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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 30, 2013
1 Kings 19:16, 19-21; Psalm 16; Galatians 5:1, 13-18; Luke 9:51-62

Jesus shows his disciples that he is well versed in the Scriptures by making reference to Elisha’s encounter with Elijah. Elijah prepares for his successor by throwing a cloak over Elisha to indicate Yahweh’s choice of the new prophet. After making sacrifice of oxen, Elisha leaves his family and previous life and follows Elijah as his understudy. Elisha knows that his life will be a journey along the way. Elijah is the destination for Elisha – the place of holy power and mission.

The journey is a theme for Jesus in Luke’s Gospel. In obedience to God’s will, Jesus heads to Jerusalem, the city that symbolizes the continuity between the old and the new in God’s plan. Jerusalem will be the place where Jesus completes his Exodus that was made manifest in the Transfiguration and it will also be the place where the new mission of Christianity will travel to the ends of the earth. The journey is significant because it is the place where Jesus shows he is the supreme teacher of his disciples. He teaches them about missionary travels, the right use of possessions, about prayer, and the meaning of complex moral issues as illustrated by parables. We are able to see that our journey, just like that of Jesus, is not free from trials – because Jesus was met with opposition from the Samaritans on his way. They reject Jesus outright, while Jewish religious leaders object to his teaching and way of life. Jesus remains an example of the faithful and resolute Son who teaches the way the leads to life with God through stories and actions.

Jesus tells the scribe to let the dead bury the dead, that is, to let those who are spiritually dead bury the physically dead. These are the types of matters of concern to the spiritually under-developed. Think on the non-spiritual person who grieves over the death of a loved one. Often mourning is more difficult because of the groundlessness of one’s beliefs. Without trust in a future life, a person becomes concerned with his or her own unmet needs.

If people of faith are able to see themselves on a journey, then forward movement is necessary. Standing still is equivalent of taking a step backwards. We must always move forward, even if it is a tiny step. Ignatius of Loyola will tell spiritually desolate people to use extra energy and courage to go against (agere contra) whatever is keeping them feeling low. The evil spirit will always try to keep a good person from doing better. Therefore, the person is to try harder to be lifted out of the doldrums. Even when we are beset by these downswings in energy and verve, we must always set a course to move forward on the journey. Let your mantra be “onward and upwards.”

As Jesus suggests, we have to let go of possessions we hold dear if we are to advance in the spiritual life. Some people hoard objects and people, but we have to let go of things along the way. A Jesuit is to hold everything in common for the apostolate and community, but there are ways that we too can be held down by our possessions. Fortunately, since some Jesuits move around enough, holding onto valuables is lessened. Somehow, we always get much more than we need through the generosity of others, but we learn to value the gift, the giver, and our special charism to be available for mission.

In the days of social networking, it is easy to accumulate many lost or forgotten “friends,” especially from childhood days. If a person has more Facebook friends than another person, it speaks well of the person’s likability and worth – to some. Having many friends increases the perceived importance of one person while those with few friends are considered socially awkward. Along the way though we have to let go of some people if we are going to embrace the future. It is not designed to be cruel, but we must allow ourselves to have necessary endings with others so we both can move forward. The same goes for our possessions. We must give them away so we can have space in our lives for other things and new activities. We have to deliberately choose what we need to do to move forward. If we don’t, death will do it for us and we are better off preparing for our good and serene death.

Moving forward might also mean moving into Samaritan territory – an unfamiliar and possible hostile environment. (It is always good to remember that Samaritans eventually became a people of the Way.) We need to employ courage to take risks and do some activities that we mused about doing, but never committed to doing. It might just open up a needed area of your life for happiness and creativity. I am always amazed at the inspired way I feel when I do artwork. It reminds me that I was always meant to do this. We need these reminders along the way to show us how fundamentally Jesus is working inside us.

