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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 11, 2010

I suspect that the Parable of the Good Samaritan is a favorite of many because it makes one feel good about doing what is instinctively right. In our consciousness we become this Good Samaritan who can break boundaries to do what is good and therefore we put ourselves on the path for the approval of Jesus to enter into eternal life. Over the years, we have answered the questions “Who is my neighbor” and reflected upon “Who is my enemy?” This parable begs us not to be deceived about our relationships. Often those who could be the closest to us because of some family bond are those who in some sense can pose the greatest opposition to us, but we merely call them family. We neither classify them as neighbor nor adversary. They are in a category of their own. This is the situation between the Jews and Samaritans. They despise one another – probably because of their shared ancestry and scripture. Each built their own rival temple after the Babylonian captivity that further heightened the tension between these cousins. Attempts at reconciliation were historically made, but neither side would ever consider violating the sacred customs that continuously demonize one another. Each has too much self-respect to lose. The other is termed as “those people” who don’t have the ability to ever do the right thing.

Astoundingly, the Samaritan is the one who acts rightly from his heart and shows mercy to the one in need. The Samaritan acts out of our sacred scriptures and his own. He obeys the primacy of conscience that informs his heart. Moses tells us that we don’t have to go searching for the answers because they reside confidently in our hearts – if we just call them forth. We have all the resources we need to make our best moral choices. When we set up our defenses or act solely through reasoned arguments, we are betraying the precepts of our scriptures. The scholar of the law arrives at this answer intellectually in the Gospel and we sense that he also understands the fullness of the parable. He now is left to act upon it – in the face of a culture that actively forbids it. He is called to “Go and do likewise.”

Never mind looking at our worldwide enemies; think of the broken relationships we have in the family we call our church. We hold vehemently to our positions on liturgy and language, sexual ethics, moral conduct, and conservative or progressive interpretations of our teachings. We polarize one another; we demonize the other camp; we will not engage in dialogue; we would never transgress the safe boundaries we have established. Is this healthy? No. Of course not. No amount of dialogue, no amount of reasoning can restore this relationship, only compassion - a much deeper affection can do this. Treating our own “modern-day Samaritans” with charity could really move us forward toward a reconciliation of joy. We can do it. It is in our hearts. The hymn to Christ in Colossians is a good reminder for us to realize that God is the one who makes possible this reconciliation. If through Christ we are to restore relationships, we are to listen to the deep recesses of our heart where God resides so that we can choose to do the good and the right – in adverse conditions. Then we will have the basis to act in the surprising way of the Samaritan whose example of faith challenges us to “Go and do likewise.”

Quote for the Week

The Dawn by John Predmore, S.J.

protrudes her head into the darkness
summoning all to rise.
The day begins,
and leads nowhere.
I sit and note
elsewhere I could be doing.
My time would be filled.
I would have purpose.
I swig a drop of coffee,
and yet another,
my breath melts under the sun.
I watch the birds and cows,
and empty my cup,
with no cause to arise.
I sit.
I feel.
Onwards I stay,
and breathe until midday.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: The beginning of Isaiah instructs people to hear the word of the Lord and to put away misdeeds so they can learn to do the good. With mounting armies outside of the gates of Jerusalem, the Lord tells the people that in the very near future Ephraim will be crushed and shall no longer be a nation. In their misery, the people cry out to the Lord remembering the love he had for them. As King Hezekiah is mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah comes to tend his wounds. He tells the king that the Lord has heard the prayers of the people; Hezekiah himself will recover. Micah tells us that those who plan evil will have evil come to them. Destruction and pillage takes place in the land.

Gospel: In his instructions to the disciples sent on mission, he tells them that not everyone will come into the kingdom. Families will be split up and deep divisions will occur based on belief that Jesus is Lord and the kingdom of God is arriving. People will be judged on the degree of hospitality they extend to Jesus and the Word of God. To conclude the instructions, he blesses the Father and gives thanks. He invites all to come unto him and then declares he is the Lord of the Sabbath by eating the heads of grain. The incensed Pharisees seek to put him to death so he withdraws and cures people and speaks of the kingdom.

Saints of the Week

Tuesday: Henry is a descendent of the Emperor Charlemagne. He became king of Germany and of the Holy Roman Empire near the turn of the new millennium. He merged civil and secular affairs with ecclesiastical ones and he supported the reforms of the Cluny monastery.

Wednesday: Kateri Tekakwitha is called the Lily of the Mohawks because of the kindness and Christian virtue she showed the missionaries to the New World in the 17th century. She suffered from smallpox as a child that left her scarred and nearly blind. She was baptized on Easter Sunday and continued her devotion to the Eucharist during a persecution by her fellow Mohawks.

Thursday: Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor, was a good friend of Thomas Aquinas and was made the superior of the Franciscan Order in 1257. He was so named (good fortune) because of his cure by Francis of Assisi after a childhood illness. He was the leading figure in the ecumenical council at Lyons that set out to unite the Greek and Latin rites. Friday:

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a feast that is special to the Carmelites because it is regarded as the day in which Simon Stock was given the brown scapular by Mary in 1251. A century before the apparition, a group of hermits settled near a chapel dedicated to Mary on Mount Carmel that overlooked the plain of Galilee in the place where the prophet Elijah lived.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jul 11, 1809. After Pius VII had been dragged into exile by General Radet, Fr. Alphonsus Muzzarrelli SJ, his confessor, was arrested in Rome and imprisoned at Civita Vecchia.
• Jul 12, 1594. In the French Parliament Antoine Arnauld, the Jansenist, made a violent attack on the Society, charging it with rebellious feelings toward King Henry IV and with advocating the doctrine of regicide.
• Jul 13, 1556. Ignatius, gravely ill, handed over the daily governance of the Society to Juan de Polanco and Cristobal de Madrid.
• Jul 14, 1523. Ignatius departs from Venice on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
• Jul 15, 1570. At Avila, St Teresa had a vision of Blessed Ignatius de Azevedo and his companions ascending to heaven. This occurred at the very time of their martyrdom.
• Jul 16, 1766. The death of Giuseppe Castiglione, painter and missionary to China. They paid him a tribute and gave him a state funeral in Peking (Beijing).
• Jul 17, 1581. Edmund Campion was arrested in England.

Happy Bastille Day

Warm wishes to the French who celebrate the storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution, a symbol of the establishment of the modern nation. The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of the absolute and arbitrary power of King Louis XVI's Ancient Regime. By capturing this symbol, the people signaled that the king's power was no longer absolute: power should be based on the Nation and be limited by a separation of powers. The storming of the prison was a symbol of liberty and the fight against oppression for all French citizens; like the tri-colored flag, it symbolized the Republic's three ideals: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. It marked the end of absolute monarchy, the birth of the sovereign Nation, and, eventually, the creation of the Republic.

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