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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

January 31, 2010

People who I find truly interesting are those who build up one another and seek out creative opportunities in life. They re-imagine the potential of the world because they find greater amounts of good in it instead of obstacles. In Luke’s Gospel today, Jesus encounters in his hometown those who seek only superficial curiosities in the marvels he has done. They want to see a flash of the extraordinary regardless of whether it comes from the power of God. This is not enough for Jesus who is telling them that faith is required for miracles and that they are not exhibiting the depth of faith to bring it about. He gives an example of two Old Testament figures whose faith was a significant dimension for healing – foreigners and those excluded from mainstream society. Their desperate hope in their faith would bring about conditions for real belief.

Paul, to me, is one of the richest personalities of our faith precisely because of his tenacity to create communities centered on the faith that Jesus is the Lord of all. In First Corinthians, he speaks in a mature way of the necessity of love as a difference-maker in life. He describes the qualities of love that make a believer noticeably different from others – for we are a people once known for our mercy. Paul sifts out the essential ingredients of a maturing faith-filled person and is left with faith, hope and love as the common denominators. Above all of the possible spiritual gifts we desire is to be the pursuit of the type of charity about which Paul writes; these theological virtues are to be that which we seek most fully in prayer.

Unfortunately, the people of Jesus’ hometown – those who you might expect would know him and love him best, are unable to build him up or to love him well. In the end, we hear that they rose against him and sought to kill him – his own townspeople! It does not seem like it took all that much to unleash their hatred and fury. We have to learn how to love better. We have to learn how to speak with greater charity. We have a great model to follow for when God speaks, God creates, therefore, when we speak, we ought to build up the goodness in the world. When we do, we show the faith that Jesus desires; we show to the world the type of love that Paul tells us reveals the depths of our faith. I know that my faith, hope and love still must become deeper.

Quote for the Week

On February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, we bless candles in Church and are available for the faithful to take home. Christ’s light penetrates the darkness. Many times in Scripture, Jesus reaches out to help those in need of healing. As Blaise became known for a miraculous healing, people throughout the ages sought his intercession, especially those afflicted with throat ailments.

This blessing of the throats, which takes place during or after Mass, asks for God's healing and protection. Two blessed candles, joined in the form of a cross and usually tied with a red ribbon, as as sign of the martyrdom of Blaise, are placed around the throat of each person asking a blessing.

The minister then prays, "Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: David sees that his people switched their allegiance to his estranged son, Absalom, who seeks to kill his father. After conducting a military census, David repents and awaits word from the Lord of his punishment. He chooses three days of pestilence upon the land, but cannot bear the destruction of innocent people when he was the one who had sinned. As his hour of death has come, David transfers his kingship to his son Solomon with instructions to be faithful to the laws of Moses. Sirach 47 contains a hymn to the life of the great king. Solomon takes over and makes ritual sacrifices when the Lord tells him in a dream to ask for anything he wants. The humble Solomon asks for an understanding heart to judge the people and to distinguish right from wrong.

: Jesus encounters the Gerasene demoniac and reveals that his words have authority over the spirits, legions of them, in fact. He returns home where words has spread of his great deeds, but his people do not believe that he can do great things because of their lack of faith. Next, he calls the Twelve into ministry and gives instructions of proper conduct for a missionary in his kingdom. Herod learns of Jesus’ fame and wonders about the nature and identity of his power. John the Baptist was beheaded for his opposition to Herod’s marriage. Jesus retires with his apostles, but his heart was moved with pity for their hunger. In response to their seeking him out, he begins to teach them about the kingdom of God.

Saints of the Week

Tuesday: The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple is a crossroads between the two testaments. Mary was ritually unclean after pregnancy for 40 days and had to purify herself by making offerings at the temple. The parents of Jesus met Anna and Simeon who represent that passing of the Old Testament to the New. This day is also called Candlemas because candles were brought forward in procession to be blessed.

Wednesday: Blaise is honored for curing a boy who was choking to death on a fishbone. On this day, we bless throats with candles that have been presented at Candlemas at the Presentation of the Lord. Blaise lived in Armenia and was martyred during persecution in 316. Angsar was a French bishop who led missions to Sweden and Denmark. He is known as the Apostle of the North for his perseverance in bringing the faith back to lands conquered by pagan invaders.

Friday: Agatha, martyr, died during the Decian persecution in 251 for failing to give up her faith after unsuccessfully sending her to a brothel. She is credited for her interceding work at stopping the eruption of Mount Etna.

Saturday: Brother Paul Miki and 25 companions, martyrs, were native Japanese Catholics who were murdered in Nagasaki, Japan by upside-down crucifixions. From 1597 to 1865, Japan closed itself to the rest of the world, but the Catholic remnant survived without ordained priests with only the sacrament of baptism.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jan 31, 1774. Fr General Laurence Ricci, a prisoner in Castel S Angelo, claimed his liberty, since his innocence had been fully vindicated. He received from the Papal Congregation the reply that they would think about it. Pope Clement XIV was said at this time to be mentally afflicted.
• Feb 1, 1549. The first Jesuit missionaries to go to Brazil set sail from Lisbon, Portugal, under Fr Emmanuel de Nobrega.
• Feb 2, 1528. Ignatius arrived in Paris to begin his program of studies at the University of Paris.
• Feb 3, 1571. In Florida, the martyrdom of Fr Louis Quiros and two novices, shot with arrows by an apostate Indian.
• Feb 4, 1617. An imperial edict banished all missionaries from China.
• Feb 5, 1833. The first provincial of Maryland, Fr William McSherry, was appointed.
• Feb 6, 1612. The death of Christopher Clavius, one of the greatest mathematicians and scientists of the Society.


We remember in prayer, Archbishop Laurence Burke, S.J. of Jamaica, a member of the New England province, who died in prayer this past week.


Please note that I will keep my blog updated during my tertianship program, but there might be times when I cannot send out the weekly distribution of email. Check online predmore.blogspot.com for the weekly and daily updates. I will also include news of my tertian program at predmoresj.blogspot.com.

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