The following was written by Senior SLAMer Terry Vant. Thanks for your thoughfulness, Terry!
In this week’s gospel, I believe John the Baptist gives all of us a beautiful revelation about how we can ‘prepare the way’ for the Lord in our own lives. John the Baptist preaches the repentance of sins and baptism in order to help them remove the effects of sin from their lives and become ready for Jesus’s arrival. I believe a valuable principle we can learn from this story is that if there are sins in our lives – pressures, and stress in our lives – they can hinder us from seeing the true meaning of Christmas and finding where God fits into our lives during this holiday season. Once we are able to look at the things that truly matter during this holiday season, things like family and friends, I feel like God becomes known.
Jesus came to this world to be known to us as a human being not through toys and things. It is easy to become lost in the business of the holiday season. Each of us needs to talk time to ‘prepare the way’ so we have room for God in our hearts this season. In my family, we all really make an effort to spend time together over the holiday season. Sometimes this becomes difficult because of conflicting schedules and commitments, but at some point we take the time to get together as a family and enjoy each other’s company. It helps remind us all what is really important during the Christmas season, not toys and things but friends, family, and relationships.
And I believe that as we make way for meaningful time with these people, God becomes known.
The following reflection was written by Emilia Walasik, a member of University Ministry’s SLAM team. Thanks, Emilia!
Matthew 9: 27-31
In this Gospel Reading we are introduced to two blind men who had great faith in Jesus that He can truly heal them. Jesus asked them if they believe that He can heal them, and they answered yes. Jesus then said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” The blind men were healed. This is truly an amazing testimony of how powerful faith in Jesus can be.
In this passage, Jesus sternly tells the blind men not to tell anyone of the miracle, and yet they still do. I do not think that the men were completely disobedient to Jesus. They simply were overjoyed because of the miracle and they wanted to spread the Good News. Sometimes we in our lives do not fully listen to what Jesus tells us to do or not to do. And sometimes we do it because we are simply overjoyed and we believe that we are doing it for a good reason. However, we must learn to be patient and humble and do what Jesus asks of us. I can definitely relate to the two blind men in this passage.
Singing has always been a passion of mine and continues to be. However, for several years during high school, I had severe vocal health problems that made it hard for me not only to sing but also to even talk. There were times when I just wanted to give up and quit singing forever. However, I placed my trust completely in Jesus and He healed me. Today I am majoring in Music and I can never thank God enough for healing me. This scripture reading reminded me of that difficult time in my life and how amazing God’s love for us is.
The following piece was written by Ela Dworzecki, a current Community Outreach SLAMer! Thanks for your thoughts, Ela!
Mt 7:21, 24-27
Thinking about this reading, I thought that just because you believe in something, or believe something will happen does not mean that it will. Along with that, just because you say something, it does not really mean that you truly believe in what you are saying.
In this gospel according to Matthew, Jesus says to his disciples, that just because you call me your Lord, it does not mean you shall go to heaven. You have to act upon the will of my Father and then you shall enter the kingdom of heaven. As I mentioned earlier, just because you call Jesus your Lord, does not prove that you truly exercise his teachings.
Just because you listen to someone speaking, does not mean that you are truly hearing what they are saying. If you truly are not listening, you then cannot act upon the truth that was spoken. This happened to me when I was younger in a very minimal way of course. In elementary school, a teacher would be giving instructions about an art or craft that we were about to do and I simply thought I should just get a head start but proceeding to do Step 1 as she was still talking. She then said at the end that we were going to be doing this project tomorrow & that for those who were not listening to her full instructions would be disciplined.
Connecting this to the gospel, if I had only listened attentively and acted when and how she told us to, I would be in a successful situation. Many people would be if they listened to the words of the Lord, and acted upon those words. Should not we all be listening to the Lord’s words and letting them become real in our lives? We could then become the Living Word on earth.
