Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time


October 28, 2012
Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52

            Watch what the Lord is doing with the people of Israel. He is calling them back from their exile to distant lands. He calls them from the north and from the ends of the world to come home and rejoice. He not only calls, but gathers, and look at who he singles out. He does not call upon priests and civic leaders, merchants and craftsmen. He gathers the blind and the lame, mothers and pregnant women. His call includes everyone, but especially those who are vulnerable and are always close to tears. He leads them back to life-giving waters along a pathway where no one stumbles. The psalm echoes God’s wondrous movements for “when the Lord brought back the captives of Zion, we were like men dreaming.”

             The Letter to the Hebrews is instructive for us because it reveals something fundamental about Jesus. A priest is offered by the community and made their representative before God. His primary duty is to the people who sent him forth to intercede on their behalf. Jesus fulfills this. He is able to be patient with the uneducated and those who stray because he is human and he has certain human weaknesses like us. His offerings are not only for his people’s sin, but for himself as well. He did not use his priesthood as an act of self-righteousness, but did so because God called him the same way Aaron was called forth. We must remember that Jesus was completely human. This is what makes his priesthood authentic because he remains an intercessor for us with God in heaven.

            Bartimaeus makes the first reading concrete. As Jesus is on his ascent to Jerusalem, he passes a blind man on the outskirts of Jericho who pleads for his pity. Bartimaeus is one of those people God will not leave behind. In many places of the world, the poor are left to die because the larger society does not value their existence as highly as others. Class warfare is waged silently. People realize they cannot go to hospitals because of the costs of medicine and ongoing treatments. The sick are left to suffer with words like, “take up your cross and bear it well.” Those who are mentally challenged are made invisible to others. Those whose mental imbalances can be controlled by medication are ridiculed for odd or frightening behaviors when they skip a dose. Prisoners and refugees are left out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Unmarried women who deliver babies in hospitals are not given birth certificates and can never get a passport for their undocumented child. These are the people society forgets, but God through Jesus is saying, “I will never forget you.”

            It is good to hail the dynamics of the conversation between Bartimaeus and Jesus. Bartimaeus does not stop calling Jesus because he needs his understanding. Jesus, against the recommendations of his advisors, continues to listen to his voice. Then Jesus echoes the words we heard in last Sunday’s readings, “What do you want me to do for you?” We must summons the courage to really ask Jesus for what we need, even if it is for a very specific, concrete matter. We can always ask again if we don’t get what we need, and if we do get what we need, we might need something else along the way. Failing to ask puts us in a situation where we may never get anything. We cannot be timid. Timidity might mean that we really do not trust in Jesus, but coming in confidence, as Bartimaeus does, gets his notice. What do we have to lose? Has Jesus often said ‘no’ to you, if ever? It is not in his nature to be stingy. Besides, we know from the first reading that God, in particular, is looking out for those in need. Frankly, we are all in need.

            Tell Jesus what you need and want this week. Wait and hear what he has to say. Let your faith save you. We need a friend like him on the way.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Paul continues in Ephesians to address the moral conduct of believers. They are to be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving as God forgives, and to be imitators of God. In familial relations, brothers and sister are to be subordinate to one another while wives and husbands are to love each other as Christ loves the church. Christ finds every splendor in the church and nourishes and cherishes it. Children are to obey their parents who promise to look after their own good. Slaves and masters are to respect one another with sincerity of heart, serving the Lord, not humans. God shows no partiality in his mercy. ~ In Philippians, Paul rejoices because the truth of Christ is proclaimed. Christ will be magnified in his body, whether in life or death. Life is Christ, but death is gain, but if he has to remain in the flesh, he will work for the progress of the Gospel and joy in the faith.

