Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 22, 2018
Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34

When I reflect upon the emotions of Jesus in this Gospel scene, I consider the joy he must have felt when his disciples returned from their first foray into ministry. They return excited because of the immediate success they experienced and certainly they want to share their stories with Jesus and the others. Delighted, Jesus turns to them and says, “Come away by yourselves (with me) for a while to a deserted place.” In this space, they can rest, play, and build up their strengthening friendships while Jesus looks out for their well-being. Jesus is no doubt acting as the good shepherd or a caring parent who looks out for the children’s best interests.

Jesus knows that we need time for play and rest, especially as a built-in part of ministry. We cannot always be giving to others without taking time for vacation, setting aside a day of Sabbath, or indulging regularly in a hobby. Adult playtime is just as important as the work we do because, just like children, adults learn when they play. They socialize, they adjust to new rules and expectations, and they discover new areas of the intellect that they would not have chosen during worktime. Laughter is therapeutic, and it helps us form bonds that keep us returning to our friendships.

 Consider again to St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians as he describes the unifying purpose of Jesus. Jesus is our peace, be breaks down the dividing wall of enmity, abolishing law with the commandments and installing mercy as the great criterion, that we are reconciled to God and brought together as one. Wow! To me, that is a powerful action.

Contrary to this action of Jesus, I am discouraged when I read the daily newspaper or listen to the evening news. I notice that division is emphasized, families are being torn apart by violence or separated because people are not citizens, discriminatory language causes harm to people of goodwill, messages are created to promote individualism, consumerism, and a false sense of strength and power. Many times, destructive messages strip people of their souls and dignity when they are referred to, not my name, but as groupings of people who are considered “others” and not part of “us.” This is not the way forward.

I’m convinced that the ongoing work of Jesus will lead us forward, and it is best if we cooperate with him in his efforts aimed for our own good and best welfare. We need to retreat with him and his friends regularly and find time for rest and play. It is as if some of us may need to start again to discover what it means to play. We no longer remember how to have fun. We are busy being responsible for others and meeting expectations of bosses and institutions. Am I able to do an inventory of the last times I let out a bellowing laugh? How many times did you laugh and really enjoy yourself in the last week? Maybe this week I can do something like sitting outside to blow bubbles, visit a children’s museum, play a board game with friends, or take off your shoes and wade in a fountain. The opportunities are right in front of your eyes, and Jesus wants you, not just to look at the swimming pool and admire it. He wants you to jump in – a great big belly-flop-like splash so that you come up from the waters beaming with glee.

He is watching out for us. Not every interaction with Jesus has to be solemn or serious. He will bring peace, and he will reconstruct our relationships through our pursuit of play and recreation. With play, he is able to restore and re-create the promises of friendship, even among enemies. Never underestimate the importance of this disarmed time together where we can simply appreciate the beauty of another human soul. Jesus will be operative, and he will touch the areas in our life that most need to be restored.

Come away, then. Take some time to let your soul rest, if just for an hour. God, as a loving parent and good shepherd, will take care of our needs. Notice how God is uniting us and leading us to places where we meet other people intent to bring about goodness in the world. This is a God who intervenes in our lives to help us practice healthy self-care. This is a God who embraces us, whispers to us, and delights in us. This is a God who finds us incredibly lovable – because we are – and God simply wants us to play with him and his friends so that we hear God’s bellowing laughter in our ears.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Micah 6) Arise, present your plea before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice! Hear, O mountains, the plea of the LORD, pay attention, O foundations of the earth! For the LORD has a plea against his people, and he enters into trial with Israel.

Tuesday: (Micah 7) Who is there like you, the God who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Who does not persist in anger forever, but delights rather in clemency, And will again have compassion on us,

Wednesday: (2 Corinthians 4) We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

Thursday: (Jeremiah 2) I remember the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride, Following me in the desert, in a land unsown. Sacred to the LORD was Israel, the first fruits of his harvest.

Friday (Jeremiah 3) Return, rebellious children, says the LORD, for I am your Master; I will take you, one from a city, two from a clan, and bring you to Zion. I will appoint over you shepherds after my own heart, who will shepherd you wisely and prudently.

Saturday (Jeremiah 7) Reform your ways and your deeds, so that I may remain with you in this place. Put not your trust in the deceitful words: "This is the temple of the LORD!


Monday: (Matthew 12) “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.

Tuesday: (Matthew 12) While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him. Someone told him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you."

Wednesday (Matthew 20) The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, "What do you wish?" She answered him, "Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom."

Thursday (Matthew 13) "But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

Friday (Matthew 13) "Hear the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.

Saturday (Matthew 13) "The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.

Saints of the Week
July 22: Mary Magdalene, apostle (1st century), became the "apostle to the apostles" as the first witness of the resurrection. Scriptures point to her great love of Jesus and she stood by him at the cross and brought spices to anoint his body after death. We know little about Mary though tradition conflates her with other biblical woman. Luke portrays her as a woman exorcised of seven demons.

July 23: Bridget of Sweden, religious (1303-1373), founded the Bridgettine Order for men and women in 1370, though today only the women’s portion has survived. She desired to live in a lifestyle defined by prayer and penance. Her husband of 28 years died after producing eight children with Bridget. She then moved to Rome to begin the new order.

July 24: Sharbel Makhuf, priest (1828-1898), joined a monastery in the Maronite tradition and lived as a hermit for 23 years after living fifteen years in the community. He became known for his wisdom and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

July 25: James, Apostle (1st century), is the son of Zebedee and the brother of John. As fishermen, they left their trade to follow Jesus. They occupied the inner circle as friends of Jesus. James is the patron of Spain as a shrine is dedicated to him at Santiago de Compostela. He is the patron of pilgrims as many walk the Camino en route to this popular pilgrim site.

July 26: Joachim and Anne, Mary's parents (1st century) are names attributed to the grandparents of Jesus through the Proto-Gospel of James. These names appeared in the Christian tradition though we don't know anything with certitude about their lives. Devotion of Anne began in Constantinople in the 6th century while Joachim gained acclaim in the West in the 16th century. He was revered in the Eastern churches since the earliest times.

This Week in Jesuit History

·       Jul 22, 1679. The martyrdom at Cardiff, Wales, of St Phillip Evans.
·       Jul 23, 1553. At Palermo, the parish priests expressed to Fr. Paul Achilles, rector of the college, indignation that more than 400 persons had received Holy Communion in the Society's church, rather than in their parish churches.
·       Jul 24, 1805. In Maryland, Fr. Robert Molyneux was appointed the first superior by Father General Gruber.
·       Jul 25, 1581. In the house of the Earl of Leicester in London, an interview occurred between Queen Elizabeth and Edmund Campion. The Queen could scarcely have recognized the worn and broken person before her as the same brilliant scholar who had addressed here at Oxford 15 years before.
·       Jul 26, 1872. At Rome, the greater part of the Professed House of the Gesu was seized and appropriated by the Piedmontese government.
·       Jul 27, 1609. Pope Paul V beatifies Ignatius.
·       Jul 28, 1564. In a consistory held before twenty-four Cardinals, Pope Paul IV announced his intention of entrusting the Roman Seminary to the Society.