Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
November 16, 2014
Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; Psalm 128; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30

Give freely from a generous heart and everything will work out just fine. The theme of doing your best in all circumstances resonates in each reading today. It begins in Proverbs when a wise teacher instructs a young man to cherish his worthy wife beyond all other treasures in life. The implication is that each person in a committed relationship is to wake up each morning and bless the other person his or her life. We tend to primarily bless our partners and communities, but we must also bless our parents and children, relatives and friends, colleagues and strangers alike. When we bless another person, we sanctify them and make them holy. In return, they bestow blessings upon us. We cultivate an environment where people are able to respond freely and generously, a place where most people naturally want to be.

The Gospel gives us a parable of a trusting man who distributes his talents, his possessions, to his workers as he sets forth on a journey. Two workers invest well and make a nice return for their employer. The third acts out of fear and preciously conserves what has been given over to him for protection. When the employer returns from his journey, he is delighted with the creative investment of the first two workers and is frightfully dismayed with the attitude of the third man. Those who were faithful in small matters are able to share the master’s joy and gain additional responsibilities.

The parable of the talents reminds us that we have a responsibility to develop our God-given skills and abilities. The worst thing we can do to God is to let a talent remain hidden and undeveloped. We do not do it solely for our personal pleasure, but with another in mind. We need to see it as a ministry of formation and development and an act of service. Just as the workers of the parable respect their boss enough to make nice returns on his investment, we are to creatively offer our gifts to others. This is perfectly in sync with the first reading. A spouse offers him or herself to the other spouse as a gift that is always developing and we realize how much the other is a gift back to us. We then spend our time enjoying the richness of others. Most parents of young children gaze in amazement over the raw, natural talent that emerges effortlessly. Life is well spent when we can look upon each other with admiration and wonder.

We also know that at times we do not feel generous and in the short term we need to receive more than we give. It is perfectly fine to recognize what we need and then to ask for it. The important matter to remember is to acknowledge who is doing the giving to you. You might be astonished at the number of people and the types of people who are ministering to you just because they care for you. I guarantee there will be a person whom you least expect to be kind to you who will show genuine concern. Make a mental footnote of their positive actions towards you. One day you will have the chance to bless them equally.

Who we are is more important than what we do. What we do is much less important that how we do what we do. St. Paul reminds us that we are children of the light and children of the day and that our style and conduct towards each other must define us. We will find that we will worry less about our daily concerns if we focus on “how” we want to be rather than what we want to see done. Take a look at Pope Francis. He wants the style of the church to come into more conformity with the style of Jesus of Nazareth. He wants us to listen attentively, engender a culture of listening during dialogue, to act with mercy and compassion as we interact with each other, to treat each other with kindness and respect, and to live in joy. Who could oppose such fine examples of discipleship? Pope Francis wants us to be joyful Christians who love God and bring Christ to others through our exemplary style. He simply wants our radical goodness to shine forth in the small details of our daily living. We represent Christ when we bless one another and rightly value them.

We represent Christ when we give fully of ourselves to him and to others. Christ wants nothing more than for us to invest in ourselves because it represents the gift of God. We have to put ourselves in the place of the workers entrusted with many talents. When we finally meet God, God does not want us to hold all our talents in our arms ready to offer them back. God wants us to give them away. God wants us to approach heaven with empty arms and to hear us say, “I have given myself away for you. I have nothing left to give because I spent all I have. I simply have nothing left, my arms are empty, but I have everything because I have you.”

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Revelation 1) The Revelation by an angel of God came to John. To the church in Ephesus: realize you have lost the love you once received. Repent.   
Tuesday: To the church in Sardis: Be watchful and strengthen what is left of your good works because they have not been complete in the eyes of God.
Wednesday: John was given a vision of what will happen in the end times: four creatures will circle around and cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty.”
Thursday: John saw in the heavenly procession a Lamb that had been slain. The elders sang, “Worthy are you to receive the scroll and break open its seals.”
Friday: Go, take the scroll and swallow it. It will turn your stomach sour. You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.
Saturday: Here are two witnesses: two olive trees and two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. The beast from the abyss will come up and wage war against them. After mass destruction, three and a half days later the breath of life from God will enter them and they will live.  