Gospel: Jesus teaches in a synagogue when a woman was there who was crippled for 18 years. She is bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. He heals her and the synagogue leader becomes indignant that he cures on the sabbath. Jesus begins to describe the kingdom of heaven. He likens it to a mustard seed that becomes a large bush and to yeast that causes a whole batch of dough to rise. He asks his disciples to enter through the narrow gate and he acknowledges many will not be strong enough. It will be frightening for some when they approach the door to the kingdom and Jesus tells them that he does not know them. ~ As Jesus goes to a dinner hosted by a Pharisee, he tells them not to recline at table in the place of honor for they may be humiliated when asked to take another seat for the one they have taken is for another guest of honor. Rather, go take the lowest seat. If the host asks you to come forward, you will receive the esteem of your companions.

Saints of the Week

October 28: Simon and Jude, apostles (first century) were two of the Twelve Disciples called by Jesus, but little is known about them. We think they are Simon the Zealot and Judas, the son of James. Simon was most likely a Zealot sympathizer who would have desired revolution against Rome; Jude is also called Thaddeus, and is patron saint of hopeless causes. Both apostles suffered martyrdom.

October 30: Dominic Collins, S.J., priest and martyr (1566-1602), was a Jesuit brother who was martyred in his native Ireland. He became a professional solider in the Catholic armies of Europe after the Desmond Rebellion was put down in 1583. He joined the Jesuits in 1584 at Santiago de Compostela and was sent back to Ireland in 1601 with a Spanish contingent. He was captured, tried for his faith, and sentenced to death.

October 31: Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J. (1532-1617) was widowed at age 31. When his three children died, Alphonsus joined the Jesuits as a lay brother at age 40 after attempting to complete the rigors of study. He was sent to the newly opened college in Majorca where he served as a porter for 46 years. His manner of calling people to sanctification was extraordinary. He served obediently and helped others to focus on their spiritual lives.

October 31: All Hallows Even (evening) owes its origins to a Celtic festival that marked summer's end. The term was first used in 16th century Scotland. Trick or treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling when poor people would go door to door on Hallomas (November 1) receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2.)

November 1: All Saints Day honors the countless faithful believers - living and dead - who have helped us along in our faith. Our liturgical calendar is filled with canonized saints, but we have many blesseds and minor saints who no longer appear on it. We have local saints across the world. We have many people who live Gospel values who we appreciate and imitate. We remember all of these people on this day.

November 2: All Souls Day is the commemoration of the faithful departed. November is known as All Souls Month. We remember those who died as we hasten towards the end of the liturgical year and the great feast of Christ the King. As a tradition, we have always remembered our dead as a way of keeping them alive to us and giving thanks to God for their lives.

November 3: Rupert Mayer, S.J., priest (1876-1945), resisted the Nazi government and died while saying Mass of a stroke. In 1937, he was placed in protective custody and was eventually released when he agreed that he would no longer preach.

November 3: Martin de Porres, religious (1579-1639) was a Peruvian born of a Spanish knight and a Panamanian Indian woman. Because he was not pure blood, he lost many privileges in the ruling classes. He became a Dominican and served the community in many menial jobs. He was known for tending to the sick and poor and for maintaining a rigorous prayer life.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Oct 28, 1958. The death of Wilfrid Parsons, founder of Thought magazine and editor of America from 1925 to 1936.
·      Oct 29, 1645. In the General Chapter of the Benedictines in Portugal, a statement published by one of their order, that said St Ignatius had borrowed the matter in his Spiritual Exercises from a Benedictine author, was indignantly repudiated.
·      Oct 30, 1638. On this day, John Milton, the great English poet, dined with the Fathers and students of the English College in Rome.
·      Oct 31, 1602. At Cork, the martyrdom of Dominic Collins, an Irish brother, who was hanged, drawn, and quartered for his adherence to the faith.
·      Nov 1, 1956. The Society of Jesus was allowed in Norway.
·      Nov 2, 1661. The death of Daniel Seghers, a famous painter of insects and flowers.
·      Nov 3, 1614. Dutch pirates failed to capture the vessel in which the right arm of Francis Xavier was being brought to Rome.
·      Oct 26, 1546. The Province of Portugal was established as the first province in the Society, with Simao Rodriguez as its first provincial superior.
·      Oct 27, 1610. The initial entrance of the Jesuits into Canada. The mission had been recommended to the Society by Henry IV.