Lenten Reflections for 2023

April 1 – April 9

Saturday, April 1

Hear the word of the LORD, you nations, proclaim it on distant coasts, and say: The One who scattered Israel, now gathers them; he guards them as a shepherd his flock. The LORD shall ransom Jacob, he shall redeem him from a hand too strong for him. Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings: The grain, the wine, and the oil, locks of sheep and cattle; They themselves shall be like watered gardens, never again neglected. Then young women shall make merry and dance, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will show them compassion and have them rejoice after their sorrows.” (Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12abcd, 13)

The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards his flock.

The responsorial psalm today spoke volumes.  It reminded me of the undeniable, non-negotiable relationship God offers to those willing to avail themselves of the opportunity.  A shepherd will leave his flock in search of one lost or wandering sheep.

The Message, a modern translation of the scriptures, offers this passage from the 29th Chapter of Jeremiah.  It’s one of my favorites as it reminds me of God’s protective hand and unwavering loyalty to me, in both good times and bad.

“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.

“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” 

“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.

May we rest comfortably in the promise of the “spiritual GPS” God provides His flock – no matter how close or how far we separate ourselves from the Good Shepherd. 

Wilson Phillips, ’08
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life

Sunday, April 2

Reading: Matthew 26:14—27:66

On Palm Sunday we embark on Holy Week. We recall the great entrance of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem.  With him we face a broken world indeed.  Sometimes we just don’t know where to turn next, or what to think.   Yet, in the face of all this, the very events we commemorate during this most solemn week remind us that out of darkness, comes light, out of pain, joy, and out of death comes new life. No matter how great the enormity of evil, greater still, by far, is the enormity of God’s goodness and love. The cruel punishment and torture Jesus suffered was unimaginable.  Equally unimaginable was the evil that was behind it.  Yet….God in his goodness…turned it around….so that it became a source of grace for us and the cause of salvation for the whole world.

Rev. R Bruce Cinquegrani, D. Min. 
Chaplain & Visiting Assistant Professor, Rosa Deal School of Arts

Monday, April 3

Reading: John 12:1-11

In today’s gospel, we see Judas the Iscariot’s ill intentions questioning Mary for not selling the perfumed oil. Jesus not only defended Mary but told Judas the oil should be stored until His burial. Judas demonstrates selfishness towards Jesus and prioritizes money over His values forgetting just how important Jesus is to our lives.

It’s so easy to get caught up with life in and out of school; we seldom reflect on Jesus and His great sacrifice. Judas was illustrated as being conceited; wealth and power dictated his decisions and lifestyle.  At times, we emulate Judas and can fall victim to obtaining money for greed. There are numerous opportunities to do the morally wrong action, but we must strive to do what’s right. Doing this doesn’t mean that we expect something in return, but rather being silently proud of ourselves knowing we did the right thing should suffice. Jesus suffered and died for our sins because He loves and cares for all of us; money was never at the forefront of His mind with His actions. He wanted us to give our lives back. 

Nearing the end of the Lenten season, we must try our hardest to fight inevitable temptations and always be helpful and kind to anyone we see regardless of race, age, gender, or religion. As Jesus sacrificed Himself for us, we must not only strive to do good deeds for others, but also aim to go above and beyond to ultimately maintain the world that Jesus has created for us. As stated from a homily given by Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD, we should “go the extra mile to give that extra smile.”

Lex Caballero, ‘24         
Current Student, School of Sciences      


Tuesday, April 4

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

The New Commandment.

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

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered [him], “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” Peter said to him, “Master, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”
(John 13:21-33, 36-38)

“Then Peter said to Him: ‘Master, where are you going?’
Jesus answered him: ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow me later.’
Peter said to Him: ‘Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’
Jesus answered: ‘Will you lay down your life for Me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.'” (John 13:36-38).

How little Peter knew himself. Are we any different? We make resolutions for Lent. Some of us arrive at Holy Week feeling almost empty-handed. But it is important to remember that we can still celebrate the events of Holy Week with a heart full of love and devotion. God is not counting, not keeping a scorecard. All we need do is admit our reliance on the redeeming grace of Holy Week. We may stumble like Peter, but Easter Sunday will help us to humbly start again and do so joyfully throughout the Easter Season. And the story did not end with Peter’s betrayal, but his blessed leadership and eventual martyrdom in imitation of the Master.

Brother Alan Parham, F.S.C.
Midwest District Vocation Team; CBU Campus Minister

Wednesday, April 5

Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,* went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

Preparations for the Passover.
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,* the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”’”
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.

The Betrayer.
When it was evening, he reclined at the table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”*
Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.”
(Mathew 26:14-25)

“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

When I was praying with today’s Gospel, this question Judas Iscariot asks the chief priests played in my head over and over again and filled me with great unease. Admittedly when we get to this part in the story, I tend to be quick to judge Judas — after all, he did hand over our Lord, Jesus Christ, and put into motion the events to follow. This time was different; instead of seeing a man who was so quick to compromise, I saw one who truly wrestled with his inner longings and human weakness. “What are you willing to give me..?” Judas was searching. Perhaps there was some unmet need (physical, emotional, spiritual), or maybe he simply just desired more from his life —not necessarily a bad thing to want. Ultimately, I believe the root of the problem to be his insecurity or distrust that Jesus would actually fulfill the longings of his heart and give him life abundantly. Instead, he entered into a conversation with the enemy who promised to give him something better — to give him what he wanted (or what he thought he wanted). We know how it turns out for him… he’s left feeling even more empty inside and further away from the one who actually can and wants to fulfill him. I wonder how different the story would have gone had Judas, when confronted by Jesus, owned up to his sin and faced our Lord with humility and true remorse. How would Jesus have responded? I believe He would have met Judas with His compassion and His mercy. I believe He would have spoken into those places of his heart that were hurting, longing for more. I believe He would have reminded him that it is only in Him and through Him that one reaches the Father, the One who can and wants to fulfill every longing and desire of our heart. I believe He would have invited Judas to stay and break bread with them. I believe all of this because I believe that Jesus is who He says He is, and He came so that we might have life and have it abundantly. Unfortunately, Judas was so filled with shame that he closed himself off to receiving this compassion and mercy the Lord so longed to give him freely. I think this question at the beginning of the Gospel left me with such unease because I, too, ask this question daily. We all do without even knowing it. Do we not hand over Jesus in our hearts every time we choose sin over Him, or every time we look elsewhere to be fulfilled. As we prepare to enter into Jesus’ passion tomorrow, let us look inward at these places of our hearts that need to be reconciled, humbly own up to them, and be ready to receive God’s mercy and compassion freely. He endured the greatest suffering — even death on a cross — for not only Judas but for you and me.

Rebecca Preston
Friend of the University

Thursday, April 6

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed meto bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind,to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing. (Luke 4:16-21)

On fire with love of his own people Israel, Jesus gathered with his apostles during Passover.  Dining with them was a regular practice.  But on this night, he had something more in mind.  He wanted to gift them with the fullness of his Father’s love by establishing a new covenant.  He, himself, would be the sacrifice offered to establish this new covenant and it would be a covenant that would last forever.  This new covenant would bring redemption not only for Israel, but for the whole world.  This was Jesus’ mission; it was no less than world transforming.  

