Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 6, 2013
Hebrews 1:2-3, 2:2-4; Psalm 95; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; Luke 17:5-11

We periodically need reminders because it is easy to overlook and forget the good fortune that comes out way, but Paul’s words in 2nd Timothy help us realize that we have great spiritual aids to confront faith’s challenges. He says, “God does not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” Think about that. It is quite an awesome gift, and we seldom seize the power and authority we have to effect positive change in our world.

One of my goals as a priest is to help realize the enormous God-given potential they possess within themselves. Because we have grown up with the idea as a priest as nearly superhuman, we adopt a deferential tone towards the priest where we abdicate many responsibilities so that we do not go against his will. We give up our innate authority when we come to church. This is antithetical to what priests want. We would rather that you offer your strong skills and abilities in freedom and joy.

Priests want your participation and are grateful when you act with initiative. Sure, it is considerate to run your ideas by the pastor so he can shape them or offer resources, but the more you do for your own community, the better off everyone is. You are creative people. Let your gifts shine. If you have a desire to do something, recognize that Christ plants it within you to develop. The priest is happiest when he sees his parish thriving and flourishing because he knows that Christ is giving you the power to be the best person you can be. We cannot be one type of person outside these walls and another person within. Integration is key.

If you ever find yourself in tensions with a pastor’s authority, use your influence especially at this point. I hear from many people in other parishes who experience that they do not have a voice when dealing with the pastor. Once again, think creatively. You have many methods at your disposal to get your voice heard. Stop being deferential and use your God-given gifts to be heard, seen, and known. Most of the time, we only want to be respected. If we know that we are respected, we can assent to a plan that we may not agree with because we have made our positions known and they are seen as valid. It might not be in line with the pastor’s objectives, but you will know he respects you.

            Your tiny voice does matter. You have to decide how you will make it matter even more. If you cannot find a way to be heard through traditional means, you will have to be even more creative until you get the satisfaction you deserve as a child of God. Money always speaks louder than words and we can register our disapproval by choosing how we can support those in need. We retain our fundamental freedom when we choose prudentially.

            Above all, we are called to be maturing Christian adults. This means, if we had an inadequate Christian formation, then take responsibility for getting a more comprehensive education, which is a life-long task. What is the last book you read to help you know more about your faith? We have to see it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on scripture, moral and socio-political issues, and to learn the history of our traditions. Take ownership for developing our multiple prayer styles according to what fits our situation today. Do not wait for the priest or parish to provide it for you because you can initiate it on your own today.

            Being a Christian does not mean that you arrive at your point of view and then bully others to accept it. No. It means that you can listen, ask questions, and be enriched by the questions of others. The one who is confident is not afraid of questions or discourse, but it shows that you have received the gifts of power and love and self-control. Mature Christians are at ease with the world around them and are able to love others genuinely and without the thought of reciprocation.

            Our actions must be like those of Francis of Assisi who said, “Preach always, and use words if necessary.” The gifts from God allow us to come out boldly as Christians who are people on the way towards full integration. Life is simpler when we choose to love and to trust – even if there is risk of getting burned in the relationship. Your good actions will never be erased and we simply have to move on to a place a peace that fits us well. Never tire of doing the good and the right. Never tire of offering yourself in service to others that arises from your compassionate heart. You are abundantly blessed and God has spoiled you rotten by giving you faith and talents. Know that we need you to use your gifts well and often. Be confident that they will be appreciated and honored, and remember you are offering them with the strength of Jesus Christ. When you have confidence in him, you will be astonished at the good your faith does for the betterment of the world.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: Jonah was called by the Lord to preach against the great city of Nineveh but he wanted to flee to Tarshish away from the Lord. As he entered the boat, a huge wind blew up and the men, who were seized with great fear, threw him overboard where he was swallowed up by a large fish for three days. Then the fish spew him upon the shore. The Ninevites are moved by Jonah’s threats and repent of their sins. God, therefore, repented of the evil he had threatened. Jonah was angry that God did not carry out the threats he made against the Ninevites, but God assured Jonah that he is in fact very concerned over the lives of 120,000 residents. ~ In Malachai, the prophet contrasts those who serve God with those who do not and he wants God’s justice to include human justice for the righteous. In the Book of Joel, the prophet describes an invading swarm of locusts that wrap the land in darkness. Gloom pervades the scene. Joel fortells that Jerusalem will be blessed with the indwelling presence of the Lord.

