April 3 – April 9

Sunday, April 3 / Fifth Sunday of Lent

“But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’” (John 8:7)

So often in our lives we are reminded of lessons that we have heard before but have not taken to heart. Today’s Gospel is absolutely one of those lessons for me. The temptation to point a finger at another or to think that someone is worse off than me, so that makes me better than them. Jesus speaks straight to the heart when He says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

How different my life would be if I thought about these words every time I had a judgmental thought or said something about someone without their knowing. Through His word, God is continuously inviting me to grow with Him and to deepen my love for His creation. When we interact with one another, may our hands be filled with love and not stones. In this story I am invited to see where I fit. Though at times I relate to the Pharisees, there are plenty of times that I am the woman caught in adultery. But through the grace of God, I can be a reflection of Christ’s love to others. This is huge. By truly taking the Word of God to heart, I can be an extension of His invite to another. 

Joseph PrestonAssociate

Vice President of Mission & Identity

Monday, April 4

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have light of life.” (John 8:12)

The thicker the darkness is, the clearer the light can be seen– even the tiniest one. In the darkness of our life, we can find God’s presence even deeper and more personal.

In today’s first reading (Daniel 13), Susanna experiences the darkest time of her life. She is being falsely judged throughout her trial. She is silenced, unable to tell her side of the story. God is the only refuge she turns to. Her faith directs her whole being: her problems, her fears, and her life. She invites God, the source of light, to stay with her in her moment of powerlessness and defenselessness.

Because of her faith and total trust in God, He turns her darkest moment into light with the help of Daniel, who defends her fearlessly in front of the elders even though his own life is at stake. The light of God not only shines for her, but also for Daniel and others. Her faith shines.

We are called to be light to others like Daniel, to be the voice for the voiceless in the society and to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Above all, we are called to tell the truth and be a light for others. When we are in darkness and at the crossroads of our life, stay close to the Source of Light. Light expels darkness. Lent is the time to start the journey of finding and following the light again.  God Bless.

Sr. Julita Bele Bau

Associate Director of Campus Ministry

Tuesday, April 5

“Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and, whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived” (Numbers 21:9).

Some religions are opposed to images, including  Judaism and some forms of Christianity. There can be a fear of idolatry, that some could confuse the image with God Himself. However, this is an instance in which God commanded Moses to use an image to restore the people’s health. There is an understanding that Christianity is an incarnational religion, and material things can be used to draw one closer to God. Water is used in Baptism, oil in other sacred actions, rings in marriages, etc. Images can be used to inspire God’s people, to remind them of Whom they are worshiping. It is why music and sometimes dance is used in worship.  

For Christians, it is important to constantly discern so as not to confuse the symbol or image with the reality of God. The idea of God revealing himself as a man is the point of the Incarnation, and that has very much to do with our redemption. We should use the simple things of this earth to be closer to our loving God, and that will help us to live in His holy presence. 

Br. Alan Parham / Campus Minister / Director of Vocation Promotion

CBU Class of 1994

Wednesday, April 6

“I see four men unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like the Son of God.”  (Daniel 3:91)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

King Nebuchadnezzar listened to bad advice and began to persecute the Jews in his kingdom. Some of the young Jewish men defied him, and he was infuriated, throwing them into a fire. What he thought would be a horrible death for them turned out to be their redemption.  

To borrow a phrase from Rabbi Harold Kushner, bad things happen to good people. Sometimes those things change our lives in such a way that there is a great loss. Yet some of those very events can lead to a change in our outlook and/or way of being, and that may ultimately be for our own good. They are redemptive moments. 

One does not have to look far to see the best example of this: Christ on the cross. A simple Lenten practice is to meditate on a crucifix or an icon of the crucifixion. There is also a Catholic devotion called the Stations of the Cross: one follows a series of pictures in a church or booklet to accompany Jesus to Calvary. Some of the booklets include short prayers to help one’s mediation. That is the idea of Lent – to fill it up with redemptive moments. And hopefully we will never be the same again. 

 Br. Alan Parham / Campus Minister / Director of Vocation Promotion

CBU Class of 1994

Thursday, April 7 / Feast of St. John Baptiste de La Salle

“Bear your share of hardship along with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:3)

What does St. John Baptist De La Salle have to do with Lent? His Meditations were written for the Brothers and included passages for Lent. Today, the Brothers follow his legacy and take Lent seriously. There is also an understanding that they will communicate this to their students. 

One’s life tends to be celebrated on the occasion of their death. The Church’s celebration of De La Salle is on April 7, unless the day is supplanted by Holy Week. Since it often falls during that time, the Brothers have another celebration on May 15, when they can celebrate properly. When De La Salle passed on April 7– which was Good Friday in 1719 –  his Lent that year was literally a preparation for death. 

Lent is a reminder that we should love and care for all while they are alive. Of course, we remember them when they die, but, as Jesus’ death on the cross is a reminder of our death, it is also not the end. We know the rest of the story, which includes the Resurrection and the Church blossoming with the help of the Holy Spirit. 

The celebration of De La Salle is an invitation to share the Lasallian character of our campus. It is a powerful reminder that the legacy of the Brothers is something in which we all share. The Mission of De La Salle continues on this campus and Lasallian institutions worldwide. Indeed, it is a Covenant which started with Abraham (Genesis 17) and continues with us today.  

Br. Alan Parham / Campus Minister / Director of Vocation Promotion

CBU Class of 1994

Friday, April 8

“In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.” (Psalm 18:7)

            Lent is an opportunity for the Church to take on penances and mortifications we would not typically engage with in order to empathize with Christ. However, Christian suffering is not limited to what’s experienced during Lent. The Body of Christ is not immune to the pains of the world. Sickness, hunger, poverty, isolation – the list of afflictions goes on, and can seem like it will never end.

