Senior Reflections



2009 Chapel Discourses at Mount St. Joseph Academy

Joshua Scaralia, Francisco DeCandio, Ian Patch, Thomas Garbitelli, Tyler Sanborn, Courtney Elliott and Benjamin Smith, all members of the Class of 2010, presented Gospel Reflections from November 9 to November 19, 2009.  Gospel passages were chosen by each student and each reflection was presented before the entire student body at morning chapel. All the students were members of Catholic Apologetics,a senior seminar taught by Mr. Z.

Choice and Following Jesus: Luke 9: 18-27

By Joshua Scaralia (MSJ 2010)

Jean-Paul Sartre said in his major philosophical work “Being and Nothingness” that “We are to freedom condemned”.  This statement may seem small and insignificant, but in actuality it holds the very essence of what it means to be human.  One of the intrinsic, fundamental properties of being human is freedom, or choice.  At every moment in our lives, we are forced to make decisions.  These decisions fall into two different categories; inconsequential decisions (such as “What should I eat for breakfast?” or telling the truth when your girlfriend asks “Do these jeans make me look fat?”) and imperative decisions (such as “Should I speak out against this injustice even though it will make me unpopular?” or “Should I just go with the flow?”).  Inconsequential choices have no bearing on one’s life, except in the case of the jeans question.  Imperative choices, however, stem from a person’s innermost morality, either pushing them away or leading them closer to God.

Jesus, in this passage, leaves us with an imperative choice.  “If anyone would come after me, he must first deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”  Every day, we must choose to pick up our cross and follow Jesus.  If we do not choose to do this, then we are not following in His footsteps.   We must not think of ourselves when we take up this cross, but rather do it for His sake. Sometimes, however, people are afraid to take up their cross because in doing so they might hurt their reputation.  Jesus answers this by later saying “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”  This statement does not mean that one actually has to “lose their life” in order to follow Jesus though.  It means that if one is only worried about what consequences will stem from a decision instead of what God desires, then they will, in the end, lose their life.  Jesus was not afraid to pick up his cross, so why are we sometimes?

We have a choice to use our God-given freedom to stand up against all forms of injustice.  Very few people, however, are willing to take that freedom upon themselves and be held responsible for their decisions.  This was the main problem in Germany during the Nazi regime.  Nobody was willing to stand up for what they knew was right because they wanted to save themselves.  In the play “The White Rose”, about the occupation of Nazi Germany, Willi Graf, Alexander Schmorell, Christoph Probst, and Hans and Sophie Scholl, (whose real lives the play was based on) all use their innate freedom to stand up for what is right.  During the play, Christoph and Sophie have a conversation about the inaction by the people of Germany.  Sophie suggests to Christoph that “People are good.  They’re just frightened.”  Probst answers this by asking “Where are they Sophie, where are they…A handful, just like us.  The rest are silent” (“The White Rose” 60-61).  During the Nazi regime, the people of Germany were afraid of the consequences of what would happen if they did speak out.  They did not take their freedom upon themselves and be held responsible for what was happening.  Their inaction seemed to condone the injustice that was happening at that time.  They voice was lost as they became enslaved by their choice to not stand up.

Sophie later tells a German official that “we make the world, not the other way around.”  The world around us cannot and will never dictate to one what choices to make.  Rather, our choices dictate to the world what kind of world we will live in and we have a choice to make this world what it should be: a place of peace, honesty, and integrity.

“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”  Let’s take a quick poll.  Who in here believes that they are a follower of Christ?  Among those, who is ashamed to be following Jesus?  (Let’s hope no one is.)  Why is it then when Jesus, morality, and humanity are openly mocked, there is an awkward silence from us?  We simply shrug it off, move on with our lives, and choose never to look back.  Many of us find it hard to stand up to the offender.  Are we bold enough to walk the way that we talk, or has our own inaction bred apathy in us?  I really want to believe that it is not the later, for, as we have all heard, “Apathy is death.”  We have to choose to stand up and speak out, even if it means denying the self.

One of the great things about being human is the existence of a conscience.  When God gave us free will, he gave us the ability to choose how we want.  He also gave us a conscience that sets guidelines for using that free will.  It is up to us to choose to follow that conscience or not.  Many times, actions happen around us that go directly against our conscience.  It is then up to us to choose to fix it.