Rev. R Bruce Cinquegrani, D. Min. 
Chaplain & Visiting Assistant Professor, Rosa Deal School of Arts

Friday, April 7

Reading: John 18:1—19:42

Good Friday!  Jesus is on trial! He goes toe to toe with Pilate who represents the powers of the world.   Are you a king? Where are you from? What have you done? What is truth? 

Pilate’s questions give way to stunning answers: Yes, Jesus is king; though not from any earthly kingdom. Jesus’ kingdom is God’s reign breaking into our fractured world. Jesus has done nothing wrong. Jesus is truth.  Jesus reigns as king not by worldly power but by love.  This changes everything for us.

When confronted with disappointment, sorrow, failure, and death, we can remember that Jesus has been through all of it and much more. He has faced this world and all of its terror, and he has won! The trial is over. The verdict is in. Jesus reigns!

Rev. R Bruce Cinquegrani, D. Min. 
Chaplain & Visiting Assistant Professor, Rosa Deal School of Arts

Saturday, April 8

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.

Isaiah 55:1-11

Holy Saturday.  In the midst of grief, loss, struggle, and separation by the grave, the Lord continues to extend an eternal invitation.  In the reading above from Isaiah, God reminds His people of the commitment He makes to those choosing to follow him.  He never promises that the journey will be easy or straight-forward, yet He continuously provides in moments of the ebbs and flows of life.

The solemn nature of this moment in the Lenten journey can overwhelm and distract us from the greater promise that the resurrection offers.  On this Holy Saturday, I am mindful of the reality of the crucifixion and burial; yet, I cling to the promise that when I thirst; God will provide.  I trust that when means are tight, God will provide.  And I hope in the everlasting promise God provides if we truly listen to His urgings on our heart.  

May it be so for all of us on this Lenten experience – that in the midst of darkness and despair, God’s covenant provides the brightest light to guide our steps.

Wilson Phillips, ’08
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life

Sunday, April 9

Reading: John 20:1-9

There’s a certain paradox in the Resurrection of Christ, because it is both spectacular and hidden. It is spectacular because it is the work of God, raising Christ to a new life in which the whole human family is invited to share.  But this new life for the moment remains hidden with Christ in God. The Resurrection doesn’t stare us in the face like the suffering of the cross does. What enables us to perceive it lies less in what we see, and more in how we look. We can only see it through eyes of faith.

Through the eyes of faith the disciples perceived the truth of Christ’s victory over death. Later they will see Jesus face to face with wounds in his hands, feet, and side.  They will hear him say, “peace be with you.”  Finally, they will recognize him in the breaking of the bread.  That’s how it was for them; that’s how it is for us.  The resurrection is a fact of history, but something that takes faith to see and time to absorb.  

Rev. R Bruce Cinquegrani, D. Min. 
Chaplain & Visiting Assistant Professor, Rosa Deal School of Art

March 27 – March 31

Monday, March 27

…while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.*
But early in the morning, he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.* So what do you say?”
They said this to test him so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. * But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them,c “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him.10
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin anymore.” (John 8:1-11)

In today’s Gospel, we see the religious leaders of the day continue their inquiry into Jesus, seeking a reason to cause strife and hardship for Jesus. The Pharisees were hopeful his words would incite the crowd to turn against him or evoke a reaction unbecoming to the political leaders. When Jesus then challenged the leadership by reminding them of their own sinful nature, they grew tired and walked away. And, as we see, in the end, Jesus commissions the woman to go on her way with a clean slate and a new call to live a pure lifestyle.

With wisdom surpassing that of his contemporaries, Jesus knew the “trap” being laid for him. I, for one, cannot imagine the pressure Jesus felt or the focus Jesus had to display during his earthly ministry. Every word, deed, action, or proclamation was examined under intense scrutiny. Today, we live in a world of free speech; however, our words carry weight with those closest to us and the everyday stranger. While, in most cases, our words will not land us in jail or in trouble with religious or political leadership, the way we use our words can empower or destroy another individual.

While we don’t often think of our words as having as much power as they do, may we act as Jesus did to the adulterous woman. Filled with compassion and faith, Jesus used his words to rededicate the woman to a life of forgiveness and hope.

During this Lenten journey, may our words provide forgiveness and hope to a world desperately in search of a listening ear and supportive gesture.

Wilson Phillips, ’08
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life

Tuesday, March 28

He said to them again, “I am going away, and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin.* Where I am going, you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?”
He said to them, “You belong to what is below; I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM,* you will die in your sins.”

So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning.
I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.”r
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.
So Jesus said (to them), “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone because I always do what is pleasing to him.”
Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.
(John 8:21-30)

The Gospel reading today is a prophecy from Jesus, which many of his worldly followers struggled to understand. In this moment, Christ is preparing his followers, indicating they won’t always be together. Christ is not “of the world,” rather He willingly came “into the world.”

Jesus further underscores that without faith in God, the sin of the people – then and presently – will control our lives and not allow for true spiritual freedom.

But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.” They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone because I always do what is pleasing to him.”

Listening to the teachings of Jesus and the urgings of the Spirit are two of the greatest ways we can be in connection with God, whom we serve. May we always please Him, remembering we are nothing on our own.

Wilson Phillips, ’08
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life

Wednesday, March 29

King Nebuchadnezzar questioned them: “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up? Now, if you are ready to fall down and worship the statue I made, whenever you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, zither, dulcimer, harp, double-flute, and all the other musical instruments, then all will be well;* if not, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace; and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If our God, whom we serve, can save us* from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, you should know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up.”
Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the white-hot furnace.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was startled and rose in haste, asking his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” “Certainly, O king,” they answered. “But,” he replied, “I see four men unbound and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”

Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants that trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. (Daniel 3:14-20, 91,92,95)

Today’s first reading recounts the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the midst of pressure and persecution from King Nebuchadnezzar. Seeking obedience and loyalty, the king demanded individuals worship the false gods – the statues. Those unwilling to swear allegiance to the king in this way would be sentenced to death in a scorching furnace.

Faithful to the God whom they served, the trio of men were unwilling to swear alliance to King Nebuchadnezzar. No matter the consequence, their loyalty to God never waivered, nor did they feel it necessary to have to explain themselves to the worldly leaders. Ultimately, the king sentenced Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to death via the furnace at seven times the normal heat. While inside the furnace, a fourth figure appeared – the Son of God – who protected and ultimately delivered them from death.

This verse, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God,” inspires me in my Lenten journey. In my own life, I’m challenged to remember – and reject – the “golden statues” I worship. My work, my time, my heart, and my spirit should undeniably be dedicated to the God whom I freely serve.

May our faith and devotion to Christ mirror that of the three men banished to death in the furnace – now and always.

