Reflections on Scripture
Honest thoughts about personal journeys. The reflections on this page are written by members of the Prep community, each one focusing on the liturgical reading of the day.
We will post the reflections here throughout the year, and hope that reading about the journeys of others will inspire each of us to think intentionally about our own experiences with faith and life. If you are inspired to write an entry, please contact Steve Ruemenapp, Assistant Principal for Mission and Identity.
November 1 is All Saints Day. As a Holy Day of Obligation, we Catholics take our saints very seriously—both as role models, and also as people like us with whom we pray, break the Holy Bread of Communion, and live among. In today’s Gospel (Matthew 5:1-12) Jesus preaches and teaches on how to be happy through the Beatitudes -- an outline on how to lead a good Christian life. This is our Lord’s sermon and, of course, the words reverberate with love. Perhaps you know that the Beatitudes appear again in Luke (6:20-22; I just learned this myself:). However, the words that are read, preached, and taught widely are from Matthew. Today, I am struck by the poeticism of Jesus's teachings told through Matthew's writing. Jesus lays out a litany of our proverbs and attaches a reward for our goodness and good works: "Blessed are the pure in heart; they shall see God." He speaks directly to his disciples, but is indeed addressing all of the Nation of Israel.
Jesus announces that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Jesus is preaching on how to live a good life -- though He gives no direct prescription on how to achieve this. As Christians, we follow the rules of God with the Ten Commandments as our foundation but beyond such, we are left to create our own path to both the "good life," which includes our own happiness, the happiness of our fellow man, and our ultimate salvation. Unlike the disciples, however, the role models we live among are fickle and often untrustworthy. They do not always preach the "truth." They are distracted by idle gods. Life can become blurry and fuzzy as we often find ourselves literally sometimes only virtually connected to our fellow man. This can be beyond mystifying--- confusing, confounding, bewildering. It is our job --our imperative--to look to the words of Jesus so that we are able to filter out all of the extraneous noise. It is not always easy to do. The noises are loud. Time is in short supply. I feel grateful that I am able, through this exercise of submitting my reflection, to take a moment and go back to the beginning. To go back to the words of our Lord, who can more poetic than Shakespeare, as He guides us to the promised land. It is there. We simply need to keep our hearts and minds open and work hard at not becoming distracted by the cachophonus world we live in today.
Today we celebrate the holy souls suffering in Purgatory. In my experience, this is no longer a fashionable idea in many modern Catholic circles. It has been relegated to the same dusty corner of the Faith where we place other beliefs and devotions that offend bourgeois sensibilities. Purgatory, the state, or better, the process of souls being purified from their venial sins and attachments to sin is an affront to the 21st century’s demand for instant gratification. Thus, it is viewed by some as dour.
This is unfortunate because today’s feast is primarily about God’s burning love for us. The Book of Revelation tells us that “nothing impure will enter [heaven]”1. Yet all people, with the exception of our Lord and our Lady have “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” 2. The vast majority of us will die with minor sins on our souls, or small attachments to sin. Most of us will die carrying with us angry words for which we never made amends, and immoderate loves for earthly things, such as money or even our own personal fulfillment. Purgatory is the reconciliation of these two ideas. Just as one wouldn’t take a piece of gold out of a mine and immediately attach it to a necklace because of its imperfections, so in Purgatory we are “as gold in a furnace” 3. The dross of our worthless worldly attachments is burned off.
Lest we think that the purification of purgatory occurs through the fury of an angry God, we should attend to the words that St. Bonaventure writes in the prologue of his Itinerarium mentis ad Deum, “There is no other way except through the burning love of Christ crucified.” It is God’s love that purifies us. For this reason, our prayers for our deceased family and friends, since they are borne out of love, can aid our loved ones on their way to the Father.
Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
-Dr. James Arinello is a religious and social studies teacher, husband, and father of three.
1. Rev. 21:27
2. Rom. 3:23
3. Wis. 3:7
As we move through these last days of the liturgical year the readings take on a more urgent tone; “be awake,” “be ready.” They impress upon us Jesus’ central message, the Kingdom of God, and instruct us how we are to respond as disciples; “Blessed are the peacemakers,” “Take up your cross.” They also reveal the many and varied ways that we excuse ourselves from following Jesus.
In today's Gospel we are reminded, in a not so subtle way, that the sabbath is God’s gift to us, that it was “made for man.” It is an opportunity, built right into the structure of reality from the beginning of creation, to encounter the Lord. Here, Jesus is at dinner with some leading Pharisees and sees a person in need of healing. It’s the Sabbath, so healings that are not an emergency should wait until the Sabbath is over—this healing might be considered “work” and thus forbidden. Jesus inquires of his hosts whether it is “lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not.” The Pharisees and scholars of the law are silent. Jesus then proceeds to heal the man.