Will it be difficult?  I would be lying if I told you no.  Going against what is expected of you is not the easy thing to do.  As Sean Henry said a couple of days ago, people expect you to follow the path of least resistance and go with the flow.  But what separates the true followers of Christ from the rest is the ability to take the path of most resistance and do the unexpected.  People will look at you differently and you might lose some friends, but we have to make the willing choice to choose to do the right thing.

Seniors and upperclassmen, it has to start with us.  Our decisions and choices dictate to the rest of the school what is acceptable to do.  We have to choose to do the right thing.  One place where we can start is in the language that we use every day.  Every day, there are words spoken against what Jesus taught us.  I’ll be one of the first to admit, I am not without fault on this issue.  But we must make a choice to stop the inappropriate language.  Another place where we can choose to make a difference is in the classroom itself.  Too frequently in class, we see students being disrespectful toward teachers.  This is unacceptable.  This needs to stop.  This not only shows disrespect to the teacher as a human being, but it also shows a callous disregard for the knowledge the teacher is trying to impart.  If we, as upper classmen, start the wave of change in the school, the rest of the school will follow.  But, we must be willing to choose to do the right thing, even if it means sacrificing a little of ourselves.

Another problem that I see happening in our school is the disrespect that is shown during chapel and Masses.  Some people talk during the time when we are supposed to be showing reverence for the presence of God in the tabernacle.  Even if you are not a practicing Catholic, this is a huge sign of disrespect to God and to those around you who are trying to worship.

Also, earlier in the year, we encountered a problem with stealing in the school.  We must ask: Why? Not only to the person or people who were responsible, but to the onlookers who did nothing to stop it.  If you see something wrong occurring, you should speak up.  Think of how angry you would be if someone had stolen something from you.

All of the problems at the school could be stopped if we collectively made an effort to choose to do the right thing, even if it means being ridiculed by some.

“Choice.  The problem is choice.”  These words said by Neo in the movie The Matrix Reloaded present both the problem and the solution to the evils of the world.  The problem is that people seldom choose to do what is right.  The solution is to choose to do the right thing.  This is no easy task though.  We have to care about fixing the world.  Maybe it is best said in the words of Kurt Cobain, deceased lead singer of the band Nirvana, “My generation’s apathy. I’m disgusted with it. I’m disgusted with my own apathy too, for being spineless and not always standing up against racism, sexism and all those other -isms the counterculture has been whining about for years.”

I am ready to choose to do the right thing.  How about you?

The Last Judgment: Matthew 25:31-47

By Francisco DeCandio (MSJ 2010)

This description of the Last Judgment is a very important passage in the Gospels, as it outlines how one must behave in regard to others in order to enter the Kingdom of God. It sums up what it means to truly follow the teachings of Jesus and be a martyr in daily life. This reading tells us that Christ is present in all those around us and that we must learn to recognize the spirit of God in everyone, no matter what challenges surround that task. This is indeed a very difficult thing to do, as it involves treating others as if they were Christ himself. One must completely set aside their own life to aid those in need and those who need help, including the poor, the homeless, the sick, the prisoners and the outcasts. All people are called to loose themselves in service to others. The former are a few of the groups that Jesus lived among during his lifetime; he was born into a family of poor refuges seeking safety from an oppressive and discriminatory state. During his ministry, it was the lowly, the sinners and the lepers that Jesus walked among. He did this, as the sinful need more guidence like the sick need the doctor more than the healthy. Had Jesus lived on earth today, he would not be at the country club or the fancy restauraunts, but down in the projects or the bad section of town.

The reading also makes it clear that there is going to be a judgment and that there will be those who are saved and those who are condemned. As described, the saved are those who went out of their way to assist those who were in peril, while the damned scorn those below them and offer nothing. This is omission, the failure to do something. Failing to help other in need is as much a sin as robbing from them. Omission and commission can be differentiated by the example of lying outright versus not telling the truth. It is false to believe that the sins of commission, or active action, are the only ones punishable; the sins referenced in the reading are very grave. In rejecting those in need, the condemned failed to see Christ in the sick, hobbling leper or in the poor beggar starving in the street. Denying relief to such individuals is equivalent to spitting in the face of Jesus and thus sentencing oneself to eternal damnation. To help in no way those who suffer is to reject the fact that the Holy Spirit lives within them, and to refuse to accept the love of God is to sever your relationship with him. Furthermore, the reading informs us that heaven and hell are indeed real places and that salvation and damnation are, in fact, actualities. They are not spoken of symbolically in this passage, thus the struggle for salvation is very real.

