Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 28, 2014
Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm 25; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32


Each of us has a particular worldview and fundamental attitude towards life. Some are optimists; others fear to engage with the world; some are defensive and protective; some attitudes have been tarnished because life has beaten them down. We have guiding principles and mantras that keep us going forward during challenging times, even though we may not be consciously aware of those life ethics, but our social and cultural contexts shape the way we develop our baseline attitudes in life.

Scripture examines these attitudes this week and respectfully asks to consider adjusting yours if needed. In Ezekiel’s letter, the Lord challenges the people by asking, “Who is it that told you my way is not fair? Look at your ways. They are unfair to many.” Then the Lord points out that everyone is to look inward to see if they are on a path to perdition. If so, they are to turn away from sin because even the most wicked person can gain eternal life. One’s change of heart is what matters to God. Let it always move towards right relations.

Matthew’s Gospel provides an example of a conversion of heart. I always preach the virtues of saying, “Yes,” but of course, it must be followed by a commitment to honor your word. In this case, the son who says “No” is the admirable one. He speaks about what he does not want and is true to his word, but he later has a change of heart and honors his father’s goals and seeks to help him out. The son who said “No” became conscious of others while the son who said “Yes” simply focused upon himself and did only what he wants. Jesus takes this further in order to explain to the Jews that they are the sons who said “Yes” but become self-focused, while those they discarded from their religion initially said “No” and had a profound change of heart. A seismic shift occurred in their religion. The ones who were on the outside looking in are now at the very center of the faith, and they come to it with wisdom, compassion, prudence, and open-armed hospitality.

Paul in Philippians tells us that we are to adopt the same attitude that is in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we are not to be selfish because we regard others as equally important as ourselves and that we do not only look to our interests, but we look to promote the common good.

The idea of the common good is important to consider because many times we give away our self-interests for the desires of another who is only self-interested. Be cautious about this because we do not want to enable the poor behavior of others or to let the ‘giving’ part of the relationships be tilted too much in one direction. If we are always giving without getting reciprocal adequate respect, we have to pause so we can evaluate (a.) the relationship, or (b.) my patterns of this particular relationship. Each has to look out for the interests of others and if my relationship partner is not as concerned for me as I am for the other, I have to ask myself some questions and perhaps make adjustments.

Especially as I wake up in the morning, I need to ask myself, “How do I feel about my job, marriage or relationship, my hope for the future?” If I am dissatisfied, I then wonder if I need something to change my attitude. For instance, falling in love with my spouse or partner or my community is an every morning choice. Committing wholeheartedly to my job is something I have to renew periodically. Caring for a family member whose behavior is dysfunctional requires something greater out of me and I have to choose how to care enough about the person to stay in the relationship. With our attitude, we always retain the freedom to choose. Our prayer has to be, “What is going to be most effective for making me the person God wants me to be? How can I contribute to the betterment of my own world?”

Adopting the attitudes of Christ means we learn the see others as he sees them. Christ has a different point of view from us and he have to ask him how he experiences another person. We need to spend time in private prayer letting him reveal his mind, heart, and attitudes towards us so our worldview can be enlarged. If we want compassion in the world, our behaviors must be compassionate. If we want kindness, we have to be kind. Take some time this week to evaluate where you are and where you want to go. I promise you that you will get there. Let us encourage one another in Christ too. Let us gently, slowly, deliberately move towards living in the quiet joy of Christ who is rich in mercy and compassion and calls forth the best from us. Let his mind, values, and attitudes seep into your soul. You will be very happy with the person you are becoming.

 Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Daniel 7 – Archangels) As Daniel watches the holy liturgy in heaven, he sees the Ancient One take his throne and all the powers and principalities and angels serve and worship the Lord.
Tuesday: (Job 3 - Jerome) Job opened his mouth and curses the day saying, “Why did I not perish at birth?” Why must I suffer such a fate?
Wednesday: (Job 9 – Therese of Lisieux) Job answers his friends, “How can a person be justified before God?” The power imbalance is wide and God would not choose to contend with him.
Thursday: (Job 19 – Guardian Angel) Job said, “Pity me, my friends, for the hand of God has struck me! Why do you hound me as though you were divine, and insatiably prey upon me?”
Friday: (Job 38) The Lord addressed Job: Have you commanded the morning, enter the sources of the sea, seen the gates of hell, comprehended the breadth of the earth? Job answers, “I am of little account. I put my hand over my mouth and I will speak no more.”
Saturday: (Job 42 – Francis of Assisi) Job answers, “I know you can do all things. I disown what I have said and repent in dust and ashes.”