Let yourself hear Jesus call you along the path towards life this week with the invitation to let go of something you cherish. Tell him how you feel about the person or object and let him respond to your story, but then listen to his excitement as he calls you forward to be with him on this continuous journey. As he reaches his arm out to you, take his hand. In fact, give him both your hands because while you are holding his, you can’t be holding onto anything else. This is more than enough.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Abraham is singled out by God to become the father of a great and populous nation. When Abraham heard about Sodom and Gomorrah’s wickedness and God’s plan to destroy the cities, he protested and reminded God that innocent people live among the wicked ones and should be spared. Angels led Lot and his family out of those twin cities to a small town called Zoar while sulfuric blasts and fire devoured the lands. The Cities of the Plain were destroyed, but in consideration for Abraham, Lot’s family was saved. God then called to Abraham and asked him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, as an offering to God. Abraham acquiesced and was ready to kill his son when the Lord sent a ram whose horns were caught in a thicket to be offered instead. Isaac’s life was spared. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, died in the land of the Hittites and she was buried in a cave facing Mamre (Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Once Isaac’s wife was promised to him, he went to live in the Negeb. He met Rebekah on a camel, invited her into his tent, and married her, which helped console him in the loss of his mother. In Isaac’s old age, he called Esau to him to give the firstborn blessing. While Esau went out to follow his father’s orders, Jacob impersonated Esau, fed his father the cooked meal, and received the blessing of fertility and abundance.  

Gospel: When Jesus finished his Sermon, he set out to cross to the other side. A scribe approached and wanted to join him, but he said that the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. He will always be on the journey. Jesus got into the boat while a violent storm came upon the sea. His disciples woke him in fright and Jesus calmed the storm asking why they didn’t yet have enough faith. When he made it to the other side, the townspeople brought him a paralytic man on a stretcher to be healed. Jesus angered the scribes by forgiving their sins; he later healed him. Jesus passed by a man named Matthew who was sitting at the customs post. He told him to follow him. At this many Pharisees began to complain that Jesus associates with tax collectors and sinners and Jesus explained that he has come to call sinners to repentance. The Baptist’s disciples also needed to be edified. They and the religious groups fasted, but Jesus eats and drinks in violation of the Mosaic laws. Jesus tells them to rejoice in the fact that he is with them for there will be time for mourning.

Saints of the Week

June 30: The First Holy Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (c. 64) were martyrs under Nero's persecution in 64. Nero reacted to the great fire in Rome by falsely accusing Christians of setting it. While no one believed Nero's assertions, Christians were humiliated and condemned to death in horrible ways. This day always follows the feast of the martyrs, Sts. Peter and Paul.

July 1: Junipero Serra, priest, was a Franciscan missionary who founded missions in Baja and traveled north to California starting in 1768. The Franciscans established the missions during the suppression of the Jesuits. San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Clara are among the most famous. Serra’s statue is in the U.S. Capitol to represent California.

July 2: Bernard Realino, John Francis Regis, Francis Jerome, S.J. are known for their preaching skills that drew many to the faith, including many French Hugeunots. Regis and his companions preached Catholic doctrine to children and assisted many struck by the plague in Frances. Regis University in Denver, Colorado is named after John Regis.

July 3: Thomas, apostle, is thought to have been an apostle to India and Pakistan and he is best remembered as the one who “doubted” the resurrection of Jesus. The Gospels, however, testify to his faithfulness to Jesus during his ministry. The name, Thomas, stands for “twin,” but no mention is made of his twin’s identity.

July 5: Elizabeth of Portugal (1271-1336), was from the kingdom of Aragon begore 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.

July 5: 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.

July 6: 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.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jun 30, 1829. The opening of the Twenty-first General Congregation of the order, which elected Fr. John Roothan as General.
·      Jul 1, 1556. The beginning of St Ignatius's last illness. He saw his three great desires fulfilled: confirmation of the Institute, papal approval of the Spiritual Exercises, and acceptance of the Constitutions by the whole Society.
·      Jul 2, 1928. The Missouri Province was divided into the Missouri Province and the Chicago Province. In 1955 there would be a further subdivision: Missouri divided into Missouri and Wisconsin; Chicago divided into Chicago and Detroit.
·      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.

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