Wilson Phillips, ’08
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life

Thursday, March 30

“Abram fell face down and God said to him: For my part, here is my covenant with you: you are to become the father of a multitude of nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fertile; I will make nations of you; kings will stem from you. I will maintain my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting covenant, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land in which you are now residing as aliens, the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God. God said to Abraham: For your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.” (Genesis 17: 3-9)

In this reading, God speaks to Abram and shares his eternal promise of generational longevity, a land to raise and cultivate a people, a commitment of fidelity, and the elevation of kings.  As only God could, He promised the world and provisions to ensure success.  In return, Abram – and his descendants – are to keep the covenant to the Lord.

In 2023, we, too, are called to keep the covenant to Christ.  While the parameters of the world Abram knew differs vastly from the world we experience daily, we are called to raise and cultivate our spiritual brothers and sisters; we are invited into a spiritual fidelity to our God, and we are to selflessly serve in the support of our neighbor – and the stranger.

During this Lent, may we recommit ourselves to the spiritual promises we established with our Heavenly Father.

Wilson Phillips, ’08         
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life                  

Friday, March 31

“He said: I love you, LORD, my strength, LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn,* my stronghold!b Praised be the LORD, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies. The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction terrified me. The cords* of Sheol encircled me the snares of death lay in wait for me. In my distress I called out: LORD! I cried out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry to him reached his ears.” (Psalms 18:2-3a, 3bc-4, 5-6, 7)

Out of all of today’s readings, the responsorial psalm stood out most to me. It is based on a psalm written by David in response to surviving attacks from enemies such as Saul. When he was experiencing stress and uncertainty, David felt confident calling out to God. David recognizes that through everything, God was with him. God kept David company, so David did not have to experience everything alone. David also recognizes that he only survived by the grace of God.  

The Lenten season can be challenging because it is a time of sacrifice, reflection, and penance. It is important to remember that we do not have to go through it all in isolation. Lent is a great time to practice leaning on God. I say practice because it can be hard to lean on someone or call out for support. We might be prideful and refuse help or ashamed that we need help. Let’s challenge ourselves to call out to God in prayer or meditation as we face daily struggles. Do I call to the Lord when I am struggling with something? In what ways has the Lord shown that my voice has been heard?  

Areli Cortes, ’24    
Current Student, School of Business 

March 20 – March 26

Monday, March 20

Jacob, the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus, who is called the Messiah.
Now, this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,* but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph, her husband, since he was a righteous man,* yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when behold, the angel of the Lord* appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife, into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus,* because he will save his people from their sins.”When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. (Matthew 1: 16, 18-21, 24a)

Today’s Gospel reading recounts the visit the angel made to Joseph, husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus. Particularly, I was struck by the regard and strength Joseph displayed in the face of truly life-altering news. Before Joseph fully understood the angel’s message, he was ready to distance himself from Mary – ensuring he did so with dignity and in private so as to not embarrass her or her family.

Every day, we have an opportunity to react to individuals or situations in a variety of ways. With those to whom we are closest, we are quick to exhibit our frustrations or anger because of the “bond” shared. To the stranger, we are often too focused on our own situations to see the “bigger picture” around us. Realizing that we may never fully understand the story of another, we are called act as Joseph did with Mary. How often do we, as Christians, quickly assume the intentions of another without a clear grasp of the details?

May the undeniable dignity and compassion Joseph extended his wife, even in the midst of doubt, inspire the interactions with all whom we meet this Lenten season and beyond.

Wilson Phillips, ’08
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life

Tuesday, March 21

One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?”
The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.”
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”
Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.
Now that day was a sabbath.
So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”
He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’”
They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?”
The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away since there was a crowd there.
After this, Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him,g “Look, you are well; do not sin anymore so that nothing worse may happen to you.”
The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well.
Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a sabbath. (John 5: 1-16)

Both readings emphasize the importance of water for sustaining life and its significance as a symbol of renewal and rejuvenation. In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel describes a vision of a river flowing out from the temple, bringing life, and healing to the surrounding land. Ezekiel trusted the angel when he was told to walk in the water right up to the point where the river ran deep and stepping further was impossible.

The Gospel of John, Chapter 5: 1-16, tells the story of Jesus healing a man who had been crippled for 38 years. There is something worth noting about the words Jesus says to him, “Do you want to be well?” The response to this question may seem obvious at first glance, but upon reflection, I see Jesus’ question as an invitation to consider a deeper meaning of healing. The lord’s question reminds me how the lord heals in imperceptible ways.

Jesus’ question suggests that the desire for healing is ever present, but the patience to accept the process of healing is neither straightforward nor simple. The man’s response to Jesus’ question was not a simple “yes.” Instead, he offered excuses for why he had not been able to find healing. His response was dominated physical view, not a spiritual view, of his condition.

Lent is the season for examining our lives considering faith. Have we allowed the healing power of the Lord to dwell inside us? Even making the sign of the cross with holy water as we enter a church reminds us externally of what we are called to have internally, a dwelling place for the Lord. Are we living in such a way that prevents the Lord from dwelling within us? This question should be part of our Lenten reflection.

Muluneh Shamebo, ‘24
Graduate Student, Gadomski School of Engineering

Wednesday, March 22

Sing out, heavens, and rejoice earth,
break forth into song, you mountains,
For the LORD comforts his people
and shows mercy to his afflicted.
But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.
(Isaiah 49:13-15)

This Lenten season has been very challenging for me, and it has been a time that I am experiencing for the first time. The Lord has blessed me continuously throughout my years at CBU, and this semester is where my time as an undergraduate student ends. I will not say that the semesters before this one was not challenging, but this one has me encountering life in the classroom and outside.

I have an autoimmune condition called Celiac’s Disease, and this semester, when it is close to graduation, my stress levels have affected my condition. I have been diagnosed with another autoimmune condition that I am not even sure how to pronounce. I was scared, but after reading my reflection that I was assigned, I have a sense of peace. This was meant for me to read as well as know that what is being said is true. “For the LORD comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted… I will never forget you.” These verses gave me hope and strength to know that I will be finishing this semester and God is still there beside me through it all. The Lord has not forsaken me, and he has not forgotten me. He continues to show me mercy as well as comfort me during these last tests and lesson planning. I know that he will continue to be there for me no matter the journey he takes me on.

I hope that this reflection as well helps anyone else that may be ending their chapter here this semester of undergrad. We made it, and the Lord has been there every step of the way and continues to be always.

Virginia A. Nelson, ‘23
Senior, Rosa Deal School of Arts

Thursday, March 23

At Horeb, they fashioned a calf, worshiped a metal statue. They exchanged their glory* for the image of a grass-eating bull. They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Amazing deeds in the land of Ham, fearsome deeds at the Red Sea. He would have decreed their destruction had not Moses, his chosen one, Withstood him in the breach* to turn back his destroying anger.
(Psalms 106: 19-23)

Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Anyone who knows me well realizes I am a huge fan of the original Law & Order franchise that airs on NBC. In watching the reruns, I’ve come to appreciate the procedural nature of the program. In the first five minutes, someone has been found deceased or attacked; the next 25 minutes typically depict the detectives taking statements and gathering evidence; then, the prosecutors present their case oftentimes before a last-minute plea by the accused for leniency. In that moment, the camera angles are sharp, and the music dramatic. The last-minute request seeking favor and hope.