In my life, I have been through periods of darkness– both external and internal. During my gap year from college, I entered a hard season of depression. I spent months performing youth ministry and served as part of a group of missionaries, but I still struggled with my mental health. There were times when my heart felt just as the psalmist describes in verses 5 & 6: trapped, heavy, and downright dismal. It was during those months of depression that my daily prayer became a lifeline. On the hard days, I learned to reach out to God with honesty and trust. I knew I had been called on a mission, and even on the days I wasn’t stepping into the title of Missionary, God was still by my side. Even though darkness seemed to surround me, I became even more aware of how God moved in my life– not only by His grace, but through my teammates and those we encountered on the road. Three years later, I still see His grace through my counselor, friends, and community.

During our battles, trials, and heartaches, may we each learn to cry out to the Lord. We do not have to face any of these hardships on our own. Reach out to God; He’s always listening.

Hannah Jones

Associate Director of Campus Ministry

Saturday, April 9

“So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs…” (John 11:47)

One of my recent favorite musicals is Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s far from flawless, but as an artist, I appreciate how it conveys the drama of the events we commemorate during Lent. There’s one scene in particular that, during the 2018 live NBC performance, sold me on the show: the Pharisees, led by Caiaphas, mull over what to do about Jesus’ increasing popularity. The stakes are high: Jesus was not only a threat to their religious authority, but a threat to Rome’s political hold on the nation. Jesus’ Passion and death are borne from this rising tension– if Rome suspects an uprising, Israel will suffer even more.

It can be hard to grasp why God would allow His Son to go through so much persecution and suffering. Even before Jesus was arrested, beaten, and crucified, there were some who looked at Him with distrust and malice. He’d just come off of a huge miracle– bringing Lazarus back to life– and yet he could not stay in the public eye, with those who still wanted to be near Him. This scripture sets the scene for the next and final week of Lent. We will see the drama of the Gospel increase day by day, culminating with Good Friday. For now, we are asked to sit with the heavy, isolating reality Jesus faced. His time has almost come.

Hannah Jones

Associate Director of Campus Ministry

March 27 – April 2

Sunday, March 27 / Fourth Sunday of Lent

“Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” (Luke 15:1-3)

The reading for today describes Jesus as a man who welcomes sinners and eats with them. Some people suggest that this was the sort of norm-disrupting behavior that got him killed; at the very least, it violated common rules of commensality, of who can eat with whom, and that behavior brought Jesus into conflict with other religious groups. Jesus’s response to this accusation, according to Luke 15, was to tell three stories about seeking, finding, and rejoicing over what had been lost: a sheep, a coin, and a son. In these stories, God is depicted as a shepherd, a poor woman, and a loving father, each of whom rejoice when they are reunited with what had been lost. The father even celebrates with a feast, gathering the community to eat together.

But back up to the original accusation against Jesus. This man welcomes sinners and eats with them. In light of the stories that follow, this, too, is a form of seeking and finding, of rejoicing over what had been lost, of radical hospitality, of celebrating with food. Jesus is the host who welcomes sinners, and he is the guest who eats with them. Hospitality and eating together. Hanging out with sinners. What a gift to be welcomed and beloved as one is, so much so that tax collectors and sinners sought him out. What a gift to be seen and rejoiced over. What a gift to eat with Jesus. In this chapter of Luke, God appears not only as a shepherd, a father, a woman searching for her coin, but as a man who welcomes sinners and eats with them.

Be welcomed by God. Accept God’s gracious hospitality. Welcome sinners and eat with them.

Emily Holmes, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Religion and Philosophy

Monday, March 28

The official said to him: “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.” Jesus said to him: “Go, your son will live.” (Luke 4:49-50)

One can sense the frustration of the royal official. Though Jesus seems to chastise him for his lack of faith, He also promises to heal the boy. This story is important because we do not give God orders; prayer is trusting Him and accepting how he answers our prayer in His way and time.  

Joni Eareckson is a tetraplegic (paralyzed from the neck down) due to a diving accident. She struggled with faith and accepted many prayers for healing. She was even told by some that she lacked faith because she wasn’t healed. She eventually came to realize that God had a plan to use her and her disability as a ministry. She has spent most of her life helping others to accept their handicaps and has given hope to many. She does have faith, but that includes in her case accepting her limitations as a way to serve differently than others. Perhaps that was Jesus’ point when he said: “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The answer to prayer is sometimes very different from what we wanted, but also better. 

Br. Alan Parham / Campus Minister / Director of Vocation Promotion

CBU Class of 1994

Tuesday, March 29

            It’s a simple question: “Do you want to be well?” After healing a man, Jesus says to him: “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you” (John 5).

This passage has been used to justify judging others; the presumption is made that one’s sickness is due to one’s sins. But a closer reading leads me to believe that it is more about choices. That question “Do you want to be well?” is a challenge to live our life in such a way that we can overcome confusion and sickness. Lent challenges us to let go of those things (and sometimes people) that drag us down.

            I once was trying to do too much and was feeling overwhelmed. Though they were ministerial tasks, I had begun to resent some of the things I had agreed to do. On a cold, rainy trip from Rockford, IL, where I had gone for a Vocation Promotion event, I was feeling tired and dreading getting back to St. Louis, where I was living at the time. Then I knew what I had to do – say no to a couple of ministerial commitments so that I could give more attention to others. I also, upon my return, discovered that I could live a better community life if I wasn’t so distracted by ministry. Indeed, it is a basic Lasallian principle that ministry must flow out of an intense community and prayer life.

            Yes, I wanted to be well and know the joy of ministry again.  That return trip morphed into a joyful re-embracing of my life and vocation.

Br. Alan Parham / Campus Minister / Director of Vocation Promotion

CBU Class of 1994

Wednesday, March 30

“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)

Our experiences with our parents differ. Many of us can think back on our youth and remember when our parents seemed larger than life, like they could do anything. Oftentimes they did– or they tried. We were their world, and they’d move mountains to help us become the people they believed they could be.

For many others, however, parents– or the lack of their presence in our lives– has left wounds. As children, we need constant care and affection, as well as our basic needs to be met. We need to feel protected from the hardships of the world. We need to find shelter in our parents’ arms. Unfortunately, not every parent is able or willing (for various reasons) to rise to the occasion.

