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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

January 17, 2010

Just two weeks ago we saw the three magi offer gifts to the parents of the infant Jesus. I invited you then to consider listing a brief inventory of your spiritual gifts. Which of your gifts came to mind? How often do get to you use them? This week, in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, we are reminded that “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit,” with the all-important clause, “to the common good.” In other words, the special gift you have received is to be shared, and some of you, like Jesus in the Gospel at the wedding in Cana, might need a firm, but gentle nudge from someone who knows you well so that you can be generous with your gift to us.

Think back on how a gift gratefully received binds you relationally to the giver, in this case with the Spirit of God. The giver typically takes delight in seeing the expression of wonder and surprise on the face of the one who receives the gift. It is terrific when the gift suits the person perfectly or even when an unexpected gift bemuses the recipient. Let’s face it. Life is too short not to use our gifts well and to find the fulfillment of our lifelong desires. If you are befuddled about your purpose in life, maybe it is time to devote more energy in prayer with the Spirit of God so that you can open your soul to more fully seek out and trust in the gifts you are to use – for our good. Look again at your spiritual inventory and note those areas that give your energy. That is the place to begin your prayer.

When you find the right career, vocation, or purpose and you know that you are becoming that which you are called to be, news of how you rightly use your gifts will travel fast; it self-advertizes. It will most likely burst forth like Isaiah’s words today when he sings out, “For Zion’s sake, I will not be silent; for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not be quiet.” For God’s sake and ours, use your gifts fully. When you do so, you will allow the Lord to magnify your essence. Then, you will be able to offer yourself in response so fully to the Lord, as in the newness of marriage or in a covenantal commitment just like the couple in Cana, and the Lord will unite himself back to you and will call you, “my delight.” I think we all want to hear those words.

Quote for the Week

A hymn of thanksgiving from the 24 elders in the Book of Revelation to the Lord God Almighty:

“We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty, who are and who were, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for judging the dead and rewarding your servants, the prophets and the saints and all who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: This week we follow the kings of Israel beginning with Saul who lost favor with the Lord for his disobedience. The Lord favors obedience over sacrifice. Samuel, the prophet, searches for another king and enters Bethlehem to find David, a shepherd son of Jesse, on whom the Lord’s favor rests. Upon entering battle against the Philistines, the youthful David is overmatched against the skilled veteran warrior. Through the use of his slingshot, David takes down the Goliath. The victorious David returns to find a jealous Saul plotting his death. Saul’s son, Jonathan, persuades his father to save David’s life. Months later, Saul seeks David’s death again, but David pays honorably pays him homage and pledges obedience to both Saul and the Lord. Saul, seeing the nobility in David, acknowledges that David will soon be king of Israel. In a battle against the Amalekites, Saul and Jonathan die at enemy hands; David weeps and mourns for the king and his son.

Gospel: Jesus, the anointed one at his baptism, reveals a new way of behaving in accord with the laws of God. Fasting is an important observance, but his disciples are not to fast when they are celebrating the presence of the Lord’s anointed. He declares the laws are made for human freedom and are not to unnecessarily restrict one in desperate times. Jesus challenges Sabbath observance by healing a man with a withered hand; the Pharisees and Herodians begin to plot his death. News of Jesus’ words and deeds spread throughout the whole land and his following greatly increased. Jesus chooses those he wants to be with him and goes up a mountain to pray. There he appoints the Twelve to preach and have authority over demons. When he returns home, the relatives of Jesus want to set him straight because they think he has lost his mind.

Saints of the Week

Wednesday: Little is known about Fabian, pope and martyr, but, as a foreigner, he was elected pope because a dove settled on his head at the time of his election. This reminded the people of the dove from heaven that descended upon Jesus’ head at his baptism and was seen as a position of divine favor. Sebastian, martyr, is a favorite image of artists depicting the early martyrs. He is known for being pierced with many arrows as a sign of his martyrdom. Killed in the year 300, he was buried in the catacombs.

Thursday: Agnes, martyr, a contemporary of Sebastian, was killed when she was 12 or 13. Her death at an early age caught the attention of many people. Her name means lamb in Latin. Her life became a reminder of the sacrifice and innocence of Jesus.

Friday: Vincent, deacon and martyr, a contemporary of Agnes and Sebastian, was killed for his refusal to worship pagan gods and to turn over the sacred books to the Roman authorities. As a deacon in Zarragosa, Spain, he excelled in his preaching and works of charity.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jan 17, 1890. Benedict Sestini died. He was an astronomer, editor, architect, mathematician, and teacher at Woodstock College.
• Jan 18, 1615. The French Jesuits began a mission in Danang, Vietnam.
• Jan 19, 1561. In South Africa, the baptism of the powerful King of Monomotapa, the king's mother, and 300 chiefs by Fr Goncalvo de Silveira.
• Jan 20, 1703. At Paris, the death of Fr Francis de la Chaise, confessor to Louis XIV and a protector of the French Church against the Jansenists.
• Jan 21, 1764. Christophe de Beaumont, Archbishop of Paris, wrote a pastoral defending the Jesuits against the attacks of Parliament. It was ordered to be burned by the public executioner.
• Jan 22, 1561. Pius IV abrogated the decree of Paul II and kept the life term of Father General.
• Jan 23, 1789. John Carroll gained the deed of land for the site that was to become Georgetown University.

Return to Ordinary Time

Our return to Ordinary Time allows us to observe the life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus. The color green returns to our worship spaces and vestments as the sign for hope and life. Ordinary time does not mean common, routine everyday happenings, but they are a sequential marking (ordinal numbers) of Jesus’ life in our daily world.


Jesus and Prayer: What the New Testament Teaches us by Dan Harrington, SJ allows us to examine the prayers about Jesus as well as the prayers Jesus may have prayed. Harrington gives important points about the Jewish origins of prayer and he sheds light on the significance of certain points of important passages. A solid recommendation.

The film Precious is an heroic story of an obese, illiterate African-American teenager who cards are stacked against her. The story reveals the birth of her two children from the incestuous abuse from her father with a condoning monstrous mother. This is a difficult movie to watch because of the amount of great suffering in it, but the moments of goodness far exceed the horror that Precious faces. Sadly, there are too many instances of this type of life in the world today and horrifically, too many people refuse to look at this suffering in the face. Go see it.


We continue to pray for the people of Haiti. Let us remember those who have died and those who are struggling to rebuild their lives in the wake of the massive earthquake that devastated much of the country. Haiti’s woes were massive even before the earthquake. We pray for the charity and goodwill of many people who are providing much needed relief in the Caribbean nation.


Please note that I will be traveling to my tertianship program for Jesuits. I will keep the blog updated, 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 in Australia at predmoresj.blogspot.com.

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