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Join us for weekly reflections by members of the Emmanuel College community throughout the Lenten season.
Risk Joy: Palm Sunday Reflection - Sister Janet Eisner, SNDdeN, President of Emmanuel College
Jesus proceeded on his journey to Jerusalem. As he drew near to the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples to the village to bring back a colt tethered, on which no one had ever sat. They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt and helped Jesus mount. The whole multitude of his disciples began to: PRAISE GOD ALOUD WITH JOY FOR ALL THE MIGHTY DEEDS THEY HAD SEEN. Some of the Pharisees said to him “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He said in reply, “I tell you if they keep silent, the very stones will cry out.” (Lk 19: 28-40)
This Gospel passage presents a Jesus who invites joyful celebration of a Redeemer King yet knows the suffering and passion which will soon follow. On this Palm Sunday, Christian Churches throughout the world may sing with joy: ALL GLORY, LAUD, AND HONOR :
ALL GLORY, LAUD AND HONOR TO YOU REDEEMER KING; TO WHOM THE LIPS OF CHILDREN MADE SWEET HOSANNAS RING; THE PEOPLE, WITH PALMS BEFORE YOU WENT, AS THEY SANG ALOUD THEIR PRAYERS AND ANTHEMS. AND WE, WITH ALL CREATION, IN CHORUS MAKE REPLY.
This commemoration of the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem is followed by the first Reading of the Passion for Holy Week. This includes the accounts of the betrayal of Jesus, The Last Supper, the Passion of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the joyful culmination with the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
What would our lives be like if we recalled Jesus’ response to the people’s joyful celebration of Palm Sunday?
May we sing in joyful chorus the new life of Holy Week and Easter.
“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” Teilhard de Chardin
Risk Joy: Fifth Sunday of Lent - William Leonard, Ph.D. Associate Professor of History
When Father Terry asked me to write a reflection on this Sunday’s readings, and how they speak to joy, I was unsure of how to procced. That’s because I couldn’t get past the graves, weeping, sin, and death that are woven into the readings. It’s hard to find joy in those stark reminders of what we have collectively experienced these past two years. My mind kept coming back to the pandemic, to the people who have passed, the lives changed, the routines altered or gone away forever. Aside from the pandemic, many of us have lost loved ones due to illness or old age over the past several years: a partner, a child, a parent, a friend. Where, I wondered, was the joy in all that?
Today’s Gospel (John 11, 1-45) tells of the story of Lazarus raised from the dead. Re-reading it, I was struck by the line “And Jesus wept.” Why, I wondered, did Jesus weep? Did he weep because he wasn’t there in time to help his friend or be at his side? Did he weep for Mary and Martha and the loss they had experienced? Or perhaps he wept not from sadness but rather from the joy he experienced knowing that Lazarus would rise from the dead and Larazus’s family and friends would therefore rejoice?
I suspect the answer could be any of those. But what I do know for certain is that loving people the way Jesus loved his friend Lazarus is a risk. We share tears of joy with our loved ones. And we weep when those loved ones are lost to us in death. Martha and Mary’s sad tears and unbearable sorrow were built on the tears of joy—the years of happiness and love—they shared with their brother.
In the end, the readings are very much about hope, the raising of spirits, the promise of redemption, and the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
And that’s where the risk comes in. The risk of faith and love even in the darkest moments. As the Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard wrote, “without risk, faith is an impossibility.” I would also say, without risk, joy is an impossibility.
Risk Joy: Fourth Sunday of Lent - Tara D'Errico, Director of Facilities
When asked to do a reflection for Lent I was honored but nervous. I had never done one before and wasn’t sure what was appropriate to write. I was told I was overthinking things, so I tuned out the noise in my head and took a look at the readings for this fourth week of Lent for some guidance. The second reading this week really resonated with me and expressed the core of what I’d like to share in my Reflection.
It reads: Brothers and sisters;
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
The world has changed so much over the last two years. There has been so much tragedy and I really don’t think things will ever be the same. Like many, I have suffered some personal loss over the past two years. In the past four months my neighbor, two friends and my cousin have all passed away. We all know life is very short, but sometimes that saying doesn’t hold much meaning until you have lost someone close. As I reflect on all the sadness I feel I can’t help think about how precious our time on this earth is. This realization has pushed me to look at what brings me the most joy in life, and I know with a full heart that it’s the time I spend with my family and my friends. I plan on living each day with purpose and to be present with my kids and husband and of course to get to the beach as much as possible! As I was driving to work this morning I heard a song by Keith Urban called, Days Go By that does a great job summing up the feelings I wanted to share in my Reflection:
We think about tomorrow, then it slips away
We talk about forever but we've only got today.
Days go by
I can feel them flyin'
Like a hand out the window as the cars go by
Yeah, it's all we've been given
So you'd better start livin'
We'd better start livin'
We'd better start livin' right now.
Risk Joy: Third Sunday of Lent - Jake Henriques '21, Admissions Counselor
On this third Sunday of Lent, we are reminded of another message of hope in the midst of troubles and reminded of an everlasting guiding light in our daily lives. As Moses tends to his flock, he is suddenly taken with the appearance of a burning bush, one that is glowing in flames, yet is remarkable and captivating to the eye.