What keeps us, today, from being compassionate to those in need of healing? For those in today’s Gospel it is perhaps an overly restrictive interpretation of what counts as “work” and thus what is prohibited on the Sabbath. For us it might be fear, resentment, too little time, or simply other distractions. In the midst of the Sabbath meal, the Son of God approaches those in need and offers healing and wholeness. One man is physically healed, the others perhaps cured of their misunderstanding. Jesus shows us the mercy and compassion of God. We are called to do likewise—no excuses.
–Sean J. Sennott, Religious Studies Department
HUMILITY, a character I hope to possess but wouldn't dare think that I do. When I think of all the people I know and the ones that I most enjoy being around the character that comes to mind is humility. Someone who does not talk about themselves and boast about all they do. We all know people like that. The prep community is surrounded by so many people that volunteer their time, donate money and do things without notice. The many buildings we have that are named after people who I'm sure did not ask "can you name that building after me?" Keefe, Kanab, Cronin, Glatz, Xavier, Ryken, Hardiman. This list is long. If we are fortunate we have people like this in our lives. If we are a member of the Prep community I know there are many around us. The next time you are at a Prep event (their hospitality is great) remember "Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table." All these people named and unnamed will be exalted. This is my prayer today.
Francine Tunnera P'17
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:12
Hypocrisy. It’s an ugly word - as it should be. Simply put - hypocrisy is the pretense of having desirable attitudes or beliefs or principles that one does not actually have. The fruit of hypocrisy is bad faith.
This forms the basis of today’s Gospel. Jesus says to the religious and social leaders of his day, “do and observe all things…they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice”.
Jesus respects their purpose; but he denounces their practice. Then Jesus goes on to warn against misusing titles such as “teacher”, “father” and “master. In doing so, Jesus teaches us that we cannot give to another human what properly belongs to God. No parent, no teacher, no priest can save us. That belongs to God. God saves us. A title is harmless enough provided the one who carries a title fulfills the obligation of integrity and service.
Jesus concludes his teaching with call to servant leadership. The greatest of leaders are those who serve others.
In our second reading, St. Paul reflects on how this is done. The servant leader is like the self-sacrificing parent whose love is expressed in word and deed. In referring to his “toil” and “drudgery” and “working night and day in order not to burden”, Paul points out that sharing the Gospel means sharing yourself with others.
How will you do that? Jesus’ warnings against hypocrisy are directed at religious leaders. Today, they apply to every member of His Church. In a real sense each of us is a preacher. Our attitudes and actions can either reveal or can obscure our Catholic faith and values every day of our lives. We practice what we preach by living our beliefs. Therefore, Jesus’ challenge in the Gospel applies to us all.
The great Mahatma Gandhi once remarked, "I like your Christ, but I don't like you Christians because you Christians are so unlike your Christ." Becoming like Christ is a lifelong task for Christians. That is why we receive His Body and His Blood in the Eucharist at Holy Mass.
Personal holiness comes from personal conversion. Today God’s Word challenges us to match our words with our deeds by living what we believe. As Catholics we must expect it of our religious leaders and ask no less of ourselves. For as St. Francis reminds us, “Christians preach the Gospel at all times, but only sometimes with words”.
Lord, help me to live with true humility that does not need pretense. Give me the courage to trust You, to become more like You and to lead others to You. Amen.
– Fr. Thomas Powers ’73 U’19
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. He said to the host who invited him, "When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
In today's Gospel, Jesus implores us to invite the poor, the sick, the lame and the blind to our banquet - not the wealthy friends who can pay us back.
I'm certainly guilty at times of doing things for the payback. What's in it for me? It feels good to be rewarded or repaid for something you do for others...so good that it can become the motivation altogether behind doing good. This thinking can put us in a position where we only help those who can, in some way, help us.
But Jesus wants us to think in a different way...and His way is never the easy way - but it often has it's own unseen or unanticipated rewards. He's certainly given me a "banquet" of gifts, and how could I ever repay Him? All he asks is that we pass it along - use our gifts to bring the banquet to those who have not been given as much. Ironically, when we give it away unconditionally...He just gives us more. The benefits we don't expect arrive on our doorstep. Maybe it's the opening of our eyes to the joy we see in others, or the people we meet or an opportunity to learn something new that sheds light on our own shortcomings in a way that helps us. Now we have a new pile of gifts to share with others, and the cycle continues.
As the holidays approach, I'd like to try to find more ways to share my banquet with those who seemingly have nothing to give me. Wouldn't that make for some Merry Christmases!
In reading today's gospel, the line that struck me is the line spoken by the person at table with Jesus right at the beginning, "Blessed is the one will dine in the Kingdom of God." After that line, Jesus then goes into the parable about all the busy folks who refused the man's dinner invitation, so then the host filled the dinner with the poor and marginalized in society. For me, this first line sheds an important insight—the guest assumes perhaps that the wealthy and influential are the ones who will dine in the kingdom. However, Jesus then points out—those folks might well say, "Thanks but no thanks—I'm just too busy."
How many times have I missed God's invitation because I was too busy? Too many to even count today! I can't listen to my daughter practice the trumpet because we are running to basketball. I can't listen to a colleague share about their weekend because I have a class to plan. I can't go for a walk with my dog because I'm too tired from the day. Those are just a few ways I think I might have missed the kingdom yesterday.
