Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 31, 2014
Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27

Do you think you can avert suffering? You cannot. Jesus, as he matures in his understanding of his mission, plainly realizes this truth. After his best friends declare in unveiled words that he is the strong deliverer, the Christ of God, Jesus tells them he will suffer greatly, be killed, and on the third day raised from the dead. He understands that ministry as a servant of God will lead to risky challenges and unjust assaults from those who are on your side. It is understandable the enemies do this, but our greatest enemies were once our closest friends. This stings. Jeremiah is coming to realize this. Perhaps Jeremiah is a wide-eyed optimist at the start of his ministry, but he finally comprehends that ministry places him in a vulnerable situation.

We can easily forgive Peter for sticking up for Jesus when he tells him he is going to die. Most of us would naturally mimic Peter’s words as a show of support for a good friend for whom we wish no harm. We would have questioned his friendship if Peter didn’t stand up for his friend publicly. The words of Jesus back to him are harsh and he could have expressed his thoughts more kindly, but his stark manner sharpens the focus on his impending suffering. Peter and Jesus express charged words, but they fail to emotionally communicate. The disconnection further exacerbates the suffering of each. Suffering breaks relationships apart.

Many of us think that Jesus was fine with suffering because it was preordained by God as part of his mission, but believing this means that we fail to see the humanity of Jesus. How did he suffer? A major point is that those who were in the highest seats of religious judgment reject him. Ouch! That hurts. Those who were speaking for God reject him. These are the people who are the best suited to understand his message, and they not only cast him aside as a bandit, but they tell him his life has no value. As the Gospel illustrates, even the best friends of Jesus misunderstand him often. This is painful because often a person will focus upon the fracture in the friendship and lose sight of the more important meaning. We all know of a person who makes an emotional mountain out of a molehill because someone looked at him or her in a way they did not fully understand. This person wants everyone to attend to the drama, and the meaningful message gets lost.

Suffering puts us in a coffin that suffocates us. It can make us narcissistic because all we think of is our pain and we cannot step outside ourselves to consider the needs of others. We want our pain acknowledged because it commands such great attention. Being unable to effectively communicate with others increases the pain because when we do not connect with another, we fail to be seen, and heard, and known. Everyone who suffers wants to be understood. The soul begs to be honored.

Fear increases the drama of suffering. Though Jesus knows that he will be killed, he cannot know the horrifying bumps and bruises he faces along the way. Fear is a projection into the unknown and it is terrifying in its own right. Our worst fears are potent and they cause our minds to race and swirl around in chaos. Yes, Jesus fears the excruciating pain of the cross, but the psychic and relational fears are equally potent. The one in this state needs kindness and compassion that reconnects them to others. In our faith, we want Jesus to be the strong One who does not have valid emotional experiences. We need him to be strong because we are not, but what he needs is for us to understand what he experiences.

We better get a grip on our emotional life before we confront our Cross because the world gets turned upside down when we suffer. It is extremely important to give kindness and compassion to others now because we might seriously need it in the future. Paul suggests that we offer ourselves as spiritual sacrifices (sacrifices temporarily hurt) and be transformed by the renewal of our minds to discern the will of God. We have to balance our needs while keeping our eyes focused upon the suffering of others.

Everyone you pass on the street suffers in some way and wants to be acknowledged. Be kind to them. Be kind while you are walking down the street, driving in the car, and doing your daily business. Yes, some people are selfish and self-centered and want everyone to treat them right while they treat others terribly. Be kind to them because they need it. Let their behavior go. You cannot change them, but your kindness might give them something to think about. It feels good to receive and it is even better to give. Your kindness will ease someone’s suffering enough so they think about others instead of themselves. Your kindness reconnects them back to humanity – and to the God who knows suffering all too well.

 Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (1 Corinthians) I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling and my message was not persuasive words of wisdom, but a demonstration of spirit and power.
Tuesday: The Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God. The Spirit we received helps us understand the things freely given us by God.
Wednesday: You are still a people who are taking baby steps in the spirit and must be treated delicately. In the end, we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Thursday: Let no one deceive him(her)self. Do not boast about human beings. The one who is wise in this age becomes a fool in the spirit so as to become wise.
Friday: We are servants of Christ and stewards of the mystery, who are to be found trustworthy. Do not make judgments before the appointed time for the Lord will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts.
Saturday: Learn from me and Apollos not to go beyond what is written so that none of you will be inflated with pride in favor of one person over another. God made Apostles as the last of all – fools on Christ’s account, like the world’s rubbish. I am saying this to admonish you and instruct you in the ways of Christ.

Monday: (Luke 4) The grown up Jesus goes into the synagogue on a Sabbath, reads from the scroll of Isaiah where it is written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” When he finishes reading, all eyes were upon him, he declares the reading fulfilled in their hearing, and many people reject him.
Tuesday: Then Jesus goes down to Capernaum and on the Sabbath he taught with authority. A man with spirit of an unclean demon protests, “Jesus of Nazareth, what have you to do with us? Have you come to destroy us?” The demon was thrown out of the man at the command of Jesus.
Wednesday: After leaving the synagogue, he goes into Simon’s hour and healed Simon’s mother who lay sick with a fever. At sunset, villagers brought friends and relatives who were afflicted with various diseases to be cured. At morn, Jesus says, “I must go to the other towns to proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom.”
Thursday: While the crowd presses on Jesus as he stands by Lake Gennesaret, he gets into the boat owned by Peter and begins to teach. He tells Peter to go out a bit, drop the line to catch many fish, and Peter is surprised with the large catch. He tells Jesus, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man.”
Friday: The scribes and Pharisees question Jesus over his disciples’ practices of not fasting. Jesus tells them the one does not fast when the bridegroom is with them.
Saturday:  As Jesus is walking through a field of grain, they ate the heads of grain, which is unlawful on the Sabbath. Jesus recounts the example of David and says, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

Saints of the Week

September 3: Gregory the Great (540-604) was the chief magistrate in Rome and resigned to become a monk. He was the papal ambassador to Constantinople, abbot, and pope. His charity and fair justice won the hearts of many. He protected Jews and synthesized Christian wisdom. He described the duties of bishops and promoted beautiful liturgies that often incorporated chants the bear his name.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Aug. 31, 1581: In St. John's Chapel within the Tower of London, a religious discussion took place between St. Edmund Campion, suffering from recent torture, and some Protestant ministers.
·      Sep 1, 1907. The Buffalo Mission was dissolved and its members were sent to the New York and Missouri Provinces and the California Mission.
·      Sep 2, 1792. In Paris, ten ex-Jesuits were massacred for refusing to take the Constitutional oath. Also in Paris seven other fathers were put to death by the Republicans, among them Frs. Peter and Robert Guerin du Rocher.
·      Sep 3, 1566. Queen Elizabeth visited Oxford and heard the 26-year-old Edmund Campion speak. He was to meet her again as a prisoner, brought to hear her offer of honors or death.
·      Sep 4, 1760. At Para, Brazil, 150 men of the Society were shipped as prisoners, reaching Lisbon on December 2. They were at once exiled to Italy and landed at Civita Vecchia on January 17, 1761.
·      Sep 5, 1758. The French Parliament issued a decree condemning Fr. Busembaum's Medulla Theologiae Moralis.

·      Sep 6, 1666. The Great Fire of London broke out on this date. There is not much the Jesuits have not been blamed for, and this was no exception. It was said to be the work of Papists and Jesuits. King Charles II banished all the fathers from England.