Good Friday)

Good Friday. Why would Christians call “good” the day when we commemorate the death Jesus Christ, our brother, healer, redeemer, savior, and God? Isn’t that sort of backwards?

Before we can answer that question, we must turn to our first reading from Isaiah wherein we encounter the image of a Suffering Servant, one who suffers greatly in order to benefit others. Christians have long drawn parallels from chapters 52 and 53 from Isaiah and what we read of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. When it talks of the Servant being “so marred was his look beyond human semblance,” can we not imagine the bloody mess of a scourged Christ wearing a crown of thorns? That begs a new question: what is good about someone’s incredible distress, especially when inflicted by others?

Later in the passage, it ups the ante, reading, “Yet it was our infirmities that he bore… he was pierced for our offenses.” Here Isaiah spins the suffering in a new way. It is not anything that the Suffering Servant has done in order to merit so intense a punishment; the Servant suffers on another’s behalf. And not just any other person’s behalf, but our behalf. The crime that we commit, the crime deserving of such a brutal reprimand, is our sin. Every time we turn away from the love that God has for us, every time we don’t love someone as completely as we should, we sin. This hurts – and sometimes even destroys – our relationship with God, others, and our very selves. Jesus personally experiences suffering and death, the painful sentence for each of us individually and for all of us collectively, because of our sin.

Does any of this sound “good” to you yet? Doesn’t it still seem wrong that someone should suffer and ultimately die for someone else’s wrongdoings? However, we read later, “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.” The suffering of the Servant is not in vain; in fact, it earns the opposite of the death that accompanies sin. Through the Suffering Servant, reconciliation happens, and Jesus earns for us new opportunities to love and renewed opportunities for life.

Jesus tells us, there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13). He talks the talk but also walks the walk. And therein lies the good: we have a God who loves us so much that he would even die for us so that we might have our friendship restored. We have done nothing to earn or deserve this friendship – we have even turned away from it – and yet God still loves us and seeks us out. I’ll say it again: even though we are all sinners, God still loves us and seeks us out. That is what’s good about this Friday.

Joel Kelley
Director of Campus Ministry & Mission

Saturday, March 30 (Holy Saturday)

Mark 16: 1-7

Take a moment to read the 1st verse of Chapter 16 in the Gospel: When the sabbath was over.

Breathe… Let the words flow through you…

When the week comes to a close, when you’ve finished all of your personal assignments, both personal and profession, what’s that feeling that you have? When you’re resting on the Sabbath day, those feelings of contentment and security hugs you tightly like your favorite knitted sweater and eases your mind; It silences the planes flying over campus and the train that passes by every six seconds and blows its horn. Upon Jesus’ crucifixion, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome would go to the tomb where Jesus is expected to lay. Upon walking to the tomb, they are clouded with doubt and discomfort, wondering what they will see, how they will remove this big boulder from the tomb and discern what the future is without the Son of God walking amongst them. That heavy burden of the unknown, not knowing what to expect upon arrival at our destination, these are the luggage that we unintentionally carry when we go about our life in this world. We feel like Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome when life knocks you down, doubts you with hope of stealing your hope, you feel defeated. It isn’t until we have moments in our lives when we come face to face with the glory of God, raising us up to resurrect our spirit to walk amongst the spirit of Jesus. Later on in the scripture, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome come across a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe. Who is this? Who is this youthful soul that is sitting at our destination? Is he waiting for us? Is he here to bring us the good news? What is it? The young man is an active presence of our reminder to the Holy Spirit of God. This man says “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you”. He brings the good news to us all, Jesus has been raised from his tomb! He is with us, he is here, he is now. It might sound funny but, in this moment, that relief, that care, that security, when the Sabbath was over, we understand that our trials and tribulations are not the clouded vision we overcome. Trials and tribulations are examples of the sunshine and rainbows we encounter each and everyday, in the eyes of those we encounter each and every day.

Christian Camacho
Campus Ministry Aide

Lenten Reflections: March 31

Sunday, March 31 (Easter Sunday)

John 20: 1-9

“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.’”

“While it was still dark,” Mary Magdalen could not see into the tomb. She did not enter. Why did she assume someone had taken the Lord from the tomb? She was with Jesus for three years, watching him and listening to him. She was healed of having seven demons. And after all that, she did not believe what Jesus said about being raised on the third day. Perhaps it was the trauma of Jesus’ death and being separated from him for three days. She never left Jesus, never abandoned him. She sat at the foot of the cross weeping as Jesus’ blood fell on her. She was so faithful, but still did not believe or did not yet understand.

I often do the same. I assume the worst when faced with the unknown — especially the future unknown. Why do I find it hard to understand Mary Magdalen? Time and time again when dreading a future meeting, encounter, or challenge of any sort I have assumed the worst outcome. And time and time again Jesus intervenes, and the result is good beyond anything I could have imagined. How many times will I have to experience this to not always assume the worst?

We are all wounded. And Mary Magdalen’s wounds had been healed by Jesus, but I believe healing is a lifelong process. And perhaps even if a wound is completely healed, the scar remains. Perhaps that scar — the memory of the wound — still causes us to expect the same outcome.

But we are healed and, little by little, freed from this burden. I have seen it in myself. Where our Lord’s love has really healed me — allowed me to face a situation where I always failed but now have won. Situations where I have always bled on others and now am free. And perhaps we have been healed from many things that we have not been able to recognize or accept.

He is risen today!! Let us accept Jesus’ healing embrace and live as the free and whole persons God created us to be. Jesus loves us with a love we cannot begin to comprehend. How do we know this, really know it? By the unconditional love showered upon us by those we hold most dear. Let us develop the virtue of loving as Jesus loves us this Easter season — and through the rest of our lives.

“Love does not calculate, love does not measure, does not worry about expense, does not set up barriers, but can give joyfully; it seeks only the good of the other…”  — Pope Benedict XVI 

Dave Archer