Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time
All Souls Day
November 2, 2014
Wisdom 3:1-9; Psalm 23; Romans 5:5-11; John 6:37-40

“The souls of the just are in the hands of God.” These comforting words have brought consolation to many over centuries as they grieve at funerals for their loved ones. Far too often we suffer silently, but this feast is designed to make our grieving communal. It is a time when we realize that many other people are experiencing the same sort of loss as we are. It is a feast that recognizes that we hurt together, but when we touch each other’s pain we begin to heal and to bring greater meaning to the senselessness of death. When we come together we are strengthened by each other’s stories of love and care and we begin to notice God’s activity among the living and the dead.

As funerals are meant to console the living, this feast is conceived as a resource to make us aware of the “live” presence of our deceased loved ones who hold an active part of our life. They are alive to God and to us in a unique way and they shall never be forgotten. Just as we can know that Christ, Mary, or particular saints are responsible for certain events in our day, we become aware that our special loved ones are similarly interceding, not just in heaven but on earth. It gives us great comfort because we come to know that the life beyond this earth has continuity with this life, that there is great activity in heaven, and this activity is intended to unite us to one another, not just with our deceased, but with one another.

Unity within the church is a primary concern. You will find reference to unity in many liturgical prayers during mass because the early church members knew that we needed to encourage one another to understand the rich nuances of the faith. If we do not stand together, we are vulnerable to attacks from the evil spirits and from those who do not want to understand our majestic tradition. With this in mind, it is disturbing that there is pronounced dissension within the church among Traditionalists, Centrists, and Progressives. The tone and rhetoric is likened to a political campaigner whose goal is to destroy the opponent. This is not the way of Jesus Christ. This is the wrong way to go forward.

In light of this feast, we need to look upon one another to see that their journey to Christ might take a different path than our own. That is O.K. We need to respect where another person is and how it is they want to pursue holiness. In the mode of Pope Francis, we have to withhold judging and making sweeping statements about righteousness. What gives us the right to judge another person? That domain belongs to Christ. The better question to ask is, “Is the person becoming a more loving person?”

Inherent with the debate among the factions of the church is great pain. Traditionalists hold great pain amidst their hope for the church. So do Centrists, as well as Progressives. The tendency is to scold, correct, impose, and to exclude. That is not the way forward. The trick is to be able to touch the pain of others so that our comprehension increases. When we understand the suffering of another, we treat one another better and we refrain from hurting them more deeply. We respect where the “other” is and we are able to treat our brother or sister with due reverence because we who suffer stand in solidarity with other vulnerable sufferers.

The disappointment in these culture wars and church battles is that we focus upon one another’s political stance. We fail to see the Christian at the core. Our important issues become our significant focus and we simply fail to see or respect Christ. We no longer look to God because we are looking at our and our opponent’s positions. We need to raise our eyes and look for God as the first, middle, and last activities of our day. If we do this, then we will agree with Jesus as he speaks to the crowds in the Fourth Gospel when he says, “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my will but the will of the one who sent me.” God’s will, he continues, “is that I should not lose anything of what he gave me.”

We are Christians. Let us learn to no longer reject our brothers and sisters whose journey may take them on a path that is different from our own. Let us replace this rejection with welcome and acceptance, just as God will not reject anyone who comes to Jesus. We can learn from one another when we reach out to our brothers and sisters and say, “Tell me about your pain. Tell me about your struggle and chaos.” We begin to stand in solidarity with others who are different from us, and we find they are more similar than we imagined. Let us strive for unity that comes from a faith that seeks to understand and we will find great comfort that we are the communion of saints and that God truly is among us. Our souls are in the hand of God and no torment shall touch us. Let us be at peace.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Philippians 2) Be of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of vainglory or selfishness and humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.  
Tuesday: Have among yourselves the same attitude as Jesus Christ who did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Wednesday: Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for God is the one who works in you both to desire and to work. Rejoice and share my joy.
Thursday: Whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider as a loss because of Christ. I consider everything a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
Friday: Join with others in being imitators of me and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a savior.
Saturday: Dear Thessalonians, you have stood by me when others did not. I am well supplied because of what I received from you, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.  

Monday: (Luke 14) When Jesus went to dine at the home of a leading Pharisee, he said, “Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. Blessed you will be because of their inability to repay you.”
Tuesday: At the table Jesus told a parable about a man who gave a great dinner to which many were invited, but few showed. The man said to his servant, “Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled.”
Wednesday: Great crowds followed Jesus. He turned to them and said, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
Thursday: Tax collectors and sinners were drawing near to listen to Jesus and the Pharisees began to complain. There will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
Friday: A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. The condemned man set to work to resolve many of the debts and the master commended the dishonest steward for acting prudently to make amends.   
Saturday:  Make friends for yourself with dishonest wealth so that when it fails you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The one who is trustworthy is very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones.

Saints of the Week

November 2: All Souls Day is the commemoration of the faithful departed. November is known as All Souls Month. We remember those who died as we hasten towards the end of the liturgical year and the great feast of Christ the King. As a tradition, we have always remembered our dead as a way of keeping them alive to us and giving thanks to God for their lives.

November 3: Rupert Mayer, S.J., priest (1876-1945), resisted the Nazi government and died while saying Mass of a stroke. In 1937, he was placed in protective custody and was eventually released when he agreed that he would no longer preach.

November 3: Martin de Porres, religious (1579-1639) was a Peruvian born of a Spanish knight and a Panamanian Indian woman. Because he was not pure blood, he lost many privileges in the ruling classes. He became a Dominican and served the community in many menial jobs. He was known for tending to the sick and poor and for maintaining a rigorous prayer life.

November 4: Charles Borromeo, bishop (1538-1584), was made Bishop of Milan at age 22. He was the nephew of Pope Pius IV. He was a leading Archbishop in the Catholic Reformation that followed the Council of Trent. During a plague epidemic, Borromeo visited the hardest hit areas so he could provide pastoral care to the sick.

November 5: All Saints and Blessed of the Society of Jesus are remembered by Jesuits on their particularized liturgical calendar. We remember not only the major saints on the calendar, but also those who are in the canonization process and hold the title of Blessed. We pray for all souls of deceased Jesuits in our province during the month by using our necrology (listing of the dead.)

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Nov 2, 1661. The death of Daniel Seghers, a famous painter of insects and flowers.
·      Nov 3, 1614. Dutch pirates failed to capture the vessel in which the right arm of Francis Xavier was being brought to Rome.
·      Nov 4, 1768. On the feast of St Charles, patron of Charles III, King of Spain, the people of Madrid asked for the recall of the Jesuits who had been banished from Spain nineteen months earlier. Irritated by this demand, the king drove the Archbishop of Toledo and his Vicar General into exile as instigators of the movement.
·      Nov 5, 1660. The death of Alexandre de Rhodes, one of the most effective Jesuit missionaries of all time. A native of France, he arrived in what is now Vietnam in 1625.
·      Nov 6, 1789. Fr. John Carroll of Maryland was appointed to be the first Bishop of Baltimore.
·      Nov 7, 1717. The death of Antonio Baldinucci, an itinerant preacher to the inhabitants of the Italian countryside near Rome.

·      Nov 8, 1769. In Spain, Charles III ordered all of the Society's goods to be sold and sent a peremptory demand to the newly-elected Pope Clement XIV to have the Society suppressed.