Sunday, March 18, 2018

Fifth Sunday of Lent
“Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”

Our Lenten Journey with Jesus is drawing closer and closer to the cross. During the Passover Festival, some Greeks are in town and they want to meet Jesus. Philip and Andrew bring the request to Jesus. In John’s account of the Gospel, this exchange points to the expansive mission of God in the life of Jesus. The wider world is now seeking Jesus. The Covenant Community is expanding.

The response Jesus makes points us to the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s dying and rising. "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

Is there a reminder in this for those of us who want to “see” Jesus, either for the first time, or through the daily renewal of our relationship to “see thee more clearly” as the Godspell song prays? What in us might need to “die” so that we can “bear fruit” through our relationship with Jesus? What is it about following Jesus that we want to pay closer attention to as we move toward Holy Week?

With the Psalmist, perhaps that exploration toward clearer sight and deeper relationship with Jesus might well begin with the prayer: “Create a clean heart in me, O God.”

The Right Reverend Thomas C. Ely, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Vermont

First Reading: Ezekiel 37:12-14
Psalm 130:1-8
Second Reading: Romans 8:8-11
Gospel: John 11:1-45

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saturday of the Fourth Week
Today’s readings remind me of the importance of putting my trust in God. Both the first reading from Jeremiah and John’s Gospel speak to times where the faithful doubted or questioned the Lord. In the Gospel reading, there is confusion amongst the guards as to who the man from Galilee is and furthermore they doubt that he is a prophet, let alone the Christ.  They even tell the Pharisees, “Never has anyone spoken like this man.” Clearly Jesus has gotten through to some of the guards. This is a reminder to all of us that we need to be open to Jesus’ voice in whatever way it presents itself in our daily lives.  The verse before the Gospel really sums up the message of the Scripture readings today, “Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.” This is a reminder that the faithful will be rewarded, but it also takes time and perseverance. The Gospel ends with the Pharisees telling the guards to go to Galilee and “Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” This is another reminder to be open to God’s call and help others be open as well.

Lord, help me keep the word with a generous heart and follow You wherever You may lead.

Matt Seklecki, ’11, M’17, Senior Associate Director of Admission

First Reading: Jeremiah 11:18-20
Psalm 7:2-3, 9b-12
Gospel: John 7:40-53

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday of the Fourth Week
In today’s readings from Scripture, it talks a lot about healing and having the courage to reach out for God’s help. In the first reading, the main message is about being blinded by wickedness and spite and not understanding God’s message to His people. We sometimes can get so caught up in the negativity and anger we have toward others, that we don’t see or hear God’s plan. We focus all of our attention on negativity, that we cloud our judgment of others and our own world. We tend to not see the good in others and in the world around us. It’s so easy to get caught up in negativity because it’s always there wherever we go, but we have to be able to push ourselves away from this and try focusing on the good.

The Psalm contains themes of struggle and negativity, but it focuses on God who will destroy evil and heal those who have been hurt, reassuring us that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” He will comfort those who come to Him for help. God is always there for us whenever we may need Him, and He will vanquish evil and darkness. However, we have to make the step to reach out to Him and He will respond when we do. I often pray to God to ask Him for help, whether it be for a small problem or, something that has been bothering me that I cannot handle alone. Each time I did, it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could no longer feel any negativity but intead found peace.

In the Gospels, themes included having courage to speak the truth and how Jesus expressed Himself when saying He was the Son of God. Even though the people believe that Jesus might be the Christ the prophecy was speaking of, they didn’t believe He would reveal Himself to them because they knew where He was from. Jesus even says that He was sent by God the Father to teach and tell the people that they do not know God yet, but, Jesus comes from God to teach us about who God truly is. I believe that Jesus took a great risk in going to Judea even though he could be arrested by the Jews if He revealed himself. It takes a lot of courage for anyone to go to a place where they know they might get in trouble and be able to speak the truth, knowing they could potentially get caught. With all this in mind, God wants us to push ourselves to reach out to Him. Even though there is negativity and hardship around us, we must strive to push past this and have the courage to find good.

