Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 21, 2014
Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16
Everyday when we rise, we have to consider the first and the last things, the goal and purpose of our lives, because it puts all other activities of the day into perspective. It quickly resolves the conflict that is presented in today’s Gospel and it gives us a bird’s eye wisdom about life. It helps us to frame our day with this question, “Do my choices and actions reveal to others that I am growing in love and kindness?”
Isaiah says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call him while he is near.” This searching with the sure expectation of discovering is what matters most. When we recognize the Lord’s presence, we follow the inspiration of the Psalmist, “Every day I will bless you and I will praise your name forever.” Gratitude is a certain sign of God’s closeness. Then we find we become like Paul when he tenderly writes, “I long to be with Christ.” “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ.” Of all the evangelists, Paul speaks most affectionately of his desire to be with his friend and Lord, revealing a most important aspect of his character and worldview.
The Gospel presents us with a dilemma of fairness that we all face. We always aspire to be fair because those are high-minded principles taught to us since our youth and we mediate legal conflicts judiciously – showing great concerns for all parties, yet very little in life is fair. As you well know, Jesus teaches this parable to his fellow Jews in an attempt to explain that sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, and foreigners have an essential place in God’s kingdom. Is it fair to a law-abiding Jew who has kept all the laws since youth? No. This is not the crucial factor. God’s generosity is the factor by which this conflict is adjudicated. Inclusive hospitality supersedes fairness and is more virtuous. This might not sit well with a people who consider themselves “God’s chosen ones,” but God deeply yearns for all people regardless of any characteristic or prior actions.
Think of the many ways we feel affronted by unfairness, whether it is a colleague who receives a higher salary for lesser abilities, or the reckless son receives more than he deserves in a will, or a carefree neighbor that takes an easy way out of a financial situation and seemingly gets rewarded. We harbor resentments from these situations and we cannot forget them easily because we strive diligently for justice and equality and the world is not fair. Often, unfair decisions do not favor us and that ‘frosts our cupcakes.’
Sinners and prostitutes were given a chance to begin their lives again. The Jews grumbled, but other souls were saved because of God’s generosity. Unfair decisions to us have a very positive effect upon the person who benefits from the ruling. We can never know how the person will evolve as they sit in gratitude of the ruling. This is mystery. The entire point of the Gospel is to give us eternal life.
Let us move past the point of seeking fairness, but turn the question to, “Am I getting what I need?” Each day gives us a series of intrusions like the bully who cuts the cash register line or we feel threatened by the speeding, impatient driver. Choose justice if you need to, but that is not the solution. You also can choose tolerance, compassion, or kindness because we always have choices. Do not let yourself be a passive doormat, but you can let someone’s rude behavior go because what matters is our pursuit of God’s abiding presence. We possess what others want. If our actions are loving, welcoming, kind, and forgiving, then Christ is being magnified in our souls.
Daily life has many demands on our time and not all of us can rise each morning and take half an hour to pray because kids have to get to school, diapers need changing, mouths need to be fed, or a project has to be finished. Daily routines are exhausting and permit little time for self-care. Simply be gentle to yourself. We are not always going to act as we like, but let us give ourselves credit for conducting ourselves worthy of the Gospel more than we do. We can worry less about the petty squabbles around us because we will get what we need, in light of the world’s unfairness. We are bigger people than that and we know God is generous to a fault. It is up to us to choose to live in God’s generosity where we will understand little, but we will know God cares for us bring new vitality to our actions. Living gratefully helps Christ be magnified in our souls. We will be kinder, more gracious, and filled with a more comprehensive wisdom because we will understand what matters most. You will find God more often than you seek.
Themes for this Week’s Masses
Monday: (Proverbs 3) Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim. Plot no evil against your neighbor, against one who lives at peace with you. Envy not the lawless man and choose none of his ways.
Tuesday: (Proverbs 21) To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord. The soul of the wicked man desires evil; the just man appraises the house of the wicked.
