Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Twenty-Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time
October 12, 2014
Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 23; Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20; Matthew 22:1-14


For the third week in a row, we hear a story about ways in which we say “no” to God without even uttering the word. Today, God as king cannot get anyone to come to the feast to honor his son at his wedding feast. Despite sending servants from farms to businesses, the people have no interest in attending the banquet. The people even kill the messengers. The king orders more servants into the streets to round up enough people to pack the halls, but one man in particular continues to show disrespect by not dressings appropriately for the party.

Of course, Jesus is telling his fellow Jews that God has always treated the people well, but they are largely uninterested in having a relationship with him. God will always hold out hope for his beloved ones, but God will go where the “yesses” are. If people are stubborn and resistant and are always saying “no”, God will invite others to the banquet, which is the reason God opened the doors of the Jewish world to tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes, and those whom social elites looks down upon. God shakes up the social order when calling all people to the kingdom. In this case, God takes away the kingdom from the Chosen Ones and gives it to those for whom it was once impossible. God, however, does have expectations. You cannot show up to a feast without first giving it some thought. If you are not properly disposed then take some time to consider how you will dress yourself.

Listen again to Isaiah’s words about God’s concerned care for the people: God will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines. God will destroy death forever. God will wipe away the tears from every face and we will rejoice because God has saved us. The Psalmist then tells us that God will act as the good shepherd in whose care we will be given all we need. Then Paul tells us in Philippians that God will supply whatever anyone needs in accord with God’s glorious riches in Christ Jesus. If this is what God offers us, why are so many uninterested in such a relationship? What balanced person does not want goodness and kindness to follow them all the days of their lives? Who would not want to dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come? Sadly, many still are uninterested and many say “no.”

We have to examine how committed we are in our relationship with God. Let’s start with a practical question raised in the Gospel: Our God, the Lord of the Universe, has just invited you to a banquet in honor of his son. We call it the Liturgy of the mass. How well do you dress for church? Did you give your attire much consideration before you came to mass? The way we represent ourselves outwardly is a reflection of the way we inwardly manifest ourselves. The question is really about how our outward actions convey some aspects of our relationship. The question points to our underlying attitudes. Therefore, examine the state of your relationship: Are you casual, passive, uninterested, deeply grateful, or on fire? Perhaps there are other terms that best express where you stand.

If you come to mass but lack passion in the relationship, thank you for showing up. It is a good start to just come even if your heart is not in it because God can do all kinds of things to strengthen us. Give yourself some credit. Sometimes life is heavy and you cannot garner the energy for passion. In fact, thank you all for coming. It does represent something very positive in your fundamental attitude towards God. Take the time to assess what you have to give back to the friendship.

A soul filled with gratitude offers the best expression back to God. It causes us to do all sorts of things that surprise us and make us happy. Gratitude refreshes our souls and it guides us in right paths because we are attuned to making God happy. Paul, who writes from his imprisonment, says that he has learned the secret of respecting his life circumstances, whether it is one of abundance or scarcity. He lives without worry because God supplies him in every situation. All he has to do is turn back to God and say “thanks.” Gratitude looks good on us. It dresses us well and God is well pleased when we rejoice and are glad because we acknowledge the tremendous richness God heaps upon us. This super-abundant banquet to which we are invited satisfies every desire and longing. Dress yourself well in gratitude and enjoy to your heart’s content. God invites you – personally. By all means, say, “Yes.”