Today’s reading reminds us that God wants to be the former: a protector, a provider, a nurturer. The people of Israel dealt with hardship after hardship, and it was tempting to feel as if God had abandoned them. But He hadn’t. The presence of hunger, persecution, and pain does not replace God; it allows Him to show up for us. We will never be forgotten, nor forsaken.

Hannah Jones

Associate Director of Campus Ministry

Thursday, March 31

“They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt…” (Psalm 106:21)

Memory is a funny thing. Sometimes important details for an upcoming project completely slip our minds, but we can recall our best friend from 4th grade’s phone number without hesitation. We can’t keep track of anniversaries and birthdays, but we’re kept up all night thinking of our most embarrassing moments from the last 5 years. The things we should remember often take a backseat to what rarely deserves our attention.

In Psalm 106, we recall how, in Moses’ absence, the Israelites made and worshiped a golden calf. Instead of focusing on their recent liberation and turning that praise to God, they opted for the immediate comfort of venerating an idol. I don’t want to oversimplify the situation Moses and the Israelites were in: everything leading up to their Exodus was collectively traumatic, and we in the 21st century can afford to empathize with their distress. If anything, this should remind us where our gratitude belongs. While times are still hard, we have so much to be grateful for: our health, modern medicine, this community– the list goes on. I pray each of us is able to remember how God has been provided for and been with us during these difficult times. Because He never left.

Hannah Jones

Associate Director of Campus Ministry

Friday, April 1

“Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?” (John 7:26)

            Up through the time of Jesus’ ministry, the ancient people of Israel had expectations of their next messiah. Messiah– meaning “anointed one”– was sent when God’s people needed them most. Under Roman occupation, Israel’s need was apparent. There were expectations of the new Messiah: they would be a great military leader, capable of rousing the nation and leading them to victory over their persecutors. Like Moses, Messiah would lead a new exodus and restore Israel in a new promised land. And as we see throughout the Gospel, for many people, Jesus didn’t really fit the bill. 

As much as they knew about Jesus, the naysayers in Jerusalem were closed off to the reality of His identity as not simply the son of Joseph and Mary from Nazareth, but also the Son of God, the Messiah they prayed for. There could have been miracles that day, but the people didn’t believe Him. So Jesus had to move on in secret.

How often do we place our ideas of who God is above who He says He is? Do we keep an image of a God who suits our needs in a higher place of honor than the true God, who knows us better than we know ourselves? Do we allow God to exceed our expectations? As we get closer to Easter, may we continue to reflect on who God truly is, and who He wants to be to us.

Hannah Jones

Associate Director of Campus Ministry

Saturday, April 2

“O LORD, my God, in you I take refuge…” (Psalm 7:2)

            This week’s readings have walked us through various attributes of God. We have seen God welcome those on the outskirts of society, heal those who are ill, rescue the vulnerable, and come to those in need. Psalm 7 introduces a new quality: God will act justly. It’s encouraging to remember that, at the end of the day, He’s rooting for us. Because He wants what’s best for us, He will stand by our side and face the challenges of the world with us. While this doesn’t mean hard things will never come our way, it does mean that the Lord will fight for His own.

Hannah Jones

Associate Director of Campus Ministry

March 20 – March 26

Sunday, March 20 / Third Sunday of Lent

“Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people?” (Exodus 17:4)

Those whiny Israelites. With the assistance of Moses, God rather sternly arranged for them to be freed after what appeared to be somewhat brutal lives of slavery in Egypt (there’s debate about the duration of this slavery, but estimates range from about 200-400 years). Can you imagine the reality TV coverage, with an Israelite in the “confessional”? “OMG! Yeah, life in Egypt was a real downer, but at least we got enough bread and beer to survive! Now, we’re just stuck here wandering in the desert. I’m so thirsty I could just DIE!”

            Isn’t it when the things we take for granted disappear that we realize how important they are to us? Water? Food—even specific foods? Internet? Electricity? A secure roof over our heads? If you’ve given up something for Lent, how awesome will it be to indulge once again on Easter—much like the Israelites must have savored the water that flowed from the rock in Horeb when Moses struck it as God instructed? What about God’s presence and graces in our lives? How much sweeter are they when we recognize what life is like without them?

Jeff Sable, Ph.D.

Professor of Behavioral Sciences

Monday, March 21

“Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.” (Psalm 42:2)

“When does this end?” This was a constant question I would think to myself during cross country practice in High School and today, it continues to be a question I find myself asking God when experiencing a hard season.

As humans, unfortunately, none of us can escape the pains of life. Somewhere down the road, life can get to us, and it can wake us up at night with throbbing pain, skinned knees, and a weary soul. In these moments, the need for relief or the thirst for something to take away the pain to make it stop is what we often long for. We ask God “when does this end” and yet, we may not experience an answer.

These are the moments in which I think God calls us to dig deeper – to become curious about what we long for him to take away and to become curious if God is still good even if he doesn’t deliver. Perhaps thirsting for God means more than just delivering us from the relief of our pain. Perhaps thirsting for God means remembering that God has delivered us from death. Perhaps thirsting for God means remembering that God may use seasons to both bless us and break us so that we can experience more of him through knowing more of ourselves.Perhaps thirsting for God means remembering that God is who he says he is: enough. 

Connie Beck

Director of CBU Honors Program

Tuesday, March 22

Today’s Gospel (Matthew 18:21-35) makes me think back to when I first accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I was in a bad place in my life and was asking God for forgiveness of my transgressions, yet I still harbored resentment, anger and unforgiveness for those whom I felt wronged me. I had heard this scripture recited, read and preached many times before, but something resonated in my spirit as God began dealing with my heart. Several years ago, I began seeking the Lord for answers as to why things were stalling in my life. I didn’t seem to be progressing, jobs were eluding me and spiritually I seemed to be derailing. Strangely, He led me right back to Matthew 18. Upon reading the Scriptures again, God started speaking to me.