Listening and following through with the Word of God, during this holiday time with our family and friends, I plan to listen and truly hear what they are saying. With my family, we mainly see each other only on holiday. So when we do see each other, I will appreciate this time together a bit more. I will also listen carefully to see how my connection to God plays out in these relationships.
Going back to the scripture, I ask you to contemplate – which part of God’s teachings are you being asked to act on this Advent season?
The following blog was written by Katie Nicholson, sophomore in our Student Leaders and Ministers program. Thanks for your thoughts!
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Matthew 8:8). Does that sound familiar to you? Perhaps that’s because before we receive the Eucharist during Mass, we say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” This saying serves as a reminder of what is about to happen during Communion. The Eucharist gives us a unique opportunity to take Jesus into our bodies, essentially having a part of Jesus inside of us. Jesus can heal us from the inside out if we give him the chance to. Maybe we do not feel worthy, maybe we have baggage that just won’t go away, maybe we’ve made some bad mistakes, but Jesus loves us anyways and wants what is best for us.
The centurion also teaches us a great lesson about humility. He knows that he cannot heal his servant on his own, so he turns to Jesus for help. Similarly, we should realize that it is impossible to do everything on our own. In order to get help with our problems, we have to actively approach Jesus like the centurion did. Jesus is always with us, but we have to take the first step and go to him. When we turn to him, we find that Jesus was waiting for us all along. I have heard an analogy several times that Jesus is always knocking on the door to our hearts. This door only has one doorknob, on your side. Will you open the door? Will you help open this door for others?
The following reflection was written by Frank Landowski, a freshman in the Student Leaders and Minsiters program. Thank you, Frank, for exploring this scripture in such an intimate way and allowing us to share in the journey.
In today’s gospel, our Lord Jesus Christ says, “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Reflecting on this now, I realized that this powerful statement had a strong impact on me almost ten years ago.
When I was nine years old, my father passed away unexpectedly. One Sunday morning, he woke up with terrible pains in his leg, pains that wouldn’t go away. So my mother took him to our doctor, who after checking to see what was wrong with my father, immediately told my parents to go to the emergency room. For one long week, my father suffered a disease called rhabdomyolysis, where his skeletal muscles were breaking down rapidly. However, during this week, the Lord has provided for him, giving him the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist, and the Anointing of the Sick. A day before he passed, the doctors said that he was doing much better and that he might come home. I remember praying the rosary daily for him that whole week, but then the next day he passed away. I did not expect him to die so soon; he was only 37. Over the next week, I became so much closer with my family. In what way does your religious tradition deal with suffering such as this?
It’s true that we do not know when the Lord will call us into his kingdom. Some of us, like my father, will be truly blessed to be able to die receiving all the last Sacraments, and being in communion with God and their families. This scripture helps me live today by keeping me on guard. It gives me the consolation that one day I will be united with my father in heaven. I’d like to offer a prayer for all of those who will be called into the kingdom of heaven soon, so that our Lord may give them the grace of communion with God and family.
How do we confront unjust treatment? How do we face feelings of isolation? In these last couple months, I know many people (including myself) who have had feelings of hopelessness. As we look to the scripture, Jesus reminds the man that hope can be found in God in all times of our lives.
This month has been very stressful for me. I have had feelings of extreme anxiety, feelings of doubting myself as a person, and overall feelings of being lost. I have asked myself and questioned in general “Where is God?” If God can help me, then why should I suffer? In times like these I remember what God means to me. To me God is the authoritative parent that gives you the freedom to make choices, but hopes you can come to conclusion of what is right and wrong. God walks with us when we have fallen and when we have stayed with him all along. God is there in the time of suffering and the time of joy. The man in the scripture asked for God’s deliverance and Jesus promises to be with him. He knows that God walks with us in times of struggle and strength.
This Advent season I would encourage each of us to acknowledge God’s presence. God’s presence in sadness and God’s presence in joy – for God came to live among us.
The following was written by sophomore Abel Orizaba who is part of SLAM’s Community Outreach team.