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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 20, 2010

The question that Jesus asks his disciple is brilliant in its penetrating depths. He asks them this rephrased question: “How does my presence in your life transform it?” It surely is good to ponder and it is not an answer we want to give without reflection. The 62nd Psalm is cleverly selected today as it answers the same question: “O, God, you are my God whom I seek.” Our answer changes as we grow in maturity and wisdom, and we can’t answer the question without imagining we are looking at Jesus squarely in the face for if we can’t experience him, it is difficult to give a personal answer. “What does your presence in my life mean for me today?” As I personally answer for today alone, he is the reason I am in a remote, rural, coastal, country town of New Zealand three thousand miles away from my Jesuit brothers who are dispersed throughout Australia and I am half a world away from my province, friends, and family. I feel united with them through him and because of that, I do not feel alone.

The Gospel in integrated with Paul’s Letter to the Galatians as it explains that putting on Christ means that we become essentially different from those of pagans and others who do not believe in Christ. Christ brings us into a new family and a new social system that is free from the normal constraints of the varying societies in which we find ourselves. We are bound to be different when we imitate Christ, but we learn to free others from terrible societal restrictions, mostly from unjust designations, that a dominant culture has imposed upon them. For salvation in Christ, we all have equal status, even though we retain our differences. It gives us pause when we encounter layers of stratification within our church structures (parish-wide or otherwise) or when we find the use of authority that does not further one’s hope of sanctification. If Christ frees us from our bonds, we would not be acting in Christ to impose bonds upon others.

It is amazing how our Eucharist is both a leveler and a vehicle for raising up a person. When we begin Mass, each of us confesses that we are a sinner before God and that we need God’s grace to live in holiness. As we look around, one’s wealth or poverty, achievements or failures, honor or shame just doesn’t matter. What is important is that God has called us to be together to share in the life of Christ of whose body we are a part. We are equal in status in God’s eyes. If only we could learn to see as God sees. This is one of the goals of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius – to come to love the world and one another in the way that God loves us and all of creation. We have a lot to learn and if we follow Christ’s ways we may face hardships and persecutions, but what other choice to we have if we answer the questions he poses to us today: Who am I to you? What difference do I make in your life? Beware that answer this question leads to a deepening and risky discipleship.

Quote for the Week

As we celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist this week, we remember Zechariah’s song as he gazes upon his newborn son.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; He has come to His people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of His servant David. Through His holy prophets He promised of old that He would save us from our enemies,from the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant. This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham: To set us free from the hands of our enemies, free to worship Him without fear, Holy and righteous in His sight all the days of our life.

You, My child shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare His way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our Lord the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In 2 Kings, the Lord God sends the Assyrians to conquer Samaria because they did not keep the covenant and turned to the ways of other nations. Hezekiah hears of Sennacherib’s plans to conquer Israel but the Lord hears the prayers of Hezekiah and during the night an angel of the Lord strikes down 185,000 men and sends them back to Nineveh. Hilkiah, the priest, gathers the king and the people, assembles the holy books, and reads the entire contents of the book of the covenant aloud. The king declares he will follow and observe all the ordinances, statutes, and decrees, thereby reinvigorating the covenant. During Zedekiah’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar and his Chaldean forces besiege the city for months and captures the king and the people who are brought into exile. The book of Lamentations punctuates in song the loss the people were experiencing.

Gospel: The Sermon on the Mount continues with instructions on refraining from making judgments when you have judgments that can be made about yourself. Treat what is sacred with great respect and follow wisdom’s counsel even though it is a more difficult road. Be aware of those who will lead you astray. You can tell a prophet or shepherd by the work he produces, just as a good tree produces good fruit. When the sermon was finished, Jesus comes down from the mountain and cures a leper, thereby placing himself on the outskirts of society by coming in contact with a ritually unclean person. Heading into Capernaum, Jesus encounters a Centurion with a servant paralyzed by illness. The Centurion places his trust in Jesus and finds his servant is healed. Jesus, showing he is powerful in words, reveals his power in deeds by healing many people and driving out evil spirits.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Aloysius Gonzaga, is one of the youthful Jesuit saints. He was born to a noble family in Lombardy and after much family pressure joined the Jesuits in 1585 in order to go to the newly settled missions. However a plague hit Europe and Aloysius went to Rome to care for the sick and dying in a hospital. Unfortunately, he caught the plague and died within three months.

