Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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The Second Sunday of Ordinary time
January 18, 2015
1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42


The beginning of a trip is filled with fresh excitement. You sense the building curiosity and intrigue as Jesus begins his ministry in the Fourth Gospel. A transition occurs with disciples moving away from John the Baptist toward Jesus, who is the ultimate goal. Two unnamed disciples walk away from John and stay with Jesus and they wonder, “Who are you?” and “Where are you staying?” They want to be with him. Jesus builds the mystery by asking them questions, which send them for answers inside themselves. It becomes a process of discovering Jesus and re-discovering themselves.

Most of the time when we hear this passage read we think of the significant exchange between Simon and Jesus because Simon is renamed Cephas, Peter. It underscores that we are changed when we meet new people. Something hidden about us is called to the surface of our lives. Think for a moment about Andrew. At first, he is an unnamed disciple of John, who, with a friend, follows Jesus. They know Jesus is the one who was promised and they spend time with him to confirm their hunches. It is upon Andrew’s return home that we learn his name. After giving his brother an account of the day’s proceedings, we learn that he is the brother of Simon Peter, the man upon which the church will be built. The time Andrew gave to himself by learning from Jesus, moving away from the charismatic John the Baptist, and convincingly proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ to his brother, is pivotal for Simon’s friendship with the Lord.

When we encounter a new friend, a fresh excitement emerges that makes us want to delve deeper into a relationship. It makes us feel alive and it vivifies our imagination. How do we keep existing relationships fresh, especially when we often take our closest friends from granted? It says more about us than it does about them. We have to choose what we would like to contribute to a process of ongoing discovery and to nurture the freedom of the other person. With a new friend, we ask lots of questions as we explore this intriguing person who stands before use. Therefore the key to existing relationships is to change the pattern of our questioning. As relationships mature, the questions become more nuanced and find a variety of ways of opening up new answers. The art of questioning becomes more sensitive and respectful as it gently maneuvers the contours of complex answers that deserve time to be heard. Questions generate a person’s freedom to express themselves.

Consider examples of ways simple questions give life to possibilities. For instance, notice the qualitative difference between, “What would you like to do tonight?” versus “I am thinking of going to the skating rink tonight (or bowling, or a poetry reading) and then getting some Thai food for dinner. How does that strike you? Would you like to come along?” Or… “I noticed you just finished reading Laura Hillenbrand’s book Unbroken. Did you like it?” Instead try, “What did you notice about the Hillenbrand’s style as she told the story? As you completed the book, are you left wondering about anything that feels incomplete?” Questions like these are thoughtful and nuanced and can lead to engaging discussions. The person is begging for you to know more about what inspires them or puts them on edge. Use these friendly questions as ways to keep the person, who is ever changing fresh and vivid to you. The dividends will lead to a much happier friendship because you convey that you want to know more about this cherished person.

In prayer, we also need to keep our questions fresh. We often bring the same questions to Jesus in our times of need, and our capacity to frame new questions will generate conversations of greater depth and meaning. Our capacity to learn new aspect about ourselves will give us fresh topics to examine with Jesus, who wants us to reveal greater depth to him. The key is in our electing how fully we want to understand and to share ourselves with those whom we love. We ask, “How fully am I committed to my relationships and which ones do I want to really nurture?”