Today's gospel is a good prelude for tomorrow's, with a common theme. There's nothing wrong with money and having good things to do. However, money, extra stuff and our busy schedule could often make it harder to attain the kingdom when it's right there in front of us. The poor have a lens to the kingdom that the rich and busy often times do not. I have plenty to learn!
– Steve Ruemenapp is Assistant Principal for Mission and Identity, husband and father of four
My mother is one of the greatest teachers in my life. She probably taught me more about prayer, and living an authentic, appreciative life than anyone else I know. Her father died before her birth and she was raised by her mother and her grandmother, whom she adored. She used to tell me that when she was young they were so poor that "they didn't have two pennies to rub together." By the time I came along in her life, I was the youngest of four children, and we were financially doing just fine, as my dad had been working in his law practice for quite some time. By the time I was in the fifth grade, we moved to Grosse Pointe, a pretty swanky suburb on the East side of Detroit.
However, I honestly believe that having all these extra things really changed my mother very little. Faith, family, hard work, showing up, doing your best, and being thankful for your blessings were always what was emphasized above all else in our household. Sure, we had a nice house and enough money, but that did not mean I got whatever I wanted. I vividly remember as a 13- or 14-year-old being in a sporting good store, puzzled when my mom would not buy me a baseball bat that I thought I needed. "Is it about the money?" I asked, sincerely puzzled. "It certainly is," my mother replied. I never got the bat, and my mother never let me forget it. "Is it about the money?" is still a favorite quote my mother and I toss back and forth.
My mother would get the meaning in today's gospel. Perhaps I am rationalizing a bit, but I truly believe that possessions never changed her. Sure, she liked having a nice house and some nice things, but I think you could have taken that all away, and she really would not have changed much. Money and possessions, like the baseball bat, should never get us in the way of what was really essential. I never really needed the baseball bat, just like most of us don't need a lot of the stuff that can often get in the way of what's essential—a better understanding of God's love for us. Here's for more role models like my mom who get that it really is about the money, and for some of us, being able to get away from the money.
– Steve Ruemenapp is Assistant Principal for Mission and Identity, husband and father of four.
My sophomore son is a water polo player, and so we found ourselves in the new Wellness Center on Homecoming for the first ever water polo home game. There was a constant stream of visitors entering the building, all eager to experience the most recent addition to campus. Colleen Flynn, whose day job is in the SJP Finance Department, offered the highest level of hospitality at the door.
Visitors stood in front of walls etched with names, quietly marveling at all of the donors who made the building possible. Many went on to the indoor track to pause in front of banners that proclaim championship seasons for past teams. Others watched the time-lapse video on display, showing how the building was completed on schedule. It was miraculous to watch.
And so when I read in today’s Scripture—“Brothers and sisters: you are God’s building”—I think of the Wellness Center and ponder what it might mean to model ourselves on its construction. It might mean that we gratefully etch on our hearts those whose contributions made us who we are today. It might mean that we hold high the reminders of our own victories, remembering that God enabled us to enjoy them. It might mean that we always strive to meet our commitments with excellence, on time and on budget, so to speak. And hopefully it means the solid foundation of our lives attracts others, who not only admire the construction, but are inspired to appreciate as well that they too can live out their lives as God’s buildings.
- Sharon Randall P’20 ’22
I myself am convinced about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness . . .
Paul’s letter to the Romans resonates greatly with the St. John’s focus on GOOD. Over the last few years we have been working on sharing our cultural priorities with the community. The first priority is a belief that all people are created in the image and likeness of God. Inherent in this belief is an understanding that each human being was made for the good of the world. This reality can be confounding. In reflecting on today’s readings I am comforted by the reality that even in the early days of the Church people had to be reminded of their inherent goodness and the reality that we are all created in the image and likeness of God.
As we journey through this day and honor the veterans of our country, let us pray that the the goodness within each human being shines forth and that we seek to honor our veterans by actively working to prevent violence in our world.
- Headmaster Ed Hardiman, Ph.D. P'19 '21
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus preaches that “No servant can serve two masters.” I’m guilty of trying, though. Convinced that I can accomplish everything I want to accomplish, I over-commit myself, ignorant to the time constraints on my pipe dreams. As a result, I’m constantly disappointed in my service to one master—my work life—or the other—my personal life. Periods of great teaching require sacrifice in my efforts with my loved ones; periods of familial and fraternal bonding result in shaky lesson plans.
Sometimes the complications of committing to two pursuits extend beyond the problems with time. I love St. John’s. This school has played a primary role in shaping my identity, both through my formative high school years and through the first ten years of my professional life. Through recent research, however, I have learned that St. Francis Xavier—the 16th Century missionary who gave his name to the religious order that founded St. John’s Preparatory School in 1907—proposed the Goa Inquisition, an institution that persecuted thousands of Hindus and Muslims in India over the course of 250 years. In six months, I will marry a Hindu Indian woman. I love my fiancée. Does my commitment to St. John’s contradict my feelings for the woman I love? How can I properly serve her AND a school that embraces the checkered history of a man responsible for inciting religious violence against those who worshipped like her? Is my dual service hypocrisy?
