Daily Email

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 11, 2013
Wisdom 18:6-9; Psalm 33; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-28

“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” During Mass each week we profess our faith in a Trinitarian God, and I would hazard to say that we recite our Creed by rote rather than by heart. We sometimes need to pause outside of church and ask ourselves what we truly believe about our faith life and ask ourselves how we come to know what we know. An unexamined faith isn’t much of a faith at all. It might have been given to us culturally or as cradle Catholics, but it serves us well to examine our traditions and uncover what we find. We have to appropriate the faith, make it our own, if it is going to make sense at all.

The author of Hebrews tells us to trust our experience that way Abraham trusted God. He marvels at what God has done because he took Abraham, a single man as good as dead, and given him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore. Abraham places his trust at first in an unknown God, but through his mature life, he comes to know this God as a personal one who looks out for his interests.

For Catholics, Jesus becomes the personal face of God. At the start of the Gospel, he tells his friends not to be afraid because his father wants to give them the kingdom, but we see that vigilance is needed and we will certainly wait for his return if we become better friends with him. So the question becomes about becoming a better friend to him. If your prayer practices are bringing you closer to a personal, easy-to-talk-to, conversant Jesus, then you are on the right path. If not, stop praying the way you learned and try a different way. Do not spend your time in a type of prayer that does not bring you into closer friendship. Drop it. And if you find yourself working too hard in prayer, stop working.

The simplest type of prayer is simply to ask Jesus to show you where he is in your life today. Let the initiative be his. Let him say to you, “Remember this afternoon when this event happened? I was there and I saw what went on.” Give him a chance to say anything else he wants to tell you about the events. You’ll have your time to respond and ask questions, but make sure you give sufficient amounts of time to listen to how he feels about what goes on with you.

Do not feel pressure to tell Jesus about the big things in your life yet. Just tell him the little things that you notice throughout your day and how you feel about them. Tell him how happy it made you when your employer smiled at you and wished you a happy day. Tell him how refreshed you feel from drinking a hot cup of coffee without interruptions the very first instant this morning. Let him know how happy you feel that you said “no” to dessert and that you made the right choice in choosing your healthy lunch. We really need to have better small talk with Jesus if we are going to have more meaningful ones. The small ones always lead to the more important ones.

For instance, this week I was telling Jesus that I liked dedicated some more free time in the summer for painting. He was glad I was going so. We also talked about some prayer books I would like to write, but he changed it around and said, “Don’t do it for yourself. Do it for others. Do it for the parish. They are begging to know how to pray.”  That made all the difference in the world because the former seemed to me to be self-indulgent, but the latter seemed to make sense and had a purpose. At the beginning and at the end, I want to help people pray so they can know for themselves that Jesus saves them.

Then he turned to me and asked for me to wait for him. I said, “For what?” He said, “If any ex-patriots need to be evacuated, stay and wait for me.” I realized that if Americans were hastened out of Jordan, I would stay here until everyone else made it to safety first. There wouldn’t be a question about it. I will remain like the Good Shepherd would because it is more than just my responsibility; it arises from my concern for you. I would only sleep well knowing that my friends made it safely away first. (However, that was a prayer conversation and the reality doesn’t seem to indicate any evacuation will be needed.)

The small talk about my art classes led me to a conversation about caring for my parishioners and it was totally unexpected for me and I could never have predicted my prayer lead me there. It shows the supreme importance of chatting and coming to know the heart of Jesus. If we do not come to know Jesus casually on a daily basis, we will not know when he is coming to us. We won’t have to be vigilant because we will be trained to seek his presence and to ask him to reveal where he is in our lives. We will know quite well that he is near and our insecurity will be turned into trust. We can then walk like Abraham into the great unknown with growing trust that God will always provide for us for we will have God right by our side. This we believe. This we know.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses exhorts the people to follow the commandments the Lord has given them because accepting them means they will live, prosper, and will have God’s favor.  Moses finished his sermon and said that at age 120, he is no longer able to move about freely and that the Lord told him not to cross the Jordan to occupy Israel. The Lord alone will lead them across and will help them in battles. Moses then passed the baton to Joshua who will stand in his place. Moses took the people up to Mount Nebo and showed them the sweeping view of the land God promised Abraham. Moses died, but up until his last days, his eyes and vigor remained unabated. He was buried in the ravine opposite Beth-peor in the land of Moab. ~The Assumption of Mary takes us to the Book of Revelation where a virgin with child is pursued relentlessly by a fierce dragon. ~ In the Book of Joshua, Joshua gathers the twelve tribes together at Shechem and recaps Hebrew history as engineered by the Lord God. He gave further instructions on the moral life and ways to live with integrity with one’s neighbor and family, teaching them always to put the Lord God first in their dealings. After Joshua settled the land, completed his instructions, he died at the age of 110.