As Christians and as humans, we are called to see others as if they themselves were Jesus. This can be applied to all people who are struggling, people of different faiths or folks who are on the wrong side of the law. The phrase ‘what would Jesus do’ may be a good axiom to follow, but even more so would be the mantra ‘what if this is Jesus’. What if this person who has no place to sit is Jesus himself? What if the foreigner wandering lost down your street is Christ?  It is amazing how differently we would view people if we saw the inner Christ within them. The other night when I was working at the shop, I thought about this and then decided to look at customers as if they were Jesus, and it made an enormous impact on how I viewed and spoke to them. For the rest of the night, I could not get this idea out of my head, that the strange old man or this obnoxious New Yorker was Christ. It made such a difference that I didn’t dare to even think badly of them or curse their slow decision process in the remote recesses of my impatient mind.

Pope Paul VI states in the Vatican document “Nostra Aetate” that “We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God”. We cannot expect to spend eternal life with God if we can’t even treat our fellow humans with dignity and respect. We cannot consider ourselves to be able or worthy of the path that Christ has laid before us if we can’t even acknowledge one another as temples of the Holy Spirit. How can we expect to serve God if we cannot serve our brothers? The fact is that one cannot serve God while neglecting his fellow human beings. The Great Commandment, Love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself, sums up this Gospel reading quite effectively. You must love others before you can love God. One who does not love his brothers cannot know or love God. The two components of the Great Commandment tie into one another completely: if you do not love your neighbors, you cannot love the father. We as humans are called to love one another and in doing so we love God. In caring for the least of Christ’s brethren, we serve the Lord.

So here, Jesus has laid out the path to eternal life. He has told us what we need to do into order to attain salvation and avoid condemning ourselves. The challenge is great and seems daunting at times, as some people are hard to deal with or may not want to identify you with Christ, but the reward of everlasting life with God, true happiness, is too good to pass up.

Gospel Reflection: The Doubting Thomas

By Ian Patch (MSJ 2010)

How many of you here today can relate to the doubt that Thomas expressed? Are there times in your life when you tend to doubt God?  Doubt his plans? Doubt that he listens to your prayers? Or maybe just doubt his existence overall? Why is that? Is it because we feel that there isn’t enough physical, tangible evidence to support the existence of God?

Proverbs 3:5-6 reads “Trust in the Lord with all you heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

It is our own attempt at understanding God that gets in the way of our faith in him. Like Thomas we feel that we need to put our hands in Christ’s wounds before we believe that he exists. Why is that? What does physical proof have to do with a God that exists without physical limitations?

Hebrew 11 states that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”Believing is not seeing, believing is trusting in God although He may never give us the physical evidence that we desire.

When I was a kid my Grandpa told me this joke at least 50 times:

There was a man who was out in the ocean and his boat sank.  As he was treading water he prayed to God and asked God to save him.  A short while later a boat came by and men saw him and said “get in our boat”.  The man replied “No thanks God is going to save me”.  The boat left.  A short while later another boat came by and people on board said ” thank goodness we found you, get in the boat”.  The man replied ” Nope, God is going to save me”.  That boat sailed off. The man was getting very tired and wondering when God would save him.  A third boat appeared and the men on the boat said ” you look exhausted please get in our boat and we will take you to safety”.  The man replied ” No, I can’t God is going to save me any minute now”.  The boat left, baffled that the man would not let them take him to safety.  Soon after the man drown.  Upon reaching heaven and meeting God the man said ” God, why didn’t you answer my prayers?”  God replied “What are you talking about, I sent you three boats”

Sometimes the answers to our prayers are not what we expect. We pray to God and let ourselves get stuck in our own ideas of how the answers will look.  We do this to such an extent that often times we miss the divine grace that the God sends us.