In the concluding lesson of the reading from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims that we can justify ourselves to others, but God knows our hearts. I choose to see the good that St. John’s offers as an academic institution for boys, and I want to continue my commitment to serving a good institution. I also choose to love my future wife and embrace her identity and faith in a way that St. Francis Xavier could not. Will my service be adequate? Only God can tell.
– Rob O'Brien '04
"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”
Losing someone we love to death is perhaps the hardest thing we as human beings have to endure. Whether it is a parent, a dear friend, a coworker, a spouse or worst of all, a child, the heartache of that loss is something we all feel, something we all must deal with. When I lost my mom, it was unexpected. I never got to say goodbye to her or tell her how much I loved her while she was still conscious. It wasn’t suppose to happen that way, she was suppose to wake up after her surgery. But God had a different plan for her. Through the haze of those last days, my dear friend who was our parish priest at the time, administered Last Rights and when she passed my mom was welcomed into the arms of the Lord with a beautiful funeral Mass. While I was heartbroken, I was deeply comforted by the knowledge that my mother was at peace with Christ. Had we not been Catholic and were her life just to end without the comforts of Faith, the grieving would have been so much harder. I had my faith and the strength afforded me by the love of Jesus Christ to help me thru.
I have been to many many sad funeral Masses in my life and the one constant is the love of God we all have. That we go to a better place, that we are welcomed by the Lord to live joyously in Heaven. Equally important is that those of us left behind will find comfort in the Lord and he will help console us in our time of grief.
– Jane Powers P'14 '18
Today’s Gospel reading is among group brief sayings in Luke, chapter 17 that particularly address Jesus’ apostles. The apostles at times would quibble over who is the greatest of them, be competitive with one another, or seek higher status within the group. Consistently throughout the gospels Jesus makes it clear that seeking personal validation or prestige from one’s commitment to the mission is not the point. Rather, the point is to serve God and build God’s kingdom here on earth to the best of our ability.
The gospel today reminds me that I am a minister, not a messiah, a worker, not a master builder. In other words, it’s not about me, but about God. Ultimately as a person who tries to live my faith, the expectation from Jesus is that I should be a moral agent in the world and live my faith to the fullest. This is the norm, the baseline, and the lowest expectation. I should not be commended, praised, promoted, or anticipate to be first in line at heaven’s gates when I pass away. Rather, I should know that my job as a Christian is to “have done what (I) was obliged to do.'"
—James Barry, Religious Studies
Today is the feast day of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first United States citizen to be canonized within the Catholic Church.
Mother Cabrini is responsible for founding the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an religious organization that lent support to Italian immigrants to the United States. She was responsible for founding 67 institutions that established schools, orphanages, and hospitals for many Italian immigrants and is considered the patron saint of immigrants and hospital administrators.
Today's Gospel talks Jesus' encounter with the 10 lepers:
As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him.
And when he saw them, he said,
"Go show yourselves to the priests."
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
"Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?"
Then he said to him, "Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you."
This passage teaches the value of thankfulness. When the Samaritan returns back to Jesus, He praises the Samaritan for his gratefulness; when all the other Samaritans moved on with their lives, he came back and thanked Jesus for curing his illness.
As you go about your days, remember to thank people for the little acts of kindness that often go unnoticed.
–Alexander Troisi '20
As we approach Thanksgiving and the holidays, I am reminded of the importance of our families and friends as we gather to celebrate. Time with our loved ones is precious during these busy times. This season forces us to rethink the times we did not show up to a family gathering or did not take that extra few minutes with those we love. Don’t misinterpret my feelings as guilt. I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a worker, a friend, a volunteer and much more. There are a lot of demands on my time that I need to manage. I am talking about reflecting and appreciating those fleeting moments more when in the role you are in. There is a phrase in the corporate world that is overused: “Bring your A game to work every day.” I am going to not only bring my A game to the office, I will be bringing it to the Thanksgiving table! We are all given a finite amount of time on this earth. Let’s make the most of it and prioritize what we want to do and who we want to do it with. There is a line in today’s gospel that says: “the Kingdom of God is among you.” Let’s look for it in our work, in our play and in especially in our relationships.
–Lou Chinappi P'12
The Reading speaks of how all men were created foolish, all in the ignorance of God. The reading also states how those who did not believe in God did not get to know him and all the works he created. This is interesting to me because I would think all people would be born believing in God, not in ignorance of him. The reading also states that people are trying to find God through his works, even though they were standing on one. This is interesting to me as well because I believe that God is found easily, the more you look the more apparent God becomes.
I believe that this speaks to my life in a way different than the ones depicted in the reading. I believe that I was born believing in God, that he created the world around us. As these people struggled to find God through his works, I struggled to believe that there was a God. As I continued searching, I found God through Communion and Confirmation. Two times where God is present the most.