As we return to Ordinary Time, we begin the journey afresh even if we have read the stories year after year. This year, what additional qualities do I bring to share with Jesus? How can I more curiously know something new about him? Last week, Jesus beckoned you to come to him. This week, he wants to hear your nuanced, skilled, maturing questions because he has new insights answers for you that he wants to share. Let us begin this new voyage brightly. Oh, yes, and be like Andrew who brought a friend and family members along. Together, we will go to some amazing places – always onward and upward.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading:
Monday: (Hebrews 5) Every high priest is taken from among the people and made their representative before God. He offers gifts and sacrifices for sins. No one takes this honor by themselves but only when called by God.
Tuesday: (Hebrews 6) God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated by having served the holy ones. God will indeed bless you and multiply you.
Wednesday: (Hebrews 7) Melchizedek, king of Salem, king of peace was without ancestery and was made to resemble the Son of God to remain a priest forever.
Thursday: (Hebrews 7) Jesus is able to save those who approach God through him since he lives forever to make intercession for them.
Friday: (Hebrews 8) Jesus has fulfilled the old covenant and made the first one obsolete. He speaks of a new covenant where he remains the intercessor for the people to God.  
Saturday: (Hebrews 9) Jesus entered the sanctuary of the Tabernacle of God once for all, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, obtaining us redemption.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Mark 2) The people objected to Jesus, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but yours do not?” Jesus explained that while the bridegroom is with them, there is no room for fasting. That can come afterwards.
Tuesday: (Mark 2) The Pharisees accosted Jesus about his disregard for dietary restrictions saying that eating grain is unlawful on the Sabbath. Jesus reminded them the Sabbath was given for our benefit, not as a place of restriction.
Wednesday: (Mark 3) As Jesus entered a synagogue, a man with a withered hand was brought to him to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath. He forgave his sins and distracted his opposition, then he healed the man’s outstretched arm.
Thursday: (Mark 3) Jesus withdrew toward the sea and a large number of people followed him from Galilee and Judea. He cured many of them and cast away unclean spirits. The spirits recognized him and declared, “You are the Son of God.”
Friday: (Mark 3) Jesus went up a mountain to pray and he summoned those he wanted to be with him. The appointed Twelve and gave them authority to preach and cast out demons.
Saturday: (Mark 3) Jesus came into the house with his disciples and the crowds gathered. His relatives head of this and wanted to seize him because they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Saints of the Week

January 20: Fabian, pope and martyr (d. 250), was a layman and stranger in Rome during the time of his election as pope. A dove settled on his head, which reminded people of the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove during the baptism. He served for 14 years until his martyrdom.

January 20: Sebastian, martyr (d. 300), was buried in the catacombs in Rome. He hailed from Milan and is often pictured with many arrows piercing his body. Much of what we know about him is legend.

January 21: Agnes, martyr (d. 305), is one of the early Roman martyrs. Little is known about her but she died around age 12 during a persecution. Because of her names connection with a lamb, her iconography depicts her holding a lamb to remind us of her sacrifice and innocence.

January 23: Marianne Cope (1838-1918), was a German-born woman who settled with her family in New York. She entered the Franciscans and worked in the school systems as a teacher and principal and she helped to establish the first two Catholic hospitals. She went to Honolulu, then Molokai, to aid those with leprosy.

January 24: Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor (1567-1622), practiced both civil and canon law before entering religious life. He became bishop of Geneva in 1602 and was prominent in the Catholic Reformation. He reorganized his diocese, set up a seminary, overhauled religious education, and found several schools. With Jane Frances de Chantal, he founded the Order of the Visitation of Mary.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jan 18, 1615. The French Jesuits began a mission in Danang, Vietnam.
·      Jan 19, 1561. In South Africa, the baptism of the powerful King of Monomotapa, the king's mother, and 300 chiefs by Fr. Goncalvo de Silveira.
·      Jan 20, 1703. At Paris, the death of Fr. Francis de la Chaise, confessor to Louis XIV and a protector of the French Church against the Jansenists.
·      Jan 21, 1764. Christophe de Beaumont, Archbishop of Paris, wrote a pastoral defending the Jesuits against the attacks of Parliament. It was ordered to be burned by the public executioner.
·      Jan 22, 1561. Pius IV abrogated the decree of Paul II and kept the life term of Father General.
·      Jan 23, 1789. John Carroll gained the deed of land for the site that was to become Georgetown University.

·      Jan 24, 1645. Fr. Henry Morse was led as a prisoner from Durham to Newgate, London. On hearing his execution was fixed for February 1, he exclaimed: "Welcome ropes, hurdles, gibbets, knives, butchery of an infamous death! Welcome for the love of Jesus, my Savior."