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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 7, 2013
Isaiah 66:10-14; Psalm 66; Galatians 6:14-18; Luke 10:12, 17-20

Jesus sends out seventy-two disciples to prepare for his arrival in the towns he plans to visit with strict instructions on how they are to present themselves. He knows the journey is risky and they are to lessen that danger by learning how to live with those who know peace. Peace is the long sought after condition, but it is elusive in the world and especially in the Middle East. Jews wish strangers “shalom” while Arabs extend a greeting of “Salam,” but figuring out if the stranger is a person of peace does not take long to decipher.

Most people on Facebook or social media realize it is polite to express only good thoughts. People tend to gravitate to those who are happier and seemingly content than those who post negative and destructive comments. Those who feel they do not have to respond to someone’s poor judgment show that they practice tolerance. It does not mean they agree with what is being said, but they respect one’s freedom to express their thoughts and feelings. They set their sights on the more important virtues and ideas. After a while, people who lack peace are marginalized, especially if they begin to take on a prophetic voice.

Peace originates in our attitudes, which means learning not to fear the “Other.” In order to be lambs among wolves as Jesus suggests, we make ourselves vulnerable to the other until we know something more fully about the ‘Other.’ If we find that a person is crossing boundaries or is unpleasant to be around, we can simply get up and walk away. I used to think that was impolite until I saw a Jesuit who I respect do this at will. When we were sitting in a common area and another Jesuit began to bloviate, he would simply rise and leave the room.  No one asked him why he was leaving and he did not offer any apology for getting up and leaving the room. He just left. He showed freedom that he did not have to be subject to the man who was holding court. This Jesuit decided what was best for himself – and he removed himself from a place that lacked respect of others.

Leaving a place of peace takes courage because the other person will try to ensnare us and we want to be polite Christians. We have it wrong when we want to be kind at all costs. When someone is taking advantage of us, we can abruptly leave without any explanation. We do not owe someone who is mistreating us a valid answer. We want to be truthful, of course, but sometimes the less said the better for everyone. Reason and rationality will not work for someone who wants to manipulate you. Just go. Get up and go.

You have more important work to do. You are asked to proclaim, “The kingdom of God is at hand for you.” Stay with those when you feel their peace. You both profit from a kind, warm heart. Be like the seventy-two who returned to Jesus when they rejoiced that they cured many and that even the demons were subject to them. Even Satan fell like lightning from the sky before their very eyes. Jesus gave them the incredible power of peace, which keeps them safe and makes evil wilt.

Learn what you need to do in order to become a peaceful person. Many forces exist to pull us down so figure out what you are lacking so that area of your life may be filled. After you identify what you need, put a plan in place to get it, even if it sounds selfish to you. There’s more at stake that you realize. You will undoubtedly need downtime and rest. Therefore, make sure you are practicing prudential self-care so you can replenish your good spirits. Your task is to find peace so you can proclaim the kingdom of God is at hand for another person and you cannot offer it to someone unless you are living it yourself.