Lord, I ask You to watch over me and heal my soul. Help me through the troubles I may face, and give me the courage to reach out to You for guidance.

Rachael Southworth, ’21

First Reading: Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22
Psalm 34:17-21, 23
Gospel: John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thursday of the Fourth Week
Today’s first reading is captured well in the responsorial Psalm. The people brought out of Egypt by Moses begin to adore a molten image of a calf because they forgot the God who saved them. God told Moses that He planned to exterminate His people because of their actions, and Moses chose to plea for them and ask that God withhold His wrath. Because of Moses’ intercession, the Israelites were saved from destruction. Moses further spoke to the people about God sending a Savior who, if listened to and followed, would lead them to eternal life.

In the Gospel, we hear Jesus talking with His fellow Jews about how they listened to John the Baptist as John was preparing the way for Jesus. The Lord reminds them how they have searched the Scriptures because they think they might receive eternal life through them – yet, while they have placed their hope in Moses, John and others, they still do not accept Him who has been sent by the Father, Jesus tells them.

What are the lessons for us to consider? Do we place material things or persons ahead of God in our daily lives? Do we listen to or read the Word of God but still not receive Him, refusing to live as He has directed us? How can we learn from the errors of those we read about today so that we might be better prepared for our eternal life with God?

Lord, help me strengthen my faith by listening more earnestly and intentionally to Your message of salvation and by receiving You on a regular basis in the sacraments that You have provided to strengthen us on our earthly journey to eternal life. Amen.

Jerry Flanagan, ’71 and P’94, P’98, P’01, P’11, Senior Philanthropic Advisor

First Reading: Exodus 32:7-14
Psalm 106:19-23
Gospel: John 5:31-47

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday of the Fourth Week
It was four weeks ago today that this year’s Lenten journey began.  We have a little more than two weeks to go, and I hope that our journey is allowing us to focus on the love of Christ as well as re-align our spiritual life to more faithfully answer the call that God gives us.

In today’s reading from Isaiah, we hear, “In a time of favor I answer you, on the day of salvation I help you.”  We hear of the land being restored, prisoner’s being freed, those in darkness being revealed, and on the way, "they shall find pasture."  It was this word “pasture," that I connect with.  When I was growing up, I loved strolling through my grandfather’s pastures.  On those nearly 100 acres of pasture, I worked with him to mend broken fences, I played on the frozen ice in the winter, was stuck in the mud in the spring, enjoyed the smell of the grass in the summer, and picked apples in the fall.  Now, in Vermont, I get to see my heifers roam freely in a much smaller pasture, but this pasture provides them with the most delicious grass that they have eaten all year.  For animals, the pasture is their source of nourishment, providing a peaceful existence where they can roam freely and naturally.  It is their slice of heaven.

This is the time to answer God’s call, to thank the God who loves us more than we can comprehend, to give to others, to love as He loves us.  John’s Gospel emphasizes the relationship between Jesus and His Father and what it will be like on that final day, “all who are in tombs will hear His voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life.”  What is the “tomb" that has been keeping us from fully experiencing God’s grace?  Now is the time to leave that tomb, to restore our spiritual life, and fully immerse ourselves into the relationship that God yearns us to be in with Him.

Lord, may each day of this journey draw us closer to You.  May we seek not our own will but Your will, as Your Son Jesus showed us, rejecting those things that draw us away from You and embracing each step of the journey until we have eternal life.

Jeffrey Lester, Member of the Worshipping Community

First Reading: Isaiah 49:8-15
Psalm 145:8-9, 13c-14, 17-18
Gospel: John 5:17-30

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Tuesday of the Fourth Week
“Do you want to be well?”  This question by Jesus in today’s Gospel seems so simple.  My first response is: “Yes!  Of course!”  Anyone who has suffered an illness or who has stood by a loved one who was battling an illness or disease, I would also expect to respond with an enthusiastic yes.  But when we consider Jesus asking us this question about the brokenness in our lives caused by sin, we sometimes falter.  What is it about our brokenness and places in our lives that need healing that make us hesitant and reluctant about handing it over to Jesus?  Somehow, holding onto fear, bitterness, and resentment gives us a false sense of control or power over our hurt.  The gift of freedom, healing, and peace from Jesus might mean risking, letting go, embracing humility, and becoming vulnerable that can cause us to keep a firm grasp on our sinfulness and not turn towards Jesus to make us well, to let the stream of living water cleanse us and bring us back to wholeness. 

