Daily Email

Friday, September 24, 2010

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 26, 2010

I vividly recall reading this passage of the rich man and Lazarus to a hospitable patient who was battling AIDS. She screamed in horror as I read the passage about dogs coming to lick the sores of Lazarus. I recoiled as I thought I had done something wrong, but the poor woman identified so much with Lazarus because no one would touch her anymore. Only her dog would come and lick her wounds. She felt so isolated and the only response that arose from within me was to reach out to her and hold her hands. She wept because the nurses treated her officiously and I was the first one to have human contact with her out of sheer compassion. We sat together for a while until she was ready to offer her prayers to God. She prayed such a melodic lament until she could begin to praise God for the glimpse of compassion that she craved and received. She felt dignity once again because she was treated as a friend in the Lord.

As the biblical tale goes, Lazarus was carried off to heaven; the rich man who stepped over him goes to a place of torment in the afterlife. To seek relief, the rich man petitions that Lazarus refresh him with cool water, but because a great gulf was created to keep the two separate, the rich man's suffering went unheeded. Knowing that his suffering cannot come to an end, he tries to petition that his brothers and those who are living on earth be spared them from torment, but he is told that the living harden their hearts to the word of God and to the prophets. They are so stubborn that they will not listen even if someone should be raised from the dead. The message is that the chasm cannot be bridged in the afterlife, but it is completely possible to do so in this earthly life. We have enough data from our scriptures, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and from our tradition to save ourselves from prospective torment. We have all the resources we need, but we need to listen to our teachers and respond to one another with compassion. We need repeatedly to care for one another, the most destitute and those who are not faring so well, and walk humbly in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.

We know that many who are rich do a lot of good with their money and abilities for the common good. The message of the Gospel is directed to anyone who keep those who are in need at such a safe distance that we do not even learn their names. We cannot look at others as abstractions or make up our own stories that we project onto others. The rich man in this story repeatedly refused to reach out to a very needy person and he was not able to be enriched by the story of Lazarus. We know that as individuals we cannot take care of every needy person and that a person has to try to pull himself or herself up out of their condition in life. We cannot solve other's problems for them. We have limitations. We also have great capabilities and we use them best when we learn to open ourselves to receive and to share. Minimally, we can reach out to others and touch their lives through a simple gesture. The simplest one is to merely give each other the dignity of learning their names. As we reread the biblical tale, the rich man who suffers eternal torment is nameless. We will never honor his earthly identity in our memory. Lazarus is granted dignity because he is given a name to be remembered throughout the ages. Let's bridge the chasm this week by learning the names of those we pass by daily.

Quote for the Week

From Paul's Letter to the people of Philippi

We give thanks to our God each time we remember you, happy at all times in the prayers we offer for all of you. Of this we are certain, that He who began the good work in you will bring it to completion. You are close to our hearts and we know that you share our happiness...

And this is our prayer for you: May your love ever grow richer and richer.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

 First Reading: In the Book of Job, Satan comes with the other angels of God to ask the Lord if he can tempt Job to see if he can remain a righteous, God-reverencing man. God agrees to Satan's request as long as Job is not harmed. All his possessions, livelihood, and family members are taken away. Job curses the day he was born and wishes he were dead. Job begins to question the all-powerful, all-loving God for letting him, an innocent man, suffer needlessly. After Job lengthily petitions his case to God, the Lord answers him by questioning the wisdom of God.

 Gospel: James and John, friends of Jesus, erupt a dispute about which one of them was the greatest. Jesus shows them a child and tells them that the least among us is the greatest. Jesus sets his face determinately toward Jerusalem. James and John get upset with the villagers who refuse to offer him hospitality, but Jesus tells them that they will move to another village. Emphasizing hospitality, Jesus sends out the eager 72 disciples with instructions to announce the good news of the kingdom. Woe to those who fail to offer hospitality for destruction will surely come to them. Jesus shows hospitality to the little children who are considered among the least.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Andrew Vincent de Paul, priest, founded the Congregation of Missions to preach and to train clergy in the 1600's in France. He is known for his works of charity to the poor, mostly by providing food and clothing for those in need. He co-founded the Daughters of Charity with Louise de Marillac.

Tuesday: Wenceslaus, martyr, was brought to the faith by his grandmother against the wishes of his mother and brother. Their opposition continued even when he had become rule. His brother invited him to a religious festival to kill him when he lost his right to become the heir because of Wenceslaus' son was born. Lawrence Ruiz and companions, were martyred in the mid-Seventeenth Century in Nagasaki, Japan. They were associated with the Dominicans and were sent on missionary expeditions to Asia Pacific.

Wednesday: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels, are celebrated in both the Jewish and Christian traditions for their roles in proclaiming salvation history. Michael is the angel-guardian against evil and the leader of the heavenly host; Gabriel announces the coming of the Messiah and the births of Jesus and John the Baptist; Raphael heals Tobiah on his journey and touches his tongue so that he proclaims the word of God.

Thursday: Jerome, priest and doctor, learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew and became the Papal secretary for Damasus. He translated the Bible into the common Latin language. He studied scripture with Gregory Nazianzen after his ordination in 377.

Friday: Therese of the Child Jesus, doctor, is known best for her autobiography, "The Story of a Soul." She sought to become a holy woman through her "little way" in the details of ordinary life. She is known as the "Little Flower" because of her way of perfection. She entered the Carmelites at age 15 and she died at age 24.

Saturday: The Guardian Angels concludes the triduum that honors the angels. This feast honors all the angels that serve as individual guardians for people on earth who are struggle to find God in the midst of the forces of evil. The word angel means messenger and guardian angels are recognized for their work of consoling and strengthening the faithful.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Sep 26, 1605. At Rome, Pope Paul V orally declared St Aloysius to be one of the "Blessed." The official brief appeared on October 19.
 • Sep 27, 1540. Pope Paul III signed the Bull, Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae, which established the Society of Jesus.
• Sep 28, 1572. Fifteen Jesuits arrived in Mexico to establish the Mexican Province. They soon opened
 a college.
• Sep 29, 1558. In the Gesu, Rome, and elsewhere, the Jesuits began to keep Choir, in obedience to an order from Paul IV. This practice lasted less than a year, until the pope's death in August, 1559.
• Sep 30, 1911. President William Howard Taft visited Saint Louis University and declared the football season open.
• Oct 1, 1546. Isabel Roser was released from her Jesuit vows by St Ignatius after eight months.
• Oct 2, 1964. Fr. General Janssens suffered a stroke and died three days later. During his generalate, the Society grew from 53 to 85 provinces, and from 28,839 to 35,968 members.

Anniversary of the Founding of the Society of Jesus On September 27 in 1540 (470 years ago today), St. Ignatius and his first 9 companions received from Pope Paul III the Papal Bull that brought the Jesuit Order into existence. The first companions pledged to serve the church under the Vicar of Christ as a religious institute with Ignatius as the Father General. The founding fathers expressed their desire to help souls accept the invitation of eternal salvation that was offered to them through Christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment