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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 13, 2010

Love makes us act in crazy ways. Loving another person involves great risks and makes you feel very vulnerable. Recall a point in your life when you wanted to say to another person “I love you” and to have the person respond in kind. It can be very frightening and you can risk great interpersonal loss because you can never predict what the other person is feeling. How does one cope if he or she is rejected after bearing the depths of one’s feelings to the other? It is quite a vulnerable action, but love propels a person to cross over those boundaries and take the risk. We see a sinful woman crossing over social and interpersonal boundaries when she anoints the feet of Jesus as he has dinner with Simon the Pharisee. She not only humbles herself at the feet of Jesus, she breaks all social conventions by entering into a house uninvited, which brings much negative attention to herself - a woman who may have already been battered down by society for years. However, nothing else matters for her. She has found the one who makes everything all right.

This forgiven woman wants to show Jesus her gratitude for his great act of mercy and inclusion. She realizes that she wants to express her joy in return for being freed from her guilt. She can live in true freedom where the conventions of society no longer hold much weight. Her life can begin anew. It reveals the divine power hidden within forgiveness and it shows how deeply the risen Christ can live in us. We have new life when we accept forgiveness. Unfortunately, the Gospel passage doesn’t tell us what happened with the other characters. The Pharisees invite Jesus to the meal to test him and they murmur about the power Jesus professes to forgive sins. Simon intellectually understands that great love flows from having been forgiven much, but the nameless woman lives this particular truth. Forgiveness brings about an expansive love.

The Gospel ends with a significant passage about naming the women who were close friends and disciples of Jesus. The Twelve are with Jesus and are sharing in his ministry, and Jesus dignifies the women by spending time with them. The new family of faith is being born. Those who are forgiven and cured merely want to hang out with the one who has done good thing for them. They become his companions and learn about his thoughts and visions. As you ponder this passage you may be able to sense the joy that they feel about being with one another with no real agenda or objective in mind. They like each other and want to spend time with the one they love. Discipleship can be so simple if we just take the time to be with our friend and Lord. Once we become more familiar with Christ, we naturally tell our stories and seek the forgiveness that leads to the exponential expansion of our love. We become inextricably changed.

Quote for the Week

O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of your presence, your love, and your strength. Help us to have perfect trust in your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to you, we shall see your hand, your purpose, your will through all things.

Attributed to Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: When Naboth refused to cede his ancestral property to Ahab, Jezebel arranged to have him accused and stoned to death. Elijah confronts Ahab as a murderer who has unjustly taken Naboth’s vineyard, but Ahab humbles himself and the Lord spares him, but promises doom upon his son. When Elijah was to be taken up into heaven, Elisha asks for double the spirit of Elijah and takes on his ministry. The Book of Sirach recounts how the flaming chariot divided Elijah from Elisha and Elijah was enveloped in a whirlwind. Jehoiada anointed Joash as the king, made a covenant, and then demolished the temple of Baal. The city lived in peace as its enemies were vanquished. When Jehoiada died, his son Zechariah became prophet, but the princes forsook the temple of the Lord and killed Zechariah. For this, the Lord sent a small band of Arameans to vanquish the much larger forces of Judah and Jerusalem. The devastated Joash suffered greater calamity as his servants rose against him and killed him.

Gospel: Matthew’s Beatitudes continue with Jesus reversing the ancient Jewish law of an eye for an eye by turning it into a teaching about the proper attitude for behaviors in the face of evil. Jesus overturns the teaching about love your neighbor by asking them to love their enemies just as God loves all people and things. One’s righteousness has to be done because of its rightness in which we will get God’s affirmation, not the glory of humans. He then teaches them how to pray – a startling new way in which we can address the Lord God as Abba, Father. We are to search for the imperishable treasure that lies in our life with God. We can only have one God and we have to choose which god to follow and then conform our lives to it, but the choice we make has eternal consequences.

Saints of the Week

Saturday: Romuald, abbot ran the Camaldolese Benedictine monastery that began in 1012. He was from a royal family in Ravenna. He is remembered for combining the monastic community life with the solitary life of hermits. The Camaldolese have a monastery in the hills of northern California next to the Big Sur.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jun 13, 1557. The death of King John III of Portugal, at whose request Francis Xavier and others were sent to India.
• Jun 14, 1596. By his brief Romanus Pontifex, Pope Clement VIII forbade to members of the Society of Jesus the use or privilege of the Bulla Cruciata as to the choice of confessors and the obtaining of absolution from reserved cases.
• Jun 15, 1871. P W Couzins, a female law student, graduated from Saint Louis University Law School, the first law school in the country to admit women.
• Jun 16, 1675. St Margaret Mary Alacoque received her great revelation about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
• Jun 17, 1900. The martyrdom at Wuyi, China, of Blesseds Modeste Andlauer and Remy Asore, slain during the Boxer Rebellion.
• Jun 18, 1804. Fr. John Roothan, a future general of the Society, left his native Holland at the age of seventeen to join the Society in White Russia.
• Jun 19, 1558. The opening of the First General Congregation, nearly two years after the death of Ignatius. It was summoned by Fr. Lainez, the Vicar General. Some trouble arose from the fact that Fr. Bobadilla thought himself entitled to some share in the governance. Pope Paul IV ordered that the Institute of the Society should be strictly adhered to.

Prayer for Middle East Christians

Pope Benedict this week calls upon all Catholics to remember the plight of Middle East Christians who are largely forgotten by the world community. We pray for Christians in Israel who do not have full rights of civic and religious freedom. We pray for Christians in Palestine who have little daily sustenance. We pray for those in Iraq, once a thriving middle class of professionals, who have been forced to abandon their professions or to flee to the north to live in greater security. May Pope Benedict continue to call upon Christians frequently to remind us of our fraternal responsibilities to our brothers and sisters.

The New England province once had a thriving mission in Baghdad, Iraq operating Baghdad College (high school), Al Hikma University, and a Spirituality Center. Every several years, the alumni of these schools gather in the U.S. and Canada for a spirited reunion. We have often prayed for the Iraqi Chaldean community and other Christians who have faced difficult times. May our prayers for them continue.

Father’s Day

May God’s blessings fall upon all fathers for the ways they have shown care and protection to their children. May God also bless grandfathers, uncles, and all who have acted paternally to provide for the needs of others. May St. Joseph continue to watch over those who watch over the young, the needy, and the poor in society.


Congratulations to all graduates of high schools and universities. Celebrate your accomplishments well and with great safety. The world needs well-informed, conscience-developing, wisdom-inspired men and women to lead us into a more caring and compassionate world.

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest, until your good is better and your better is your best.”

Jesuit Ordinations

Across the United States, Jesuits who have been trained in theological schools will be presented for priestly ordination by their provinces. Five men from the New England, New York, and Maryland provinces will be ordained on Saturday, June 12th. The church is very fortunate to receive these men to the orders of sacramental ministry.


Our prayers remain with the people and the habitat of the Gulf of Mexico coastline as the oil spill, though slightly improving, still has no end for recovery in sight. The immense harm to our ecological world reminds us of the fragile balance of our environment.

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