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Galatians 4) Paul writes about Abraham having two sons – one born of a slave woman and the other of a freeborn woman. For freedom, Christ set us free; Stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
Tuesday: Those of you who choose circumcision makes yourselves bound to the law. In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision or uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
Wednesday: If you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit.
Thursday: (Ephesians 1) In Christ Jesus, we have redemption by his blood, for the forgiveness of sins. In wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will as set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ.
Friday: We were chosen so that we might exist for the praise of his glory. You were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession.
Saturday: (2 Timothy) Luke stands with me, while everyone else has deserted me. Send for Mark. The Lord stood by me and gave me strength so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Luke 11) As people gathered around Jesus, he decries that they seek a sign. Standing before them is someone stronger than the sign of Jonah or the wisdom of Solomon, but they do not recognize it.
Tuesday: Jesus rebukes the Pharisee, who at dinner criticizes him for not observing the prescribed washing before the meal.
Wednesday: Jesus insults the Pharisees because they pay no attention to judgment and the love of God. He insults scholars of the law who impose burdens that are hard for people to carry.
Thursday: Jesus continues his verbal assault of those who build memorials to prophets, but silence the modern-day prophets and Apostles. He assaults the scholars of the law for taking away the key of knowledge. The scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility towards him. They plot to catch him at something he might say.
Friday: Beware of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna.
Saturday:  (Luke 10) Jesus appointed 72 disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few. If you come to a peaceful place, rest there. If not, shake the dust from your boots and move on. Wherever you go, say to them, “The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.”

Saints of the Week

October 12: John Beyzym, S.J., priest (1850-1912), was Ukranian-born, entered the Jesuits, and petitioned to work among the people of Madagascar who had Hansen’s disease (leprosy.) Since the lepers lived in remote shanty buildings with no windows or facilities, Beyzym worked hard to improve their living conditions, build a hospital, and a church. He died after contracting the disease.

October 14: Callistus I, pope and martyr (d. 222) was a slave of a Christian who put him in charge of a bank that failed. He was jailed and upon his release became a deacon and counselor to Pope Zephyrinus. He became the first overseer of the official Christian cemetery that was eventually named after him. When he was elected Pope he introduced humanitarian reforms. He died during an uprising against Christians. 

October 15: Teresa of Avila, doctor (1873-1897),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 16: Hedwig, religious, at age 12 married Henry, a prince who would become king of Silesia. As a monarch, they built a Cistercian monastery for women. They soon built many other religious houses and hospitals. She chose to live in austere poverty to be in solidarity with the poor.

October 16: Margaret Mary Alocoque entered the Visitation Order at Paray-le-Monial in 1671. She received visions of Christ's love and told her Jesuit spiritual director, Claude la Colombiere, who asked her to write about her experiences. They developed the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her community resisted her promotion of the devotion at first, but later came to see the power of the prayers.

October 17: Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr (d. 107) was born around 33 A.D. and became a leading figure in the new church at Antioch. He served as bishop for 38 years before he was persecuted and killed under Emperor Trajan for being a Christian leader. He wrote seven letters about church life in the early second century and is the first-mentioned martyr of Roman heroes in the first Eucharistic Prayer.

October 18: Luke, evangelist (first century) was the author of his version of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. He is described as a doctor and a friend of Paul. He was a well-educated Gentile who was familiar with the Jewish scriptures and he wrote to other Gentiles who were coming into a faith.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      October 12, 1976: The murder in rural Brazil of Joao Bosco Burnier, SJ, who was shot and killed by soldiers for protesting the torture of two poor women.
·      October 13, 1537: At Venice the Papal Nuncio published his written verdict declaring that Ignatius Loyola was innocent of all charges which had been leveled against him by his detractors.
·      October 14, 1774: A French Jesuit in China wrote an epitaph to the Jesuit mission in China after the suppression of the Society. It concludes: "Go, traveler, continue on your way. Felicitate the dead; weep for the living; pray for all. Wonder, and be silent."
·      October 15, 1582: St Teresa of Avila died on this day -- the first day of the new Gregorian calendar. She always wished to have a Jesuit as a confessor.
·      October 16, 1873: About two weeks after Victor Emmanuel's visit to Berlin, where he had long conferences with Bismark, rumors reached the Society in Rome that all of their houses in Rome were threatened.
·      October 17, 1578: St Robert Bellarmine entered the Jesuit novitiate of San Andrea in Rome at the age of 16.

·      October 18, 1553: A theological course was opened in our college in Lisbon; 400 students were at once enrolled.