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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 23, 2012
Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; Psalm 54; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37

            In politics we elect a person who represents our ideals and is someone just like us. We want to relate easily to the person who will lead us. We do not elect pompous or self-righteous people. The author of Wisdom writes that many evil people are suspicious of the ‘just’ person and sets out to test that person’s character. If person is self-righteous, encircled adversaries are ready to pounce on his or her first mistake and bring the person down to their level; If the person is righteous because of openness to God and genuine love for neighbors, God will defend this person. Therefore, the ‘just’ person has a guarantee that he or she will be tested and will be made to suffer.

            Jesus, the Just One from God, announces he is to suffer before his death and he will rise on the third day. His disciples do not understand what he is saying and they let the conversation drop. Silence reigns when we are unprepared to hold another person’s suffering. Jesus calls children to himself and as he embraces one of them says that the true leader, the true just one, has to be ready to welcome all others in the way he welcomes an innocent child. A true disciple places the concerns of others before one’s own and does not act out of one’s unmet needs. Jesus says that both hospitality and service to others are the examples of mercy that God desires.

            In the second reading, James tells us that disorder and undesirable behaviors arise from unmet needs. Wars and conflict, writes James, arise from one’s passions. All conflicts we have on a personal level (even national and international) are because we act out of our unmet needs. Too often, we react first. We say things in haste we regret. We speak in pent-up anger because we do not immediately confront our annoyance and ask for an altered behavior from our offender. We act passive-aggressively to show that we are upset instead of bringing our anger directly to the person who caused it.

            It is good when we allow ourselves time for sufficient reflection before we respond. We want to respond rather than react. This is what healthy, happy adults are able to do. You have to flag the behavior of the person who offends you and put them on notice that in the very near future you want to talk about the ways their behavior made you feel. It sets us a conversation where understanding, enrichment, and reconciliation are possible. It communicates your unmet needs to them and it gives the other person helpful information about what you need and lack. You give a person the chance to respond in a loving way. A generous person will give you what you need if it is possible.

            A good question to ask ourselves each day is: “What do I need today?” However, make it specific and personal. “What do I need in my relationship with God? What do I need in my relationship with Suzanne? What are my hopes for a relationship with Clarence?” We help ourselves when we examine our whole relationship and learn how to maneuver through those particular boundary violations without getting stuck there. We need to bring what we need and want to the table of discussion, while realizing that the other person needs freedom to bring what he or she needs and wants to the table as well. A secondary question then is, “What does Suzanne/Clarence need and want?” After some reflection on this, it is good to simply ask them because undoubtedly their answer will be different from the one you imagine for them. Freedom has to be operative in a healthy friendship.

            James writes, “The wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.” This is the innocent goodness Jesus models for us and asks us to follow. It leads to a righteousness that comes from God – and that is all that matters for we will have peace within our hearts and with our neighbors. We will know it because all manner of things will be in harmony, but bringing about peace and residing in peace is difficult, continuous work. It is worth it, but it means always striving to be in right relations with your neighbor and yourself. Tell Christ what you need today. Ask him to help you get it.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: The author of Proverbs instructs a young person to respect fully the needs on one’s neighbor and stay on the path of righteousness. Envy not the one who chooses a path that seems to be of advantage. It generally leads to foolishness and destruction.  The author gives aphorisms to help a person remember a particular truth when in a time of choice. He cautions against denying God through speaking falsehoods because misspoken words can lead to a person’s dismay; he asks that God favors him with his law. ~ Ecclesiastes, the preacher, reminds the reader that everything is as fleeting as one’s breath. The only thing that endures is God’s presence; all other things pass away. There is a time for everything in life, even the cyclical nature of opposites. The task of a human is to find happiness in the midst of the patterns of the seemingly futile swings of life. ~ For the feast of the angels, Daniel’s visions reveal the heavenly presence of angels who do their best to protect the kingship.

Gospel:  Jesus tells his disciples to be like the light that shines its goodness to dark places. Everything good that is hidden will be revealed for everyone to see its fine qualities. As Jesus is speaking, his befuddled Mother and brothers try to approach him to bring him home and to silence him from say embarrassing statements. Jesus claims that anyone who does the will of God is his Mother or brothers or sisters. He then summons the Twelve together to give them authority over demons and the power to cure diseases. They are sent to proclaim the Kingdom of God with instructions designed to protect them and provide credibility to their ministry. Herod the tetrarch hears about Jesus and asks about him. His advisers think he is John the Baptist reincarnated, or Elijah, or one of the prophets. After this, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” When Peter replies ‘the Christ,’ Jesus once again predicts his passion. ~ On the feast of the angels, Nathanael is the one who identifies Jesus as the Son of God, the King of Israel. The angels rejoice.

Saints of the Week

September 23: Pio of Pietrelcina, priest (1887-1968) was affectionately named Padre Pio and was a Capuchin priest who received the stigmata (wounds of Christ) just as Francis of Assisi did. He founded a hospital and became the spiritual advisor to many at a monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo.

September 26: Cosmas and Damian, martyrs (d. 287), were twins who became doctors. They were noted because they never charged anyone a medical fee. They died in the Diocletian persecution. Great miracles have been attributed to them and the Emperor Justinian is claimed to be healed through their intercession.

September 27: Vincent de Paul, priest (1581-1660), was a French peasant who selected to be chaplain at the Queen's household after his ordination. He provided food and clothing to the poor, including prostitutes, the sick, disabled, and homeless. He founded the Congregation of Missions (Vincentians) to preach and train clergy and he co-founded the Daughters of Charity with Louise de Marillac.

September 28: Wenceslaus, martyr (907-929), was raised a Christian by his grandmother while his mother and brother were opposed to Christianity. His brother opposed him when he became ruler of Bohemia in 922. He introduced strict reforms that caused great dissatisfaction among nobles and political adversaries. His brother invited him to a religious ceremony where he was killed in a surprise attack.

September 28: Lawrence Ruiz and 15 companion martyrs (seventeenth century), were killed in Nagasaki, Japan during 1633 and 1637. Most of these Christians were friends of the Dominicans. Lawrence, a Filipino, was a husband and father. He and these other missionaries served the Philippines, Formosa, and Japan.

September 29: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels are long a part of Christian and Jewish scripture. Michael is the angel who fights against evil as the head of all the angels; Gabriel announces the messiah's arrival and the births of Jesus and John the Baptist; and Raphael is a guardian angel who protects Tobias on his journey. Together, they are venerated to represent all the angels during a three-day period.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 23, 1869. Woodstock College of the Sacred Heart opened. With 17 priests, 44 scholastics, and 16 brothers it was the largest Jesuit community in the United States at the time.
·      Sep 24, 1566. The first Jesuits entered the continental United States at Florida. Pedro Martinez and others, while attempting to land, were driven back by the natives, and forced to make for the island of Tatacuran. He was killed there three weeks later.
·      Sep 25, 1617. The death of Francisco Suarez. He wrote 24 volumes on philosophy and theology. As a novice he was found to be very dull, but one of his directors suggested that he ask our Lady's help. He subsequently became a person of prodigious talent.
·      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.


  1. "Freedom has to be operative in a healthy friendship." This is so very true and especially in our friendship with God. As you mentioned, we need to let God know what we need from God each day. To converse freely with our Lord is an incredible blessing. God already knows what we need but we need to clarify it for ourselves and there is no better way than in prayer.