As he walks over to the bush in awe, God appears out of the flames and tells Moses to take off his sandals, as he is standing on holy land. Moses is so freighted by the encounter; he covers his face. There is a very apparent separation of power here between God and Moses. God then tells Moses “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore, I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” This encounter and apparent separation of power, although startling at first, gives Moses a message that God is all powerful, and gives him hope that he can trust in God and people may trust Him. We see that He is the guiding light through our troubles, something that we can all relate to in our daily life.
Our time on this earth comes with many moments of joy, but has its struggles which test our patience, willpower, and strength. Our jobs, raising a family, tending to a home, our friends and loved ones can weigh heavily, ever more so now, during the Covid pandemic. We also see that the bush that is up in flames, is not burning low to the ground, but remains strong. This gives the message that He is the guiding light for the days ahead and will see His people through their troubles with this eternal light. This moment teaches us that, in times of triumph or suffering, we must have trust in each other, and look to something much bigger than ourselves to guide us. We can trust in a guiding light. During the most difficult times in our own lives, we can trust in this presence of a higher power, and we can trust that there is hope beyond what we can see. We can trust that hardships are not forever, and although we may not always see it, we know that there is always hope to see us through to peace. We may not always be able to fully see or understand a way forward, but we can be assured that hope is the key to it.
In light of this message of hope, we learn that we must be there for those who care for us, and those we care for. We must trust in each other, and may we be each other’s eternal light on the path that lies ahead. We must have compassion and joy for each other and continue to love and care for each other. We must pick each other up when faced with hardship, and to be each other’s guiding light, knowing that it is guiding us along our journey, and knowing that there is undeniable, eternal hope. With Easter approaching, may we begin to enjoy the pleasures of life once again, with the reminder that our guiding light is there for us, and may we be there for each other as well.
The Emergency of Joy: Second Sunday of Lent - Josef Kurtz, PhD, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer; Professor of Biology
The process of science has a unifying thread that links all disciplines: a quest to fill those areas that are currently not understood. It drills further and further down in search of universal truths upon which the natural world can be explained. The irony is that the act of deconstructing the world can also blind us to those aspects of life that make it vibrant, rich, and engaging. We could fill the Library of Alexandria ten-fold over with our detailed knowledge of the basic principles in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, and business. But with all of this information readily available, could one predict the game of baseball, the music of Miles Davis, the choreography of Balanchine, or the words of Sylvia Plath?* The bewildering complexity we observe everyday through these emergent properties is mirrored in the passages for this Second Sunday of Lent. The simple question asked by Abram of “How will I know…” is answered with a very specific list of items and actions to be performed. But it was not these details that created the Covenant between the Lord and Abram, it was something greater: it was Abram’s first step to put faith in the Lord.
Personally, I have adopted a similar perspective when asked about my work. While I continue to love teaching (especially in person!), those hours are few and the majority of my time is spent doing necessary but not necessarily inspiring activities like grading, budgeting, forecasting, projecting, and Zooming. But it is when all of these details come together and lead to a student sending a thank you note upon receiving their acceptance to Emmanuel, or seeing the smiles of a student’s family and friends at graduation, or getting an update from an alum on how their lives are going that that remind me that my happiness of being at Emmanuel has always first started with a step of faith. And now every day, I have faith that through these necessary items in my daily work I shall bear witness to the emergence of joy that I continually find in our students, in my colleagues, and in the greater Emmanuel community, for which I am forever grateful.
* The reader is highly encouraged to insert those works of art that particularly move them.)
Risk Joy: First Sunday of Lent - Jon Paul Sydnor, PhD, Professor of Theology & Religious Studies
When my first child, Josiah, was born, I was tempted not to love him too much. Love is dangerous, and I was scared. I mean, if you love you can get hurt, and the more you love, the more you'll get hurt. So why not play it safe, protect myself, and love just a little bit? Just enough for love to be fun, but not so much that it's risky. Thankfully, I was saved from this foolishness. My baby boy saved me, because I couldn't resist loving him all the way, even if I was afraid of such vulnerability. And Jesus saved me as well, because he had already risked love. Indeed, Jesus risked love unto the crucifixion, which could be taken as a warning to play it safe. But God affirmed Jesus' risk through the resurrection. In that affirmation, God promises all of us that joy defeats suffering, all wounds shall be healed--and that love itself is sacred, hence worth the risk.
Risk Joy: Week 1 - Molly Honan DiLorenzo, Vice President of College Relations
As we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, we do so during what 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 describes as “a favorable time.” It is not only the beginning of our 40+ days of deep reflection on Christ’s ministry, death, and eventual resurrection, but a time to contemplate the renewing power of the spring season.
Following a two-year journey together during a worldwide pandemic, the 2022 Lenten period likely holds even greater meaning to our community. Certainly, many have faced significant struggles such as serious illness, financial distress, or isolation. But it has perhaps been the cumulative effect of general uncertainty, constantly shifting conditions, and the inability to socialize and interact as we once did, that has had the most impact.
But we can look upon this experience in a positive and affirming light. As noted in the reading, “we are ambassadors for Christ,” and through the sacrifices we have made as a community during this pandemic, we have preserved and prioritized the health of those who may be the most vulnerable. We have banded together and problem-solved in ways we may have never imagined possible. It is this strength and perseverance that allows us to be open to God’s grace and the reward of “a favorable time.”
I welcome the coming weeks of thoughtful reflection, re-evaluation of my relationship to God and my role as an ambassador for Christ in my daily life. I invite others to do that same. With the coming of Easter and a return to enjoying some of the simple pleasures of life, our spirits will be raised.
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.