Of course, as we tend to do, I began defending my self-righteousness. I would say to God, “Lord, I am a forgiving person. Lord, I constantly allow others chance after chance, to my own detriment. Why are you highlighting this scripture to me again?” Of course, God knows us better than we know ourselves. His chiding with me went on for a few days. But, I am so glad that God doesn’t give up on us. Finally, after being patient with me, He opened my eyes, like a lightbulb was turned on: not in my head, but in my heart. God showed me that I was a forgiving person, but selective in my forgiveness, predicated on how much wrong someone may have done to me. Like the servant in verse 24, through my daily prayer, I was worshiping God, petitioning for His forgiveness and knowing that He is forgiving and merciful. But, while I was very forgiving to some over and over but to others, it was “one and you’re done.” The Lord said to me, “What if I picked one of your transgressions and never forgave it?” God has a way of causing us to realize where we would be without His mercy, that we could end up just like the unjust and unforgiving servant. I knew I didn’t want to end up out of the Will and Presence of GOD.

Each day I make a commitment to be better than I was the day before. Forgiving others as our Heavenly Father forgives us. If someone grossly wrongs me, at every thought of their transgression, I sincerely say, “But I forgive you”, until it no longer comes up in my heart. Mature Christians forgive; as I grow in Him, I can forgive all others as He forgives me. I am not always successful, but each day that I am allowed to breathe in my body, I take that blessing as an opportunity to get it right. I’M SO MUCH BETTER TODAY THAN YESTERDAY. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Ursula Atkins

Director of Procurement

Wednesday, March 23

“…thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’” (Deuteronomy 4:6)

Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9 is a passage that asks us to consider the balance between obedience to the law and the things we learn to be true through experience. In delivering the laws that will govern the people of Israel, Moses instructs that through observing the laws, other nations will see Israel as a nation that is inhabited by “wise and intelligent people” in that the laws, given to them by God, are evidence of their closeness to God. “However” stands boldly in counterbalance to Moses’s initial teaching. “Take heed,” “take notice,” “do not forget” that these laws must be put into perspective of the “things which our own eyes have seen.” In addition to the laws we have written before use, the wisdom that we pass from generation to generation will also serve to keep us “wise and intelligent.”

Given the events taking place in Ukraine, it is difficult (for me at least) to read the words of Moses, to see a word like “occupy,” and to not reflect on the ways that we legitimize occupation, and the ways the people whose lands are being occupied are diminished over time. Have we “let them slip from . . . memory” the people who had occupied the land of Israel? Have we let slip from memory the indigenous nations of North America whose land we now occupy? Are they that different from the Ukrainian people whose lands are now being occupied?

We have the choice to follow or not follow the laws that bind us. The wisdom in this passage is that it is through the narrative teaching we do from generation to generation that will determine whether we continue to obey these laws.

Dan Harper

Associate Vice President for International Initiatives

Thursday, March 24

“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to him.” (Psalm 95:2)

Whenever I read any of the Psalms, I am reminded of life. Though these passages were written many years ago, they perfectly capture the emotional struggles and ups and downs that many of us face in current times. The Psalms are filled with moments of heartache and despair, yet there is an overarching theme to remember the greatness of God, to let your heart be filled with joy, and to praise our God despite circumstances. Psalm 95:1-2 opens by telling us to sing joyfully to the Lord and come before His presence with thanksgiving! As we endure a global pandemic, rising prices, international injustices, and economic crisis, one might find it difficult to be thankful and to shout joyfully. These uncertain times might even cause us to doubt God’s care and concern for the world.

It is important to remember that negative thoughts and feelings are quite natural and that God understands our emotions. The scripture reminds us that regardless of anything that goes on in the world, we are God’s people! We are His sheep. Like any good shepherd, God is with us and will take care of us. If we focus on and listen to the chaos, the trouble, the issues, the problems…it will be nearly impossible to remain joyful and to come to God with Thanksgiving. But, if we will listen to His voice and keep our hearts open to Him, we will find ways to have peace, joy, and a thankful heart even in the midst of what seems like impossible circumstances. Keep your heart open to the Lord. Remember that He is not only powerful enough to save us, but loving enough to have mercy upon us. Regardless of what we face, in listening to Him, we can find joy and will therefore always have a reason to give thanks! 

Beverly Word

Director of Counseling

Friday, March 25 / Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

“And coming to her, he said, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.’” (Luke 1:28)

            A week after commemorating the fatherhood of St. Joseph, we now remember the Virgin Mary’s “yes” to motherhood. The Gospel of Luke opens with the moment the story of our salvation entered its critical phase: a conversation in a town called Nazareth, between an angel of the Lord and a young girl.

So much hinged on Mary saying “yes” to what was being asked of her. In verse 29, we read that Mary was “greatly troubled” by the angel’s greeting. In other words, Mary was afraid. The angel had said five fateful words: “The Lord is with you”. Traditionally, that phrase was spoken to signify someone’s calling to a great mission. A mission that was usually dangerous, sometimes costing the chosen one everything. God was asking something big of her, and that could put anyone on edge. But Mary didn’t dwell in her fear; she leaned into it. She questioned how God’s will could be done in the way the angel described, staying in dialogue with Him. She spoke to it, and it responded.

Mary is a great example of many virtues, but the one highlighted in today’s gospel is her openness to God. How many times do we cut the conversation short because we perceive God asking something hard from us? How often do we let fear shut us off from something great? May we learn to follow Mary’s example: ponder our calling in our hearts, and ask for the grace to let God’s will be done.

Hannah Jones

Associate Director of Campus Ministry

Saturday, March 26

“…a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” (Psalm 51:19)

            Psalm 51 is a raw expression of grief and mourning for sin. After being reprimanded by the prophet Nathan for taking an officer’s wife and having him killed in battle, then losing the child he conceived with that woman, King David entered a period of mourning. It’s refreshing to see such poetry ascribed to his guilt, a guilt many of us may have felt at one time or another.

            Sin isn’t pretty. The repercussions of sin can be even uglier. Something must be done to mend our relationship with God. This psalm emphasizes a point we see throughout the Old Testament: the contrition God wanted wasn’t going to be achieved through ritual sacrifices, or going through the motions of worship. God wanted– and still desires– His people to have a true conversion of heart. When we mourn our sins with God, the rest of worship is free to follow.

