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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 4, 2010

We anticipate homecomings with great expectation, especially when someone has been away for a long time. We bake the person’s favorite meal, put out lavish spreads, and do everything to make the returning person feel welcome with our generous hospitality. The Lord God is doing the same for the return of the Israelites upon their return from a spirit-crushing exile. He is rejoicing and wants everyone to share his joy as he promises to give them comfort for their mourning is over. The return of the seventy-two to Jesus depicts this same type of excitement. The disciples are amazed at the incredible power they exercised through the spirit of Jesus and they realize something incredible is happening through the works of ordinary people. They experience the healing of the sick and the exorcising of demons all in preparation for the arrival of Jesus so he can preach the imminent arrival of the Kingdom of God. Divine power is entrusted to regular people. The seventy-two are sent to determine which towns and villages are hospitable to the Word of God.

Consider the major focus of Jesus on hospitality in the Gospel. He sends forth the seventy-two before he intends to visit and they are to be received as guests. They are to live like their respectable hosts and they are to wish them peace. The peace will last if they receive the message ‘the kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Who wouldn’t want to hear that message? The disciples learn that some don’t want to hear it just as people in our world don’t want to hear it. We are to simply move on. Peace knows where it can settle and peace brings like-minded people together. But for those who don’t want to receive the message Jesus assures them that their punishment will be greater than Sodom’s. And what was Sodom and Gomorrah’s big sin? These cities broke social graces by failing to offer hospitality. (Attributing the sin of these cities to sexual behaviors is a more modern construct. This is a reason why we must learn our tradition.)Therefore, failure to offer hospitality to Jesus carries stern consequences.

Jesus has a simple plan. Through our simple way of life and acts of caring, we are to provide hospitality to Christ through our brothers and sisters in the ordinary events of the world. It can be simply visiting the sick or listening to one’s story or just providing companionship – each of them are great acts of hospitality. We receive Christ when we receive others in his name. The seventy-two were sent out with few provisions. If we have baggage, try to leave it behind, but if you can’t, then take it with you. Christ will still work through the chaos of your life. It is no reason not to move forward with him. All he is looking for is a place where he can proclaim that the Kingdom of God is here for you and for any who can receive it. If we let his power course through us, like the seventy-two disciples, we can witness great change in the world and our names will be inscribed in heaven, and it is in heaven that God is preparing for our eventual return. I suspect that God will be ever so gracious to receive you into the kingdom for all the hospitality you provided for Christ and his people. Rejoice. Your heart shall rejoice and the Lord’s power will be known to his servants.

Quote for the Week

On Independence Day in the United States:

This, then, is the state of the union: free and restless, growing and full of hope. So it was in the beginning. So it shall always be, while God is willing, and we are strong enough to keep the faith. ~Lyndon B. Johnson

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Using the language of marital fidelity, Hosea interprets for the Lord his espousal to Israel, however, Israel became wayward and the Lord is displeased with their turning away from their commitments. Hosea warns the people of their fate unless they seek the Lord God once again. Otherwise, God’s justice will rain down upon them. Hosea describes God’s emotions as he mourns for the loss of Israel, whom he loved when they were like children. The Lord’s heart is overwhelmed and will not destroy Israel again. The Lord implores them to turn away from Ba’al and return to him and they will be forgiven. God’s love will love them freely once again. On Saturday, the readings begin Isaiah’s vision of the heavenly liturgy where he receives his mission as prophet.

Gospel: In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus raises the official’s daughter from the dead and cures a woman who suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years. He drives out the evil spirits from a mute demoniac and cures many others. His heart is moved with pity for the people who are troubled and abandoned. He summons the Twelve and gives them authority over unclean spirits and tells them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel proclaiming the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. He gives further instructions that testify to their authenticity and credibility of mission. He tells them to look for openness and hospitality and warns them to be shrewd and cautious, yet simple in their worldview. They will experience hatred and persecution, but they will have the confidence of God as they go forth on mission. Persevere and worry about nothing.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Anthony Mary Zaccaria, priest, founded the Barnabite religious order in Milan for men and the Angelics of Saint Paul for women in the 1530’s. Both orders rely upon Paul’s teachings as the basis for running their communities. They urged people to receive frequent communion. Zaccaria wore himself out at age 37 and died from a life given over to exhaustive works.

Tuesday: Maria Goretti, martyr, fought the sexual advances of an 18-year old neighbor, Alessandro, when she was 12 years old. Since she would not submit, Alessandro stabbed and killed her. Eight years into his prison sentence, he was released to work in a monastery garden for the rest of his life.

Friday: Augustine Zhao Rong, priest and 120 companions, Chinese martyrs, are remembered for the sacrifice of their lives during the Christian persecution in China between 1648 and 1930. Zhao Rong was a Chinese diocesan priest who was once a soldier who heard Bishop Dufresse speak about Christianity and converted. Zhao Rong died in 1815 for the crimes of spreading the gospel.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jul 4, 1648. The martyrdom in Canada of Anthony Daniel who was shot with arrows and thrown into flames by the Iroquois.
• Jul 5, 1592. The arrest of Fr. Robert Southwell at Uxenden Manor, the house of Mr. Bellamy. Tortured and then transferred to the Tower, he remained there for two and a half years.
• Jul 6, 1758. The election to the papacy of Clement XIII who would defend the Society against the Jansenists and the Bourbon Courts of Europe.
• Jul 7, 1867. The beatification of the 205 Japanese Martyrs, 33 of them members of the Society of Jesus.
• Jul 8, 1767. D'Aubeterre wrote to De Choiseul: "It is impossible to obtain the Suppression from the Pope [Clement XIII]; it must be wrested from him by occupying papal territory."
• Jul 9, 1763. The Society is expelled from New Orleans and Louisiana at the bidding of the French government.
• Jul 10, 1881. Fr. Frederick Garesche wrote from Sequin, Texas, to his Superior: "The cowboys who had not deigned at first to lift their hat to the priest or missionary; who had come to the mission as to a camp meeting, for the fun of the thing, gave in, and their smiles and awkward salutes showed that they had hearts under their rude exterior."

Prayer for the Fourth of July in the United States

O God, we give thanks to you on this day of celebration for giving us the freedom to use our gifts responsibly. We pray that we can be in solidarity with others who share in the dream of freedom that protects the inherent dignity of every person. We honor our nation with summer picnics, fireworks and unfurled flags that symbolize the founding of our country. We remember those who have worked hard for freedom and for our military who put their lives in harm’s way to protect our way of life. We honor our Constitution that protects its citizens and inspire our patriotism. Bless us and our celebrations today for you are the one in whom we trust. Amen.

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