I believe that the search for God is different for all people. All people can choose if they believe or not. Those who believe will not always believe at the beginning of life, some believe sometime in the middle or the end of life. Everyone can also find God differently, whether that is through prayer, his works, or as I did through holy practices. Most people do believe in a higher being, but many don't as well. Hopefully they come to find God's love and compassion for all people.
–Written by Alexander Brewer, a junior at St. John's Prep, who is an honest, hardworking student.
In this parable Jesus illustrates how an even unjust Judge can be right if the accused spends enough time and patience to pressure the unjust Judge into a decision. If God is the ultimate justice in the universe then his justice will be swifter and more just than the actions of one unjust man who was simply pressured into making an action unlike God who will make his decision regardless of the pressures placed on him by the pleas of the offended party. The second point of the story is to illustrate that God, who is so far juster than man, is constantly working to correct our mistakes and if we will begin unjust judge to render a decision how will we act when the Son of Man comes to earth and levels absolute justice at our fight for all of our earthly actions.
This is connected to my life as I, like most people, have had unjust verdicts leveled against me. One example of when this happened to me is that I was usually blamed for the actions of my sisters. I understand that this is not a particularly important or serious misuse of justice but a parable does not necessarily need to have a serious or important relationship with your personal life for it to be helpful in improving your life. So in conclusion despite the frustrations of life we must conduct ourselves with this parable in mind and it will easy our discontentment to know that despite our current circumstances we will have fair and equal judgment when the Son of Man returns.
It is important to remember this parable in our everyday as the nature of man is
to make mistakes and individual opinions inevitably lead to a conflict of
interest and misunderstanding leading to the injustice that most people are
aware of in their everyday life. Although most people never experience any
major acts of injustice. We all have minor but deeply unsettling miscarriages of
justice. An Example of one of these miscarriages is that perhaps someone
cutting you off on the highway yet it can be important to remember that
despite the frustration of human justice that the divine courts are infinitely fairer.
–Thomas Lara is a junior at St. John's Prep
The gospel talks about three servants who are given different money by the master. Two servants make additional money with the money they have and receive praise from the master. The third servant doesn’t use the money, instead, he buries the money because he knows his master is a demanding person who would ask more money back; he is afraid of losing the money and therefore he does nothing with it. The master is angered by the third servant and gives punishment to the servant.
I personally interpret this story as one does not utilize what he or she has is wasting it and deserving punishment. It makes some sense to me. I remember a quote that saying “with great power, comes great responsibility.” If one does not take the responsibility he or she has, that’s wicked. I have the responsibility of being a student, my parents have been working hard so that I can study in SJP; therefore, my responsibility is to study hard and not to fail them. If I act as the third servant in the gospel, who does not take the corresponding responsibility, I would break the hearts of my parents, or even worse, desolate my life. Therefore, it is important to carry this responsibility with me and act precisely, not to fear of failure without trying.
We take a lot of responsibility as members of SJP. It is our duty to make it better, since we are served by this community. The responsibility we take is to make SJP a better place. It doesn’t mean an impossible or hard task; small actions can achieve it easily; for instance, the simplest thing is to be nice to the people around you. We can also devote into variety of activities that add honor to SJP, like sport events and community service. It must be understood that we are gaining from SJP; the honor of SJP is also the honor of ours. For that reason, we should be active in devoting ourselves into SJP and not act as the third servant, who wastes the treasure and ends miserably.
–Neil Duan is an international student who comes from China. This is his second year in SJP. Even though he is new in this country, he feels the warmth from all the members of SJP: the students and faculties, and he finds his sense of belonging here.
I think this passage is telling the readers to never give up and have faith. The blind man could have easily carried on with his life and not have spoken up, but because of his strong persistence and faith, he kept calling to Jesus. Jesus then rewarded the man’s faith by returning his sight.
This passage relates to my life because I have an autoimmune disease called alopecia areata, which just causes bald spots to come and go on my scalp. When I was in the 3rd grade, it really progresses, and I almost lost all of the hair on my head. I was doing everything he doctors were telling me to, but nothing seemed to make it better, but I didn’t give up. I had faith that it would grow back, and it did. This past summer, a similar thing happened and a lot of the hair on my head fell out, but again I remained persistent and had faith that it would grow back, and right now p all of the spots are pretty much filled in.
I think this passage reflects modern society because right now, most of humanity is very similar to the crowd that just passed the blind man crying out for help. This passage calls us to take a moment to pause, and follow Jesus’ example to help those in society who need it.
–Brendan Lombard '19
Luke chapter 19 teaches a valuable life lesson involving a wealthy tax collector Zacchaeus, and Jesus. The Jewish people did not admire tax collectors. Tax collectors simply took tax money from the Jewish and gave it to the Romans. Zacchaeus was eager to approach Jesus in Jericho. He then climbed a tree in order to see Jesus. Jesus then tells him that he must stay at Zacchaeus' house. Jesus and Zacchaeus are very happy about this idea. However, the Jewish people feel that it is unjust and a sin. Zacchaeus states he will give half of his possessions to the poor and he will pay "four times over" anything he extorted from anyone. Therefore, the moral is that everyone can show forgiveness as a common quality between human beings. Jesus was the only Jewish man who viewed Zacchaeus with equality. Jesus represented that everyone is born with equality regardless of any characteristic that defines them, and people can be forgiven. Clearly, it did not matter to Jesus who Zacchaeus was. Jesus' mentality is that we are all humans, and there is no need for disrespect among us. He forgave him of his sins and treated him with the common good and equality, like we all humans should.