Hannah Jones

Associate Director of Campus Ministry

March 13 – March 19

Sunday, March 13 / Second Sunday of Lent

“Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Luke 9:33)

This passage of Luke’s Gospel exposes one of the key moments in which Jesus revealed his divine nature to three of his apostles. It is such an important moment in the life of Jesus on earth that cross-references to it can be found in other parts of the Bible such as Mark 9:2-13, Matthew 17: 1-13 and, in the Second Epistle of Peter (2 Peter 1: 16-18). Known as the Transfiguration, this passage represents a unique nature event as this is the only time that a miracle happens directly to the person of Jesus himself over his lifetime. The Transfiguration is also considered the second out of five milestones in the life of Jesus, after his baptism and, before his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.

The presence of Moses in this encounter is a clear reference to the Ten Commandments given by God to the Israelites. The presentation of Jesus as the Son of God in this encounter positions him as the bearer of a new covenant in which Old Testament’s Law should be exercised under a new framework given by his teachings. The presence of Elijah, the greatest of all prophets, entails a confirmation of reverence towards the figure of Jesus as the personification of God among humanity. It should be remembered that Malachi 4: 5 announces Elijah’s return to meet the Lord on the day that “he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” At this point, the figure of Jesus is presented to us as a bridge between the Kingdom of God in heaven and his creation on earth. 

In Luke 9, God speaks through a cloud directly to the apostles indicating “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” It is not difficult to imagine how thrilling was this moment to Peter, John, and James, the three apostles present at this magnificent instant for Christianity. Hearing and feeling the presence of God and, at the same time, looking at the figure of Jesus, the Son of God, next to the prophets, is a mind-blowing experience that not only changed their lives forever but also gave them the strength to endure the difficult times that came afterwards.

The apostles had to remain silent about this for a while. We know from the Gospel of Mark that Jesus instructed the apostles to keep this encounter secret “until the Son of Man has risen from the dead” (Mark 9: 9). It is just evident the premonitory essence of these words after Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection. In Luke’s Gospel, God exalts Jesus not only as his Son but also as the ruler and judge of the world above all others. By the presence of the prophets, Jesus is also providing evidence to the apostles and to everyone else of the promise of eternal life in Heaven to those who face death and have faith. Thus, this passage in Luke’s Gospel is an invitation to renew our faith in God over this Lent, to live a life through the example of Jesus Christ, and to remember his promise of an eternal life in Heaven.

Jairo Isaza-Castro

Associate Professor & Director of Center for Global Workplace Equity and Inclusion, School of Business

Monday, March 14

 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”. (Luke 6:36)

For me, one of the most comforting aspects of Christianity is my belief in a God that is not myself. While some dream of power, prestige, and glory, I know that in my hands, the authority to have sovereignty over anyone would be to nobody’s benefit. I am not called to be God; having been made in His image, I’m only asked to reflect His nature to the best of my ability.

            At the end of the day, the only person whose heart I know is my own. While we’re called to, out of love, confront our peers on problematic behaviors in order to help them live as the best versions of themselves (CCC 829), we can’t assume to know the nature of their hearts. Sometimes there’s no telling what motivates someone to do what they do– for better or for worse. Let us find solace in the fact that the final say does not lie with us.

Hannah Jones

Associate Director of Campus Ministry

Tuesday, March 15

“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)

Faculty and students find guidance in Matthew 23:1-12. Jesus, an authentic teacher, provides the complementary relationship between content and conduct.

Jesus states in his teaching that we must love God and love our neighbor. We should never embrace teaching in hateful, disparaging ways. Teachers should never neglect or harm other people. Moreover, Jesus is teaching that we should never abuse our status and authority as teachers. Teachers enjoy a prominent position from which to expound. True teachers must be careful of taking too much pride in expounding their accomplishments. Matthew states that servant teachers seek neither advancement nor applause. Do we aspire to be servant teachers? Jesus says, “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” As servant teachers, one must differ for the actions of the scribes and Pharisees. For if we are patient, we will receive justifiable rewards for Matthew states, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Teachers find their reward in the success of their students.

In like manner, students should be teachers to fellow students. Students, who assist others, should never neglect or harm other people and should follow the same standards as teachers. Much like teachers, students should not take too much pride in expounding their accomplishments or seek applause for helping others. Helping others is its reward.

John Ventura
Professor Emeritus

Wednesday, March 16

“…I trust in the Lord….”  (Psalm 31)

When reflecting on the readings from Psalm 31, I think back to a story that my father would tell me from time to time throughout my life. Ironically, it has been ten years today since my father left this earth. The story goes….

There was a young girl who grew up in a little village in Scotland. Her name was Beth. She had a job working at the general store where she stocked shelves and delivered groceries. She worked until 4pm each afternoon and would then walk home.  She would walk through the center of town and would encounter a path about a mile through the woods. There was a clearing of about 1000 feet, where she would see her house with smoke coming from the chimney. She would dash into the door of the house, hug her father, eat her dinner and climb into his lap where he would gently rock her to sleep.

One day she had to work late into the night past 10pm. She walked through the softly lit town and came to the path in the woods. Suddenly the woods were darker and blacker than ever before– and she feared that a monster was waiting to eat her up. She thought to herself, “If I walk fast, I’ll get to the other side quickly and get home”. She started walking as fast as she could and suddenly heard something coming from the other side. She just knew that a monster was there for her. In fear of her life, she ducked down behind a rock and shook with fear of the unknown. Suddenly she heard someone say “Beth, Beth, it’s your father– I’ve come to walk you home. Take my hand.  You are safe.” The young girl ran to her father, took his trusting hand whereupon he walked her safely back home. 

Trust in the Lord. He is with us in the sunlight and in the darkest of nights. Even when we feel lost and are suffering, the Lord is always there-and will never leave our side.  

