Readings from:

For you sports fans, the March Madness basketball championship ended last night. I couldn’t help remembering that one of the people who became best known in last year’s basketball season was not, ironically, a player, but rather, a nun. Sr. Jean Schmidt was, and still is, the 99 year old beloved chaplain of the Loyola University basketball team. She prayed and cheered them on through the series.

In a recent interview in America Magazine, (, Sr. Jean talked about praying with the players. Yes, she admitted she prayed they’d win, but more importantly, she said she prays with them so they know God plays an important part in their lives, that each one on the court is their brother, and that we are all creatures of God. Especially when they struggle on and off the court, she prays and asks God to bless them.

We heard about struggling in our readings today. In the first reading, the Jewish people were struggling as they crossed the long, dry dessert on their way to the Promised Land.

They were struggling and grumbling and wanting to return to Egypt where at least they had food and shelter.  They weren’t remembering what God had already done for them, which was:

  • arrange for their escape from slavery
  • lead them in the dark of night with a pillar of fire in the dessert
  • feed them with manna each day. 

They were struggling to believe that God was still walking with them, and their hearts were far from believing.

In the second reading, the Pharisees were struggling with who this man Jesus claimed to be. Yes, they certainly saw the amazing works and miracles he did, but their eyes and their hearts were closed to God who actually walked among them.

Struggling with our faith is certainly not foreign to us, especially when we’re trying to understand difficult circumstances in life…an unexpected sickness of a young child, a loved one who is estranged from the family, a horrible accident that leaves many dead and injured. How do we deal with all our struggles?

The Church in her wisdom tells us these stories today of the struggling Jews and Pharisees, then provides us with a solution in our responsorial psalm of what to do during these hard times:

O LORD, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you.
Hide not your face from me in the day of my distress.

So, when times get tough, we can take guidance from this psalm and comfort from Sr. Jean’s courtside wisdom, which is, continue to pray and believe that God is, indeed, always with us in the game.