Gospel: Jesus tells his disciples that he must be handed over, killed, and lifted up, and they were filled with grief. They moved onto Capernaum where they were questions about the temple tax levied upon foreigners. Though Jesus proved his point, he told them to catch a fish, open his belly, collect the coin, and give it to the temple authorities so they will not cause alarm. On their way, they ask Jesus about who is the greatest and he brings a child to him and says, “these little ones are the greatest because they are considered the least,” and then he tells them of the good shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep in search of the lost one. He also answered their questions about the forgiveness saying that we have to power to keep things bound on earth and it will end up that way in heaven. If we are open-minded and open-hearted, we will not be bound in heaven. ~ During the Assumption, Mary sings her great hymn of praise for the magnificent events God has brought to life in her and in the world. ~ Disciples then asked about the sticky, unsettled issue of divorce. Jesus reminded them of their own fickleness and he set about strengthening the covenantal commitments to one another. Children were brought to Jesus once again. When the disciples tried to shoo them away, he protested that they must have access to him.

Saints of the Week

August 11: Clare, founder (1193-1253), was inspired by Francis of Assist so much that she fled her home for his community to receive the Franciscan habit on Passion Sunday 1212. She lived in a nearby Benedictine convent until she was made superior of a new community in San Damiano. She practiced radical poverty by wearing no shoes, sleeping on the ground, and giving up meat.

August 12: Jane Frances de Chantal, religious (1572-1641), founded the Congregation of the Visitation with her spiritual advisor, Francis de Sales. This congregation was for women who wanted to live in religious life, but without the austerity of the other orders. Jane was married to a Baron with whom she had six children and she sought religious answers to her suffering. Her order established eighty-five convents dedicated to serving the poor before she died.

August 13: Pontian, pope and martyr and Hippolytus, priest and martyr (d.236). Pontian's papacy was interrupted by a persecution when the Roman Emperor Maximinus arrested him and his rival, Hippolytus, and banished them to Sardinia. Pontian resigned so another pope could succeed him. Hippolytus, who formed a schismatic group and claimed to be the real pope, reconciled with the church before he and Pontian were martyred.

August 14: Maximilian Kolbe, priest and martyr (1894-1941), was born in Russian-occupied Poland. He entered the Franciscans in 1910 and preached the gospel with his devotion to Mary in Poland and Japan. When the Nazis conquered Poland in 1939, he ministered to thousands of refugees. He was arrested, sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. When a prisoner escaped and retaliation was sought, Kolbe offered himself to replace one of the ten randomly chosen men to be executed.

August 15: The Assumption of Mary is the principal feast of Mary with her Queenship celebrated at the end of the octave. This feast celebrates that she was taken up to heaven, body and soul, at the end of her earthly life. The Council of Ephesus in 431 proclaimed her Mother of God and devotion of her dormition followed afterwards.

August 16: Stephen of Hungary (975-1038) tried to unite the Magyar families and was able to establish the church in Hungary through Pope Sylvester II's support. Rome crowed Stephen as the first king in 1001 and he instituted many reforms in religious and civil practices. He built churches and trained local clergy.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug 11, 1846. The death of Benedict Joseph Fenwick. He was the second bishop of Boston, twice the president of Georgetown, and the founder of the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts.
·      Aug 12, 1877. The death of Fr. Maurice Gailland. He was an expert in languages and spent many years at St Mary's Mission in Kansas. He wrote a 450.page dictionary and grammar of the Potawatomi language.
·      Aug 13, 1621. The death in Rome of St John Berchmans. He died while still in studies, preparing for a public disputation.
·      Aug 14, 1812. Napoleon I and his army arrived at Polosk, in White Russia. They plunder the property of the Society and violate the tombs of the Generals.
·      Aug 15, 1821. Fr. Peter DeSmet sailed from Amsterdam to America. He hoped to work among the Native Americans. He became the best-known missionary of the northwest portion of the United States.
·      Aug. 15, 1955: The Wisconsin Province was formed from the Missouri Province and the Detroit Province was formed from the Chicago province.
·      Aug. 16, 1649: At Drogheda, Fr. John Bath and his brother, a secular priest, were shot in the marketplace by Cromwell's soldiers.
·      Aug. 17, 1823: Fr. Van Quickenborne and a small band of missionaries descended the Missouri River to evangelize the Indians at the request of the bishop of St. Louis. On this date in 1829, the College of St. Louis opened.


  1. Thank you for your comments on prayer. Ever since I was a child I have always chatted with Jesus and kept him informed about everything. Sometimes I wonder if Jesus would like me to bother him less but then something happens to affirm the way I pray - today your post has done this for me. I also experience conversing with God about something rather minor that leads to something very important. It is so amazing to me that the Creator of the universe has time to listen to my chatter and furthermore, wants to chat with me. Blessings.

    1. Thanks, Lynda. I'm glad to know that your whole life's efforts of small-talk leads to those more meaningful conversations. Isn't it a mystery how it all happens?