More often than not it is our prayers that cause us to doubt God. We expect the clouds to part, a beam of light to shine down, and to hear God’s booming voice giving us the response we seek.

In reality, God sends others to help alleviate our suffering. Like the drowning man we reject this help, believing instead that we, like Thomas, need to touch Jesus’ wounds and  be given the physical evidence of his presence that we so desire.

My friend Bill Robichaud was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer my sophomore year of high school. My parents and I did all we could to help alleviate his suffering. We bought him food, cooked him dinner, helped him around the house, and every day during that time I prayed to God to save Bill from his suffering, alleviate his pain and allow him to live out his days in peace.

When Bill passed away I stopped believing in God. No way would a loving God not help one of his most passionate followers. I doubted God’s plans. I doubted that he had listened to my prayers. I doubted that he even existed.

Looking back on it now, God did answer my prayers, but not in the way I was expecting. God had sent my family and me to Bill’s aid. We looked after him. We alleviated some of his suffering, and we had allowed him to live out the rest of his days in peace.

Mark 11: 24 “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”

We need to stop expecting God to answer our prayers in some extravagant fashion, and just because we don’t get the response we’re looking for, doesn’t mean that God isn’t there listening to us. God sends us to help each other, we need to remain open to others help and except that as his help.

Sometimes we search too hard for proof that God exists. We are constantly searching for the wounds that we too can put our hands in to feel Christ, and in our search we overlook God’s subtle presence. People who have come in and out of our lives, helping us through our adversity, the people in our daily life that we take for granted, that is God’s answer to our prayers. That’s all the proof we should need.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Gospel Reflection:

By Thomas Garbitelli (MSJ 2010)

This reflection will be added at a later date.  –Mr. Z.

Gospel Reflection: Mark 10:35-45

By Tyler Sanborn (MSJ 2010)

In Mark 10:35-45, Jesus calls all of us to serve others in everyday life, at home, in class, at church, or even in the school cafeteria. Maybe I should explain that last one. Every day at lunch we say the prayer and then go through the line, collecting our food, getting a milk carton of choice, and then giving Daniela $2.75 at the cash register.  Most of us, including myself, pay with three one dollar bills, which means that we get one quarter for change. Within five minutes of sitting down, I can expect Chris Reedy standing over me, with his palm held out asking for the leftover quarter. I hand over my quarter, usually without thinking twice and continue with lunch. Now, I am pretty sure this scenario sounds familiar for a lot of you; if I am not mistaken Chris makes it to just about every table asking for their change. What may not be as familiar is the reason why Chris spends this time collecting quarters that would otherwise end up at the bottom of my gym back, or clanging around in the washing machine at home. For two years now, Chris has canvassed the cafeteria and stored the leftover change at home. When December rolls around, all of the quarters you handed over to Chris will be donated to Project Help and will help fund a Christmas meal for a family in need. Chris’s actions convey the very essence of the Gospel that I just read. In this case, he saw an opportunity to take something that for us is insignificant, and turned it into a significant source of good for the community around us. Chris does not have to sacrifice a portion of his lunch period, nor does he expect anything in return for his actions. But there is no doubt that he is making a difference, creating a legacy, building a better world, not by making headlines or asking for attention, but by serving others in need in a simple, straightforward way.

“Whoever wishes to be the first among you will be the slave of all” (Mk 10: 44). This statement was just as profound in Jesus’s time as it is today. In this passage, Jesus is telling us that the best way to leave a legacy on this Earth is to offer up one’s life to service, to work for the benefit of others, to promote the common good. When you think of the word “legacy” or greatness, service probably does not come to mind. This was true even for Jesus’s own disciples. Isn’t greatness the underlying desire of James and John’s request? Truly, James and John want to be lifted up through prestige, to be remembered and celebrated on heaven and on earth as Jesus’s right and left hand man. How about our own lives? Isn’t there always a part of us that wants to be famous, the next big time celebrity or athlete? Sure there is and we see this same desire represented through James and John’s request. But look at Jesus’ response. While wanting to be the best athlete, musician, or actor is definitely not a bad goal, we must keep our eyes trained on the ultimate goal of our lives, which Jesus lays out before us in this Gospel passage, and that is to dedicate ourselves to making the world a better place. Jesus is telling us that the best legacy, the greatest impact, we can make here on Earth is by working for goodness, standing for truth, and committing ourselves to service for others.