The concept of forgiving each other and treating others with equality applies to my life. I once knew someone who was an atheist before I made friends with him. Luke had to sit next to me in 7th grade math class. This happened in the middle of the year. I had never talked to him in the past, so I introduced myself at that moment. From then, our friendship became much closer as time went along. When I first met Luke I had a different view of him because he was an atheist. I then came to realize he was not much different than me. As a result, I am able to remember an important lesson from this anecdote; it is unnecessary to judge someone because of their traits that defines them. I believe that people must personally get to know someone before making a judgmental decision about that person. It did not matter that I understood that Luke was an atheist prior to my personal encounter with him. That aspect does not change him as a person. Therefore, I now know that judging someone before meeting them, will get me nowhere as it is unequal.
At St. John's Prep, I truly feel that Mass is a major factor that ties into the concept of equality. At the beginning of the year, there is an opening prayer service. As I recall, this year I was able to take out the idea of valuing and respecting our fellow brothers and everyone else in the real world. The scripture readings made me think of me as a person and how I help myself and others. The gospels especially deal with the idea of being an upstander to others. In addition, when the priest tells our community about an anecdote in his life, I am able to relate that to my life since I had similar experiences. For example, one time a priest told us how he helped another person and that he had to sacrifice his own time. I had the help my father with a water pump at my grandparents' house. As a result, I was forced blow off my own plans. Another instance that can apply to the greater world is the daily prayer at school. The morning and afternoon prayer is a ritual in my opinion. It constantly reminds us about the greatness life gives us, and how we can promote the idea of equality and graciousness with each other. I notice that the Prep reflects on the idea of equality everyday. This is not only from prayer, but from the influence that my fellow brothers bring.
–Anthony Viglietti is a junior at St. John's Prep. He lives in Peabody, Massachusetts and enjoys running track, cross country, and hanging out with friends.
In the Gospel passage LK 17:11-19, Jesus travels to Jerusalem, and enters a village where he encounters ten people with leprosy asking for Jesus to have pity on them. Jesus then tells them to go to a village to see priests, and then their faces are cleansed. However, only one of them, a Samaritan, returns to Jesus in order to thank him. Jesus says that his faith has saved him. Jesus appreciates the act of gratitude by the Samaritan, but frowns upon the others who accepted his act of kindness without acknowledging and appreciating the miracle Jesus has performed on them. This passage, selected for Thanksgiving Day, serves to show the importance of giving thanks for those who help you.
This passage is very meaningful for me because it shows me how I can better improve in gratitude for anyone who has helped or supported me. Without realizing it, I have, at times in the past, forgotten to thank those who do go out of their way to do good things for me. However, I am now doing my best to give thanks to everyone who helps me in my life. I try to thank my teachers after class for helping me learn, my coaches for helping me become a better player, and most of all my parents for helping me grow as a person. Like the man who has been cured of leprosy, my life has been touched by all these people in such a way that the least I can do is to let them know that I value their action.
To the greater world, this specific reading can symbolize how we should treat each other in general in terms of giving help and acknowledging it by giving thanks in appreciation for it. Ranging from a simple “nod” of the head and smile to a written thank-you note, the act of thanksgiving is essential under how we treat others. Especially on Thanksgiving Day, it’s important to cherish the time you have with your close family and friends and let it be known to them how grateful you are for them and everything they do for you. The reading may imply that we all must treat every person like they have just performed a miracle for us and simply thank them through your actions and words. Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy the holiday!
–Jack Brown is a hockey player, member of the sailing team, and National Honor Society member in the Class of 2019 at the Prep.
This Gospel describes the moment when Jesus walked into the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. Jesus saw people selling items and he drove them out. He declared the temple was a house of prayer, not a den of thieves. The leaders of the temple were trying to put him to death for it but they could not find a way because he was too popular among the people. I believe that this scripture passage means that we should not take places or events that are holy to us and desecrate them with unrelated rituals. Especially in a place as sacred as the holy Temple in Jerusalem, doing non-religious practices seems like blasphemy and disrespectful to God at its highest. On the other hand, it also shows that when someone is respected in the community, they have power and influence in the community regardless of whether or not they are in a position or job of power.
I think that this scripture passage applies to my life because I believe that respect is one of the most powerful virtues of human life. Being respected in our communities comes with benefits as everyone will see you as a role model for the community. Everyday I attempt to earn the respect of everyone I meet because I believe that respect is something everyone should strive for in order to better their lives and the lives of those around them. My goal is to earn as much respect from those around me as Jesus did from those around him, to the point at which no one around me would let even a person in the highest seat of power kill me. That seems like an accomplishment worth striving for.