Wednesday: (Proverbs 30) Every word of God is tested. Put falsehood and lying behind me and provide me only with the food I need.
Thursday: (Ecclesiastes 1) Vanity of vanities. What does it profit a man from his labors at which he toils under the sun? Nothing is new under the sun.
Friday: (Ecclesiastes 3) There is an appointed time for every. What advantage has the worker from his toil? The Lord has made everything appropriate to its time and has put the timeless into their hearts.
Saturday: (Ecclesiastes 11) Rejoice, O young one, while you are young and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart, the vision of your eyes. Remember your Creator.
Monday: (Luke 8) No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.
Tuesday: The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowds. Jesus replies, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
Wednesday: (Luke 9) Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Thursday: Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening. He asked, “Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.
Friday: When Jesus was praying in solitude and the disciples were with him, he asked, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
Saturday: While they were all amazed at his every deed, Jesus said to his disciples, “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But they did not understand this saying.
Saints of the Week
September 21: Matthew, evangelist and Apostle (first century), may be two different people, but we have not historical data on either man. Since Matthew relies heavily upon Mark’s Gospel, it is unlikely that the evangelist is one of the Twelve Apostles. The Apostle appears in a list of the Twelve and in Matthew’s Gospel he is called a tax collector. The Evangelist is writing to Jewish-Christians who are urged to embrace their Jewish heritage and to participate in their mission to the Gentiles. To Matthew, Jesus is the fulfillment of the hopes of Jews and the inaugurator of a new way to relate to God.
September 22: Tomas Sitjar, S.J. and the martyrs of Valencia (1866-1936), were killed in the Spanish Civil War just a week after the war broke out. Sitjar was the Rector of Gandia and was formerly the novice director and metaphysics professor. The Jesuit Order was suppressed at the beginning of the war, which sent the men to disperse into apartments, but since the community knew them, they were sought out, imprisoned, and later executed because of their belief in God.
September 23: Pio of Pietrelcina, priest (1887-1968) was affectionately named Padre Pio and was a Capuchin priest who received the stigmata (wounds of Christ) just as Francis of Assisi did. He founded a hospital and became the spiritual advisor to many at a monastery at San Giovanni Rotondo.
September 26: Cosmas and Damian, martyrs (d. 287), were twins who became doctors. They were noted because they never charged anyone a medical fee. They died in the Diocletian persecution. Great miracles have been attributed to them and the Emperor Justinian is claimed to be healed through their intercession.
September 27: Vincent de Paul, priest (1581-1660), was a French peasant who selected to be chaplain at the Queen's household after his ordination. He provided food and clothing to the poor, including prostitutes, the sick, disabled, and homeless. He founded the Congregation of Missions (Vincentians) to preach and train clergy and he co-founded the Daughters of Charity with Louise de Marillac.
This Week in Jesuit History
· Sep 21, 1557. At Salamanca, Melchior Cano wrote to Charles V's confessor, accusing the Jesuits of being heretics in disguise.
· Sep 22, 1774. The death of Pope Clement XIV, worn out with suffering and grief because of the suppression of the Society. False stories had been circulated that he was poisoned by the Jesuits.
· Sep 23, 1869. Woodstock College of the Sacred Heart opened. With 17 priests, 44 scholastics, and 16 brothers it was the largest Jesuit community in the United States at the time.
· Sep 24, 1566. The first Jesuits entered the continental United States at Florida. Pedro Martinez and others, while attempting to land, were driven back by the natives, and forced to make for the island of Tatacuran. He was killed there three weeks later.
· Sep 25, 1617. The death of Francisco Suarez. He wrote 24 volumes on philosophy and theology. As a novice he was found to be very dull, but one of his directors suggested that he ask our Lady's help. He subsequently became a person of prodigious talent.
· Sep 26, 1605. At Rome, Pope Paul V orally declared St Aloysius to be one of the "Blessed." The official brief appeared on October 19.
Sep 27, 1540. Pope Paul III signed the Bull, Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae, which established the Society of Jesus.