This is certainly a radical way to live our lives, certainly in a culture that is constantly telling us otherwise. But without a doubt, the individuals who leave a lasting legacy in this world are the one’s who are willing to humble themselves through good works. Consider the philosophy of Charlie Schultz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. Reflect on these questions. Can you name the five wealthiest people in the world? Do you remember the last five Heisman trophy winners? Do you know the last ten people who won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize? Can you recall the last ten World Series winners? Off the top of my head, I can’t answer any of these. Now try this set of questions. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time. Think of five people that have taught you something worthwhile. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with. I bet these questions are a lot easier to answer. The message Charlie Schultz is trying to get across is obvious: Achievements, awards, and accolades fade over time and are forgotten. The people who truly impact our lives are the ones who care and love us the most. And how do we show our love? Jesus gives us that answer too. Love is only shown through actions, working for others, serving one another and expecting nothing tangible in return.

Too often, we as teenagers sit back and say that we are too young, that we could not possibly make a difference and change the world. It is easy for us to leave things up to adults in our community, to allow them to stand for what is right while staying silent in the background. In reality, this train of thought should be reversed; as young people we have a great opportunity to make a difference. And in many cases, teenagers are doing just that. Look at the story of Shaun Henry, who came and spoke here two weeks ago. Like Chris Reedy, Shaun saw something being wasted, in this case a vacant lot that was covered and trash and used as a gang hideout. At no point was he satisfied with waiting for the adults or the city to make a change. Instead of turning a blind eye, Shaun decided to take action by clearing out the garbage and turning the vacant lot into a community garden, pulling kids away from gangs in the process. The story of his commitment to the Garden Angels program illuminates several key points regarding Jesus’s call for service in the Gospel. On a basic level, Shaun exhibits the difference between being a follower or admirer of Christ. Too often, the admirers listen to the readings in Mass or in chapel and say to ourselves “well that sounds nice” or “that is a good way to live” but then do not suit the words to actions. Shaun Henry is a follower of Christ, because he took that next step; he decided to become a slave for all in order to make a difference. Now this is not to say that living as a follower of Christ is easy. Even Jesus admitted that in Luke 13 where he says, “they will be divided [because of my message], father against son and mother against daughter”. Indeed, committing ourselves to serving the good that is Christ will often create opposition, both active and passive. Perhaps the greatest challenge many of us face is the willingness to break away from our group of friends, standing up for the truth and serving others through actions, despite peer pressure. We hear this from Shaun Henry as well; he told us about being attacked by a gang member who did not approve of his actions. But despite this pressure we must persist to work for the good and set an example for others. Shawn persisted and eventually won over the individual who attacked him. Let us work to be agents of change, by seeking out the good, fighting against the evil, and working to serve others through actions. Maybe it’s simply standing up when you see someone being bullied. Maybe it’s simply taking a stand against profanity or disrespectful language. No matter what, we must commit ourselves to improving the world through service and that commitment must begin today and be lived out everyday.

Finally, let us remain true to our vision, but realize that we are not superheroes; we cannot do everything. Archbishop Oscar Romero illustrates this in his prayer which I would like to share with you now.

We plant the seeds that grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

It is our job as individuals to “plant the seeds” of change in our community around us. Let us be the planters of goodness, with the hope that one day the seeds of our service will bring great fruit for the good of others. Though we are only “workers”, we can ask for the help of the greatest Architect, the original Master Builder. Without a doubt, he will guide is in crafting a legacy based not on Earthly fame or greatness, but on the willingness to serve others in all things. Going forward let us look for opportunities to make a difference, big or small. Find a need here in the MSJ community there are many.  Build a legacy grounded in service, committed to goals such as ending disrespect towards teachers and other students. Most of all, work to become the agents of change that Jesus calls us to be. For it is by becoming a servant for others that we will make the greatest difference in spreading the gift of love.