Beth Gerl
Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life

Thursday, March 17

“If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)

Our Gospel lesson for the day is the parable Jesus tells about the rich man and poor Lazarus.  We get tempted in looking at this parable with (probably) two questions:  “How rich was the rich man?” and “How poor was Lazarus?” St. Luke relates this parable as the rich man was pleasantly rich, but the poor man was unpleasantly poor.  When both of them died, the poor man was brought into heaven, but the rich man found himself being tormented in Hades. 

The rich man’s prayers in Hades were for someone or something to help him either get the “you-know-what” out of there, or at least make the situation a bit more tolerable. The rich man could see how the poor man was received into his heavenly rest and became very envious.  However, his pleas went for naught; Abraham’s responses to the rich man were to the effect that he and his family had their chance on earth to heed the warnings.  They did not heed to the warnings then, and probably will not heed them now even if someone were to return from the dead.

The question might be raised of what wealth is.  To this writer, wealth may be a combination of many things– money being just one of them. I am in the midst of my fourteenth year at CBU, and I feel that I have been richly rewarded for these years in spite of myself.  Now, not all of these rewards can be seen in my checking account balance.  I feel that wealth just might be how one is seen by one’s peers, or by one’s students, and/or by the rest of the community. I feel very blessed here, and after a pretty neat career at one university, my second career may be even better.

So, wealth may not just be all about money; wealth may be a combination of many things one will experience in life. Today’s guidance is to make the best of the situation and watch yourself become wealthy in many, many ways.

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

Friday, March 18

“We shall then see what comes of his dreams.”  (Genesis 37:20)

The day this reading is scheduled to appear in CBU’s Lenten Reflections, March 18, 2022, will mark exactly two months since I was robbed and almost kidnapped at gunpoint.  While I struggled to get away from a deadly weapon pointed into my rib cage, I was able to twist around and face my attacker.  As I looked into his eyes, I didn’t see evil as I expected I would.  Instead, I saw something kind, something humane. I recognized it immediately as the face of God.  Time seemed to stand still as I felt a sense of peace wash over me.  In that otherwise terrifying moment, I realized with complete clarity I was not going to succumb to the sting of a bullet; I was not going to die that day; I was not going to miss my daughter’s wedding nor was I going to miss CBU’s 2022 graduation (Go Bucs!).  This man was not going to kill my dreams. The safety God provided me that morning allowed me to scream louder and fight harder against my attacker, until a neighbor heard my pleas and came running from his home, causing the would-be abductor to flee.

Rereading the familiar story of Joseph’s attack considering my recent life events provides me an even greater sense of God’s presence.  Although our reading for today does not tell us what eventually happens to Joseph, many of us know the ending. He continues to dream, and God uses his troubled life experiences to the benefit of others, including his brothers who initiated the horrible incident.  I don’t know what God has planned for the rest of my life, but I know I am free to continue to dream as big as Joseph because of God’s grace and comfort during the midst of my horrific life moment. 

Prayer:  Dear God, there is so much pain in the world.  So many are desperate because they do not know you and do not know your goodness.  We pray for those who have not yet met you and those who have rejected you.  Help heal their wounds in a way only you can.  And remind those of us who do know and love you, that you are with us always, helping our dreams come true. 

Dr. Bevalee B. Vitali, CFA
Director – Institute for Leadership Development
Professor of Business 

Saturday, March 19 / Feast of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)

            I often ponder the immense pressure Joseph must have been under during his life. His plan for a simple future was disrupted when his betrothed returned to Nazareth pregnant with a child that was not biologically his. When he went to break the engagement in order to spare Mary from a fate worse than public shame, an angel revealed the origin and purpose of her conception: the salvation of the world. After a turbulent final trimester and miraculous birth, the young family received a heartbreaking prophecy foretelling the strife both Mother and Child would endure. And when the dust finally settled on an infancy in exile, Joseph and Mary lost their Son.

I’m not a parent, but I am human. I know how it feels to make mistakes. While I’ve never lost a child under my care, I have had moments where I’ve felt like I’ve ruined God’s plans for my life. But two things are true for us all: God trusts us enough to ask big things of us, and we cannot mess up so badly that His plans are forever destroyed. It’s in those moments where we aren’t at our best when we’re reminded of who God is. Indeed, how beautiful it is when the Lord disrupts our plans.                                      

 St. Joseph, pray for us.

Hannah Jones
Associate Director of Campus Ministry

March 6 – March 12

Sunday, March 6 / First Sunday of Lent

“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.” (Luke 4:1-2)

During this first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel speaks to us of the time when Jesus went in alone to the desert for forty days. He did not eat, drink, nor did his goal sway.  Reading his story once again reminded me of the importance of reflection and reconnection to our faith that this time of Lent asks of us. We are often pulled in all different directions by our worldly responsibilities; schoolwork, our employment, family, friends, and the list goes on. Yet we do not prioritize our time for our faith.

The Gospel today spoke to me as a reminder to take the “forty days” (or maybe 40 minutes) during this week to go into my metaphorical desert and reconnect with God. Temptations will always appear in front of us. The temptation to steer away from God’s path, from your own goals, from your studies, etc. Luke reminds us that Jesus will always be there to take care of us at the spiritual level; that we as humans need more than bread alone to live. We must also walk our own path but a path alongside God.

With midterms and the workweek over, I would like to invite you to go into your desert today, take some time to reflect, identify your own troubles steering you away from God or your goals, and reflect knowing that God will always be there to protect you.

Fatima Escobar
Admissions Counselor/CBU ‘17

Monday, March 7

“‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

Within the first few minutes of the Mass, the congregation is prompted to reflect on the ways they’ve sinned before continuing in worship. Seeking reconciliation with God and each other, the faithful recite the Confiteor, a uniform admission of having done wrong “in what I have done, and what I have failed to do”. 

It can be so easy to not do what we know we should. None of us can solve all the world’s problems, but we have a moral responsibility to love our neighbors as ourselves. And none of our actions (or inactions) exist in a vacuum– we see in today’s Gospel that our choices have consequences. It’s an excellent reminder to not just pass through life, but to live and love intentionally. If Heaven is our goal, we can’t leave our neighbors behind.