Gospel: The Good Samaritan parable answers the question, “Who is my neighbor?” The one who does mercy is neighbor to the beaten man left to die. Jesus travels to a village where Martha and Mary had a house. Martha welcomed in Jesus and Mary spent much time at his feet listening to him. Martha is invited to sit with them as well so they can enjoy each other’s company. Jesus then teaches the disciples the prayer he uses. John the Baptist also taught his own disciples how to pray. Jesus tells the disciples that they must ask in his name for their desires. God wants all people to bring their concerns and needs, both petty and weighty, to himself so he can grant what they seek. God want to show generosity. Jesus is confronted by the crowds who want to know the source and origin of his authority. Many suspect that he has power from Beelzebul and his demons, but Jesus demonstrates that it cannot be true because of the good he is doing. A house divided against itself cannot stand. As Jesus was speaking, a voice from the crowd blessed his mother for bearing and raising such a child, but Jesus retorts that the ones who are blessed hear the word of God and observe it.

Saints of the Week

October 6: Bruno, priest (1030-1101), became a professor at Rheims and diocesan chancellor. He gave up his riches and began to live as a hermit with six other men. They had disdain for the rampant clerical corruption. The bishop of Grenoble gave them land in the Chartreuse mountains and they began the first Carthusian monastery. After serving in Rome for a few years, Bruno was given permission to found a second monastery in Calabria.

October 7: Our Lady of the Rosary recalls the events in 1571 of the Christian naval victory over the Turks at Lepanto near Corinth. Victory was credited to Mary as confraternities prayed the rosary for her intercession.

October 9: Denis, bishop and martyr, and companion martyrs (d. 258), was the first bishop of Paris. He died during the Decian persecutions by beheading at Montmarte, the highest hill in the city. Lore has it that he picked up his head after the beheading and walked six miles while giving a sermon. Denis was sent to Paris to bring Christianity and was thereby called, “The apostle to the Gauls.”

October 9: John Leonardi (1542-1609), was a pharmacist’s assistant before studying for the priesthood. He became interested in the reforms of the Council of Trent and gathered laymen around him to work in prisons and hospitals. He contracted the plague while ministering to those who were sick. He founded the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God to care for the sick.

October 12: John Beyzym, S.j., priest (1850-1912), was Ukranian-born, entered the Jesuits, and petitioned to work among the people of Madagascar who had Hansen’s disease (leprosy.) Since the lepers lived in remote shanty buildings with no windows or facilities, Beyzym worked hard to improve their living conditions, build a hospital, and a church. He died after contracting the disease.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Oct 6, 1773. In London, Dr James Talbot, the Vicar Apostolic, promulgated the Brief of Suppression and sent copies to Maryland and Pennsylvania.
·      Oct 7, 1819. The death of Charles Emmanuel IV. He had been King of Sardinia and Piedmont. He abdicated in 1802 and entered the Jesuits as a brother in 1815. He is buried in San Andrea Quirinale in Rome.
·      Oct 8, 1871. The Great Chicago Fire. Most of the city was destroyed, but it missed Holy Family, the Jesuit parish, as the fire turned north thanks to the prayers of Fr. Arnold Damen. The fire lasted three days; 250 were killed.
·      Oct 9, 1627. Jansenius left Louvain for Salamanca to foment antipathy against the Jesuits and thus prevent Philip IV from giving the Society a large college in Madrid. The theological faculty at Salamanca were hostile to the Society.
·      October 10, 1806: The first novitiate of the Maryland Mission opened as ten novices began their Long Retreat under the direction of Fr. Francis Neale (himself a novice who had entered the Jesuits that day.)
·      October 11, 1688: King Louis XIV forbade all correspondence and interchange between the French Jesuits and Fr. Thyrsus Gonzalez, the Spanish General Superior of the Society.

·      October 12, 1976: The murder in rural Brazil of Joao Bosco Burnier, SJ, who was shot and killed by soldiers for protesting the torture of two poor women.