The Prodigal Son: Luke 15:11-32

By Courtney Elliott (MSJ 2010)

Hansel once said to Gretel “Let us leave a trail of bread crumbs so we do not lose our way on this journey for getting lost on a journey is the cruelest of fates” (brainyquotes.com). The sad part is that many of us in our life will become lost. We will turn away from what we have known in favor of finding something we believe is more satisfying or more worthwhile. We turn away from the ones who love us the most because we think that in some way they restrain our happiness. This is when we become lost, when we decide to venture away from the life we already had, a life that probably was not that bad. But there is also another way we can become lost on life’s journey. The older son in this parable also became lost. We do not have to commit a bad act or make a mistake to become lost. We can become lost simply by our self pride. This blinds us and causes us to think of ourselves as the best thing that ever walked this earth, when in truth we our lost just as much as the others.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son teaches us about God’s mercy and grace. The main message that we can take from this is that God is love. God is not looking to condemn us or push us away; God wants us to accept him. God can not do all the work on his own he needs us to want him to love us; he needs us to love him too. This Parable does an excellent job of showing us how merciful and forgiving God is. This Parable shows us the true nature of God and that is that God is love.

God gave us all free will. This free will gives us all the freedom to make our own choices in life. If we choose a choice that is against what God wants we have a chance to seek his forgiveness. One conclusion we as a class came to in fifth period Apologetics this year was that God is love, therefore God forgives anyone who repents to him and the only sin that is unforgivable is the rejection of God’s love. Now you may be thinking wait a minute, God will not forgive the rejection of his love then how is God all good how is he love? The answer to this is very simple and can be seen in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

If we are willing to return to God and seek his forgiveness then we never truly rejected God’s love. If we return to God then we never gave up our love for him we just simply lost our way. Many people will lose their way in life. Many people will turn away from God for reasons that they may not even understand themselves but if we return to God he will welcome us home with open arms just like the father and the youngest son. The youngest son turned away for a life he thought was better but when he found out that he could not live without his father he returned and the father welcomed him back. God will welcome anyone back who returns to him. God is love and if we love him he will take mercy on us.

C.S Lewis, who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, once said:  “Though our feelings come and go God’s love for us does not” (Thimkexist.com). Sometimes we feel that God sometimes may restrain us or hold us back from what we believe to be happiness. But what is happiness?  Is happiness a good grade on a final? Is it the company of good friends? Is happiness making your dreams come true? Or is it something different. Those instances of happiness are not true happiness but moments of it little break throughs of happiness. Moments that makes us happy but do not stay forever. True happiness though once it is achieved can never go away. True happiness can be found in love, eternal love that does not condemn and does not discriminate. This love can be found in God. You want to know the greatest happiness that can ever be known. It is when you love somebody with all your heart and they love you back. This creates eternal happiness and every single one of us has this love with God.

Maybe you are not like the prodigal and you are thinking “Wow! Why would God ever take back a person who left him like that and ignore the other son”? Now, let’s be honest, how many of you thought that? I know I have. People may have a tendency to become jealous of the ones who God accepts back. We let ourselves say hey that’s not fair I have done so much more than him, put so much more effort in to this relationship and that’s what I get. The older son is blinded by his own self pride and righteousness that he can not even be happy for his younger brother. This in itself is the main message of this Parable. We can not let our own self pride keep us from being happy for others. There is a very arrogant quote that many people tend to repeat. That quote is “ I am going to look out for myself and get what’s mine”(Brainyquotes.com). This quote more or less means that we our going to do whatever it takes to get to the top no matter what and when someone else reaches the top we become enraged and feel like they did not deserve what they got in life. How many of you have ever felt this way before?

OK, let’s take a poll. Say you study for a test for three hours and get a B. OK now say that Tom does not study at all he just knows the topic very well and gets an A. how many of you would be upset by this? Be honest. It is in our nature to want to be the best and when we work so hard we tend to become self-righteous and arrogant. We may even make comments such as how could Tom get an A he is so stupid.

Mr. Z once told us in Apologetics class the story of how one day he gave his class an essay to write. When the class turned the essays in Mr. Z wrote comments on all the essays and then proceeded to give each student the same grade as the student who scored the highest. So essentially no matter how much effort you put in you got an A. The students when they figured this out had mixed emotions. Of course the students who would have gotten a C were happy, but the students that put hours of work and effort into their papers were angry and upset. This story shows just how self- righteous we can be. We think that we deserve better than anyone else. It was one paper, one grade. We should be happy for the other students who received a good grade not feel anger towards them.  We all, at some point in our lives, will feel what the older son felt. We will feel that we deserved more because we put in more effort.