Today’s responsorial psalm seemingly is that dramatic moment in our favorite weekly drama series. God’s chosen people have fallen away – worshipping false idols, participating in malicious behavior, and forgetting to whom they owe their freedom. Yet, Moses stands “in the gap” with God and seeks favor from God on behalf of the people who Moses helped to deliver.

May we be the strongest “character witness” for our neighbor – a reminder of the Christian favor and hope modeled by our heavenly Father. The trials of life may be many, yet, with a focus on Christ, we accept any judgments.

Wilson Phillips, ’08
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life

Friday, March 24

After this, Jesus moved about within Galilee; but he did not wish to travel in Judea because the Jews were trying to kill him.
But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but [as it were] in secret.

So some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill?
And look, he is speaking openly, and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities* have realized that he is the Messiah?
But we know where he is from. When the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”n
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.o
I know him because I am from him, and he sent me.”
So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him because his hour had not yet come.

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

In this Gospel reading, Jesus is being hunted in Judea by the Jews. He did not want to travel in Judea, but his brothers were celebrating a feast, so he went with them in secret. It seems that Jesus did not feel like hiding anymore and began to speak out to everyone. The people listening were confused because they knew Jesus was being hunted, but he was still in Judea preaching because “his hour had not yet come”.

This is a great reading that reminds me not to worry in the presence of hardships, stress, or anxiety because God always has our back. Everything happens for a reason; in this example, God saves Jesus from being arrested because he has a much bigger plan for Jesus. Sometimes in our lives, we might question why something did not go our way, but we must always remember that God has a reason for everything. There is something greater for all of us if we can listen and accept what God is trying to tell us.

Aiden Ruthsatz, ‘24
Graduate Student, Gadomski School of Engineering

Saturday, March 25

For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins. For this reason, when he came into the world, he said:* “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God.’” First, he says, “Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings,* you neither desired nor delighted in.” These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.” He takes away the first to establish the second. By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
(Hebrews 10: 4-10)

After personally reflecting and meditating on the scripture from the letter to the Hebrews, I cannot help but observe the overall message of how to stay active during the season of Lent. We as humans have desires and urges that we experience as a part of human nature. However, as good Christians, we desire only to be united with G-d spiritually and mentally.

As mentioned in the scriptures from Hebrews, we as people will tend to embrace the rituals and norms set forward by society without a spiritual connection. For many, we embrace the season of Lent with no struggle through sacrifice or the yearning for better self-improvement. In the short text, we never seek much more spiritually and learn from our experiences from Lent.

Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross represents much more than what we take for granted today. It represents and juxtaposes a feeling of renewal and uplifting from our past selves. Free from the suffering and pain we may have endured in the past. Free from addictions, and seeking this as an opportunity through self-improvement and discipline to further ourselves and seek the virtue of greatness. What I am trying to convey is that in order to connect much closer with G-d this Lent, we must seek the best in ourselves to display spiritual growth and freedom from sin.

Emil Johnson, ‘23
Senior, School of Business

Sunday, March 26

A song of ascents. Out of the depths* I call to you, LORD; Lord, hear my cry! May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, LORD, keep account of sins, Lord, who can stand? But with you is forgiveness, and so you are revered.*
I wait for the LORD; my soul waits, and I hope for his word. My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak. More than sentinels for daybreak, let Israel hope in the LORD. For with the LORD is mercy, with him is plenteous redemption, And he will redeem Israel from all its sins. (Psalms 130: 1-8)

In today’s responsorial psalm, two powerful words ring out: mercy and redemption.

Although we all strive to be good people, we are all broken to some degree; it’s simply part of the human condition. When we stumble and fail to do what is right, to show compassion, or refuse to forgive those who may have harmed us, the psalmist offers us a “way out” and speaks directly to the core of God’s mercy and fullness of redemption.

We often hear the term loving father when referring to God. This analogy of God as a loving father or mother makes it easier to understand what may seem ineffable, “With the Lord, there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” How many times as children did we fall short, and our parents continued to embrace us? How many times as young adults did we miss the mark and act in a way that compromised our integrity? The list goes on. And yet, our parents (after some correction and advice) continued to love and embrace us – and sent us on a more honorable path. For this is what the psalmist is offering us – to turn to the Lord when we fall short – for with him, there is forgiveness. (Psalms 130: 1-8)

Br. Pat Conway, F.S.C
Founding Director, McLaughlin Social Justice Institute

March 13 – March 19

Monday, March 13

Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
“Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel
in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Magnanimity, putting the needs of others before our own, is an important aspect of the Christian faith and one that is emphasized in today’s gospel. As we reflect on this passage during the Lenten season, we are reminded that Jesus lived a life of service and sacrifice, ultimately becoming sacrifice, offering his life for the needed salvation of all of us.

In the gospel we see Jesus mention the widow who was open to God’s will, even to the point of sacrificing her and her son’s life to feed Elijah. We also hear of Naman the Syrian general who was plundering Israel. Naman was afflicted with leprosy willing to sacrifice his pride, submitting himself to Elisha for his healing. Elisha welcomed Naman and healed him, knowing all that he had done to Israel and its people. 

As members of a Lasallian community, we are called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to emulate his selfless love for others. Putting the needs of others before our own requires us to be attentive and recognize the needs of those around us, to listen to their concerns, and to respond with compassion and charity. It also means being willing to make sacrifices, whether that be giving up our time, resources, or even our own personal desires and ambitions.

This Lenten season, let us take the time to reflect on how we can better serve those around us and how we can put the needs of others before our own. Let us strive to be more selfless, more compassionate, and more willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of others. In doing so, we can follow in the footsteps of Jesus and build a more just and loving community.

Dave Archer
University President

Tuesday, March 14

Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion, the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount.* He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’|
But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant as I had pity on you?’
Then in anger, his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.*So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”
(Matthew 18:21-35)

Well…I was assigned to reflect on Matthew 18:21-35… “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”

It’s true. The Lord ‘works in mysterious ways.’ About a year ago, I had a traumatic experience with some people in my inner circle. People I trusted. Love. Unfortunately, a year later, I’ve yet to forgive them the 1st time. I was shocked when I read the bible verse I was assigned–it was as if the good Lord was staring me in the face saying, “When. Are. You. Going to deal with these issues? When? Yep, a part of me has been sad until I got this invite to reflect on Matthew. During this time, a very wise, dear friend wrote me a letter of support about my trauma. Too emotional, I never read the letter—until I got this assignment. That beautiful letter reminded me of what I knew all along, if we believe, have faith, and forgive–we already have the tools to heal our hearts. We just have to find the courage to open Matthew’s toolbox.