I believe that this scripture passage applies to SJP and the greater world because I believe that more people should attempt to gain more respect, and they should also come to respect sacred places, such as a Temple. There are many places and events in this world where everyone should show respect. This can include not going on your phone at church and paying attention to the Mass. However, it can also apply to moments within the family, such as not going on your phone while with your family or at dinner time, both of which desecrate the meaning of being with those that love you. Furthermore, it can also mean respecting the serenity of nature through not littering and conserving all the wonders that God created and not just forcing them into destruction and ruin. I believe that in this Gospel, Jesus is trying to tell us that we should respect our world and those around us, and we should also try to earn the respect of others.
–Peter Danis '19
November 25 is a very important day. This reading explains how many of the Sadducees denied that there was a resurrection. This was a topic that many people wondered about. God preaches to us humans about how a select number of people who are worthy enough will not die. Those select few of people will become angels, or “children of God.” God is also not known as God of the dead, but of the living. I also personally believe that God is a person. This taught people that God is a very powerful figure, and nobody bothered to ask him anything because he was the God of the living.
The gospel of November 25th applies to my life in a few different ways. Many people often believe that God is known as God of the dead. I have thought about this idea about how God is primarily the God of the dead, but that is not necessarily the case. I also feel that angels watch over me everyday, not just God. This gospel talks about how there are angels that are the children of God who watch over us. Angels watch over us through guiding us throughout the day and protecting us. This once happened to me when I was once very sick in the hospital and I am convinced that an angel told me that I would be okay. I believe that everyone has their own special angel, and it is a very valuable thing to me.
This gospel does not just apply to me. This gospel applies to the greater world. Everyone needs their own special angel, in my opinion. Some people might not believe in angels, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. I believe that because God needs help from his angels. Everyone has a different type of angel meant for their specific situation so that everyone can have someone to talk to. November 25th is a very important date because it recognizes the Angels that each and everyone of us has.
– Dan Wesley is a student at St. John’s Prep, and is a part of the rugby and powerlifting teams.
In the Gospel Reading, Jesus is speaking to his disciples about Judgment Day. First he introduces the concept of “judgment”; the Son of Man comes to sit on his throne with all the angels, separating the righteous from the accursed. Then, Jesus explains why the righteous will “inherit the kingdom” and the accursed will not. In one of the most important lines, Jesus says, “’Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me’”. This principle is essentially saying that however you treat others on Earth is how you treat the Son of Man. The righteous gave food when others were hungry, gave drink when others were thirsty, gave clothes when others were naked, and gave care for others who were ill. Whereas the accursed gave no food when others were hungry, gave no drink when others were thirsty, gave no clothing when others were naked, and gave no care when others were ill. Jesus wants to treat everyone as if everyone was the Son of Man. Once we accomplish that, we will have eternal life.
I am a Roman Catholic who attends church every week. The idea in today’s Gospel is not an uncommon one; “act onto others the way you want others to act onto you”. I have heard this plenty of times before. The reason this principle resonates with me is because I come in contact with so many people on a day-to-day basis. St. John’s, sports, social media, and today’s fast-paced world have allowed myself a plethora of opportunities to act unto others. As a Catholic, I try my best to make sure I treat everyone how I want to be treated. However, I, like everyone, slip up from time to time; I ignore a beggar in the street, I get frustrated with the slow driver, I argue with my family. What Jesus is telling me to do is to focus on these specific situations. At the times I slip-up, I need to remember the principles behind today’s Gospel. The most important thing for me is I need to remind myself I am in the presence of Jesus, even though it may be difficult. If I can do this to the best of my ability, then I can hope to be awarded eternal life.
If everyone on Earth acted entirely based on this principle, the world would look much more happy than it is today. I believe, for the most part, the human race acts out of kindness and love. Those people embody this principle; they try their best to enact righteousness and sometimes slip up. If we all could work together as a global community to act in love, the world would resemble the Kingdom of God much more than it does today.
– Jordan Callahan is a student at St. John’s in the class of 2019. He is a member of the varsity crew team and National Honor Society.
From the time we were first introduced to the notion of God, we are given an image of the shepherd. A simple yet powerful symbolization for the caring and nurturing nature of our Lord, and in many cases what any young child would find as an appealing image of the savior. Many people as they experiences new stages of life lose sight of their childhood image of God, whether it be from a spiritual low or high, the image that someone makes usually does not go much deeper than the situation they are in.
But in the Gospel reading the scripture present a clear message, one that can be connected all the way back to Sunday School. It once again calls on the image of the Lord as a shepherd, a reminder of how tenderly and dearly God looks after his people. The scripture calls to question all other views of the Lord, whether they be right or wrong, and replaces them with the image of a shepherd. Even if you only stop to consider and look at God through this lense for a moment, it serves as a subtle reminder. Silently nudging back into the arms of God, the one who rejoices at the returning of the lost sheep.