Tuesday: Paulinus of Nola, bishop, became a Christian convert because of his wife’s faith. He was ordained a priest and moved to Nola in central Italy to live a semi-monastic lifestyle and to help the poor with his riches. He was a friend to many of the Fathers of the church. John Fisher, bishop and martyr, was imprisoned for treason because he would not sign the Act of Succession in 1534 that would have granted a divorce to King Henry VIII. The Pope elevated John to the rank of Cardinal, which infuriated the King who decided to behead John. He was a great friend to Thomas More. Thomas More, martyr, was beheaded nine days after John Fisher because he would not consent to the King’s divorce. He was originally courted by Cardinal Wolsey and King Henry VIII to serve at court, to which he reluctantly agreed until the Act of Succession forced him in good conscience to resign.

Thursday: The Nativity of John the Baptist is celebrated around the summer solstice, which is six months from the winter solstice, which became to signify the victory of light over darkness, hence the birth of Christ. In the readings, John’s father, Zechariah, is struck dumb when he asked for a sign to confirm the angel’s message that his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son in her advanced age. Zechariah’s tongue was loosened when he indicated that his son was to be called John. The great Benedictus followed.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jun 20, 1626. The martyrdom in Nagasaki, Japan, of Blesseds Francis Pacheco, John Baptist Zola, Vincent Caun, Balthasar De Torres, Michael Tozo, Gaspar Sadamatzu, John Kinsaco, Paul Xinsuki, and Peter Rinscei.
• Jun 21, 1591. The death of Aloysius Gonzaga, who died from the plague, which he caught while attending the sick.
• Jun 22, 1611. The first arrival of the Jesuit fathers in Canada sent at the request of Henry IV of France.
• Jun 23, 1967. Saint Louis University's Board of Trustees gathered at Fordyce House for the first meeting of the expanded Board of Trustees. SLU was the first Catholic university to establish a Board of Trustees with a majority of lay members.
• Jun 24, 1537. Ignatius, Francis Xavier, and five companions were ordained priests in Venice, Italy.
• Jun 25, 1782. The Jesuits in White Russia were permitted by the Empress Catherine to elect a General. They chose Fr. Czerniewicz. He took the title of Vicar General, with the powers of the General.
• Jun 26, 1614. By a ruse of the Calvinists, the book, Defensio Fidei by Francis Suarez was condemned by the French Parliament. In addition, in England James I ordered the book to be publicly burned.

World Cup Let’s pray for those who have traveled to South Africa to watch the World Cup. May South Africa represent the potential of all Africa and Madagascar in grace and dignity. Through these games may we come to understand one another better and be enriched by learning new cultural traditions. I am delighted that all eyes are on Africa as it showcases its warm hospitality.

Happy Father’s Day (Father's day is September 5th for Australia and New Zealand)

We pray today for blessings on the many dads, grandfathers, and uncles who are celebrated on this day to honor the paternal care given to our children. Let us also remember those couples too who want to become parents but find that they are unable to conceive. Though it does not take away their pain, I’m sure many of these men have been a positive father figure to someone who looks up to them in gratitude for their example and concern.


  1. Happy Father's Day to
    Father Predmore and the
    Jesuits everywhere
    who shepherd us -
    a sometimes wandering flock
    of New Zealand lambs and sheep.

    Soon you will return to
    familiar coastal waters
    to Maine blueberries, Cape
    Cod cranberries and
    ballpark franks

    May beauty, meaning, peace
    and friendship grace the
    sunrises and sunsets of your

  2. Thank you, Anonymous. It is quite a joy to be a priest and to get to know the people of God in every corner of the world. The smiling face (as well as the tears) always move my heart.