Monday, February 29, 2016

Monday of the Third Week
“If the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it?” So Naaman, a foreign army commander, was asked by his servants. He’d been told by the prophet Elisha in Israel that he should wash in the Jordan River to be cleansed from his leprosy. Naaman finally does this and is healed. Naaman expected something extraordinary would be asked of him. When we’re not tapped for the extraordinary mission, do we eventually listen, like Naaman, and do the ordinary task?

“When shall I go and behold the face of God?” sings the psalmist. Jesus tells the people in the  synagogue in Nazareth that they are closed to seeing God in familiar people and places. They don’t expect to see God’s face in local prophets. There were many widows, says Jesus, but it was only to the widow in Zarephath that Elijah was sent. There were many lepers in Israel, but only Naaman was cleansed. Where will we see God present?

 Elisha, Elijah, and Jesus did what God put in front of them to do...healing a man, eating with a widow, and noticing people who were poor, sick, and outcast. The soldier, the widow, and Jesus’ neighbors experienced God’s presence in the most unlikely, unexpected people and places.

 We see God, not when we’re looking for the important mission we are supposed to do, but in small, quiet moments or encounters or people we almost overlook.
Holy Spirit, may we see You acting in the unexpected and ordinary events in our lives.  In Jesus’ name, we pray.  

 Jan Hancock, M’12, P’99, P09, Member of the Worshipping Community

First Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-15b
Psalm 42:2-3; 43:3-4
Gospel: Luke 4:24-30

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website



Sunday, February 28, 2016

Third Sunday of Lent
Ah, curiosity! That pathway to insight, that Pandora's box of surprise, wonder...and sometimes trouble. In the familiar account of Moses and the burning bush, we find a simple story of curiosity, action, and discovery. Moses sees a bush that is on fire but not burning up. “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,” he says, apparently to no one but himself. And it turns out that acting on his curiosity leads him to the God of Israel—and changes his life and the lives of his people forever. How wonderful that Moses took the time to follow up on his curiosity—to scratch the itching of an inquisitive mind! If only we all lived so attuned to the extraordinary. Instead, for too many of us, life is a blur of deadlines, work, and social media. We are rarely ever on the lookout for wonder and amazement. Thank God Moses didn’t have an iPhone! I’m sure he would have walked right past the flaming bush while scrolling through his messages. It is interesting, and maybe a little scary, the way this hide-and-seek God prefers to wait for us, camouflaged in a thing of strange beauty.

Jesus seems similarly committed to speaking only to the curious. He doesn’t hammer his audience over the head with commandments. He prefers to speak in parables—stories from everyday life that confront only the curious listeners “with ears to hear.” I confess, I’m still chewing on the parable in today’s Gospel—I haven’t digested it yet. Is Jesus’ point that the fig tree is spared because the gardener believes in second chances? Perhaps he is the gardener of second chances—the one who is “kind and merciful” as the psalmist suggests? He stalls the owner of the garden, asking for a little more time, a little more water, and a little more fertilizer. Or perhaps he is the tree, asking His listeners for a second hearing. It’s hard to know for sure. Jesus, the storyteller, invites us with this curious parable to come over and investigate. Have a look around.
God of anomalies, Author of wonder and amazement, stir up our hearts and give us curious, restless, and inquisitive minds. Amen.

Robert Brenneman, Associate Professor of Sociology

First Reading: Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15
Psalm 103:1-4, 6-8, 11
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website 



Saturday, February 27, 2016

Saturday of the Second Week
The readings today all highlight God’s amazing compassion for us in the very face of our sins and transgressions, even (and perhaps especially) in those moments when we are most distanced from God by choices we have made.  In each reading, the language of “distance” makes it clear that God still pardons us—even “delight[ing] in clemency” for us—no matter how far we have strayed.  In the first reading, the prophet Micah addresses a people long in exile, reminding them in a prayer of deliverance that that they will one day return from afar to feed in the rich pastures of the Promised Land.  In the responsorial psalm, God’s infinite love is so absolving that “as far as the east is from the west, so far he has put our transgressions from us.”  And finally, in the Gospel reading, the prodigal son is welcomed back even “while he was still a long way off,” when his father catches sight of him in the distance and is immediately “filled with compassion.”  We are indeed “crowned with kindness and compassion” by our forgiving Father, for (as Micah exults in the first reading) “Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin?”

Lord, help me always to remember that Your love is there for me, no matter how far I stray.  For who is there like You?  If I seek Your forgiveness—even from a long way off—I know that You will always welcome me back with kindness and mercy.

Joan Wry, ’79, P’10, Associate Professor of English

First Reading: Micah 7:14-15, 18-20
Psalm 103:1-4, 9-12
Gospel: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website


Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday of the Second Week
We often fall victim to our own jealousy. Jealousy of other people’s possessions, of the gifts that others have, and of other people’s relationships, much like the brothers of Joseph who were jealous of Joseph’s relationship with their father, Isaac. Like Joseph’s brothers, we often let our jealousy cloud our vision from the blessings that we have in our own lives, and the blessings that exist in the world around us. Instead of appreciating these things, our jealousy makes us want more than what we already have, more than what we need; we want what others have, what we believe we lack in our own lives.

