Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 10, 2013
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; Psalm 17; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38

The concept of the resurrection to life is introduced in the Book of Maccabees where the seven brothers and their mother show their great fortitude in abiding by the teachings of their ancestors. In their great hope, they exclaim, “The King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.” Jesus makes a veiled reference to the seven brothers when the Sadducees ask him about the technicalities of marital property rights of the deceased. He is not obscured by their diversion and he stays on point. Rather than to play a logic game, he schools them about their denial of the resurrection and makes a bold assertion that the dead will rise. This belief is imbedded in our collective Hebrew history and it is part of the faith we profess as Catholics.

Jesus tells us Moses knew that the dead would rise when he encountered the Lord in the burning bush when the Lord exclaimed, “I am who am. I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” God declares that he is the living God, not the God of the dead, but of the living, and to God all are alive. Jesus is showing the progression of thought on the mysterious idea of the resurrection that has always existed from Moses, was first expressed in the Book of Daniel, took common root in the Apocalyptic literature like Maccabees, and then he explicitly states it during his lifetime. Yet, for such a fundamental Christian belief, no one really knows what it means or how it will be brought about.

The idea of eternal life is a great comfort for us for we are a people who live both for today and for the world to come. We call ourselves a ‘now and not yet’ people that is consummated in our eternal life with God in heaven. This belief orients the moral good we try to do in this present world because these treasures will be stored up for us in heaven. For those faiths or philosophies that do not contain the afterlife or any sense of forgiveness, all that matters is the way we treat people in this world. For us Catholics, a philosophy of life that merely ends at the physical death of a person feels very incomplete. Thank God we believe in the life that is to come – a world where God’s mercy does not depend upon human judgment.

As this is the month where we remember the souls of the Faithful Departed, we also remember that we are living in a true communion of saints where the living and the dead share life together because to our God all of us are alive to him. Many of us will recall experiences when a deceased loved one let us know from beyond the grave that they are doing well and are enjoying their time with God. Since we are the ones who are living in this temporal world, we think it is our responsibility to pray for our deceased loved ones. It is, but we have to remember that their prayers aid us more greatly because they are lovingly interceding in our lives for our own good. In many ways, they no longer need our prayers, but we need theirs. Our best prayer for them is that we know that they are always with us and that we can still receive their love. Our bonds remain strong. Our connection to them remains a communion of love that cannot be separated by the thin veil of life that we call death. Our deceased always remain in our life and their memories cannot be erased.

Jesus reminds us that our God is alive and is not an abstract thought. That we will always be alive to God is a given for God cannot forget the beauty of our souls. God looks upon us so tenderly. It means that we ought not to fear death because it will bring us into the presence of our loved ones and that our loved ones who are still on this earth will eventually rejoin us. Can you imagine the long warm embrace we will receive when we see our deceased parents or children or best friends again? They will be with Jesus to welcome us into a new plane of life where we can watch and be concerned for the world in dire need of greater love and forgiveness. The gap between heaven and this earth is not so large and for us believers, this is the time to get to know Jesus much better so his embrace will be that much greater when he welcomes us home.

Our comfort is not just in knowing that the life is to come will be better, it is in knowing that our life today is supported by many loved one who are present to us in unimaginable ways. With such a great multitude of spiritual resources, the ordeals of this present life are made manageable. This is a passing world, but we are people who live with a great open secret: Our God is always going to love us into new existence. God’s love will connect us all to one another in a great symphony of love. Because of this, we can only sing of God’s goodness because God’s offer is incredible.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: The Book of Wisdom tells us that the Lord manifests himself to those who do not disbelieve him. In the view of the foolish, the righteous seemed to be dead, but they are in peace. The author makes an appeal to kings to attain Wisdom, but it involves listening to the Word of God. Wisdom is the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God. He tells them that if the kings succeeded in knowledge enough so they could speculate about the world, how is it they did not more quickly come to know its Lord? The Lord’s power has been seen throughout history to ensure the deliverance of his people so they may praise him more perfectly.

Gospel: Jesus tells the crowds that if your brother wrongs you seven times in one day, and returns to you seven times saying, “I am sorry,” you should forgive him. Jesus said that we must regard ourselves in this manner: we are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do. On his journey to Jerusalem, Jesus heals then lepers from Samaria and Gallilee, but only one of them, a foreigner, return to give thanks. Jesus tells the people what the Kingdom of God is like and he reminds them the Kingdom of God is already among you. He reminds them that many will not see the Day of the Lord because they concern themselves with earthly cares and will not understand the revelation of the Lord. Jesus reminds them that they must pray constantly because the Father is generous and wants to bountifully give to those who ask for what they need.

Saints of the Week

November 10: Leo the Great, pope and doctor (d. 461) tried to bring peace to warring Roman factions that were leaving Gaul vulnerable to barbarian invasions. As pope, he tried to keep peace again - in particular during his meeting with Attila the Hun, whom he persuaded not to plunder Rome. However, in Attila's next attack three years later, Rome was leveled. Some of Leo's writings on the incarnation were influential in formulating doctrine at the Council of Chalcedon.

