Weekly Reflections

Weekly Reflections on Justice are written by the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach staff, volunteers, interns, and visiting Columban Missionaries. We hope these reflections help to guide you on your own spiritual journey working toward justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.

  • Immigrants are no Strangers

    Lenten season in this border city of El Paso, Texas is a vibrant time. Our various parishes host beautiful Stations of the Cross, retreats for all ages, and even massive reconciliation services. Additionally, the menus of many local restaurants offer Lenten meals, which are heavily influenced by Mexican cuisine such as Capirotada (sweet bread dessert), Nopalitos Asados (fried cactus), and Pescado a la Veracruzana (fried fish Veracruz style). The border is a place full of things influenced ...

  • Life-Giving Waters

    “Do you have a coin?” I was often asked while walking the streets of Santiago in Chile. The people who drank too much often hung around the street corners of the neighborhood I lived in, asking for change, in the early morning. One morning, they stopped asking me for money, because I never gave them any, and they recognized that I did this out of concern for them, not out of stinginess. “Good morning, Padre,” they began to say. So I stopped to converse with them, found out the life stories of...

  • Parched Spirits

    Like the air we breathe, water is essential for our life and well-being. The average person here in the U.S. uses 80-100 gallons in a variety of ways throughout each day. Indeed, water is so intertwined with our everyday life that we generally take this precious gift for granted, and pause to reflect on it only when we hear a story about the serious consequences that arise from its contamination. Unfortunately, in recent decades contaminated water has become a serious issue in some countries where...

  • Nonviolent Transformation

    When Jesus is seen in the fullness of glory, the disciples think it’s a one-time vision about Jesus. However, Jesus pointedly leads them back down the mountain to the valley where the work of transfiguration continues and involves all of us. Thomas Merton’s experience of transfiguration was on a street corner in Louisville. He wrote, “Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their...

  • A Lenten Lesson from Halemweg

    Was willst du denn?” (“What do you want?”), he challenged me in German. Apologies fled my mouth as he threatened me at knifepoint. “Hast du Probleme mit mir?” (“Do you take issue with me?”). His voice climaxed as he hulked toward me, and fear rushed through me as I continued sputtering confused apologies. Tucking the knife back into his jacket, he punched me across the face and stalked away. When I arrived home that evening, I knew that I didn’t remember enough about my...

  • Ash Wednesday: Return to Me with Your Whole Heart

    This is the first part of our seven part Lenten Reflection series with the theme Lenten Tears of Conversion: A Season of Transformation. Listening to Pope Francis’ call at the US—Mexico border to “weep over injustice” and soften our hearts, members of the community, including Columban Fathers, co-workers, interns, volunteers, and short-term missionaries, reflect on how God’s mercy has entered their heart and transformed them. The first reflection is from Scott Wright, Director of the Columban...

  • Limitless Love

    In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus makes known his limitless love when he commands us to love everyone, even those it may be difficult to love. You have heard that it was said: You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (MT:38-48). Whenever I come across this passage, I think of our faith’s call to love those our society has cast aside, those deemed “enemies” simply because of the color of their skin, their gender, their...

  • Outlook on the Border from Cristo Rey

    Arms stretched wide, the Cristo Rey’s eyes survey the distance with a mixture of pain and hope. At an elevation of almost a mile, the mountain peak on Sierra de Cristo Rey is already well above its surroundings, but the limestone statue's additional 40 feet of height grants it an omniscient perspective: El Paso marks the end of Texas, and beyond the international border, a trickling Rio Grande, Ciudad Juarez sprawls flat into the beginnings of Mexico. Having just reached the platform at the base of the Cristo Rey, I surveyed the same panorama. I had been invited by...

  • Shaking Our Salt and Recharging Our Lights

    Today’s readings urge us to sow our salt and share our light of faith and justice with all peoples. It is no accident that salt and light form the basis of our discipleship. First, Isaiah eloquently explains to the Israelites the need to seek peace, remove oppression and hate in all forms, and serve the compelling needs of the poor, the migrant, and the disabled. For their good works, Isaiah tells them that the light of mercy and truth will dispel the darkness of evil (IS 58:7-10). I feel pain and anguish for the same...

  • Listening to St. Paul

    Who hasn’t gotten lost in St Paul’s complicated syntax? St. Paul wrote his letters in winding, complex sentences yet he doesn’t mince words. He had an urgent message for Christ’s followers. Perhaps he felt he had little time to waste. Whatever the case, St. Paul instructs, reminds, admonishes those people who would follow Christ. The readings from last Sunday and yesterday’s readings make St. Paul’s urgency clear. He reminded his listeners that they belong not to some faction, but to Christ (1 Corinthians 1: 10 - 13, 17.)

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