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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 3, 2011 Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30

The prophet Zechariah rejoices because an earthly king in the near future will inaugurate a peaceful reign. This king is not to take the shape of a mighty warrior, but as a meek and just savior who is content to ride on a colt. Jesus also introduces an unexpected leader. This leader is one who is filled with wisdom and is not regarded according to the world's standards of accomplishments, conquests, and might. God works in an altogether different manner. God reveals to the one who has an open heart and is not occluded by logic, learned reasoning, and the honors that come with holding credentials.
Jesus appears as a revealer of divine wisdom in line with Jewish Wisdom literature. He can been seen as Wisdom personified with her feminine characteristics of giving rest and comfort and as the one who invites others to her way of life, as in Proverbs 8. Jesus is more than a prophet within the wisdom tradition. He is one who sees himself as a unique revealer of the divine. Jesus sees himself as the Son of the Father, an important development in his self-understanding.

Jesus reveals that he is on intimate terms with his Abba, Father and that God communicates to the simple and the unlearned. God's revelation remains a mystery. Even though study of theology and of metaphysics are important, they in no way assure God's special revelation to learned students. Mysteriously, God chooses to elect some to salvation. All authority for this revelation has been handed over to Jesus who has unique access of knowledge and love of the Father.
As a wisdom teacher, Jesus tells his students that discipleship is a life-long lesson and they are to turn to him in times of crises or moral challenges. He has replaced the Sabbath as a place of rest and the Torah as the interpreter of what is good and holy. What Jesus teaches is easier than the Torah because it is shorter and easier to remember, but it is more difficult because the demands of loving God and one's neighbors are complicated and ever-expanding.

In all the Gospels, Jesus only asks us to learn two unexpected things from him - gentleness and to be humble of heart. Since he asked it of us, we might want to take him seriously. So many aspects of our world are based on might, winning, being number one, or being the champion. The third place ball team never gets any recognition. Our culture tells us to be stronger, better, more youthful than our neighbor. If we can't win, then we are determined to vanquish our opponents. We intend to wipe them out. Our language towards them shows no charity. I dare say this is not the message Jesus wants us to hear.
Force is not the answer. Firmness can be effective if it is balanced by an invitation that permits and encourages freedom. Gentleness always wins out. Elijah learned this lesson in the cave when he went out to meet the storm God, but could only encounters him in the whispering wind. Humility is simply knowing who we are and then acting out of our true selves. We no longer hold onto ourselves as a particular type of god. We no longer have illusions about our identity, but we see ourselves as one who is limited and, at the same time, blessed. We see that we are responsible for our choices that reveal our selves to others. When we have a grasp on our identity, we can accept the words and power of the divine to give us the rest and consolation we need. We can reach a point where we can let Christ take care of us - because he will do a better job than we can. It is at this time that we can accept his invitation to profit from his wisdom.

Themes for this Week’s Masses
First Reading: Jacob dreams of a stairway to heaven where God's angels ascend and descend to the earth. The Lord offers Jacob protection on his journey and Jacob responds by setting up a shrine. During the night, Jacob crossed over the river where he met a man who wrestled with him. As the man could not overcome him, he named his Israel for Jacob wrestled with both divine and humans. The story fast-forwards to Joseph receiving his eleven brothers in Egypt because of a drought. Joseph asks to see his younger brother, but when the brothers reveal their difficulty in separating him from his father, Jacob, Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. Joseph offered his brothers and father sanctuary in Egypt. As Jacob nears his death, he asks for his bones to be buried with Abraham and Sarah, and Isaac and Rebekah in the fields of Ephron. Joseph likewise asks that his body be buried in the promised land of milk and honey.

Gospel: Jesus brings the official's daughter back to life and he cures a woman who suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years. A fierce demoniac witnesses demons being driven out of him. Jesus went from town to town to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom and he had pity of them because they are like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus calls his Twelve friends together and gives them instructions over unclean spirits and the power of heal. He gives them instructions on how to proceed and tells them to proclaim the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. He warns them of the dangers they will face and he tells them his Spirit will be there teaching them what to say. He encourages them to be courageous because their reward will be greater than any hardship they will face.
Saints of the Week

Monday: Elizabeth of Portugal (1271-1336), was from the kingdom of Aragon before she married Denis, king of Portugal, at age 12. Her son twice rebelled against the king and Elizabeth helped them reconcile. After he husband's death, she gave up her rank and joined the Poor Clares for a life of simplicity.
Tuesday: Anthony Mary Zaccaria, priest (1502-1539) was a medical doctor who founded the Barnabites because of his devotion to Paul and Barnabas and the Angelics of St. Paul, a woman's cloistered order. He encouraged the laity to work alongside the clergy to care for the poor.

Wednesday: Maria Goretti, martyr (1890-1902) was a poor farm worker who was threatened by Alessandro, a 20-year old neighbor. When she rebuffed his further advances, he killed her, but on her deathbed, she forgave him. He later testified on her behalf during her beatification process, which occurred in 1950.
Saturday: Augustine Zhao Rong, priest and companions, Chinese martyrs (1648-1930) were 120 Chinese martyrs that included priests, children, parents, catechists and common laborers. Christians were persecuted throughout Chinese history. Augustine Zhao Rong was a diocesan priest who was brought to the faith after the example of the French missionary bishop Dufresse. Zhao Rong was arrested in 1815 and died in prison.

This Week in Jesuit History

·         Jul 3, 1580. Queen Elizabeth I issued a statute forbidding all Jesuits to enter England.
·         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.

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