**Excerpt from the CBU Book of Prayers & Meditative Thoughts
God, help us to take the word “forgiveness” out of the catechism, out of the hymn books, out of the dictionaries, and to put it into the lives, hands, voices, and hearts of people where it belongs. Help us to make forgiveness more than a word. Help us to make it a reality, and let it begin with me.

Veronica Vinson
Administrative Coordinator, School of Sciences

Wednesday, March 15

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.

I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,

not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will
pass from the law until all things have taken place. Therefore,
whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the
kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches
these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)

The Fulfillment of the Law

“…whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” The Hebrews were expected to follow the Law in the Old Testament. We have laws in the Church that we are expected to follow today. There are times when we question these laws, as I’m sure the Hebrews questioned the laws that God gave to Moses, but we often forget why they were established in the first place. The objective of all these laws is for us to understand and hopefully practice the real meaning of ‘love.’ Jesus perfectly kept God’s law and did not intend to destroy the Laws of Moses. During His life, He was showing, in practice, the love of God. Do we follow and practice what Jesus has challenged us to follow? Do we perfectly follow the Laws of Christ? Do we treat others the way Christ treated others? Let’s aspire to perfectly follow the Laws of Christ this Lenten season.

Dr. Jack Hargett
Associate Vice President of Academics and Strategic Initiatives

Thursday, March 16

He was driving out a demon [that was] mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute person spoke, and the crowds were amazed. Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.”
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste, and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people* drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that [I] drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger* than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
(Luke 11:14-23)

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus is ridiculed for exorcizing a demon. In this time, Jews believed that for a demon to be exorcised, you had to know the name of the demon. In this passage, Jesus exorcises a demon from a mute man, thus dividing the crowd into those who think Jesus is on Satan’s side and those who think Jesus is on God’s side. Despite the complications and challenge, Jesus always helps others. Regardless of what blocks his way or the challenges received from others, Jesus always helps those in need. This lesson is an important example of loving and helping others and is exemplified in the Lasallian teachings. Are we always willing to help others, regardless of what others may say? Do we stand up for what we believe in even when we are criticized? Luke’s gospel reminds us that we need to look out for the common good and help those in need regardless of popular opinion. Of course, this does not mean doing something for our own purposes but for the greater good. Luke’s important lesson reminds us that compromise between Jesus and the world is not sufficient. Partial commitment is no commitment. This reminds me of one of my favorite hymns, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” How do your actions reflect your faith? Does it radiate from you? Does your love for others show in everything you do and every decision you make?

Dr. Jennifer Weske
Chair and Director of Master of Accountancy Program, School of Business

Friday, March 17

One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’j
The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”k
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘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.”
And when Jesus saw that [he] answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
(Mark 12:28-34)

As an educator, this section of Scripture makes me smile. It also helps me to relate to Jesus and to realize how practical he was. I have heard the Jewish law at the time included hundreds of commandments (613 often comes up). In a particular class, a similar overwhelming feeling may seem familiar to teachers and students alike. There’s so much! How do we cover/study/learn it all? What can I afford to leave out? It’s so complicated!! It’s like trying to figure out which individual tree in a forest is the single most important. Jesus basically encourages his audience to step back and take a broader view of our relationship with God—to stop focusing on which tree is the most important and to consider the nature of the whole forest in its entirety. Like those who were involved in the discussion with Jesus, it’s very easy to get caught up in the minute details. It’s refreshing when someone pulls a “Jesus” and steps in and says, “Alright, hold on. What really matters here?” All of those details boil down to a few simple, fundamental rules. Remember those, and you’ll do alright. All the others fall in line.

Dr. Jeff Sable
Professor, Rosa Deal School of Arts

Saturday, March 18

“He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18, 9-14)

What do we wish to achieve during the Season of Lent? If one studies the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, one can use the Parable to understand how to pray and interact with God and fellow humankind. As teachers, do we think higher of ourselves than we ought? Are we self-righteous and view ourselves as know-it-alls and prideful, or are we humble and understand the need to avoid pride and self-rightness? Likewise, students are to be reminded by the Parable that they, too, can be prideful and self-righteous or humble and kind, especially to their peers.

The pharisee’s prayer radiates pride – he cares only for himself. The Tax Collector understands his shame and sinfulness. Also, the Tax Collector recognizes his shamefulness and sinfulness. He blames only himself and does not compare himself to others even if they are considered worse than him. He exemplifies that a simple prayer of repentance is of greater value than elaborate prayers made to look like heartfelt prayers. God is fully aware of our sincere thoughts and attitudes.

In the end, the Pharisee left the temple with pride in his heart, and the Tax Collector left justified before his God and validated by faith alone. God gives grace to the humble – one who will be exalted and forgiven. What do we wish to achieve during the Season of Lent – think about how we can take the Tax Collector’s mindset and rid ourselves of the Pharisee’s pride.

Dr. John Ventura
Professor Emeritus, Gadomski School of Engineering

Sunday, March 19

“When He had said this, He spat on the ground, made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him: “Go wash in the pool of Siloam’ – which means Sent. So he went and washed and came back able to see” (John 9:6-8).

It is an amazing story and a reminder that the Lord can restore our sight in an instant. We may be confused or depressed or just full of angst, but , when we walk by faith and no longer by sight, He reassures us: “I came into the world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind” (John 9:39).

John Newton was a slave trader who repented and became a Christian. He considered himself a great sinner and was haunted by the 20,000 men, women, and children he had transported as a slave trader. Near the end of his life, he began to go blind; then he wrote the unforgettable hymn “Amazing Grace,” and, though almost blind, was able to write: “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.” We can know the same experience if we only believe.

Brother Alan Parham, F.S.C.
Midwest District Vocation Team; CBU Campus Minister

March 6 – March 12

Monday, March 6

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.”
(Luke 6:36:38)

In three verses of scripture, Luke provides the reader with explicit instruction – and undeniable hope. In theory, these words are easy to comprehend; in practice, due to our human nature, challenging to execute. For many, our parents and guardians are the first individuals to teach us the value of the lessons Luke outlines. In our everyday world, the Golden Rule comes to mind. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Yet, the wisdom of today’s Gospel reading reminds us that there is reward to be found in the simple, everyday treatment of others – in the actions we demonstrate to our neighbors and to complete strangers. The perfect recipe has been shared – an even measure of compassion, forgiveness, faith, sacrifice, and service yields spiritual nourishment.

As we continue our Lenten journey, may this recipe for spiritual nourishment provide undeniable hope for all whom we encounter.

Wilson Phillips, ‘08
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life

Tuesday, March 7

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.”
(Matthew 23:1-12)

My reflection on Matthew 23:1–12 considers the façade of success and goodness the Pharisees project. Think of the value we place on the appearance of an office space, an apartment, a car, or clothes – the things we present to others as symbols of who we are. Think of the people you value at CBU. Is it because of a title? Because of their looks? Or do you value the effort, respect, and time these people share with you?

I have now been in South Asia for one week on a recruiting trip for CBU. I have visited several successful recruiting agencies, businesses that help students from South Asia through the international admissions process. After a few days, I noticed a pattern in these offices – poorly furnished, cracks in the walls, and flaking paint – all symbols of a failing business in the United States. Yet, these businesses are thriving.

In these humble offices, I find individuals who have never heard the word Lasallian, but they are seeking what a Lasallian community offers – an educational institution that humbly opens itself to the world.

Dr. Daniel Harper
Dean of Graduate School & Associate Vice President for International Initiatives

Wednesday, March 8

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves and said to them on the way, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:17-28)

This passage highlights the importance of humility. The mother of Zebedee’s sons approached Jesus with a request for her sons to have a position of power and authority. However, Jesus reminds them that true greatness is not about being served but rather about serving others. This teaches us that seeking power and prestige for ourselves can lead to arrogance and pride, while humility and a willingness to serve others can lead to true greatness in the eyes of God. 

Furthermore, Jesus’ reference to the cup he will drink is a metaphor for the suffering he will endure on the cross. It is a reminder that following Jesus may require us to endure suffering and persecution, but it is through this suffering that we can join him in his resurrection and experience the ultimate victory over sin and death. Following Jesus begins with a realization that although doing good is good, it is not enough to obtain salvation, but we must humble ourselves to our inadequacy and put our trust in the sacrifice that was made on the cross that affords us the free gift of salvation.

In conclusion, this passage teaches us about the importance of service, sacrifice, humility, and faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. As we reflect on these teachings during Lent, may we be inspired to follow Jesus’ example and serve others with humility and selflessness, even in the face of suffering and persecution.

Ebuka Ibekwe, ‘23
Student from the Gadomski School of Engineering & CBU Lasallian Fellow

Thursday, March 9

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you, a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'” (Luke 16:19-31)

In this passage of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus teaches us the value of living a life of virtue based on His teachings. Quite often, we invest our lives in the search for pleasure, wealth, fame, and vanity. We prioritize material achievements and devote our energy to an active search for approval from others through professional success, prestige, economic success, physical attractiveness, and self-confidence, among others. In other words, we live a life devoted to indulging ourselves in which there is no time or desire to care about others in need. Despite living in a world plagued by increasing loneliness, isolation, poverty, and desperation, we just do not have the desire to satisfy anyone else different from ourselves.  

In a time of social networks, we also invest an increasing amount of time on electronic devices in search of online content that provides us with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This further pushes society to fall apart by triviality and individualism. We invest an increasing amount of time in isolation, particularly in the case of the younger generations, who are experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression due to idealized models of beauty and opulence beyond the possibilities of the vast majority of people. We live in a world that adulates “the rich man in purple garments” and has nothing left for “the poor man” that can barely eat from “the scraps” of our current society. 

We have in this Lenten season a precious time for reflection. The words of Luke remind us about the importance of taking care of others and the danger of living a life just by ourselves. We learn from James 2: 16 that “faith of itself if it does not have works, is dead”.  This is highly relevant in the context of the Gospel of Luke because this rich man in purple garments never cared about Lazarus, the poor man at his door. But this rich man knew who Lazarus was because he recognized him “from the netherworld, where he was in torment”. That is precisely what happens to all of us, even before passing away. Perhaps, we can start now in this Lenten season to care more about others by considering some voluntary work and giving our time and vital energy to those in need, especially the ones lying at our doors.  

Dr. Jairo Isaza-Castro
Associate Professor & Director of Center for Global Workplace Equity and Inclusion, School of Business

Friday, March 10

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a
tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants, and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,’ This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those
tenants when he comes?” They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the
cornerstone; by the Lord, has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes? Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.

(Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46)

Parables are kind of mysterious, aren’t they? They don’t necessarily say out “loud” what their true meanings are, and yet, they work beautifully as an instrument to help us examine the one thing that I’ve come to love that God is most concerned about: our hearts.
Sometimes, looking inward at our hearts isn’t easy – in fact, sometimes it’s deeply dreadful (did you just wince? Because I did). The exercise of even just slightly opening the door to our hearts can expose things we aren’t wanting or willing to deal with. But what causes this to be so unpleasant? Well, I’m not 100% certain – but my hunch is this: perhaps it’s hard because it reveals our pride – it’s uncomfortable to see, uncomfortable to experience, and deeply uncomfortable to be confronted with.
The Pharisees in this parable give us a front-row seat to what being confronted with our own pride can look like. In their case – their response was specific: they made a choice – a choice to do everything they could to ensure that their narrative was correct and Jesus was wrong. On the outside, it may seem like they hated Jesus (they wanted him dead and eventually do murder him), but now, when I look more closely, I wonder if they actually didn’t hate Jesus – perhaps they hated what he exposes to them more: the truth about themselves.
Admitting the truth about ourselves wasn’t something the Pharisees did, but it is something that we have the gift of responding to today. This gift – the Gospel – is freely given – even to the Pharisees. Its message may expose our hearts, but it also reveals the heart of God: no one is too sinful – broken – messed up – or far from God to respond to turn and walk with him, AND no one is too religious, too theologically correct, or too spiritually elite to admit their need for him – for God is not as concerned about the external – but the internal condition of our hearts.

Connie Beck
Director, CBU Honors Program

Saturday, March 11

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them, Jesus addressed this parable.”A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses, he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here I am, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father, and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him,’ Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’But his father ordered his servants,’ Quickly, bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast because this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him,’ Your brother has returned, and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply,’Look, all these years I served you, and not once did I disobey your orders, yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns, who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’He said to him, My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.'” (Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32)

“His father caught sight of him and was filled with compassion.”At first glance, the two sons in today’s Gospel couldn’t seem more different. Insulting his father to the highest degree, the youngest ran off with his inheritance and spent every last penny on a life of dissipation. The oldest obeyed the law and his father’s orders to a tee, only to resent his father’s compassion and forgiveness to his brother. I see two brothers who both lost sight of what is most important: the Father’s gaze.
Quite literally leaving his father’s gaze, the youngest found himself so low even the swine were better off. No amount of sex, money, or alcohol could satisfy him in the way his father’s loving embrace could. The entire time he was away, the father eagerly awaited, keeping watch for his child’s return. He had to make the choice to step back into his father’s gaze, but once he did, the father did the rest.“He ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”
On the other hand, the older son never physically left the father. He stayed and obeyed his every order, but was his heart truly with his father? When he found out his father was throwing a celebration for the return of his wayward younger brother, he was filled with so much resentment and jealousy that he refused to join the feast. The father did not abandon him in this; he saw him still and came to him.“his father came out and pleaded with him”
If the older son was truly living in the father’s gaze, he would have been secure in that love. He would not need to look at what others have been given or compare it to what he has. He would not question his father’s love for him but rather simply love and be loved by him.
When we live in the security of the Father’s love, we are truly free to love and be loved. As you journey this lenten season, allow God to show you what areas of your heart you’re keeping from him, and where He’s inviting you to step into His loving gaze. He’s eagerly waiting for you. He’s coming to you and pleading with you to let Him love you. He sees you.
Father in Heaven, give us the grace to truly live in the security of your loving gaze so that we might be fully free to become the saints you’re calling us to be. Amen.