Monday: (Luke 18) As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man begged Jesus to have pity on him. He asked for his sight back and, because of his faith, Jesus granted it.
Tuesday: Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, who decides to have dinner at his house that evening. Zacchaeus provided retribution to all he harmed.
Wednesday: To answer the question of the immanence of the Kingdom of God, Jesus told a parable of a nobleman who entrusted his talents with three servants. Two did well investing the talents, but the other hid it and gained nothing.
Thursday: Jesus wept over Jerusalem saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes.”
Friday: Jesus entered the temple area and disrupted the commerce. The chief priests, scribes, and civic leaders conspire to put him to death.   
Saturday:  Some Sadducees, who deny there is a resurrection, test Jesus about whose possession a woman is when her first husband and successive brothers die. Jesus reminds us that all are alive to God and there is no need for marriage in heaven.  

Saints of the Week

November 16: Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) was placed for childrearing into a Benedictine monastery at age 5 in Saxony. She lived with two mystics named Mechthild and as she developed her intellectual and spiritual gifts, she too became a mystic. Her spiritual instructions are collected into five volumes. She wrote prayers as a first advocate of the Sacred Heart.

November 17: Elizabeth of Hungary, (1207-1231) was the daughter of Andrew II, king of Hungary. She married Ludwig IV of Thuringia and as queen supported many charities. When her husband died in a crusade in 1227, she entered the Third Order of Franciscans.

November 18: The Dedication of the Basilicas of Peter and Paul celebrates churches in honor of the two great church founders. St. Peter's basilica was begun in 323 by Emperor Constantine - directly over Peter's tomb. A new basilica was begun in 1506 and it was completed in 1626. Many great artists and architects had a hand in building it. St. Paul Outside the Walls was built in the 4th century over Paul's tomb. It was destroyed by fire in 1823 and subsequently rebuilt.

November 18: Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769-1852) joined the Sisters of the Sacred Heart and at age 49, traveled to Missouri to set up a missionary center and the first free school west of the Mississippi. She then founded six more missions. She worked to better the lives of the Native Americans.

November 21: The Presentation of Mary originated as a feast in 543 when the basilica of St. Mary's the New in Jerusalem was dedicated. The day commemorate the event when Mary's parent brought her to the Temple to dedicate her to God. The Roman church began to celebrate this feast in 1585.

November 22: Cecilia, martyr (2nd or 3rd century), is the patron saint of music because of the song she sang at her wedding. She died just days after her husband, Valerian, and his brother were beheaded for refusing to sacrifice to the gods. She is listed in the First Eucharistic prayer as an early church martyr.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Nov 16, 1989. In El Salvador, the murder of six Jesuits connected with the University of Central America together with two of their lay colleagues.
·      Nov 17, 1579. Bl Rudolph Acquaviva and two other Jesuits set out from Goa for Surat and Fattiphur, the Court of Akbar, the Great Mogul.
·      Nov 18, 1538. Pope Paul III caused the governor of Rome to publish the verdict proclaiming the complete innocence of Ignatius and his companions of all heresy.
·      Nov 19, 1526. Ignatius was examined by the Inquisition in Alcala, Spain. They were concerned with the novelty of his way of life and his teaching.
·      Nov 20, 1864. In St Peter's, Rome, the beatification of Peter Canisius by Pope Pius IX.
·      Nov 21, 1759. At Livorno, the harbor officials refused to let the ship, S Bonaventura, with 120 exiled Portuguese Jesuits on board, cast anchor. Carvalho sent orders to the Governor of Rio de Janeiro to make a diligent search for the supposed wealth of the Jesuits.
·      Nov 22, 1633. The first band of missionaries consisting of five priests and one brother, embarked from England for Maryland. They were sent at the request of Lord Baltimore. The best known among them was Fr. Andrew White.
·      Nov 22, 1791: Georgetown Academy opened with one student, aged 12, who was the first student taught by the Jesuits in the United States.