This Parable was used to answer the Pharisees statement of “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them”. The Pharisees thought that these sinners were so lost on the journey of life that he was disgusted by the fact that Jesus welcomed them. What the man failed to see was that he was lost too. He did not rejoice that these people were trying to find their way back. Instead he was worried about himself. He was focused primarily on the fact that he might not get all he deserves because these sinners might be welcomed back. He was just looking out for himself and making sure he got what was his. In the Parable the father says “You were always with me and all I have is yours”. If we trust in God and truly believe his message, then we do not need to be worried about getting what’s ours because we know it is coming to us. We can not focus only on our own happiness but helping others achieve it too.

Seniors, your college acceptances will be in soon and I ask you to remember this message. If someone gets into a school that you get into and you feel that you are a harder working student and that the other person has no right to get accepted to that school, think about what I said today. We should be happy for the other person. They got into a good school and their life is on a good track. We should be happy for them and not knock them down just because we feel that we are smarter or better suited for that school then they are. So all seniors, I ask you to try this if this situation happens to you this year. I want you to be happy for the other person to smile and say these words meaningfully “Wow that’s really good for you, I am happy for you”. This does not apply only to seniors but everyone else as well. Next time, if someone gets a better grade then you on test, I want you to meaningfully say the same thing “I am happy for you”. Once we show compassion and happiness for the others we will see that our lives get a whole less lot stressful. No more worrying about what’s due to us and what’s ours. No one is perfect not the Prodigal Son or the son that stayed behind. We are all flawed and it is up to us to help others to happiness and not worry about only what is ours. The book Looking For Alaska says “Love your crooked neighbor with all your crooked heart” (Green, 55). No one is perfect not me, and not you so lets all help each other to achieving true happiness and leaving behind self -centeredness.

The Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37

By Benjamin Smith (MSJ 2010)

The man that was robbed in this Gospel was Jewish of course, and the one who healed him was a Samaritan. In Jewish society, Samaritans were seen as inferior and did not count as a persons, yet this Samaritan helped him when Jews of  higher stature did not.

There are two messages I wish to deliver from this Gospel. The first one is that each of us should always seek to help those in need, no matter who they are or what their status is. By doing this we are living the Gospel and doing God’s work. When all of us are doing Project Help, some of us might complain it is hard work, but I want all of us to really think about why you are doing this. What is the primary reason behind giving to those in need during Project Help?

My second message is about a subject that has been plaguing our student body a lot recently. That is the problem with discrimination and bigotry. Now most of you probably think I’m going to talk about MSJ football, but I am not. I am going to talk about what goes on in our hallways every single day. A lesson from this Gospel is never judge a person based on their race or appearance. Judge them by their character. Every day I hear vulgar language directed towards someone in the hallways and hear a lot of inappropriate remarks towards other members of the student body, especially towards those who might be considered different. This is completely against what I said we should be doing with helping those who are in need. Quite frankly, it is disgusting and upsetting to hear and see! There is an old saying that says:  “Practice what you preach.” As students of a Catholic school, we should be above such behavior and actions. We should fight such problems and reach out to minority groups. Many students have decided not to attend MSJ for the fact they were constantly harassed and bullied by someone who is in the student body. That is what is hurting our school at its deepest core.

I have heard hurtful things said about people’s race, religion, habits, and personality. It may not hurt them physically, but it hurts them here at their very core (points towards heart). This has to stop now in order to prove to the community that we as students are above that. All this discrimination is not only disrespectful towards the person receiving it, but it also disrespectful towards God. No more! Let us all follow Jesus’ golden rule: “Treat others the way you them to treat you.” Let us put aside the differences between us and be helping towards one another and the outside community.

The events of the last couple of weeks with many in our community falling ill or dying has created some unity among us, but can we make that last? By casting aside all forms of disrespect, discrimination and bigotry, we can all remain a unified community and help bring MSJ into a better future.  Let’s take all this to heart as we move into the future…