Rebecca Preston
Friend of the University

Sunday, March 12

So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” [The woman] said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the well is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go call your husband and come back.” The woman answered and said to him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus answered her, “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, he one called the Anointed; when he comes, he will tell us everything. Jesus said to her, “I am he the one who is speaking with you.”
At that moment his disciples returned, and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her? ”The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?” They went out of the town and came to him. Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”So the disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought him something to eat?”Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’? I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest. The reaper is already receiving his payment and gathering crops for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”
Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I have done.”When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word,and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.
” – (John 4: 5-42)

This conversation is remarkable in so many ways. It is remarkable that it took place at all: Jews regarded Samaritans as veritable heretics, and violence sometimes erupted between the two groups. Moreover, Jesus speaks with a woman when no one else was around. But whatever social taboos Jesus and the woman broke, we should also marvel at how the woman sustains the conversation, pursuing something she could only perceive dimly at first.

The woman expresses surprise that Jesus, though a Jew, would ask water from her. Jesus responds with the rather opaque statement, “If you knew the gift of God and who is speaking with you, you would rather have asked, ‘Give me to drink,’ and he would have given you living water” (4:10). Jesus goes on to insist that he can provide water that will permanently satisfy her thirst. Later in John, Jesus will connect water with the Holy Spirit (7:37–38).

As the conversation develops, Jesus points out the woman’s less-than-ideal living situation (4:18). Had I been in her shoes, had I been called out—especially by someone from a group I was already inclined to dislike—I would have grown defensive or offended. Or perhaps more likely, I would have wallowed in guilt, shame, and self-loathing. But this woman does not. She remains fixed on the extraordinary Person who is right in front of her, and she refuses to lose sight of him: “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet” (4:19). No rebuke, no excuses, no shame. This woman was looking for something, or rather for someone, and this thirst for the Messiah was too important to be distracted by pride, guilt, or shame. Perhaps we could even say that in this passage, her need for physical water was like a sign, a reminder, written into her very body, of this deeper thirst.

We all know what thirst is; we know what it is to long for water. But we thirst for other things, too. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit come to us, offering to quench a thirst for truth, beauty, and goodness, that nothing else can fill—not possessions, not honors, and not ourselves. We need not seek far—Christ is right here; the Holy Spirit is “everywhere present and fills all things” (Orthodox prayer). If only we knew the One who offers the drink. If only we can, like this woman, forget ourselves a little to receive the gift being offered. Then, like this woman, we could find what we had been thirsting for all along. 

Dr. James “Bru” Wallace
Department Chair & Professor, Rosa Deal School of Arts

February 27 – March 5

Monday, February 27

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink a stranger, and you welcomed me, naked, and you clothed me, and you cared for me, in prison, and you visited me. Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and visit you? And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me no food, I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink, a stranger, and you gave me no welcome, naked, and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me. Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’45He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me. And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” – (Mathew 25:31-46)

Decisions.  Choices.  Questions without clear answers.  Actions speaking louder than words.  Today’s Gospel reading is likely known to most readers – and often quoted in homilies and bible studies.  Yet, every time I read and reflect on the passage, I’m challenged, humbled, and encouraged in a brand-new way.

Asking for help or accepting the kindness of others is something I have struggled with for much of my life.  While I’m not ungrateful for the assistance, I still want to be “independent.”  Opening doors, unloading groceries, folding laundry, picking up things off the floor are all relatively simple tasks for which I must ask assistance.  There are moments where I want to do it myself and I have made some adaptations I’ve made over the years; however, I’ve also come to terms with my situation and recognize those moments when “a helping hand” would truly make things easier for me.

My daily search for “independence” is humbling.  There are indeed days where I question everything; moments where I want to be free of this disability; periods of silence where I contemplate my next move.  Yet, I’ve also been blessed by countless individuals who, probably unknowingly, are living the “call” of today’s scripture.  What may seem like simple sacrifice to you can be the greatest act of service another person experiences in a given day.

No matter our circumstances, we are called daily to consider the tough questions; to choose to serve our neighbor; and decide to follow the example of Christ.  As we serve our neighbor or a stranger in their moment of need this Lenten season, may we remember we are in the holy presence of God.

Wilson Phillips, ‘08
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life

Tuesday, February 28

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. The Lord’s Prayer. “This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” – (Mathew 6:7-15)

My first thought upon reading this selection was, “O my Gosh; it’s the Lord’s Prayer.  And there it is; right smack dab in the almost exact middle of the Sermon on the Mount!”  

My thoughts almost immediately went to wondering just how many times I have said this prayer.  My answer would be “quite a bunch.”  And, stop and think; in this day and time, the Lord’s Prayer may be the one item that keeps the Christian faith loosely together.  We may have several variations, but as Christians, we still recite some version of this prayer.

One final thought — even here, our Lord is wanting us to forgive others and remember his caution, “if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  It is a difficult thing to do, but when the time comes, we do need to do our best to do it. Hopefully, all will be well.

Mr. Andrew Morgret
Associate Professor Emeritus, School of Business

Wednesday, March 1

“While still more people gathered in the crowd, he said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment, the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here.” – (Luke 11:29-32)

As I take the time to write this short reflection, verse 29 echoes within my ears and deep within my soul; 

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.

Now, I am not shaming nor judging anyone to be wicked, but I found it ironic how God uses this to reflect the same struggles many may be able to relate to today. How many times have you asked God for a sign, just to miss it while in the crowd? 

I’m just as guilty as anyone else, but for those still struggling with fully grasping their purpose and letting go of society’s expectations, I would like to encourage you with the same keywords spoken towards the end of verses 31 and 32; “greater is here”. So, despite the judgment, the trials, and the disappointment that you may find in life, remember that something grander than the tale of Jonah and the great whale is working on your behalf. 

Keep chasing your purpose, do not be afraid to walk on your own, and trust in God’s promises, as well as refer to them, EVERYDAY… for “greater is already here.” 