Not only does this reading act as a reminder to dismiss a view of God because of changes in your life but it poses an image of power. It gives the image of the Lord sitting on his throne, “separating the sheep from the goats.” This image can be sobering to many but is not only written to bring fear among those who read it, but it is written to bring joy to those who believe in him. It brings a sense of hope, one that can remind you that amongst all turmoil personal or worldwide, in the end the Lord will be the one judging, and it will be the righteous and pure of heart who will gain eternal bliss, not those who manipulated for personal gain. This reading is a blessing, one that can remind you of how passionately you seeked the Lord as a child, an encouraging nudge to fall passionately back into perusing Christ. And one of hope, one that reminds you that in the end the wickedness of the world will be called out, no matter how hard it tries to hide from our Lord.
– Finn Larson '19
Today’s gospel discusses followers of Jesus talking about the fall of Jerusalem and they ask Jesus when and how it will happen. Jesus responds that the information they have been told is false. It will not end at once, there will be events leading up to the end, and that they must embrace them and not fear the end. This reading to me represents the end of one's life. It is not known when or how it will come, but it will come eventually and we must embrace the beauty of our life when we have it and not be afraid of it ending all at once.
This reading applies to my life in many different ways. One connection I have to it is focusing on things that I enjoy in life rather than constantly thinking about what will happen in the end. I try to do what brings me the most joy every day, whether it's a major decision like where I want to go to school, or a small one like what I plan on doing over the weekend. It’s important that I focus less on doing everything before my time is up and focusing more on enjoying each day in itself, cherishing the best moments, and embracing the worst.
This is important to the greater world as well because not only does it focus on embracing the day and not focusing on what's to come over stretches of our entire lives, but also for certain periods in our lives. Some people focus so much on how something will happen and when it will happen when in reality they should let it happen and embrace it happening. Don’t sit and wait in anticipation for a major event, focus on something else important in your life and then let that event happen, and integrate it into your everyday life, learning and building off it.
– I’m Charlie Turgeon, a Junior at St. John’s Prep, and I love the winter.
The Gospel reading for the day I chose, November 29th, is Luke 21: 12-19. This reading has to do with persecution for believing in Jesus. Followers of Jesus were being taken and put to death for their belief in him. Jesus later explains that they will be put in front of kings and governors to give testimony, but to remain strong as Jesus will be with them throughout the whole process giving them strength. Jesus also explains that people will be betrayed by family and friends for their beliefs. Jesus’ core message is to stay strong-willed and follow your beliefs, regardless of persecution as he would guide them through the troubles.
This reading is tough for me to relate to in terms of religion, but I can relate to it in terms of the message being sent. It is hard for me to relate to in the religious sense as I have never been judged or ridiculed for my belief in God. However, I have been judged for choices I make and beliefs I have. A time in my life where I was judged for a belief I had was during our past election. I have Democratic beliefs and learned that most of my peers hold Republican beliefs, causing certain judgement to be passed on me because I held beliefs different from the majority. Everyday choices we make are judged by people if they don’t believe in those choices and beliefs themselves.
This reading applies to SJP in some ways, but is more applicable to the greater world around us. Some people at SJP could be judged if they are not Christian because of the fact that it is a private, Catholic school. However, it is much more present in the world around us. People are judged daily for their religious beliefs. In society, people hear derogatory language relating to a person's religion almost daily. We see this more and more in society, causing divisiveness instead of bringing communities together.
– Alex Lane is a Junior at St. John's Prep and participates on the baseball and football team.
In the Gospel reading for the day, Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee where his first apostles, Peter, Andrew, John, and James, were all fishing. He calls out to them, and he asks a simple question: if they would come and walk with him. They instantly drop everything they are doing a come and follow Jesus without any hesitation at all. Jesus is starting his mission of spreading the word of God by taking on his first apostles.
I believe this reading applies to my life because if someone as prominent as Jesus came to me and asked me to join him; I believe I would go with him. A couple times in my life when I have blindly left what I was comfortable with to do bigger and better things was when my father told us that we were moving to a new state. I was just like Peter in a sense; I was just doing my normal routine. Then one day, I was asked to come and move my entire life to a new state, and I just did it. Even if I had doubt it my mind about what the outcome would be, I was willing to take the risk because a very important authoritarian figure in my life asked me to. Just like when Jesus asks his first disciples to join him on his mission of spreading the good word of God. Since I have had a tiny experience that is somewhat similar to what Jesus is asking Peter and the disciples to do. So, I believe that I would go along too.
This Gospel reading applies to the St. John’s Prep community because we all inadvertently follow the path that Jesus has sent for us. We have all ended up connected to the Prep somehow, which means we have all at one time in our life dropped what we thought was normal to come and experience a new way of life, which, for us means coming to the Prep and experiencing the community and brotherhood at the school. It may seem crazy at the time to outsiders, just like how Zebedee must have felt when his two sons left him in the boat to follow a man. However, it is the path that we have chosen and will eventually transform our lives and the lives around us.
– Zach Jaromin is a junior currently at the Prep. He enjoys hiking in the Presidential mountain range.