Thursday, July 19, 2018

Photo: Make a Wish

Photo: Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

The man [one] who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely, no matter how much he may surround himself with people. But the man [one] who learns, in solitude and recollection, to be at peace with his own loneliness, and to prefer its reality to the illusion of merely natural companionship, comes to know the invisible companionship of God. Such a one is alone with God in all places, and he alone truly enjoys the companionship of other men, because he loves them in God in Whom their presence is not tiresome, and because of Whom his own love for them can never know satiety.

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

            In these readings today, God is reminding us to take the long view when assessing where we find ourselves in life. Every once in a while, God wants us to step back from whatever we are doing to take a look at the larger picture that we cannot see when we are mired in the details. A few nights ago, in a watercolor painting class I taught, some students judged their work to be inferior, but when I picked up their artwork and showed them what it looked like a few steps away, they were able to marvel at what they created. Once they saw the image in the distance, they appreciated even more the up-close image.
            In the first reading, God tells the people, through Jeremiah, that God will bring them back together after people of ill-will have worked to sow division and dissension among them. God will work through the mess we make of ourselves and God’s plan for us will lead us to places of rest, security, and goodwill. He proves this again in the Gospel when Jesus calls people together to rest awhile with him and to enjoy the companionship of his friends. Jesus gives them rest, recreation, and joy while he is naturally being a shepherd that cares deeply for his flock.
            We possess a double-edge gift. We can be critical, which is both positive and negative. We need our minds and hearts to make precise, articulate, well-informed judgments, which shows the blessings of critical thinking. When we are not at our best, we can be negatively critical and cause division and harm to the community’s balance and well-being. Our criticism does not intend a positive effect upon anyone, but it expresses that we have a deep unmet need.
            Think of all the people who are scattered from the church. We want our loved ones to come back to discover the God who radically understands them, likes them, and wants to delight in them. Sometimes, they are critical of the church and have found reasons to stay apart from us and the church. Many times, these answers do not seem like big enough reasons to us, but they have found reasons to keep themselves apart. Sometimes they are mired in their own misery and chaos and do not want to squarely deal with them yet. Maybe they never will. They have found reasons to keep God at bay too, and we know that, at the root, they carry some fundamental unhappiness. What they want most, they keep at arm’s length away from them. God is there to welcome them home; we, who are the church, will also extend an outreached hand to them – just because we want them to be with us – with sadness and happiness.
            It is important for us to remember that wherever we are, God knows precisely the state of our soul and is working to return us to one another as gifts. God is working to restore us to our true selves as gifts as well. Just because we are in turmoil or in a funky place in our life does not mean that God is not aware of our chaos. Though we may not know it, God is at work – gently, slowly, building, connecting, giving signposts – so that we can finally arrive at the green pastures of rest and companionship. This is truly a God who cares. This is truly a God whose heart is eternally broken when we say ‘no’ to God’s friendship. This is a truly a God who dances in delight when we come close in trust.
            “Come away to a deserted place.” Let your hearts be open to God’s invitations. Share your pain with God. Reveal the depths of your anger and rage. If you must, cry your heart out because of your disappointments and failings, and your inability to figure things out or get your act together. Trust God just enough to give some space that God’s mercy may heal or calm your worries. Just give God the slightest inch to the possibility that God’s care is intended specifically for you.

            Allow God to behold you with a compassionate gaze. Sometimes we can only see the picture we create with all its imperfections, inadequacies, and blunders. But step back. Allow God to look at you – completely, wholly, the entire sweep of your life – so that you and God can see the majesty of the gift you are in God’s eyes. And notice God’s eyes, for they will be smiling and beaming with pride, even greater so than my watercolor students as they admired their creations, and there will be no possible way to wipe that smile off of God’s face because who you are, right now and always, takes God’s breath away. Please, come away to a deserted place and let God fill your soul with God’s admiration and wonder.

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.