I write this from Jerusalem, a city of contrasts, the city that calls itself the “City of Peace.” Upon my arrival, I felt much like a foreigner and an outsider, but I encountered three people who greeted me with a warm smile that said nothing more than, “Hello, friend. I acknowledge our common peacefulness.” Those smiles are the events that welcomed me and asked nothing more than to bless the one who greeted me.  We will find peace when we acknowledge our common goodness and we bless each other – even if they are very “other” from us. We will find peace when we know when to rise and walk away, and we will cherish those times when we can sit with a new friend and enjoy a cup of tea because we are people who prize peace. We will rejoice because we know God’s kingdom is at hand.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Jacob had a dream on his way to Haram. At the top of the ladder reaching the heavens, the Lord God committed many descendants to him. As the Lord blessed Jacob, he set up a shrine at Bethel, the site of the dream, as a reminder of the Lord’s goodness to him. In the middle of the night, Jacob arose with his two wives, his maids, and his children across the Jabbok where he wrestled with a man all night long. Knowing he could not conquer Jacob, the man struck him in the hip socket and wounded him. As daybreak arose, the man blessed him and renamed him Israel – because he has wrestled with divine and human beings and prevailed. This was at Peniel – the spot where Jacob saw God face to face and lived. ~ Hunger took over the land of Egypt and the people were sent by Pharaoh to Joseph, who opened the granaries to feed them. Joseph was the governor of the city. His brothers came for food and Joseph recognized them but hid his identity. Joseph set up his brother to tell the truth about him. He asked them about their family so he could get news of Jacob. When he heard their anguish, he sent away the people so he could reveal himself to them. As Israel went down to Egypt to live, the Lord reassured him in a dream that he would make of them a great nation and eventually the Lord would bring them back. Judah went first to pave the way, but when Joseph met Israel, he threw his arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. Israel asked that his bone be buried in the field of Ephron the Hittite facing Mamre in Canaan with Isaac and Rebekah and Abraham and Sarah. As the years passed, Joseph cared for his brothers’ families, and when he died, he petitioned God to care for the children of Israel.

Gospel: A synagogue official petitioned Jesus to bring his young daughter back to life. A woman suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years touched his cloak and noticed her flow of blood dried up. When the official returned home, his daughter was brought back to life. A mute demoniac was brought to him and the demon was driven out of him. The people remarked at the incredible power to drive out demons. People came from all over and he petitioned the people to ask God to send more laborers for the harvest. Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority to cure every disease and illness. The Twelve are named and then given instructions on how to proceed in ministry. They are to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand. Give freely, but don’t work against the grain. If the word is not received, move on until someone else is ready to hear the message. Jesus warns them about the great opposition they will face and they will be surprised by their great strength. Brother, family members, and good friends will face off against friends and loved ones. Nothing that Jesus shares with them will be concealed. However, they can be assured that God cares for them a great deal. God even remembers and provides for the tiniest sparrow.

Saints of the Week

July 9: 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.

July 11: Benedict, Abbot (480-547), was educated in Rome, but left after a few years to take on a life of solitude. He became a monk at Subiaco and lived alone, but his lifestyle developed followers so he built 12 monasteries for them. He left to found a monastery at Monte Cassino where he wrote his Rule that became a standard for Western monasticism. He adopted the practices of the austere Desert Fathers for community life and emphasized moderation, humility, obedience, prayer, and manual labor. 

July 13: Henry, king (972-1024) was a descendent of Charlemagne who became king of Germany and the Holy Roman Emperor. His wife had no offspring. He merged the church's affairs with the secular government and built the cathedral in the newly erected diocese of Bamberg. He was a just ruler who paid close attention to his prayer.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      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.
·      Jul 10 , 1881. Fr. Frederick Garesche' wrote from Sequin, Texas, to his Superior: "The cowboys who had not deigned at first to lift their hat to the priest or missionary; who had come to the mission as to a camp meeting, for the fun of the thing, gave in, and their smiles and awkward salutes showed that they had hearts under their rude exterior."
·      Jul 11, 1809. After Pius VII was dragged into exile by General Radet, Fr. Alphonsus Muzzarrelli SJ, his confessor, was arrested in Rome and imprisoned at Civita Vecchia.
·      Jul 12, 1594. In the French Parliament Antoine Arnauld, the Jansenist, made a violent attack on the Society, charging it with rebellious feelings toward King Henry IV and with advocating the doctrine of regicide.
·      Jul 13, 1556. Ignatius, gravely ill, handed over the daily governance of the Society to Juan de Polanco and Cristobal de Madrid.


  1. What a meaningful homily on how to attain and maintain peace within ourselves. Even seemingly small gestures like a smile have tremendous results for ourselves and for those who receive our smile. Thank you.

  2. I wish I had read your reflection many many years ago. I still have time to use it, however.
    ... To be a person of peace...
    Many many thanks.

    1. Good. I'm glad you have it now. We must act in freedom and obey our God-given desires.