November 11: Martin of Tours, bishop (316-397), became an Roman soldier in Hungary because he was born into a military family. After he became a Christian, he left the army because he saw his faith in opposition to military service. He settled in Gaul and began its first monastery. He was proclaimed bishop in 371 and worked to spread the faith in at time of great uncertainty and conflict. He divided sections of his diocese into parishes.

November 12: Josaphat, bishop and martyr (1580-1623) was a Ukranian who entered the Basilian order and was ordained in the Byzantine rite. He was named the archbishop of Polotsk, Russia and attempted to unite the Ukrainian church with Rome. His opponents killed him. He is the first Eastern saint to be formally canonized.

November 13: Francis Xavier Cabrini, religious (1850-1917) was an Italian-born daughter to a Lombardy family of 13 children. She wanted to become a nun, but needed to stay at her parents’ farm because of their poor health. A priest asked her to help work in a girls’ school and she stayed for six years before the bishop asked her to care for girls in poor schools and hospitals. With six sisters, she came to the U.S. in 1889 to work among Italian immigrants. She was the first American citizen to be canonized.  

November 13: Stanislaus Kostka, S.J., religious (1550-1568) was a Polish novice who walked from his home to Rome to enter the Jesuits on his 17th birthday. He feared reprisals by his father against the Society in Poland so we went to directly see the Superior General in person. Francis Borgia admitted him after Peter Canisius had him take a month in school before applying for entrance. Because of his early death, Kostka is revered as the patron saint of Jesuit novices.

November 14: Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Superior General (1917-1991) was the 28th Superior General of the Jesuits. He was born in the Basque region of the Iberian Peninsula. He is considered one of the great reformers of the Society because he was asked by the Pope to carry out the reforms of Vatican II. November 14th is the commemoration of his birth.

November 14: Joseph Pignatelli, S.J., religious and Superior General (1737-1811) was born in Zaragosa, Spain and entered the Jesuits during a turbulent era. He was known as the unofficial leader of the Jesuits in Sardinia when the Order was suppressed and placed in exile. He worked with European leaders to continue an underground existence and he was appointed Novice Master under Catherine the Great, who allowed the Society to receive new recruits. He secured the restoration of the Society partly in 1803 and fully in 1811 and bridged a link between the two eras of the Society. He oversaw a temperate reform of the Order that assured their survival.

November 15: Albert the Great, bishop and doctor (1200-1280), joined the Dominicans to teach theology in Germany and Paris. Thomas Aquinas was his student. With his reluctance, he was made bishop of Ratisbon. He resigned after four years so he could teach again. His intellectual pursuits included philosophy, natural science, theology, and Arabic language and culture. He applied Aristotle's philosophy to theology.

November 16: Roch Gonzalez, John del Castillo, and Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J. (1576-1628) were Jesuit priests born to Paraguayan nobility who were architects of the Paraguayan reductions, societies of immigrants based on religious faith. They taught the indigenous population how to plant farms and other basic life skills that would protect them from the insidious slave trades of Spain and Portugal. By the time the Jesuits were expelled, 57 such settlements were established. Roch was a staunch opponent of the slave trade. He, John, and Alphonsus were killed when the envy of a local witch doctor lost his authority at the expense of their growing medical expertise.  

November 16: Margaret of Scotland (1046-1093) was raised in Hungary because the Danes invaded England. She returned after the Norman Conquest in 1066 and sought refuge in Scotland. She married the king and bore him eight children. She corrected many wayward abuses within the church and clarified church practices.

November 16: Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) was placed for childrearing into a Benedictine monastery at age 5 in Saxony. She lived with two mystics named Mechthild and as she developed her intellectual and spiritual gifts, she too became a mystic. Her spiritual instructions are collected into five volumes. She wrote prayers as a first advocate of the Sacred Heart.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Nov 10, 1549. At Rome, the death of Paul III, to whom the Society owes its first constitution as a religious order.
·      Nov 11, 1676. In St James's Palace, London, Claude la Colombiere preached on All Saints.
·      Nov 12, 1919. Fr. General Ledochowski issued an instruction concerning the use of typewriters. He said that they could be allowed in offices but not in personal rooms, nor should they be carried from one house to another.
·      Nov 13, 1865. The death of James Oliver Van de Velde, second bishop of the city of Chicago from 1848 to 1853.
·      Nov 14, 1854. In Spain, the community left Loyola for the Balearic Isles, in conformity with a government order.
·      Nov 15, 1628. The deaths of St Roch Gonzalez and Fr. Alphonsus Rodriguez. They were some of the architects of the Jesuit missions in Uruguay and Paraguay.
·      Nov 16, 1989. In El Salvador, the murder of six Jesuits connected with the University of Central America together with two of their lay colleagues.