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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time

November 15, 2009

As the fluttering of falling leaves gives way to the world’s slumbering stillness, we naturally begin to think about our own end times and the meaning we make of our lives. During this month we prepare ourselves to spend time with family and loved ones and we give thanks for the many blessings we have received from God throughout the year. It is also a time for us to contemplate our mortality and ponder what lies ahead. As Christians, we live in the hope of a glorious world to come where all the righteous of the world and our loved ones will live in the glory of God eternally.

In Daniel’s day in the first reading, his people are under the distress of many trials and they wonder about the apocalyptic end times. He wonders if the sufferings of this world will be vindicated in heaven. Daniel advances the belief in the resurrection in Jewish thought and the people begin to hope for an eternal reward of the righteous, like many Wisdom literature authors before him wondered about their vindication. Jesus also speaks about the end times assuring his friends that he will come again in power and glory and gathering all of his chosen ones from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. His gathering up of his elect transcends time and space. Jesus will search the universe for all his faithful ones who have suffered tremendously in their earthly life. Through the person of Jesus, life will rise again.

Today, we do not worry too much about the timing of Christ’s coming again. In Scripture he tells us that the present generation will see the end times unfold while also telling them that only God knows the day or hour. We just rely upon our belief that he will come again for us because we trust in his merciful love that will never forget us. We especially depend upon this comforting knowledge when we suffer and wonder if there will be relief for our chaos and tribulations. Only a deeper affection, a greater love, can make sense of our suffering. Christ has been steadfast in his abiding love and I believe he will gather us all together in God’s Kairos time.

Quote for the Week

"The struggle against injustice and the pursuit of truth cannot be separated nor can one work for one independent of the other."

Ignatio Ellacuría, S.J.
Murdered superior of Jesuit community at the University of Central America in El Salvador

The lives of the prophetic voices of Oscar Romero, the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador, and the four church women who were brutally slain remind us of the call to serve and be with the poor. Their deaths are a demonstration of the ultimate witnessing to this call.

These prophets influenced the lives of the people whom they served in El Salvador
and they continue to serve as modern models of faith, service, and justice through action.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

We feel the intensity of the approaching end of the liturgical year when we encounter the fidelity of the Maccabees under persecution and threat of death for refusal to accommodate to the pagan cultural rituals. Eleazar declares he will be loyal to the holy laws of God rather than to defile himself by eating unclean meat. His death becomes an inspirational model for others, most especially the seven Maccabean brothers and their mother who resist the king’s appeals. Many others who are zealous for the law commit great acts of bravery and eventually flee into the desert and mountains. A year later with the enemies crushed, they seek to purify the sanctuary and rededicate the Temple. King Antiochus, ready to mount an attack on the Temple, falls ills and realizes that the evils he has done to the land of Judah is the cause of his encroaching death.

In Luke, Jesus’ journey is also nearing its end as he approaches Jericho on the way to Jerusalem and heals the blind man who wants his faith (his sight) restored. He then encounters Zacchaeus, a wealthy defrauding tax collector, who is converted to righteousness after Jesus invites himself to dine with him at his house. Jesus tells his friends that they are to prepare for the kingdom of heaven just as a good servant invests his boss’s gold coins for greater profit. As Jesus nears closer to his beloved Jerusalem, he weeps for the errors of its citizens. Upon entering the city, he besieges the temple by driving out all those who make a mockery of the sacred place. The Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection, question Jesus about his belief and he declares that God is the God of the living; therefore to God, all are alive.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Margaret of Scotland moved back to England after exile in Hungary in 1058. The Norman Conquest in 1066 caused her family to find refuge in Scotland where she married the King of Scotland. She set out a series of church reforms to correct abuses and she clarified ambiguous church practices. Gertrude was raised with mystics and nuns and she nicely developed her spiritual and intellectual gifts under their care. Her visions are recorded in five of her books about spiritual instruction.

Tuesday: Elizabeth of Hungary became a Third Order of the Franciscan member where she cared for the sick, the elderly and the poor. As the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary she married Ludwig IV of Thuringia, but when her husband died her brother-in-law expelled her from the royal court to assume power.

The church commemorates the Dedication of the great Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul, apostles on Wednesday. The construction of St. Peter’s began in 323 over the tomb of the first pope and the new basilica was completed in 1626, while St. Paul’s Outside the Walls was also built in the 4th century and rebuilt in 1854. Rose Philippine Duchesne, a sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart, built missions along the Mississippi River to serve Native Americans and she opened the first free school in the U.S. west of the Mississippi.

The feast of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday tells of the probable Jewish custom that would have presented Mary to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer her to God. This day recognizes May as a unique temple where God dwelt as she served as the mother of Jesus.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Nov 15, 1628. St. Roch Gonzalez and Fr Alphonsus Rodriguez died on this date. They were some of the architects of the Jesuit missions in Uruguay and Paraguay.
• Nov 16, 1989. In El Salvador, the murder of six Jesuits connected with the University of Central America together with two of their lay colleagues.
• Nov 17, 1579. Bl Rudolph Acquaviva and two other Jesuits set out from Goa for Surat and Fattiphur, the Court of Akbar, the Great Mogul.
• Nov 18, 1538. Pope Paul III caused the governor of Rome to publish the verdict proclaiming the complete innocence of Ignatius and his companions of all heresy.
• Nov 19, 1526. Ignatius was examined by the Inquisition in Alcala, Spain. They were concerned with the novelty of his way of life and his teaching.
• Nov 20, 1864. In St Peter's, Rome, the beatification of Peter Canisius by Pope Pius IX.
• Nov 21, 1759. At Livorno, the harbor officials refused to let the ship, S Bonaventura, with 120 exiled Portuguese Jesuits on board, cast anchor. Carvalho sent orders to the Governor of Rio de Janeiro to make a diligent search for the supposed wealth of the Jesuits.

20th anniversary of the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador

In the early hours of Nov. 16, 1989, members of the Salvadoran military invaded the residence of six Jesuits at the University of Central America. The invasion resulted in the brutal murder of the six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her young daughter. Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria, Fr. Ignacio Martin-Baro, Fr. Amando Lopez, Fr. Segundo Montes, Fr. Juan Ramon Moreno and Fr. Joaquin Lopez y Lopez were martyred for standing in solidarity with the poor and persecuted people of El Salvador. Julia Elba, the housekeeper, and her 15-year-old daughter, Celina, were murdered for witnessing the crime. In 1991 a Salvadoran jury sentenced two military men to jail for a maximum of 30 years for their role in the murders. Just two years later both men were amnestied.

Jesuits and their colleagues gather yearly at the gates of the former School of the Americas (WHINSEC) at Fort Benning, Georgia to peacefully and prayerfully remember those who lost their lives to the men who are trained at WHINSEC. Our efforts are to close down the school and change our tactics so that we no longer teach torture and coercive techniques to armies of other nations in our military schools. No Mas. No More. To all whose lives were taken before there time: Presente!

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