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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time
October 26, 2014
Exodus 22:20-26; Psalm 18; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40

Last week in Scripture, Jesus elevated the behavioral choices of the Pharisees when they presented him Caesar’s coin. He urged them to give up their inclination to fight and to choose the way of mercy. Jesus then silenced the Sadducees with his wisdom to which they took offense because they could plainly see they were wrong – a grave offense. Therefore, the Pharisees reconvened in order to trip him up under the guise of politeness. They returned to fight a fiercer battle. They tested him by asking, “What is the foundation of the faith?” to which Jesus replies, “a whole-hearted commitment to merciful love.”

Perhaps the Pharisees were not expecting Jesus to get to the core so swiftly. They would have agreed with him if he said “the law and the prophets” because they cling to tradition and authority so tightly, but he deepened the discussion by reducing it to its most elemental underpinnings – our merciful love for God, which without any further thought naturally includes our neighbors. The same debate the church experiences today is the same internal debate that has existed for millennia. Traditionalists want to preserve the rules and their position while Centrists and Progressives see mercy as the foundation of the laws and traditions. In Rome this week, stories of bishops at odds with one another about matters dealing with the complex situations of family life continue to show that the discussion continues with vigor. God’s commands are made explicit to the newly released Jewish exiles from Egypt in the Exodus first reading: welcome the foreigner and stranger, treat the marginalized with utmost care, rectify any wrongs you’ve created, act justly in business dealings, honor your debts, treat everyone with honor and respect. Love and mercy are the bases for all laws.

The problem that arises is people think that mercy and kindness are positions of weakness. Some people will instantly take advantage of a person they consider weak and their forcefulness in pursuing their issue increases. Mercy seems defenseless against hostility and malicious plotting. Exploitation and bullying of the one who is kind increases to the point that the kind one is forced to lash out back to the mean offender. Love and mercy seems to have no chance against the stronger, harsher one.

Love will win out. Love is patient. It may take longer and it will endure many battle scars, but love and kindness endures. The love of Jesus led him to the Cross-where it seemed that violence and hatred won, but we know better. Love meets suffering with compassion. Mercy has its own strength that is detectable almost imperceptibly, but it continues to resonate with those who experience the radiating flow of this goodness.

When you are in the face of adversity, let your mercy for others rule even if others are going to attack you. Restrain yourself. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it is the prudent, God-guiding course we are to take. Remember that you are not alone. Others will see your good actions. Reach out to them to cement your bonds of friendship. We have not yet tapped into mercy’s power. As the People of God, we have rich resources at our disposal that we have not even considered, but when we begin to use them, we will be justified in the grace we both receive from God and give to others. Place your trust in God and avert your eyes from those who are trying to fight you and define you through their actions. You will find your compassion increases to the point that it includes them.

This summarizes what Paul saw happen to the Thessalonians. They became imitators of God, and they received the word in great affliction, but also with joy from the Holy Spirit. They became a model community for all believers whose example could be seen across the region – and everywhere they went. Trust in the goodness of others around you and support them when you see them standing up for mercy. It is the way forward for the church and the world. They need to know they stand in a community of faith and that the aggregate of their faith has greater power than they can envision. It certainly has more power than force, violence, or unjust laws. Help them see long term. Encourage them to persevere – onwards and upwards – to a future that is characterized by the enduring legacy of our loving responses to one another. Let us stand together so the world can see the captivating mystery of our love.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Ephesians 4) Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you. Be imitators of God, and live in love, as Christ loved us.
Tuesday: You are not longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Wednesday: Children, obey your parents. Fathers, bring up your children with instruction of the Lord. Slaves be obedient to your masters, but be as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, willingly serving God and not humans, knowing that each will be requited from the Lord for whatever good he does. Masters, act in the same way and stop bullying.
Thursday: Draw your strength from the Lord. Put on the armor of God so that you can stand firm against the Devil’s tactics. With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.
Friday: I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy because of the partnership for the Gospel from the first day until now.
Saturday: I, John, saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. A multitude of angels stood before the Lamb and cried out, “Salvation comes from our God who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb.”  

Monday: (Luke 13) Jesus was teaching in a synagogue when he spotted a woman who was crippled for eighteen years. He freed her from her infirmity, but many became indignant because he healed on the Sabbath.
Tuesday: (Luke 6) Jesus went up a mountain to pray and he spent the night in prayer. When day came, he called his disciples and from them chose Twelve.
Wednesday: (Luke 13) Jesus passed through many towns and villages as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Will only a few people be saved?” He told them to be vigilant for no one knows the time or the hour.
Thursday: Pharisees came to Jesus and told him to go away because Herod wants to kill him. He replied that he must continue along his way for a prophet must not die outside of Jerusalem. Then he wept for the holy city.
Friday: On a Sabbath, Jesus dined with a leading Pharisee and a man with dropsy appeared. Jesus asked if it was permissible to heal on the Sabbath. He healed him while everyone kept silent.  
Saturday:  (Matthew 5: All Souls Day) Jesus went up a mountain before the crowds and sat down. He began to teach them and gave them the Beatitudes.

Saints of the Week

October 28: Simon and Jude, apostles (first century) were two of the Twelve Disciples called by Jesus, but little is known about them. We think they are Simon the Zealot and Judas, the son of James. Simon was most likely a Zealot sympathizer who would have desired revolution against Rome; Jude is also called Thaddeus, and is patron saint of hopeless causes. Both apostles suffered martyrdom.

October 30: Dominic Collins, S.J., priest and martyr (1566-1602), was a Jesuit brother who was martyred in his native Ireland. He became a professional solider in the Catholic armies of Europe after the Desmond Rebellion was put down in 1583. He joined the Jesuits in 1584 at Santiago de Compostela and was sent back to Ireland in 1601 with a Spanish contingent. He was captured, tried for his faith, and sentenced to death.

October 31: Alphonsus Rodriguez, S.J. (1532-1617) was widowed at age 31. When his three children died, Alphonsus joined the Jesuits as a lay brother at age 40 after attempting to complete the rigors of study. He was sent to the newly opened college in Majorca where he served as a porter for 46 years. His manner of calling people to sanctification was extraordinary. He served obediently and helped others to focus on their spiritual lives.

October 31: All Hallows Eve (evening) owes its origins to a Celtic festival that marked summer's end. The term was first used in 16th century Scotland. Trick or treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling when poor people would go door to door on Hallomas (November 1) receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2.)

November 1: All Saints Day honors the countless faithful believers - living and dead - who have helped us along in our faith. Our liturgical calendar is filled with canonized saints, but we have many blesseds and minor saints who no longer appear on it. We have local saints across the world. We have many people who live Gospel values who we appreciate and imitate. We remember all of these people on this day.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Oct 26, 1546. The Province of Portugal was established as the first province in the Society, with Simao Rodriguez as its first provincial superior.
·      Oct 27, 1610. The initial entrance of the Jesuits into Canada. The mission had been recommended to the Society by Henry IV.
·      Oct 28, 1958. The death of Wilfrid Parsons, founder of Thought magazine and editor of America from 1925 to 1936.
·      Oct 29, 1645. In the General Chapter of the Benedictines in Portugal, a statement published by one of their order, that said St Ignatius had borrowed the matter in his Spiritual Exercises from a Benedictine author, was indignantly repudiated.
·      Oct 30, 1638. On this day, John Milton, the great English poet, dined with the Fathers and students of the English College in Rome.
·      Oct 31, 1602. At Cork, the martyrdom of Dominic Collins, an Irish brother, who was hanged, drawn, and quartered for his adherence to the faith.

·      Nov 1, 1956. The Society of Jesus was allowed in Norway.

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