Gospel: 
Monday: (John 1 - Archangels) Nathaniel saw Jesus and exclaimed, “Here is a true child of Israel.” Jesus replied, “In this man, there is not duplicity.” He then said, “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Tuesday: Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem, but when he and his disciples entered a Samaritan village, they would not receive them because the destination of their journey was Jerusalem.
Wednesday: (Luke 9) A disciple said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go,” and Jesus replies, “Foxes have dens and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
Thursday: The disciples approached Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” and Jesus pulled a child to himself and said, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.”
Friday: Jesus exclaimed, “Woe to you, Chorazin and Bethsaida. If the deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.”
Saturday:  The seventy-two disciples return to Jesus rejoicing at the events done in his name. Jesus gives thanks to his father and then blesses his disciples.

Saints of the Week

September 28: Wenceslaus, martyr (907-929), was raised a Christian by his grandmother while his mother and brother were opposed to Christianity. His brother opposed him when he became ruler of Bohemia in 922. He introduced strict reforms that caused great dissatisfaction among nobles and political adversaries. His brother invited him to a religious ceremony where he was killed in a surprise attack.

September 28: Lawrence Ruiz and 15 companion martyrs (seventeenth century), were killed in Nagasaki, Japan during 1633 and 1637. Most of these Christians were friends of the Dominicans. Lawrence, a Filipino, was a husband and father. He and these other missionaries served the Philippines, Formosa, and Japan.

September 29: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels are long a part of Christian and Jewish scripture. Michael is the angel who fights against evil as the head of all the angels; Gabriel announces the messiah's arrival and the births of Jesus and John the Baptist; and Raphael is a guardian angel who protects Tobias on his journey. Together, they are venerated to represent all the angels during a three-day period.

September 30: Jerome, priest and doctor (342-420), studied Greek and Latin as a young man after his baptism by Pope Liberius. He learned Hebrew when he became a monk and after ordination he studied scripture with Gregory Nazianzen in Constantinople. He became secretary to the Pope when he was asked to translate the Bible into Latin.

October 1: Teresa of Jesus, doctor (1515-1582), entered the Carmelites in Avila and became disenchanted with the laxity of the order. She progressed in prayer and had mystical visions. She introduced stricter reforms through her guidance of John of the Cross and Peter Alcantara. They founded the Discalced Carmelites for men and women.

October 2: The Guardian Angels are messengers and intermediaries between God and humans. They help us in our struggle against evil and they serve as guardians, the feast we celebrate today. Raphael is one of the guardians written about in the Book of Tobit. A memorial was added to the Roman calendar In 1670 in thanksgiving for their assistance.

October 3: Francis Borgia, S.J. became a duke at age 33. When his wife died and his eight children were grown, he joined the Jesuits. His preaching brought many people to the church and when he served as Superior General, the Society increased dramatically in Spain and Portugal. He established many missions in the new territories.

October 4: Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) was from the wealthy Bernardone family who sold silk cloths. After serving as soldier as a prisoner of war, Francis chose to serve God and the poor. He felt called to repair God's house, which he thought was a church. His father was angry that he used family money so he disinherited him. He began to preach repentance and recruited others to his way of life. His order is known for poverty, simplicity, humble service, and delighting in creation.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 28, 1572. Fifteen Jesuits arrived in Mexico to establish the Mexican Province. They soon opened a college.
·      Sep 29, 1558. In the Gesu, Rome, and elsewhere, the Jesuits began to keep Choir, in obedience to an order from Paul IV. This practice lasted less than a year, until the pope's death in August, 1559.
·      Sep 30, 1911. President William Howard Taft visited Saint Louis University and declared the football season open.
·      Oct 1, 1546. Isabel Roser was released from her Jesuit vows by St Ignatius after eight months.
·      Oct 2, 1964. Fr. General Janssens suffered a stroke and died three days later. During his generalate, the Society grew from 53 to 85 provinces, and from 28,839 to 35,968 members.
·      Oct 3, 1901. In France, religious persecution broke out afresh with the passing of Waldeck Rousseau's "Loi d'Association."
·      Oct 4, 1820. In Rome, great troubles arose before and during the Twentieth General Congregation, caused by Fr. Petrucci's intrigues. He sought to wreck the Society and was deposed from his office as Vicar General, though supported by Cardinal della Genga (afterwards Leo XII).