I once read a reflection by Margaret Silf on this passage where she engaged in Ignatian contemplation and placed herself within the Scripture story.  She engaged in conversation with Jesus using imaginative prayer where Jesus, while looking out at those gathered by the pool of Bethesda, asks “What do you think they are doing here?”  She responded: "They are waiting to be healed.  When the angel stirs the water, one of them will go in and be healed.”  “What is wrong with them?”  Jesus continued.  “Some are blind and others are paralyzed,” she replied.  “So how will any of them get to the pool when the water is stirred?  Surely those who are blind won’t see that the water has been stirred, and the ones who are paralyzed will see it but they won’t be able to move.”  This simple logic confounded her, and Jesus continued, “No one will reach the healing water alone.  They all need someone who will take them.  They need someone else’s eyes and limbs.”  

We all have brokenness in our lives.  Some of us are blinded to the truth.  Some of us are paralyzed by fear.  Beyond us asking Jesus to make us well, are there ways where we can be someone else’s eyes or limbs to help one another to the healing water Jesus offers?  May we find the courage to let go of our brokenness and turn towards Jesus, as well as help one another also respond to Jesus with, “Yes, I want to be well.”

From the verse before today’s Gospel: A clean heart create for me, O God; give me back the joy of Your salvation.

Anna Lester, ’98, M’12, Assistant Director of Edmundite Campus Ministry

First Reading: Ezekiel 47: 1-9, 12
Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
Gospel: John 5:1-16

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Monday, March 12, 2018

Monday of the Fourth Week
Yesterday, Laetare Sunday brought a moment of hope and optimism to our Lenten reflections.  Our readings for today might be a continuation of that sense with repeated references to things good replacing things not good—perhaps a common thread across selections from Isaiah, Psalm 30, and John’s Gospel.

Isaiah begins that thread speaking of the Lord’s assurance of moving
From what was before to a new earth and a new heaven
From things of the past to a new creation with rejoicing and happiness
From what had been to a joyous new Jerusalem and a new people of delight
Away from weeping and crying
Away from lives cut short to full lifetimes (beyond 100!)
To new secure houses and healthy new vineyards

And Psalm 30 continues praising the Lord’s generosity in
Granting freedom from our enemies
Delivery from the nether world and separation from the condemned
Rejoicing at dawn when there was weeping at nightfall
And wondrous transformation from mourning into dancing

Then John’s Gospel concludes our day describing
Christ’s welcome upon His return to Cana in Galilee following His dishonor in Samaria
The royal official moving beyond relying on signs and wonders to his belief in the words of Jesus
And, his son’s miraculous recovery from deadly fever to assured life

Taken together, today’s readings echo the hope and reassurance proclaimed during our Mass on Christmas Eve “The people who walked in darkness have seen a Great Light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.  You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing.  (Isaiah 9:1-6)  Our readings are reminders that optimism can triumph over pessimism; joy over despair; healing and restoration over dejection and division.  We are encouraged to take comfort in knowing today’s worries and troubles can be overcome, and each new dawn followed by another new dawn is our blessed assurance.  As the psalmist reminds us, we shall dance again.

You, Lord, are both guide and companion throughout our journeys along high level ground as well as through briars and mires. Help us to not be discouraged.  Our roads have frequent branches, help us to choose the paths that lead us to the new dawn, the Great Light You have promised.

Church Hindes, ’69, Member of the Worshipping Community

First Reading: Isaiah 65:17-21
Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-12a, 13b
Gospel: John 4:43-54

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website