Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
September 7, 2014
Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20


The one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Scripture this week focuses upon our conduct towards those around us, especially in times when we have been harmed by their actions. Love does no evil. Ezekiel says that you are responsible for the wicked person’s death if you do not dissuade him from doing evil. Jesus tells us to speak to your brother about his fault privately so you can settle the affair, respect his honor, and restore the sacred fraternal relationship. Scripture keeps returning to the point that we are to revere others’ freedom and well-being and we are to lovingly help them make choices that will help them do what is right in society. Even the rudest stranger, we are to treat with kindness, because we have a responsibility to that person who is poorly coping with issues that keep them from pursuing their happiness. Love builds up, encourages, and creates possibilities.

Each of us has had recent interactions when we kindly ask someone to consider our situations as their behavior negative intrudes upon us and we are treated with a defensive posture. Just a week ago, when two friends and I were watching an outdoor movie, a young woman stood up to stretch her legs and remained standing for a couple of minutes. I approached her to ask if she realized she was blocking our view and she exclaimed, “Why? Where are you sitting? I have a right to stand up.” I said silently, “Yes you do have a right, but I’m asking you to think about others,” but I paused, offered no argument, and then softly spoke, “We simply cannot see through you and we came to watch the movie.” She looked at me in anger until the man she was with said, “Honey, please sit down. You are blocking their view.” She complied.

Her response is fairly typical. I was the one who was infringing upon her freedom and she had the right to assert herself and defend her actions and I was the one who posed the threat because I called into question her choices. These days, we defend ourselves from those whose motives we do not know if we can trust and we therefore treat everyone as if they mean to threaten us. Just notice our driving patterns where we do not let anyone get an undeserved inch on the roadways. Some drivers must pass what they perceive as a slower driver so they can get ahead of us to slow down to the same speed we are driving. When we do not see the eyes or face of another person, that is, their humanity, we hold them as inhuman adversaries whose intentions are always suspect and we position ourselves defensively in case they are threats.

Everyone can appreciate the idealistic words and the harmonious sentiment of the readings, but no one gives you the tools to smoothly admonish your brother and sister in ways they can hear. When we try extra hard to be kind, we still cannot predict how somehow will respond to our gentle requests. To many, being kind means being soft; therefore they have the right to take advantage of someone who is weaker than I am. To this God responds, “Keep being kind. Keep smiling. Nothing is quite as powerful as true gentleness.”

The Gospel gives us a blueprint on the steps we need to take to resolve the dispute, but it does not tell us how to do it. The steps he mentions says that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of witnesses,’ but that is not enough because we have to begin with the assertions that, ‘No one will ever admit guilt or wrongness.’ Logic, facts, and argumentation never settle disputes. Only acknowledging the hurt we caused settles arguments. Even those found guilty of crimes by judge and jury profess their innocence.

The style of our approach dictates whether we will be successful. Love does no evil. Love does no harm. The law is fulfilled when we respond lovingly. I have to quickly think, “How can my words salvage this person’s honor? How can I not dismiss the person or say something that sounds as if I am judging?” We have to disarm the person and make them feel instantly comfortable. If I say, “I’m not sure I have the best words to convey this, but I’ll try,” then we at least set the person up to hear you. Never just jump in with statements that correct behaviors. Also, if someone’s words hurt us, tell them. Say, “Ouch.” Let the person know their words affect you greatly and you carry that hurt with you. Sane people do not want to hurt you. People really do not want to be the cause of unnecessary harm. One of our greatest gifts to develop is speaking from a loving place all day long – lovingly to ourselves, lovingly to strangers and neighbors, lovingly to adversaries. It often does not matter how they respond. What matters is that I continue to grow in love.

Love is powerful because it does no evil. Love does no harm, but it builds up and encourages. It creates new possibilities. Love fulfills the law because love is the basis of all law. The questions I ask myself each day are, “Am I growing in love? How can I grow more respectfully? Can the words I speak mirror the love I have in my heart for others?” I let God do the rest.

 Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Mary’s Birthday – Malachi) You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah, to small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel.
Tuesday: (1 Corinthians 6) Do not act unjustly as most in the world do. Instead, bring cases to the Holy Ones because you have been washed already, and you are justified in Christ.
Wednesday: Since the end of the world is imminent, respect your condition in life. Christ, when he comes again, will sort everything out in the last judgments.
Thursday: Love builds up, not knowledge, which inflates with pride. Otherwise, stay away from idol worship. If food causes my brother to sin, I will never eat meat again so I may not cause my brother to sin.
Friday: (Naming of Mary) When I preach, I offer the Gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel.
Saturday: (Chrysostom) Avoid idolatry. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Matthew 1: Birth of Mary) The genealogy of Jesus through Joseph is outlined followed by how the birth of Jesus came about through Joseph’s decision to take Mary into his house rather than expose her to shame.
Tuesday: (Peter Claver) Jesus departed to the mountains to pray and after spending the night in prayer, he called his disciples to himself and from them he chose Twelve.
Wednesday: (Luke 6) Jesus raised his eyes toward his disciples and said, “Blessed are you…  Rejoice and leap fr you for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thursday: During the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus says, “Love your neighbor, Stop judging and you will not be judged; give good gifts and you will be rewarded.”
Friday: No disciples is superior to his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye and not see the plank in your own?
Saturday:  A good tree does not bear rotten fruit. If I am your Lord, you will do what I command because the one who loves me listens to my words and acts upon them.

Saints of the Week

September 7: Stephen Pongracz (priest), Melchior Grodziecki (priest), and Mark Krizevcanin (canon) of the Society of Jesus were martyred in 1619 when they would not deny their faith in Slovakia. They were chaplains to Hungarian Catholic troops, which raised the ire of Calvinists who opposed the Emperor. They were brutally murdered through a lengthy process that most Calvinists and Protestants opposed.

September 8: The Birth of Mary was originally (like all good feasts) celebrated first in the Eastern Church. The Roman church began its devotion in the fifth century. Her birth celebrates her role as the mother of Jesus. Some traditions have her born in Nazareth while others say she hails from outside of Jerusalem.

September 9: Peter Claver, S.J. (1580-1654) became a Jesuit in 1600 and was sent to the mission in Cartegena, Colombia, a center of slave trade. For forty years, Claver ministered to the newly arrived Africans by giving them food, water, and medical care. Unfortunately, he died ostracized by his Jesuit community because he insisted on continuing the unpopular act of treating the slaves humanely.

September 10: Francis Garate, S.J. (1857-1929) was a Basque who entered the Jesuits and became a doorkeeper at the Univeristy of Deusto in Bilbao. He modeled his ministry after Alphonsus Rodriguez and became known for his innate goodness, humility, and prayerfulness.

September 12: The Name of Mary was given to the child in the octave that follow her birth on September 8th. Mary (Miriam) was a popular name for a girl because it means "beloved."

September 13: John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor (347-407) was a gifted homilist and was called "Golden Mouth" because his words inspired many. He was raised in Antioch and joined a community of austere hermits but the lifestyle damaged his health. He became the archbishop of Constantinople where he introduced many conservative and unpopular reforms. He fled to escape an uprising from the people and on the way to exile he died.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Sep 7, 1773. King Louis XV wrote to Clement XIV, expressing his heartfelt joy at the suppression of the Society.
·      Sep 8, 1600. Fr. Matteo Ricci set out on his journey to Peking (Beijing). He experienced enormous difficulties in reaching the royal city, being stopped on his way by one of the powerful mandarins.
·      Sep 9, 1773. At Lisbon, Carvalho, acting in the king's name, ordered public prayers for the deliverance of the world from the "pestilence of Jesuitism."
·      Sep 10, 1622. The martyrdom at Nagaski, Japan, of Charles Spinola and his companions.
·      Sep 11, 1681. At Antwerp, the death of Fr. Geoffry Henschen (Henschenius). A man of extraordinary learning, he was Fr. Jan von Bolland's assistant in compiling the Acts of the Saints.
·      Sep 12, 1744. Benedict XIV's second Bull, Omnium Sollicitudinum, forbade the Chinese Rites. Persecution followed in China.

·      Sep 13, 1773. Frederick II of Prussia informed the pope that the Jesuits would not be suppressed in Prussia and invited Jesuits to come.