It is important to focus not on what others have, but on what our own gifts are. By doing this, we free ourselves from the chains that can hold us down, the chains of our own jealousy. Once we are free of these chains, we can focus on the world around us and see the beauty that God has provided in our lives. It is through these things provided for us by God that we can succeed in our lives. Sometimes the path is not always clear like Joseph’s, or any of his brothers, but when we focus on what God has blessed us with, we can succeed.

Lord, thank You for all of the gifts in my life.  Thank You for the blessings I receive every day and those which I will receive in the future. Help me to not be jealous of others. Let me use my gifts to spread Your word and compassion to others.

Caitlin D’Amore, ’18


First Reading: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a
Psalm 105:16-21
Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thursday of the Second Week
Our readings today comprise a biblical “wake-up call”—an ancient one harkening from 2,000 to 3,000 years ago—shouting as loudly and clearly as any in Scripture; in essence, “Behave yourself or you’ll be sorry!”   Recalling lyrics from the musical Godspell:
Turn back, O man
Forswear thy foolish ways…
Yet thou…still will not hear
Thine inner God proclaims
We are chastened to listen to our “inner God’s” proclamations—lest we end up like the rich man crying out from Gehenna to poor man Lazarus in the old spiritual:
Dip your finger in the water,
come and cool my tongue,
‘cause I’m tormented in the flame!
We learn from our own growing up to “make good choices” and that “choices will have consequences.”  Yet we waiver, we each are imperfect in our own ways. 
Today we are reminded that the Way is always before us.  The path to salvation is clearly marked and widely known, not shrouded in mystery or revealed to a few.  Today we acknowledge our frailties as well as our resilience and persistence, reminiscent of a familiar tune from the height of the Great Depression:
Nothing's impossible I have found
For when my chin is on the ground
I pick myself up
Dust myself off
Start all over again
Said simply, we ought to pray daily for the personal insight and strength to do exactly that.

Lord, thank You for reassuring us that although we do stumble, Your hand is always outstretched to ours, helping us to stand again and to follow You.

Church Hindes, ’69, Member of the Worshipping Community

First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10
Psalm 1:1-4, 6
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday of the Second Week
Community holds a special place in my heart because I believe that we were never meant to stand alone. A tree is not meant to grow in solitude—growing old alone in a field, the branches will sag towards the ground and the roots will search for hold. Without the strength of the forest, the tree will struggle much more than it will thrive. In all times, what we search for is support and acceptance. In the first reading, Jeremiah is betrayed by his community, who want to indict him for heresy though he has shown them nothing but compassion by praying for their forgiveness from God.  Jeremiah has no support here, no friend who would stop others from spreading rumors. Instead of following the love of God, his community has chosen to stand against him, effectively labeling him as an “other.” 
We can see this “otherness” happening everywhere in our world. It happens when we don’t see each other as human beings, as full individuals who are as much capable of love as you or I. It can be hard to bridge the differences we see between each other. Race, religion, gender, political views—these can all lead us to dismiss the other, to reject the possibility of creating a community of love and acceptance that can support us all in the journey of life. I find that I often need to remind myself to not harden my heart against those I would consider “others,” and that instead I should speak on their behalf, as Jeremiah did to God.  Only through this have I learned that my community can be as big as I want, and as whole and complete as God’s creation.
Loving God, I pray that I encounter each person with love and an open heart. I pray that the lines that separate us all can dissipate, and that together we can understand, forgive, and find peace. 
Erin Buckley, ’17 
First Reading: Jeremiah 18:18-20
Psalm 31:5-6, 14-16
Gospel: Matthew 20:17-28

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tuesday of the Second Week
Just stop.
Stop trying to secure that promotion. Stop considering your next pay raise. Stop thinking that you’re better than everybody else. Stop taking on outward acts of nobility and service, while holding resentment for those you serve. Just stop.
In our daily lives here in Vermont, it is easy to get caught up in “what’s next for me?” We, myself included, continue the modern-day version of “widen[ing] our phylacteries and lengthen[ing] our tassels” and “seeking places of honor at banquets…and in the synagogues.” We do so by often pursuing what is best for ourselves…a new house, a new car, the next promotion, a new job title, a bigger pay raise. For those who don’t have to, even claiming the front seat in class could be considered taking a place of honor because we seek to have others see how much we contribute to class discussions.
Yet in today’s readings, Isaiah, the psalmist, and Jesus all call us to turn away from this selfish path. Isaiah implores us to “put away [our] misdeeds…make justice [our] aim, and redress the wrong.” Jesus similarly tells us to observe God’s prior teachings on service to others, and to rebuke the example set by the scribes and Pharisees.
Let us use this Lenten season to stop pursuing more for ourselves and (re-)find the path of humility and service to others. Let us take on the role of servant as Jesus did.
Dear Lord, help me this day find opportunities to serve others as Christ served the least of us. Help me to be humble in a world that seeks to promote those who promote themselves. Help me re-center my life on You.
Chad T. Ahern, ’99, M’12, Donor Relations Officer
First Reading: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Psalm 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21, 23
Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website


Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday of the Second Week
The Chair of St. Peter the Apostle


Our Lenten readings are interrupted by a feast named The Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle which celebrates Peter taking pastoral responsibility for the Church of Rome. Considering Peter as the first Bishop of Rome, we have the opportunity to reflect on the role of the papacy in the Church, and in particular the pastoral leadership which our current Pontiff, Francis, has brought to the Petrine ministry.  From the moment of Pope Francis’ election as Pope, he has time and time again reminded us to concentrate on the essential teachings of the Gospel as we live our Christian faith. From comparing the Church to a field hospital in which we heal the wounds of people, to encouraging people to live with joy the Gospel message rather than looking as people living in Lent without Easter, Pope Francis has challenged us on numerous levels.  Above all in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is stressing the essential attribute of the ministry of Jesus which is mercy. In the Gospel story for today, Jesus asks a question of Peter that can be asked of us, “But who do you say that I am?” This question allows us to consider who Jesus truly is in our lives and how our understanding of Jesus should be deepened in light of the exhortations of Pope Francis these past three years.

Peter, knowing his own sinfulness, initially resisted Jesus’ call to discipleship. Yet Jesus invites Peter to follow anyway and is later given a leadership role. Peter experienced himself as a sinner, but loved, and Pope Francis, being formed as a Jesuit in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, enthusiastically preaches that this mercy of God revealed in Jesus extends to all people and that we are all loved sinners. Perhaps on this feast day commemorating the Bishop of Rome, we would do well to meditate on the essential teaching of Jesus, which is mercy. May our prayer be the same as Pope Francis:

“Lord Jesus Christ, You have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees You sees Him. Show us Your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that You spoke to the Samaritan woman: ‘If you knew the gift of God!’” Amen.

Fr. Brian Cummings, S.S.E. ’86, Director of Edmundite Campus Ministry

First Reading: 1 Peter 5:1-4
Psalm 23:1-3a, 4-6
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website



Sunday, February 21, 2016

Second Sunday of Lent
Our Gospel for today presents a powerful visual moment in Jesus’ life and the lives of Peter, John, and James.  Jesus was in prayer on the mountain top with three of His disciples, and the three were tempted to doze off to sleep as Jesus prayed.  This is reminiscent of another time in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus praying while they slept.  This comparison seems appropriate since at this time Jesus is talking to Moses and Elijah about His coming exodus in Jerusalem.  The word exodus makes me think of the journey Moses took the Israelites through to freedom.  Now Jesus was given this vision to strengthen Him and prepare His disciples for the challenge that lay ahead as He completed His mission, His glory, and exodus to set us all free by His passion and death.  He knew His disciples needed supernatural strength for what lay ahead and so this vision was a part of that plan to strengthen them.  They see Moses and Elijah but more than that, it is the vision of the radiant Jesus, the luminous cloud and the words of God, “This is my chosen Son.”  This experience strengthened Jesus for His mission and we know it also strengthened the three disciples as well. 
In our lives, we sometimes have mountain top experiences to prepare us for the times in the valley of the shadow of death.  Many times we may not recognize what is happening until after it is over, but let us try to find a way to celebrate these moments when God reveals God’s self to us in whatever way that might come, be it a full moon, a pristine white world of a snow-covered mountain, a chance meeting with a dear friend, a changed outcome of a medical situation.  May we take nothing for granted and find a way to celebrate as Peter suggested, camping out on the mountain with friends.  Then may we be ready to leave the mountain of joy and return to the challenges that face us at the bottom.
God of Mystery, come to me in my times of need so I can be strengthened to face the challenges in my own life.  Amen.  
Sr. Karen Pozniak, S.N.D., Member of the Worshipping Community

First Reading: Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
Psalm 27:1, 7-9, 13-14
Second Reading: Philippians 3:17—4:1
Gospel: Luke 9:28b-36
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website




Saturday, February 20, 2016

Saturday of the First Week
In today’s readings, Jesus emphasizes how easy it is to love those who already love us. He, then, tells us that’s not enough. We are challenged with a new radical love—to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. As I reflect on this message of radical love, I’m left with more self-reflective questions than answers. Is my love truly unconditional and radical enough to have people persecuting me? Do I forgive those who hurt me? In the first reading, Moses calls us to a commitment to love God with all our heart and all our soul. The combination of these readings today is, to me, a challenge in committing to radical love with all our heart and soul this Lenten season. For me, I believe this comes to fruition by seeing Christ in each person—even that rude driver who cut me off this morning. Our challenge is more than being nice to others; it’s intentionally honoring the dignity of all those around us. With this challenge, how will I radically pour my soul into the world, as Christ pours His soul into us?
Heavenly Father, this Lenten season, be my eyes to see the dignity of others, be my heart in loving others, and be my hands in serving others. Allow me to serve with the radical love that You call me to.

Anna Boesch, Assistant Director of the M.O.V.E. Office

First Reading: Deuteronomy 26:16-19
Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8
Gospel: Matthew 5:43-48

Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website