St. John Baptist de La Salle (pray for us) 
With Jesus in our hearts (forever)

Justin Brooks
Director, CBU Center for Community Engagement

Thursday, March 2

Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will you give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! ‘n everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:7-12)

When students apply to CBU, they are searching. They knock on our door asking for different things: A better life for themselves and their families, to satisfy career goals, a Catholic education, deeper knowledge, and connections, or in some cases, they are still trying to figure out what they need.
In today’s reading, Matthew poses this challenge: When students ask, what do we as faculty and staff give to them – gifts of bread and fish, or do we toss them stones and snakes? At times, it is a tricky question to answer. Students can ask for things they are not prepared to receive, like an “A” on a test or a goal they have not met deadlines or requirements to achieve. So, does being Lasallian mean we give students what they want… just because they have asked?
This reading challenges us to find ways to nourish our students even when, and especially when, those stones and snakes feel justified! In our lives, when we ask God to answer our prayers, it is with the understanding that the answer may not be what or when we expect. We know our prayers are not orders to Amazon with 2-day shipping (but wouldn’t that be nice!)
When we find ourselves unwilling to provide students with what they ask, this reading urges us to focus less on what we believe they deserve and more on how we, as a Lasallian university, can collectively construct a path to further their goal.
This can be humbling, frustrating, and at times, infuriating. It reminds me of parenting advice I once received – that it is better to be effective than to be right. Being effective in the Lasallian spirit means walking alongside our students; even as they go in directions we clearly instructed them not to go!
Does this mean our students should never be allowed to fail or be disappointed? If you have ever requested something through prayer, you know the answer! Providing for students is more about how we answer than what we give. Do we communicate with patience and compassion, even when a student makes us feel disrespected? Do we look for alternatives when the choice we have assigned isn’t working for that student?
When students feel heard, seen, respected, and worthy of advocacy and creative solutions– we have given what they have asked of CBU, even if it is not exactly what or how they had planned! More importantly, we will have lived up to our Lasallian mission to develop students who “enter to learn and leave to serve.” When we lovingly provide for our students, we participate in the formation of graduates equipped to respond with love… to the tough questions this world calls them to answer.

Dr. Lurene Kelley
Director of Academic Operations & Student Engagement, Center for Digital Instruction

Friday, March 3

I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill, and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry* with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. 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. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to the court with him. Otherwise, your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen; I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5: 20-26)

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus warns his followers that simply following the law is not enough to enter the kingdom of heaven. We may follow the law and appear righteous on the outside, but if our hearts are full of anger or bitterness toward others, we are not truly living in accordance with God’s will.
Jesus reminds us that we must seek reconciliation with those we have wronged before offering our gifts at the altar. This means that we must take responsibility for our actions and make amends with those we have hurt. It may be difficult to admit our faults and ask for forgiveness, but it is necessary in order to fully live out our faith.
Lent is a time of reflection and repentance, a time to examine our hearts and turn toward God. As we reflect on this passage, let us consider the ways in which we can cultivate inner righteousness and seek reconciliation with those around us. May we take this time to confess our sins, ask for forgiveness, and strive towards living a life of love and compassion towards all.

Dr. James McGuffee
Professor & Dean, School of Sciences

Saturday, March 4

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 only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?*
So be perfect,* just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
(Mathew 5:43-48)

Disputes. Betrayal. Misunderstandings. The world, and its people, find so many reasons to create divisions. We are often challenged to celebrate our differences – and in so many ways, we should celebrate the uniqueness of each person. Yet, I would challenge you to take a moment to think about those situations in our lives where discord has developed simply because of “differences without a distinction.”

Today’s Gospel “calls us on the carpet.” We are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Truly, a monumental task when we are called, by God, to sacrificially care for another individual who has betrayed our trust or spoken ill of us to another. His call demands that we turn the other cheek and genuinely care for our neighbor, no matter how we have been treated. It can be frustrating to be called to a “higher desire” when the world does not afford us the same. Yet, our hope daily is to emulate Christ.

As we travel this Lenten journey, may we be called to that “higher desire” of re-presenting Christ to others who may or may not know him.

Wilson Phillips, ‘08
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life

Sunday, March 5

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.* And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents* here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,* then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision* to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
(Matthew 17:1-9)

The Transfiguration of Jesus is widely known and referenced in homilies and sermons throughout the year. Peter, James, and John were witnesses to a moment in scripture where Jesus was transfigured at the top of a mountain – his face shown like the sun, and his clothes turned bright white.

In verse 5, we hear a loud voice saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” In that moment, we are told the three disciples fall to the ground in reverent fear. Jesus, as only he can, approaches after the transfiguration is complete – charging the disciples to go and bear witness to what they had experienced without reservation.

How many times do we let fear prevent us from following God’s call? How often are we unwilling to let go of control and trust in God’s direction for us? How often are we unwilling to yield to the Holy Spirit, even when we feel God really pulling at our hearts? The constant call of Christ is to trust in Him and to follow his paths without fear.

Throughout these forty days, may we remember the message of the Transfiguration – Trust and Obey, leaning on Him in sacrificial service to our Father in heaven.

Wilson Phillips, ‘08
Office Manager, Student Development & Campus Life

February 22 – February 26

Wednesday, February 22

“[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” – (Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18)

Ashes!  What is this thing we do?  It must be very important to u because it’s one of the days when the church is most filled.  But why?  What does this day mean?  Why do people come?   

Perhaps it touches some deep truth in us, a way to admit how very fragile our lives really are.  Perhaps this day reaches beyond our words and goes right to our hearts.  Perhaps it’s the only way we know how to be honest with ourselves.  Once a year, we just need to own up to it: we are nothing but ashes apart from the grace of God.  It was in our baptism that we shared most fully in that life-giving grace. 

The journey to baptism began for all of us with the cross being traced on our forehead; the priest or deacon uttered the words: “Accept this mark on your forehead, for I claim you for Christ Our Savior, by the Sign of his Cross.”    

Today we retrace this cross of Baptism with ashes. Today we remember that moment when we were given that sign which would mark us for life and claim our lives for Christ, the Son of God, who died and rose again for us.  Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin the season of Lent, a long retreat to prepare for Easter.  

Rev. R Bruce Cinquegrani, D. Min. 
Chaplain & Visiting Assistant Professor, Rosa Deal School of Arts

Thursday, February 23

“He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?” – (Luke 9:22-25)

Today’s Gospel reading can make one squirm a little. After all, isn’t the Gospel supposed to be Good News? Aren’t we supposed to be joyful Christians?  But Jesus talks in this Gospel about taking up our cross, denying ourselves, and losing our life to save it.

When St. Thomas More was betrayed by Sir Richard Rich, Thomas said to him: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul, but Wales?”  Sir Richard had been promising governorship of Wales if he lied to incriminate More, who was accused of treason against the king. 

The fact is that our joy is in living the Gospel even if it means saying no to our lesser desires. It is in that very no we find our peace and the Lord himself.

Brother Alan Parham, F.S.C.
Midwest District Vocation Team; CBU Campus Minister

Friday, February 24

“Then the disciples of John approached him and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast [much], but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:14-15)

A line from today’s Gospel always stands out to me and gives me great encouragement. “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” So often we tend to focus on what is sad or going wrong with our lives. Which are important and valid feelings, but we must also celebrate. We are people of joy, not of pain. We have the Good News, and we cannot forget that!

As a part of our Lasallian Heritage we acknowledge that Jesus Lives in Our Hearts! Though life can be tough, and we have plenty of reasons to see the negative and “mourn” as the Gospel puts it. We also have the bridegroom with us always. Never forget there is always joy in our call as Christians. There will be time for both crying and laughing. Don’t forget to also be that source of joy to others. Our world can always use more smiles, I know I could. 

Joseph Preston
Vice President for Mission and Identity