Hannah Jones
Associate Director of Campus Ministry

Tuesday, March 8

For me, the Lord’s Prayer is a guideline on how to pray and the conversation we should have with God. It reminds me how we should acknowledge God first in all our doings, remember to pray for others and that God knows what we need and can and will answer our prayers. 

Matthew 6:9 – “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” To me, that’s a relationship. We are designed to be in community and fellowship with others. I will not call someone a friend, a colleague, or a family member unless I have a relationship with them. It’s the same way with God. He is our Father, guide, and caretaker, just like our relationship with an earthly father. 

Matthew 6:10 – “…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This scripture reminds me to pray for God’s first priority: people. So many times, the Bible tells us to pray for our enemies and love one another. After creating Adam and Eve, Genesis 1:28 tells us that “God blessed them…” In this way, we are also supposed to bless people and care for them. Mark 12:31 states, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Prayer is the most powerful act of love we can do for people. 

Matthew 6:11 – “Give us this day our daily bread.” This scripture reminds me to pray for our daily needs and the things we seek and depend on God to provide.

Mathew 6:12- 13 –  “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” These scriptures remind me to get our hearts and minds right with God and others– once again focusing on people. Debt is not only money, but also what we carry and owe to others. We ought to forgive those who hurt us, frustrate us, offend us, make us angry, and be guided in another direction that won’t lead us into feeling those negative ways again. 

When I started praying the Lord’s Prayer as a guide and making it personal to me and not just reciting it, I saw a change in my life. In my family’s life. I saw the relationship I had with people change and evolve.

Kim Tilus
Director of Student Engagement

Wednesday, March 9

The book of Jonah is just four small chapters in the Old Testament, but I would venture to say many people at least vaguely know the story of “Jonah and the Whale.” My cousin even worked at a seafood restaurant with that very name when we were in college! Jonah is a great example of our brokenness and humanity. I know it is easily my nature to disobey God and flee from what He has called me to do, just as Jonah did. And like Jonah, I can be quick to anger when I feel God is not meting out punishment to other disobeying people, as I think He should.

When Jonah was originally asked by God to go to Nineveh (Chapter 1), he ran away. He disobeyed God and put the lives of his shipmates in danger. Knowing it was Jonah who brought the tempestuous storm to the sea, the men threw Jonah overboard. God did not let Jonah die, but allowed him to be swallowed whole by a giant creature. In chapter 2, verse 2, Jonah recounts how he pleaded to God for mercy:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,

    and he answered me.

From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,

    and you listened to my cry.”

I cry and plead to God for deliverance when I find myself in self-created, thorny, icky situations. Many times over, God shows me mercy and delivers me. Not because of who I am, but because of WHO GOD IS. Because I am just like Jonah, stuck in the terrible belly of a sea beast, pleading for His help. And yet, when I see others crying for help from their own dark depths, I don’t always pray they experience God’s mercy, grace and deliverance. The good news is that God gives many chances to repent, reset and do-over. It might be messy and look different than we expected, but God does grant mercy at the eleventh hour, just like Jonah and the Ninevites experienced. It is never too late to change. It is never too late to give mercy and forgiveness, because I surely need to receive that grace.

Justin Bowles
Assistant Director for Student Support, Student Success

Thursday, March 9

“…turn our mourning into gladness, and our sorrows into wholeness.” (Esther C:25)

My wife and I happened to be re-watching the second Lord of the Rings Movie (The Two Towers) this week. Later in the movie is the battle between the Rohirrim and Saruman’s Uruk-hai in the fortress of Helm’s Deep. As we watched the defenders battle against impossible odds, the people of Ukraine easily came to mind – especially the mothers and children being separated from the men and boys. All this echoes the words of Queen Esther.

How many times have we experienced the same feelings when we are facing impossible odds? For me it was in the hospital, when all competitors and other stakeholders were at the gates. I could see no way out, no good or acceptable outcome for Saint Francis. What could we do? The only way was to turn to God as Queen Esther did. Each time, the Lord would miraculously lead us to a better outcome than we could have imagined.

Why do I forget this every time I am in a similar situation? Why am I so forgetful of all that God has done for us? My gratitude fades so quickly. Lord I believe, please help my unbelief. Finally, I pray for the people of the Ukraine and for a miraculous end to their persecution.

John Baptiste De La Salle; pray for us!

Live Jesus in our Hearts; forever!

Dave Archer
Interim President

Friday, March 11

“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)

On June 9, 2020, right after he was named as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Beaumont, Bishop-elect David L. Toups addressed the people of his new diocese and concluded his remarks with “May my heart be expanded to love you the way God loves you.” To me, that sentiment goes to the core of what Jesus is trying to teach us in today’s Gospel reading. Namely, if we are to truly worship God, we must love one another.

I once jokingly remarked that one of the great benefits of attending Mass weekly with my family is that at least once a week my sons and wife must acknowledge before God that we are reconciled and at peace with one another. While this was said humorously, this remark does contain a core of essential Christian truth. Namely, the outward sign of peace that comes right after the Lord’s Prayer is an essential part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

We are all made in the image of God. God is love. Before we can rightly receive the Holy Eucharist, we should first be reconciled one to another and forgive each other. May God continually expand our hearts so that we love each other the way God loves us.

Dr. James McGuffee
Dean of the School of Sciences/CBU ‘00

Saturday, March 12

“…if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that?”  – Matthew 5:47

Love your enemy. That’s the great challenge Jesus issues in this Lenten reading. As I examine my own work, family, and social life, I’m happy to report that there is no one in these circles I would consider an enemy! 

Instead, my enemies are people I am aware of through the media — public figures who stoke hatred, pass harmful legislation, or spread destructive misinformation. Their words and actions have the power to harm hundreds, thousands, and sometimes millions of people. The divisiveness we’ve experienced, particularly these past few years, has made “loving your enemy” feel impossible.

If I find it overwhelming to love my political enemies, how can people facing physical harm or persecution find love for their tormentors? Around the world, there are people for whom the enemy is personal, proximate, and deadly. We witness this now in Ukraine. The enemy is close. The danger is immediate. Russian soldiers bomb their cities, kill their family and fellow citizens.

I have a friend who is involved in numerous civic endeavors. His life work is building a better Memphis. The quote he lives by is from Dr. Cornel West, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” It’s in this spirit that we are called to shape our action not by hatred, but by love. Jesus is not asking us to go silent, surrender, find agreement or even compromise. In fact, following Jesus means we can and must address cruel and unjust actions. Particularly, by those in power. 

Loving your enemy is as much how we do things as what we do. To prepare us to fight the good fight, Jesus asks us to pray for our enemies. That may sound trite to some and impossible to others, but the very act of including those we despise among those we love can force us to change the way we confront an enemy.

In this Lenten reading, Jesus tells us that anyone can hate their enemy and love their friends. The arduous, infuriating and, at times, even perilous work Jesus repeatedly asks us to do is to choose love instead of hate. We can struggle mightily against injustice without malice or vengeance. We can fight back without dehumanizing.

While loving our enemies may not be easy, there is also danger in not following the unusual path Jesus provides. If we cannot bend the hatred we feel for our enemies into love, we risk becoming the very thing we despise.

Lurene Kelley, Ph.D
CBU Online Student Success Specialist
Center for Digital Instruction

March 2 – March 5

Wednesday, March 2 / Ash Wednesday

“…your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 NABRE)

“So what are you doing for Lent this year?”

This question is casually tossed around Catholic circles in the weeks preceding Ash Wednesday. One can feel pressured to think of some pious fast, charitable cause to cut weekly checks toward, or rigorous prayer routine far from their normal devotion when asked those fateful words. We don’t want to appear as if we’re not taking the season seriously: after all, if Jesus can do what He did for us, what’s six weeks without coffee?

I appreciate how Lent begins with this exhortation. Jesus gives us a blueprint to approach the concept of sacrifice. He calls us to remember why we fast, give alms, and pray: to grow in relationship with the Father. He doesn’t need us to blast our 40-day absence from social media, take cold showers that make us miserable, or give more than we can afford. The point isn’t to hurt us, or drag others into our misery when our Lenten practices ask more of us than we can give at the time. The point is to grow in love of Christ’s sacrifice for us. As we enter this season of intentional prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, may we keep our focus on the Cross. Not our reputation.

Hannah Jones

Associate Director of Campus Ministry

Thursday, March 3

“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, obeying His voice, and holding fast to Him.” (Deuteronomy 30: 19-20)

Here is My Servant Whom I uphold, My Chosen One with Whom I am well pleased, upon whom I have put My spirit. He

There is an old song by Johnny Mercier, “Accentuate the Positive.” It is basically the same as the verse from Deuteronomy. We can choose life at any given time or we can see only the negative; we can be an optimist or a pessimist. The choice is up to us. 

This doesn’t mean ignoring problems or refusing to see human suffering experienced by yourself or others. We are always called to compassion. However, that may be the very way we are to choose life – by addressing a problem and finding a way to turn things around. As I age, I begin to see that some of the darkest times in my life motivated me to pray and eventually look for a positive spin in my confusion or suffering. And now, as I look back, those were times of grace, actually blessings, which contributed to my growth and walking in faith. Yes, we are called to choose life, to choose blessings instead of cursing the challenges in our lives.

Br. Alan Parham

Campus Minister / Director of Vocation Promotion / CBU Class of 1994

Friday, March 4

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.” (Matthew 19:14-15 NKJV)

Working in Higher Education, practitioners in the field understand that students make or break a university’s success. There are times when the students may feel disenfranchised or voiceless when it comes to advocating for various issues and causes. However, as professionals, we must remember that the adage, “The children are the future”, plays a significant role in the lives of Higher Education and must never turn a deaf ear or eye to them. This is highlighted in the verse, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” We must remember that we are the vanguard of holistic student development.

We are trained that all higher professionals, regardless of position and status, are, at their core, teachers. Our students learn and develop their skill set from our engagement, in and outside the classroom. We view those students who we engage with consistently as our children, ensuring that their experience is as excellent as we can make it. Leaning on our personal and professional life choices, we make a subconscious choice to promote CBU’s motto: “Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve”. The statement “And He laid His hands on them and departed for there” illustrates how we train our students to be direct reflections of our teachings and how, after commencement, we will remain a pivotal figure in their continued growth and development.

Ian Boyd
Coordinator of Recreation, Intramurals, Events & Facilities / CBU Class of 2016

Saturday, March 5

“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (Luke 5:27-32)

We all likely aspire to be Levi, whose immediate obedience to Jesus is surprising – given his profession – and inspiring.  Without hesitation, Levi understood the assignment and sought to bring others to Jesus by hosting a banquet welcoming all in his home.  Levi sought to bridge the gap and introduce his inner circle to the teachings of Christ by which he himself had been transformed.  For many of the banquet guests, I am certain the evening with Jesus was a life-altering event. 

As with many things in our lives, sometimes our mountaintop moments are overshadowed by clouds of doubt, uncertainty, disappointment, and despair.  Levi’s motives were pure, yet the Pharisees and scribes used the joyous occasion to try and trap Jesus.  Assuming their understanding was greater than Christ’s, the religious leaders were trying to assert that those worthy of the attention were the individuals with power and prestige.  Jesus humbly reminded his accusers that those with a story, a past, struggles, doubts were just as worthy of Christ’s time, attention, and message.

How often do we find ourselves hoping to be characterized as a “Levi” with a devotion to Christ so immediate and honorable; so trusting and welcoming; so faith-filled and open-minded?  Yet, as events unfold, we become more like the religious leaders – questioning intent and with a twinge of insincerity. 

 If we are honest with ourselves, we all have moments where our actions or spirit are displeasing to God.  In those moments, may we seek our Great Physician. 

As we travel this Lenten Journey, may we seek to be Levi to others  – with a faith so strong that we are constantly opening our hearts, minds, and doors to one another. 

Wilson Phillips
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life / CBU Class of 2008